Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Yes, someone in the Media finally says it…It’s the REPUBLICANS!


I have been wondering for a while, when would the media start pointing out that it’s no longer Trump. It is the Republican party. Well, finally.

She asked THE question that needed to be asked: How Long are we going to let him go?  Not that his party would hear her.  Even Joe is cringing at hearing it.  Too Bad Joe!

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Coronavirus dashboard for March 22

Coronavirus dashboard for March 22

This is a new daily or nearly daily update I hope to post, including the most important metrics to show how controlled – or out of control – the cononavirus pandemic is. Hopefully the numbers will move ever closer to the tipping point where the epidemic is under control.In order to bring this pandemic under control, and prevent both health and economic catastrophes, in my opinion the US needs 2 weeks of China (total lockdown, preventing community spread) followed by 1 month of South Korea (extremely aggressive testing). The metric to be watched for testing is a ratio of 15 tests administered for every infection found (the ratio at which South Korea turned the corner).

Here is the update through yesterday (March 21)

Number and rate of increase of Reported Infections (from Johns Hopkins via

  • Number: up +7,123 to 26,747 (vs. +5,374 on March 21)
  • Rate of increase: day/day: 36% (vs. 34.6% baseline exponential average per Jim Bianco) (and vs. 38% on March 21)

Jim Bianco’s excellent exponential projection from March 10, of a daily 34.5% growth in reported infections for the next 10 days has been almost exactly correct. I am using this as a baseline against which we can tell how well “social distancing” strategies are working as well as State-mandated partial and total lockdowns.

In the last five days, the rate of exponential growth has actually risen from about 28% to 40% and even 50%, probably due to increased testing being able to uncover more infections.

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Hydroxychloroquine, Anthony Fauci and Kevin Drum

This is a comment on “Is Anthony Fauci Really Our Truthteller-in-Chief?” by Kevin Drum. I will briefly summarize. Drum quotes from the latest press conference

“Is there any evidence to suggest that, as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?

DR. FAUCI: No. The answer is no.”

Later after Trump says hydroxychloroquine is the cure for Covid 19 Fauci changed his line to

Q I would like Dr. Fauci, if you don’t mind, to follow up on what the President is saying. Should Americans have hope in this drug right now? . . .

DR. FAUCI: No, there really isn’t that much of a difference in many respects with what we’re saying. The President feels optimistic about something — his feeling about it. What I’m saying is that it might — it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t. It might be effective. But as a scientist, as we’re getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as — while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you’re also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19. So there really isn’t difference. It’s just a question of how one feels about it.

Drum thinks more highly of Fauci’s first answer than of his second answer. He guesses

“It’s obvious what he really thinks, after all: hydroxychloroquine is nonsense, period. ”

The problem is that Fauci’s first answer was simply incorrect, wrong, a false assertion on a matter of fact. I am sure he was not lying, but there absolutely 100% no doubt about it and no grounds for debate, there is “evidence to suggest that, as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?@

I link to the top general science journal

Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, is effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro,” Jia Liu, Ruiyuan Cao, Mingyue Xu, Xi Wang, Huanyu Zhang, Hengrui Hu, Yufeng Li, Zhihong Hu, Wu Zhong & Manli Wang, Cell Discovery, 18 March 2020

That is not proof that it is effective in vivo. However, given the fact that side effects, interactions etc are very well understood, I think there is no excuse for not prescribing it absent the well known counter indications.

Asserting that it is clear that Fauci thinks Hydroxychloroquine for Covid 19 is nonsense, and that he should say so Drum and others risk convincing people not to use it and risk causing deaths.

Why do people assume that they understand the evidence ? I do because I have noted the pattern that when I disagree with doctors about patient care, they end up saying what I originally said (I promise you I am not the only person who perceives this pattern).

The rule that Trump is always wrong is as near to perfect as any rule of inference can be, but it is always best to double check. Say by googling [hydroxychloroquine inhibits Coronavirus ].

Also read angrybearblog

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Coronavirus update: reason for alarm; (small) reason for hope

Coronavirus update: reason for alarm; (small) reason for hope

This weekend has continued the discouraging news: reports just about everywhere that the Young Invulnerables packed the bars Friday night; the Petri dishes of airport security lines packed with Americans returning from Europe; and personally, two friends who I have known for almost 40 years getting very sick this past week and not able to be tested for coronavirus (one of whom by the way went in to work Friday to drive school buses full of kids because so many other drivers called out). All of these are going to be vectors for continued transmission of the virus.

In that regard, let me repost the graph from Jim Bianco that I ran last week. Because we are now 4 days into his linear projection of an exponential curve of coronavirus transmissions. Here’s the graph:

And here is how his projections compare with the actual numbers I pulled each day from the Johns Hopkins site:

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This is what exponential growth looks like

This is what exponential growth looks like

I’ve placed an added emphasis on high frequency indicators, as they will be the first to show the impact of coronavirus on the economy.

This morning chain store sales for last week were reported. They were:

– Redbook +6.0% YoY
– Retail Economist unchanged w/w, +0.9% YoY

Needless to say, there was no impact at all on the Redbook number. While the Retail Economist number was definitely weak, there have been other, similar weak weeks earlier this year, so that number is equivocal. I suspect that this situation will change in no more than two weeks.

Meanwhile, here is a graph of the number of coronavirus cases in a number of countries including the US, compared with Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe (via Mark Handley, a Professor of Networked Systems in the UK):

Notice that the graph is in log scale, where exponential growth is shown as a straight line. South Korea and Japan, both of which have taken very aggressive testing and quarantine measures, show a slow spread, and in South Korea the number of *new* cases has actually declined in the past few days, leading to the total number shown above to level out. The US, by contrast, is on track to have the same number of cases Italy has now in about a week and a half.

This is what exponential growth looks like. The spread of the disease looks manageable, until all of a sudden it very much is not. This is why, even if the disease abates with warmer weather, exactly *how* warm the weather has to be makes an important idfference between a contained and a calamitous  outbreak<.

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Book Review; Dying of Whiteness

Hey, I am stealing one (or at least a partial) from another blog. It is on target as I would say and it will provoke comments or at least some thinking about the issue.

Dying of Whiteness, How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland

Lawyers, Guns, & Money, Erik Loomis (Blog writer and Reviewer)

I have not read this book; but it appears to be interesting enough to read. A couple of paragraphs in the review caught my attention and are worth repeating. The commentary (below) is right on the money

Erik Loom: “Donald Trump is absolutely incapable of managing any crisis. We all know this. But a lot of people are wondering whether this will finally be the disaster undermining his support among the base. Reading Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness is a good way to cure yourself of this delusion. Metzl, a doctor at Vanderbilt, has received a lot of publicity for his book and for good reason. It is a straightforward exploration into the heart of Trump’s America, where people know that guns kill, where they know that they have terrible medical care, and where it simply doesn’t matter to them because at least the Mexicans and welfare queens are not getting any benefits either.

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The Economic Anxiety Hypothesis has Become Absurd(er)

I am old enough to remember when many very serious people ascribed the rise of Donald Trump to economic anxiety. The hypthesis never fit the facts (his supporters had higher incomes on average than Clinton’s) but it has become absurd. The level of self reported economic anxiety is extraordinarily low

Gallup reports “Record High optimism about Personal Finances in U.S.” with 74% predicting they will be better off next year.

Yet now the Democratic party has an insurgent candidate candidate in the lead. I hasten to stress that I am not saying Sanders supporters have much in common with Trump supporters (young vs old, strong hispanic support vs they hate Trump etc etc etc). But both appeal to anger and advocate a radical break with business as usual. Both reject party establishments. Also Warren if a little bit less so.

Trump’s 2016 angry supporters still support him *and* they are still angry. He remains unpopular in spite of an economy performing very well (and perceived to be performing very well).

Whatever is going on in 2020, it sure isn’t economic anxiety.

Yet there is clearly anger and desire for radical change.

I don’t pretend to understand it, but I think it probably has a lot to do with relative economic performance and increased inequality. I can’t understand why the reaction of so many Americans to this would be to hate immigrants and vote for Trump, but, then I don’t watch Fox News.

One other thing which it isn’t is rejection of the guy who came before Trump. Obama has a Real Clear Politics average favorable rating of 59% and unfavorable of 36.1 % vastly vastly better than any currently active politician. (Sanders is doing relatively very well at net -2.7 compared to Obama’s + 22.9) He is not rejected. He is not considered a failure. Yet only a small majority is interested in any sort of going back to the way things were.

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Katherine Johnson dies at 101

Katherine Johnson, a “‘hidden figure’ at NASA during 1960s space race, dies at 101,” Washington Post, Harrison Smith, February 24, 2020

This is one of those “Oh Wow” moments to note the passing of an important person amongst us. This Physicist – Mathematician, this African-American woman was never recognized or given the honor for the very visible work she did in calculating the trajectories for early space flights manned by Shepard and Glenn, rendezvous paths for the Apollo Lunar Modules and command module on flights to the Moon, and the Space Shuttle Path. Her paper (co-authored by Ted Skopinski) “‘Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position,’ marked the first time a woman wrote a technical report in NASA’s elite flight research division.”

Her title when she first started working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953 was Computer. “She was classified as ‘subprofessional,’ and barely outranked a secretary or janitor.” Recognition did come later in her career and more so when President Barack Obama awarded her the “Presidential Medal of Freedom.”


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Near Where I Live

If you not seen it in the news at night, online, or in a physical newspaper; there was an incident which occurred not far from my home which I believe is important. Washtenaw County is south of where I live (Livingston County) and is a blend of ethnicity, different cultures, citified spots, and rural areas. In it is Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor is a hotspot for liberal attitudes and consequently  .   .   .  Democrats. The whole area from Detroit westward to Ann Arbor and north into Livingston County is changing.  While this is not a story about Livingston County, the county residents there are afraid of the change which a proposed light rail service going into Ann Arbor from Livingston and then Detroit which could carry people to work   .   .    .    would bring. The train would go both ways.

Michigan coming into the 21st Century (finally) is scary for people accustom to driving as lone passengers in  too big, too fast, too often pickup-trucks and “suvs” everywhere including work.  The growing population is changing  both counties from rural farming to suburban/urban. It screams for other modes of transportation and living.

This is a long introduction  to the ” rest of the story.”

I live in Livingston County which is situated north of Washtenaw County. Besides Ann Arbor there are a number of small communities surrounding Ann Arbor, which are growing, and slowly crowding out the rural farm areas. There is an influx of Black and Hispanic citizens moving into these areas which has newer and less costly homes which would not be found in the wealthy belt surrounding Detroit. The schools are having to make room for other cultures and races. Saline is one of the growing communities with a population of ~10,000.

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