Live and Let Die: The Data Manipulation Begins

From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, various entities in the United States were always engaged in the kind of dishonesty we accuse China of to hide the extent of the virus. Trump tried to keep a cruise ship off shore so it wouldn’t count against “his” numbers. States everywhere didn’t reveal the crises in nursing homes by hiding where they were occurring. Other states refused to track known COVID-19 deaths because they didn’t occur in a hospital.

But now that Trump has fully committed to reopening the economy before the shut down has its desired effect, he and allied governors are engaged in more aggressive data manipulation to hide the stupidity of what they’re doing.

Georgia had long manipulated its data, by rigging cut-off numbers to make it look like the only outbreaks were around Atlanta and in the Black Belt outbreak around Albany. But as Brian Kemp moved to reopen Georgia in the stupidest possible way, the state shifted its reporting to show confirmed cases.

That means it can always show a trend of declining cases that would match White House guidelines for reopening, rather than the plateau the state actually has, because the trend reflects known cases that aren’t counted yet.

Interestingly, Georgia may also be hiding the extent to which this virus has moved beyond predominantly African-American areas, thereby hiding that Kemp’s stupid decision is actually killing white people, too.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s Doug Ducey, who already lost the state’s experienced emergency manager, just ordered some  epidemiologists at the state’s public universities to stop work on a COVID model that used the states internal data, because their model showed the only way to avoid exponential growth would be to stay closed until the end of May.

The universities’ model had shown that reopening at the end of May was the only scenario that didn’t dramatically increase cases.

In late April, Tim Lant, a mathematical epidemiologist at ASU, said the model showed five different scenarios for how the disease could progress in Arizona, depending on how social distancing efforts were relaxed.

The slowest curve, based on if the state reopens at the end of May, is “the only one that doesn’t put me immediately back on an exponential growth curve,” Lant said in April. That’s because transmission rates would be lowest at that time, he said.

“I can say, scientifically, no, it’s not safe to reopen unless you’re planning on, you know, shutting down again after a couple of weeks, and we can help figure out what the appropriate amount of time is to stay open before we shut down,” he said.

Bailey wrote that health department leadership asked the team to “pause” all work on projections and modeling. The department would also be ending access to special data sets the modeling team had been using for their efforts, Bailey said.

Finally, yesterday the White House tweeted out the model that is has embraced in lieu of models by epidemiologists.

This release is an effort to rebut WaPo reporting on how this model — by the guy behind the Dow 36,000 book, Kevin Hassett — continues to be pulled out of Hassett’s ass whenever Trump needs to be told something he wants to hear.

The epidemiological models under review in the White House Situation Room in late March were bracing. In a best-case scenario, they showed the novel coronavirus was likely to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. President Trump was apprehensive about so much carnage on his watch, yet also impatient to reopen the economy — and he wanted data to justify doing so.

So the White House considered its own analysis. A small team led by Kevin Hassett — a former chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers with no background in infectious diseases — quietly built an econometric model to guide response operations.

Many White House aides interpreted the analysis as predicting that the daily death count would peak in mid-April before dropping off substantially, and that there would be far fewer fatalities than initially foreseen, according to six people briefed on it.

Although Hassett denied that he ever projected the number of dead, other senior administration officials said his presentations characterized the count as lower than commonly forecast — and that it was embraced inside the West Wing by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and other powerful aides helping to oversee the government’s pandemic response. It affirmed their own skepticism about the severity of the virus and bolstered their case to shift the focus to the economy, which they firmly believed would determine whether Trump wins a second term.


By the end of April — with more Americans dying in the month than in all of the Vietnam War — it became clear that the Hassett model was too good to be true. “A catastrophic miss,” as a former senior administration official briefed on the data described it. The president’s course would not be changed, however. Trump and Kushner began to declare a great victory against the virus, while urging America to start reopening businesses and schools.

The effort to prove the value of the epidemiological models done by people who are considered frauds within their actual profession of economics comes as the CDC’s own model showing an increase to 3,000 deaths a day was leaked. And the Council of Economic Advisors released this line-drawing exercise comes as the US has blown by Hassett’s original estimate of 60,000, one also adopted publicly by Trump.

Understand: This is not just an attempt to lie about the sanity of the decision to reopen the economy even as COVID cases continue to grow. It’s an attempt to lie about the stupidity of the economic decisions Trump made, too.

While other countries have had more cases per population, that has happened with economic relief focused on actual human beings rather than cruise lines and luxury hotels. Here, much of Trump’s economic policies have been just another attempt to loot the economy for his friends and campaign donors. That has made the economic impact of all this in the United States worse than it is in other countries, and it will only continue to get worse.

Some places that reopen prematurely will be forced to shut down again. And as more people are out spreading the virus, more bottle necks in critical infrastructure will be exposed.

Trump has pursued the worst of all policy options. After his initial dawdling let the virus spread in some cities, he endorsed shutting down the economy in an attempt to mitigate the pandemic. That had a predictable catastrophic impact on the economy (and more unemployment numbers will be out today). But because Republicans refused to adopt policies that would actually cushion that crash, the impact was much worse than it might have been.

Now, after taking the full hit of shutting down, Republicans are insisting on reopening — bolstered by their fraudulent charts and graphs — before the shutdown has any lasting epidemiological value. We’ll have the medical impact of a herd immunity approach, with the economic impact of a badly executed mitigation strategy. The worst of both options.

And to pretend that this is not all knowable and known now, Trump has swapped briefings by medical experts for photo ops set to campaign music, to the apt Live and Let Die.

Update: Meanwhile, Florida just removed details of possible positive COVID cases in January and February from a public website.

86 replies
  1. George K. says:

    Your first bar chart is not fully explained in terms of the shift. No key for red vs blue. I can guess that blue was the original number of cases reported and red the updated total, but it should be specified. Also unexplained are the dates. When were the original data reported and when the updates? All we have is April 28.

  2. pablo says:

    Come January 2021, they’ll all be rich and comfortable and pillars of society, unless….. oh, wishful thinking. Sorry.

  3. Godfree Roberts says:

    ‘the kind of dishonesty we accuse China of’?

    I’ve been following Chinese national stats at a distance for 60 years, closely for 15 and obsessively for 5 and have yet to find one example of deliberately false or misleading figures. Nor have the handful of people who follow them professionally. China is run by engineers and the Chinese are the most numerate people on earth.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      I strongly agree with “most numerate people on earth”. I’ve worked for Chinese companies since 2005, and you absolutely have to be able to count something for managers to pay attention.

    • skua says:

      ” one example of deliberately false or misleading figures. ”

      I’d be surprised if the Chinese government’s figures for the number of people who died in events related to the Tiananmin Square Massacre was accurate.

      I can conceive of a world in which Trump is a dangerous, banally evil leader without needing to have the Chinese government as a source of only pure data.

      • Godfree Roberts says:

        I once did a deep dive into the Tiananmen incident and found that nobody died there–for good reason.

        The kids in the square were the .1% of the country’s intellectual elite, China’s future scientists and governors because, China had very, very few university places in 1989. So alienating them–lead alone killing them–would have cost an entire generation. Besides, a disproportionate number were the sons and daughters of the officials who were holed up inside the Forbidden Palace. Imagine Second Counsellor Zhang coming home at night and telling Mrs. Zhang, “Honey, I shot the kids.”

        The story is quite involved and its denouement occurs, oddly, in a London Magistrates Court. You can still find it here: http ://www.

        [FYI, link is “broken” to prevent accidental clickthrough. Site has not been vetted, use with caution. /~Rayne]

        • skua says:

          I see what could be mistaken for an example of the standard official Chinese government dissembling when you write, “nobody died there”.

          The Wikipedia article appears well sourced and includes paragraphs such as, “As the army advanced, fatalities were recorded all along Chang’an Avenue. By far the largest number occurred in the two-mile stretch of road running from Muxidi to Xidan, where “65 PLA trucks and 47 APCs … were totally destroyed, and 485 other military vehicles were damaged”.[28]

          To the south, the XV Airborne Corps also used live ammunition, and civilian deaths were recorded at Hufangqiao, Zhushikou, Tianqiao, and Qianmen.”

        • Stephen Calhoun says:

          Even at that predictable ‘troll research library,’ UNZ, at the link you supply for your own article, you document:

          On June 19, Beijing Party Secretary Li Ximing delivered the results of the official enquiry. More than 7,000 were wounded or injured and two hundred forty one killed, including thirty-six students, ten soldiers and thirteen People’s Armed Police during a riot in Chang’An Road.

          “and have yet to find one example of deliberately false or misleading figures.” clashes with “nobody died there–for good reason”

          UNZ! What a hoot!!!

          • Rayne says:

            Thanks for the reminder, I meant to “break” that link and add a caveat. Godfree Roberts is on a mission based on the body of comments so far.

    • Mooser says:

      This whole things irks me. Since when is the US dependent on China’s official sources to tell the US what is going on in China? None of this could be pieced together from informants, public sources plus satellite images and all the rest?
      All of a sudden, the US has no agency, no capability.

      • Rayne says:

        I think you’ve not been paying attention.

        U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

        The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.

        For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences. …

        Source: President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat
        By Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima April 27, 2020 at 5:22 p.m. EDT

        Trump can’t or won’t listen to US intelligence. He routinely ignores PDBs, relying instead on Fox News. That’s what happened. He’s pissed off the intelligence community enough that they shared material in that WaPo piece.

        And of course for most of January and February he was too goddamned busy golfing or holding re-election campaign rallies conveniently ahead of key Democratic primaries. That’s the real problem, not that we don’t have intelligence.

        Do you remember Cheney’s stovepiping of intelligence ahead of the Iraq War and the outcome? Or Bush blowing off the August 6, 2001 PDB as ass covering? This time no stovepiping needed to assure the wrong outcome, less effort than Bush’s wave off — just need a lazy criminal fuck in the White House who doesn’t give a shit about anything but getting his narcissistic supply.

  4. Tom says:

    President Trump views the American people, especially its essential workers, as expendable; to him, they’re just so much corona fodder.

  5. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    Here’s the thing about data manipulation: to be effective one has to understand what the real data is saying.

    It’s a tacit admission of guilt. This sort of short-term, hide-the-ball type strategy could end badly for the ball hiders.

    Then again, they have very few good strategic choices. Resigning is one. Not a lot of others that I see.

  6. puzzled scottish person says:

    ‘Trump has swapped briefings by medical experts for photo ops set to campaign music, to the apt Live and Let Die.’

    Perhaps any opposition to Trump should riposte using his image over the music of .. And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead?

    I mean, he does appear to have openly admitted that he is happy to have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans die in order to placate the God that is Dow Jones. (Mammon, I seem to recall, was not looked upon fondly by the guy Trump claims to worship but the Prosperity Gospel seems to have put paid to that nonsense. Black is White and all that.)

    Opening up the economy when coronavirus deaths are still increasing seems like, well, some kind of bizarre deathwish. But I often get that feeling about Trump – that he is trying to see just how far he can push things and still get away with it because of his blindly worshipful base (or because he is still useful to his handlers). And after all, he has got away with pretty much everything so far.

    And today he apparently claims that his handling of coronavirus is one of the best things he’s done.

    Best for whom? How many Americans can Trump kill and still get reelected?

    • JamesJoyce says:

      No need to be puzzled!

      William of Wallace fought the same beast, as did Beowulf.

      Trump is not “quality” in any “quantum.

      Thomas Reid’s “Common Sense” is simply tossed out the window like russian doctors, for those that are his “true believers.”

      Another rerun for me. Trump is the virus.

      Maybe the “true believers” should be burying dead?

      “Causation” will be better understood, when “their” sweat is involved.

      I applaud your “Candor.”

      So too do my kin at “Old Machar.”

      This battle is eternal..

      “Aut Pax Aut Bellum.”

  7. PieIsDamnGood says:

    Real life job is as a health economist, although not in infectious diseases. Currently doing grunt work on a model focused on ICU and ventilator capacity based on this paper ( Model predicts 1.8 million dead in the US over two years. It omits important aspects (it’s short, go read it for details) and the code is published on github.

  8. P J Evans says:

    I keep wondering why the WH trusts models set up by people who aren’t good even in their own claimed field of economics. (I looked up Kudlow – Not An Economist.)
    For a reliable model, you should have people working on it who understand epidemiology – and those are the people they don’t listen to, and don’t want anyone else to hear, either..

    • Yancy says:

      The White House trusts goofball Hassett to design a model whose only assumption is that the outcome must match whichever numbers Trump wants.

      They don’t care if the new models are based on reliable, accepted epidemiology. They don’t care about the health outcomes for people in the US. The Trump campaign advisors have decided that voters will care more about the values of their 401k’s and low unemployment numbers more than your Aunt Joann’s death. (She was old, after all – 67! – and probably had undiagnosed health conditions that would have killed her soon anyway.)

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Confirmation bias? Reality distortion field? Yes men?

      Senior advisers feed Trump what he needs to keep his ‘reality’ from becoming fragile. Maybe this is their most important task.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s worth parsing the selection of the McCartneys’ song to frame Trump’s ironic walk-through of an Arizona PPE factory. Trump’s handlers are, after all, the kind of people who thought it would be great fun to fuck up the federal government by hiring a college senior to decide who the government should hire and fire.

    Live and Let Die is the theme song from Roger Moore’s 1973 debut as James Bond. It was written by Paul and Linda McCartney, and performed by Wings. It is a Bildungsroman, captured in a few lines, about a callow youth maturing into an adult. In this case, it’s about a former stand-up naval officer turned Cold War spy. He has the pursuits longed for by a writer turned Jamaican estate owner: he swims, shoots, boxes, and drives fast cars before noon. After the sun goes down, he drinks, plays cards, beds women, and kills for Queen and country. In Live and Let Die, Bond chases and dispatches an African American smuggler, drug lord, Soviet spy, and voodoo leader. All the proverbial bad guys rolled into one.

    In the song’s brief lyrics, Bond the naval officer – like Trump the god-emperor – once adhered to the biblical command, live and let live. Then he grew up, became Bond the spy, and grew beyond Christian restraint – in order to defend Queen and country. He learned to say live and let die:

    What does it matter to you?
    When you got a job to do
    You got to do it well
    You got to give the other fellow hell

    Like Maximus the gladiator (an analogy used by BushCheney’s director of oppo research), the Republican hero unleashes hell. Or sends a lot of people to it. Trump, for example, and his entourage were not wearing masks as they marched through Honeywell’s surgical mask factory. They did manhandle and breathe on a bunch of the finished product. Live and let die, what the hell.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      BTW, I would bet a night at Trump Tower that Donald’s campaign paid no royalty to McCartney for the commercial use of a song that, according to wiki, even Clear Channel added to its Do Not Play list after 9/11. (Covid-19 has already led to more than twenty times as many deaths.) The Don doesn’t pay anyone. Like loyalty, money runs in only one direction for him. My guess is that Trump will be hearing from McCartney’s lawyers by the end of the week.

      • RacerX says:

        Don’t know how much of a legal difference it makes—if any—but that was the Guns & Roses version of McCartney’s song being played.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Sorry, I misread your point. It actually complicates things for Trump. If he paid no royalties, a dead cert, he violated the rights of two copyright holders. GNR or its successor owns the copyright on their performance. McCartney, I believe, still owns the copyright on the song itself. (The same arrangement is true for, say, a James Taylor cut of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend.)

          • RacerX says:

            Thanks—that’s kinda what I thought—royalties would be due to the performer AND the songwriter.

            • Kevin Bullough says:

              Correct…performance rights and mechanical rights are two different things.

          • gulageten says:

            It’s a fine point — and possibly what you mean by “successors” — but the performance and songwriting copyrights would typically be owned by a record company and publisher respectively. The artist(s) would in some cases have a right of refusal for how they are used, but not necessarily. Depends on the fine print in their contracts. Either way, ultimately the breach is against whatever business entities hold those copyrights. Don’t know about GNR’s masters, although they were on Geffen Records. I believe Concord (who are in turn owned by a hedge fund or similar) owns the McCartney publishing.

            But yes. Separate copyrights, separate licenses needed, separate fees to be negotiated paid. There is a statutory maximum for mechanical royalties but not for synchronization of a master recording.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        According to wiki, the two different versions of the song in the 1973 film were by Wings and B.J. Arnau. Guns N’ Roses was formed in 1985; its cover version of the song was from 1991.

        • RacerX says:

          Exactly—the G&R version was not in the film; it was being played at the Honeywell factory during Trump’s visit.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            I only saw the clip once and can’t bear to look it up with a migraine, but what struck me was how damn loud the song was playing–that is, loud enough to drown out Trump if he tried to get a sound-byte out of the visit. Aha! thought I, someone has subverted him using Guns ‘N’ Roses with wit.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Drowns out the boos, too, and the, “Who are the idiots not wearing masks,” and, “Don’t touch the masks without gloves and putting on your own mask, bozo.” The sort of thing you might hear in a real factory.

              • RacerX says:

                I hope they threw away that entire bin of masks—esp. now that Trump’s valet has tested positive…

                [Let’s avoid the appearance of advocating/encouraging harm to government officials. It’s not beneficial for this site and community. /~Rayne]

                • RacerX says:

                  Geez, I hope I didn’t do that, but if I did, I offer my deepest apologies. Surely copyright laws could do some harm to a person’s bank account, but not to the person. Throwing away a bin of contaminated masks wouldn’t harm the person who breathed on them, either, so not sure where I went wrong here.

      • vicks says:

        I totally missed the context of this, last night I got the impression that it was a rouge employee that inserted the song and cranked it up, but now I’m hearing they had been paying homage to their favorite star by running through a playlist of songs (ruined forever) that Trump uses at his rallies.
        Now I feel sick.
        No one even blinked

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          If plant staff had a playlist to choose from and that’s the song they chose, I’d like to think someone was exercising irony within prescribed limits. “Sarcasm” anyone?

          • vicks says:

            Oh I hope it’s dark snark and not the next rally chant.
            But when I read that they had been deliberately playing the Trump rally playlist, I got the same kind of chills a I felt when I heard the “lock her up” chant and the images of “a hillary” being paraded around in a cage.
            I still don’t understand why, if the music was as loud as it appears in the video, why no one was apologizing and giving the signal to turn it down. The president was speaking for crap’s sake and the music seemed to be drowning him out.
            Unless it wasn’t? Like I said, no one seemed to blink or even look uncomfortable…
            Odd, but what isn’t with him

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Presidential visits of any kind are highly orchestrated. Locations are scouted, security details make close studies of the micro-geography, employees are vetted, and so on. Music and visuals are closely staged. It is something Trump himself thinks he’s good at and micromanages.

          It is extremely unlikely a rogue employee had access to a plant-wide sound system at the precise moment Trump walked through for his staged entrance. If he had, he would have been stopped, probably fired, and the whole thing done over.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I found it exceptional that Trump chose that song. Given that the ultra-conservative private equity types who own Clear Channel banned the song after 9/11, it would be really hard for Trump’s people to claim ignorance about the song’s history and meaning. They chose it for a reason.

            • vvv says:

              Mebbe not so much: I think we all recall how Reagan’s campaign misunderstood the lyrics of “Born in the USA”?

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Where Have They Gone?

      “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, inspired by a Ukrainian folk song and in the ubi sunt tradition, was a collaborative effort with 3 verses written by Pete Seeger (1955) and more added in 1960 by Joe Hickerson (who had a career as a librarian at the Library of Congress.) Their song has been weighing on my heart for days. Except, in these far more cynical times, my mind insists on replacing their more gallant concepts with the following darker ones:

      1. Guardrails gone to tyrants
      2. Tyrants gone to failures
      3. Failures gone to histories
      4. Histories gone to graveyards
      5. Graveyards gone to guardrails

      (With apologies and sincere appreciation to Pete Seeger)

      Where have all the guardrails gone, long time passing?
      Where have all the guardrails gone, long time ago?
      Where have all the guardrails gone?
      Gone to tyrants every one!
      When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?

      PETE SEEGER – “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” (Live in Sweden 1968)

      • Rayne says:

        We need to learn some new songs to frame where we want to go. Or better old ones. I can think of a Hawaiian song, Ka’u Ku Mahaka, about three bad chiefs who paid karmic debts through a drowning, a stoning, and a “flattening.”

        Has a very catchy beat, too. Heh.

  10. The Old Redneck says:

    The “Live and Let Die” episode tells us the boorish, witless trolling won’t stop, even when thousands of Americans are dying every day.

  11. Vicks says:

    Any reason to be suspect of the flip-flop on masks and anything to do with the shortage that seemed to already exist in January?
    I asked because the shortage in the US seemed to be an urgent topic to the whistle blower.
    It seems perfectly logical that masks would help more than hurt even if they weren’t medical grade, and it’s not like other countries didn’t agree. Yet we were told they were worthless.
    Were we bamboozled in the hopes it would cover up what may have been the first indication that the Trump organization knew what they knew, and STILL did nothing to prepare?

        • Jim White says:

          Hi there. We are social distancing from pulled pork freeloaders at the moment. In fact, I was supposed to cook pulled pork for 50-60 people from our hippie church next weekend, but that’s not happening.

          • Yancy says:

            Only appropriate since Jim lives in Hogtown.
            I’m next door in the Paper City. (No, we don’t have enough toilet paper to keep the store shelves stocked here either.)

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      No, pigs are too smart to eat. They remind me of my dogs and I don’t want anybody eating them.

    • blueedredcounty says:

      I had a carnitas burrito yesterday as part of my Cinco de Mayo dinner.

      I have been avoiding the supermarket this week to give people who rely on monthly checks the opportunity to get their shopping done. I am curious as to what will be available when I do go because of all the distribution issues we are seeing right now. I may skip meat purchases at the supermarket, and go to the local Iowa Meats instead.

      • Rayne says:

        I’m switching to my local butcher shop, too. Lovely smokehouse attached, smells like heaven every time I go there, all the smoked meats hanging in the case. They sell buffalo meat as well. I would have gone there more often but they’re a bit out of the way. Now they are the best option for regular local meat.

    • ducktree says:

      I’m curious – do you use pork shoulder or neck bones? Axing for a friend . . .

    • 200Toros says:

      Yep,this is important, this is what they are modeling “I don’t care how many people die, and neither should you!” The magats are eating that up, as all good cultists would.

  12. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Once again, this is not just dereliction of duty, these manipulations are fraud. Given the facts there’s total justification to call the epidemic what it is : TRUMP VIRUS.

  13. Peterr says:

    xkcd anticipated Hassett et al. with this infographic on Garbage Math.

    Given that we are talking about exponential functions, I think the line in that graphic that applies to Hassett’s math is equation #8, resulting in what is formally known as “Much Worse Garbage.”

    • P J Evans says:

      I remember my grade-school teachers talking about precision. (IIRC, the output precision is at best the precision of the least-precise input.)

      • quake says:

        What’s important here is not precision (the number of significant digits to which the formula is calculated) but accuracy (whether or not the formula actually reflects the temporal evolution in the number of COVID-19 cases in real life). Which, as the OP explains, we know it doesn’t.

  14. e.a.f. says:

    Doesn’t matter what stats Kemp, trump, etc. use to hide the true number of deaths, just count the body bags. The communities count the body bags because inside of them are their loved ones. Trump, Kemp, etc. can lie as long as they want, but once every one knows some one who died because of COVID 19, the message will become clear. In the end many won’t care about the economy, they’ll care because some one or several some ones are dead, people they cared about, love, and now miss.

  15. Mitch Neher says:

    Stupidity? Yes! Absolute stupidity.

    When Jack Benny took a very long time to ponder the ultimatum, “Your money or your life,” the joke was not lost on anybody. And it was, in fact, a joke.

    We have been conditioned into believing that a certain amount of intelligence is somehow necessary for the perpetration of any evil deed–as though an evil imbecile could not be held morally culpable for his evil deed because of his stinking imbecility.

    Who needs Trump to be a stable genius anymore?

    Trump has been acting an awful lot like “Ubu Roi” for quite some time now.

    Stupid is as Trump does. And NO! It’s not the slightest least little bit funny anymore.

    Goo goo g’ joob

  16. harpie says:

    Then there is this, from today:
    6:48 AM · May 7, 2020

    AP: The 17-page CDC guide to reopening the country “has been shelved by the Trump administration .. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance ‘would never see the light of day,’ according to a CDC official.”

    AP Exclusive: Admin shelves CDC guide to reopening country

    […] The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

    The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.

    The Trump administration has been closely controlling the release of guidance and information during the pandemic […]

    The rejected reopening guidance was described by one of the federal officials as a touchstone document that was to be used as a blueprint for other groups inside the CDC who are creating the same type of instructional materials for other facilities.

    The guidance contained detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers and other institutions. It had been widely shared within CDC, and included detailed “decision trees,” flow charts to be used by local officials to think through different scenarios. […]

    • MB says:

      They were ignoring their own guidelines anyway, so might as well make it official. There might not be adults in the room anymore at the WH, but there obviously were some older teenagers who recommended a facade of respecting science. But now even they’ve been overruled. It’s a Lord of the Flies philosophy that has been institutionalized.

  17. Manqueman says:

    Life long New Yorker here.
    No question Cuomo and De Blasio were slow to act; say what you will. But they did act, vigorously. And they flattened the curve. Which can’t be said for the rest of the nation.
    Let’s reopen as much as possible now to make sure the US fails to flatten the curve and beats Sweden’s deaths per million.

  18. MT Reedør says:

    Birds come
    And then they go…

    Yeah, I traded laughs
    In for charts and graphs
    But all that’s only fine
    Until evening comes

    Your guess’ is good as mine
    As to just what kind
    Of trouble I might find
    Tonight I’m out of my…

    My mind…

  19. Thomasa says:

    A word has been echoing in my head for some weeks now. It echos from the room that is the staged scene from “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof,” in which Burl Ives as Big Daddy spits out as though in all caps: “MENDACITY.”

    These days another word rambles around in my brain but I don’t have a cinematic reference for it: “MALEVOLENCE.” It is not cinematic. It is what I see coming out of the room that is staged for those mistakenly referred to as our leaders to claim feats of heroic action. It is increasingly difficult for me continue to think of these actions as incompetent.

  20. Tracy says:

    Something else going on in Ga – the ramped up volume of tests being administered is clogging up the processing labs causing major delays in the time it takes for people to get results. And for those results to be recorded by the health department. Tests administered data gets updated twice a day. The result is an incorrect test volume to positive case ratio. Kemp is urging all Georgians to get tested whether they have symptoms or not. Which sounds like a good thing, right? Seems designed to further overwhelm the labs.

  21. Mooser says:

    Nobody, when Trump appears with, say, nurses, or doctors, ever talks back to him. They say something, Trump contradicts with a flat lie or an insult, and that’s that. No back-talk.
    I would wager his retinue of ‘security’ has mastered a litany of body-language and facial gestures designed to intimidate, or distract the questioner and cut off any further questioning.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, absolutely. I thought the same thing with the nurse….who did not really say much negative and Trump went nuts. She should have just looked him in the eye and said “No, a LOT of my brothers and sisters trying to deal with this really don’t have that kind of protection. The American people need to know that”.

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