Trump Does the Limbo Rock

limbo party

Back on April 18, I posted some numbers from the fivethirtyeight.com data set representing a rolling average of “all polls” measuring Trump’s “approval” and “disapproval.” The rolling average numbers are weighted by the web site’s estimation of the relative reliability of the polls, taking into account data size and methodology. The web site publishes three such data sets, one for “all adults” (registered and unregistered, more likely to vote, less likely to vote), a second data set of polls limited to registered voters, and a third data set of both types of polls, thrown in together. I used the third of these, the “all polls” data set.

Trump “disapprovers” exceeded Trump “approvers” throughout this period, but by varying amounts.

I showed how, at the time of the Great Pivot, in mid-March, Trump’s disapprovers exceeded his approvers by 10.5 percent. This was also the time when the Daily Trump Gaslighting Show got under way. From Mid-March to the end of March, the gaslighting seemed to be doing its job: he remained under water the whole time, but by the end of March, he was only under water by 4 points, not 10.5 points.

But, as the poet has said, April is the cruelest month. Between March 28, Trump sank further under water. My post showed that by April 18, he was back under water by 8 points—and he was, pretty reliably, sinking by two tenths of a point every day.

Now, another 10 days have passed. And where does he stand now?

You got it. It’s 10 percent. And you didn’t even have to go to fivethirtyeight.com to look it up.

How looooooow can he gooooooo?

Enjoy That Pork Chop

pork chops

Bloomberg Politics, Trump to Order Meat Plants to Stay Open in Move Slammed by Union

It is reliably reported that

the International Food Safety Authorities Network continues to investigate the potential for persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

This is a new virus, so we don’t know everything about how it’s transmitted. But WHO reports that outbreaks of similar upper respiratory diseases caused by SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV did not transmit via food consumption. This previous evidence suggests that the same will be true for the SARS-COV-2 virus, but more study is warranted.

And you might want to give that plastic packaging a good Lysol dousing. (Just don’t lick the package, afterward.) The same source continues,

There’s still a concern about whether the virus can survive on raw food, and, if so, for how long it can remain viable. A recent National Institutes of Health study found that the virus can remain viable on hard surfaces, such as steel and plastic, for up to three days.

Pollyanna’s Back on the Valium Today

oh no

I think she has some 3M and some Harley-Davidson in her portfolio.

Manufacturing is Going to Hell in a Handbasket

The Wall Street Journal informs us that Manufacturers Hit a Wall as Coronavirus Saps Demand: Caterpillar, Harley and 3M are among companies idling production and cutting costs:

Major U.S. manufacturers said some closed plants may never reopen and new product introductions could be delayed, after the coronavirus pandemic slashed demand for everything from motorcycles to industrial paint.

Caterpillar Inc. CAT -0.50% said Tuesday that its first-quarter revenue fell by a fifth, and Harley-Davidson Inc. HOG 12.46% said retail sales of its motorcycles slumped around the world during the quarter. 3M Co. MMM 2.03% said it would furlough workers and idle some factory lines apart from its booming N95 mask business, a sign of the broad economic malaise affecting even companies with a hot product.

“The impact of Covid-19 on our business has been significantly more severe and chaotic than any cyclical downturn we had envisioned,” Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said on a conference call. …

Big chunks of the U.S. industrial base remain closed as part of the effort to contain the virus. Other factories are closed due to declining demand or parts shortages. Caterpillar and 3M said a quarter of their factories are offline. Harley, which idled assembly plants in mid-March, said it is restarting some production. The Milwaukee-based company also said, though, that the worsening economic outlook has prompted it to reconsider when to introduce some new models it is counting on to draw new customers. Nearly two-thirds of its U.S. dealers remain closed.

And so on, and so on.

Delusional Thinking Versus Political Survival: Guess Which One Wins?

“Political survival,” you might have responded, as your knee jerked.

Understandable, but: WRONG ANSWER!

Political aggrandizement would have dictated that Trump act in a totally different way than he has acted. Even today, even today, he might save his sorry political skin if he appointed a czar or czarina, put that person in charge, got the hell out of the way, and claimed all the credit.

But he is delusional. Not about everything—I assume he knows the difference between the dining room and the bathroom, and that he can distinguish between Melania and a Japanese sex doll. But he remains delusional about science, medicine, and the economy. And he demands that we sacrifice our lives, not to mention our jobs and our stock portfolios, so that he does not have to face reality.

Paul Waldman writes,

Consider what it says that we read this paragraph not on Feb. 27, not on March 27, but on April 27, after the pandemic has progressed so far:

Pressure mounted Monday on the White House and Congress to develop a national strategy to test Americans for exposure to the novel coronavirus, as health and economic experts said the current patchwork of testing efforts is insufficient to allow the economy to reopen safely.

A national testing strategy might indeed be helpful! Perhaps the Trump administration will get around to it one of these days.

We Report, You Decide

A good friend from downstairs, and a person of very advanced progressive views, has forwarded this from salon.com, Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges: These “are the good times — compared to what’s coming next”: Author of “America: The Farewell Tour”: We’re heading for a steep decline; Biden and the Democrats have no answers. The article makes a strong case for the rottenness of the American political economy and for the complicity of both political parties. Please read it, if you are interested in reading an argument along these lines.

Among (many) other things, the author allows as how

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for more of the same. The ruling elites would prefer Joe Biden, just like they preferred Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is vulgar and an embarrassment. But the ruling elites also made it abundantly clear about their interests: Many of these people were quoted by name saying that if Bernie Sanders was the nominee — or even Elizabeth Warren — they would vote for Donald Trump.

All that said, I would detect a material difference between the candidate who is utterly delusional about basic medical, scientific, and economic facts, and who is prepared to take the whole damn country down with him to protect his delusions about facts and his delusions of grandeur—versus another candidate who is able to absorb relevant facts and draw reasonable conclusions.

And I would hazard the guess that some of the folks at 3M, Caterpillar, and Harley-Davidson may be having the same epiphany right about now.

duh

Happy, Happy

Happy, Happy

happy

The Wall Street Journal reports on The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19: They are working to cull the world’s most promising research on the pandemic, passing on their findings to policy makers and the White House.

In other good news, the Supreme Court voted 8 to 1 to shitcan yet another Republican plan to gut the Affordable Care Act. The four progressives joined the majority because they didn’t want to screw sick Americans. Four of the five wingers joined the majority because they didn’t want to screw insurance companies out of the financial support provided in the law.

Justice Alito was the sole dissenter, because he wants to screw everyone.

Meanwhile, in Other News

sad

Tyson foods took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times to let us know that America’s food supply chain is breaking.

#floridamoron

I got this from a friend, who got it from his friend, who lives in Florida. They are uncertain whether it is intended as satire or whether it is unintended self-parody. The consensus view leans toward the latter interpretation.

A National Laughingstock

I’m going to call her Martha—our old friend of many years’ standing. Dr. Aardvark and I first met Martha back in 1972, so I guess that makes 48 years of acquaintance. She lives far away, but we have periodically visited over the years, and we communicate via phone and email. I don’t recall any political discussion at all, over those 48 years.

Martha just sent me the video posted above. I wanted to share it because it’s darkly humorous, but also because it’s a little piece of confirming evidence in support of my thesis: Bleachgate looks like an inflection point. Martha is now hopping mad. And Orange Man is a national laughingstock.

The Mental Coordinates of a World That No Longer Exists

Pollyanna is very unhappy about this post.

Nicholas Eberstadt, The “New Normal”: Thoughts about the Shape of Things to Come in the Post-Pandemic World

Jonathan V. Last, We Cannot “Reopen” America: No matter when government stay-at-home orders are revoked, the American economy will not reopen. Because the source of the economic shock is not government orders. It’s the pandemic.

To more or less sum it up:

Governments cannot reopen the economy.

Only people can reopen the economy.

People will not reopen the economy until a reliable vaccine is available.

In the meantime, very large sectors of the economy will collapse. Certainly the airline industry, but lots of others, too. Movie theaters. Casino gambling. Mass sports.

Which, because things are all interconnected, will lead to another Great Depression.

As for almost all the experts and thought leaders, they are operating within the mental coordinates of a world that no longer exists, in consequence of which, their prognostications are wildly and unjustifiably optimistic.

So that’s about it. Other than this, things will be just fine and dandy.

Not being a world-renowned economic thought leader myself, I am not in a position either to rebut, or to confirm and endorse, the views of Messrs. Eberstadt and Last. Just wanted to pass ‘em along—and to show that I don’t always listen to Pollyanna.

All I know is that we are all swimming to the other side.

 

Weekend Thoughts on Bleachgate

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If you would like to enjoy an extensive and detailed thumbsucker on the Daily Gaslighting Show, do please check out the Washington Post, 3 hours of Trump: The president fills briefings with attacks and boasts, but little empathy.

Jumping the Shark

shark jumping

Bleachgate feels like the day Trump jumped the shark, n’est-ce pas? Though I do understand that my feelings plus 55 cents will buy you a first-class postage stamp.

 

 

 

 

Pols, White House Aides, and Republican Operatives

The press is full of talk about Republican pols and operatives, generally speaking anonymously, who are scared to death about November. And talk about unidentified White House aides who are terrified that Trump will resume his Daily Gaslighting—even though he said on Friday that he planned to take his marbles and go home.

But, But, But …

… do the views of White House aides, and the views of Republican office-holders and operatives, matter very much?

I shall answer my own question. No, ladies and germs, the views of this type of person are utterly unimportant. What matters are

  1. Whether Orange Man will repent of his apparent decision to leave the stage and wipe all those rotten tomatoes off, and whether he will resume the Daily Gaslighting Show, maybe sometime about this coming Wednesday, and
  2. Whether, at some point in the next month or so, the faction of rabid plutocrats who finance the circus and pull the puppets’ strings will come to their cynical senses, realizing that the Trump Show was fine for a while, but now it’s time for Pence for President. Cause Orange Man has well and truly jumped the shark—and it’s time to get out the hook and pull him off the stage.

Meanwhile, out in Cultland, this rhetorical question arises:

Can’t Y’all Just Agree on Which Lie Y’all Are Going to Tell?

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 2.28.55 PM

One of my high school classmates—turned, in her old age, into local High Priestess of the Cult of Trump—has played some word games with Bleachgate. “Disinfectants,” she has argued, could have a very broad meaning—and some of the substances within that very broad meaning are appropriately injected or ingested into the body.

Others have argued, without context, that Trump’s words were “taken out of context.” Back in New York, we used to use that trick all the time, when our client was proven to have said some things that evidenced criminal intent. How else could you defend the indefensible? You couldn’t. You just had to keep on repeating “taken out of context,” like a parrot, and manfully refuse to say what context would rebut the criminal intent.

Someone—maybe Orange Man himself—came up with the story that Bleachgate was a prank, involving him saying something obviously untrue and patently stupid, in an effort to get the press to report that he had just said something obviously untrue and patently stupid. Ha, ha, ha.

I am reminded of those times in my legal practice when I was sorely tempted to say to my clients, “Hey, if you’re going to try to lie your way out of this mess, couldn’t you all get together and agree on which lie you’re going to tell? And can you please make it a lie that an eight-year old of middling intelligence might possibly believe?”

We’re All Swimming to the Other Side

Here is the music they sang a few minutes ago, during the virtual worship service down at my local Church of the Two Holy Heresies.

Next week, folks from the National Guard, dressed in space suits, are coming to Happy Acres to make sure we’re disinfected and to test all of us.

This morning, the Washington Post Editorial Board reminds us, We are nearing the end of the beginning of the covid-19 crisis. Bigger challenges lie ahead:

WHAT NOW? We are six weeks into a national pandemic emergency, an extraordinary period of disruption in which the American people have sheltered in their homes and seen one-sixth of their jobsvanish. Horrifyingly, more than 50,000 people have died. An effective vaccine is at least a year away, and that is optimistic. So what should and can be done? The incompetence of national leadership notwithstanding, we must find a realistic way forward for the next phase.

The goal was, and remains: save lives and resume economic activity without igniting dangerous new flare-ups. Restoring the economy and the health of the nation both are priorities. Neither can be breezily ignored or dismissed.

The first requirement is to set reasonable expectations. Some degree of sheltering in place and social distancing will continue longer than expected, perhaps for months. Wearing masks, attending video meetings, keeping six feet away, grabbing takeout and avoiding crowds must be accepted as part of the daily routine for some time to come. These tactics have successfully flattened the curve and, so far, avoided the worst-case health-care meltdown.

Sadly, the time gained with this sacrifice has been largely squandered by President Trump. The next set of challenges are: test millions more people, identify the sick, trace their contacts, and isolate the ill so that those who are able can return to work and school. These elements — testing, diagnosing, contact-tracing, isolating — are tactics that work. But to perform them at needed scale is a far more complex challenge than what has been achieved so far. It now seems clear that a huge, national wartime mobilization to meet the challenge, which many have suggested, will not take place. It will fall on 50 state governors and on localities. They must make the best of it.

Diagnostic testing is the biggest gap. It is essential in the coming months to know who is infected, especially because a large number of people may be spreading the virus without showing symptoms. Mr. Trump and his aides promised millions of diagnostic tests but did not deliver. The number of tests has been rising, but far more slowly than will be needed. Key supplies, especially swabs and reagent chemicals, are in short supply. When the pandemic hit, the global supply chain was overwhelmed and has never recovered. Nations are battling for every shipment.

Mr. Trump made clear in the last week that he is not going to mobilize industry, World War II-style, for this purpose, and instead has pushed the testing problem to the governors. However, as New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) told Mr. Trump on Tuesday at a closed White House meeting, states “can’t do international supply chains.” Mr. Cuomo said he wanted to “let the federal government take responsibility for that federal supply chain.” Mr. Trump said he agreed with the governor on testing. We hope he was serious. Rhode Island can’t compete against France. The federal government must help.

The just-passed stimulus bill provides $25 billion for testing, including $11 billion for the states, accompanied by a vague requirement that “not later than 30 days” after enactment, the administration must provide Congress with a “strategic testing plan.” While the funds will help, that plan was needed last month. Front-line health workers still need protective equipment. Recent reports suggest that institutions such as prisons, meatpacking plants, and probably many offices and other factories would be better protected with high-level surgical masks. Can we make more for them? The hour is late.

Fortunately, on contact tracing, state public health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expertise, and hopefully states can carry out the essential door-knocking. But here, too, they will need financial help.

Job losses in March and April have been appalling. Those who have suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves unemployed are surely suffering their own pandemic of anger and despair. The nation must be shown a realistic and persuasive road to economic recovery, not the fairy tale of Vice President Pence that in June, everything will be behind us. The reopening must be calibrated in a way that assures worker safety. That will demand creative thinking by employers about touchless surfaces, distancing in the office and factory, staggered shifts and more.

The American people responded with alacrity, cohesion and remarkable goodwill in the face of danger over the past six weeks. They deserve straight talk about what lies ahead. Clarity and transparency are vital. We are at the end of the beginning of the worst national crisis since Pearl Harbor. The nation’s success, its resilience and recovery, depend in great measure on public confidence that the sacrifices have purpose, that there is a path out and that we will stay on it. As Mr. Trump cannot instill such confidence, it falls to other officials — local, state and federal — to plan soberly and speak honestly. It falls to each of us to help, and keep faith with, one another.

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

New York Times, Home Alone at the White House: A Sour President, With TV His Constant Companion: As his administration grapples with reopening the economy and responding to the coronavirus crisis, President Trump worries about his re-election and how the news media is portraying him.

Politico, Trump grapples with a surprise threat: Too much Trump: Some allies worry the president is damaging his reelection prospects with his dominance of the briefing room during a public health and economic crisis.

New York Times, Nervous Republicans See Trump Sinking, and Taking Senate With Him: The election is still six months away, but a rash of ominous new polls and the president’s erratic briefings have the G.O.P. worried about a Democratic takeover.

Washington Post, The White House tried to move a reporter to the back of the press room, but she refused. Then Trump walked out.

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See You Soon

see you soon

Greetings to today’s readers in Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Georgia (the republic), Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We are all interconnected. Stay safe.

 

On Drinking Bleach, the Death of Satire, and Friday Happy Hour at Happy Acres

scientist trump

It is Friday afternoon here at Happy Acres, and people in protective gear and masks have just shown up at our door, handing out glasses of wine. This is actually true. I did not make it up. Their timing is good.

On the question of injecting Lysol, Charles Sykes writes,

This sort of thing utterly wrecks satire, because how do you write a parody of a caricature of a hoax about something this stupid? There’s seldom been a time with a greater need for a well-honed sense of the absurd, but admit it: it’s hard to laugh at what we know is ridiculous, but also pathetic and dangerous.

There were few critics who have topped H.L. Mencken’s dim view of political idiocy: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last,” he wrote presciently, “and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Today, Trump explained that he was just pulling a sarcastic prank on reporters. It was, in Orange Man’s own words, a “very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside.”

Jonathan Chait observes,

In this case, Trump does not seem to be saying it was a haha joke, but some kind of serious prank, in which he would float a completely preposterous idea and see if he could get the White House media to report it as news. The prank required Trump to maintain a completely deadpan demeanor, and to get Birx’s cooperation, and to let the untruth go uncorrected for about 18 hours before finally revealing the gag. Trump was using his briefing on a deadly pandemic that has killed 50,000 Americans already for an Andy Kaufman–esque ruse, with the concomitant risk that his supporters will be killed in the process.

Lysol Would Like You to Know: Do Not Swig Lysol

Lysol

Improper use of Disinfectants

Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).  As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.

We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public health experts. For this and other myth-busting facts, please visit Covid-19facts.com.

For more information on our response to COVID-19, visit this link: Coronavirus information

And, Also, By the Way

Do Not Use Lysol for its Original Advertised Purpose, as a Vaginal Douche

Lysol douche