How the GOP Blew It’s Chance

The window for Republicans to create a multiracial working-class party closed this weekend when 49 senators nixed COVID-19 aid.

They Senate on Saturday passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package which includes a $1400 stimulus check so go out and buy yourself something nice.  Like November‘s rent. 

The $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed by the Senate this week while the Republicans spent most of the weekend trying to derail it while still whining about Dr. Seuss. 

The past few months have offered a deeply revealing look at the state of American democracy and the course it could take over the next few years without major reforms. On the one hand,  we saw a political faction which represents a minority of American voters try to overturn an election they lost and then sell a violent insurrection interfere with a lawful counting of electoral votes. Then about two months later we saw 50 senate Democrats who represent about 41 MILLION MORE Americans than the 50 senate Republicans vote to deliver one of the largest rescue bills in history.  The relief bill has been massively popular in poll after poll. Not a single Republican joined them in the Senate or in the house seemingly because they were too busy doing jobs like reading Green Eggs and Ham. 

The Republican Party has become (once again) the party of NO. And their brand is pearl clutching over reaction.

While the Democrats are working to help real people. The Republican are all up in arms about The Muppets, Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head.  They used every delay tactic they could to actually delay stimulus checks going out to 80% of Americans.  

The GOP wants all children back to in person learning in schools but they do not support the bill to get vaccines to everyone.  

They spend more time trying to make voting more difficult than they did in confirming Trump’s last minute supreme court justice. 

Politics will ALWAYS be part of the process. But maybe the GOP could take a stand on something a little more substation that Mr Potato Head?!  

While you wait for your stimulus check- remember the GOP delayed it. 

While you wait in line to vote in the next election- remember it was the GOP that made it harder. 

It was less than two weeks ago that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a past and future presidential hopeful for the Republican Party, stood before an annual confab of conservative fanatics and proclaimed he could see the future of the Grand Old Party. In Orlando, a stone’s throw from Walt Disney’s Fantasyland, Cruz promised CPAC that the GOP will be “the party of steel workers and construction workers and pipeline workers and taxi cabdrivers and cops and firefighters and waiters and waitresses and the men and women with calluses on their hands who are working for this country.”

Yet on Saturday afternoon, Cruz and 48 of his Republican colleagues raised their uncalloused, millionaire hands and flipped a giant middle finger to the American middle class who could have returned their party to power in Congress in 2022. In unanimously — and futilely — opposing the Democrats’ 50-49 passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will likely be signed by President Joe Biden later this week, Cruz and his fellow GOPers went on the record opposing $1,400 checks for struggling taxi drivers, expanded jobless benefits for waiters and waitresses whose jobs were obliterated by the pandemic, and local aid to stop the feared layoffs of cops and firefighters.

Even before this weekend’s historic vote that will define America’s politics of the 2020s, the Republicans provided a giant metaphor for its drop-dead message to the working class when a party stalwart — Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who concedes his “preference” is not even running for another term next year —dug deep in the Senate rulebook to force clerks to read aloud the entire 628-page relief bill. The goofy parliamentary stall took some 10 hours and 43 minutes, finally ending around 2 a.m. Friday morning as an anguished Johnson — required to be present — buried his exhausted face in his hands. How bad were “the optics” — in Beltway lingo — of the Wisconsinite’s stunt? While the move held up billions to speed up coronavirus vaccines, approximately 750 more Americans died from COVID-19.

The father of the now lost-in-the-wilderness American right, William F. Buckley, wrote famously that the modern conservative “stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” The political and moral bankruptcy of that philosophy was on full display this weekend, as Republicans planted their flag as the party of obstruction and celebrators of broken, gridlocked D.C. politics, while the Democrats voted to keep history moving forward, with a bill supported by about 70% of the American people, including millions of rank-and-file GOP voters.

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) tried to hold up the coronavirus relief bill.

Greg Nash / MCT

Yes, there were moments when the Democrats — still no more of an “organized political party” than when Will Rogers told that joke a century ago — looked determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, confronted with a bill that, with the arguable exception of Obamacare in 2010, does more for the U.S. middle class than any legislation since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society since the mid-1960s. The macho posturing of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — for whom getting on the Sunday talk shows matters more than his state’s high rate of poverty — nearly toppled the bill, and the Democrats’ blind spot on the $15 minimum wage is deeply disappointing to leftists who voted for Biden last November.

But in the end, the Democrats’ resolve and unity among its one-vote Senate majority was a stunning victory for a new American political reality in the 2020s. It involves forging an all-new definition of “bipartisanship” around hardball politics for measures that are supported by majorities of citizens, rather than negotiating with a Republican Party that continues to rally behind a Big Lie around nonexistent voter fraud and the 2020 election that threatens our democracy.

Saturday’s bold vote didn’t change the overriding dynamic behind America’s warring political tribes. The Democrats’ base is still college-educated voters, while Republicans’ toxic stew of both class and racial resentments will continue to amp up white people without diplomas. But Democrats just passed a bill that, frankly, does more for the nation’s broad, multiracial working class and the less-advantaged than for upscale suburbanites who put Biden over the top in 2020. In doing so, the party has a great chance to stop the slow bleed of working-class voters — especially a shift of Latinos and some Black voters to Donald Trump last fall — and ride a booming post-pandemic economy in 2022, thus bucking the powerful trend of a party in power losing seats in a midterm election.

After a half-century or so of watching American politics, it’s hard for me to overstate what an epic flub we are witnessing from today’s GOP. Trump’s reckless, demagogic presidency riled up voters on both sides; even in losing badly to Biden, the 45th president increased his turnout from 62 million in 2016 to more than 74 million, in a way that suggested a path forward for a new kind of right-wing populism. Indeed, many voters on the long lines in pro-Trump precincts cited their initial $1,200 stimulus check, and there’s little doubt that the GOP standard-bearer would be serving his second term if he’d forced through a second $2,000 check before Nov. 3, as Trump himself realized after it was too late.

The tragedy of the coronavirus had offered Republicans an opportunity to show a kind of economic empathy for the “essential workers” of the blue-collar electorate that would have doubled down on its current limited strategy, which is mostly cultural warfare. But — other than a laudable child tax credit offered by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who’s not super popular among the party’s pro-Trump base these days — GOP politicians have only offered the middle class empty platitudes and pale light beer versions of Democratic social welfare, much as the Dems looked utterly lost trying to sell watered-down Republican ideas for 30 years after Ronald Reagan.

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In this image from video, the vote total of 50-49 on Senate passage of the COVID-19 relief bill, is displayed on screen in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Saturday.

AP

The Republicans do have a plan but it’s as dumb as it’s morally repellent — doubling down on its scheme to try to win national elections with just 46-47% of the popular vote, aided by the anti-democratic aspects of the Constitution and our political norms as reflected in the makeup of the Senate, its arcane rules and, in presidential years, the Electoral College.

This week showed us both what the GOP is incapable of doing — aiding the middle class — but also its fundamental three-prong strategy for the elections of 2022 and 2024. First, burn a lot of empty political calories on cultural outrage such as the supposed banning (not really) of Dr. Seuss and (also not really) Mr. Potato Head, with the subliminal messages that what leftists really want to cancel is their white supremacy. Second, muddy the waters on the pandemic with “free-dumb” policies like Texas and Mississippi ending mask mandates and other restrictions just as new variants appear. Third — and this is really the centerpiece — is to fall back on Trump’s 2020 Big Lie to pass a slew of voting restrictions targeting Black voters, Latinos, or the young, to win in 2022 not on the best ideas but by picking the voters.

The fact that the current Republican Party is so quick to fall back on racism, xenophobia and misogyny makes me happy that its leaders seem to have also flunked Poly-Sci 101. The opportunity for the GOP to become a true majority national party as a foil to the increasingly diploma-wrapped image of the Democrats — in a nation where just 37% of adults currently hold four-year college degrees — was right there, if the party had been willing to put its money where its mouth was, on Cruz and his phony-baloney rhetoric about cabdrivers and the wait staff.

Instead, the 2022 election will turn on Republicans’ success as an anti-democratic (with a small “d”) party trying to keep as many legitimate voters away from the ballot box as possible. For Democrats, the ultimate lesson of this weekend may prove less about economics and more about courage in using just 51 votes to make the tough calls for saving America. Giving aid to the working class was a good first step for the Democrats, but whether it matters at the polls in 20 months depends on their bravery in abolishing the filibuster and passing laws to make sure that the working class can still vote.

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Will Bunch

Will is the national columnist — with some strong opinions about what’s happening in America around social injustice, income inequality and the government

The 1920s Roared After a Pandemic, and the 2020s Will Try

A year ago I was faced with an incredibly difficult decision. Do we close the gyms because of the pandemic or do we fight to remain open. Yesterday I wrote an e-mail to my staff and posted it on the Atlantic Gymnastics Blog. Just to help them keep things in perspective. Not on what we have lost- but on how far we have come.

Today I was reading Bloomberg Business Week and I came upon an article from a couple weeks ago. 2020s Will Try To Roar Like The 1920s by Peter Coy. It gave me a lot to think about.

The 1920s Roared After a Pandemic, and the 2020s Will Try

The day was cold and windy. Standing outside the Capitol, the just-sworn-in president called for “a new unity of spirit and purpose” to bind together a nation that had been wracked by a pandemic and high unemployment. His predecessor wasn’t on stage. The inauguration of Warren G. Harding on March 4, 1921, marked the inauspicious, unofficial start of an historic decade. The somber mood gave no hint that America was about to go on a tear.

The Roaring Twenties saw widespread adoption of the assembly line, the automobile, radio, motion pictures, indoor plumbing, and labor-saving electric appliances. Consumerism and mass culture took shape. It was the decade of art deco and jazz, Coco Chanel and Walt Disney, The Great Gatsby and the Harlem Renaissance. It was “the first truly modern decade,” says retired Marquette University economic historian Gene Smiley.

As the U.S. suffers through another pandemic, it’s tempting to ask whether history will repeat itself. Once the virus passes, will the 2020s roar the way the 1920s did?

It’s not impossible. The past year demonstrates that the economy and society can change shape quickly. We’ve seen multiple Covid-19 vaccines developed in record time and an almost-overnight transition to remote work. Tesla Inc. delivered just shy of a half-million electric vehicles in 2020 despite the pandemic. A London-based unit of Alphabet Inc. solved a half-century-old scientific puzzle, using artificial intelligence to predict accurately how proteins fold, which could revolutionize drug discovery.

In all probability, though, the U.S. will continue to wrestle with “secular stagnation,” an economic plague of developed nations. Preconditions include an aging population, slow labor force growth, and weak demand for credit, which is why the disease is resistant to traditional monetary remedies. The latest evidence that investors aren’t holding out much hope the coming decade will break out of that mold: The yield on inflation-protected 10-year Treasury notes is around negative 1%, down from 4% during the ’90s tech boom.

Despite the differences, by copying what was done right in the Roaring Twenties and avoiding what went wrong, Americans can make the 2020s a success—by today’s standards, anyway.

The world of 2021 is “a muddled mix of the Twenties in a lot of ways,” says Rutgers University economist Eugene White. Stock prices are high in relation to corporate profits, as then. Today’s suspicion of international institutions such as the United Nations and World Health Organization would be familiar to a traveler from the 1920s. Race relations are once again strained, though Black Americans are in a far better position than they were a century ago. Tariffs rose under President Donald Trump, as they did in the 1920s. Americans continue to complain about overbearing government, as they did during Prohibition. The 1920s was the first decade in which the rural population was smaller than the urban one; in the 2020s, rural White America is feeling disenfranchised after having gone strong for Trump’s failed reelection.

“There is no chance of sustained decade-long growth that matches the achievement of the 1920s”

The 1920s didn’t get off to a good start. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed about 675,000 Americans out of a population of 100 million, was over, but the U.S. was deep into an 18-month downturn marked by the sharpest one-year decline in wholesale and consumer prices in 140 years of record-keeping. The economic miracle of the Twenties didn’t really begin until July 1921, when the recession ended and boom psychology set in.

This summer, depending on how vaccinations progress, there will likely be a flicker of that mania as people emerge from their Covid-19 bubbles, ready to party. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are predicting above-average growth in gross domestic product after a difficult first quarter, with the median forecast peaking at an annualized 4.7% in the third quarter.

Indications of pent-up demand are abundant. Carnival Corp., in a sign of confidence in the public’s desire to socialize again, plans to begin boardings in April for its biggest ship ever, the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras. Finally free to do as they please, Americans may make like the Lost Generation, who chose to “live in the pure moment, live gaily on gin and love,” as the literary critic Malcolm Cowley wrote.

Gin and love make a powerful cocktail but won’t sustain a decade’s worth of growth. The bull case for a repeat of the 1920s is that the pandemic lockdown has accelerated the adoption of technologies such as videoconferencing and digital commerce that will keep paying dividends long after the virus is vanquished. McKinsey & Co. says a global survey of executives revealed that they were a “shocking” seven years ahead of where they planned to be in terms of the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their companies’ portfolios. And there’s still headroom. Cowen Research reports that almost half the corporate technology buyers it interviewed said they were in the early stages of a transition to cloud computing.

What’s hard about forecasting technological progress is figuring out where we are on the adoption curve. Take robots. The word was coined in 1920 by a Czech playwright, Karel Capek, but a century later robots haven’t lived up to hopes—or fears. It took 13 years, from 2005 to 2018, for the number of installed robots in the U.S. to double, according to the International Federation of Robotics. To a pessimist, that’s almost a plateau. To an optimist, it means robots are still on the bottom of the S-shaped adoption curve and are poised for takeoff at any moment.

Disclaimer

Bearish forecasters say labor-force expansion and gains in schooling don’t match those of the 1920s, and information technology and biotech breakthroughs, while impressive, don’t measure up to the transformative, general-purpose technologies—electrification and the internal combustion engine, to name two—that powered growth a century ago. As investor Peter Thiel famously said, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” (It’s 280 characters now, but still.)

For the average American, life changed more from 1920 to 1929 than it’s likely to change from 2020 to 2029. Electrification gave us refrigerators (instead of ice boxes), washing machines (instead of washboards and hand-cranked wringers), and radio (instead of your sister at the piano). With electrification, factories no longer had to rely on power from a single engine that was connected to machines via noisy, inefficient belts and pulleys.

The internal combustion engine came into its own in the 1920s, powering cars, trucks, farm equipment, and airplanes. The number of registered drivers almost tripled during the decade. The automobile’s rise sparked investment in roads and suburbs as well as production of rubber, steel, glass, and oil.

Two Decades Far Apart

Robert Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University, is a leading proponent of the argument that these modern times don’t live up to those modern times. At the request of Bloomberg Businessweek, he assembled figures on labor productivity for the entire economy from 1893 through 2019, clustering the data into roughly equal spans that begin and end at high points in the business cycle. The data up to 1948 come from a book he wrote, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War. For the rest he relied on government figures.

The data compiled by Gordon demonstrate that productivity growth jumped in 1920 and remained high for a half-century before slumping after 1973. “While it is likely that productivity growth will revive somewhat in the 2020s from the dismal record of the 2010s,” Gordon wrote in an email, “there is no chance of sustained decade-long growth that matches the achievement of the 1920s.”

One lesson, then, is that timing matters. The 1920s roared because technologies that had been nurtured for several decades were finally ready for mass deployment. That may not be the case today.

It’s easier to spot social similarities between the decades than economic similarities. Then as now America was divided between a fast-moving, multiethnic, urban society of immigrants and a predominantly White, conservative, rural society pining for a past that it perceived as purer and less tumultuous. Americans elected three Republican presidents in the 1920s—Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Harding vowed a “return to normalcy,” while Coolidge, a taciturn Vermonter, “appeared to be a reluctant refugee from the previous century,” wrote Nathan Miller in New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America.

The reformist Progressive Era that began around 1900 had lost its moxie, and the big-government New Deal hadn’t yet arrived. Business was given free rein. “Never before, here or anywhere else, has a government been so completely fused with business,” the Wall Street Journal wrote in 1928. Said Coolidge: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there worships there.” Elon Musk slots in nicely as this century’s answer to Henry Ford, though our society is more skeptical that what’s good for business is good for the country.

Gordon calls the 1920s “a Janus-faced decade that defies simple characterization.” It was a time of liberation, in which women got the vote and dared to wear short skirts, smoke cigarettes, and drink bathtub gin, while Black poets, authors, and musicians found wide audiences. “It was the period when the Negro was in vogue,” poet Langston Hughes wrote.

But women still faced discrimination, and Black Americans and immigrants faced that and worse. In 1921 a White mob burned more than 1,200 homes in a Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1925 thousands of unmasked Ku Klux Klan members marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

The Immigration Act of 1924 barred the gates to immigrants from Asia and seriously restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe—drawing the admiration of none other than Adolf Hitler, who wrote approvingly in Mein Kampf, “The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races.”

The 1920s was a time of rising prosperity on the whole but also rising inequality of incomes and wealth and deepening divisions in society. Prohibition, which took effect in 1920, drove a wedge between “drys” and “wets” and fueled organized crime. Factory workers, stock investors, and Big Business mostly did well, but the still-sizable agriculture economy was shocked by a 53% decline in farm product prices in the 1920-21 recession and would take years to recover.

The first three years of Trump’s term were likewise marked by a tide of strong economic growth that lifted many boats, though not all. The unemployment rate for Black Americans, for instance, reached a record low. The pandemic has wrecked much of that progress. Bringing the economy back to its potential to lift up the less fortunate is a second reason, after saving lives, for President Biden to accelerate the distribution of vaccines.

Perhaps the most important lesson the 2020s can learn from the 1920s is the peril of isolationism. The U.S. emerged from the Great War of 1914-18 as the world’s most powerful economy as well as its biggest creditor, having lent heavily to the Entente Powers to finance the war effort.

Yet the U.S. resisted taking on the responsibilities of global leadership. Fed up with Europe and its bloody quarrels, isolationists in Congress prevented the U.S. from joining the League of Nations. With stringent fiscal and monetary policy, the U.S. forced its deflation onto other countries. Washington also insisted that the U.K. and France repay their war debts to the penny. In a vise, those countries raised the money to pay the Americans by exacting reparations from Germany. That fed the resentment among Germans that contributed to the rise of Hitler.

Much has changed since then. The U.S. is now a debtor nation, consuming more than it makes. Trump was correct that this is a problem: The U.S. is accumulating debts, while its productive capacity is being hollowed out.

What’s similar is that today, as in the 1920s, the U.S. can’t escape the special obligations that go along with being the world’s biggest economy. Americans learned that lesson after the twin disasters of the Great Depression and World War II. The U.S. was instrumental in the founding of the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank and led the push to lower tariff barriers, which enabled poor countries and those ravaged by war to prosper through trade. Nations such as Germany and France set aside imperialist dreams and focused on quality of life. “If you ask an average European man what he cares about, it’s very often soccer,” says Columbia historian Adam Tooze, author of the 2014 book, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931.

In four years in office, Trump revived isolationism, even resurrecting the “America First” motto that Harding campaigned on in 1920—and that was embraced by the anti-Semitic, fascist-sympathizing America First Committee that fought to keep the U.S. out of World War II.

In the absence of U.S. leadership, nations such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Vietnam are at risk of falling into the orbit of China, says Tooze. “As in the Twenties, we are our own worst enemy,” he says. Biden must attempt to demonstrate that the U.S. is once again a reliable partner.

Meanwhile, the notion that the Covid-19 pandemic is some kind of trampoline that will bounce the U.S. toward a bright future is not only off-putting, but wrong. Pandemics enduringly damage societies in ways that go beyond the death toll. In October the IMF released a working paper by senior economist Tahsin Saadi Sedik and economist Rui Xu that uncovered a vicious cycle: Pandemics reduce output and increase inequality, stoking social unrest, which further lowers output and worsens inequality. The study was based on disease outbreaks in 133 countries from 2001 to 2018. “Our results suggest that without policy measures, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase inequality, trigger social unrest, and lower future output in the years to come,” the authors wrote.

A final lesson of studying the 1920s is simply that history does have something to teach us—a point that the movers and shakers of that frenetic decade sometimes had trouble grasping. “History is more or less the bunk,” Ford said in 1916. “It is tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”

Introspection wasn’t the forte of the Roaring Twenties. “Torn nerves craved the anodynes of speed, excitement, and passion,” Frederick Lewis Allen, looking back from the near remove of 1931, wrote in Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s.

Our nerves, too, are torn. But learning from the past can help the healing begin.

5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

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Source: 5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

5 Great Things We Should Never Forget About Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

 
 

A Supreme Court hero, and all-round wise woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 surrounded by family at her home in Washington, D.C.

She was the second woman justice to serve on the highest court in the land—a pioneer in her field, when there were few females in the halls of legal offices or law schools. But there were other reasons we will always remember her.

1) She proved that mothers get things done—and then some. 

RBG showed that being a mother can prove an advantage and not an impediment to a woman’s professional life.

In a 2016 essay for the New York Times, she wrote that she believed her success at Harvard and…

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Time to Trust Science.

Science is very rarely convenient. 

But we do not have time to deny it.  Today, short term,  we are facing a pandemic. We have a plethora of long term environmental issues having to do with climate change.  We have to look to the future to get out from under these. We cannot do nothing and wish for the “good ole’ days”.  

New Hampshire is just starting to flatten the curve of the virus. If we do not take a smart approach- all our hard work will be for nothing. I am not sure my businesses will survive another long term shut down. The only way we realistically get through this is by working together.  

My businesses are open because of the hard work of my staff. My businesses will remain open because our clients are willing to wear masks and keep a safe distance from each other.  When a vaccine comes out it will make things easier. I was speaking with a friend, like many of my friends he is MUCH smarter than me.  We were talking about the vaccine and he said that vaccines are over-rated. That through homeopathic  measures and nutrition we can boost our immunity and reduce our risk of catching the virus and lessen the effects if we catch it.  While I believe that is TRUE.  I do not believe that it is practical. A Virus does NOT know boarders.  It does not discriminate.  If one person follows a homeopathic approach and reduces their symptoms, they still carry the virus and infect many people.  There are probably millions of people who cannot afford or do not have access to homeopathic alternatives.

Yes- I think that pharmaceutical companies are evil.  But like medicine, it may taste bad and be difficult to take, it will work to keep us healthy. The lack of a response from the federal government has already cost lives and possibly billions of dollars to the economy. The abdication of leadership and responsibility has left the states and local government to fend for themselves. We cannot build a wall between states to protect us from the virus any more than building a wall will protect us from a changing climate.

Now is not the time to go backwards. New Hampshire right now has a Republican Senate candidate who disputes medical experts advice calling for the use of masks to slow the spread of the virus. Donald Bolduc falsely claims that masks are harming us even as President Trump encourages Americans to wear masks.  

Bolduc’s opponent in the GOP primary is Corky Messner, himself a climate science denier who has stoked doubts about coronavirus vaccines. 

Wow- what a terrible choice between these 2.  Just Another reason the GOP has failed us.

 

It’s OK to Acknowledge Good Covid-19 News

By RICH LOWRY. 05/20/2020 08:14 PM

It’s OK to Acknowledge Good Covid-19 News

We are PROBABLY on the other side of the curve. There are encouraging signs all over the country, and no early indications of a reopening debacle.

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The coronavirus has taken a heartbreaking toll in America, which has had more than 100,000 fatalities, but the course of the virus is not the same as it was a few months ago. We are on the other side of the curve. There are encouraging signs all over the country, and no early indications of a reopening debacle.

The question now is whether the media and political system can absorb good news on the virus, which is often ignored or buried under misleading storylines.

The press has a natural affinity for catastrophes, which make compelling viewing and good copy. The pandemic is indeed a once-in-a-generation story. So the media is naturally loath to shift gears and acknowledge that the coronavirus has begun to loosen its grip.

Meanwhile, progressives and many journalists have developed a near-theological commitment to the lockdowns, such that any information that undermines them is considered unwelcome, even threatening. This accounts for the widespread sense that no one should say things have gotten better … or people are going to die.

Usually when it is thought the public can’t handle the truth, it is a truth about some threat that could spark panic. In this case, the truth is information that might make people think it’s safe to go outside again.

Almost all the discussion about reopening is framed by worries that we will reopen too soon, not that we might reopen too late—that is literally unthinkable.

None of this is to minimize the seriousness of this pandemic. New York and its surrounding suburbs have been through hell. What’s happened in the country’s nursing homes is a tragedy. We want to be cautious about reopening—as even the most forward-leaning governors have been—and vigilant about new outbreaks.

But we have entered a new phase. As Nate Silver pointed out on Tuesday, the seven-day rolling average for deaths is 1,362, down from 1,761 the week prior and a peak of 2,070 on April 21. That’s still much too high, but the trend is favorable.

Testing capacity, such a concern for so long, has really begun to expand after hitting a plateau for weeks. Testing nationally on some days has been in the high 300,000s or (on May 17) over 400,000. The issue in some states now is not capacity but actually finding enough people to test.

Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute notes that the positivity rate, or percentage of people testing positive, has continued to fall throughout May. In New York City, the country’s epicenter, the positivity rate was below 5 percent as of the middle of the week.

The reopenings could certainly still go awry, but so far there is no clear indication of it. Cases are still falling in Austria, Denmark and Norway, despite those countries being relatively far along on reopening. Denmark has been mystified why it is almost five weeks into reopening and hasn’t yet seen increases in infections.

On Tuesday, Georgia, so widely criticized for its reopening, had its lowest number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital since April 8, when such data began being reported. The number has dropped 12 percent since the week before, and 34 percent since May 1.

The press has often, out of sloppiness or willfulness, tried to create negative news around the reopenings. CNN tweeted last weekend, “Texas is seeing the highest number of new coronavirus cases and deaths just two weeks after it officially re-opened.” As Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics pointed out, the seven-day rolling average of new cases had indeed been trending up, but the seven-day rolling average of the number of tests had gone up, too—which would naturally turn up more cases.

The key indicator is the positivity rate, and it was down in Texas.

A North Carolina TV station tweeted, “Breaking News: NC sees largest spike in coronavirus cases since pandemic began.” That referred to 800 new cases over the past 24 hours on May 16. But tests had been going sharply up and the positivity rate trending down. Hospitalizations were basically flat.

The other day, headlines noted that Florida recorded 500 new cases on one day. It generated fewer headlines, and perhaps none, when Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed out that the state had received a dump of 75,000 test results, yielding the 500 new cases, for a minuscule positivity rate of 0.64 percent.

It’s not as though we haven’t had a cataract of unassailably legitimate bad news over the past few months. We’ve been experiencing a wrenching public health crisis and a steep recession on top of it. There shouldn’t be a need to obscure favorable trends. We can handle the truth.

My Son is Graduating College Today

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Call me sentimental, but I’ve always loved graduations: the way they tie up loose ends and signify new beginnings, the chance to reflect on the past, and celebrate the future. I feel bad for the graduates of 2020. Schools closed 2 months ago. Students finished (what they could) their education on line.  When I graduated I can still remember handing in my last paper.  I remember getting together that night with a few others who were graduating and having a little barbecue in front of our apartment.  We had an opportunity to share what came next. Grad school, Law School, Work, Summer jobs, Internships. Even the fear of “What’s Next” was exciting.

Like the final months of their education, 2020 graduation will be online and virtual.

We will be ok, we will get back to normal. We, as a society have rebounded from much worse.  I hope at that time…

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Trump is Playing One State Against The Other

Of course politics can me divisive. No one political party has a monopoly on playing states against each other.

In times of crisis we need a leader that will bring us together not drive us apart. Trump seems to more interested in fixing the blame on someone than fixing the problem.

For years our country has become more and more decentralized.  Governors, of course, want “States Rights”. Living here in Northern New England it is often hard to understand the issues facing Southern California or the plains of the midwest.  Our decentralization is a contributing factor to the current Covid19 crisis.  The Coronavirus does not recognize state boarders.  As a country, we probably have enough Masks, Gloves and other PPEs.  We probably have enough ventilators.  They just are not where we need them.  States and cities are left negotiating with each other and the federal government for needed supplies. There is nothing efficient or cost effective about this.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed back at President Donald Trump Monday, informing him that it’s Republican red states — not New York and other blue states — that are sucking up more national resources than they’re contributing.

The Democratic governor was responding to a tweet by Trump complaining that the nation shouldn’t have to bail out “poorly run states.” In “all cases,” Trump claimed, they are “Democrat run and managed.” He specifically named Illinois, headed by a fierce Trump critic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D).

“If you want to go to who’s getting bailed out and who paid what, nobody would be bailing out New York state,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing, calling New York the “number one giver.” The state has been “bailing” out red states for decades, Cuomo said.

In fact, the top six of eight states that pay more to the nation than they get back from the federal government are blue states. Illinois gives as much as it gets, according to an analysis by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Three of the four biggest “taker” states in the nation, which collect at least twice what they contribute, are Republican-led states.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?

190K
10:41 AM – Apr 27, 2020

“Nobody puts more into the pot than the state of New York,” Cuomo said, noting that the state has paid out $116 billion more than it received in federal spending since 2015, he said. The governor named New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut as additional “giver states.”

“Who are the taker states?” Cuomo asked, and he named Kentucky and pointed to states in the “southeast part of the country.” Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and West Virginia, among other red states, all take more in federals funds than they contribute.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has said he’s opposed to “blue-state bailouts,” suggested last week that states should simply go bankrupt if they’re running out of money amid the COVID-19 crisis. His state already gets more bang for every buck it pays to the federal government. Kentucky collects $2.41 for every dollar it sends to the national coffers, according to data analyzed by the Rockefeller Institute.

“This is not the time to be talking about dollars and cents among members of a community who are trying to be mutually supportive and help each other,” he said. “This is not the time to be saying, ‘Well, you put in a dollar more than I did,’ or ‘I put in $5 more than you did.’”

But, he added, “If you want to call for an accounting, you lose.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also complained Monday that Florida taxpayers, who “live within our means,” shouldn’t have to bail out New York, California and Illinois. His state’s taxpayers aren’t living within their means. Florida takes in $1.21 in federal funds for each dollar it pays to the U.S. government.

Facts NOT Fear

We have entered the stage of 24 hour news cycle about the Coronavirus, Covid-19.  The virus has devastated our economy and certainly my business will take some time to get back on track WHEN we are allowed to reopen.

I am a daily shopper (well, I WAS a daily shopper). It is just my wife and I now that are kids are grown. I have NO idea what I am going to make for dinner until. go to the store and see what looks good.  Early last week I was at the store, it was fairly quiet and the shelves were starting to look “normal” again. There was one man pushing a completely overloaded cart. Filled with enough food for months. The complete look of terror on his face was what struck me. I felt so bad for him.  He had been worked up into such a frenzy that he was fear shopping. Buying things before anyone else did.

I blame this on the national politicians in our country. ALL SIDES.  For decades they have just peddled fear. Be afraid of the other side. Be afraid of the other country. Be afraid of that person who doesn’t look like you. Be afraid of that person who doesn’t think like you.

What happened to humanity?

This is a time for FACTS not FEAR.  Here are the facts and this is what we can do to make it better and improve our odds.

I came across an article on Yahoo news finance. It was had some great facts about the spread of the virus and what to expect.  I have edited it just for readability.  IT IS GOING TO BE OK.  It is just going to take a while.

Inan Dogan, PhD

Executive Summary

Right now 2 million Americans are infected with the coronavirus. The total U.S. death toll by April 15th will be more than 20,000. We estimate that 80 thousand of the 2 million infected Americans will be hospitalized over the next 2 weeks.

Thesis:

./////////////,,,,,,Three parameter estimates are needed to predict the number of infections and number of deaths over the next 3 weeks: infection fatality rate, infection growth rate, and the number of days between initial infection and resolution (either death or recovery) of the infection.

1. We now estimate that the coronavirus’s fatality rate is ~0.8%. This means 1 out of every 125 infected people will die. We know that almost all countries had problems with testing and identifying all infected people. There are two exceptions to this: South Korea and Japan’s Princess Diamond cruise ship.

South Korea tested more than 320,000 people and identified 8652 infections. The total number of deaths was 94. This means South Korea’s case fatality rate is 1.09%. We believe there are still a considerable number of South Koreans who were asymptomatic and weren’t tested. So, we estimate that the actual fatality rate is anywhere from 0.5% and 1%.

In early February the Princess Diamond cruise ship was quarantined in Japan after one of the passengers tested positive. This was a bad idea for passengers as a total of 712 passengers were eventually infected and 7 of these people died. As far as I know all 3000+ passengers of this cruise ship were tested, so we have a reliable dataset with pretty accurate number of infections and number of deaths. The case fatality rate on Princess Diamond is 0.983%. We know that the fatality rate is higher among older people. Assuming that the median age of passengers on Princess Diamond is greater than America’s, which is 39, we can estimate that the new coronavirus’ fatality rate will be around 0.8% in America (maybe a little lower, but this is a nice round number).

2. This paper estimates that an infection takes around 23-24 days to resolve. The first 5-6 days the patient doesn’t show any symptoms. It takes an average of 5 days between the onset of symptoms and hospitalization. Finally it takes about 2 weeks between hospitalization and death (about 10 days in ICU).

3. There is no accurate direct way of calculating the infection growth rate because there is a huge variation in the number of people we are testing. [We were testing only a few people a couple of weeks ago, so we identified only a small number of infections. In recent days we started testing a large number of people (especially in New York) and now our case count is growing at alarming rates.] However, we can assume that the death rate is constant and we use the change in deaths to estimate the infection growth rate. There is a 23-24 day lag between an infection and the resolution of that infection. This means the growth rate in the number of deaths today is a very good estimate of the infection growth rate 23-24 days ago.

On March 19th, the U.S. reported a total of 205 deaths. That figure was 85 on March 16th and 47 on March 13th. This means the number of deaths doubles about every 3 days. This also means that the number of infections were doubling every 3 days on February 25th (the people who are dying today were infected on February 25th).

So, here is my simple mathematical model.

For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that all 205 American deaths occurred on March 19th and all of these people were infected on February 25th (this assumption simplifies calculations, we don’t need a complex model to have a thorough understanding of what is going on).

Our estimate for the fatality rate is 0.8%; this means for every death we have 125 infections. Since we have 205 total deaths, there must have been 205 times 125 total infections on February 25th. That’s 25,625 infected people. If you understand this part of the calculation, the rest of our analysis is pretty straightforward.

The number of infected people doubles every 3 days. So, on February 28th the number of infected people doubled to 51,250 (let’s round it down to 50,000). Three days later, on March 2nd, the number of infected people doubled again to 100,000.

Do you see start to see the gravity of the situation? There were 100K infected people on March 2nd in America. We know that 0.8% of these people will die by March 26th. That means our death toll will be 800 on March 26th [you can verify the accuracy of our model on March 26th by comparing the actual death toll to our estimate].

Our model tells us that the number of infections doubled again on March 5th, reaching 200,000.

Our model also tells us that the number of infected people was 400,000 on March 8th, 800,000 on March 11th, and 1.6 million on March 14th.

These calculations imply that the American death toll will be 12,800 on April 7th. To put that in perspective, yesterday, the total death toll in Italy was 3400 and 3000 in China.

I know that these are just estimates, but even if my estimates are off by 50%, we will have still twice as many coronavirus deaths as China 2.5 weeks from now.

Enter social distancing. On March 14th, various municipalities and agencies started introducing social distancing. The practice eventually began to be suggested or required in the hardest hit parts of the nation.

The good news is that we started cancelling schools and closing down restaurants around March 14th. So, the number of total US infections isn’t doubling every 3 days anymore. Unfortunately, the horse is already out of the barn. As of March 14th, one out of every 200 Americans is already infected.

Italy put the entire country under lockdown 12 days ago, yet its death toll is still increasing exponentially. That’s because there is a 24 day lag between an infection and its resolution. We haven’t put our country under a lockdown yet. (As of 3/24 the death toll in Italy, although staggering, has decreased. Showing that social distancing has worked. TR)

Except a few educated people, no one has any idea that there are already around 2 million infected people in America today and the American death toll will exceed 15,000 in just 24 days. If we don’t take strict measures, we will be reporting 1000 deaths per day in just 3 weeks.

This is a mathematical certainty. It is inevitable.

China taught us how to contain the coronavirus outbreak. We have to put the entire country under a strict lockdown.

Update 1 (March 21, 2020): The number of deaths on the Princess Diamond cruise ship increased to 8. The case fatality rate for this group is 1.12%. This doesn’t change any of our parameters or estimates. We still expect to see around 800 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. by the end of March 26th.

 

 

A Season of Hope. We can have better days.

fullsizeoutput_3ea1The days are getting longer. Each minute brings us closer to summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

2019 has taken a toll. A toll on our patience. A toll on un individually and collectively.  We need to remember that we are of one race. The human race. When one of us succeeds- we each succeed. It breaks my heart and my spirt to see people walk by a struggling individual. To see a mighty nation turn it’s back on it’s neighbor.  I still hold out hope for us. We are truly better than what we have recently shown.

Time does not have a rearview mirror or reverse. It can only move in one direction. We have HOPE for better days.

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I need someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And thats faith and trust and peace while we’re alive
And the one poor child who saved this world
And there’s 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Some great artists have been taken from us this year.

One of my favorite groups in the late 70’s and 80’’s was The Cars.  Singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 75.

Rest In Peace.

Happy New Year All.

Peace,

Tony