Sigh. So the US election is now just four days less than being four months from now, and, really, anything can happen. After all, four days less than four months ago was March 11, just before the US fully recognized that we were in a pandemic, with everything closing, and “the economy falling off a cliff,” as it is now put, but was not obvious on 3/11 at all, even though it was only about two days away. And the murder of George Floyd was still some time off. So, the world can turn completely upside down before the election, and nobody should forget that what really matters is what happens in the two weeks before the election, the period of short-term memory, and that really cannot be foreseen. I mean, those who hate Hillary a lot say it was not a big deal, but most of us realize that if James Comey had not made his big announcement about new nothing investigations of her emails 11 days prior to the election in 2016, she almost certainly would be running for reelection right now.
So, we are in this obviously ironic position: many Dems are hoping things go badly in the next four months while many GOPs are hoping just the opposite just so each gets the electoral outcome they want. This is nothing new, but it does put forward ironies in an unprecedented situation with many bad things happening and general uncertainty simply super high. Thus we have the oddity that in Congress it is Dems who are pushing for more and more expansive fiscal stimulus, which would presumably help the economy and thus Trump’s reelection chances, while it is GOPs, especially in the Senate where they are in control, who are being the most negative about such a package, especially because of its aid to states and localities, whom they view as Dem interests. I see out of the White House that Trump himself understands this and would like to see more fiscal stimulus, if perhaps with some limits and conditions. But, heck, things are indeed fully topsy-turvy.
So, keeping in mind that anything can happen, and I mean seriously all sorts of currently completely inconceivable things, I am going to worry about how if nothing dramatic happens, we could see gradually improving trends on several fronts that could move the November prez election back from its current state where if it were held today Biden would simply blow out Trump and the Dems would easily take control of the Senate, back more to what was where things were before four months ago, where it looked like a close race in November, both for the White House and the Senate, with Biden’s chances probably better than those of the Dems taking the Senate.
Clearly, the fundamental driving force will be what happens with the pandemic. Right now it is getting worse, at least in terms of new cases, in the US, although that has declined in the last few days from over 50,000 per day to the mid 40,000s. I think it is highly likely we shall see another peak on that due to the gatherings for July 4, but if in fact governors react more strongly and start seriously enforcing mask-wearing and all that, we might well see that peak in two weeks as the peak, with a gradual decline going on after that. Of course, there are numerous chances for it to explode again, with the opening of schools in the fall one such obvious possibility. But note that most of the rest of the world where they have been serious about mask-wearing and social distancing have gotten their cases way down, with them so far staying down. If the governors get tough, nothing due to Trump, we might see the hot new hotspots getting under control in a few months, especially four months.
Heck, next door to where I am in Virginia is Pendleton County, West Virginia. It is currently the most pro-Trump county in the nation, and also one of the five least infected. My county city-county has nearly 1700 cases, but Pendleton has a mere 12. But yesterday GOP WVa Gov. Jim Justice just imposed a statewide requirement to wear face masks in public. Trump may not get it, but if the GOP govs get it, that might be sufficient to get things much more under control than they are now.
If the virus gets under control, well, then the economy can reopen again and start growing again. I have already posted on how the US economy has done better than forecast by many. Now most of us are forecasting a slowdown due to the re-emergence of the virus and the new shutdowns. But while many states are doing new shutdowns, some places are still in their first rounds of reopening. Heck, here in Virginia, July 1 marked the arrival of Phase 3 of the reopenings, and VA is ahead of DC and Maryland on that. Reopenings, with accompanying heightened GDP growth is still going on. As it is, I am not forecasting how the economy will do, but it is not at all out of the question that it might be doing not too badly come November, although I am sure unemployment will still be higher than it is now. But on the stock market, heck, the NASDAQ is already at new record highs.
I am not going to speculate about the Black Lives Matter movement, but certainly that could go in a lot of directions, and the political bottom line on it by November could be much different than it looks now.
So, bottom line is nobody should get complacent that Trump will lose, although I find those who predict that he will definitely win to just completely silly. Everything is uncertain and up in the air.
Nice post. The death rate will climb as well as another rate of serious organ injury from Covid which has been occurring more frequently. While the younger set under forty may not die from Covid, many will suffer serious wellness issues for the rest of their lives. The most common complaint from them being, “I thought it only harmed older people.” In Michigan the death spikes occurred 2-4 weeks after dependent upon how quick they died. June 27 249 new cases at R0 of .3 July 7 649 new cases at R0 of .9 still slightly declining but an increase. The death rate has improved from 1 in slighty greater than 10 to 1 in 12 an improvement since June 1. It is not a huge change to the better.
What is happening in AZ are leaps and bounds in new cases and a low death rate. The latter death rate will increase. June 1, 21,000 cases and July 7, 108,000 and an R0 of 3.5. It is coming and will hang around for months to come as seen in Michigan (even though it has improved).
Although I am old the last 4 months seem like they have been the longest 4 months of my life and given the stakes I am thinking the next 4 months are also going to seem like the longest 4 months of my life. I certainly do want the whole country to get past Covid-19 although I agree that it is the moron in chiefs only chance. Although I agree that people have short memories, I really do not think that even if the economy is improving people will forget that their lives were altered in no small part due to the lack of leadership by the moron in chief and that affected both young and old people alike—young people who had jobs in the hospitality and travel industries as well as college students and old people who were told they could die for the good of the country and will certainly spend the next 4 months scurrying through grocery stores, wearing masks during “senior hours”. That leaves the 30 to 60 age bracket and I actually think the moron in chief’s going full racist gives him his best chance if the pandemic is under control. I have to assume that not everyone who voted for Trump in 2016 agreed with his appeals to racists but voted for him anyway. I had hoped that they would not be so willing to do so again in light of his incompetence and Biden not being Hillary. If they fear that there will be no police and that people of color will burn the cities however that could change. I have been seeing a lot of Trump ads on television both in Wisconsin and northeast Indiana—I assume due to Ohio being in that market and I just do not know if he can con suburban white women into voting for him like they did in 2016. I sure hope not but who knows? I do not think this will be as much of an issue in the South where the racial divides have been set for 150 years, but in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin the situation is more fluid particularly with voters who lean Republican.
Mfr., please! Here is my greatest fear about the election.
” These task force recommendations promote progressive policies, like a proposal to expand automatic enrollment in a public health insurance option for low-income Americans in health emergencies, but are a far cry from the kinds of ideas Sanders’ negotiators came to the table with.
“Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction,” Sanders told NBC about the final result.”
Not close to the levels of this absurdity in 2016, but Sanders really needs to show he learned something from then. This is a campaign, accent the positive ignore the negative. This comment on what it isn’t is a recipe for disaster.
The only important thing is to come together and beat trump. Everything else is a waste of time. Want hat you would have written alone to happen? Get the votes in the Senate and the House. Biden would never dream of going against them.
This kind of lefteirthanthou attitude gave us Bush, trump and our current Supreme Court, and has f**ked up this country beyond recognition.
Only two choices, choose one and go all in. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
I see little hope of the Covid-19 situation improving by Nov 3. Stay-at-home would take a good month to start showing up in number of deaths.
Stay-at-home produces better results on the Covid-19 front, but hurts the economic numbers. Opening up, especially when public health measures have become politicized, will help the economic numbers and hurt the Covid-19 ones.
PPE and testing issues are still here. Whether they can be fixed in time to good news blurbs before November instead of bad is doubtful.
Nothing looks good for Trump and the GOP, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to “win” the elections.
I don’t think Sanders really matters. 2016 was the ” cynic” vote and cynics really really disliked Bernie.
Try not to talk.
Our best hope would seem to be that
on Nov 3 there will be an overwhelming
vote that will not be questionable in any
sense, and that the defeated individuals
will depart their offices in good order at
on the appointed date, following the
Paul Krugman accuses Trump of “treason.” * What could Krugman be referring to?
The term frightens me, though I have no understanding of why the term was used.
Please do explain if possible.
July 9, 2020
The Deadly Delusions of Mad King Donald
He won’t give up on a failing pandemic strategy.
By Paul Krugman
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more and more as if we’re all trapped on the Titanic — except that this time around the captain is a madman who insists on steering straight for the iceberg. And his crew is too cowardly to contradict him, let alone mutiny to save the passengers….
Paul Krugman @paulkrugman
Scotus decision de facto means no info before election. Scandal isn’t going to bring Trump down. Yes, he surely committed treason; yes, he has surely profiteered off his office. But he has enough collaborators to protect him. If he falls, it will be because of failed policy.
10:48 AM · Jul 9, 2020
[ Here is the tweet I received. I have no idea what this passage means or refers to:
“Yes, he surely committed ——-…”
Please explain, if suitable. ]
“…This kind of lefteirthanthou attitude gave us Bush, trump and our current Supreme Court, and has f**ked up this country beyond recognition…”
[Great, then please I beg you how did we get Nixon and Reagan? Looks like the “Southern Strategy” has worked up North and even out West a bit. Abdicating support of blue collar workers while courting reversed racism was a great gift to reactionaries. The Left is still ruminating on its checkered past of unforced errors.]
“…if the pandemic is under control…”
[Most likely that is the least of our worries. Go w/JaneE on that. My best guess is that we will be approaching the halfway mark on Covid-19 by November.]
July 9, 2020
The Deadly Delusions of Mad King Donald
He won’t give up on a failing pandemic strategy.
By Paul Krugman
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more and more as if we’re all trapped on the Titanic — except that this time around the captain is a madman who insists on steering straight for the iceberg. And his crew is too cowardly to contradict him, let alone mutiny to save the passengers.
A month ago it was still possible to hope that the push by Donald Trump and the Trumpist governors of Sunbelt states to relax social distancing and reopen businesses like restaurants and bars — even though we met none of the criteria for doing so safely — wouldn’t have completely catastrophic results.
At this point, however, it’s clear that everything the experts warned was likely to happen, is happening. Daily new cases of Covid-19 are running two and a half times as high as in early June, and rising fast. Hospitals in early-reopening states are under terrible pressure. National death totals are still declining thanks to falling fatalities in the Northeast, but they’re rising in the Sunbelt, and the worst is surely yet to come.
A normal president and a normal political party would be horrified by this turn of events. They would realize that they made a bad call and that it was time for a major course correction; they would start taking warnings from health experts seriously.
But Trump, who began his presidency with a lurid, fact-challenged rant about “American carnage,” seems completely untroubled by the toll from a pandemic that seems certain to kill more Americans than were murdered over the whole of the past decade. And he’s doubling down on his rejection of expertise, this week demanding full reopening of schools in defiance of existing guidelines.
Oh, and he still won’t call on Americans to protect one another by wearing masks, or set an example by wearing one himself.
How can we make sense of Trump’s pathologically inept response to the coronavirus? There’s an underlying core of utter cynicism: Clearly, Trump and those around him don’t care very much how many Americans die or suffer lasting damage from Covid-19, as long as the politics work in their favor. But this cynicism is wrapped in multiple layers of delusion.
On one side, it’s clear that the Trumpists still can’t accept that this is really happening.
Until early 2020, Trump led a charmed political life. All his recent predecessors had to deal with some kind of external challenge during their first three years. Barack Obama inherited an economy wracked by a financial crisis. Whatever you think of his response, George W. Bush faced 9/11. Bill Clinton faced stubbornly high unemployment. But Trump inherited a nation at peace and in the middle of a long economic expansion that continued, with no visible change in the trend, after he took office.
Then came Covid-19. Another president might have seen the pandemic as a crisis to be dealt with. But that thought never seems to have crossed Trump’s mind. Instead, he has spent the past five months trying to will us back to where we were in February, when he was sitting on top of a moving train and pretending that he was driving it.
This helps explain his otherwise bizarre aversion to masks: They remind people that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, which is something he wants everyone to forget. Unfortunately for him — and for the rest of us — positive thinking won’t make a virus go away.
That, however, is where the second layer of delusion comes in. By now it’s clear that the cynical decision to sacrifice American lives in pursuit of political advantage is failing even on its own terms. The rush to reopen did produce big job gains in May and early June, but voters were distinctly unimpressed; his polling just kept getting worse. This year, it’s not the economy, stupid — it’s the virus.
And now the surge in infections may be causing the economic recovery to stall.
In other words, the strategy of “damn the experts, full speed ahead” is looking foolish as well as immoral. But Trump, far from reconsidering, is digging the hole he’s in ever deeper — much the same way that he keeps turning up the dial on racism despite the fact that it’s not working for him politically. Incredibly, even as hospitalizations climb he’s still insisting that the rise in reported cases is just an illusion created by more testing.
So what can we do? Trump has another six months in office (if he’s still there after Jan. 20, God help us all). And it’s now clear that he won’t change course, no matter how bad the pandemic gets. As I said, we’re all passengers at the mercy of a mad captain determined to wreck his ship.
It’s true that federalism is our friend. Trump doesn’t actually have any direct authority over things like school openings. And many though not all states have rational governors who are trying to contain the damage, although it’s hard to keep the lid on in New Jersey or Michigan when the coronavirus is running wild in Florida.
But a lot more Americans are going to die. And if Joe Biden becomes president, he, like Obama 12 years ago, is going to take the helm of a nation in a deep crisis.
It’s 2022. What Does Life Look Like?
NY Times – David Leonhardt – July 10
It’s 2022, and the coronavirus has at long last been defeated. After a miserable year-and-a-half, alternating between lockdowns and new outbreaks, life can finally begin returning to normal.
But it will not be the old normal. It will be a new world, with a reshaped economy, much as war and depression reordered life for previous generations.
Thousands of stores and companies that were vulnerable before the virus arrived have disappeared. Dozens of colleges are shutting down, in the first wave of closures in the history of American higher education. People have also changed long-held patterns of behavior: Outdoor socializing is in, business trips are out.
And American politics — while still divided in many of the same ways it was before the virus — has entered a new era.
All of this, obviously, is conjecture. The future is unknowable. But the pandemic increasingly looks like one of the defining events of our time. The best-case scenarios are now out of reach, and the United States is suffering through a new virus surge that’s worse than in any other country.
With help from economists, politicians and business executives, I have tried to imagine what a post-Covid economy may look like. One message I heard is that the course of the virus itself will play the biggest role in the medium term. If scientific breakthroughs come quickly and the virus is largely defeated this year, there may not be many permanent changes to everyday life.
On the other hand, if a vaccine remains out of reach for years, the long-term changes could be truly profound. Any industry that depends on close human contact would be at risk.
Large swaths of the cruise-ship and theme-park industries might go away. So could many movie theaters and minor-league baseball teams. The long-predicted demise of the traditional department store would finally come to pass. Thousands of restaurants would be wiped out (even if they would eventually be replaced by different restaurants).
The changes that I’m imagining in this article are based on neither an unexpectedly fast or slow resolution, but instead on what many scientists consider the baseline. In this scenario, a vaccine will arrive sometime in 2021. Until then, the world will endure waves of sickness, death and uncertainty.
Before we get into the details, there is one more caveat worth mentioning: Many things will not change. That’s one of history’s lessons.
The financial crisis of 2007-9 didn’t cause Americans to sour on stocks, and it didn’t lead to an overhaul of Wall Street. The election of the first Black president didn’t usher in an era of racial conciliation. The 9/11 attacks didn’t make Americans unwilling to fly. The Vietnam War didn’t bring an end to extended foreign wars without a clear mission.
Yet if the pandemic really does shape life for the next year, it will probably be remembered as a more significant historical event than those precedents. It could easily be the most important global experience since World War II and the Great Depression. Events that hold the world’s attention for long stretches — and that alter the rhythms of everyday life — do tend to leave a legacy.
“It’s only when the tide goes out,” Warren Buffett likes to say, “that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”
His point is that companies with flawed business models can look healthy in good times. Out of habit, many customers continue to buy from them. But when the economy weakens, people have to make decisions about where to pull back. They often start with products and services that they find the least valuable or that they can replace with a cheaper alternative.
A downturn, says Emily Oster, a Brown University economist, “is an opportunity to revisit inefficiencies.” And the coronavirus is likely to cause a larger version of this phenomenon than a typical recession.
Local newspapers will be one casualty. They were already struggling, because Google, Facebook and Craigslist had taken away their main source of revenue: print advertising. Between 2008 and 2019, American newspapers eliminated about half of all newsroom jobs.
The virus has led to further declines in advertising and more job cuts — and could end up forcing dozens more papers to fold or become tiny shells of their old selves. If that happens, their cities will be left without perhaps the only major source of information about local politics, business, education and the like.
Traditional department stores are another example. In recent years, they have lost significant business to online retailers and quietly lost even more to big-box stores. Many Americans have decided they prefer either specialty stores (like Home Depot) or discount stores (like Costco) over the one-stop-shopping experience that Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penney have long offered.
Now the virus has interrupted in-person shopping and caused many consumers to shift even more business online, to Amazon, Target and Walmart. “The retailers doing fair to poorly are absolutely not coming out of this,” said Mark Cohen, a former executive at Sears and Federated Department Stores who teaches at Columbia Business School. “Many, many of them are going to fail, have already failed or will fail when they reopen.”
If they do, they will create spillover victims — the hundreds of malls that rely on department stores for rent and foot traffic. The roughly 250 fancier malls around the country, like The Westchester in suburban New York and The Galleria in Houston, are likely to survive, Mr. Cohen predicted. Some will convert old stores into spaces for experiences, like dining, bowling, medical care or a golf driving range.
But many of the country’s remaining 1,100 or so traditional malls are at risk of failing. Even before the virus, Amazon turned two former malls near Cleveland into warehouses, a physical manifestation of changing shopping habits. …
I have just heard that today there were over 70,000 new cases in the US. This is getting wildly out of control right now.
Since much of this is occurring in Repub states, I am thinking Dems should roll to an easy victory come November.
Yes, Nixon and Reagan were a result of the Southern Strategy (as were bush, bush trump), the difference between their elections and bush and trump was that by 2000, white voters were a greatly reduced part of the electorate from back then. That number has decreased every year since 1980 until 2016. Figuring that the attacks on the Voting Rights Act and the resultant voter suppression played a huge role in that.
Demographics say, even with the incredible edge the GOP has in terms of the Electoral College, if Dem voters stay together behind a candidate, that candidate will win. Didn’t happen in 2000 or 2016, and is the greatest threat to the US in 2020.
Even if Biden cannot unite Democratic voters it is a certainty that Trump can and has united Democratic voters. VA is good because our Democratic governor is insuring that absentee voting is open to all during the pandemic. Red states will still be a problem because idiot voters still do not believe that Covid-19 poses an existential threat to them. In the tong run this may mean that social Darwinism will take on a Left turn.
While it is true that the recent outbreaks have been happening mostly in GOP-oriented states (with the notable exception of Cal), where the outbreaks have been happening in those states have been in their Dem-oriented largest and densest cities. Think Miami in FL Houston in TX, and Phoenix in AZ.
The virus is an “end of campaign” issue for candidates running against incumbents. Almost no votes at all will be finally impacted by sentiment in July. There are at least 2 major pitfalls of engaging too directly now: leaving a perception of hoping for a bad result and getting out ahead of where the pandemic actually goes. It will be much clearer in a few months what’s happening. Keep it fairly positive and not too specific until late.
That fact is simply due to the fact that cities are much more densely populated. Of course, the virus is going to be higher in that situation.
For example, there is not a whole lot the Mayor of Phoenix can do with Ducey screwing everything up.