Do You Believe in Magic?

In his op-ed, Joe Biden got one thing wrong. (And I certainly hope the glitch was intentional—that it didn’t reflect a failure of perception on Joe’s part.)

Biden implied that Trump is putting political gain over the lives of Americans.

That is not a valid way of looking at the situation. The rational way for Trump to advance his own political interests—even now; yes, even now—would be to lead a national effort to implement testing and contact tracing.

Trump does indeed think he is promoting his political interests. But he is delusional.

Today, we are heading to a massive confrontation between the Senate testimony by Dr. Fauci and the massive display of delusion at yesterday’s news conference.

The irresistible force is about to collide with the immovable object.

You are advised to stand well away from the fan.

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.

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

The Great Unraveling—Some Postscripts

unraveling

Apropos the Great Unraveling, many have remarked on how, last night, the Evening Gaslighting Show reached a new low, as Orange Man publicly failed to bully his science advisers into joining his medical fantasy world.

And this morning—in fact, just a few minutes ago—the fivethirtyeight.com rolling average of Trump approvers and disapprovers showed him underwater by a full nine points.

Thus far, Lizard Brain has shown a certain animal cunning: he is in fact capable, sometimes, of switching positions and going against his notorious “gut” when he perceives a dire political threat.

One assumes he now perceives a dire political threat. Witness the public unraveling at the Evening Gaslighting Show.

He may well understand that his effort to turn the virus into a culture war has put him squarely on the side of, maybe, 15 percent of the population, and squarely against, say, 65 to 70 percent.

Politically, the wise choice would be a no-brainer: reverse course by 180 degrees.

But doing so would create a big problem: possible loss of financial and political support from the loonier fringe of the political class.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

I see three possibilities.

Possibility One: Trump sees that the right thing is also the politically expedient thing—stop gaslighting, invoke the full powers of his office, find a competent person to take control, get the hell out of the way, and claim credit for the whole thing.

Possibility Two: just keep on slipslidin’ away, until he’s down to Obamacare repeal level of approval, around 36 percent, or maybe lower.

Possibility Three: take no coherent action, sink more deeply into incoherence and public display of severe mental illness.

I have idea on God’s green earth which of these will come to pass. But I would be willing to bet some spare change on Possibility Three.

The Merry, Merry Month of May

I gaze into the crystal ball, and here is what I see.

By early May,

  • many of the cities will be reopening, with social distancing,
  • Trump will begin to hold mass rallies once again, and they will come by the thousands, coughing and sneezing, and
  • outbreaks in rural areas and Red States will become serious.

As May rolls on, and turns into June, the deaths among the MAGA crowd will continue to rise.

Because Trump is not Pogo,

the enemy

he will lust for someone to blame.

But remotely plausible targets will, by then, be as scarce as hens’ teeth.

Probably, he will start blaming the Jews.

Here’s a Howdy Doo, Here’s a Pretty Mess, Here’s a State of Things, Here’s a Pretty, Pretty Howdy Doo

Greg Sargent writes,

Only hours after President Trump released his vague new plan for reopening the economy, one that does not include anywhere near the testing we’ll need, Fox News host Laura Ingraham tried to get Anthony Fauci to trash Joe Biden’s response to Trump’s new rollout.

It did not go as planned.

The exchange perfectly captures a profound problem bedeviling Trump and his media allies. They urgently need to minimize the continuing threat of coronavirus, to buttress Trump’s case for reopening the economy quickly — in keeping with his reelection needs.

But pushing that line risks making Trump appear cavalier about the virus while deaths mount past 30,000 and experts warn that a rush to reopen could prove catastrophic. So they also must demonstrate that Trump’s call for a reopening is the argument that’s truly grounded in science.

The trouble is that there’s no way to reconcile these two things. Either Trump is taking coronavirus seriously enough, or he is not.