57 thoughts on “Parallels

  1. Moses Herzog

    Some tweets in Ziva Branstetter’s twitter feed



    She’s an Editor at WaPo. That’s pretty good stuff in my book.

    This last one, I mean part of me says it’s “tasteless” because it’s making a “joke” about of people dying. And another side of me says “He’s a very intelligent Jewish comedian, how else than humor would he say what he’s saying??”–which actually is a substantive point.
    https://twitter.com/GavinNewsom/status/1245120700517502976 . <<—this also was from Ziva Branstetter's twitter feed. Her father is a Physics prof in Arkansas. I mean, not to bad for a Physics Prof progeny, yeah??–better than Bruce Hall's.

  2. Moses Herzog

    I wanna say, as a friend who takes Menzie as someone who can see things before others ado. and Menzie is a guy to takes his Americanism very deeply, that there was a lot of talk at that time about Saudi Arabia’s relation to Cheney, Bush, and the Pentagon and a useful excuse to create and SELL weapons:

    Here’s nice one my Chinese friends liked in the karaoke

  3. Alan Goldhammer

    There have been so many failures in the response to SARS-CoV-2 that I am having trouble keeping track of them all. As I’ve noted in previous posts, I have been spending several hours a day tracking developments in the drug, vaccine, and diagnostics area where I have the semblance of expertise. It’s been truly amazing how much knowledge has been generated over the past several months. Yet, we have an R&D infrastructure that not capable of taking advantage of this. We cannot do observational trials such as looking at the drug utilization of approved FDA drugs and whether those patients are being hospitalized for SARS-CoV-2 (a good example here is whether the commonly used blood pressure drug, losartan, which has been identified in AI programs as a potential virus binding inhibitor). We cannot design quick adaptive clinical trials to provide clinicians with good evidence about whether hydroxychloroquine is useful and if it is for which patients and at what time (e.g., prophylaxis, early in infection, or treatment of critically ill patients).

    Paul Romer was on Noah Feldman’s ‘Deep Background’ podcast (you can get there from your own podcast app or Google and it’s worth listening to) yesterday advocating for the testing of everyone in the US at 14 day intervals to determine who should be quarantined and who can remain at work. Of course this would be a massing undertaking but we would quickly find out good numbers on those who have been infected clinically asymptomatic and in need of no further testing. Keeping the economy running at a small-scale and gradually increasing output as real time data comes in is surely better than the status quo. I’ll leave it to the economists to model this.

    The failure of imagination as with what happened in 9/11 has been massive.

    1. pgl

      A lot of good things could have been done sooner and better as you note. Wasn’t that why we had a pandemic response team? Now if you head over to the Trump sycophants they strongly dispute that Trump dismantled this crucial team claiming it was only reorganized. Of course the National Review routinely lies to its readers so let’s check another source:


      Legum outlined a series of cost-cutting decisions made by the Trump administration in preceding years that had gutted the nation’s infectious disease defense infrastructure. The “pandemic response team” firing claim referred to news accounts from Spring 2018 reporting that White House officials tasked with directing a national response to a pandemic had been ousted. Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer abruptly departed from his post leading the global health security team on the National Security Council in May 2018 amid a reorganization of the council by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Ziemer’s team was disbanded. Tom Bossert, whom the Washington Post reported “had called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks,” had been fired one month prior. It’s thus true that the Trump administration axed the executive branch team responsible for coordinating a response to a pandemic and did not replace it, eliminating Ziemer’s position and reassigning others, although Bolton was the executive at the top of the National Security Council chain of command at the time. Legum stated in a follow-up tweet that “Trump also cut funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics in 39 of 49 countries in 2018. Among the countries abandoned? China.”

      Let’s stop there. So the reorganization was a cost cutting measure. I guess we had to cut costs to pay for that tax cut for the rich! So who replaced Ziemer’s team? My best guess is that all of this was assigned to Lawrence Kudlow! How is this reorganization and cost cutting working out:

      On Feb. 24, 2020, the Trump administration requested $2.5 billion to address the coronavirus outbreak, an outlay critics asserted might not have been necessary if the previous program cuts had not taken place. Fortune reported of the issue that:
      The cuts could be especially problematic as COVID-19 continues to spread. Health officials are now warning the U.S. is unlikely to be spared, even though cases are minimal here so far.
      “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press call [on Feb. 25

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Apparently not everybody on the NSC pandemic team was fired. Their director was fired and the remnant of the team was buried in a more general crisis group along with two other groups. Supposedly that remnant continued to work on pandemics, but clearly they were sidelined and going to be ignored.

        A sign of that more general ignoring came out today. Apparently related to the 2019 Economic Report of the President two WH economists actually did a study of the economic impacts of a major pandemic that would kill several hundred thousand people. This report recommended ramping up efforts on vaccines and other medical supplied, but, of course, it was ignored.

        1. baffling

          this cost cutting goes along with the general approach of business types to eliminate contingency planning. i am sure there is not a contingency plan out there that trump and kushner would not love to “cut” to demonstrate their budgetary prowess-think jack welch here. they will claim the savings on their end. but the resulting $2 trillion dollar bill because we had no contingency plans? not their problem, at least in their worldview.

          1. Willie

            It is junior MBA syndrome. Lots of buzzwords, lots of ‘tough’ cutting, not a lot of thinking. It leads to ruin. This seems off topic, but bear with me. My favorite book about business is Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry by Bert Hopwood. It is all about cutting costs on the boring but essential stuff, losing track of what is important, and getting bogged down in hucksterism without substance. Hopwood was an engineer who rose through the ranks, starting as a draftsman. We are seeing the same kind of failure to focus on what is important, only on a national scale.

        2. pgl

          Interesting about that Economic Report of the President. Of course Trump never read it as he relies on that Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Lawrence Kudlow. Oh wait – Kudlow does not have a Ph.D. in economics. That’s right – he is a medical doctor specializing in COVID-19, which is why we had to trust him when he declared we had this under control.

    1. Edward Hanson

      A major finding from the paper, which is about a flu pandemic, (something I thought this string’s participants have decidedly determined this pandemic is not flu), begins with this; “The expected value of having a vaccine available at the outset of a pandemic” I am interested in who here believe that a vaccine could have been available for this brand new virus which is not a flu.


        1. Edward Hanson

          You are right, I meant to post this

          Interesting that the US has declassified and allowed such documents to to made public. With few exceptions, such as Hilary Clinton destruction of her emails followed by the destruction of the server and phones, how far ahead in acts leading to freedom then countries like Red China. Anyone here think the communist leadership of China will release such documentation. After all, it is they who have the best knowledge of the first weeks of the pandemic.


          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Ed Hanson: Just trying to remember, what did the Trump admin DoJ determine re: those emails? No laws violated. You are impervious to information and logic. The PDB of 6 Aug 2001 was released by virtue of the 9/11 Commission subpoena. You would’ve liked that to stay hidden, I’m sure. As for comparisons with “Red China”, just because the CCP acts badly, does that mean we should aspire to emulate? Seems to me that’s what you’re asserting. So, just because Hitler did what he did, it would’ve been okay for the US to do similar things?

          2. baffling

            “After all, it is they who have the best knowledge of the first weeks of the pandemic.”
            ed, our own intelligence community provided us with evidence of what was happening early in china. the trump administration chose to ignore it, and focus on the economic risks rather than the medical risks. while i am no fan of “Red China”- and i point out you use that term as an intentional dog whistle- i will state to you without doubt that the chinese government responded orders of magnitude better to the crisis than the trump administration. we will end up with a death toll close to a million folks, most likely, and china will have a fraction of that number. maga leadership may affect your demographics survivability, ed.

          3. 2slugbaits

            Ed Hanson the US has declassified and allowed such documents to to made public. With few exceptions, such as Hilary Clinton destruction of her emails

            Funny that you didn’t mention those Ukrainegate documents that Team Trump classified and then resisted providing them to the House impeachment lawyers. Instead you mentioned some personal “mother/daughter talk” emails. Why are you so interested in those personal emails? Do you have some prurient interest in what they might say? Are you allowed to come within 1000 feet of a schoolyard?

            That said, I’ll at least give you credit for having the courage to come out of hiding since the COVID-19 pandemic blow-up. Most of your fellow-travelers have gone all radio silence. The last time we heard from Bruce Hall he was promoting some quack fraudster on the Laura Ingraham show. And sammy left with his tail between his legs after an especially asinine series of posts.

            BTW, you’d be surprised at how trivial some of the stuff is that’s classified. My favorite was back in the early days of the Iraq War when I’d have to sit in a secure room to get a classified briefing on the current weather in Baghdad…as though the Iraqis couldn’t just stick their head out the door to check the current weather. Spoiler alert…it was always hot and dry.

          4. noneconomist

            What would an email from Ed be–in the midst of the current pandemic–without mention of Clinton emails? From her time as Secretary of State, ending with her resignation in 2013 and ending (except for Ed) with any decision to continue investigation of any wrongdoing in 2016?
            Earth to Ed. Earth to Ed. It’s 2020. Come in Ed.
            Or not., I
            Still out there, somewhere, is JBH ( self proclaimed constitutional scholar, economist, and wealthy advisor to the rich and famous) who I have no doubt, is still patiently waiting for the deportation of 92,000 traitors to Gitmo, many of whom, also no doubt, are responsible for the spread of the virus, and who also know the whereabouts of the Clinton emails.

          5. pgl

            “Most of your fellow-travelers have gone all radio silence. The last time we heard from Bruce Hall he was promoting some quack fraudster on the Laura Ingraham show. ” – part of what 2slug said. Brucie boy told us that those anti-malaria drugs would solve all problems. Well the trials are in from China and these vaunted treatments do nothing of value for COVID-19. Of course Bruce Hall and his fellow Trump hucksters have ignored the treatment being tried by Gilead. We may hear by today the results of the phase III trials in China.

            If a Trump sycophant is touting some biopharma stock, you can make a fortune by selling it short.

          6. Barkley Rosser


            I agree that “Red China’s” response has been a lot better than the US one. But it looks pretty bad compared to that of some of its neighbors like Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, all of which got on testing and tracing while the Chinese government was bringing to the police station medical people who were reporting on developments in Wuhan to tell them to cut it out.

            BTW, all three of those have managed to keep the virus under pretty good control without trashing their economies. It is a great irony that we are going to have a trashed economy because Trump dawdled around out of fear of hurting the stock market. If he had imitated those countries, it is much more likely we (and he) would have both an economy and a stock market in much better shape than we do (and will have).

      1. baffling

        “something I thought this string’s participants have decidedly determined this pandemic is not flu”
        ed, you are being dishonest and trying to change the discussion here. the argument here as to why it is not “just the flu” was because the disease was more deadly and we had no effective therapeutics for treatment. sorry you fail to understand that distinction.

  4. Rick Stryker


    Trump is right of course, as usual.

    Let’s take the ventilator situation for example. Why don’t we have enough in the strategic stockpile? As the NY Times reported, (but very carefully avoiding identifying the Administration at fault ) the Obama Administration kicked off a plan to add ventilators to the national stockpile in 2009. They worked for 8 years on the project. How many ventilators did they deliver during that period? Zero. That’s right, zero. Total failure, which was the hallmark of that Administration.

    Cuomo had the opportunity to add 19,000 ventilators to the NY stockpile in 2015, since his own public health department noted that NY is particularly susceptible to a pandemic. How many ventilators did Cuomo buy? Zero. That’s right, zero. Instead, Cuomo directed that a plan be drawn up for bureaucrats to ration ventilators.

    Trump on the other hand put public private partnerships together very fast. Ford and GE will make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days and 30,000 per month thereafter. Obama couldn’t deliver one ventilator in 8 years.

    Or let’s look at the testing situation. The CDC was set up just like the progressive technocrats wanted. The CDC and the FDA are in charge of all tests. Nobody else could produce a test without their permission. Except that the CDC failed to deliver a useful test and then dithered for over a month. Trump stepped in and created a public-private partnership very quickly, essentially privatizing the testing. This is exactly what South Korea did as well. In 2015, the Korean CDC was set up just like the US CDC, with a government monopoly on testing run by technocrats and bureaucrats. The Korean CDC also failed to deliver a test that worked in 2015 during the MERS epidemic. South Korea responded by setting a system of public-private partnership, in which 90% of tests are produced by private companies. It took Korea 2 years to execute this reform, which is why their testing was so effective when the pandemic hit. Trump didn’t have 2 years to implement that strategy. He did it in 2 months. Testing is getting better and better every day, thanks to Trump. If he left the job to the technocrats, we’d be nowhere right now.

    It’s amazing to watch Cuomo and de Blasio whine about what they need. But they are governor and mayor of NY and NYC. You’d think that they would have had pandemic plans, considering the population density of NYC, and especially when you consider the taxes they charge. But they have nothing. No plans, no supplies in storage, nothing. They can’t even negotiate to get their own medical supplies. Trump has had to bail them out. As an example, Trump asked Jared Kushner to expedite getting medical supplies from Asian supply chains. Kushner quickly put together a public private partnership called project airbridge. US companies bought the supplies. But rather than have them shipped, which is normal and takes 20-40 days, the white house coordinated air transport. The first of the supplies that landed from Shanghai went right to NY and NJ. It’s because of Trump’s efforts that NY hospitals have been resupplied.

    1. The Rage

      Errr, nope. Creating fantasies for dialectical nonsense is globalism. Trump reduced the number of ventilators and the number of all medical goods. We’re you too stupid to know???

    2. 2slugbaits

      Rick Stryker In the true spirit of a Trump worshiper you deliberately misrepresented what the NYT article actually said. The truth is well known. The NYT article was not about the incompetency of the Obama Administration, it was about the thoroughly corrupt world of privately owned companies providing medical equipment. The Covidian story is well known. They saw the newer and cheaper ventilators as a threat to their existing business, so they bought out the competition and then snuffed the new product line. This was no public/private partnership; it was a case of the private company bailing out of a contract.

      As to testing, it turns out that the CDC was right to be concerned about the reliability of all of the tests that were being used by other countries. The CDC wanted to improve the accuracy of the tests, which (according to WSJ reporting) all suffer from a 30% false negative rate. It’s because all of them rely upon swabs that don’t reliably pick-up the virus.

      As to stockpiling at the local level, that is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Take a course in Logistics 101.

      Trump on the other hand put public private partnerships together very fast. Ford and GE will make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days and 30,000 per month thereafter.

      Trump was briefed on the seriousness of the threat more than 100 days ago. If he had acted when at the time, then we would have had enough ventilators today.

      1. pgl

        Ed bashes Obama for not moving heaven and earth to gear up for some potential future health crisis. Why? Because this sycophant has to move heaven and earth and bend all reality to excuse Trump for slow rolling a response to a current and very serious health crisis. Go figure!

      2. Ulenspiegel

        “As to testing, it turns out that the CDC was right to be concerned about the reliability of all of the tests that were being used by other countries. The CDC wanted to improve the accuracy of the tests, which (according to WSJ reporting) all suffer from a 30% false negative rate. It’s because all of them rely upon swabs that don’t reliably pick-up the virus.”

        That is complete BS. The WHO test was developed by Drosten group (Charite Berlin) and was validated until 15th of January by many European institutions. It is highly reliable. You can use google scholar to find the papers.

        The 30% false negative rate comes from the fact that after 10 days a patient does not have longer virus in the throat, you have to take virus from the lung or do CT instead, but that is basic stuff for people with knowledge.

        And it is a shame that stupid journalist spread this inaccurate information of 30% false negative results, and it is even more stupid when some physicians recycle it.

        The screw up of the CDC was the decision to run a centralised testing regime and the unability top provide a test that was as good as the WHO test in time.

    3. macroduck

      Ah, what-about-ism. The tried and true rightwing response to being caught screwing up. “Yeah, well what about Obama? He screwed up, too.” That doesn’t lessen Trump’s colossal failure. What-about-ism is a trick employed by immoral apologists.

      Trump is “right” in failing to do his job because others have also failed? Trump has failed at every step, with a pandemic in front of him. Before he knew of the pandemic, he failed to understand the role of government in dismantling the pandemic team inside the NSC and in cutting funding to the CDC.

      Did the others actually fail? I notice a complete lack of links to evidence for claims that Obama and Cuomo did nothing to stockpile ventilators. I notice that the CDC, in your world, didn’t work for Trump until Trump took direct action. It did, in fact, work for Trump for three years before the first reported case of Covid-19 in the U.S. and for nearly three years when China was hit. It’s not Trump’s fault “because bureaucrats”? Government IS bureaucracy. If he couldn’t deal with bureaucracy, perhaps he shouldn’t have run for the presidency. Certainly, nobody with half a lick of sense should have voted for him.

      1. macroduck

        Shorter Rick Stryker, when it becomes undeniably obvious that Trump has soiled the bed:

        “What about Hillary? She poops. And Obama poops, too. And that pile in Trump’s bed is the best pile ever. Trump’s poop has artistic merit! Look, an AIRPLANE!!!!”

    4. pgl

      THE RICK omits key details here. Federal agencies have been warning about a shortage as far back as 2003. By 2008 the Federal government finally got around to working with Newport Medical Instruments of Japan. Years later, after prototypes were developed, Newport was bought out by Covidien in 2012, and the project ground to a halt. By 2014, Covidien wanted out of the contract, former federal officials told the Times, and the government agreed to cancel it. A year later, Covidien was purchased by Medtronic, which told the Times that the ventilators Newport was developing would not have been usable on newborns and would have fallen short of the government’s requirements. The government entered into a new contract with Philips in 2014, and finally ordered 10,000 ventilators in December 2019, with delivery expected later this year. It seems working with the private sector has made progress very slow. Which of course why the Defense Production Act exists. Of course Trump is too much of a coward to use it.

    5. Barkley Rosser

      But Trump had three years to do something, and he not only did not build up those stockpiles, despite multiple warnings of the danger, he dismantled or demoted the bodies put together by Obama and others to oversee and manage this stuff. Then he sat on intel reports for nearly two months making totally false claims like on Feb. 27 that “It is only 15 cases, and they will go to zero.” Now production is ramping up after we have more cases than any other nation on the planet, but in fact we now learn that he is handing out supplies from this national stockpile on the political basis of whether or not governors are kissing his behind sufficiently hard.

      Just how far out of touch with reality are you, Rick? This post is just wildly gonzo, if not outright immoral.

    6. Baffling

      Rick, trump did NOTHING to the stockpile prior to the pandemic. Your odd praising of a man ordering his fire hose after the fire is out is rather odd, even for you. Trump will go down in history as a case study in failure of leadership and action during a pandemic. That will be his legacy, even as some try to rewrite history.

  5. Not Trampis

    A question not related.

    Can you Yanks vote over several days in November or does it have to be Toosday?

    1. macroduck

      Absentee voting can take place over an extended period. Voting at a physical poling place is, for now, limited to one day.

  6. Jefffrey J. Brown

    A couple of days ago, I saw an interview with Dr. Eric Topol on CNBC, and while I was aware of the testing controversy, I was shocked to hear Dr. Eric Topol say that every government in the world, except for the Trump Administration, adopted the WHO Coronavirus test, and Dr. Topol explains why the resulting delay was so disastrous.

    I suspect the testing delay goes a long way toward explaining why the US infection rate curve looks so different from other countries, especially South Korea. Following is a link to and an excerpt from an article by Dr. Topol. As Dr. Topol wrote in the article, “The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States will go down as the worst public health disaster in the history of the country.”

    Following that is a very good article on Trump and the Coronavirus crisis, which reminded me of an Ayn Rand quote, to-wit, “You Can Avoid Reality, But You Cannot Avoid the Consequences of Avoiding Reality.”

    Topol: US Betrays Healthcare Workers in Coronavirus Disaster


    The first patient in the United States with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, was diagnosed in Seattle on January 21, which was within 24 hours of the first patient diagnosed in South Korea, a key country for comparison (Figure, adapted from Our World in Data).

    Unlike South Korea, which quickly started testing for COVID-19 using the World Health Organization (WHO) test, the United States refused the WHO test, opting to develop its own through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the CDC test was ultimately found to be flawed and represents one of many government stumbles. Without an adequate test, there were nearly 50 days from the first patients in both countries before the United States started to ramp up testing. Why was this so critically important?

    During this extended phase in the United States, there were countless numbers of patients presenting with pneumonia and respiratory tract symptoms to emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and doctors’ offices. Without the ability to make the diagnosis of COVID-19 or even suspect it, these patients unwittingly spread their infections to healthcare workers. Also, during this first phase of spread, there was likely — albeit still not yet validated — a high rate (approximately 30%) of asymptomatic carriers for COVID-19, which further amplified the chances for doctors and health professionals to be infected.

    For the sake of comparison, during the month of February, South Korea performed more than 75,000 tests (versus just 352 in the United States) and adopted all of the WHO best practices, which includes massive testing, tracing every contact of a person infected and testing that person, quarantine of all known cases, and social distancing.

    The United States did none of these. Instead, officials repeatedly made bad choices that put public health in jeopardy, along with the healthcare workers charged with caring for the public.

    South Korea, meanwhile, got ahead of its outbreak and became a model in the world for how that was achieved. But it wasn’t just South Korea that reacted well. As Atul Gawande summarized, Singapore and Hong Kong also adopted all of the WHO practices, including providing protection for their healthcare workers. In both places, healthcare professionals were expected to wear surgical masks for all patient interactions. That practice turns out to foreshadow the second phase of failure in the United States. . .

    The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States will go down as the worst public health disaster in the history of the country. The loss of lives will make 9/11 and so many other catastrophes appear much smaller in their scale of devastation. Perhaps what we in the medical community will remember most is how our country betrayed us at the moment when our efforts were needed most.

    End excerpt.

    The President Is Trapped
    Trump is utterly unsuited to deal with this crisis, either intellectually or temperamentally.



    The thing to understand about Donald Trump is that putting others before self is not something he can do, even temporarily. His attempts to convey facts that don’t serve his perceived self-interest or to express empathy are forced, scripted, and always short-lived, since such reactions are alien to him.

    This president does not have the capacity to listen to, synthesize, and internalize information that does not immediately serve his greatest needs: praise, fealty, adoration. “He finds it intolerable when those things are missing,” a clinical psychologist told me. “Praise, applause, and accolades seem to calm him and boost his confidence. There’s no room for that now, and so he’s growing irritable and needing to create some way to get some positive attention.”

    She added that the pandemic and its economic fallout “overwhelm Trump’s capacity to understand, are outside of his ability to internalize and process, and [are] beyond his frustration tolerance. He is neither curious nor interested; facts are tossed aside when inconvenient or [when they] contradict his parallel reality, and people are disposable unless they serve him in some way.”

    1. pgl

      Testing is a key ingredient to resolving this crisis which is being noted on the economist blogs – both progressive and conservative. Of course Trump’s chief economist is the World’s Stupidest Man Alive Lawrence Kudlow so he is clueless on this issue just as he has no clue what even the White House economists wrote back in Sept. 2019. Let me comment on this point:

      ‘For the sake of comparison, during the month of February, South Korea performed more than 75,000 tests (versus just 352 in the United States) and adopted all of the WHO best practices, which includes massive testing, tracing every contact of a person infected and testing that person, quarantine of all known cases, and social distancing.’

      Our population is over 6 times that of South Korea. So we would have to be doing six what they are doing in terms of the number of tests to even come close on a per capita basis. I note this because our number of tests have increased and in absolute terms is getting close to South Korea. Which means we are still 85% short in per capita terms.

  7. Jeffrey J. Brown

    Note that President Trump was pretty clear about his administration’s views on the importance of widespread immediate testing on February 26, 2020, at the same time that South Korea was gearing up to do widespread testing, using WHO test that the Trump Administration rejected.

    A line on the coronavirus outbreak Trump may come to regret (2/28/20)

    President Trump on 2/26/20:

    “W]hen you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

    1. pgl

      15 people catching this? In NYC alone we had 600 deaths in the last 24 hours. 25 deaths per hour is just one city. Trump is an idiot.

    1. macroduck

      You may want to rephrase. “Think” may mischaracterize what Rickie is doing.

      One way of explaining the extent to which Rickie’s statements depart from reality is that he does not actually believe what he says. He needn’t think that Kushner understands logistics in order to say that he does. Reality is beside the point. The important thing is to throw dust in the air, to create a distraction or an “alternative fact” whenever reality makes his orange-haired master look particularly bad.

    2. pgl

      They change the website to keep Jared for looking stupid. Of course Jared is indeed incredibly stupid but the right appearance is to much more important to Team Trump than all those lives we are losing needlessly. MAGA~!

  8. baffling

    it has become abundantly clear to me how this event has unfolded, at least through the political lens. team trump was made very aware that a problem of significant proportions existed in china by early january. china made some bold and aggressive moves, which essentially shut down the economy. team trump knew the economic consequences of such a move would be severe, but hoped that the chinese would resolve the problem themselves. to trump’s (and navarro’s delight), the added benefit to this was that the chinese economy would be weakened, improving our position relative to them. team trump understood a pandemic was possible, but at this point made a very calculated decision. if they also moved in the direction of shutdown, it would guarantee an economic slump and significantly hinder trump reelection prospects. this was also a hypothetical, and we know how business types value unproven contingencies. on the other hand, if team trump chose to not aggressively address the situation, there were two possible outcomes. the first is that the problem would not grow, the economy would grow unhindered, and trump reelection was still in the cards. the second outcome was a pandemic of epic proportions, which would tank the economy and kill any reelection chances. if this were to occur, then trump would slip into typical trump fashion and deny and deflect any responsibility. it is the states fault, previous administrations fault. nobody could have predicted this. yadayadayada. so team trump chose the path of not aggressively addressing the situation, because it offered the only hope of reelection. but we ended up with outcome two. we will have many dead, including the brave front line healthcare workers, because team trump decided the best move forward was the one that had the only possible outcome which could provide for his reelection. and now that prospect is diminishing daily. there will continue to be much sacrifice due to this pandemic, but i see nobody in team trump sacrificing much of anything in these event. and now in typical team trump fashion, the push is to limit social distancing and other “curve flattening” approaches. why? from team trump’s reelection perspective, if we are to have a pandemic, get it over with very quickly and hope a sharp rebound improves his chances. a flat curve lasts a long time and hinders reelection. a spike kills many many more people, but maybe by fall we are growing again. another decision by trump, prioritize the economy and reelection prospects over life. funny thing is, trump is not hiding these observations. but they are not being pointed out in the media, because he attacks anybody who strays from the party line. what an absurd world we live in.

  9. baffling

    apparently, for trump, it is better to let the crew of a us navy carrier become infected with covid19 and possibly die, than to address the issue. suppress all negativity is the trump motto. rick stryker apparently approves of trump’s prioritizing the suppression of bad publicity over the lives of our servicemen. well done dick striker, continue to defend trump as he attacks our service members.

    1. joseph

      baffling: “peter seriously thinks he is qualified to argue the merits of medical treatment”

      Seriously, Navarro claimed that he was qualified because he is a “social scientist!” Which is funny because economists rarely like to publicly lump themselves in with the lowly social scientists.

      Which brings up the other guy who was giving Trump advice that the pandemic was no big deal, Richard Epstein. He is feeding Trump the nutty idea that the virus was going to quickly evolve to a less lethal form so it wasn’t necessary to do anything.

      As the Vox reporter pointed out, Epstein is not an economist, not a statistician, not a doctor, not an infectious disease expert. He’s just a lawyer (at the Hoover Institution beloved by some people here).

      To which Epstein retorts “I’m not a lawyer. I’m a law professor.”

      Trump has surrounded himself with dunces like Navarro and Epstein who have an inflated opinion of their own expertise. It’s going to get us killed.

    2. joseph

      I was hoping social scientist Menzie Chinn could renew my Vicodin prescription over the internet. It would save me a trip to the MD.


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