Links 10/05/2020

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California Passes Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act Treeehugger

I tried the foreskin facial treatment – so you don’t have to Guardian. UserFriendly: “ROFLMAO it’s almost like they are begging people to fall for Qannon.” A bit old, but humor can be timeless.

Dust off the crystal ball: It’s time for STAT’s 2020 Nobel Prize predictions Stat, Still an interesting article even though we now know who won.

Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded for Discovery of Hepatitis C Virus WSJ

Paying ransomware demands could land you in hot water with the feds Ars Technica

An apple a day? Four GPs on the top health advice they give and follow Guardian


As cold weather arrives, U.S. states see record increases in COVID-19 cases Reuters

No Talking’ signs should be on NYC subway, disease experts say NY Daily News

Regal Cinemas Likely Suspending Operations at All U.S. Locations WSJ Follows a similar link I posted yesterday for the UK.

John Hopkins University podcast with the flagship University of Texas campus  (Austin ’s) Dr. James Galbraith – the same chap we sometimes refer to as Galbraith fils, to distinguish him from his Father, Jon Kenneth Galbraith.) Public Health On Call, I don’t think you can just click on the link but you must cut and paste in you browser. Alas, there is no transcript, so grab a cup of coffee and listen to the podcast. I did and it’s well worth listening to (even though I usually prefer transcripts, as spending time listening is an inefficient use of my time).

Coronavirus: when will Hong Kong’s fourth wave of Covid-19 hit? Very soon, experts warn SCMP. But their number of deaths still holding steady at 105 for 7 million people. No typo.

The idea of moving out of my parents’ house in 2020 is scarier than I thought it would be Houston Chronicle. Wowsers. 52% of 18-29 year-old adults currently live with their parents. I have no idea what it was when I was in that youthful cohort, but I would guess it was no nearly so  high. Whether one went away to university, you certainly moved away from home. Readers?

Coronavirus: Paris to shut bars and raise alert to maximum BBC

Furious blame game erupts between PHE and testing tsar Dido Harding after 16,000 Covid cases are missed because an ‘Excel spreadsheet maxed out and wouldn’t update’ – meaning thousands of potentially infected contacts slipped through net Daily Mail

Stats Hold a Surprise: Lockdowns May Have Had Little Effect on COVID-19 Spread National Review. Hmm. I only know that Hong Kong, with its 105 deaths, never locked down completely, whereas India imposed one of the tightest lockdowns in the world and has now recorded 103,000 deaths. This question will take a long while to resolve. But be aware, broadly speaking, at least in the U.S., many business interests oppose lockdowns.


Furin cleavage site of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein enhances viral replication in the lungs (The Rev Kev)

Trump Infected

Charting a Coronavirus Infection NYT

Trump Didn’t Disclose First Positive Covid-19 Test While Awaiting a Second Test on Thursday WSJ

As Trump Seeks to Project Strength, Doctors Disclose Alarming Episodes NYT. Alas, I wish we didn’t have to discount NYT spin.

‘This Is Insanity’: Walter Reed Physician Slams Covid-Infected Trump for Recklessly Leaving Hospital to Greet Supporters Common Dream

Prospect of Trump’s early hospital discharge mystifies doctors WaPo

News Analysis: A history of falsehoods comes back to haunt the COVID-stricken president LA Times

The president is sick but his followers feel great WaPo

Trump just got a dose of Regeneron’s unapproved antibody drug for covid MIT Technology Review

Notre Dame’s President Went Unmasked at White House, Then Tested Positive. Now He’s Under Fire. Chronicle of Higher Eduction. That was some reception.

Class Warfare

How the IRS Was Gutted ProPublica. Resilc:  “moldy oldy.” Moi:but still germane.

Ola: London bans Uber rival over safety concerns BBC

West Coast Wildfires

Urban wildfire: When homes are the fuel for a runaway blaze, how do you rebuild a safer community? Seattle Times

California wildfires shatter records, double in size from 2019 NY Post

Waste Watch

City budget crunch could present textile recycling’s moment to grow Waste Dive

If We Don’t Act Now, the Entire US Could Become a “Cancer Alley” Truthout


Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Major cities hit as heavy fighting continues BBC

Selecting Scotus

Vulnerable Republicans seek lifeline from SCOTUS hearings Politico

Senate Procedures Offer No Hope for Dems on Supreme Court Nominee Just Security

Dems Have A SCOTUS Opportunity Tomorrow — Will They Use It? David Sirota

5 major cases to watch at the Supreme Court The Hill

Imperial Collapse Watch

Europe’s Gaullist Revival American Conservative

Bipartisan Bill Would Give Israel a Veto on Middle East Arms Sales Haaretz

The Last Empire (Hopefully) Counterpunch


As New Zealand votes, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government walks fine line on China ties SCMP

A new cold war: Trump, Xi and the escalating US-China confrontation FT


How India-China crisis in Ladakh could impact Pakistan’s fate at FATF meet The Print


President Pelosi? Pence prepares to risk it all for Trump Politico

Julian Assange

It is time to prosecute Julian’s persecutors – The Belmarsh Tribunal Yanis Varoufakis

How a Police State Starts Craig Murray

Health Care

Health Care: The Best and the Rest New York Review of Books

Not Pandemic-Proof: Insulin Copay Caps Fall Short, Fueling Underground Exchanges Kaiser Health News


WaPo Publishes Paranoid Screed Cautioning Readers Not To Let Russia Make Them Paranoid Caitlin Johnstone. These people are deranged.

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Clive

    Re: Trump’s Drive-by Derangement Superspreading Event

    The presidential motorcade’s saunter round the Walter Reed hospital parking lot (or wherever he went) has nicely illustrated just about everything that’s wrong with COVID-19 coverage, Trump and pretty much everything else.

    For one thing, if the New York Times clutches its pearls any tighter, it’ll end up garrotting itself.

    For another, do people in the mainstream media even bother trying for consistency? “oh, how terrible, how could he put those people’s lives at risk??!!” seems to be the cry. Neatly and at a stroke contradicting the “my mask protects you, your mask protects me” message. Evidently they don’t, not if you’re in a bulletproof Chevy SUV anyway. But I guess they suddenly start working again when His Highness is onboard Marine One?

    The media has lost its mind. And Trump has to know exactly what he was doing. And the effect it would have.

    1. timbers

      Yes and meanwhile insulin is a thing and where’s NYT outrage on that and M4A? Makes you wonder if polio came back and the vaccine for that now cost a cool 1 million because some hedge fund patented it while gorging on Jerome Powell limitless QE for the rich, would NYT even notice if it wasn’t linked to Trump/Repubs in some way? Or Cancer Alley in Louisiana or the estimated 100,000 who die each yr in this nation because lack of access to healthcare or fill in the blank?

    2. anon

      Also, if an outdoor event where most were not wearing masks can be a super-spreader event, why not a protest where many are maskless and yelling?

      1. Mr. Magoo

        The supreme court nominee event was both indoor and outdoor, with many if not all participants maskless and not only not practicing social distancing but coming in close contact (I think the pictures of the outdoor seating chart does this fact injustice).

        The BLM protesters for the most part were masked as well as socially distant, but there definitely were cases where BLM protests didn’t follow this protocol (especially if things got heated – which were a small percentage of protests – mostly for the reasons behind the protests in the first place).

        If you want to do the “well, somebody else did it first” game, maybe it would be best not to have to defend the president of the United States, being someone who should set positive behavior examples (and held to a higher standard, much the same as police in their behavior).

        1. hunkerdown

          Infantilizing and authoritarian. The Presidency is not a Wheaties box. Let’s dispense with the very conceit that the PMCoisie are to be emulated, rather than erased.

        2. mike

          I guess the protests were both “mostly peaceful” and “mostly masked and social distanced”. Just don’t believe your eyes. Perhaps the President was following his own view, that we should take precautions but we do need to go on living and then we have to live with the consequences. We can’t all hide in our basements forever. This went from “bend the curve” so we keep the health system from being overwhelmed to eradicate an endemic disease. For all of the “follow the science” … that looks to me like an impossible “unscientific” decision.

          1. furies

            I have never felt so unsafe here in the greatest country on earth.

            Knowing people like you are so casual with my health, finances and life.

            I’m not even sure I want to live in a world were money is more important than people’s lives. Wearing a fu*king mask is such a small thing.

            If only there were some refuge~somewhere. My brother (59) died of this shit after the hospitial *sent him home* to die infected with Covid. You see, the rich really *are* different.

            This is it. We are witnessing the wheels coming off right now in person.

            1. Wukchumni

              It feels more as if we were riding on bald tires and then the Covid spike strip shredded all four and we’ve been riding on the rims for awhile, leaving a fireworks show of sparks in our wake, not that you can see it while clutching the wheel.

            2. WobblyTelomeres

              furies: the rich really are different

              I think I need to quit calling them greedy, soulless, narcissist, etc. and call them by their true character: cannibals.

          2. Otis B Driftwood

            In fact, most protests were and continue to be peaceful and masked. What’s your point?

          3. marym

            There have been efforts to evaluate the impact of protests including the NBER paper and other efforts cited in the Links post and comment linked below. The NBER article posits that non-protesters avoiding going out during the protests was an important factor. Other tracking found little impact, though there may have been further analysis since then. There have been many, many pictures media and social media showing protesters mostly wearing masks.


            As far as Trump

            >following his own view, that we should take precautions but we do need to go on living and then we have to live with the consequence

            he’s made little to no effort to recommend or model precautions. Going on with life and living with the consequences are far different for most people than for a president with all the advantages of staff, testing, healthcare, helicopters, etc.

          4. Bruno

            “Just don’t believe your eyes.” especially when your eyes are attached to an MSM-generated screen.
            “Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men with barbarian souls” (Herakleitos)

          5. hunkerdown

            Liberty is all about walking out on the check, making others live with the consequences of your actions, not getting punched in the face when you deserve it. Liberty is predatory. It is the opposite of freedom. Free people have no use for liberty and would do well to purge it from among themselves.

            Kinda waiting for people to start throwing acid in the faces of the unmasked, Afghanistan-style.

            1. Andrew Thomas

              I think you are describing license, not liberty, unless you believe them to be synonyms. This may well be true, in the US, particularly. I prefer to think that, like so many words, Liberty is one that has become a vacuum, into which propagandists pour whatever meaning suits them. In other words, it has no meaning at all.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              In all simple reality, I think that Typhoid MAGAtards will start throwing acid in the faces of the masked. Don’t you?

          6. Grant

            Protests by citizens, in a society breaking down, is not the same thing as “leaders” gathering in public. As leaders, as people that are not only supposed to (but don’t) pass good policies and as people that should be held to high standards in regards to their personal conduct, they aren’t the same thing as the general public. If we have a massive pandemic and an economic depression, these people should be wearing masks, social distancing, and frankly shouldn’t be having gatherings that are too large. Cause we need these things, and regular people aren’t going to follow state guidelines to get us through this if those at the top don’t bother themselves. The Trump administration has been irresponsible with their behavior, and they try to encourage ignorance and selfishness among the public that puts us all at risk.

            And I have zero patience, in a country as violent as ours domestically and internationally, with the structural violence of modern America (up to 70,000 dying before COVID-19 because this rotten healthcare system), in a country with as much police violence and brutality, with us economically relying on war as we do, and with the right wing being responsible for a large chunk of politically motivated violence since 9/11, to hear comments about protests not being peaceful. Give me a break. English isn’t our official language in the US, violence is, from the get go. I get people not liking property damage and all that, but the right isn’t in a position to say anything about property damage and violence, and the everyday violence of America here and abroad is far greater than what we have seen with BLM protests.

            1. hunkerdown

              But the structural violence of capitalism, indeed, the very concept of private property, is fatally dependent upon the aristocratic norm of treating one’s rank superiors as models to emulate and whose taboos to respect, rather than as manger dogs and horse thieves to be dealt with as any other object of negative utility to the people broadly.

              Bourgeois liberal values are obsolete. The conceit of benevolence in the upper ranks has long been discredited.

      2. ProNewerDeal

        Right on! It has been frustrating to me to see the lack of consistency with pandemic-related temporary event restrictions. Biology drives what events are dangerous, not human social considerations.

        Good point on the protests.

        Another issue is schools. In IL, apparently Gov Pritzker is deferring to local school boards. A majority of K-12 students were in schools doing remote learning the last I read on wgntv. However the onsite schools are almost certainly increasing the prevalence in the state. Putting 500+ humans inside for 7+ hours 5 days per week in possibly poorly ventilated indoor setting is risky. It also is insulting to those who sacrificed other events in some extreme cases, such as no funeral for a deceased family member or not being able to visit a relative in a nursing home. The IL COVID planis decent (at least by USA incompetent COVID standards, IL’s approach is likely horrid relative to Australia/Cuba/etc) & prevalence-based with Phases of restrictions based on prevalence in 11 regional areas & the ability to go “backwards” based on prevalence. But excluding schools jeapordizes the plan.

        A blob of SARS-COV-2 virions do not discriminate & will infect a child, teacher, dog, panoglin, good person like a Rev. William Barber-type protestor, or evil person like a Neo-Naz! protestor. Why do most Ds good/Rs bad/msDNC or Ds bad/Rs good/Faux USians grok this yet?

      3. CuriosityConcern

        Follow the data timeline, were there significant spikes after widespread protesting? I don’t recall seeing that.

      4. tegnost

        my feeling about this is that, in my experience of some imo careless people who seem to consider themselves immune (notably both trump supporters and biden supporters) will get right in my face and talk loudly to the extent that if they had the virus then I would get it certainly. In social settings among familiar people, like the ACB announcement party, that kind of exposure is rampant. In a protest you’re not in another persons face, you’re somewhat separated and mask wearing in combination with that makes it less spreadable. Watch out for your loud talking gregarious friends. Don’t hang around people in loud environs where hearing people requires you to be in close contact (barrooms)
        As an aside and while I’m at it, I went to the mainland yesterday, Mt Vernon/Anacortes and saw significant trump support. I know it can be hard, especially for those invested in TDS, to see that trump has a lot of support outside of the bosses neighborhoods (birds of a feather flock together and all), but it’s there and it’s real. There are consequences for our unequal society, and the boss class keeps getting smaller and smaller while at the same time claiming moral superiority and thus alienating people who can see what hypocrites they are. Add in kicking the left as socialists while lavishly protecting themselves from any minor blip (Boeing should be out of business, not selling bonds to cover their own failings most of which they are doubling down on, for one of many many many examples…it ain’t rocket science…). All I can say is “here we go again…” But hey maybe the Dem dream will come true and trump and pence will die and we’ll have president pelosi and everything will be fine…the best ever…the greatest even

        1. Grant

          There should be a law requiring masks in public, social distancing and far better laws in regards to public gatherings. If someone doesn’t abide and gets someone else sick, they should be held responsible and should face fines or maybe even jail time. You shouldn’t be free to get me sick. I didn’t consent to that externalization, and some superficial argument about freedom shouldn’t brush aside my health.

      5. apotropaic

        I haven’t seen many protests with lots of unmasked. And studies have shown they aren’t large spreading events. But you do you.

    3. Lindsay Berge

      Masks are not close to 100% perfect but may be effective enough to reduce the spread of the virus.
      Even if they are only 50% effective in both directions, it will reduce the chance of infection by a factor of four and so lower an R_0 of 3 with exponentially increasing growth to an R_0 of 0.75 and a decreasing number of new cases. There may still be 75% chance that someone will be be infected by each infectious person but the numbers will slowly reduce over time.
      The Presidential SUV is apparently not only bullet-proof but also sealed against chemical and biological agents. This is good if the bad stuff is outside the vehicle but disastrous if the source of the virus is inside. Masks are not likely to be sufficient in this case.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        So are you saying that the presidential SUV air filtration system is set up so NO fresh air ever comes in, and the occupants routinely just breathe in each other’s carbon dioxide for the duration of any ride?

        I seriously doubt it.

        1. hunkerdown

          Look up the Apollo program. They were doing a bit of work in CO2 scrubbing a few decades ago.

        2. pasha

          i believe you miss the point: universal mask wearing is needed — and apparently effective — when we do not know WHO is infected. coupled with distancing, the practice reduces droplets and aerosols.

          once someone is known to be infected and spreading virus, the protocol changes to quarantine and isolation. to do otherwise is to purposely or negligently endanger others, on a par with senator johnson going to oktoberfest after testing positive, or trump attending the bedminster fundraiser when he knew he had the virus.

      2. a different chris

        That picture is everything weird about Trump and Trumpism. Notice the guy in the front seat has a full N95 mask – but it’s the type that only protects the wearer, as it has the exhalation valve.

        Meanwhile the President Of The United States seems to just have a cloth mask, ok for outdoors or a quick run thru WalMart but not so good for even a big limousine.

        1. Wukchumni

          Not to be a fashion critic ala Mr. Blackwell, but i’ve never seen the President dressed in anything black prior to his few forays with a mask in that color, and certainly not in a white one, that’s reserved I believe for when he gives the signal to the Proud Boys to be poll monitors a few weeks before the election.

      3. bob

        A little bit of protection is a lot. Clive is on a one man crusade against masks. He has science on his side! Not really, he just makes it seem that way.

        1. Clive

          If it was indisputable then I couldn’t make the jibes I make.

          I’ve no objection to a notion that masks may be of some benefit in some circumstances.

          But I have a big objection to anyone claiming they are a compete answer to all the problems. And in a matter of public health policy, you need credibility in the eyes of your target audience. Claiming absolutes where absolutes don’t exist destroy your credibility when, inevitably, your unwavering assertions leave you with egg on your face.

          And you didn’t address my original point. If the media are taking Trump to task for putting himself in a confined space while wearing as mask and saying that that is irresponsible and putting people at risk then the media are saying masks don’t work. Therefore the media are talking bollocks when they claim masks work.

          Conversely, if the media are saying that Trump is being irresponsible while travelling in a confined space while wearing a mask but maintaining that masks work, the media are talking bollocks when they claim that Trump is behaving irresponsibly.

          The remaining option is that this is self-cancelling bollocks and the media don’t believe masks work and don’t believe Trump is acting irresponsibly either but don’t care about facts. But if the media don’t care about the facts, why should I take blind bit of notice to anything I’m told, be it on masks, Trump, the price of fish or anything else?

          And if you’ve yourself advanced claims about mask effectiveness that promise more than they deliver, it’s not my fault you’ve made such unsubstantiated claims and need to wind you neck in. Conversely, if you’re sure you’re right, you could have joined me in denouncing media indulgence in unapologetic Orange Man Bad’ing.

          1. Anonymouse

            > But I have a big objection to anyone claiming they are a compete answer to all the problems.

            Who is claiming this? Masks help, they’re the best, widely available mitigant we have. No one claimed they were foolproof. We can tell people to wear masks *and* say they’re not perfect. And *because* they’re not perfect, other precautions — like distance and limiting contact time — are needed.

            In that light, the Typhoid Mary motorcade was idiotic and showed wanton disregard for the occupants of the vehicle. There is nothing to defend there.

            1. Clive

              So you are saying no-one should take taxi rides, get a ride from a friend, go on a bus, go on an airplane, stand in an elevator unless you’re the only occupant, have routine dental or optometrist examinations (and much else?)

              I don’t believe you are making a serious attempt at a public health policy definition and I don’t think you believe what you’re saying either. And I’ll bet you wouldn’t be willing to actually live like you’re espousing.

              Conversely, if you are serious, that’s worse. You’re expecting people to live their lives in a way which is totally impractical for them to ever do. Unless maybe they’re a member of the elite. Tell a working class person in London they can’t take busses or ride the subway and you are telling them to commit to sending themselves into poverty, cut off any support they might provide to their family who don’t live with them, not send their children to school and receive no medical care and possibly starve through lack of being able to go and buy food. It’s ridiculous and you know it.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                “I have a big objection to anyone claiming they are a compete answer to all the problems.”

                “So you are saying no-one should take taxi rides, get a ride from a friend, go on a bus, go on an airplane, stand in an elevator unless you’re the only occupant, have routine dental or optometrist examinations (and much else?)”
                These are both complete strawmen (as I’m sure you are on some level aware). It’s bad faith argumentation, and it’s also making [familyblog] up. Nobody has said either of these things and you’ve just made them both up from thin air.

                1. Clive

                  If you don’t think Trump should be riding around in his SUV (wearing a mask) you are telling people you don’t think they should be doing direct equivalents — such as I’ve described.

                  So either you have to agree Trump did nothing wrong or, if you do think Trump did something wrong, you have to also acknowledge that you are expecting others to not do the same as Trump did.

                  It is not a straw man to ask others to confirm their positions on an argument.

                  Moreover, if, rather than saying what you think or don’t think about a point under discussion but, instead, play semantics in lieu of avoiding having to take a stance and justify it, that’s most certainly bad faith.

                  If your desire to adhere to a set of priors on mask virtue signalling has painted you into a corner whereby you are putting forward a public health policy which demands no-one can share a car, get on an airplane, ride a bus etc. then that’s for you to own. Not me.

                  Otherwise, you can simply agree with me that Trump did absolutely nothing wrong and the media is discrediting itself by doing so. And if the media is prepared to just make stuff up on this, why should I believe a single word it says about anything?

                  1. cnchal

                    You have grossly overegged the pudding.

                    Trump is contageous and risked other people’s health while riding around and at the same time caused a crowd to congregate, which adds to the pain.

                    The point of a mask isn’t, I’m infectous but the mask will stop the spread so I will do what I want. Infectous people should isolate themselves.

                    Nobody cares if Clive rides around in a truck wearing a mask or not and you weren’t infectous. Were you infectous and knew it and rode around in a taxi anyway, putting the taxi driver at risk, is the comparable.

                  2. Donald

                    Don’t ride in cars with other people outside your immediate family unless you have to. It’s a matter of degree. I follow this rule. If I had to take a friend to the doctor or for some other important reason I might take the risk. If they have Covid I would not do it unless for some reason there was no other way and I would be scared to death.

                    Trump actually has Covid, so it is an act of extreme selfishness for him to force Secret Service agents to ride with him for frivolous reasons.

                  3. apotropaic

                    I’m happy to say other people shouldn’t be doing that. What’s your point? I am still living like I was in April. Anyone who is out there not doing the same is essentially forcing me to stay home for a longer period of time.

                    There are certainly hypocrites out there, but most folks who are being careful will happily agree to your terms. So what’s your point?

                    1. Donald

                      Clive, most people don’t have to ride with someone who is known to be infected with Covid and who is contagious. If they do, it is probably because they are driving the sick person to the hospital. Your entire argument ignored the fact that Trump is sick with Covid. This is more than just taking a taxi.

                      TDS is a real thing and so is PMC hypocrisy, but you picked a really bad example to argue about.

                  4. Jeff W

                    …you are telling people you don’t think they should be doing direct equivalents…

                    They shouldn’t be, if what they’re doing is completely unnecessary, as was the President’s act of “political theater,” and especially if they are actually infected with COVID-19. Whether or not you view it as “wrong,” taking various precautions (wearing a mask, avoiding enclosed spaces, etc.) is not a binary choice—they work together to decrease. It’s not like, “Well, he wore a mask, but he’s still a bad guy,” it’s more like “Even if you wear a mask, there’s no need to be taking unnecessary risks—especially if you actually have COVID-19.”

                  5. Romancing The Loan

                    It’s a very different thing to say that taxis/elevators/being in enclosed rooms are dangerous even with a mask on (they are) and that “no one should” do them, though.

                    Nearly everyone here agrees that edicts on extreme measures needed to protect from the virus with no corresponding support enabling people to actually do those things and then shaming them for their inevitable inability to comply is worse than useless from a public health perspective.

                    But that our elites are purposefully leaving us to die shouldn’t confuse our understanding of how the virus is spread and making it either-or on whether Trump “did something wrong” by taking a jaunt in the SUV does that just as badly as the media.

                    In my understanding the aerosolized virus is like imagining every person you meet is chainsmoking constantly and you are trying to avoid getting the smell on your clothes, while (to mix metaphors wildly) a regular cloth mask is like sunscreen – it increases the exposure time necessary to result in harm.

                    So you certainly can take buses or ride the subway etc. and you might easily have to do so to survive, but you should still know that it’s dangerous so you can protect yourself to the extent possible.

                    From there it’s not a stretch to argue that Trump, if anyone, had options and could have done a better job protecting others.

                    I am still wearing my N95 full-face respirator into shared indoor areas and I figure by January I’ll either feel foolish or prescient. I wore a black cloak to high school though so I’m used to looking ridiculous.

              2. Cuibono

                Clive: those things are all fine for someone who is not infected. Once infected the known reasonable standard is ISOLATION. What is so hard about that?

          2. Darius

            I wouldn’t have gotten in that car. It raises all kinds of giant red flags. The event appears to violate Japan’s three Cs: avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings. Mask wearing is widespread in Japan, but it’s icing on the cake. They also are good at following up on isolated super spreader events.

            I go out and about frequently with confidence. I am generally aware of what is safe and what isn’t. Many Americans, I think, do the same. Many other Americans are forced by their employers to work in unsafe situations. Then there are “Real Americans,” who despise any precaution. Which means only that the pandemic will be prolonged indefinitely. Suits them just fine. This is the most drama they’ve ever had in their lives by far, and they’re not giving it up without a fight.

            1. FluffytheObeseCat


              There’s an increasing tendency in NC comments to ignore or willfully “forget” the rottenness of Trumps MAGA darlings. Their vicious stupidity is real, and is at least a match for the sneering imbecility of the PMC sub-elite. (In my experience, the most vociferous TDS people are not near the front of the pack. They are more commonly insecure in their professions, their professional identities, and their threadbare retirement assets. Hence all their attachment to non-monetary indices of educated status.)

              1. Donald

                Agreed. I see this in a friend in real life. He is so eager to tear into the Democrats, with good reason, that he sometimes falls into Trump apologetics.

                1. hunkerdown

                  If you hadn’t worked to remove our other options from the ballot, maybe your granfalloon wouldn’t need to be punished. We could be apologizing for Howie Hawkins on Russiagate instead. We could be using the GOP grassroots as a club to beat down neoliberalism within the Democrat establishment and un-weld it from the oligarchy, but for all the bourgies and their “ascendant” wannabes trying to stop us.

                  When are PMCs going to stop avoiding responsibility for the consequences of their own actions? Clearly, there is no intent to stop.

                  1. Donald

                    You keep doing this straw man thing with me by assuming I hold a position I don’t hold. You did it in the other thread. Here you assume for no reason that I support removing other options from the ballot. It’s not true.

                    You do remind me of the Democratic vote shamers. They think that projecting the worst possible motives on third party voters will somehow persuade them to vote Democratic.

                    1. hunkerdown

                      I believe you mentioned you were a lesser-evilist in another comment. It may have been one of your first here. I can’t see how lesser-evilism is anything but overt support for the way the bipartisan oligarchy does political business, if in fact that was your position.

              2. Count Zero

                I wish there was an NC glossary. I frequently find myself unable to understand comments. I get NC and MAGA here. But PMC? TDS? There are many more I encounter here every day.

                1. Alfred

                  I’ve had the same thought, wondering how hard it is for readers whose native language is not English, as occasionally I come across posts that I can barely grasp myself due to the opaqueness of some abbreviations. Maybe it’s time to get my long postponed personal glossary project up and running…

                2. dk

                  PMC = professional-managerial class

                  TDS = Trump derangement syndrome, used accusatorially by both sides! The symmetry should be a clue to its actual operation but unselfconsciousness and linear reasoning are hallmarks of the Trump era (on back to Reagan but whatever).

                  Agree that a glossary would be nice, and would chip in on an extra fundraising item while we’re at it. No pressure! NC already exceeds reasonable expectations.

                  1. juno mas

                    TDS is also found on Wikipedia. It’s at the bottom of the page in ‘Other Uses’ of the acronym. Below ‘Military’ and ‘Science’.

                    (The use of acronyms seems to be growing in both text and speech; as a way to quickly communicate before attention spans fade ;)

                3. flora

                  Type the phrase : [acronym] meaning – eg, TDS meaning – into a search engine and the first few responses will have a good definition of recent meaning, particularly from sites like Urban Dictionary or Acronymfinder that have a lot of recent slang terms.

                  For example, if you type in ‘BLM meaning’ the first responses are about the political group; only far down the list is the earlier and still used acronym BLM for Bureau of Land Management listed.

                4. Aumua

                  They’re also just names we call people we disagree with. Makes it easier to dismiss whatever they are saying out of hand.

                5. Procopius

                  I can usually find the meaning of obscure abbreviations with Google. I consider it better than Acronym Finder because it’s more current, and most abbreviations I can’t quickly figure out tend to have just been made up. Acronym Finder has too many definitions. I think people who text a lot (i.e., younger than me) are the ones who make up these funny abbreviations.

          3. Chris S

            +1 to Anonymouse’s comment. I don’t think anyone is claiming masks are a silver bullet. But they are an easy, low-cost measure to help combat the virus’s spread, so not masking means someone can’t be bothered to do the minimally decent thing for the public good.

            And given that the public health consensus (as I understand it) is that multiple measures working together are the most effective, with no one measure being perfect, it’s not a contradiction on its face to take Trump to task for being in a confined space, even if he was wearing a mask.

            This isn’t to let the feds and various states off the hook for their public health messaging, to the extent that they’ve botched it.

            As for the MSM’s double standards for Trump – film at 11, at this point.

            1. Clive

              If you take Trump to task for being in a confined space, even if he was wearing a mask, then you have to take everyone to task for doing the same.

              Either that, or you have to explain why Trump is bad, but everyone else isn’t.

              And if the media (and this includes politicians, who have made the same admonishing noises) produce messages which say Trump risked harming others by being in an enclosed space even though he was wearing a mask, then how can you blame the public for taking that as confirming that masks are ineffective?

              If it (media lying) is so mundane and unremarkable, then, again, you can’t blame people for simply ignoring it and making up their own minds. Presumably you’ve made up your own mind? Then, again, presumably, you’re happy to extend that same right to other people, too?

              1. apotropaic

                I take everyone to task. Why do you think I wouldn’t?

                Millions do. They are staying home too. I live like I did in April. It’s pretty easy to not be a hypocrite. Not sure why you think most are. A minority is screwing this up.

                That the media and PMC elite are part of that minority doesn’t mean your pony has legs.

              2. Medbh

                “If you take Trump to task for being in a confined space, even if he was wearing a mask, then you have to take everyone to task for doing the same.”

                No, because the people and the situations are different. I hold the president of the US to a higher standard of behavior. He’s supposed to be a leader and model. He has practically endless resources and options that others do not.

                There is no risk free living, but there is a difference between necessary and reckless risks. Getting in a taxi so someone can work is reasonable, as the risk from the taxi is less than the risk from homelessness. Getting in a taxi so you can parade down the street and pretend that you’re a tough guy is unnecessary and reckless. I’m sympathetic to people who must take risks in order to survive. That behavior is not equivalent to someone taking risks for political purposes.

                1. Clive

                  “[…] situations are different”.

                  Indeed they are. And each needs to be evaluated on its merits. But there is no difference in risk levels between Trump on Marine One being transferred to hospital for (if we take what we’re told at face-value) essential medical treatment and Trump parading round his pet mob in the back of the SUV. It is a matter of risk necessity (or otherwise).

                  If you don’t allow Trump to make his own assessment on risk necessity then you don’t allow me (or anyone else) to make ours, either. But if you allow, as I think you’re alluding to, my right to make that determination, then you have to allow Donald Trump the same. You can criticise me for any risk necessity calculation I make just as you can for Donald Trump, too. But both he and I can also ignore your risk determination (in terms of the essentialness or otherwise). Just as your tests of essentiality are also your right to make — after all, you wouldn’t want anyone coming along and insisting you take a more relaxed approach to risk necessity than you’re comfortable with, would you?

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    Trump didn’t allow the others forced to be in the car or get fired to make their own decisions in this matter. He forced his decision on them.

                    Maybe a Typhoid-BREXIT corona-spreader will force itself on you in a confined space where you can’t escape over there in England. Then you will treat this as something to be thought about pragmatically in the serious real world instead of intellectualizing cleverly about it as if this were some kind of Oxford Debate which is what your arguments are looking like to me by now.

              3. Aumua

                Trump is known to have the virus currently, and is very likely contagious right now. I would definitely hold anyone who knew they were contagious to the same standard of not being in a confined space with others. This really shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

          4. Darthbobber

            Only if the media were claiming that masks were infallibly effective. Which they aren’t.

            A mask might be prepared to a flak jacket in our era, or a chain mail coat in another. People still wind up wounded or dead in either, but that doesn’t argue against wearing them in the appropriate situation.

            1. Clive

              So, therefore, Trump used the most effective precautions available to us in the same situation? In which case Trump did nothing wrong.

              1. Donald

                The most effective thing to do would be to avoid taking an unnecessary car ride with other people.

                And yes, that is a general rule people should follow.

                1. Clive

                  This is the one single ground where Trump can I think be legitimately criticised. The necessity or otherwise of the journey. But that doesn’t alter the fact that Trump completed at least one other journey (in Marine One), possibly a car journey from Marine One to the hospital and had other visitors in the White House itself.

                  I don’t know about the US, but in the UK (I’ve covered this in a link below) the guidance for people with confirmed COVID-19 is at best overly-optimistic (you get someone else to help you out, but there’s no thought about people with no or limited or impractical on a routine basis) support networks.

                  I feel very strongly about this and about the guilt inflicted on people in these situations because I have a friend who lives alone, she is in her late 70’s in a small flat in central London where all the other flats are fairly transitory households. She doesn’t know any of her neighbours, certainly not enough to trust them as would be needed if they were to assist. Her nearest family (not immediate relations even then) live in Poland. She was told to self-isolate but then just left to get on with it. She was reasonably well-prepped but within a few days ran short of things she needed and after another 3 days (i.e. day 5/6) was getting desperate. I travelled 60 miles to see her, get some provisions and generally tried to make sure she wasn’t too distressed. I advised her to contact Adult Social Care, but after another three days, no-one had contacted her and she was in a similar parlous state.

                  I told her to go to the nearest Supermarket and get what she needed, taking the recommended precautions. She was racked by guilt — I told her to ignore the preachy do-good’ing narrative she was being traumatised by and apply common sense to her situation.

                  And no, she didn’t have a computer or smartphone. She’d never had one and never used one. So no smart-Alec suggestions there, please.

                  People write stuff and then there’s the media, all trying to out-complete each other in being the best COVID-19 boy (or girl) in class. Usually, they are going to, if they have to respond to a COVID-19 positive test (or merely told to self-isolate), it won’t cause them (being largely blessed with various coping mechanisms they can call on) have nothing more than a set of minor inconveniences. Lucky them, is all I can say.

                  1. apotropaic

                    And you really think that some huge majority would blame her for trying to stay alive when she had no choice? Not remotely comparable. She small minority that would tsk tsk her are asses. So what?

                    I sympathize with your point about assholes, but I fail to see how it compares to Trump doing what he is doing.

                    1. Clive

                      Although she was born in the U.K. her family came here during the war. It is a horrifying story (short version: Stalin sold out Poland to Hitler, transported hundreds of thousands of Poles to Siberia; when Stalin switched sides, the deportees were “freed” but Stalin basically left them to either die in Siberia or try to leave Russia if they could but it had to be under their own devices, they walked or rode in cattle wagons south in appalling conditions and a lucky few tens of thousands—about a quarter—managed to get to Iraq, her grandmother is buried in the Polish cemetery (yes, so many perished there’s a whole cemetery set aside for them in Iraq) from where her parents’ siblings got separated, her father went to England, others back to Poland).

                      She didn’t speak a word of English until after the war ended and she could start school. She is eternally grateful and has a bottomless reverential deference to England’s people who she almost reveres — as many immigrants do to their new home countries. So she was almost beside herself and completely incapacitated by guilt for “her” “failure” to manage and the thought of “betraying” everyone and “letting the side down”.

                      If I, as a native English person had not said, no, stuff it, you’re doing your best and you can do no more, she’d have I’m sure stuck it out and eaten the mouldy bread and expired ready meals she’d got left rather than “disobey the government”. I wish I was exaggerating. After all, that’s what BBC is telling her everyone is unfailingly doing…

                      To you, maybe, it’s all a bit of a larf and just the media talking rubbish, and no, we don’t take it seriously, we do what we want anyway, we can safely pick and choose what we can do.

                      Others, without our sassy self assurance and easy certainties and confidence in our rightness, unfortunately see things very differently indeed.

                  2. flora

                    +1. Blaming the victim is an old method of off-loading what should be social or govt responsibilities onto the weakest individuals in society.

                    The US media is fast approaching the Victorian social outlook Dickens railed against.

                    “Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge. “Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

          5. Skip Intro

            You have delivered a series of straw men resting on the claim that the media has some sort of credibility.
            1. Has someone claimed masks are a “are a compete answer to all the problems”?
            2. Trump should be wearing a good mask, and really should be in his hospital room with limited contact and only people with full PPE.
            3. The media take Trump to task no matter what he does. Criticizing their inconsistency or dishonesty is redundant at this point. Claiming this reflects reality or logic in some way would not be supported by evidence.
            4. What the media believes is in no way evident from what they say, and in no way relevant to the effectiveness of masks at reducing both the spread of the virus, and the severity of of the disease.

            We can, I feel, stipulate that the media are basically lying courtiers playing for their owners’ favor.

            1. Clive

              1) I’ve certainly seen that argumentment advanced. I don’t agree with it and I’m glad you don’t either.

              2) Trump is no more of a risk than an asymptomatic COVID19-infected person (or a symptomatic one who just thinks they have a cold). What you are proposing is therefore unenforceable. If you are saying Trump should self-isolate that’s a better point, but even people who must self-isolate get nothing more than handwaves about how to manage to cope (lots of assumptions and magical solutions like “friends” helping out).

              3. Which is the point I made.

              4. I’m disagreeing, obviously. Trump took the recommended precaution. But it is deemed inadequate by the media. I won’t repeat my earlier point about how either the media is lying about one thing or the other (or both). But if people are being told misleading information, you cannot blame them for not relying on what they are told but, rather, coming to their own conclusions.

              1. Phillip Cross

                We need a new term for people that have chugged so much of the Kool Aid, they now feel an urgency to spend their waking lives parroting right wing talking points online.

                P.T.D.S. (Pro Trump Derangement Syndrome) perhaps?

              2. apotropaic

                The recommended precaution? He was in an enclosed space.

                Masks are not the only precaution. If you’re positive you don’t get in an enclosed space with other people unnecessarily.

          6. Andrew Thomas

            Clive, masks are all we have besides social distancing. The masks were not a thing in the US early because WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY. And people who should have known better, and probably did, lied to us early on about their efficacy because what our pathetic, neighbor-liberalized health care non-system was able to scrounge up were needed desperately by the workers in that system, who were trying to protect themselves by wearing ski masks. This general state of total unpreparedness was without question made more horrific by Orange Man Bad because he completely dissolved the only group on a national level that might have had some helpful suggestions because he inherited it from Obama. Then, he told the affected states to compete against each other for what little PPE, including masks, there were available, which led to such hijinx as meetings on interstates where PPE was exchanged for $1million in Illinois, and FEMA thugs came in to hospitals and seized what PPE those institutions had found and paid for themselves, without explanation or accountability or so much as a how-do-you-do. The fact that the Jerusalem Post reported that a million masks were delivered by the US Government to the IDF a few days later ( the story pulled, but not in time to stop it from being seen by some) may well be one of the explanations for this travesty, given the complete disinterest in any reportage that might implicate Israel in dubious dealings in both parties and the entire commercial media. Then, we find out that Orange Man Bad knew damned well how dangerous this was, but didn’t want us to ‘panic’. Yeah, right. Just like his comments about immigrants were designed to keep people calm.Frankly, I think the hoohah about his little trip was a little over the top- he only endangered himself, and the people in the car with him with that. If the doc who was so aghast had been paying attention to anything other than his own job for the last 8 months, he might not have been so bothered. However, ORANGE MAN IS BAD. VERY BAD. And, while it is of critical importance to point out how useless and complicit the Democrats and the MSM are in the multiple crises and catastrophes which are now ongoing, Trump is truly the personification of this pathological and degraded system.

      4. Carolinian

        So how is this different from past presidents springing out of their limos to greet crowds of supporters, putting both their lives at greater risk and also those of their Secret Service agents? Did the press then express outrage?

        The adversarial stance the media take toward Trump is simply too much and certainly not in line with past standards

        1. KevinD

          The adversarial stance the media take toward Trump is simply too much and certainly not in line with past standards

          Trumps behaviour is what is “not in line with past standards”

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            And god knows that “past ‘standards’ ” have been so indicative of superior ethics and performance that preserving them at all costs should be of paramount importance.

          2. Carolinian

            Trump was elected, They, by their own description, are supposed to be servants of democracy, not a cadre in the class war. I’m not a Trump supporter but the people at the NYT and WaPo might as well be wearing Biden buttons on their lapels. When Biden holds a presser they go out of their way to guide him through safely. His son Hunter is every kind of shady but that is simply ignored. When it comes to the press you can’t appeal to the norms fairy and then throw the rule book out the window when it comes to your own behavior. And that is what they are doing.

          3. mike

            In my opinion, the media and the losing political party not transferring power orderly is what is “not in line with past standards”

            1. edmondo

              If he had started a war – preferably a medium sized one – he would have had no problem getting re-elected. Biden won’t make that mistake.

              1. Wukchumni

                Oh he’s tried to start wars with gunbloat diplomacy in Venezuela, with the resultant sad sacks thrown in jail on a Bolivar’d of broken dreams.

                We’re still a force to be meddled with, but after a generation of going nowhere fast in forays far and wide, tired.

                1. Carolinian

                  Pompeo and Bolton tried to start a war. Trump seems more interested in intimidating people into “deals” than following through on the bluff.

                  If there’s a compelling reason to keep Trump away from another four years (and I like Taibbi am quite tired of him even though I ignore him) it would be Pompeo. Perhaps once re-elected Trump would go full peacenik and full populist which is what TPTB fear and why they feel they have to get rid of this loose cannon. They are not going to allow another “class traitor” like FDR and probably don’t consider the gauche Trump even one of their class.

                  1. neo-realist

                    Go full Peacenik and full Populist???? Trump and Barr talked about using the RICO statues against the organizers of the demonstrations-Thousands of dollars in fines and 20 years prison time. Some elements of TPTB would love somebody with the nerve to do it to the left and Trump is just the guy lacking in an edit function who is capable of doing such a thing.

                    I know people that are on the Mao spectrum of left who have never voted in presidential elections in the past due to similar tweedle dee tweedle dum views on the two parties held by many in the NC commentariat that will vote for Biden because they see Trump as that much of a fascistic threat to the freedom to dissent and protest that has never been demonstrated by the recent spate of conservative and neo-liberal Presidents.

                    1. Carolinian

                      I’d say we are in more danger from Biden’s neocons starting a war than Trump RICO-ing demonstrators (which would be immediately struck down). We can debate who’s the more paranoid. But I’m not voting for either.

        2. Anonymouse

          It’s different because in this case the president is the _root cause_ of the risk. Per a memo from the Justice Department:

          “Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts [threats or acts to infect or *expose* others] potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes”

          1. Wukchumni

            Domestic Errorism is the culprit, er ‘because markets’, we didn’t bother closing borders or stopping airlines from moving the virus from sea to sea and everything in between. We could’ve started rationing gas to stop individuals from travelling too, but noooo.

        3. km

          If Trump has been good for nothing else, he has caused the MSM to stop even pretending to fake objectivity. They have shown themselves to be nakedly partisan, even to the point of publishing conspiracy theories so far-fetched that they would embarrass the 1961-era John Birch Society, as incontrovertible truth.

          To rehash the old joke, Trump could walk on the waters of the Potomac River, hand in hand with Jesus Christ (not bloody likely, but work with me, here) and the WaPo and NYT would say that this was not only divisive and a breach of the precious norms underpinning Our Democracy, but also proof that Trump cannot swim.

          1. edmondo

            Jesus is going to need a shower after hanging out with that dude. And keep an eye on Mary Magdalene. Trump has a “type”.

            OTOH – if you don’t drink, why bother hanging out with a guy who can change Evian into Merlot?

    4. Carolinian

      What you said. The WaPo even dug up some anonymous Secret Service person to say that Trump doesn’t care about them–putting it in Armondo Iannucci territory (see Veep). They’ll take a bullet for him but expecting them to share a car while wearing masks is considered shocking.

      1. bob

        That’s a silly comparison. How many bullets would they need to jump in front of to get their families infected with a possibly deadly virus?

        1. Carolinian

          possibly deadly

          Oh please. See recent CDC odds of someone Secret Service age (or their young families) succumbing to Covid. The disease has become an all purpose fear club to attack disfavored behavior.

          1. The Historian

            All Secret Service agents are young? Could have fooled me! Especially since the Secret Service Presidential Protective Division consists of experienced agents, not kids fresh out of college or the military. Did you know Jerry Parr, the Secret Service Agent that saved Reagan, was 50 years old at the time? And, of course, none of them have parents or other relatives such as children or spouses with immune diseases that might be affected adversely, and of course, none of them would fall into that 35-65% category of people who have lingering effects.

          2. TimmyB

            Trump knowing risked the health of his Secret Service agents so he could leave a hospital against doctor’s advice and go for a short drive around the grounds.

            Whether any of those agents die as a result of Trump willingly endangering their health isn’t the point. The point is, Trump doesn’t care about other people.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Thank you. Knowing “both sides are bad” doesn’t exonerate either in any way, shape, or form. Trump’s car ride stunt was dangerously irresponsible in a way highly resistant to “both sides are rotten” defenses.

              1. hunkerdown

                Every President risks the lives of their Secret Service agents by holding the office at all, in that light. I suppose the moral indignation is more in that the PMC isn’t going to get more power or money from that exposure like they did with BLM.

                Pro-corporate partisanship needs to be shut down with the epistemological equivalent of police choke holds. The PMC’s purpose for even raising the argument is their personal bitterness that they’re not free to do the same and remind the proles of their place, and their own personal and career narcissism at being seen being correct on a no-brainer.

                1. apotropaic

                  I’m not PMC and I’m pissed. This thread isn’t up to the standards of NC. That have kept me donating and reading for years.

                  Bad enough thread to make me actually finally comment a bit.

                  1. Kurt Sperry

                    I fully agree. You can see argumentation here that is rife with strawmanning and other deliberate misrepresentation of others’ arguments, obviously bad faith argumentation, and stubborn resistance to actual objective factual truth in the pursuit of making ideological points. Standards of discourse are visibly slipping. Unfortunately in this instance, some of the most flagrant lapses are by regular commenters who are unlikely to be held to account.

                    1. Clive

                      Sometimes discourse benefits from not opening a can of worms — US gun control is one such example. The talking points have descended into clichés and no-one is likely to change their mind on it.

                      Sometimes, however, you need to open up the can, take the worms out and let them wriggle around while trying to pick them out, separate them and give them a good looking-over.

                      Suffice to say, I think this (COVID-19 “rules”, their application, or disapplication, their scientific — or otherwise — underpinnings, their public adherence — be it notional, theoretical vs. real, actual when no-one is looking) is the latter. Not least because one person’s actual objective factual truth is another person’s nothing of the sort.

                      Bad arguments are bad arguments. Bad faith is bad faith. Neither is part of healthy discourse. But then nor are implied threats to flounce off, withdraw funding / donations or denigrate other people’s opinions in what sounds like an attempt to close down what has been at least a stimulating and well-participated topic, either.

                  2. hunkerdown

                    I never claimed you weren’t. There are ample historical examples of major incidents of national significance being bent for use as political weapons, and it is a well-known tendency of the press, and the class of which they are a part, to *need* to sell a ‘short ride’ (as Joe Lieberman once flippantly put it in another context) as a high misdemeanor, without any cognizance of the possibility that the coach might be better ventilated than Elon Musk’s paint booths. Because, their careers, and their liberty to create facts for other human beings to deal with, depend on drama. Therefore, *them* saying it can be disregarded as tendentious duckspeak.

                    It really comes down to whether one thinks “elective” aristocracy’s legitimacy can be rehabilitated at all, let alone by simply larping bourgeois culture harder.

    5. vlade

      Err. From what I read into this, the main complaint was why the hell expose the secret service agents who have to be with Trump, for a vanity drive?

      Masks are not, nor ever were, claimed to be 100% efficient. Doctors dealing with known CV patients tend to get into a full protective gear, not just wear a mask. An ambulance used to transfer a known CV patient undergoes about an hour worth of decontamination procedure. (And, as an side, chances are that if the now infamous WH confirmation party had masks, fewer people would have been infected).

      A Marine One fligth to the hospital was necessary. So the risk was necessary, including the mask usage by SS, pilot and who have you.

      The drive-by was entirely unnecessary. If DT wanted to say hello to his supporters, he could have done so via a video-link. Instead, he chose to run (a small, but entirely unnecessaryu) risk of exposing his SS handlers.

      What would you say if he was ordering his SS agents to do low-altitude para drops from Marine One because he likes how the parachutes contrast against the sky? It’s a low-level risk (I can’t compare which is more risky), but entirely a vanity project.

      1. Carolinian

        And of course all the things presidents do are about the job, never about politics (and if the latter the Secret Service are told to take the day off).

        1. Romancing The Loan

          Yeah it seemed to me like he was doing “proof of life” – he did the ride after the announcement that he was on oxygen/steroids and the internet started to pick apart his posted photos and videos for evidence of tampering/that they were made earlier and started talking about the 25th Amendment. Not telling the press pool and letting his supporters be the ones to get the (live, surprise) video of it may have been part of that. Just like his timing of when to leave for the hospital on Friday, I think this is less about him personally or even his campaign and more about the stock market.

          The announcement now that the decision on whether he’ll indeed be released today will be made later this afternoon seems in the same vein, so I predict that decision will come after the stock market closes today (and insiders have sold their wad) and it’ll be that he’s not leaving.

          1. The Historian

            “Proof of life”? You mean his incessant tweeting wasn’t enough?

            But his ride is neither here nor there – it’s just a distraction. But isn’t distraction what Trump does best?

            1. hunkerdown

              Digital proof is no more proof than it was yesterday. In this case, a suitably constructed Markov chain might do an adequate job of Presidential simulation.

              That said, I love to see middle class disappointment at being cut out of the process of delivering rule to the commoners. I firmly believe their class narcissism is behind most every complaint about Trump’s Twitter.

            2. Romancing The Loan

              His tweets and their authorship (analyzed for content and pattern!) have also been the subject of intense debate.

              Hermain Cain continued tweeting postmortem, remember.

            1. Procopius

              … in his last year’s [sic].

              His last year’s what? Where are all these greengrocer’s apostrophes coming from? I don’t blame the moderators, they’re doing a magnificent job of what they’re supposed to do, they can’t be proofreaders and copy editors as well.

      2. cnchal

        > . . . but entirely a vanity project.

        Are we starting to understand the deleterious effects of narcissistic personality disorder? This comment is not directed towards you, but to all that shrug when reading the word, narcissist.

        Trump doesn’t care about saying hello to his supporters. He cares about getting narcissistic supply, which is the adoration and adulation and being the center of attention that narcissists crave. Hard to get that from the few doctors trying to save his sorry ass confined to the presidential suite with no visitors. That objects may get ill from his behaviour is the least concern, and a fair price for someone else to pay for his satisfaction.

        1. mike

          that is all your projection. He is doing his job. showing the country that the president, which they voted for, is indeed still in control. As well as show any potential enemies the same.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Trump could have done that in front of a video camera, and simply mentioned some recent event or stock index number to confirm the timing. The motorcade around Walter Reed was not needed.

            It was a campaign stunt, not a national security effort. One which hopefully won’t sicken any of the agents assigned to him for the ride. However, there is no guarantee that they, or their diabetic family members, won’t be gravely injured by it.

            1. Romancing The Loan

              Unless he’s too sick to pull off such a video successfully. Easier to sit in a car and wave than talk if you’re short of breath.

              1. Dr. John Carpenter

                Also easier to hide an oxygen tank, which, reading between the lines of all the misinformation, isn’t too far fetched.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          Yup. The OP (sorry Clive!) generated a thread that doesn’t do the commentariat proud. Allowing those in the NC bubble chorus to chant the familiar refrain “MSM: ‘orange man bad’, mask pushers”, etc.

          With plenty of straw manning as Vlade pointed out.

          The MSM does suck, but not because the outing was fine or masks don’t work. It is their endless repetition and failure to cover anything but the latest shiny object; they should be hammering on our lack of a decent health care system, the corruption that perpetuates this, and how it exacerbates the pandemic.

          It always gets like this around here close to an election I’ve noticed, though it doesn’t seem as bad now as it was in 2016.

          1. edmondo

            It always gets like this around here close to an election I’ve noticed,

            Seriously. I’ve never seen such a committed cadre of Biden supporters. They sure didn’t exist in February. I guess manure is good for more than plants.

            1. Pookah Harvey

              There is a difference between support and setting them up because they are easier to knock down.

            2. Kurt Sperry

              Conflation of anti-Trump sentiments with being “pro-Biden” is almost the perfect mirror analog of obnoxious TDS-afflicted partisan Dems who reflexively conflate valid criticisms of Biden with being “pro-Trump”.

              It was mentioned upthread that there might be a TDS rebound effect in play, and this seems to fall right into that category for me. My criticism of Trump is not an endorsement of Biden, no matter how badly you might want it to be.

              I’ve seen little or no actual, real, non-imaginary Biden support here. Has anyone else?

              1. Aumua

                No Biden supporters here, no sir. On a related note though, I put the odds of the comments section being shut down here at some point before the election at >80%.

            3. BlakeFelix

              Well, Trump’s manure is good for Biden. I think Biden is a bad candidate, but he didn’t just botch a pandemic and cause what looks like a great depression. It’s Biden or Trump at this point, and Trump obviously sucks. Biden COULD be worse, but he could be better. If I lived somewhere like New York or California or Arkansas where my vote didn’t matter I would vote libertarian or Green, but I live in PA so, go Biden! If you want to see a more committed bunch of Biden voters you can go almost anywhere, try CNN or Texas.

          2. Carolinian

            failure to cover anything but the latest shiny object

            Isn’t that what we (and you since you chose to weigh in) are talking about? This is a non story.

            As for repetitive, this is the Links page where we talk about stores in the press. Sadly it’s the current press itself that is very repetitive and predictable. Some of us would love to be shocked by fresh angles and thinking.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Nope, the convo was about inconsistency in re masks, not repetitiveness.

              My comment was the issue with the MSM (not the commentariat) is repetition

              1. Carolinian

                Not how I see it. We are only talking about this because the media chose to bring it up (and arguably wouldn’t have so chosen with a different president).

                Disputes about how safe the Secret Service agents really were are a sidebar. Danger is their job which they go to every day. They are body guards on the principle that the seat of American power needs to be protected and, having that power, Trump gets to make those decisions unless out of line re his safety, not theirs.

                I wonder just how pleased the head of the Secret Service is with this whole dispute. They are not supposed to get involved in partisan politics and of course the press attacks are partisan and were launched almost immediately.

            2. Tom Bradford

              This is a non story.

              It certainly shouldn’t be a major one, but like the story about Trump having peaceful protesters cleared out of the way in order to hold a Bible upside down outside a church it reveals a lot about the man’s character in a very economical way.

          3. lyman alpha blob

            In the runup to the 2016 election, there was an influx of commenters who seemed to think that because conservatives weren’t immediately shouted down, something I very much like about this website, that the commentariat here and the site itself was somehow pro-Trump, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

            In the runup to the current election, we have an influx of Trump Derangement and insistence that Trump is the worst thing to ever happen to the US of A, other politicians were so much better, and we’ll ‘hold feet to the fire’ after the election once Trump is gone.

            I can’t wait until it’s over and we get back to our normal ‘pox on both your houses’ mentality.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              our normal ‘pox on both your houses’ mentality

              that that mentality, which I share, dictates that one votes third party or NOTA is the bubble to which I refer

              though I did vote NOTA in 2016 I will not do so in 2020 for many reasons and around here hardly anyone dares to voice them.

              When Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, or AOC do, they are labeled as sellouts, despite pursuing in parallel a People’s Party.

              But I am in a swing state. I would be happy to be an undervote for the Dems otherwise.

              It is wishful thinking of the highest order to believe not voting D will send a message to those who care only for their donors.

              If you prefer the corporate Rs to the corporate Ds, of course, then it makes sense. But not because you have a greater animus toward the Ds because they betrayed you and the Rs didn’t. That doesn’t make the Rs any more palatable and revenge that hurts others more than you is a luxury. At least according to those in the Black communities on the south side of Chicago that I keep up with.

              I really like Adolph Reed, but he breathes rarified air.

              1. Carolinian

                I have my doubts about NC as a swing state but I believe they did go for Obama. SC–which of course will go for Trump–is the state of the business Republicans. NC is the state of the Ayn Rand business Republicans and the way up in the mountains hard core rightwinger Republicans. When the Klan sent a group to the SC Confederate flag protests in Columbia they came from NC. In my SC county the country govt just apologized to black people for historic injustices.

              2. lyman alpha blob

                I wholeheartedly agree that not voting D will not send any kind of message whatsoever.

                I also firmly believe that voting or not voting period will also not send any kind of message to the elites of either party. They simply do not care. The whole process is worthless at this point in history at the national level.

                1. Wukchumni

                  May I ask all to join me in casting your write-in vote for Wink Martindale, and not only do you get a competent honest tv game show host, but also a NFL defensive coordinator for the Ravens by the same name all for one vote.

                  Our campaign slogan:

                  WINK WINK say no more

                  1. lyman alpha blob

                    Who says I or anyone is just accepting their fate and resigning to being ruled by clowns?

                    It’s clear voting doesn’t get their attention. There are other methods though.

            2. Pookah Harvey

              “Holding feet to the fire” is called primarying and is more effective when doing it to a non-responsive party that is in a position of power.

              1. hunkerdown

                Yet, their moves to the right are more decisive when they’re out of power. Maybe they just need to have careers disrupted until they stop being careerists.

                1. Pookah Harvey

                  ” their moves to the right are more decisive when they’re out of power”…. exactly.
                  “need to have careers disrupted”…that’s called primarying.

                  1. hunkerdown

                    If that worked, it would have by now. Fortunately, other means exist that don’t involve playing on their turf under their rules.

                    1. Pookah Harvey

                      Mondaire Jones, New York
                      Ritchie Torres, New York
                      Jamaal Bowman, New York
                      Cori Bush, Missouri
                      Marie Newman, Illinois
                      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York
                      Ilhan Omar. Minnesota
                      Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts
                      Rashida Tlaib, Michigan
                      Katie Porter, California
                      Pramila Jayapal,Washington

                    2. neo-realist

                      Mondaire Jones, New York
                      Ritchie Torres, New York
                      Jamaal Bowman, New York
                      Cori Bush, Missouri
                      Marie Newman, Illinois
                      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York
                      Ilhan Omar. Minnesota
                      Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts
                      Rashida Tlaib, Michigan
                      Katie Porter, California
                      Pramila Jayapal,Washington

                      Hopefully add Jaime Harrison, and Theresa Greenfield to that list after election day.

          4. Clive

            What I am seeking to do here is declare a vendetta on absolutism. Far too many times I’ve read glib, unsubstantiated and over-definitive statements on matters which are at best debated.

            However well-intentioned, this results in a tyranny of righteousness based on a degree of certainty which is simply not warranted or justified on the facts and the evidence.

            If the issues relating to COVID-19 are not black-and-white but, rather, demand consideration and sensitively then that is what we should apply.

            Media attack dogs unleashed on unsympathetic targets like Donald Trump (who is perfectly capable of defending himself) on the basis of not cut-and-dried variables where right and wrong, fact and opinion and certainty vs. guesswork are not settled will one day be set upon those without power such as you and I (who are not necessarily in the sort of position with the sort of power which Donald Trump enjoys).

            You can count on it.

            1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

              I may not be the only one thinking about how the newly absolutist press corps will behave once they succeed in installing their man in the White House. Since everything he does is amazing and perfect it’s not clear what their function will be. Presumably they will be in charge of confirming the wisdom and necessity of more globalism and more war, and discussing how the persons responsible for an attempted coup by the intelligence agencies were simply doing their patriotic duty. They can explain how efforts to install a First World health system are stupid and bad. How unrestricted immigration is good for workers and wages. Not clear why people would continue to tune in though. I’d expect 2024 voter turnout to be in the high thirties and dropping fast, and too late people would recall the function of a press that is not simply an organ of the state. Bed, made, to be lain in. Good luck ginning up any support for anything that is not on the 1% wish list.

            2. vlade

              Yes Clive, but here you’re doing yourself what you claim to be against.

              “Neatly and at a stroke contradicting the “my mask protects you, your mask protects me” message. Evidently they don’t, not if you’re in a bulletproof Chevy SUV anyway.”

              So you’re making some statement on masks here, and that the press is inconsistent because they “don’t protect in A but protect in B”.

              Which is a lame strawman. Because no-one, ever, claimed that. Masks can provide (and there’s plenty of good papers) protection against spreading aerosolised particles. How good, depends on a number of circumstances.

              Ignoring all the reasons why a mask may not provide any protection from Trump’s CV because of Trump (like his mask being a fake “because I can’t breathe” or whatever), the mask is only a part of the equation. The other part of the equation is the environment.

              Which, in this case means hermetically sealed, closed-circuit filtration in a presidential car.

              Marine One, to my knowledge is not chemical-weapons proof (i.e. hermetically sealed with internal circulation).

              So in this case, according to the best scientific knowledge we have now, and the limited knowledge I have on the MO and the limo, an infected person with a mask (or w/o a mask, the mask here is the straw man) in MO is less probable to infect someone than the same masked person in the presidential limo. How much less depends on the non-filtered airflow in MO vs the limo, which I doubt any of us has any data on.

              Of course, if someone would come with a claim that the limo filtration means that the airflows work so that they are the same or even better than in MO, that would be a different story.

              That though would not be a story about the masks, it would be a story about the airflows. But you didn’t lead with that, you lead with masks.

              1. Clive

                If mask-wearing in confined spaces is effective then Trump was taking an effective preventive measure. He cannot, therefore, be criticised in the media (except perhaps for a much narrower ground of transgression, that of “necessity”).

                If the media run stories (they’re continuing to do so today following Trump’s late night White House walkabout) making various claims — each outlet runs its own version so you need to look at each one individually but they all have similar drumbeats — then I don’t see why I am somehow precluded from observing that fact.

                Here’s an example from BBC

                Medical experts are questioning Donald Trump’s decision to greet supporters in a drive-past outside the hospital where he is being treated for Covid-19.
                There are concerns the US president, who wore a mask, may have endangered Secret Service staff inside the car.

                I didn’t wake up yesterday and start running stories about Trump in a car wearing a mask. I didn’t broach the subject in the first paragraph. I didn’t make it part of the story.

                In running their pieces as they did, the media (not me) allowed it to become part of the subsequent narrative. A ball the White House was only too happy to pick up and run with. As followed later, again, from the BBC version:

                But the White House’s Judd Deere defended the move, saying “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it, including PPE [personal protective equipment]”.

                The media, having made masks part of the story (again, quite how a gaggle of news editors dragging masks into it is my fault escapes me, nor why I should for some reason no-one can explain to me tacitly acquiesce to colluding in making it a forbidden subject) were then caught on the horns of a dilemma — entirely of their own making. I wrote it out longform earlier, but if masks are effective then why did the media even bring them up as a hanging question? If masks are ineffective (and by mentioning them but not then adding something like “which considerably lowered any risk”, that’s the inference a reader is left with or can reasonably be inferred) then the media needs to recant previous assertions. I certainly don’t have the power to do that for them.

                To cut out the sophistry for a moment, the bottom line is that the media whipped up a storm to damage Trump but they weren’t too smart about it and did it in a way which undermined a previous narrative on masks. They were sloppy — if they’d stuck to a line which ran how Trump’s motorcade gadabout was “unnecessary” that would have been more consistent with the usual media line on mask effectiveness. But that would have looked a bit feeble. So they had to go and embellish it with this Trump-as-the-angel-of-death motif. In doing so, they couldn’t help but cast doubt on mask effectiveness. At the risk of repeating myself, I’m not sure what I can do about a media which can’t create consistent lies and not hoist itself on its prior petards.

    6. Louis Fyne

      +1. i am glad that I am not alone in feeling that way. though at times it does feel like I am.

      and how many days has it been since RBG died? 15? feels like months ago.

    7. apotropaic

      There was plenty of comment on the marine one flights being dangerous to the other passengers. And air force one. I’m not defending the N.Y. times generally, but let’s at least be consistent ourselves.

        1. Mr. HK

          First time posting here from Hong Kong. If you get tested positive here, you are immediately sent to a govt quarantine facility (a median sized studio ~150 sq ft), with no ability to venture outdoors. If a family unit get tested positive they will all share a larger unit of some sort. You will be re-tested every few days, and on average will probably be out within 14-20 days.

          What I’m getting at is, if you were to test positive, you are not allowed to be exposed to others with or without a mask on. You aren’t allowed to stay at home and self-quarantine either, for obvious reasons that others in your apartment building may get infected through your movements.

          Another thing is if one arrives through any of the open borders, everyone needs to be tested, wait for their test results, if negative as-in most cases, you get to either

          a) self quarantine at home
          B) quarantine at a hotel

          For a total of 14 days,despite no positive test nor symptoms. There is a tracker on your wrist, and a health inspector will call you everyday and ensure through GPS coordinates that you haven’t left your premises.

          Sure, many will argue against the imposition on freedom of movement etc etc, big brother watching, i get all of that. But the reality is, despite being a short ride away from Wuhan, all businesses are open, schools are back fully functioning, public venues open once again.

          Short term pain for long term gain.

          I do think it was selfish for trump and any others, knowing that they’ve tested positive, to expose themselves to others with or without masks /distancing.

          Now if you come back and tell me that the driver of the car was also positive PRIOR to trump getting in that car, then sure – maybe that’s fine as its similar to infected patients being close to one another in a ward or wherever.

          A question I have is, if trump truly insisted on venturing out inside his car, couldn’t he have simply driven his own car for ONCE and not put anyone else at risk?

          And no – him walking outside of a quarantined facility isn’t deemed safe as he may infect surfaces along the way (aresols/droplets).

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Thanks for your perspective.

            Would that we could have real quarantining here in the third world, but individual liberty is far more highly prized than freedom from sickness (esp for the poor).

            And by the same token, our values dictate that it is preferable for our über capitalists to pocket additional billions goosing the market than that we collectively provide food and shelter to ordinary mopes. No free lunch in America!

  2. giantsquid

    It seems odd to compare such disparate entities as India to Hong Kong when trying to tease out the effectiveness of lockdowns on thwarting the spread of Covid-19. Perhaps a more apt comparison would be between Sweden, which had no mandatory lockdown, and its neighbors Denmark and Norway, which did. The outcomes in these culturally and economically similar countries, where Sweden has had 579 deaths per million compared to 51 per million in Norway and 113 per million in Denmark, strongly suggests that lockdowns are indeed effective in attenuating the spread of Covid-19.

    1. Moe Knows

      As I understand and call me simple minded, but COVID infects people by being exposed to an infected person. Meaning you get the infection from others. Mostly via the air in enclosed places, typically by the presence of a ‘super-spreader’. Hmm, if one is then not in contact with people or very few, (yes, wearing masks), then it’s going to be hard to get infected, no? So lockdowns in the absolute sense stop large outbreaks. Stop not eliminate.

      Because of the nature of super-spreaders and how highly mobile and large America is, herd immunity is more likely to be 100% of everyone needing to be exposed (and millions of deaths, hospitalizations, & (?) life long disabilities). It has been reported time and time again, the someplace has it under control and bang it starts up again. The lockdown bought us time, which for the most part hasn’t been used well. People seem determined to kill themselves and others. People are under massive stress and have become functionally insane. Not all, but way too many.

      1. a different chris

        Yes this is just… family-blogged.

        It’s like saying “hey kid don’t play in the street you’ll get hit” and the kid, like most kids plays in the street and like most kids doesn’t get hit.

        But if they stay out of the street it isn’t “most” but “all”. A significant difference that people who just have a lockdown axe simply do not want to acknowledge.

        If “it statistically doesn’t make a difference” they they need to either review their grasp of statistics or maybe… hey this is a thought: people are lying.

        1. giantsquid

          Having been a kid and having spent much of my youth playing in streets, I see a few places where your analogy falls short. 1) Kids generally don’t play in even moderately busy streets; 2) Cars typically can be seen from a relatively long distance by kids playing in the street; the virus can’t be seen at all; 3) as far as I know, the unfortunate children hit by cars while playing in the street have never placed a significant strain on hospital resources; and 4) several papers analyzing the effectiveness of hard lockdowns, such as the one that greatly subdued the severe early outbreak in Northern Italy, and, within China, the one that contained the outbreak, in large part, to Wuhan, have been published in journals such as the Lancet (they’ve been extremely effective, statistically speaking) — soft lockdowns such as applied throughout most of the US have been much less effective. A hard lockdown applied early on would have saved tens of thousands of lives in the US and life would be much less precarious in the States now as well.

    2. Darthbobber

      The National Review article is a teaser for the 3 authors’ new book. Published by the ever predictable Regnery publishing.

      The one who has a previous book was the coauthor of Privileged Planet, an intelligent design screed, and is a Discovery Institute fellow, bending pseudoscience to the needs of creationism.

      A quick scan of the NR article suffices to establish that stats are being bent like pretzels to fit the argument.

  3. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

    You are indeed correct. I certainly would choose better comparisons for further study. But I was making a meat axe argument, to suggest only that what seem commonsense solutions are not necessarily panaceas. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      if it’s not obvious, the previous comment is a reply to giantsquid’s comment. @ Oct 5 7:39 am.

  4. Ignacio

    Stats Hold a Surprise: Lockdowns May Have Had Little Effect on COVID-19 Spread National Review.

    If you make wrong assumptions on how lockdowns work it is absolutely not surprising that stats will surprise you. It starts like this:

    By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).

    By today, i wish we had better understanding. You cannot assume that a lockdown will instantly result in 0 contagions as this paragraphs does. In some cases, a lockdown can result in increased contagion risk when you are forcing some, or a lot of people, stay in an overcrowded house, in many cases without masks that might have been hoarded by the wealthier.

    To be sure, lockdowns are quite an extreme measure that shouldn’t be repeated, except in very extreme situations, but the firsts paragraphs of the article seem to forget that lockdowns where forced basically in places where the HC had been overwhelmed by much. Incidences in California (within California), Florida (within Florida) or South Dakota were very different and that alone could explain why different measures where taken. I would have been nonsensical to order lockdown in some remote locations in South Dakota (though it would have made a lot of sense to restrict bikers gathering en masse).

    After 5 paragraphs I was already fed up with bullshit.

    1. giantsquid

      Completely agree.

      Here’s the concluding statement from a paper describing a statistical analysis of the efficacy of a hard lockdown that stemmed the severe COVID-19 outbreak that occurred early on in Northern Italy.

      “Lockdown timing and efficacy in controlling COVID-19 using mobile phone tracking”

      “In conclusion, our study provides evidence that the intended effects of the mobility restrictions adopted in Italy to counteract spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection were generally seen within 14 to 18 days after the implementation of tight lockdown measures. In the areas having the highest prevalence of the infection, the effect was seen as early as 9 days, implying little lag between imposing decreased mobility and slowing person-to-person transmission.”

      To suggest that “By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet” is patently ridiculous.

    2. Cuibono

      yep. other than that there are lies, damned lies and statistics

      anyone who thinks lockdowns dont work badly needs their heads examined.

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Stats Hold a Surprise: Lockdowns May Have Had Little Effect on COVID-19 Spread But be aware, broadly speaking, at least in the U.S., many business interests oppose lockdowns.
    Inevitably business interests are employment interests which are personal interests. If it does turn out that lockdowns did not have as large an effect on COVID spread that has been touted there’s going to be a very severe backlash.

    1. mike

      it is hard to tell if the lockdowns in the US have been effective. The hardest hit states had the harshest lockdowns. But that could be a causal/coincidental issue. Because the Leaders in the hardest hit states were woefully slow to react and much more worried about politics and xenophobia than the disease, it wasn’t until after the disease gained firm hold of their communities that they instituted the lockdowns. The lockdowns were/are harsh in those areas with the politicians keeping them even after the disease had burned through, causing unnecessary further economic damage. There seems to be no accounting for totality of public health and the negative effects of the lockdowns on mental health. And there is limited understanding of the long term damage of a 30% reduction of GDP.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Lots of absolutism flying around despite a relative lack of it in the science.

        1. Do masks help? CDC on their website says they “may”. No “absolute” answer there.
        2. Are “case” counts an absolute way to determine risk? Unclear, if the PCR test can yield a “positive” result even though the person does not meet Koch postulate-level infection (the Koch postulate says that someone is “infectious” if they are capable of infecting an otherwise healthy person with that same pathogen).
        3. What about deaths, especially as compared to other nations? Unclear, since countries tally “Covid deaths” differently. Did Granny have a 100% chance anyway (by the numbers that is) of succumbing to something in the following 12 months? Did an obese asthmatic diabetic heart patient die “of” Covid or “with” Covid?
        4. Do lockdowns work to reduce total the number of deaths, or do they just spread them over a longer time period? Unclear. Many, if not all, health systems took extraordinary and expensive measures to accommodate new surges in hospitalizations that did not occur. Remember “flatten the curve”?

        What we do know is that lockdowns produced an economic decline counted in the trillions of dollars so far. That decline has put an estimated 38 million additional people in developing nations at “imminent risk” of starvation. It has thrust 30 million people in the U.S. onto the unemployment rolls. And the society-wide impacts will be felt (and paid for) for many years to come. Maybe people wanting to impose and argue “absolutes” should start there. “Worth it?” Or “just another dreary multi-trillion dollar own goal by government, on par with the Iraq War”? (Hopefully nobody will chime in and say how great and what good policy the Iraq War was…).

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            Glad you saw the MIT Technology Review piece and have repeated the link as I think it’s an important one.

    2. chris

      I am very interested to see what kind of analysis supports or refutes the lockdowns as a tactic in preventing spread of contagious pandemics because I think we’re going to experience more of them. But I wonder if the problem is too confounded by life. The people who were told to stay indoors in places other than China had a lot of freedom and it was not possible to keep them there. So what we’re really seeing with the effectiveness of the lockdowns in any given society is a barometer of social cohesion more than public health related metrics. But perhaps that’s the same thing?

      Throughout this period I’ve been amazed to see what small things people refuse to give up and what large things people dismiss, and vice versa. It’s bizarre to see so many people holding on to concepts like standardized tests for performance in schools (with comparison to national results!) or football or visiting amusement parks. There’s this weird “the show must go on!” attitude for things that are completely surplus activities and yet essential services are being savagely cut or ignored. And no one is really talking about it. I had hoped that this kind of experience would be an opportunity for us to reconsider what we want in the public space and what needs our society really has. I had thought we could consider evaluating what our citizens really need because of the challenges we’ve all gone through. But now I know that will never happen.

      The penultimate example of that being the interview Joe Biden had with Ady Barkan. Here’s this politician who’s struggling in the polls, supposedly compassionate, and known for reaching out to people who are suffering during periods of medical challenges because his son famously died, and he looks an activist with ALS right in the eye and says that as President he will not support M4A and none of the reforms he does support will help Mr. Barkan. Joe Biden stated repeatedly that he doesn’t want to threaten employer supported and private healthcare in the midst of a pandemic where millions have lost their jobs! He’s supposedly the best we’ve got for a chance to make things better???

      I don’t think the US is capable of unifying or facing the challenges we have right now. Short of some huge Ozymandius style conspiracy to force us together we’re coming apart. The analyses on the lock downs will only be a rorschach test for US citizens. The actual policy implications will be lost or ignored regardless of what the data says. It’s all black comedy from here on out.

      1. Phillip Cross

        The spread of an infectious disease is a factor of these variables:
        Duration of infection x Opportunities to infect x Transmission probability x Susceptible population size = Amount of spread. (D.O.T.S.)

        If the virus is unchanged, duration and transmission probability are constant. Changing the value of one of the other variables will alter the rate of spread.

        Super spreader events have a very high “opportunity to infect” O, staying at home has a very low O.

        In a proper lock down, as practiced in China, O goes to 0, stopping the spread.

        What possible reason could there be for it to be ineffective?

        1. polecat

          For a proper lock down to be efficacious, it would mean that once affected members are allowed to return to a somewhat ‘normal’ state, that they would have had proper, and sufficient .. let me state that again – Sufficient! – state-supported sustenance to get them through … so as not to be found wanting, with their dickens in their empty hands ..

          So far, that ain’t happinin .. except for where the Corpserate and Government sharks continue to swim, generally. Everyone else is left to tread choppy black water .. before sinking down towards Davy Jones’s empty foodlocker!

        2. mike

          the problem is the disease is endemic and will reappear once the lockdown ends (unless of course you. expect 100% compliance world wide). So once your lockdown ends, your problem comes back. If that is true, what good is the lockdown.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Of course in places where that has been an effective response, systems are put in place to catch the new inbound carriers with effective quarantine, and to find and safely isolate infectious people in the general population (via generous sick pay or even mandatory isolation in Japan).

            A lock down is a very blunt tool to use when they have lost control of the situation. A mulligan that resets most of the infectious chains and gives an opportunity to address the problem properly, with fewer cases to manage.

            Sadly it looks as though this opportunity was squandered. However, it did exist.

          2. JCC

            New Zealand is an excellent answer to your question. It comes back, but minimally and then you lock down the local area again. Simple.

            Theu have done an excellent job of it there.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        There’s this weird “the show must go on!” attitude for things that are completely surplus activities and yet essential services are being savagely cut or ignored.

        Indeed. Nobody can fathom the idea of just stopping. Cam Newton (of the New England Patriots for the non sportsball fans out there) was diagnosed with Covid on Friday, the NFL postponed the Sunday game, ran some tests, determined they were all negative, and the rescheduled the game for tonight. You would think that the POTUS declaring they were positive just a couple days after claiming otherwise would give the NFL people pause, and consider that maybe they ought to take some time and quarantine more than one person before going back to business as usual.

        The inconsistencies around how Covid is dealt with are glaring (large indoor gatherings for extended periods are bad [and they are], so get back to school kiddies!), and that, combined with Congress’ complete inability to simply pay people to stay home if that’s what’s important, is why people just say “[family blog]” it all.

        I really miss the first couple weeks back in the spring when people first realized this was fairly serious. People stayed home and we suddenly had all these testimonies about the cleaner air and water, and animals showing up where they hadn’t been forever. I was really hoping this ‘stop and smell the roses’ attitude might catch on.

        Instead it lasted a short period of time and now it’s “how fast can we get back to full speed ahead”?

        It’s like the elites hope that with enough circuses, we won’t notice we’re starving due to lack of bread. Or maybe they’re hoping that while at the circus we’ll get trampled by the elephants.

        1. Yik Wong

          “They raise cattle and football players in Texas. The cattle are treated better.” MEAT ON THE HOOF was published in 1974. That is a long time for neo-liberalism to work it’s magic.

          Why the did Black basketball players call off their strike for BLM? Obama gave them the shade they wanted, but there has to be a reason. My guess they didn’t have solidarity with the lives of the the lower classes, that was lost when they were stars and meat on the hoof already in high school. My next guess is they hoped to address their own fears about being pulled over by the police for driving a Bugatti while black. Probably Obama told them their action was going to make being pulled over more likely, just like he stated he feared his be assassinated “just like MLK” as an excuse for inaction. I don’t think I need address why Obama was motivated at this blog, we can all guess as well on that.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Never been much of a Lebron fan but I gained a lot of respect for him when he led the charge to shut down the NBA season over BLM concerns. That respect lasted about a day, before he talked to Barry O and backed down and went back to balling for billionaires.

            James did say the players reserved the right to cancel the season again if they didn’t see some changes, but I didn’t hear too much of a peep from any of them after the Breonna Taylor court decision let the murderous cops off the hook. They just kept playing.

            The could have done some real good. What if the NBA players had said they’d wouldn’t start playing until some demands were met? What if they had said the season won’t start until the head of the NYPD police union was fired? Or demanded and end to the program that gives military surplus to cops? Instead the listened to Obama and settled for hoping that things will change at some unspecified later time.

            1. mike

              Lebron is an uneducated fool and a fake. Once they explained to him that he wouldn’t get paid if he didn’t play, he decided the strike wasn’t necessary.

        2. HotFlash

          Indeed. Nobody can fathom the idea of just stopping.

          Yup. And this is how our society is dealing with climate change, too. I cannot see this ending well for most if not all of us.

      3. fresno dan

        October 5, 2020 at 8:49 am
        and he looks an activist with ALS right in the eye and says that as President he will not support M4A and none of the reforms he does support will help Mr. Barkan.

        Undoubtedly, the number of people imperiled by our health care system, as opposed to those who profit from it, must be at least 10 to 1, and perhaps as much as 100 to 1. There are myriad examples of health care systems (essentially, ANY other health care system works better than ours) all over the world that cover everyone. And despite the Potemkin village of debate, disagreement, and conflict, Biden and Trump essentially broadly agree about how health care is paid for in the US.
        I was reading about the Lincoln Douglas debates. And it strikes me that save for the printing press, advances in communication (radio, TV, facebook, twitter) are making public discourse ever less relevant.
        It is an amazing thing that such miniscule and inconsequential differences in policy, that profoundly affect so many, elicit such hyperbolic vitriol – almost makes one think the whole spectacle is a sham…
        a sham because the sham benefits the few.

      4. lordkoos

        This situation with COVID has led me to realize how a great percentage of our economic activity is frivolous consumer spending. The fragility is showing.

    3. HotFlash

      If it does turn out that lockdowns did not have as large an effect on COVID spread that has been touted there’s going to be a very severe backlash.

      A principle of decision-making is that you have to make your decision based on the best information available at the time. DIdn’t dig deep enough? That’s on you. Reliable information not available? You have to do the best you can with what you got, but gather more information and revise as you get it. Even after 9 months it is not clear how this thing spreads (ie, we can explain it a little, but we still can’t predict) and what it can do. In the case of an unknown attack, I suggest that it is wise to simply freeze and while finding out what you are up against and how best to deal with it.

      I believe that much of the current confusion stems from the difference in desired outcomes — ‘best’ for the economy or ‘best’ for humans. That and the sheer deluge of information, misinformation, and the lack of critical thinking skills. But that’s a story for another time.

      1. JTMcPhee

        GToo bad all the deciders have long since abandoned the precautionary principle in favor of cost-benefit thinking, fo course with the greasy thumb of the Chamber of Commerce resting on the scale…

    4. Yik Wong

      Lockdown? USA had lockdowns in name only. The only countries that did actual lockdown are Vietnam and China, and it worked because they really did proper lockdowns.

      In China the lockdown was only instituted in Hubei Province, first in Wuhan, and then province wide, and for a much shorter time in Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and two provinces in the North East. What other areas in China did were curfews, quarantines on travelers and restrictions on public gatherings. This has been the norm until recently, where public gatherings are now allowed. The other thing, again already normalized in China, is requiring masks in public, including training from kindergarten on up on proper fitting, proper taking on/off to prevent masks itself becoming a source of infection, hand washing stations outside every public building, plus no cost quick and safe public testing. No one wearing chin diapers that look like they’ve been through a war, and no unmanaged queuing with anyone coughing out their lungs (I’m looking at you, NYC).

      Vietnam also didn’t institute lockdown nationwide, but I don’t have the areas and times at my fingertips.

      Lockdowns work, work extremely well, but few nations have both the mindset and security systems to pull it off. There is a huge associated costs which only socialist nations would be able to make bearable.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        +1000 and to Chris saying the same thing in different words above.

        It is the American hyper individualistic ethos that undermines community. Probably doesn’t help that we are a nation founded on genocide.

      2. Tom Bradford

        The only countries that did actual lockdown are Vietnam and China, and it worked because they really did proper lockdowns.

        New Zealand did it properly, too. And it worked, as the original community infection was nipped in the bud leading to 100 days virus free. Then when it popped up again, escaping from a quarantine facility as it now appears, another partial lockdown stopped it dead:

        Masks and social distancing can slow it but, as Sweden demonstrates in the negative, the only way to eradicate it is to lock down hard.

        Oh, and the PM announced yesterday that the NZ economy is back to 95% of what it was before the pandemic, so lockdowns pay off economically, too.

        1. Yik Wong

          “Under level three restrictions, people will be told to stay home aside for essential personal movement, schools will operate at limited capacity, and public venues such as museums, playgrounds and gyms will remain shut.”

          I like the word the New Zealand Government used, Restrictions, because this is not a lockdown.

            1. Yik Wong

              Even Alert Level 4 is not lockdown, just a higher level of isolation. It worked, and so is an appropriate action, but it isn’t a lockdown by any reasonable standard.

              By using lockdown, then you imply even Level 1 is a lockdown, which I think even you’d agree is anything but.

        1. Yik Wong

          Define lockdown for you?

          A protocol followed in an emergency that involves confining people in a secure place, such as the confinement of prison inmates in cells after a disturbance, or the locking of students and teachers in classrooms after a violent attack.
          n. A situation in which this protocol is undertaken.

          For example, If you can go shopping, even if only for essentials, it isn’t a lockdown.

          A lockdown means you stay physically contained and you can’t go out without prior consent on an individual case by case basis per person and per trip, and in the case of both Vietnam and China, you must and will be chaperoned by authorized personnel. Food, medicine, etc., all delivered to your doorstep.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    Interesting piece on about “ontology,” i.e. worldviews:

    Although ontology may be seen like arcane philosophical stuff – an arid topic for graduate students, and not so relevant for commoners and activists – that is emphatically not the case if we want to transform politics and culture. Silke and I made this argument in Chapter 2 of our book Free, Fair and Alive, in which we noted how dominant paradigms can blind us to realities right in front of our eyes. For example, many scientists in the 1840s simply could not make sense of newly discovered dinosaur fossils because, living within a worldview of Biblical creationism, they could not imagine the idea of deep time and biological evolution. Today, similarly, market capitalism is arguably the archaic paradigm. Living within its worldview makes it difficult to see the actual dynamics and power of our humanity and earthly systems.

    Note that Yves was onto the bolded point more than a decade ago.

    The article includes a link to a free PDF version of Free, Fair and Alive

    1. zagonostra

      Thanks for the link, though I am pessimistic that philosophy/ontology has any potential to make inroads in the public mind. Plato did his thing in Syracuse and left with a completely different attitude about the efficacy of philosophy when it enters the fray of politics in action (read his Seventh Letter).

      Unfortunately, most people have never taken a course on philosophy and if they did it was a cursory look in an intro class at first year University rather than a life-long pursuit that never ends and is the pursuit itself. I think that Gustave LeBon has a better take on what keeps “archaic paradigms” functioning in the modern State than what can be gleaned from classical philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Plotinus, etc…though personally I cherish the latter.

    2. Donald

      That part about scientists in the 1840’s not understanding deep time is false. Scientists of that time period largely accepted that the earth was much older than what the Bible depicted. The argument was between the uniformitarians and the catastrophists. And of course they didn’t know exactly how old the earth was, since radiometric dating wasn’t known yet.

      1. Tom Bradford

        There was also the problem that prior to the comprehension of nuclear physics in the 20th Century there was no known mechanism that would have kept the sun burning at a steady rate for any more than a few thousand years, so anyone arguing deep time was inevitably challenged with a then unanswerable question, rendering it a matter of faith that such a mechanism did, in fact, exist.

        1. Yik Wong

          That one can not explain something does not mean it does not exist, it only means you can’t explain how it functions. One need only show that life requires the sun, and life existed for more than a thousand years to render previous models false, without requiring a new model be proposed to render them false.

  7. zagonostra

    >Health Care: The Best and the Rest -New York Review of Books

    It is hard to imagine that anyone intended to design a system this dysfunctional. The good news, says Emanuel, is that underperformance of such magnitude inevitably spurs innovation.

    No the “good news” would have been that you call out the “dysfunctional” system as a result of its functioning as intended by those who profit from it and enough people would be so angry that those politicians who supposedly serve the people would fear for their political lives.

    The absence of universal coverage, combined with high deductibles and copays, made it less likely for people with symptoms to seek medical help, thus endangering them and the rest of us.

    So it’s not enough that the people need and can’t afford medical help that force us to rethink what a degenerate healthcare system we have that is in and of itself the topic but that these folks might endanger moi. That is the moral force that will change this abomination?

    Other industrialized nations have achieved universal coverage through automatic enrollment, and Emanuel thinks it could work here by funneling people into Medicaid or one of the lower-cost insurance exchanges.

    Yea right, let’s design a system that has healthcare for the rich and one for the poor. That’s always a good start no? A recent article in the rolling stone on the U.S. notes:

    In Canada, the experience is quite different. One interacts if not as peers, certainly as members of a wider community. The reason for this is very simple. The checkout person may not share your level of affluence, but they know that you know that they are getting a living wage because of the unions. And they know that you know that their kids and yours most probably go to the same neighborhood public school. Third, and most essential, they know that you know that if their children get sick, they will get exactly the same level of medical care not only of your children but of those of the prime minister. These three strands woven together become the fabric of Canadian social democracy.

    I’m sick and tired of the casuistry of an empire that spends trillions on killing machines when many of its own people are living in a state of fear, fear of getting sick, fear of losing their jobs, and fear of getting chewed up by a system that is designed to extract every little morsel of profit from their battered lives.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Does it get any more patronizing than a harvard trained physician and “chair” of a major university’s “Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy” advocating for assuaging elite guilt and “addressing” an increasingly dire public health crisis (NOT covid) by “funneling people” into the shittiest tier of the shittiest “healthcare” system in the developed world?

      Somebody needs to tell this sonofabitch that Soylent Green is a movie, not the product of a “no stupid ideas” ivy league brainstorming session.

    2. Maritimer

      “Third, and most essential, they know that you know that if their children get sick, they will get exactly the same level of medical care not only of your children but of those of the prime minister.”

      Absolute Bosh. The Prime Minister and all the other influential, connected, powerful Elite and their minions get Tier 1, limousine healthcare while the peons sit on long waiting lists and get Tier 2 healthcare if they get it in Time. These Influential number in the hundreds of thousands if not more. And Time is of the essence of course. Your affliction may get you before your position in the Waiting List gets you the care you need. Not to mention the suffering and probable loss of income in the Wait. If a Tier 1 patient needs care they just jump your position in the Waiting List. These Waiting Lists are not transparent and no independent outside body monitors them, so they are easiiy abused. Just one of many, many problems with CDN healthcare.

      Canada is run by an Elite with a rigged voting system and unrepresentative government.

      1. zagonostra

        Yeah it sounds incredible. But not “absolute bosh.” I could see even a rhetorical framing that favors a universal healthcare system, but not absolute bosh. I have family in Vancouver, BC, Montreal and Italy and yes the Elite will always get the best no matter where you live and what the system of government is. But there is a sense of dignity that is bestowed upon a citizen to receive and be able to afford healthcare. That doesn’t exist in the U.S. In not losing the forest for the trees, the system in the U.S. is predatory and shows a lack of concern for the least of us. So until the powers that be provide services that other countries afford to their citizens, I think the underlying premises of the article written is absolute bosh.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “I tried the foreskin facial treatment – so you don’t have to”

    Puts a whole new spin on getting a facial, doesn’t it? For the supply of raw materials, I would suggest they get in contact with a rabbi.

    1. dougie

      My step-son is involved in the dermatological skin care industry. Here is his response when I sent him the link

      “Lol! It’s a real thing. Human Growth Factors derived from neonatal human foreskin….sometimes applied post-medical microneedling.
      Thing is that the molecular weight of growth factors means they are WAY too large to penetrate and for any efficacy they rely on a cascade of intercellular signalling – that, as it happens, is made far more efficient by the patented TriHex Technology contained in Alastin products! (The only technology available that has the ability to signal clearance of the damaged proteins resulting from aging and sun damage that pollute skin’s extra-cellular matrix and impair cellular crosstalk (among many other things)
      Our Director of R&D was the founding formulation scientist at Skin
      medica who developed their Tissue Nutrient Solution- the gold standard in Human Growth Factors – and derived from Neonatal Human Foreskin.
      Ten years ago at Kolmar I worked with the docs who isolated and developed EGF – epidermal growth factor – which was used to grow tissue samples in petrie dishes for skin grafting on burn patients – that EGF was derived from e. Coli and came to us from S Korea in MICROGRAMS – by FAR the most expensive raw material we ever catalogued at Kolmar!”

      1. Rod

        which was used to grow tissue samples in petrie dishes for skin grafting on burn patients

        Emphasis and context on that in the Article would have been more appropriate and better reading, imo.

  9. russell1200

    It is good to see that article on urban wildfires talking about making the exterior of homes fireproof.

    The little downtowns in North Carolina have all these pretty brick building and presumably the buildings all had slate roofs. This wasn’t done to make downtowns pretty, but to keep a fire in one spot from lighting up the whole business district.

    A lot of the exteriors of modern homes are very vulnerable to fire. It isn’t talked about much, but neighbors do occasionally burn each other’s houses down by landing a rocket on the roof. And the combination of vinyl siding with wood chip mulch and certain summer grasses can be deadly.

    1. Wukchumni

      but neighbors do occasionally burn each other’s houses down by landing a rocket on the roof. And the combination of vinyl siding with wood chip mulch and certain summer grasses can be deadly.

      When I was in the prime of my juvenile delinquent era I kind of fancied myself a low rent Werner von Braun, that is if the latter had launched his rockets from the driveway of a suburban home.

      It was fraught with consequences especially when you used a D rocket engine, combined with wind and parachute drift, you’d lose 1 out of 4, so building them wasn’t so much for show but go.

      Watching it go up was one thing, the chase through the neighborhood trying to figure out where it went was something different altogether. I managed to not light any roofs on fire, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying.

      In homage to Werner I usually built Estes V-2 rockets (they called it something else) which were cheap & easy to put together, and great for terrorizing suburbs.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          FWIW, Homer is a really nice guy. See him every year at the Student Launch Initiative, with the launches occurring at a farm north of town. For some unknown reason, he keeps flogging an October Sky musical. Never saw the appeal…

        2. Wukchumni

          Have a different Homer in mind, a massive granite batholith which can be seen from 30 miles away, and due to the resemblance of one Joseph Homer’s proboscis way back when, earned it the moniker ‘Homers Nose’, and i’ve always wanted to visit but was put off by poison oak, but now the SQF fire is lazily headed towards it, so with an assist from a lightning bolt strike 5 weeks ago, here we are awaiting a prescribed low intensity inferno to do it’s thing, the first wildfire in the area since one torched 20,000 acres in 1928.

          I happen to know relatives of Joseph Homer, his great great niece & nephew are cabin owners in Mineral King, and report that there isn’t much to burn where their namesake lies, and as far as they know, no rhinoplasty was ever performed on said nose either.

      1. ambrit

        Well do I remember those “model” rockets.
        We used to launch from the playing field of the local Middle School. Retrieval in an urban environment was indeed an “adventure.”
        We, as a gang of ‘juvies,’ finally built a rough “bazooka” using “C” rails glued inside of a bit of carpet roll cardboard tube. We finally settled on a primitive ‘smooth bore’ design. Not our finest hour.

      2. expr

        I used to do similar things but before there were kits
        If I went to the drug store and tried to buy those chemicals now, DHS would visit.
        I got my early chemical knowledge from a book on military explosives someone left out for a boy scout paper drive.
        Worst possible fire starting experiment was a hot air balloon from a plastic cleaner bag, a balsa frame and a small alcohol lamp suspended below. it sailed off and I could not keep up with it

    2. The Rev Kev

      I was reading an account of 19th century town buildings in Oz. It was stated that when they were built of wood, that a fire in one could very easily take down the whole block and the radiant heat could also set afire the wooden buildings on the other side of the street. But as those towns prospered, merchants would build their stores in brick as it was found that they were far more defensible against a fire in the next building than a wooden one.

      1. Chris

        Another feature of shop building styles in Australian country towns was the use of an imposing brick facade, with the rest of the structure made of wood. If the shopkeeper felt that he was a cut above, he might commission brick walls facing the neighbouring properties. This was know as “putting on a bit of side”, and became a common description for ordinary folk who were getting a bit above themselves.

    3. Lee

      Brick houses are prone to serious damage and collapse during earthquakes and therefore not favored in California, whereas wooden houses fare pretty well when the earth shudders and bucks. So, if you want to live in the urban wildland interface around here under our increasingly xeric conditions, you better cut down all the trees, pave over the grassland, and call it suburbia.

    4. juliania

      The significant part of that article for me was that the particular wildfire described wasn’t a forest fire, but a grassfire made volatile by the temperature and wind so that it made its way up a ‘green space’ devastating homes either side of its path. Yet, in its path was one large tree, presumably well watered, which protected a child’s playhouse structure within.

      That comports with early family history of my fatherinlaw’s experience of a brush fire around his home, the latter being saved by a well watered lawn and trees on the perimeter. In dry country that had seemed an extravagance, until it wasn’t.

  10. Wukchumni

    Goooood Mooooorning Fiatnam!

    We were on a long range patrol in Huang Tri province nearing the end of our assorted ropes, as the VC (venture capitalists) were nowhere to be seen for a resupply. Occasionally we’d run across a hit & run financial statement pinned to a palm tree like so many financial tombstones as if it was done in a horrible hurry, albeit most observed were the size of a business card and purposefully vague in terms of profit & loss.

  11. lcn

    Yup, MMT for the rich is okey. MMT for the middle class and the hoi-polloi – now hold on, we have to think about that.

    Mnuchin has a slush fund of $4 trillion to make sure Wall Street doesn’t experience cold spasm in this pandemic recession.

    1. Wukchumni

      I want my…
      I want my MMT
      I want my…
      I want my MMT
      I want my…
      I want my MMT
      I want my…
      I want my MMT

      Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it
      You play perpetual notion on the MMT
      That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
      Money for nothin,’ and your clicks for free
      Now that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
      Lemme tell ya, them HiFi guys ain’t dumb
      Maybe get a blister on your little finger
      Maybe get a blister on your thumb

      I shoulda learned to type out numbers
      I shoulda learned to play them sums
      Look at that Fed guy he’s really giving it to the camera
      Man, we could have some
      And he’s up there, what’s that? negative interest rate noises?
      He’s bangin’ on the bond market like a chimp in heat
      Oh, that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
      Get your money for nothin’, get your clicks for free

  12. a different chris

    Great rant in Counterpunch but…unfortunately she put this in:

    >Right now we are like caged animals in a zoo. I don’t know if an animal raised in captivity can ever behave in a “normal” fashion.

    And that stopped me cold. I don’t think we can fix this.

    1. hunkerdown

      That is a valid concern. If we get another clear chance, it’s important to take Ian Welsh’s advice and not neglect the post-revolutionary purge under any circumstances. In the meantime, build soil and ideological refugia.

    2. Roquentin

      What a lot of people don’t seem to get is that politics is a long game, not a short one. Trends develop over years, even decades, and even in an extreme event like war political attitudes can remain pretty static (hence why people will face all sorts of death and hardship for these long-established belief). A truly free and fair election is sort of like taking a sample of river water to gauge the quality. You can get a very good read of what public opinion is, but it does little to actually solve or clean up these social problems. Trends which were years in the making take years of hard work to undo.

  13. NotTimothyGeithner

    Pence is really crazy, so that is one difference.

    For the most part, the reaction of officialdom is reflective of their belief in America’s divine right. Why would stocks change too much given the known, and long term probability of a Biden reelection? America’s enemies? They only exist as justification for why the US is such a dump. Lincoln being replaced by Johnson in 1862 might have been problematic, but for the most part, I feel like this is all about making Americans feel good about their place in the world. Our President is just that important, even though we have a system to have a replacement on hand.

  14. Wukchumni

    The fall of the house of ushers…
    Regal Cinemas Likely Suspending Operations at All U.S. Locations WSJ Follows a similar link I posted yesterday for the UK.

    We weren’t really going all that much anyway before Covid, and think of the octoplex as being the pinnacle of possibilities once upon a time-now it seems like so many potential death chambers.

    What do you do with uniquely useless buildings such as movie theaters in their next in car nation?

    1. ambrit

      Let FEMA take them over and use them as proper ‘re-education’ centres. That’ll free up a lot of unused Bigg Boxx Store space for the Zeta Reticulan matter transporter teams.

    2. Darius

      I went to a Cinemark theater in Ohio last month. They had implemented all kinds of social distancing and cleanliness. I think it can be done.

      In fact, I think most activities can be adapted to the current reality. Too many people are in the mode of either never leaving the house, or acting like this isn’t a thing. I suppose many, if not most, people just don’t want to have think about behaving safely. But the Cinemark experience was evidence to me that businesses and other institutions can adapt.

  15. Off The Street

    How will the New York Times, for example, begin to attempt to re-establish some degree of credibility? Based on past behavior predicting future behavior, that does not present a favorable scenario absent some exogenous input.

    The Grey Lady is not alone in failing to preserve some shred of dignity and objectivity, where op blends in with, and is disguised as, ed.

    1. divadab

      They’ve lost me forever. Utterly worthless as a source of information, as are any of the teevee networks. It’s as if they never heard the story of the boy who cried wolf – they think they can lie and fool people til kingdom come.

      But try telling anyone who habitually gets their news from any network that they are brainwashed. You might lose a friend, as I did – a highly intelligent person who was convinced that Trump was an agent of Russian organized crime, and that since I poo-pood this ridiculous accusation (I mean, Trump has friends in organized crime, but they are American, not Russian) – he became convinced that I was a white supremacist MAGA hat-wearing type. What a maroon! But there sure are a lot of these brainwashed maroons running around with their hair on fire. Who needs brainwashed maroons as friends, anyway? It still hurts, tho.

      1. Harold

        They are everywhere! People you never would have thought — that you’ve known for years. I have learned to keep my mouth shut. If they learn what’s what, it won’t be from me.

      2. lordkoos

        I’ve lost quite a few friends from making remarks online. Criticizing Democrats, questioning the Russia!!! paranoia, pointing out that mainstream media is propaganda, that social media is a huge problem, etc — people do not like having their beliefs challenged. I also see quite a few friends falling into the various rabbit holes and conspiracies that are now all around. No one knows what is true any longer.

  16. lcn

    From Commondreams:

    Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health, tweeted Sunday that “if Donald Trump were my patient, in unstable condition plus a contagious illness, and he suddenly left the hospital to go for a car ride that endangers himself and others: I’d call security to restrain him then perform a psychiatric evaluation to examine his decision-making capacity.”

    The madness continue.

    1. Wukchumni

      I agree, and if the President had his wits about him would’ve gotten Sally Field to do his ‘acceptance speech’ for him instead.

      1. ambrit

        Accepting what exactly? Mortality?
        I can see it now. Trump is making his Triumph, riding the Presidential Charriot through ‘Foggy Bottom,’ while Sally stands behind him, holding the laurel wreath above his head, all the time whispering in his ear; “Remember, thou too are but an extra, not even Actors Equity!”

        1. Wukchumni

          In the back seat of the vehicle, Dale Carnegie doing lines of uppers, as if the commander in chief needs reinforcement.

    2. MK

      Like it or not, the office of the President is different and special regardless of who is in office and whether or not you agree with his politics.

      Dr. Wen certainly can daydream about ordering the President around, but it shows her disconnect from reality. A common trait of TDS.

      1. The Historian

        Special? Like being a king or something? I thought the point of our politics was that the President should not be all that different from the rest of us.

        1. ambrit

          American political relationships have changed over the last seventy years or so. It is called the Imperial Presidency for good reason. The Republic died back around 1950.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Teddy Roosevelt use to meet members of the public in front of the White House and used to shake their hands. One time in 1907 he shook hands with 8,510 people which was a record that stood for 70 years.

              1. km

                Roosevelt and pals also used to take “point to point” walks, complete with trespassing on various private properties and swimming in the Potomac.

        2. mike

          As President, his responsibilities are a little bit greater than the rest of us. So, yes that makes his case special. Your refusal to acknowledge that is an easy TDS tell.

          1. lcn


            What Presidential responsibility did he perform going out endangering the health and lives of other people when he is supposed to be on a medical quarantine?

            1. edmondo

              The same one he performed by waiting until the stock market closed on Friday to go to the hospital.

              On Sunday stock futures were flat. After the little ride around (which I agree I wouldn’t participate in if I were a an agent) stock futures rose 150 points. I don’t think it was necessary but I understand why he did it.

              1. lcn

                Ah yes, of course, the stock market. The well being of stockholders must be protected first and foremost

                How could have I missed that, silly me.

            2. hunkerdown

              Providing an emotionally rationalizing narrative for bourgeois ambition and the mass of humanity they dominate and rob blind. The purpose of bourgeois society is to reproduce itself as such. The purpose of private home ownership is to have lots of people invested in predation. That’s it.

              1. lordkoos

                Once you start having children and buy a home, the system has you. I never had kids and the more time goes by the more I’m happier about that choice. Have owned a couple of houses over the years but now we rent and are debt-free. Of course when you are subjected to advertising and propaganda of one sort or another throughout your life it can be difficult to make informed choices.

          2. edmondo

            The Commander in Chief is sitting in a military hospital and she is going to have him committed? The Secret Service might have other ideas.

            Yes. One more month until the election. Does TDS cure itself or is an exorcism required?

            1. hunkerdown

              Reagan let the neoliberals out of the funny farm 50 years ago. It falls to us to round them all up and put them back.

            2. lcn

              The CIC is infected with a virus that has so far killed over a million. If he doesn’t want to be under the protocol and SOP of that medical facility he could always go back to his West Wing bunker and get himself cured there.

              1. edmondo

                perhaps you need to understand that no doctor in any hospital (except a mental facility) can force any patient to do anything against his/her will.. It’s against the medical code of ethics

                1. lcn

                  And there’s a protocol in the treatment of contagious disease that the patient must follow because he can endanger the lives of others.

                  Trump wasn’t being treated for arthritis or a bullet wound.

        1. Wukchumni

          Who doesn’t want to be the star of their very own Indy 500 (feet) slow speed race utilizing the yellow caution flag while contagious?

          Don’t try and make sense of it, this was the first time President Trump has ever allowed himself to appear weak, and once you’ve breached the drawbridge and get into the fortress of his mind, demons do lurk there.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      …I’d call security to restrain him…

      And then those guys who talk into their wrists would shoot your security.

        1. Wukchumni

          Cali is the nickname that everybody refers to the late Roman Emperor by, here in the Golden State.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Oh please. All presidents are guarded by the Secret Service (except when on the Lolita Express with Jeffery Epsrein). Get me the list of political enemies Trump has had executed and thrown in the Potomac. A tweet is not a bludgeon.

          But waning days of the American empire, I’ll give you that.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      “Dr.” Leana Wen also said, “In the absence of trusted information, we are left to speculate on a matter as consequential as the president’s health.”

      “Speculation” is neither informed commentary nor a basis for scientific diagnosis.

      But, Wen is a charter member of the msnbs TDS media mob so that line was eradicated 4+ years ago.

      1. lcn

        That was because in the context of conflicting accounts between Dr. Conley and Mark Meadows.

        Nothing to do with scientific diagnosis.

        1. Wukchumni

          I only learned that ACB had contracted Covid many months ago once the Rose Garden Party ‘reservation’ list came out.

          Was I just not paying attention and the news had been divulged previously on the sly, and do we really want somebody afflicted with it who might suffer from add-on injuries internally, doing 30 to life?

        2. hunkerdown

          So it was a manager caviling about what they’d do if they were in power, in a situation to which they are not actually privy? She should lose her license for diagnosing a patient without looking at her chart. Oh, and for her arrogance.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “The idea of moving out of my parents’ house in 2020 is scarier than I thought it would be”

    What we have here is a Failure to Launch, errrr Communicate. Lots of millennials have no choice but to move back home but the guy deliberately chosen for this article does. I mean, when he goes apartment hunting, he goes with his mother. Seriously? When I was leaving school in the 70s, the norm was to leave home fast. Bringing home a girlfriend to stop the night at your parent’s home was, after all, a bit of a buzz kill. Typically after leaving home, you would share a house with several other people and enjoy the social life while you worked. Often people went to the UK and Europe and many went via the overland route. Over time you would chart a more independent course or find someone that you wanted to share a place with together. I have no idea what it is like for young school leavers these days in Oz. Probably fewer choices. But that is true across the board when comparing the 1970s to the 2020s.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Oh, she’s “communicating,” albeit on the level of “See Spot run,” which seems about commensurate with her level of emotional maturity.

      Shelby Stewart is bringing her love for Houston to She’s excited to cover all things Houston. Culture aside, she loves politics, DJ Screw, and food.

      Dick and Jane do Houston. Sounds stimulating.

    2. Lee

      While my home leaving in the late 60s was as you describe, multigenerational households are and have been the norm in much of the world. While I found living with my parents intolerable in my youth, my parents did live with us for a time when their health was failing. Whatever works, works. Judgements in this regard are both absurd and obnoxious.

    3. Lee

      While my home leaving in the late 60s was as you describe, multigenerational households are and have been the norm in much of the world. While I found living with my parents intolerable in my youth, my parents did live with us for a time when their health was failing. Whatever works, works. Judgements in this regard are both absurd and obnoxious.

        1. edmondo

          OMG. What a coincidence! There’s another guy named Lee who has lead a very similar life as you.


          If this was FaceBook, you’d have three separate accounts by now.

    4. lordkoos

      Yes, for most of human history families lived in homes or compounds that contained multiple generations. Modern life in the west is something of an aberration, people once lived together with their children, parents and grandparents. If not in the same house, at least in the same town or village.


    RE: “The idea of moving out of my parents’ house in 2020 is scarier than I thought it would be”

    I’m going to be honest…this article was hard to read.

    Though to be fair, I am of two minds.

    On the one hand, I applaude familial solidarity on priciple. I think the uniquely western practice of dissolving the nuclear family once a child reaches the age of 18 to be… not sure how to phrase it. Counterproductive. I believe in bilateral and mutually supportive obligations, in the confucian sense of finial piety and parental obligation. Maybe not as intensly or strictly as classical Confucian doctrine would dictate, but on principle, I think that mindset is healthy.

    On the other hand… this particular example is honestly just pathetic. I hate to judge character at an arms length and with such short exposure… but this has all the characteristics of a weak- willed person who, despite intensive investments in education, is obviously unprepared for the rigors of modern life.

    It’s sad, more than anything, that we as a culture have reduce a good chunk of a generation to this level.

    1. phoenix

      It’s systemic and the only solution is to enact sensible economic policies that will destroy the old’s precious asset/home values as a result. So something has to give

      1. hunkerdown

        The doctrine of filial piety demands that we sacrifice the best years of our lives to the vicarious benefit of people who would have been better off enjoying them for themselves in the first place.

        If parents want to be worshipped, they should grow up, get over themselves, and stop using their economic power to implant their hangups in the next generation.

    1. hunkerdown

      They’ve owned and operated the USA as a (natural and human) resource colony since 1947. They’re just formalizing it now.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw that earlier and what they say is true. There is no entry for the “Grayzone” on Wikipedia and Jimmy Dore’s entry reads like a smear job. A very disturbing video this.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The Max Blumenthal 9K piece “‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary” [ ] is well worth reading. Thank you for pointing to this in your comment and for making me aware of the “Grayzone”. I had to search for Max Blumenthal to figure out what you and The Rev Kev were referring to.

      I am surprised the “Planet of the Humans” has so seldom come up at NakedCapitalism. I’ll have to watch it again. It was like watching an hour and a half of Dorothy’s Toto pulling back the curtain on one Climate Wizard after another. It was also very disheartening to see how many Climate ‘heroes’ were by their own words and actions exposed as little more than greedy shills. It was also surprising how very cheaply they could be bought as detailed in Max Blumenthal’s article.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “As cold weather arrives, U.S. states see record increases in COVID-19 cases”

    Remember several months ago when all these people in the media were saying that the virus would disappear in hot weather? In spite of the fact that it was raging through the Middle East which is not known for its icy weather? I’m just waiting for someone in the media now to say that perhaps the virus will disappear in the cold weather as people stay indoors.

  20. JohnH

    I’m with mom, my GF is with her parents. I am a music instructor/tutor, she is a massage therapist. We can’t work or conduct business safely as a matter of personal and public health, and neither of us is in a position to sign or re-sign a lease. She had begun shopping for a house over winter, but with all of this, the prospect of getting a loan is pretty much dashed anyway.

    She is 44, I’m 42. She has a teen daughter, we are not young by most people’s definition. This has been pretty life-mangling for us. But we consider ourselves lucky in a lot of ways. I expect there are many such stories out there among the U6 segment, which I myself have been repping for since 2008. S/O U6 proles

    1. juliania

      Yes, there are. Indeed there are! Hang in there – all you 40 somethings. Thanks for posting this.

  21. zagonostra

    >Carl Sagan – Using money for the wrong stuff

    Amazing short clip of Ted Turner from 30 years ago asking Carl Sagan if he is a socialist. Just drives home how much Buffet was right when he said there was a class war and my side won.

  22. Wukchumni

    Trump just got a dose of Regeneron’s unapproved antibody drug for covid MIT Technology Review
    He probably got the placebo ‘Regime Nero’n’ for all he did was fiddle around as the crisis was burning.

  23. threeskies

    Thanks Donald. I go “geologizing”–gazing at roadcuts, sometimes pulling off the road to touch–VT has some beauties–when gazing at people (from the safety of the car) coming and going in parking lots, saddens me too much. Iain Stewart’s show on deep time is posh.

  24. km

    Sorry if this is blocked by a paywall.

    TL:DR – BLM activist threatened with multiple specific threats of violence. City Attorney refuses to do jack about it, because “not sufficiently specific”.

    Bull. If the target were someone law enforcement wanted to protect, they’d be on that tip like the stink on [familyblog].

  25. ChrisAtRU

    Today’s sprited discussions above bear testament to the genius of Trump’s chaos while piling on to the indictment of #LameStreamMedia as complicit in their myopic focus on virtue signaling as opposed to real issues facing the country.

    All These Things Can Be True:

    Trump had no right – while being treated for COVID-19 – to take a secret service detail out for a joyride.
    Did he endanger secret service? Possibly. As much as perhaps doctors and nurses who wore PPE while treating patients got COVID anyway. However, the media screeching is less about that than it is about the “optics”. Trump refuses to play the part of the infirm, and to anyone who expected differently, an eye-roll and a muted tut-tut is well deserved. Before anyone takes offense, I will say that in the immediate aftermath, I felt the same. Closer inspection reveals that this is exactly what Trump wanted. Tut-tut …

    Our national media is useless. He is still their pied piper. How much news got buried while national outlets kept their cameras focused on the half dozen or so flag waving numpties outside Walter Reed? “Trump is a narcissist!” they scream, while giving him all the attention he craves and more. The good news is that the “empathy honeymoon” appears to be over. They’re back to hating him, albeit under a thin veneer of well-wishes. Proof positive was the co-ordinated re-emergence of #Russia/#Communism as a talking point. See Chris Hayes’ vapid tweet about this (situation) having a “very Soviet feel”, and others like it mentioning everything from the DPRK to Hugo Chavez.

    UGH …

  26. a different chris

    And this, is how completely messed up our legal minds, right and left I guess but they are on a planet of their own really, are:

    “I would not be surprised if opponents misrepresent or caricature originalism on incendiary topics,” [Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan] Adler said. “The fact that some founders had retrograde views on a range of subjects doesn’t control what the text itself means.”

    Barrett falls into a faction of originalists who seek out the original meaning of the Constitution by asking what the generally understood meaning of the text was at the time of ratification, “as opposed to actually trying to get into the head of James Madison,” said Princeton University jurisprudence professor Robert George

    Ok, so you need to figure out the “original meaning of the Constitution” but it would be silly to take into account what the people that wrote it thought.

    Give. Me. A. Break. Madison’s pen must have went completely out of his control and wrote the 2nd Amendment all by itself. I guess that explains why it is near incoherent.

    If my babbling didn’t put you into a coma here is the whole story, as the legal profession express itself in its full glory:

  27. Phil in KC

    The poll cited by Matt Stoller in a tweet is for registered voters. I don’t know why WSJ/NBC would go to such trouble to produce this type of poll. Polls of likely voters are more accurate, and these are the type of surveys that merit our attention as Election Day nears. I’m curious if they weeded out those who have already voted?

    I believe this is the same poll that showed Trump’s pugnacious debate appearance cost him substantial support among the 65 + crowd. Leave it to the grandparents to recognize good manner and social graces!

    1. SalonBee

      Apparantly that poll changed its methodology significantly relative to the last poll. The last poll had a D+3 sample, and the most recent poll had a D+8 sample. A gain of 5 or 6 points is not surprising based on big change in sample. This poll really looks like it is trying to set the conversation rather than reflecting the current state of the race.

  28. Maritimer

    Furious blame game erupts between PHE and testing tsar Dido Harding after 16,000 Covid cases are missed because an ‘Excel spreadsheet maxed out and wouldn’t update’ – meaning thousands of potentially infected contacts slipped through net Daily Mail

    Wonder how the Excel or other creaking software are doing over at the Nuke/Pentagon/biotech/nanotech/anytech facilities? What could go wrong?

    Machines will set you free.

  29. VietnamVet

    Without a vaccine or effective treatment, the only way to control coronavirus is to stop its transmission. Prevent the infected infecting the uninfected. As a bonus, it eradicates the virus if done properly. Life can go back to normal as long as there is a public health system to catch the scofflaws and strong borders to keep infected from getting in (i.e. China & New Zealand). Both measures are adamantly opposed by Western Oligarchs.

    The USA is doing nothing right. That is why it is #1. Donald Trump by his tour and return to the White House while still infectious risks everyone he comes in contact with who is not wearing PPE. It is incredibly selfish to risk the lives of others to get re-elected President. But then that is what Presidents do. But still, there is no benefit to exposing others for a photo-ops except to satisfy his own psychological needs since they increase the risk of spreading of the virus not ending it.

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