Now that the presidential primary has been decided, there’s room to focus on down-ballot races. And in New Mexico’s primary, which is now just one month away, one of the contenders has something of a national profile. Even if you don’t remember Valerie Plame from back when she was making headlines in the second Bush administration, there’s a good chance you remember seeing this ad when it was released late last year:Continue reading New Mexico’s candidate taking “Crypto-Jew” to a whole new level
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released a new model yesterday that estimates a total of 74,000 Americans will have died of the coronavirus by early August — an increase of about 6,000 since its previous estimate from just last week. The modelers foresee a slow increase over the next few weeks before the total begins to plateau around mid-May.
There are two things you should know about these estimates.
First, both this week’s and last week’s estimates are not just inaccurate — they were almost certainly closer to the running total of American deaths at the time they were published. In other words, when IHME projected that 74,000 Americans are likely to die of coronavirus by August, I suspect roughly 74,000 Americans had already succumbed to the disease (before the calendar even turned to May).
Yes, that’s a strong claim for someone who has about as much expertise modeling epidemics as Richard Epstein. Here’s why I feel comfortable making it: IHME’s projections are based on current figures that have been reported by hospitals and public health officials. But the modelers don’t account for excess deaths in recent weeks that were almost certainly also caused by the pandemic but have not been included in official totals:Continue reading Donald Trump is planning to Hurricane Maria the coronavirus
Two weeks ago, I noticed that a number of people were busily broadcasting a small piece of fake news. I wrote a quick post describing their error, and confronted as many purveyors of misinformation as I could find. Many of them retracted or deleted their posts, more of them simply ignored my correction, and a very small handful (generally people with an obvious bone to pick) responded with what I will generously characterize as profound indifference to the truth.
None of this has anything to do with Teddy Roosevelt, except to explain that to the extent I have expressed concern regarding the spread of fake news on the internet, I feel obligated to own up when I myself have fallen victim to that exact scourge.Continue reading Mea culpa: Teddy Roosevelt’s ride and the bullsh*t moose
[Rewritten and republished early on 4/17/2020.]
The most recent coronavirus relief bill promised $1,200 to help American taxpayers get through the current pandemic, but it has been nearly a month and those checks have only just started to arrive.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are busy negotiating the next round of relief and have already discussed expanding the existing $350 billion fund for small business loans. With studies and common sense both suggesting Congress may also need to fund at least one more round of personal stimulus checks before this crisis is over, it’s worth reflecting on how a program like this could and should have been constructed to better serve the American people.
The most important quality of payments like these — indeed, almost the whole point — is that they need to get out the door as quickly as possible. When 49% of Americans were already living paycheck to paycheck back in February, even before millions lost their jobs in the span of a few weeks, expecting anyone to wait any longer than necessary for relief is unreasonable. The economy may well survive a few weeks in stasis, but people can’t yet; food and other basic necessities must be addressed far more quickly.
Agreement on that the importance of haste is clear from the way early proponents described the program. Here’s Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who first brought widespread attention to the possibility of a coronavirus stimulus:Continue reading Use the Census Bureau, not the IRS, to distribute coronavirus stimulus checks
Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden yesterday. But where Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke bestowed their own blessings upon Biden at a raucous Dallas rally several lifetimes ago in early March, Bernie and Joe got together to make their own big announcement over Zoom. The New York Times observed:Continue reading Where are Joe Biden’s coronavirus tests?
Now that Bernie’s officially exited the race, pundits have weighed in from all corners to evaluate his campaign and figure out where exactly things went wrong. I’ll leave the full retrospective to the, uh, experts — but I do want to quickly discuss one argument for Bernie that was never really going to work and that, more importantly, is dangerous for democracy.
On November 15, 2019, Bernie supporter (surrogate? no idea) Mark Ruffalo appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote a movie titled Dark Waters. But the conversation quickly turned, as was once natural, to the Democratic primary. Here’s what they had to say:Continue reading This argument for Bernie was never really a good idea
Since I resumed writing last month, all ten posts I’ve written have — one way or another — concerned the coronavirus. Not surprising. It happens to be the big story right now and, indirectly, the reason I started blogging again in the first place. But even in the midst of a pandemic it can’t be all corona, all the time. So as Wisconsin prepares for its inexplicable decision to move forward with the Presidential primary next week, let’s revisit a curious episode from an earlier stage of the primary instead.
Back in September, Elizabeth Warren gave a speech in Washington Square Park to discuss the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. I’m not interested in rehashing its contents, but want to quickly highlight Senator Warren’s interesting choice of word (bolded below):Continue reading One little suffix: suffragist vs. suffragette and reclaiming ‘Pocahontas’
Joe Biden caused a minor stir earlier this month when he told an audience in Iowa, “We choose truth over facts.” Given his history of gaffes, most coverage assumed this was just one more.
I’m not so sure.Continue reading Joe Biden’s revealing gaffe may actually be his strongest argument
Poor David Brooks. All he wants is for everyone to get along.
He watched the disgraceful push to seat Brett Kavanaugh* and, like many Americans, is appalled by what he characterizes as naked partisanship and hyperpolarization:
One month before the election, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holdover correspondent Lewis Black turned up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to record a fresh segment of Back in Black. He highlighted how few Americans choose to vote and urged eligible voters to overcome personal distaste for both candidates: