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
On April 14, Trevor Noah shared a simple joke about his trust in Trump’s ability to safely reopen the economy — so simple, in fact, that it fits into just three screenshots (with subtitles):Continue reading Trevor Noah steals Hillary Clinton’s joke, and also her mistake
You might have noticed that a lot of things are different these days. But how different? One generally accepted way to answer this type of question is to compare what’s happening this year with what’s happened at around the same time in previous years.
That’s what the New York Times is doing when it tries to calculate how many more deaths have happened this year compared to a normal year. People don’t die at a constant rate year-round; death rates are typically higher over the winter. It’s what the Bureau of Labor Statistics does when it seasonally adjusts the unemployment rate to account for more hiring around, for example, the holiday shopping season. In both cases, the establishment of a strong baseline makes it possible to tell how unusual this year really is.Continue reading Reporters need to stop treating 2020 like it’s just another year
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
Millions of Americans are about to receive (or have already received) a check from the United States treasury, and Donald Trump wants you to know that he’s responsible. I guess when you’re the self-described ‘King of Debt‘, it’s important to seize credit wherever you can.
To achieve that goal, the President insisted on appending his signature to every check, even though that means they will arrive even later than they already are. But because only Treasury officials can sign the actual checks, the unprecedented plan is to print “President Donald J. Trump” on the memo line instead of the signature line. Turns out, you can write anything you want on the memo line.
The goal of wasting all this ink is to improve Trump’s standing with the American people and, in turn, boost the one thing he cares about in the middle of this pandemic — his chances of reelection in November. Nevermind that the stimulus is generally acknowledged to be entirely incommensurate to disaster at hand.* Trump obviously thinks the American people can be bought for cheap — or, as they say, for a song.
So I say we give him a song in response — and I already have one in mind:Continue reading Donald Trump is trying to buy your vote — here’s what you can do about it
Donald Trump stirred up a hornet’s nest of admittedly “great” people last week when he tweeted, in succession, the following executive orders:Continue reading Did Donald Trump do more than just incite the LIBERATE protesters?
There’s a meme flittering around the internet you’ve almost certainly encountered by now:Continue reading This coronavirus is a product of the free market, not just the wet market
[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
The New York Times reported last week that, soon after he was fired, Captain Brett Crozier came down with the very virus whose spread more or less directly led to his removal:Continue reading When did Captain Brett Crozier contract the coronavirus?
A lot of celebrities and public figures (but I repeat myself) have recently undergone sudden attitude adjustments when it comes to coronavirus and public health.
In early March, British PM Boris Johnson was shaking hands with everybody. After he was hospitalized with the virus, Johnson released a video in which he made it clear he is finally taking the disease seriously.
Donald Trump has gone from dismissing the coronavirus entirely to… whatever he’s doing now. It’s still not easy to pin him down, but it’s clear his thinking has evolved since last month (not to mention yesterday).
Even people who only came into the public eye by dint of their relaxed attitude towards “corona” have reconsidered that stance.Continue reading The public figure who’s come the farthest on public health during this pandemic