Politics and the Corona virus

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Posted by w0ep on May 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

[Monday: 2 miles; Wednesday: 3 miles; Yesterday: 7 miles (Galena River trail)]

After some weeks now of enforced lock down due to the Corona virus, various states are opening things back up, each at their own pace.

Today’s briefing email from the NY Times has this item about former Democratic President Obama:

A few items further down the NY Times briefing says that the Democratic Party response will be to go big in their response to the Corona Virus:

The combination of the two seems to indicate that having all of our political eggs in one basket is a great idea as long as you have the right basket. And if you always pick the winning horse you could make a living at the track.

Of course the NY Times doesn’t draw a line from item 4 to item 7. They tend toward the It-would-all-be-well-if-only-we-had-the-right-people-in-power school.

The beauty of a federation of states is that different places can form their own policies. And some localities have done better than others.

Democratic strongholds on the east and west coasts have had differing results. In NYC the local authorities encouraged people to continue riding the subway and the buses and generally go on as usual. And the current speculation seems to think that was the wrong basket.

** Update: this article about the difference between response in San Francisco and in NYC.

On the west coast the outcome has been much better, which is a happy thing whether you are a Democrat or a Republican… or so one would hope.

At the same time I’ve taken to being more reactive on Facebook as my right leaning acquaintances post memes about the evils of government at all levels even attempting to slow the virus spread. After all, the predicted worst case doom didn’t happen, so “They” must have been mistaken and maybe even intentionally trying to bankrupt the middle class.

No, they aren’t happy with the better outcome. And I can see their point in some ways because a steady diet of “we’re all gonna’ die and it’s all your fault” has been on their plate for quite awhile, including strident chastisement from Scandinavian children for destroying the future by heating the house and having lights on in the dark.

Reportedly some left-wards folks aren’t happy that early-opening Georgia has not seemed to pay a penalty in higher deaths. After all, things would all be OK if people just did what they were told and those who don’t deserve to be punished.

Personally, I’m really tired of the demi-god President theory of operation, not least because I can’t stand to hear the same person’s voice over and over for 4 or 8 years, saying the same things and ignoring his/her own failings.

But these days it comes down to the more important issue: whether I can trust my immediate neighbors to do good toward each other and at least attempt to live a safe and peaceable life. Which is actually where the virus response starts to make some difference.

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  • On May 17, 2020 at 11:03 am Jonathan Howard said

    I can’t believe anyone would be happy if more people in Georgia are dead, “reportedly” or not. That’s a very sick mind.

    The national government dropped the ball in a serious and deadly way. Had things been different, outcomes may have been more like Taiwan, where there are under 600 cases and 6 deaths. Even the most simple things were not done – at customs at International airports interviewing people coming in. Where were you? How long were you there? Are you feeling ill? How can we contact you in the next month?

    PPE – I listened to CSPAN while working from home this week. Prestige Ameritech. It was disheartening. Also governors competing against each other for PPE vs. a coordinated effort. I got a chuckle when current admin blamed prior admin (many times) for there not being enough PPE. (Prior admin was gone for three years, not three months.) The US senate leader recently said the prior administration didn’t leave a plan for how to handle pandemic. Again, blaming an administration that has been gone for three years. He was corrected and he said he was wrong. Yes, there was a plan but he wasn’t sure if it was followed or not (it was not).

    Yesterday, the leader of the prior admin said a few words for the first time in public about current leadership failings. Just a couple sentences. That guy is remarkably reserved compared to the current guy. The contrast is stark.

    The Balkanization of efforts has made things far far worse. Local governments – even larger ones – are in no place to understand the threat of a nascent pandemic. People are mobile in a nation without internal borders. Only the national government has the resources and the power to mount a coordinated and effective effort. But in this case, there were two months wasted owing to a focus on optics. Tens of thousands suffered or died owing to it.

    Never in the history of America has the suffering and death of so many US citizens been caused by the negligence of so few.

    • On May 17, 2020 at 11:51 am w0ep said

      You’re kidding? Are you now saying we should keep track of aliens and visitors to our country?
      That will get you in trouble with the open borders folks.

      I am happy for Taiwan! I’m not sure their experience is transferable to California or Iowa.

      I liked what Obama had to say. And I like his reticent attitude. I have some doubt
      that Trump will be similar in the after-presidency. He’s been blathering for so long
      I think he doesn’t know how to stop.

      As for negligence, I’d say that De Blasio gets a share.

      added —- I should say though that both De Blasio and Trump have changed their positions as new data came in. My overall level of satisfaction is actually pretty high. I think that Obama is right in the universal sense that people “at the top” can’t _know_ what they are doing in this kind of situation. They get inputs from their experts and constituencies and the virtues and faults they bring to the situation and produce an output. Could have been better; could have been a lot worse and it may yet be a lot worse. The driving feeling behind this post is the two paradoxical positions: Trump supporters saying that the government (which Trump runs) is not to be trusted and Democrats saying the government is ineffective so put us in charge of even more. Neither position is rational.

      Asking “do you feel well” of someone arriving on a multi-hour flight seems like nothing more than a prompt to lie.

      I think Trump’s direct statements that travel from Europe would be closed, leading
      to a sudden rush of expats… that we can put on his big fat mouth.

  • On May 19, 2020 at 9:12 am Jonathan Howard said

    Entry screening is common. Not aliens and visitors – _everyone_. Trumps “China ban” was not a ban – 40,000 came in and no screening or tracing.

    And the US _does_ do it (regardless of any border folks.) US was simply late – two months lost owing to executive office focus on optics (COVID gone my April on its own, churches filled in May). Then the incredibly mismanaged implementation resulted in huge crowds of tightly packed people.


    Trump fired the experts. Both before and after the COVID pandemic. May 2018:

    “When the next pandemic occurs (and make no mistake, it will) and the federal government is unable to respond in a coordinated and effective fashion to protect the lives of US citizens and others, this decision by John Bolton and Donald Trump will be why.”


    At the end of the day, tens of thousands suffered and died needlessly owing to negligence at the top. (And the economy suffers owing to it. This makes the economic disaster under Bush 12 years ago – worst in 80 years – a comparative cake walk.)

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