Monday Reads: Art in a Time of Covid #19

New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne,“Front Line.” (you may order prints of these at his site}

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Last week, BB overwhelmed me with the art of three artists who expressed their grief and experience with the Spanish Flu of 1918.  Two died from it.  That and the death of Ellis Marsalis led me down a rabbit hole of finding what both performing and creative artists did at that point in time. The creative community always finds a way to express the culture as we deal with challenges as a nation and a planet.  I’m trying to focus on that today as artists and performers deal with Art in the Time of Covid #19

One of the biggest expressions of our need for community is the incredible burst of mask makers providing for both the public and the front line businesses whose employees do not have the luxury or pain of staying home but must work through all of this.  Fashion Designers, manufacturers, and kitchen tables with newly home schooled children are all practicing their sewing chops.  CNBC has a focus on the fashion industry in New York City but I know plenty of local artists and kids doing the same thing here.  Fierce Christian Siriano–who has a reputation for making fashion available to everyone–was one of the first who stepped up.

Designer Christian Siriano has started making masks for the city, and other companies have offered to help how they can.

Naeem Khan, a New York City-based fashion designer who has designed for the likes of Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, announced on his fashion house’s Instagram page that he would start making masks.

“My team is ready to start sewing CDC approved masks from medically approved fabrics from their isolated homes,” the post read.

“I’m a designer. I know how to construct, how to design, so I decided to design my own mask,” Khan told CNBC. “I considered doing it in hemp fabric because it has antibacterial properties.”

Khan’s masks are lined with microfiber and contain a pocket into which a surgical mask can be inserted. While this offers an extra layer of protection, meaning they can be used by medical professionals, Khan noted that these masks are not meant to replace the much needed N95s used by front-line health-care workers.

“These are not designed for people in the forefront of the corona fight,” he said.

DCB Art Students Draw on Talent for COVID-19 Donations

I woke up to this treat today!   It’s a zoombomb for a young girl who from the original cast of Hamilton!!!

After delighting the socks off everyone with a reunion of The Office last week, John Krasinski is back with the second episode of Some Good News.

The YouTube series, which Krasinski started to shine a light on good news around the world, featured a new two-second weather report this week from none other than Robert De Niro (who’s credited as SGN’s meteorologist).

But it gets even better. After bringing in his wife Emily Blunt to say hello, which we knew he would at some point, Krasinski got the original cast of Broadway’s Hamilton, including Lin Manuel Miranda, to perform Alexander Hamilton over Zoom.

Krasinski organized the performance for a young girl named Aubrey, who was supposed to see Hamilton for her 9th birthday, but instead stayed home to watch Mary Poppins Returns due to the coronavirus quarantine.

How the heck is Krasinski going to top this next episode?

 

parade party.jpg

So, Harper Gladow is one of the cutest little girls you could ever meet and has two of the most wonderful people for parents that I’ve ever met. Imagine being a kid and having a birthday during the stay at home orders. Mom Caitlin is super creative and here’s the result. Glad Harper had a great birthday!

Harper Gladow was excited about turning 5 on April 1. There would be sno-balls and presents, a bounce house and all her friends from school.

But then the coronavirus hit. Harper and her family — mom Caitrin, dad Dave, and siblings Olivia, 8, and Nathan, 6 — were isolated at home, like millions of other Americans.

There would be no bounce house. No sno-balls.

No friends.

“We had to sit down with all three of our kids, and we had to explain you are probably not going back to school this year,” said Caitrin Gladow, communications director for a local nonprofit.

“We tried to be candid. We said this is a big scary virus, and we had to stay home. She understood that we had to move her party. She was understandably very upset. There were some tears. But I think she understands that we don’t have a choice right now.”

Still, it was hard to see the disappointment in Harper’s face. So Gladow jumped on an idea she saw on Facebook: a “Group for Parents Navigating the New Norm,” launched by the NOLA Family magazine website. Families were offering to mark those special, shut-in kids’ birthdays for each other with a costumed parade.

With just a day or two’s notice, folks found bright tutus and colored wigs. Someone made a sign. Volunteer Ann Herren climbed into an inflatable T-rex costume, and her daughter Livvy, 12, dressed up as a princess.

“These kids need it. This is their (Hurricane) Katrina,” Herren said.

The Gladows called their children out to the porch on the pretext of coloring with chalk. And then came the marchers, down the root-rolled Uptown sidewalk, singing “Happy Birthday,” blowing horns and dancing — at a safe distance from each other, of course.

“She was shocked,” Caitrin Gladow said. And when she realized everyone was there to sing to her, she got a little shy.

Image may contain: 1 person

Yamiche Alicindor, journalist  #sketchbyJonLion

You’ll notice this is next level social distancing!  And here are my Friends the Gladdow Family paying it forward!  BTW,  Cait’s birthday is coming up and she’s gathering up donations for Team Gleason as they fundraise to beat ALS.  That’s another thing Cait and I share. Her father died of this horrid disease.  A few years ago my closest cousin, Ruthie, lost her battle with it.  Cait and another friend ran the marathon for Team Gleason and Team Ruthie that year.  Please donate if you can!

It’s also an odd coincidence that my big smile from that Hamilton video also came via Cait so … anyway, Love you guys!!!  I will owe you babysitting time!!!!

 

So, why can’t kids birthday parties be a fresh take on performance art in the time Covid #19?

As I said, I tend to go down rabbit holes once I get hold of something and Google is always there to indulge me.  IT’s undoubtedly something that has to do with avoiding grading for me and what my ex used to call my incessant pencil sharpening.  So, after a short search I stumbled on to this on The Conversation: The importance of art in the time of coronavirus”.  I have often told folks that after Hurricane Katrina I became obsessed with Survivor Series and Zombie and Disaster Movies.  Well, I’m not the only one that retreats to books and movies with weird impossible themes.

This is from a Senior Lecturer in Illustration, University of Portsmouth.

In this time of restriction, TV, film, books and video games offer us a chance to be mobile. To move around freely in a fictional world in a way that is now impossible in reality. Art connects us to the foreign, the exotic and the impossible – but in our current context, it also connects us to a world where anything is possible. A world out of our grasp for now.

The world we wake up in is a counterfeit reality. Things look the same. Unlike those now familiar films, the descent of humanity is not apparent in the slow shuffle of moaning, glassy-eyed zombies. The threat we face feels like those clever horror movies like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and more recent films like The Quiet Place where we rarely see the source of horror. The current moment is best understood as a kind of low hum of anxiety, like the buzzing of a pylon in a field.

The best thing about this is actually that the artist had an opportunity to be in Africa during a study of what a virus outbreak would do if it hit this camp/village in Mukuru and also Nairobi, Kenya. His sketches are in the article so please be sure to check them all out.

A current trending tag under Covid-19 on Twitter is this: #IKeepMyselfSaneBy.  There is quite a bit of this:

 

 

I have found my writer friends are writing. My painting friends are painting. And here I am with my Steinway and the guitar I had as a teen. I may not be Lin Manuel but I still have a few chops left in me and a lot of my friends are sharing theirs on a New Orleans Face Book page called the Quarantine Canteen. So, even performance artists have venues.

The coolest thing ever is the number of museums, ballet companies, opera companies, and theatres sharing their videos of past performances.  This from Forbes.: “These Galleries, Arts Organizations And Museums Are Keeping Art Accessible During Covid-19.”

With art galleries and museums around the world closing because of Covid-19, artists, galleries and museums have turned to technology and social media to keep their doors open virtually so visitors from anywhere in the world can still interact with and view art.

From large international museums to galleries and arts organizations, the arts community is getting creative with how they share their collections with the world.

America’s Virtual Museums are on line and gearing up.

Without knowing it, or certainly asking for it, we have all become part of a giant social science experiment: can digital platforms offer a satisfactory alternative to experiencing art in the real world? Museums have created points of access to collection databases—some more easily navigable than others—allowing online visitors to look at and learn about specific objects of interest, as well as read blog postings from curators about current exhibitions or about pieces in the permanent collection and follow the institution on social media platforms, using the online world and virtual reality technology to replace or reproduce the feeling of viewing art and other objects in person. This is a process that has been developing at US museums for 20 years, although it has taken on greater significance as the Covid-19 outbreak has closed these institutions to the public for an indefinite period of time.

Michael Neault, the executive creative director for experience design at the Art Institute of Chicago, says that the museum is in the process of “launching a new interactive feature for online users of highly visual narratives about objects in the collection. We will be releasing several of these each week over the coming weeks.” These features will be two to three minutes in length and include 360-degree photography. One of the first of these focuses on El Greco’s 1577-79 painting The Assumption of the Virgin, a featured work in the museum’s El Greco: Ambition and Defiance exhibition that opened on 7 March and was to continue until 21 June, but is now in limbo as the institution is closed to the public.

The Smithsonian Museum of American Art has created several digital tours of its the facility, from a standalone exhibition that can be viewed in 360-degrees via an app, to a fully immersive virtual reality experience, that includes art historical information on the works in the collection. And the Salvador Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, which is currently closed, offers a sometimes dizzying virtual tour of the entire museum, including the bookstore, exterior, fascinating staircase and the art in the collection, which is kept in a hermetically sealable third floor gallery in case of hurricane flooding.

In China, kids are selling their art as students of At Dulwich College Beijing (DCB) to help fund shipments of Medical Grade Masks. Some of the art you see here has come from their efforts.  You can read more about it at the link.

If you want to delve in to the reality of it all, you can watch Into the Red Zone which documents the worst hit areas of Northern Italy. I watched it on MSBNC last night. It’s compelling and overwhelming.

 

So, I’m about to go do my remote teaching thing and my which box of what gets delivered when thing and my self comfort things which have always included my music, my water color paintings, and binging on escapist movies.  Which is my answer to #IKeepMyselfSaneBy.  What is yours?

I love you all. Be safe!  Stay Home!  And now, find yourself a few neato masks!

What’s on your reading, blogging and creating list today?

 

 

 


Friday Reads: The Trump Family Crime Syndicate Strikes Again and Again and Again!

Granlund cartoon: Jared Kushner COVID-19 research - Opinion ...

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s very difficult to think about how much the current administration is doing wrong during this crisis because it is costing lives.  Nepotism in the White House is as rampant and as insidious as the virus itself.  It basically puts lives and treasure in the hands of those least prepared to do the right thing.  As usual, the lack of basic human decency and character at the top has once again brought us into the cursed hands of Jared Kushner.

From Today’s NYT:Kushner Puts Himself in Middle of White House’s Chaotic Coronavirus Response. President Trump’s son-in-law has become a central player in the administration’s effort to curb the pandemic. But critics say he is part of the problem.” 

At one of the most perilous moments in modern American history, Mr. Kushner is trying in a disjointed White House to marshal the forces of government for the war his father-in-law says he is waging. A real estate developer with none of the medical expertise of a public health official nor the mobilization experience of a general, Mr. Kushner has nonetheless become a key player in the response to the pandemic.

Because of his unique status, he has made himself the point of contact for many agency officials who know that he can force action and issue decisions without going to the president. But while Mr. Kushner and his allies say that he has brought more order to the process, the government’s response remains fragmented and behind the curve.

Some officials said Mr. Kushner had mainly added another layer of confusion to that response, while taking credit for changes already in progress and failing to deliver on promised improvements. He promoted a nationwide screening website and a widespread network of drive-through testing sites. Neither materialized. He claimed to have helped narrow the rift between his father-in-law and General Motors in a presidential blowup over ventilator production, one administration official said, but the White House is still struggling to procure enough ventilators and other medical equipment.

Perhaps most critical, neither Mr. Kushner nor anyone else can control a president who offers the public radically different messages depending on the day or even the hour, complicating the White House’s effort to get ahead of the crisis. One moment Mr. Trump is talking about reopening the country by Easter, the next he is warning of more than 100,000 deaths. In the afternoon, he threatens to quarantine tens of millions of people in the Northeast, then in the evening he backs down.

In an interview, Mr. Kushner would not discuss the president’s actions but said he viewed himself as an enabler of government agencies to overcome obstacles. “From the White House, you can move a lot faster,” he said. “I’ve put members of my team into a lot of components. What we’ve been able to do is get people very quick answers.”

But to some in the agencies, his team’s arrival has only exacerbated an already dysfunctional situation. In recent days, administration officials said, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which traditionally coordinates the government’s responses to disasters, has received surprise directives from the White House — including to dispatch deliveries of medical equipment to states that had not even submitted formal requests based on which governor got Mr. Trump on the telephone.

Today, CREW announced an effort to shine light on Kushner’s activities and possible profiteering.

Kushner’s deep involvement in President Trump’s re-election campaign from the White House has been widely reported. Kushner reportedly is “positioning himself now as the person officially overseeing the entire [Trump] campaign from his office in the West Wing, organizing campaign meetings and making decisions about staffing and spending.” He also reportedly oversees several elements of the campaign, including fundraising, strategy and advertising. Kushner has not shied away from touting his involvement in President Trump’s re-election campaign over the past year. admitting to working “to set goals and objectives” for his father-in-law’s presidential campaign.

As recently as March 2020, Kushner was scheduling meetings alongside President Trump, Hope Hicks and campaign staff inside the White House on polling numbers. While the coronavirus crisis derailed the meeting before the presentation began, Kushner’s inclusion in the meeting indicates he continues to overlap his official and campaign duties.

“OSC needs to investigate Kushner’s behavior to ensure that he is complying with the Hatch Act,” said Bookbinder. “There is no room in our government for top officials who deliberately violate ethics laws.”

 

 

For good or ill, Jared Kushner is America's deputy president - Los ...

 

Michelle Goldberg is even more adept at explaining why Kushner is the last person you would want injected into this process.

Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.

According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. “I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)

Even now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: “People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections which are not the realistic projections.”

Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.

Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. “Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.

Lexington - Jared Kushner appears to be in trouble | United States ...

I don’t think the Kushners are going to be able to return to NYC ever frankly. Seth Meyers even got into the pile one (Via Vanity Fair).

White House senior advisor and President Donald Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner made his first appearance at the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, one day after Vanity Fair reported he had taken a larger role in the government response to the health crisis—with a particular interest in the supply of ventilators available to each state, and the federal government’s role in procuring more.

“The notion of the federal stockpile was, it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use,” Kushner said on Wednesday. He later added, “Some governors you speak to or senators, and they don’t know what’s in their state.” The comments were roundly criticized on social media, but kept consistent with what Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has reported about Kushner’s response to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has plead for more than 30,000 ventilators. (Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed that number as well). “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators,” Kushner reportedly said during a White House meeting, according to a person present.

On Thursday’s edition of Late NightSeth Meyers provided a response to Kushner’s purported comment. “Oh, you’re doing your own projections? Did your parents just buy you a TI-84?” he asked. “You’re not qualified to do anything, let alone tell New York how many ventilators they need. You’re a nepotism case, and you only got the White House job because you married into the family, and because the security guards believed your fake ID.”

Meyers mocked Kushner relentlessly during the tail end of his latest A Closer Look segment, referring to him as the person in charge of “this shitshow” and joking that Kushner is “the guy Slenderman has nightmares about.”

Image

Matt Johnson @HotPockets4All

And in an opinion from Lloyd Green writing for The Guardian:  Jared Kushner’s coronavirus overreach puts more American lives on the line.”  No Shit Sherlock!!!

Jared Kushner is not a guy to turn to for sound political advice. Most recently, he reportedly told the president that Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, was being “alarmist” after he announced that his state required 30,000 ventilators to help get through the pandemic.

To add insult to injury, Kushner also bragged of his own wisdom and told those assembled that Cuomo was wrong. According to Vanity Fair, Kushner declared: “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”

The princeling has helped place American lives and bodies on the line. New York’s hospitals have become combat zones, its morgues and funeral homes look like abattoirs. Meanwhile, the US is locked down and the administration is projecting up to a quarter-million dead even if everything goes right.

American carnage is now. We may witness more deaths in months than its troops suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam after years of fighting.

When Mike Pence compares the US to Italy, we have a problem whose glaring scars will be felt long after Donald Trump leaves office. Coronavirus won’t be disappearing in a matter of days despite the president’s earlier assurances. Trump ignored the intelligence community and his national security staff, and now we must pay a collective price.

Unfortunately, Kushner doesn’t only suffer from intellectual overreach. Self-dealing may have made a cameo too in the middle of crisis, and we have seen this movie before. Earlier, the Kushners had attempted to attract capital from China, by touting EB-5 visas in exchange for investments and looked to Anbang, a Chinese conglomerate, to bail them out of their real estate positions.

When Kushner was boasting about data and Trump was going on about testing websites, they were probably referring to Oscar Health, an insurance company tied to the Kushner family. In turn, Oscar appears to have been involved in the government’s efforts to map the spread of the disease.

According to reports and filings, Josh Kushner, Jared’s brother, still owns a piece of Oscar, and Jared belatedly divested his interest after entering government. If the Trump Organization can bill the Secret Service when they guard the president at his personal properties, why can’t the Kushner kids make a few dimes off the taxpayer?

So, anyway, the shit show continues and we’re at the bottom of that slope it seems.

Please stay safe and check  to let us know how you’re doing!!!

I’m sharing this link to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood because I’m still in shock about our city’s treasure and some one who always shared his music and talent with every one as a performer, father, and teacher.  I was fortunate to hear him, known him and learn from him.  You can also see part of that here in this tribute from Jazz from Lincoln Center with his very young sons that he taught very well.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Socially Distant Monday Reads

Coronavirus response may draw from Spanish flu pandemic of 100 ...

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Well, one more week closer to the first wave of peak chaos. The US is expected to be at peak pandemic overload mode as a country some where around April 15 while each state is scattered around that.  Dr. Daughter sent me this link I tweeted out this morning.  You may find your state’s expected peak hospital use there as well as death projections.  New York City is looking pretty grim today as the US Comfort pulled into port.

Louisiana is expected to be the next big”epicenter”.  We continue to get worse press than NYC does to in terms of did we do things to deserve this?  I just watched General Honore on MSNBC telling reporters to stay off the politics and get on the logistics. Actually, he was shouting so maybe some one would hear him.

From CNN: “The alarming message of Louisiana’s sharp rise in Covid-19 cases” which is an Op Ed written by Kent Sepkowitz. 

The explosion of cases in New Orleans, Louisiana, has caught the attention of Covid watchers and doomsayers across the country. Less than two weeks ago, the Crescent City recorded less than 100 cases. By March 29 the number of infections in Orleans Parish reached 1,350, with 73 deaths. The fatalities per capita rivals that of New York City.

Though all eyes are on New Orleans, an equally alarming outbreak is occurring in a smaller city in the northwest of the state. Shreveport, near the border of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma — a region referred to locally as Ark-La-Tex (sorry, Oklahoma) — has about 200,000 people and sits across the Red River from Bossier City, with its population of 70,000. And right now, it is in the first stages of its own unique Covid-19 nightmare.

In recent days, the cases from these sister cities, which are in Caddo and Bossier parishes, have risen 30 or a 40 a day. As of March 29, the total for the two parishes sits at 275 overall, including five deaths. Incredibly, just a week ago, there were just 21 cases. Stated simply, this has the makings of serious trouble.

I’m staying home.  I’m fortunate that I’ve found places that will deliver pet supplies and fresh food.   I also joined a wine club.  I’m going to be leaving presents for my all my delivery drivers.

Today’s vintage photos are of folks during the 1918 Spanish flu.

 

Spanish flu: How Belfast newspapers reported 1918 pandemic - BBC News

I’ve been watching the daily presser from NY and also the presser from my Governor and mayor. What worries me is this daily event (also from CNN):  ‘Fact check: A breakdown of false and misleading statements at Trump’s Rose Garden briefing—  Trump berates reporter for ‘threatening’ question during briefing.’

On two occasions during Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump falsely denied he had said words he had said publicly last week.

When PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor noted that the President had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did, Trump said, “I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that on Fox News on Thursday.

Later, when CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond noted that Trump had said he wanted governors to be “appreciative” of him, and that “if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, “But I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that at the Friday briefing

1918 Spanish flu killed 2,000 in Texas, millions worldwide ...

It would be on thing if Trump was simply useless.  However, Trump is toxic and every thing coming out of his mouth and the actions he takes puts us deeper into national strife.  His first instinct was to grab hold of some whack ideas. This is elucidated by  Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker:  “The Contrarian Coronavirus Theory That Informed the Trump Administration,”Chotiner interviewed the liberatarian (of course he is) that created this outrageous idea.

 ..“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” Trump said repeatedly that he wanted the country to reopen by Easter, April 12th, contradicting the advice of most health officials. (On Sunday, he backed down and extended federal social-distancing guidelines for at least another month.) According to the Washington Post, “Conservatives close to Trump and numerous administration officials have been circulating an article by Richard A. Epstein of the Hoover Institution, titled ‘Coronavirus Perspective,’ which plays down the extent of the spread and the threat.”

Epstein, a professor at New York University School of Law, published the article on the Web site of the Hoover Institution, on March 16th. In it, he questioned the World Health Organization’s decision to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, said that “public officials have gone overboard,” and suggested that about five hundred people would die from covid-19 in the U.S. Epstein later updated his estimate to five thousand, saying that the previous number had been an error. So far, there have been more than two thousand coronavirus-related fatalities in America; epidemiologists’ projections of the total deaths range widely, depending on the success of social distancing and the availability of medical resources, but they tend to be much higher than Epstein’s. (On Sunday, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated that there could be between a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand deaths in the U.S.) In a follow-up article, published on March 23rd and titled “Coronavirus Overreaction,” Epstein wrote, “Progressives think they can run everyone’s lives through central planning, but the state of the economy suggests otherwise. Looking at the costs, the public commands have led to a crash in the stock market, and may only save a small fraction of the lives that are at risk.”

Epstein has long been one of the most cited legal scholars in the country, and is known for his libertarian-minded reading of the Constitution, which envisions a restrained federal government that respects private property. He has also been known to engage with controversial subjects; last fall, he published an article on the Hoover Institution Web site that argued, “The professional skeptics are right: there is today no compelling evidence of an impending climate emergency.” Last Wednesday, I spoke by phone with Epstein about his views of the coronavirus pandemic. He was initially wary of talking, and asked to record his own version of the call, which I agreed to. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, Epstein made a number of comments about viruses that have been strongly disputed by medical professionals. We have included factual corrections alongside those statements.

Which brings me to this:

 

Historical Photos Of The 1918 Spanish Flu That Show What A Global ...

Take a guess … or just look at the previous nonsense to find the answer.

Overall, the models could explain only a small amount of variability in how often people engaged in the recommended behaviors (approximately 6% of past behavior, 11% of future behavior). In both cases, only one variable stood out as predicting whether a person would engage in these behaviors more: faith in your own intuition. If you had more faith in your own intuition, you were more likely to follow the health recommendations both in the last week, and to say you would follow them in the next week.

Surprisingly, this trait beat out others like scientific literacy and a tendency to engage in cognitive reflection in terms of predictive power.

The researchers then estimated a second model that didn’t just use personal beliefs about science and truth generally, but also included political beliefs. This was based on people rating how much you agree with the statement “I identify myself as [liberal/conservative/libertarian].”

When political identity was added, the most important predictor became whether an individual was a libertarian. The more an individual identified as a libertarian, the less likely they were to follow the official recommendations for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

When political beliefs were included as predictors, the models were able to predict 17% of variability in past behavior and 29% of variability in intended future behaviors. That’s a pretty large jump in accuracy (from 6% and 11% for the non-political models).

How did Cincinnati fight the 1918 Spanish flu and did it work?

Of course we know who combines that with a toxic form of Christianity.   This is from Elizabeth Williamson writing for the NYT: “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too  —  The decision by the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., to partly reopen his evangelical university enraged residents of Lynchburg, Va. Then students started getting sick.

As Liberty University’s spring break was drawing to a close this month, Jerry Falwell Jr., its president, spoke with the physician who runs Liberty’s student health service about the rampaging coronavirus.

“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.

So Mr. Falwell — a staunch ally of President Trump and an influential voice in the evangelical world — reopened the university last week, igniting a firestorm. As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. An additional eight were told to self-isolate.

 

How NYC Survived the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic - Untapped New York

Lucian K Truscott IV  wrote this for Salon.

Trump won’t mourn for those suffering and dying from the virus, but he’ll accept the sympathies of the fawning suck-asses he surrounds himself with at the daily thank-a-thon that substitutes for the rallies he can no longer hold.

“Thanks to your leadership, Mr. President,” Vice President Mike Pence will typically begin, as he rolls out a list of dubious statistics for masks delivered or ventilators suddenly discovered hidden away in some warehouse. “Thank you, Mr. President … we all thank you … the nation thanks you,” another toady will parrot, likely some “acting” department head or secretary-of-something-or-another Trump’s thinking about going through the motions of nominating so he can keep another former lobbyist at the top of another important government agency.

Trump stands there, eyes unfocused, looking like he’d rather be on the 13th tee at Bedminster as he soaks in the praise. All of that praise is due him, he told said at the Wednesday thank-a-thon, because “we’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here, and if I didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people died — who would have died that are now living and happy.” The Wednesday thank-a-thon was filled with self-congratulation and chest-pounding, but it was no different from Tuesday’s, or Thursday’s for that matter. Trump spent 25 percent of the time he spoke in self-congratulation or blaming others for the difficulties he has faced, or the obstacles he has overcome, according to a study of his Wednesday remarks by the Washington Post. “These passages constituted about 25 percent of all the words Trump spoke — more than 1,500 words out of about 6,000 spoken. That is more time than he spent conveying details about the coronavirus response,” the Post reported.

When he wasn’t congratulating himself or accepting the thanks of the Suck-Ass Chorus, Trump was on Twitter lamenting the slings and arrows he suffers daily from his “nasty” enemies in the “media.” “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to MY election success,” he tweeted. “The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”

Someone in the White House press corps should have asked Trump about the “real people” in overcrowded hospitals in New York, in understaffed clinics in New Orleans, in panicked waiting rooms in Detroit, and lying on soaked sheets in their own bedrooms in every state in the union. They aren’t lining up to go back to work. They’re dying in numbers that are doubling every 24 hours.

We are living through dark times with exactly the wrong person in the lead.  He has surrounded himself with all the wrong people.  Stay inside.  This is going to get worse.

What is on your reading and blogging list today?

 


ClusterFuck Friday Reads: Can the Trumpist Regime get any more Incompetent?

Bourbon Street (a rare empty time) - Picture of New Orleans ...

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m waiting for a phone call from Doctor Daughter who was on call last night at her hospital in the Seattle Burbs.  Youngest Daughter joined my graduate class in Derivatives on Wednesday night to talk about Options strategies and the consumer retail brokerage market from Denver to the students held up here in New Orleans.  I’m beginning to feel superfluous which is fine but I worry about them both.  I especially fret about the doctors in Seattle and I can only imagine the stories that I will hear today.

My paychecks continue and I’m paying my bills which keeps me in the thankful old lady range.  I’m trying like crazy not to get sick again although I–like BB–wonder if the Mardi Gras Flu that kept me sick and home for 3 weeks last month was COVID 19 instead of Influenza Type B.  At this point, I’d be glad to have some antibodies because my lean/mean blue cross blue shield ACA health plan keeps me from doing anything but the required annual visits, etc.  I’m having to hold out to get sick or whatever until the less expensive–but still not inexpensive–Medicare becomes available to me in the fall.

 

So now the narrative is that my city is supposedly to  blame as the supposedly evil place that gave it to the rest of the country because Mardi Gras.  This is from the NYT.  We’ve reached the demonize the cities with all those people of color portion of deflecting blame from the Orange Snot Blob.

In a grim irony, there is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras — the weekslong citywide celebration that unfolds in crowded living rooms, ballrooms and city streets — which this year culminated on Feb. 25.

It is the city’s trademark expression of joy — and an epidemiologist’s nightmare.

“I think it all boils down to Mardi Gras,” said Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., a former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease. “The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”

The feeling is at once familiar and distinct for a city whose history is punctuated with epic disasters, including the deadly yellow fever outbreaks of 1853 and 1905, and Hurricane Katrina a century later in 2005. Once again, New Orleanians are afraid they could be neglected by national leaders, only this time because the coronavirus is a worldwide calamity.

“This hurricane’s coming for everybody,” said Broderick Bagert, an organizer with the community organizing group Together Louisiana.

Mr. Edwards, who, like most other Louisiana governors, has extensive experience dealing with hurricanes, said the state was struggling to confront this new kind of disaster. “We don’t really have a playbook on this one,” he said.

“If you have a flood or a hurricane it’s only a small part of the country that’s affected, so you can get the full attention of the federal government and you can get a lot of help from sister states,” he said. “That’s not possible right now because this is in every state in our country.”

As a kind of ghostliness settles over a locked-down nation, the effect of social distancing feels particularly jarring in New Orleans, a city that runs on intimacy — from the deep webs of kinship and geography that connect families and neighborhoods to the fleeting threads that bind strangers and regulars in storied restaurants and packed, sweaty clubs.

 

The fact that the Trumpist regime underplayed this disease at a time it was arriving in places like Seattle, Boston, NYC and yes, New Orleans cannot be underplayed right now. Nor can the fact that Trump refuses to truly act to flatten the curve and step up the production of hospital supplies and ICU beds in first, the worst hit cities, and then seeing that it continues to go to the next wave of places.

None of our cities are to blame. The Federal Government clearly botched this from the very beginning.

The Next Coronavirus Hot Spot: Louisiana Races to Prepare for the ...

From WAPO: “From party to pandemic: New Orleans fears Mardis Gras fueled coronavirus outbreak as cases spike”.

More than a million dancing, singing, bead-catching celebrants packed the streets of the French Quarter and other venues across this city in the weeks leading up to the sprawling open-air party that is Mardi Gras.

There was little worry during the February festivities about the new virus that had infected a few dozen people in other parts of the country. The city’s top health official believed the flu “is far more dangerous right now than the coronavirus,” she told the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate newspaper.

Thirteen days later, on March 9, Louisiana reported its first case of covid-19. Then came another, and another. Clusters broke out in several nursing homes. The cases popping up across the state were not easily linked to each other, meaning that a galloping community spread was already underway.

A terrible realization began to dawn on residents and political leaders: The famous bonhomie of the world’s biggest free party may have helped supercharge one of the most rapid spreads of the coronavirus, which is now threatening to overwhelm Louisiana’s health-care system and potentially make the state one of the next epicenters.

“We had people from all over the world. We also had the spread of this virus, and people did not realize it was spreading,” said Rebekah Gee, a former state health secretary now on the faculty of Louisiana State University’s medical school. “So people not only caught beads, but they caught covid-19.”

As of Thursday, Louisiana had reported 2,305 cases and 83 deaths related to coronavirus — with about two-thirds of the cases and deaths in the New Orleans metro area. During the first two weeks of known infections, the virus was coursing through Louisiana at an extraordinarily rapid pace, according to an analysis by Gary Wagner, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He found that the rate of growth in that period was the highest in the world.

Gov. Edwards: 'Our Trajectory Is Basically The Same As What They ...

One of the biggest barriers to progress is Jared Kushner’s Shadow Task force which CREW says violates multiple laws.

Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by using private email accounts with no assurance their communications are being preserved and by meeting in secret, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The failure of the White House to comply with any of the PRA and FACA requirements leaves the public in the dark about the work the shadow task force has done and the influence of private industries on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kushner’s task force, composed of a team of allies from within the government and representatives from private industries, has operated adjacent to the official government task force spearheaded by Vice President Pence. With confusion over the shadow task force’s role and who its members are, and reports that the members of the shadow task force communicate using private email accounts, CREW has reason to believe the White House is not creating and maintaining accurate and complete records of the shadow task force’s activities as required by the PRA.

“If there was ever a time we need records and transparency, this is it. As the seriousness of this pandemic continues to grow, the public needs to understand who in the White House is making policy decisions, who from private industry is influencing those decisions, and how decisions to address this pandemic are being made,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “After this crisis has passed, we will need to be able to look back at how this administration responded to the situation and have the full picture of what was going on behind closed doors in order to understand what we could do better in the future.”

The PRA requires the president and his staff to document, preserve and maintain records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” With Kushner at the head, the shadow task force’s development and implementation of federal strategies to address the coronavirus pandemic fall within these requirements.

The shadow task force also appears to fall under FACA provisions, which are triggered whenever a committee within the Executive Office of the President is advising the president and is not “composed wholly of full-time, or permanent part-time, officers or employees of the Federal Government.” The FACA prohibits such committees from being “inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.” Contrary to the FACA’s requirements, the shadow task force is operating in secret, with neither the members of Kushner’s committee nor their interests fully disclosed to the public. Understanding and preserving the committee’s actions and conversations will be key in understanding how the administration ultimately decided to approach its COVID-19 response efforts.

Notice the part about Kushner’s private emails.

Photos: New Orleans' French Quarter Deserted With COVID-19 Social ...

Trump has pulled back the offer of ventilators to NYC, demonized Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and now appears to be attacking GM and FORD who are simply waiting for the proper channels to get activated.  WTF?

The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.

Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt. Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce.

But in an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity, the president played down the need for ventilators.

Fear and uncertainty in New Orleans: A city in the grip of ...

This is an interesting headline from a Michigan: “‘After Trump Attacks Whitmer, She Says Vendors Aren’t Sending Desperately Needed Coronavirus Supplies. “They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan.”‘  

After President Donald Trump issued scathing comments about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying she’s “not stepping up,” and “doesn’t know what’s going on,” she told WWJ 950 the state is having trouble getting the equipment they need to fight the novel coronavirus.

“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said live on air. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

The other stuff was Trump speaking with Sean Hannity on FOX News about Whitmer, a Democrat who has said very pointed things about the federal government’s lack of coordinated response to the coronavirus crisis. Trump said of Whitmer, “She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant … “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints.”

Michigan’s request for disaster assistance has not yet been approved by the White House, and Trump told Hannity he’s still weighing it.

“She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot. Now, she wants a declaration of emergency, and, you know, we’ll have to make a decision on that. But Michigan is a very important state. I love the people of Michigan.”

In her public addresses closing schools, bars and restaurants, and issuing a shelter in place order, Whitmer has complained about the federal’s government lack of organization and state assistance, but she told WWJ she has never personally attacked the president.

“It’s very distressing,” she said about Trump’s attack, noting that she was only one of several governors who noted “the federal preparation was concerning.”

But she apparently struck a nerve with the president. And now the question is whether the leader of the free world could possibly take it out on medical professionals, patients and communities who desperately need help.

“I’ve been uniquely singled out,” Whitmer said. “I don’t go into personal attacks, I don’t have time for that, I don’t have energy for that, frankly. All of our focus has to be on COVID-19.”

This continued pettiness ruling our National Public Health Policy and Actions should be called out immediately.  I still believe no press outlet other tha CSPAN should be carrying the Trump’s political and disinformation-laden pressers.  They can edit him out and play the Science portion and quit scaring the rest of us.  But look, he didn’t cancel his damned rallies during the same Mardi Gras period.

So, I guess if me sitting home is the best I can do to help this, here I sit.  Still, we rely heavily on our Congress Critters to do the right thing right now.  You still might want to give them a ring and an earful.  Please be safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Isolation Monday Reads: Updates from The Hunger Games

Image result for images cartoons Fauci

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I actually hate to amplify the measured, knowledgeable, and experienced voice of Dr. Anthony Fauci in fear that the last vestige of truth available to us in the Trump Presser/Rallies will join the heap of ex Government officials. I can only imagine if we actually did silence Trump’s pressers and he had no way to cosplay president with cosplay stooges around him.  It would be wonderful but I have a feeling that he’d find an even deeper end of his pool of toxic narcissism and even more of us will eventually be harmed in some way.

Science Magazine actually features a conversation with Fauci which is probably good place for it because I doubt Trump even knows there is such a publication.  The title of today’s feature there is “‘I’m going to keep pushing.’ Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic”.  It basically boils down to a shorter version of  ‘I’m doing the best I can given the circumstances’.  The circumstances are basically Trump’s incessant need to be right at all costs while feeding every narcissistic bone in his body.

Here’s an excerpt of the interview by Jon Cohen with Dr. Fauci.  It’s notable Fauci was absent from Sunday’s presser/rally.

Q: How are you managing to not get fired?

A: Well, that’s pretty interesting because to his [Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.

Q: You’ve been in press conferences where things are happening that you disagree with, is that fair to say?

A: Well, I don’t disagree in the substance. It is expressed in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject.

Q: You stood nearby while President Trump was in the Rose Garden shaking hands with people. You’re a doctor. You must have had a reaction like, ‘Sir, please don’t do that.’

A: Yes, I say that to the task force. I say that to the staff. We should not be doing that. Not only that—we should be physically separating a bit more on those press conferences. To his credit, the vice president [Mike Pence] is really pushing for physical separation of the task force [during meetings]. He keeps people out of the room—as soon as the room gets like more than 10 people or so, it’s, ‘Out, everybody else out, go to a different room.’ So with regard to the task force, the vice president is really a bear in making sure that we don’t crowd 30 people into the Situation Room, which is always crowded. So he’s definitely adhering to that. The situation on stage [for the press briefings] is a bit more problematic. I keep saying, is there any way we can get a virtual press conference. Thus far, no. But when you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens. So I’m going to keep pushing.

Q: You’re standing there saying nobody should gather with more than 10 people and there are almost 10 people with you on the stage. And there are certainly more than 10 journalists in the audience.

A: I know that. I’m trying my best. I cannot do the impossible.

Q: What about the travel restrictions? President Trump keeps saying that the travel ban for China, which began 2 February, had a big impact [on slowing the spread of the virus to the United States] and that he wishes China would have told us 3 to 4 months earlier and that they were “very secretive.” [China did not immediately reveal the discovery of a new coronavirus in late December 2019, but by 10 January, Chinese researchers made the sequence of the virus public.]  It just doesn’t comport with facts.

A:  I know, but what do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?

Image result for images cartoons Fauci

An entire nation and world waits for the answer to that question as we dance around in place while hoping it distracts him enough that we all don’t die in the process.  Buddhists consider ignorance to be a poison.  It’s a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Donald J Trump.

There are very few people left in our decimated Federal Government that know what they’re doing since Trump and his cronies took over.  Today, we learn this from Reuters’ Marissa Taylor: “Exclusive: U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak”  There are two things Republicans stand for.  The first is giving tax breaks to every wealthy person and huge corporation while the folks with businesses on Main Street that live on Oak Street are ignored.  Wall Street gets billions in bail outs. The deficit only matters when you don’t want to feed hungry children.  Tax Cuts are the Apple Cider Vinegar used for the economy.  It’s obvious that Hopes and Prayers are used for everything that’s not related to the economy.

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.

The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.

“It was heartbreaking to watch,” said Bao-Ping Zhu, a Chinese American who served in that role, which was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2007 and 2011. “If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster.”

Zhu and the other sources said the American expert, Dr. Linda Quick, was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicenter of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases.

As an American CDC employee, they said, Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the United States and other countries on the coronavirus outbreak, and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier.

No other foreign disease experts were embedded to lead the program after Quick left in July, according to the sources. Zhu said an embedded expert can often get word of outbreaks early, after forming close relationships with Chinese counterparts.

Zhu and the other sources said Quick could have provided real-time information to U.S. and other officials around the world during the first weeks of the outbreak, when they said the Chinese government tamped down on the release of information and provided erroneous assessments.

Quick left amid a bitter U.S. trade dispute with China when she learned her federally funded post, officially known as resident adviser to the U.S. Field Epidemiology Training Program in China, would be discontinued as of September, the sources said. The U.S. CDC said it first learned of a “cluster of 27 cases of pneumonia” of unexplained origin in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31.

Image result for images cartoons Fauci

Yes. Our health was sacrificed on the altar of Trump’s bad Trade Policies.  Trump’s attempt to demonize the Chinese has been working successfully when it comes to naming COVID 19 the “Chinese” virus.  His need to set up an enemy and to sic his cult on them is probably the most revolting thing about him in a long list of many revolting things.  From Today’s NYT: Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety. As bigots blame them for the coronavirus and President Trump labels it the “Chinese virus,” many Chinese-Americans say they are terrified of what could come next.”  Anti-Chinese sentiment is so very 19th century.

As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asian-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.

In interviews over the past week, nearly two dozen Asian-Americans across the country said they were afraid — to go grocery shopping, to travel alone on subways or buses, to let their children go outside. Many described being yelled at in public — a sudden spasm of hate that is reminiscent of the kind faced by Muslim-Americans after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But unlike 2001, when President George W. Bush urged tolerance of Muslim-Americans, this time President Trump is using language that Asian-Americans say is inciting racist attacks.

Mr. Trump and his Republican allies are intent on calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus,” rejecting the World Health Organization’s guidance against using geographic locations when naming illnesses, since past names have provoked a backlash.

 

Image result for images cartoons FauciThe Federal Response to the Pandemic has been appalling. WAPO reports the view from state level: “Governors and mayors in growing uproar over Trump’s lagging coronavirus response”.

President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic sparked uproar and alarm among governors and mayors on Sunday as Trump and his administration’s top advisers continued to make confusing statements about the federal government’s scramble to confront the crisis, including whether he will force private industry to mass produce needed medical items.

As deaths climbed and ahead of a potentially dire week, Trump — who has sought to cast himself as a wartime leader — reacted to criticism that his administration has blundered with a torrent of soaring boasts and searing grievances. He tweeted that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and others “shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!”

 

Again, there’s been calls from all over asking the press to amplify the experts.  This would be a natural occurence under any administration not headed by a toxic narcissist on the scale of Trump.  Jeff Jarvis argues this viewpoint: Time for Experts.  Media must amplify authority over pols and pontificators”.

In this novel crisis, we in media and online need to shift much of our attention away from trying to eradicate disinformation (and how’s that going?) to spend more of our time and resources once again finding and amplifying good information — authoritative information from experts.

That is why I am maintaining and immersing myself in my COVID Twitter list of 500 epidemiologists, virologists, physicians, researchers, NGOs, and selected specialist journalists. I have been taking in their conversations with each other and the public, learning every hour, privileged to be able to ask questions, witnessing science in action; it’s that and only that that gives me hope. Through those experts I get a better view of our new reality versus any bro’s contrarian thumbsucking in blog posts or New York Times columns or in mindless TV location shots in front of poke bars that — guess what? — have no business. More on all that in a minute.

Of course, I’m not suggesting an end to fact-checking and fighting disinformation. First DraftStoryfulfact-checkers worldwide, and news organizations aplenty have that well in hand, or as well as anyone can these days. But the flavor of disinformation has changed; the target has shifted; the enemy is different. As First Draft’s founder and my leader in all such things, Dr. Claire Wardle, said in a video conference with journalists the other day, much disinformation these days comes not from malicious actors but from the well-meaning ignorant. Ignorance is our foe.

That is why we need the experts. That is why we need to put our effort behind finding them, listening to them, learning from them, and amplifying what they have to say. That is media’s job № 1.

Cable TV news is doing a decent job, I think, of getting experts on air to answer questions — authorities such as Dr. Caitlin Rivers, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Dr. Peter Hotez, professor at Baylor; Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of Penn; Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Andy Slavitt, former Obama ACA head. My primary complaint is that, TV being TV, they fill too much time with meaningless, repetitive location shots, coming back to an empty deli or Times Square a dozen times in a day or standing in front of the soon-to-be mass hospital at Javits Center where there’s no reporting to be done. Stop.

I want to see that time filled instead with more voices of science.

In that spirit,  JJ has started a new feature here which you may find at the top of the third, right hand column,  It’s a list of credible, scientific sources you may use to get actual information on the outbreak.  Please, give us some more suggestions if we have missed any.

Be safe!  Stay indoors unless it’s necessary to go out or you can take a walk in relative isolation!  It’s okay to walk with Mother Nature! Wash your Hands!  Know I love you all!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Dystopian Reads: Living with The Trumpist Regime Pandemic

Butterfly woman (Life magazine cover by Wladyslaw Benda, 1923)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

How’s the Social Distancing going for those of you that aren’t introverts? Frankly, social distancing is what I call my time away from work and it’s known as peace and quiet finally!!! The worst things right now for me are watching these endless pressers where Trump lies and then every one steps back and clarifies what delusional things he’s announced that simply aren’t true or are terribly distorted. Oh, then Pence does his sycophantic thing.

Fortunately, I’m a remote worker these days and I’m used to the isolation and I have money deposited in my bank. I’m listening to so many of my friends tell me their tales of sudden and unexpected furloughs and unemployment. One set of my friends have had to close their restaurant. Some are relying on take out and delivery but this will be very very brutal for this city. This city will be hit hard on many levels. My heart is with every one going through this that could lose everything and I truly hope we can get the Federal government to help us survive until we can begin to find a new normal together.

I watched a small flock of birds migrating north this morning while walking Temple. Taxes may be postponed but all other forms of life on the planet continue. It’s made me think about the term “nonessential” because it seems that’s what a lot of our jobs, travel, and shopping really are.

We can accept the Trumpist Regime postponing the Federal Tax Date but, as Jon Meacham writes in the NYT times this morning “We Can’t Let Coronavirus Postpone Elections. Even in war, America has kept up its democratic traditions. We can’t stop now.” Getting rid of this inept, crooked, and lying set of Trumpists is our most essential duty this year.

History is on the side of proceeding in times of uncertainty. There’s something in the American character that has long insisted on pressing ahead with democracy’s fundamental task: the casting of ballots and the choosing of leaders. In addition to the Lincoln example, historians know that James Madison was re-elected amid the War of 1812; the midterm elections of 1814 took place not long after the British had invaded Washington; the 1918 balloting occurred despite the ravages of the Spanish flu; 1932 went forward in the face of the Great Depression; and Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected in 1944, during World War II. Even 9/11 delayed the New York City mayoral election only by a matter of weeks.

We have world enough and time — and, in several states, the experience — to make the voting in November safe and secure. Colorado offers us perhaps the most promising model. A “vote at home” state (Hawaii, Oregon and Washington have forms of this, too), Colorado mails ballots to all registered voters well in advance of Election Day. Voters can either mail them back or drop them off at central locations at any point in the weeks-long window of time. Most people have chosen this option; think of it as curbside democracy.

There are security issues, of course: ballots could be intercepted and illegally cast by people with access to a person’s mail. There are, however, signature-checking safeguards in place. No system — including the current one — is perfect. But we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This coming Monday, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden are introducing legislation to make mail-in ballots available to every voter in America.

We need to have these kinds of conversations about the election honestly, rationally, and now. The sooner the better, for chaos could lead to a nightmare scenario: the possibility that President Trump might take advantage of the unfolding health crisis to delay the November election.

Image result for art deco life magazine covers

August 27, 1925. Cover by Garrett Price Life, Kitty Kitty,

Adam Sewer–writing for The Atlantic– suggests that “Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This. The autocratic political culture that has propped up the Trump administration has left the nation entirely unprepared for an economic and public-health calamity.”

The president of the United States is a menace to public health.

I don’t mean that I disagree with him on policy, although I do. I don’t mean that I abhor the president’s expressed bigotry toward religious and ethnic minorities, although that is also true. I am not referring to Donald Trump’s efforts to corrupt the Justice Department, shield his criminal associates from legal peril, or funnel taxpayer money to his tacky hotels and golf courses, although all of these things are reason enough to oppose the president.

What I am referring to is the fact that, soon after the coronavirus outbreak emerged in China, the rest of the world began to regard it as a threat to public health, while Trump has seen it as a public-relations problem. Trump’s primary method of dealing with public-relations problems is to exert the full force of the authoritarian cult of personality that surrounds him to deny that a problem even exists. This approach has paid political dividends for the Republican Party, in the form of judicial appointments, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a rapid erosion of the rule of law. But applied to the deadly pandemic now sweeping the planet, all it has done is exacerbate the inevitable public-health crisis, while leaving both the federal government and the entire swath of the country that hangs on his every word unprepared for the catastrophe now unfolding in the United States. The cardinal belief of Trumpism is that loyalty to Trump is loyalty to the country, and that equation leaves no room for the public interest.

Neither the tide of pestilence sweeping the nation nor the economic calamity that will follow was inevitable. They are the predictable outcomes of the president’s authoritarian instincts, his obvious incompetence, and the propaganda apparatus that has shielded him from accountability by ensuring that the public is blinded to his role in the scale of this disaster.

Trump’s first public remarks on the coronavirus came during an interview with the CNBC reporter Joe Kernen on January 22. Kernen asked, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” To which Trump replied, “No. Not at all. And—we’re—we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine.” In February, he falsely declared that “we are very close to a vaccine,” and that “within a couple of days [the number of cases] is going to be down to close to zero.” In early March, he was still urging Americans to ignore the issue, saying, “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

One might argue in the president’s defense that panic serves no one. It is important, in fact, that political leaders urge calm in the face of a crisis, even as they prepare for the worst.

Except Trump was not preparing. He was consciously contradicting his administration’s own public-health officials at the time.

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Life Magazine Cover, 1922, Flapper Butterfly, JC Leyendecker

Republican senators have been equally self-dealing and venal.

Bob Brigham / Raw Story: Republican Jim Inhofe dumped up to $450,000 in stock — the fourth GOP senator implicated in scandal: report

Tia Mitchell / Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Perdue, Loeffler among senators whose stock trading during coronavirus raises questions

The first one caught was Senator Burr.

Pro Publica: Senator Dumped Up to $1.6 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness

Greg Sargent provides this analysis in WAPO: “Three big takeaways from the stunning GOP stock-selling revelations”.

Burr’s ‘defense’ actually indicts Trump. One of Burr’s claims in his and Trump’s defense is that it’s unfair to claim daylight between Burr’s private warnings about the coronavirus and Trump’s downplaying of it.

Burr is pointing to a briefing that Trump and administration officials gave in late February, suggesting that this showed that they warned Americans about the need to “begin making plans” for serious inconveniences to come.

But that very same briefing from Trump and his officials actually shows them vastly downplaying the threat and vastly inflating the success of their own efforts.

In it, Trump declared that their strategy was already having “tremendous success, beyond what people thought.” And multiple other officials also hailed the “success” of their containment strategy.

We now know this was the opposite of the truth — the threat was not remotely contained, and the administration’s failures were to blame for it. Burr’s own defense actually shows that the administration was dramatically misleading the public, even as Burr privately warned that the situation was far more dire.

Burr is declining to directly answer questions about the stock sales. But even if you grant that his motives were pure, that cannot expunge the other problem here: that Republicans like him knew in real time that things were surely much worse than Trump was publicly allowing, and likely knew that the administration’s strategy was not remotely matched to the threat.

Here’s an example of the complete ineptitude in all Trumpist activities. The IRS wasn’t aware of the date change for Federal Taxes due.

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May 1934 Dr Seuss Cover

So, every day we get about two national press opportunities and it becomes an endless and hapless pogrom to confuse all of us. Trump attacks woman reporters asking key questions including suggestions that some of them would be better off dying of the virus. Trump basically announces things no one has heard of in the rest of his administration and confusion ensues. Trump continues to use the race baiting “Chinese virus” trope and refer to pandemic containment efforts as a war. None of these things are remotely comforting, necessary, or useful.

Meanwhile, out in Trumpist La La Land we have headlines like this and the resulting editorial op ed from the Kansas City Star: Kansas official: Pandemic isn’t a problem here because there are few Chinese people”.

The chairman of the Riley County Commissioners suggested this week that the global coronavirus pandemic is not a problem locally because unlike in Italy, there are not a lot of Chinese people living in central Kansas, according to two other officials who attended the meeting Wednesday night.

Before we go any further, the scientific term for this kind of xenophobic falsehood is bunkum.

Usha Reddi, the mayor of Manhattan, Kansas, went to the meeting hoping that the commissioners would declare an emergency, which they ultimately did. But what she heard from the chairman, Republican Marvin Rodriguez, was this: “I’m paraphrasing, but he said we don’t have a problem here because Italy has a lot of Chinese people, and we don’t have that problem here.”

Reached by phone, Rodriguez told The Star Editorial Board, “I didn’t necessarily say it like that.” So how did he say it? “Italy has a problem with its health department, first. It’s health for everybody. I have a friend in the Navy, and he said in that area” of Northern Italy where that country’s first cases were reported, “there’s a garment industry and a lot of Chinese. If we were like Italy, we’d have it already.”

We do have it already. But, does he understand why it’s dangerous to Asian Americans to talk like that, and that there has been an increase in reported attacks?

“Well, they say it came out of China,” he answered, “and I’m not putting it past the Chinese government in communist China.” Meaning, to export a virus on purpose? “Normally, this kind of thing spreads slowly,” he answered, so “I put two and two together. I’ve been around a long time, girl.”

He also said that his only public policy goal in saying all of this was to try to discourage panic. “We’re hurting a lot of people in Manhattan” by overreacting, he said. “Places are being shut down for no reason at all.”

All of the above not only encourages racist attacks but also encourages the public to ignore the life-saving advice of public health officials to take proper precautions to avoid transmitting the virus.

“This is false information,” Reddi said of Rodriguez’ remarks. “It’s not keeping the community safe. I felt very uncomfortable” hearing his comments about Chinese people.

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Life Magazine cover by John LaGatta / January 1929

Ronald Brownstein–writing for The Atlantic— writes: “Red and Blue America Aren’t Experiencing the Same Pandemic. The disconnect is already shaping, even distorting, the nation’s response.”

Even a disease as far-reaching as the coronavirus hasn’t entirely crossed the chasm between red and blue America.

In several key respects, the outbreak’s early stages are unfolding very differently in Republican- and Democratic-leaning parts of the country. That disconnect is already shaping, even distorting, the nation’s response to this unprecedented challenge—and it could determine the pandemic’s ultimate political consequences as well.

A flurry of new national polls released this week reveals that while anxiety about the disease is rising on both sides of the partisan divide, Democrats consistently express much more concern about it than Republicans do, and they are much more likely to say they have changed their personal behavior as a result. A similar gap separates people who live in large metropolitan centers, which have become the foundation of the Democratic electoral coalition, from those who live in the small towns and rural areas that are the modern bedrock of the GOP.

Government responses have followed these same tracks. With a few prominent exceptions, especially Ohio, states with Republican governors have been slower, or less likely, than those run by Democrats to impose restrictions on their residents. Until earlier this week, Donald Trump downplayed the disease’s danger and overstated the extent to which the United States had “control” over it, as the conservative publication The Bulwark recently documented. Conservative media figures including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity likewise insisted for weeks that the media and Democrats were exaggerating the danger as a means of weakening Trump. Several Republican elected officials encouraged their constituents to visit bars and restaurants precisely when federal public-health officials were urging the opposite.

So, the next thing that’s going on is Trumpist suppression of unemployment figures. Will this actually happen?

I agree with Dr. Paul Krugman on this one: “3 Rules for the Trump Pandemic. One: Don’t trust the president.”

The details of our failure are complex, but they all flow ultimately from Trump’s minimization of the threat: He was asserting that Covid-19 was no worse than the flu just last week (although true to form, he’s now claiming to have known all along that a pandemic was coming).

Why did Trump and his team deny and delay? All the evidence suggests that he didn’t want to do or say anything that might drive down stock prices, which he seems to regard as the key measure of his success. That’s presumably why as late as Feb. 25 Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist, declared that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus, and that the economy was “holding up nicely.”

Well, that was a bad bet. Since then, the stock market has more or less given up all its gains under the Trump presidency. More important, the economy is clearly in free-fall. So what should we do now?

I’ll leave health policy to the experts. On economic policy, I’d suggest three principles. First, focus on hardship, not G.D.P. Second, stop worrying about incentives to work. Third, don’t trust Trump.

FRANK LEYENDECKER, July 1921 cover

Any one who trusts this President and believes what he says is a major rube and they’re exactly why we’re in this position.

So, my friend and fellow blogger @Adrastosno has given me a huge ear wig this week and I will share it with you.

First, from Wiki:

The title refers to an inscription written by diminutive American actor Michael J. Pollard in Jim Capaldi’s notebook while they were both in Morocco.[1] Capaldi and Pollard were planning to work on a movie that was never filmed. Capaldi said:

Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.’ For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The ‘Low Spark,’ for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The ‘Low Spark’ meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.[2]

I cannot tell you how many hours I spent at the piano trying to learn how to riff via this song. And, it’s only this month I realized what the composer/lyricists actually meant. So, maybe we need to keep our low sparks going and get ready to amp them up in November. Remember, the birds are already heading to where they want to be this summer. I’m sure to see that same flock pass over me by fall.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Monday Mood Reads: It’s getting real out there

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Good Day Sky Dancers!

The weirdest news of the day continues to be the lines at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods as white burbies do their panic hording of toilet paper. Did I miss the memo on the magical impact of Northern and Scott to keep them ensconced in the white burbie bubble? Panic buying is just one of things that make us human, I guess.  I’ve stocked up on a few things myself now but only because I’m convinced they’ll run the store empty and my plan is to go out as little as possible.

There’s nothing quite like the behavior of panicky humans—especially when it comes to hoarding. Let a blizzard approach or a hurricane churn toward shore, and we descend on stores, buying up more batteries, bottled water and canned foods than we could use in a lifetime. We’re seeing the same thing again as America hunkers down against the novel coronavirus, and of all of the products that are being snatched up the fastest, there’s one that’s in special demand: toilet paper.

The Washington Post reports a run on the rolls, with both Costco and the Giant supermarket chain stripped all but clean. Even Amazon’s physical stores “appeared to be down to single rolls of novelty toilet paper in some places Friday,” the Post said. The New York Times similarly reports from a Whole Foods supermarket in Somerville, Mass., where shoppers had to be limited to two packages of toilet paper each, lest they strip the store bare.

But why? What is it about toilet paper—specifically the prospect of an inadequate supply of it—that makes us so anxious? Some of the answer is obvious. Toilet paper has primal—even infantile—associations, connected with what is arguably the body’s least agreeable function in a way we’ve been taught from toddlerhood. Few, if any of us, remember a time when we weren’t acquainted with the product.

USA TODAY

Ir’s no wonder that I just got emails from my German students telling me their government has told them to get out of the US.  That’s right, the German government has decided it’s not safe for them to be here.  I’m assuming they fully believe that it’s just a matter of time before US hospitals are overwhelmed.  It hasn’t stopped US college students from partying on dude.

A lot played out this weekend but the adult playpen areas like Bourbon Street, Nashville, and Ft Lauderdale continued to party on dude even as the major events for the tourist traps of America were shut down.  Student in Tulane were filling the campus’ dumpsters with furniture and home appliances as they were tossed out of their dorms.  Still, the first death in New Orleans of Covid19 didn’t stop wall to wall humanity on Bourbon Street or the Irish Channel despite that St Joseph’s an St Patrick’s parade being cancelled and all sporting events were cancelled.  The mayor finally sent the police in to clear the crowds.

By day, lower Magazine Street was packed with people in kilts and green shamrocks Saturday despite the cancellation of the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day parades, with many revelers appearing to hope that the luck of the Irish would be enough to keep the new coronavirus at bay.

By night, New Orleans police broke up a bustling party at a local bar, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a strong statement, imploring people to practice “social distancing” to stop the spread of coronavirus. Around 6 p.m. Saturday, New Orleans officers arrived at Tracey’s Original Irish Channel Bar, one of the traditional epicenters of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday in the city, to break up a large party there.

Public officials have taken steps to limit gatherings in an effort to keep the virus from moving quickly through the population. Gov. John Bel Edwards has closed schools for several weeks and barred events where 250 people or more gather. But warnings from the governor and Cantrell about avoiding close contact and large gatherings were scarcely heeded Saturday along Magazine Street, through the Irish Channel and Garden District, where the streets were bustling.

Cantrell said that to fight this virus required social distancing, carried out in all seriousness.

USA TODAY Network

So, while some people spend endless time in lines buying cans of tuna, peanut butter, and toilet paper others day drink with their closest 500 or so friends.  Right.  This is America.  They’re also hoarding guns and panic buying guns.

Some further local news that’s surreal from any vantage point.  The French Market has been open continuously for over 300 years and it will be closing down today for an undetermined period.

Probably the most profoundly disturbing image yesterday was the Trumperz suprise visit to Pence’s attempt to bring some gravity to a Presser.  It’s been evident that number of cases is on the rise and the number of deaths have just started to look disturbing.  But hey, Trumperz was just a happy camper as the Board of Governors at the FED sent prices at the zero bound.  And, I ask you again?  Who is going to get a loan and like, buy something like a car right now?

So, Trumperz said “investors should be thrilled.”

Investors this morning to Trumperz (via the WSJ) :“Stocks Open Sharply Lower After Fed Slashes Rates. U.S. stocks drop 8%, while bond yields plummet again.”  He just doesn’t get anything right ever.  Oh, and then there’s this via CNBC: “Stock futures drop — hit ‘limit down’ — even as Fed slashes rates; Dow futures off 1,000 points   Stock futures plunged Sunday night even after the Federal Reserve embarked on a massive monetary stimulus campaign to curb slower economic growth amid the coronavirus outbreak.”

USA TODAY Network

The real real is getting serious too.  From the Seattle Times: “EvergreenHealth doctor tests positive for coronavirus, in critical condition”.

An emergency room doctor at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland is in critical condition with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The hospital at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in King County confirmed that the doctor was ill Sunday afternoon.

“EvergreenHealth is providing care for one of our physicians who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. He is in critical condition but stable. Out of respect for our patient’s privacy and that of his family, there is nothing more we can share at this time,” says a brief statement issued by the hospital on Sunday.

The physician, who is in his 40s, has been admitted to the intensive-care unit and could be the first front-line health care worker in the state to test positive for the disease, said Dr. Liam Yore, the immediate past president of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Yore is an emergency room doctor who works primarily at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett but is also on staff at EvergreenHealth. He spoke to The Seattle Times on behalf of his professional organization and not as a representative of the hospitals.

“There was an initial test on Tuesday and that came back negative,” Yore said of his EvergreenHealth colleague, who he described as “a dedicated and selfless physician.”

 

 

USA TODAY Network

That’s not the hospital where my daughter practices but it is damn close.   USA’s headline today is the best advice these days: “The best thing everyday Americans can do to fight coronavirus? #StayHome, save lives ” That’s certainly my plan. I’m facing down 65 in November and while I’m relatively healthy, I will not be tempting fate.

I did watch a bit of the debate last night but was just overwhelmingly depressed especially after seeing parts of that stupid Presser.  Old White men will be the death of us all.  We’re going to have to vote for Biden to save what’s left of our country, but damn, I wish it didn’t come down to this.  Here are some headlines.

“Trump finds his MAGA movement fracturing over coronavirus  —  Just two weeks after President Donald Trump rallied conservatives to focus on the threat of socialism, his followers are splintering over the coronavirus pandemic. ”  via Politico.

Biden leads Trump by 9 points in a one-to-one matchup  with Trump:  via MSNBC.

Biden and Bernie face off: Key moments from Sunday’s debate”  also via Politico.  They even elbow bumped.

Under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, they talked about bailouts — and hand sanitizer. Biden said he washes his hands—a lot—”God knows how many times a day!”

Biden and Sanders met Sunday night, with Biden looking to open up a commanding lead for the nomination Tuesday and with the nation struggling to contain the fast-moving coronavirus.

The debate comes amid escalating spread of the disease that is dramatically altering Americans’ way of life and the normal rhythms of a campaign. In-person rallies and fundraisers have gone digital. Staffers are working from home. And Sanders’ chances to shift the dynamic in his favor have become even more limited.

Image result for image hillary SNL he will kill us all

The last thing you should try to read today is from David Leonhardt and the NYT. It’s really a depressing dose of reality but we need it. “A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus  —  He could have taken action.  He didn’t. ”

President Trump made his first public comments about the coronavirus on Jan. 22, in a television interview from Davos with CNBC’s Joe Kernen. The first American case had been announced the day before, and Kernen asked Trump, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?”

The president responded: “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

By this point, the seriousness of the virus was becoming clearer. It had spread from China to four other countries. China was starting to take drastic measures and was on the verge of closing off the city of Wuhan.

In the weeks that followed, Trump faced a series of choices. He could have taken aggressive measures to slow the spread of the virus. He could have insisted that the United States ramp up efforts to produce test kits. He could have emphasized the risks that the virus presented and urged Americans to take precautions if they had reason to believe they were sick. He could have used the powers of the presidency to reduce the number of people who would ultimately get sick.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?