Tuesday Reads: The Corona Virus and Finally Vetting Bernie

Good Morning!!

I had a flu shot in January, and since then I’ve had a week-long bout a stomach flu and now I have a full-blown case of the flu. I came down with it on Saturday morning and since then I’ve had a low grade fever that comes and goes along with a hacking cough, headaches, ear pain, and muscle aches. I felt better yesterday, and my temperature was normal until late last night. Now it’s already over 100 again.

I’m really not looking forward to catching the corona virus, but according to James Hamblin at The Atlantic, we are all likely to get it eventually: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus. Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.

Coronaviruses are similar to influenza viruses in that they are both single strands of RNA. Four coronaviruses commonly infect humans, causing colds. These are believed to have evolved in humans to maximize their own spread—which means sickening, but not killing, people. By contrast, the two prior novel coronavirus outbreaks—SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, named for where the first outbreak occurred)—were picked up from animals, as was H5N1. These diseases were highly fatal to humans. If there were mild or asymptomatic cases, they were extremely few. Had there been more of them, the disease would have spread widely. Ultimately, SARS and MERS each killed fewer than 1,000 people.

COVID-19 is already reported to have killed more than twice that number. With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is unlike most that capture popular attention: It is deadly, but not too deadly. It makes people sick, but not in predictable, uniquely identifiable ways. Last week, 14 Americans tested positive on a cruise ship in Japan despite feeling fine—the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.

Hamblin explains that this COVID-19 is likely to spread and then keep coming back every year, because it is contagious even when people have no symptoms and it doesn’t kill off most of the people who get it.

The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, “Actually, let me start again.” So it’s striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”

Containment is the first step in responding to any outbreak. In the case of COVID-19, the possibility (however implausible) of preventing a pandemic seemed to play out in a matter of days. Starting in January, China began cordoning off progressively larger areas, radiating outward from Wuhan City and eventually encapsulating some 100 million people. People were barred from leaving home, and lectured by drones if they were caught outside. Nonetheless, the virus has now been found in 24 countries….

Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)

Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”

The New York Times: ‘Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak’: Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat.

Religious pilgrims, migrant workers, businessmen, soldiers and clerics all flow constantly across Iran’s frontiers, often crossing into countries with few border controls, weak and ineffective governments and fragile health systems.

Now, as it struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Iran is also emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the disease. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates — even one in Canada — have all been traced to Iran, sending tremors of fear rippling out from Kabul to Beirut.

The Middle East is in many ways the perfect place to spawn a pandemic, experts say, with the constant circulation of both Muslim pilgrims and itinerant workers who might carry the virus. Iran’s economy has been strangled by sanctions, its people have lost trust in their government and its leaders are isolated from much of the world, providing little clarity about the extent of the epidemic.

Civil wars or years of unrest have shattered the health systems of several neighboring countries, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. And most of the region is governed largely by authoritarians with poor track records at providing public transparency, accountability and health services.

“It is a recipe for a massive viral outbreak,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the former founding executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on H.I.V./AIDS.

An even more immediate threat is the rise of Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend Sanders used his 60 Minutes interview to defend his past support of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

The reaction in Florida-home was swift and angry.

Marc Caputo at Politico: Florida Dems in uproar after Sanders’ Cuba comments.

Florida Democrats insist he‘s the worst-equipped [to defeat Donald Trump] after Sanders’ refusal Sunday night to thoroughly condemn the Cuban revolution. His comments on 60 Minutes sent shock waves through the nation’s biggest battleground state, where Democratic members of Congress, state legislators and party leaders warned that his nomination — and Sanders’ self-described “Democratic socialism” — will cost them the biggest battleground state of them all.

“Donald Trump wins Florida if Bernie is our nominee,” said state Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democratic candidate in a majority-Hispanic state Senate district….

As a state with an influential cross-section of Latinos whose families fled leftist Latin American regimes and violence, Sanders embrace of far-left leaders and his past refusals to wholeheartedly condemn Latin American strongmen and the Soviet Union have long been seen as fatal flaws.

Sanders on Sunday did nothing to allay those concerns in a 60 Minutes interview in which he was asked about his 1985 comments stating that the Cuban people didn’t “rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro” because “he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society.”

There was no mention of the firing squads, political purges and mass arrests that accompanied the 1959 revolution.

There’s much more at the link.

At least Sanders is finally getting vetted by the media. For example, Griffe Witte at The Washington Post: In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that’s a problem for his campaign.

The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news.

The country’s Soviet-backed government — forged via armed rebellion — was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with “their intelligence and their sincerity.”

Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people.

And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit “far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be.”

With Sanders now surging to the top of the Democratic presidential field, those three-decade-old impressions introduced a volatile new element in the race Monday as rivals reacted to Sanders’s decision to defend his remarks, not disclaim them….

The fact that Sanders’s long-ago travels in the communist world have become an issue in the 2020 campaign reflects how unorthodox a choice he would be to lead the Democratic Party….

Returning home from visits to some of the United States’ most avowed enemies, Sanders offered some criticism but also plenty of praise in Vermont community television recordings. Many of the videos were kept in storage for decades — including during his 2016 campaign — and, even after being posted online, have remained relatively unknown.

Now, Sanders’s comments are coming back to life as opponents say his warm feelings toward his hosts decades ago make him vulnerable to attack and reveal a soft spot for left-wing despots.

Read the rest at the WaPo. More Bernie critiques:

Jonathan Chait: If Democrats Aren’t Terrified of Bernie, They’re Not Paying Attention.

William Saletan at Slate: The Great Socialism Gap. Socialism doesn’t freak out Democratic voters the way it freaks out other Americans. That’s a problem.

Never Trumper Michael Gerson at The Washington Post: A Trump-Sanders election would destroy our politics.

The South Carolina primary is coming up on Saturday, followed three days later by Super Tuesday. There’s another debate tonight, and I hope Elizabeth Warren will finally get up the nerve to address Sanders’ many weaknesses instead continuing to focus on Mike Bloomberg. I’m pretty sure the other candidates won’t hesitate to attack Bernie.

Natasha Korecki at Politico: Sanders under fire in South Carolina from all directions.

Joe Biden’s campaign is airing a new digital ad in South Carolina accusing Bernie Sanders of trying to undermine Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection by threatening to primary him. Pete Buttigieg was on TV in South Carolina hitting Sanders over health care and Mike Bloomberg targeted Sanders’ past gun votes.

“When it comes to building on Barack Obama’s legacy, Bernie Sanders just can’t be trusted,” the Biden ad, first obtained by POLITICO, warns.

The fusillade targeting Sanders on the eve of a Democratic debate in the fourth early state of South Carolina marked the latest turn in a Democratic primary that now has a decisive frontrunner. Each of the candidates, competing for a fraction of the moderate vote, are attempting to blunt the Vermont senator’s momentum coming off a landslide win in Nevada.

“When we rallied together to defend our president and all the progress he made they had his back,” the narrator says. Panning to then-Vice President Biden, the voice-over continues, “He had his back,” and moving to images of African American supporters at an Obama rally, says: “And you had his back.”

“But back in Washington, there was one guy with another plan,” the narrator says before an audio clip is heard of Sanders saying, “I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

More at the WaPo.

Are you going to watch the debate? I might give it a try. The last one was pretty entertaining, and it would be fun to see Bernie get his ass kicked. As always, this is an open thread.

22 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: The Corona Virus and Finally Vetting Bernie”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    CNN: FBI official warns Russia ‘wants to watch us tear ourselves apart’ amid intel briefing controversy

    Russia’s influence campaign is driven by a desire to “watch us tear ourselves apart,” a senior FBI official said Monday, comments that come after details of a classified briefing to lawmakers became public in news reports, including a claim by the intelligence community’s top election security official that Moscow is interfering with the goal of helping President Donald Trump.

    They also come as CNN is learning that details related to Russia’s preference for Trump were not discussed in another classified briefing with committee staff, which took place prior to the closed-door meeting with lawmakers that has come under scrutiny in recent days.

    Speaking at a conference on election security in Washington, David Porter, the assistant section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, said that Russia is waging a “brazen and disruptive” operation against the US aimed at dividing the population and undermining traditional sources of information, like the news media, to make room for misleading narratives.

    “Election interference is one of the vectors in this space. It’s designed to degrade confidence at the very foundation of our democratic system and our leaders’ ability to govern,” Porter said.

    “It’s also designed to weaken the adversary from within by identifying existing political and social issues and driving wedges into those fractural lines and [amplifying] them through online manipulation and disinformation in an effort to create an environment of permanent cacophony, unrest and conflict,” he said.

    • jane says:

      exactly what I have been thinking. We need to unite like crazy and not let this happen. Why can’t the dems let go of their egos long enough to do it. I can get the republicans being stooges but why the dems?

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast: Bernie Staffer Mocked Warren’s Looks, Pete’s Sexuality on Private Twitter Account.

    Using the account @perma_ben, Ben Mora, a regional field director for Sanders’ campaign based in Michigan, has attacked other Democrats in the field—as well as their family members, surrogates, journalists, and politically active celebrities—in deeply personal terms, mocking their physical appearance, gender, and sexuality, among other things.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mora has tweeted, “looks like her name: pained, chunky, [and] confused origin/purpose.” Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “is what happens when the therapist botches the conversion,” and his husband, Chasten, Mora predicts, will be “busted for running a meth racket” in 10 years. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a frequent subject of Mora’s private account, is called a “dumb Okie,” “an adult diaper fetishist” who “looks like shit” and who lied about having Native American ancestry “to get into Harvard.”

    Mora has now been fired, but there are plenty more like him. His buddies also doxed the author of the article on Twitter and Facebook.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Wow. That last cartoon is a killer in the school of high satire.

  4. Delphyne49 says:

    Hope you’re feeling better soon, BB – and Kat! That flu is a bad one…

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. Sweet Sue says:

    Hope you feel better soon, BB. Have you had a chance to ask your doc why the shot didn’t protect you?

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    This is bad. He could actually break their infrastructure to the point were we’d really not be able to respond if he has a hissy fit.

    • quixote says:

      Always about the PR with that Ball o’Slime. “Don’t say anyting and dere won’t be a problem. See whaddimean?”

      Reality doesn’t care what you say, you overripe banana. Or what you think. Or what you want. Only what you do.

      Which in his case is always make it worse

      • dakinikat says:

        If he continues to be delusional he will lose to any one because this could drive the ecoomy down and he gave all the benefits of the last boom to stock buybacks.. The indices in all the markets and all the industries are down because the supply chain has been disrupted. There are countries were nothing is coming out or in like CHINA. There’s a rush to buy bonds now which has pushed interest rates to the point banks won’t lend and the fed can’t do much. This is not the deep state. It’s a black swan and he’s an orange swine.

        • quixote says:

          Watching that possibility turn toward a probability is what sent the Dow down 1000+ points in one day.

          After taking a wrecking ball to the CDC and everyone else who knows anything about global disease response, now he wants 2.5 billion-with-a-b dollars to do Something. And nobody left who has a clue as to what.

  11. quixote says:

    The stuff about Bernie and left wing dictatorships is sad and stupid. I know it’s way too complex an argument for US teevee, but the right wing dictators they had before were even more appalling, at least in Russia.

    So Boinie is not wrong when he says their lives improved. They did. Hugely. They could have improved much much much more if they’d had the luck to implement European-style social democracies. Nor did they need reigns of terror at any point. Yes, he’s very wrong not to mention that. But he does have a point with saying they weren’t starving, had health care, and free education. They did.

    As to the stuff about how content the Russians were, I actually had personal experience to comment there. I visited the Soviet Union as a teenager around the mid-1960s with my mother. We spoke Russian at home, so it wasn’t immediately obvious that we weren’t locals.

    How should I put this? The Russians were so far from content that you’d have to be a willful idiot to pretend they were. They were relieved Khrushchev had shut down a lot of the gulags and there was much less worry about knocks on the door at 2 AM, but that’s not exactly “content.” I gather he was there about 10 – 15 years after I was, but I’d be astounded if that had changed much. And I’m willing to bet it wasn’t that different in Nicaragua or Cuba or anywhere else.

    So, anyway. tl:dr; Bernie’s actually right about some stuff. Wrong about everything else, as usual.

  12. Minkoff Minx says:

    Thank you for all the Bernie Sanders links, I had a hard time finding anything that wasn’t pro Bernie….except for a couple comments from the usual crowd.

    Dan has been pushed back at Walmart, so we are looking at selling the house we just bought and moving into something less expensive. We are looking at an old house built in 1918 over in Cleveland GA, send some good juju this way…we need it

    • quixote says:

      Oh, Kerrrrist! Stress you do NOT need. Sending psychic waves of … something … psychicness? … really really really hoping it works out okay for you.