Keeping Up With the Numbers

As expected, some time in the early morning today someone became the 70,000th American to die of covid 19, officially. The real number of deaths is considerably higher, experts tell us, possibly by tens of thousands.

And, of course, those aren’t just numbers. Those are people. They are mourned. They mattered.

The virus is spreading rapidly into less populated areas. From Axios, yesterday:

The big picture: The hardest-hit areas so far have mostly been in states with Democratic governors. But the number of coronavirus cases is now increasing more quickly in states with Republican governors.

By the numbers: Coronavirus cases and deaths are both higher in Democratic states than in Republican ones, even after adjusting for population.

However, over the last two weeks, reported infections have increased 91% in red states versus 63% in blue states.

We see the same pattern for COVID-19 deaths: 170% growth in red states vs. 104% in blue states.

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

It’s a safe bet no one has had the nerve to tell Trump that the pandemic is poised to infect large numbers of his own voters. He still seems to be thinking that the pandemic is confined to blue states.

President Donald Trump says it would be unfair to Republicans if Congress passes coronavirus “bailouts” for states because he said the states that would benefit from that funding are run by Democrats.

It’s not like there are Americans living in those states or anything.

“I think Congress is inclined to do a lot of things but I don’t think they’re inclined to do bailouts. A bailout is different than, you know, reimbursing for the plague,” Trump told the New York Post in a sit-down interview in the Oval Office on Monday.

The president continued, “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they’re run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt.”

States in general are not exactly rolling in money, and nearly all of them have some kind of balanced budget requirement. That means that as state and local funds are diverted to pandemic response there will be less money for things like police, firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers. Any state — red, blue, or purple — that gets slammed by the pandemic is going to need help from the federal government. And since the red states tend to be poorer, in effect many of them have been getting federal “bailout” money for years. Courtesy of blue state taxpayers.

Trump is going all-out to persuade us all to give up on the social distancing and go back to work. He is clearly willing to trade lives for the economy. My sense of things is that a lot of Americans have been lulled into believing the worst is over. But it’s possible we haven’t seen the worst yet. Trump is betting all of our futures on what a virus might do.

Jay Rosen warns us of what’s coming:

The plan is to have no plan, to let daily deaths between one and three thousand become a normal thing, and then to create massive confusion about who is responsible— by telling the governors they’re in charge without doing what only the federal government can do, by fighting with the press when it shows up to be briefed, by fixing blame for the virus on China or some other foreign element, and by “flooding the zone with shit,” Steve Bannon’s phrase for overwhelming the system with disinformation, distraction, and denial, which boosts what economists call “search costs” for reliable intelligence. 

Stated another way, the plan is to default on public problem solving, and then prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default. To succeed this will require one of the biggest propaganda and freedom of information fights in U.S. history, the execution of which will, I think, consume the president’s re-election campaign. So much has already been made public that the standard script for a White House cover up (worse than the crime…) won’t apply. Instead, everything will ride on the manufacture of confusion. The press won’t be able to “expose” the plot because it will all happen in stark daylight. The facts will be known, and simultaneously they will be inconceivable.

Will Trump get away with this? Among some Americans, certainly. But what percentage? I’d like to think it won’t be a high enough percentage to save him, especially as the virus spreads and touches more and more families.

Paul Waldman writes that Trump is massively miscalculating what most Americans think right now.

“I think they’re starting to feel good now. The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think.”

That’s what President Trump told the New York Post in an interview Monday. And while he may be partially wrong on the second point and spectacularly wrong on the third, I’d suggest that he really does believe Americans are feeling good, if you define “good” as “ready to stop worrying about the coronavirus pandemic and get back to normal activity.”

But he’s wrong about that, too. Trump has a fundamental misunderstanding about what Americans are thinking and feeling right now, a misunderstanding that has not only guided his decision-making throughout this crisis but helped cost the lives of untold thousands of Americans.

Waldman goes on to cite polls showing that large majorities of Americans are still worried they and loved ones will be infected. Large majorities say they would feel uncomfortable shopping in most retail stores and eating in sit-down restaurants right now.

When Texas partially lifted its lockdown order, people went to parks and beaches but stayed away from malls and stores. “There’s absolutely no one coming around here,” said an employee of a clothing store at a mall in Austin.

And that’s what economists have been saying all along; you really can’t “open” the economy while people are still — very justifiably — afraid of catching a sometimes fatal disease. It never was an either-or — death or GDP? — until Trump made it one with his own incompetence.

Some are saying Trump is unraveling; I question whether he is any more “unraveled” than he ever was. He is a seriously warped individual who assumes most people are as warped, as selfish, as narcissistic, as he is. For example, George W. Bush’s “Call to Unite” video, which is about as inoffensive as anything Dubya ever did, made Trump go ballistic.

I mean, this is the kind of thing people usually say at times like these. A psychologically normal person would, at the very least, say something about it like isn’t that nice? But not our Trump.

Everything is about him, and nothing about him is normal. Were it not for the fact that the Republican party has been taken over by zombies Trump would have been bounced out of office months ago.

It’s also the case that “uniting” isn’t something that Trump grasps, in spite of his claims to be a “uniter.” For that matter, George W. Bush wasn’t very good at it, either, in spite of the gushing sentiments in the video. But at least Dubya appreciated that “uniting” is something the American people are supposed to do in times of crisis, and so we must pay lip service to it. Trump’s idea of “uniting” is that everyone is supposed to to adore him.

Vice President Pence just announced that the coronavirus task force itself will soon be disbanded. I guess if the Trump Show is cancelled, there’s no point keeping the cast around. This may be a signal that we’re about to declare the pandemic over. Maybe Trump will sign an executive order to end it.

And one of Trump’s discarded officials, an FDA commissioner named Scott Gottlieb, said on Face the Nation Sunday that we could have 100,000 deaths by the end of June. No, dude, at the rate we’re going, we’ll have 100,000 dead before the end of May. Easily. I wish these people would keep up with the numbers.

6 thoughts on “Keeping Up With the Numbers

  1. Trump’s idea of “uniting” is that everyone is supposed to to adore him.

    That's how domestic abusers and substance abusers see the world. Trump, of course, is both.

    I wonder what people who voted for Trump who live in Democratic-run states are thinking now that their Sun King has said out loud that their deaths and/or the loss of their jobs and homes and/or their bankruptcies literally don't matter to him because he's going to lose their state anyway.


  2. It’s a safe bet no one has had the nerve to tell Trump that the pandemic is poised to infect large numbers of his own voters. He still seems to be thinking that the pandemic is confined to blue states.

    Just the opposite. I’m certain Trump only started taking the pandemic seriously a few weeks ago, when someone got through to him about it affecting red states and his popularity. He probably does believe it hits blue states worse. But, I completely agree with Jay Rosen. The plan is for Trump to BS his way through it, to push his form of mind control to the max.

    I was reading Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist, who’s written extensively about Trump:

    “Subconsciously, it is a loyalty test for the people,” Lee said. “In Africa, where I did some ethnographic work, child soldiers would be recruited and made to kill a family member to demonstrate their allegiance to the government and not to the family. Similarly, in urban gangs in America, one may be challenged to kill a police officer to prove one’s willingness to uphold gang rules over societal rules.

    “When Donald Trump suggests that the virus be taken as a ‘hoax’, that people gather in churches or that people protest for their own sacrifice, he is actually testing people’s loyalty to the ‘laws’ of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival. The more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows, since the psychological cost of admitting their mistake is ever higher — and so it becomes easier to dig a well of unreality than to see the obvious truth.

    Trump does this all the time, like a mafia don. Prove to me that you’re loyal to me. This is what was behind Sean Spicer’s first task as press secretary: despite all evidence, say to the world that Trump enjoyed the biggest inaugural crowd ever. It was test to see if Spicer was up to the job.

    One more chilling quote from Lee:

    People whom sociopaths have deceived and exploited often come away with a feeling that their soul has been hollowed out. They have witnessed the extremes of which humanity is capable.

    You may have noticed that the more the president abuses his “base,” the more they idolize him and obey what he says. He frames risking lives in service of him, so as to prop up his ruined economy and increase his re-election prospects, as “liberation” — and they come out in defiance of their own protection, demanding “choice.” He is practicing his “total authority” and putting his armed troops in the streets. We would be mistaken to believe he will leave, or even let a losing election happen in the first place.

    Abuse of the mind is the worst kind, for you make people do what you wish against their own interests, and even extreme physical abuse becomes possible. He is not only getting away with shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, but a whole massacre.

  3. Your $10 word for the day: agnotology

    …As Proctor argues, when society doesn’t know something, it’s often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he’s a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.

    “People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out,” Proctor says. “But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what’s true and what’s not.”

    Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

  4. How can tRUMP unravel when he was never "ravelled?"  He's never been like a human ball of twine.  He's more like extra's and castoff's in a dustpan at a string factory! 

    Now, as he's basically taken, as his policy, to ignoring the tRUMP Plague, tRUMP's never done what should have immediately popped into his pea-brain:  DECLARE MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! 

    Harry S. Truman and George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on aircraft carriers.

    What and where would be suitable for tRUMP to declare his missiin's been accomplished?

    A cruiseship, because of all the cases of tRUMP Flu onboard?

    No.  Hmm…

    Oh yeah!

    What a koinky-dink!

    tRUMP can also declare his "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier!!!  There were a lot if sailors who got the tRUMP Flu on board of several of them.

    Now, back to Republican's/conservatives and their lack of any mathematical aptitude, there should never be any doubt as to why!

    Any and every mathematical question has a right answer!  And only ONE CORRECT ANSWER!  (For the sake of my point, I'm excluding anything related to the Quantum realm).

    2 + 2 = 4.  Everytime!  Everywhere! And at ALL times! 

    There's no way to bullshit the result! 

    There's no way to explain how or why you disagree with arriving at that conclusion – like you can in the fields of history, literature, social sciences, philosophy, etc.

    Despite the Republican's Manichean outlook, leaders, and especially their followers, and their Black v. White/God v. Satan philosophy, they prefer to twist the answers to any question every which way until the inquiry matches their desired goal(s).  Hence, in GOP World, 2 + 2 = 3, or 5, or 70,000, depending on the need.  And, somehow, this twisting of reality to reach a desired result is acceptable – but ONLY if it comes from a fellow conservative!  OH!  And if the Democrats/liberals end up agreeing, the conclusion must be changed until a new "correct" answer can be churned out.  

    It must be truly tiring to not only be evil, but to go through so much effort to get to that point!


  5. Well, looks like Trump took the plunge and bailed on the idea that he could shout down the coronavirus. True to his commencement address at some second rate university where he touted the idea that when faced with an obstacle you either go over it or go around it, but don't let it interfere with achieving your objective or goals. Never give up.

    Seems Trump has decided to just bypass the reality of thousands of deaths per day in pursuit of the almighty dollar. So, America is just going to have to take it on the chin and accept the idea it is God's will that so many should die at least until Jared unveils his coronavirus cure sometime after the November election. Although if we don't reelect Trump we might not get the cure? That seems to be what's inferred by Trump's statement.

     In any event Trump is going to have the economy rocking come July. And if not in its entirety, I'm sure the funeral home business will be rockin' for certain.

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