Donald Trump lost the election in 2020, but Trumpists have won the pandemic

Jeff Bezos

Andy Kalmowitz, “Here’s The Boat That Won’t Bring Jeff Bezos’s Hair, Or Wife Back,” Jalopnik, February 4, 2022, https://jalopnik.com/here-s-the-boat-that-won-t-bring-jeff-bezos-s-hair-or-1848481600

Reuters, “Historic Dutch bridge to make way for Jeff Bezos’ new superyacht,” Sydney Morning Herald, February 4, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/historic-dutch-bridge-to-make-way-for-jeff-bezos-new-superyacht-20220204-p59ts5.html

Elena Gorgan, “Jeff Bezos’ $500M Megayacht Will Be Pelted With Rotten Eggs If He Dismantles Bridge for It,” AutoEvolution, February 6, 2022, https://www.autoevolution.com/news/jeff-bezos-500m-megayacht-will-be-pelted-with-rotten-eggs-if-he-dismantles-bridge-for-it-180904.html


Pittsburgh

While I’ve been complaining about the snow plowing, I’ve been neglecting how spectacular this winter has been. The most recent storm began with rain, which became freezing rain, before it snowed. It was spectacular driving to a car wash this morning with the sun out and a clear blue sky such as is rare in Pittsburgh. At that point the trees were still covered with snow.

As I headed for my first order, the snow had begun to melt, revealing ice covered branches on trees (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Hastily taken photograph by author, February 6, 2022.

But what was truly amazing was to see deciduous forests, all bare in winter, but shimmering with the ice in the sunlight.

Snow plowing

These observations[1] appear to have been collected yesterday morning, well before I made it out onto the road.

Ross Guidotti, “Road Conditions In Pittsburgh: Morning After 2 Days Of Storms Sees Streets Both Good And Bad,” KDKA-TV, February 5, 2022, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/05/road-conditions-pittsburgh/


Ukraine, China

We still don’t know whether Vladimir Putin intends to invade Ukraine.[2] And in that context, Simon Tisdall’s opening paragraph may not age well:

If, as seems increasingly probable, Russia decides not to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine, tub-thumping US and British politicians who have spent weeks scaring the public with loose talk of looming Armageddon will have some explaining to do.[3]

Tisdall actually is more cautious than this on Ukraine. But much more boldly, he thinks all this is really about China’s threat to invade Taiwan and a nascent alliance between Russia and China.[4] It’s not the first time this link has been drawn and it would not be the first time that Russia, then the Soviet Union, and China have contemplated an alliance. I’ve never understood the relationship between Russia and China; it’s easy to see the benefits of an alliance between the two but I’ve never understood the rivalries that have always undermined earlier attempts. Accordingly, I won’t hold my breath on this one either.

Simon Tisdall, “Biden rattles his sabre at Putin … but it’s Xi he really wants to scare,” Guardian, February 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/06/biden-rattles-his-sabre-at-putin-but-its-xi-he-really-wants-to-scare


COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

Donald Trump lost the election in 2020, but Trumpists have won the pandemic.

I had missed, because it wasn’t generally reported, that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ended its collection of COVID-19 data from hospitals on February 2. Data collection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue via coroners, who are often elected or subject to political influence, and via medical examiners. The HHS effort was considered far more reliable, timely, and comprehensive, but HHS argues that the reporting, which was largely automated through electronic medical records systems, imposed an additional burden on hospitals.[5] If only Donald Trump had thought of this, he might have managed to be re-elected.

In the Uber driver app, at the end of each ride, there was a question: Was the rider wearing a mask? It was crude because sometimes there were multiple passengers, some of whom might be wearing masks and some might not, and sometimes some weren’t wearing their masks properly. It was a bullshit question meant to signal a concern for drivers’ and riders’ health that wasn’t really there, but it served as yet one more way to threaten drivers when passengers reported, truthfully or otherwise, that drivers weren’t wearing their masks. That question has now been replaced with a similarly crude question about seat belt wearing.

I expect Uber to be performative. Everything it does is performative, meant to appear responsible while bamboozling investors.[6] I did not expect the same of HHS.

I should not have been surprised. The CDC had already signaled a capitulation to the capitalist god with its guidance on returning to work.[7] We can now understand that a cabinet-level decision has likely been made to let COVID-19 run its course, no matter how many or what variants appear, no matter how many millions die.

This, of course, is precisely what Trumpists have been demanding all along. And they have won.

Dani Anguiano, “California county on track to be run by militia-aligned group,” Guardian, February 3, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/03/california-county-controlled-by-militia-group

Andre Damon, “End of COVID-19 hospital death reporting is ‘incomprehensible,’ says US health official,” World Socialist Web Site, February 3, 2022, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/02/03/deat-f03.html

Shawna Mizelle, “US Army to begin discharging soldiers who refuse Covid-19 vaccination,” CNN, February 3, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/03/politics/military-soldiers-vaccine-mandate-discharge/index.html

Erin McCarthy and Justine McDaniel, “Less than a third of Pa. and N.J. elementary schoolers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, three months since the shot became available,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 3, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-vaccine-kids-5-11-safety-philadephia-school-mandate-20220203.html

Mathew Ingram to Media Today list, “Of platforms, publishers, and responsibility,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 4, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/of-platforms-publishers-and-responsibility.php

Associated Press, “‘It is an astronomically high number’: US Covid death toll surpasses 900,000,” Guardian, February 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/04/us-covid-death-toll-surpasses-900000


  1. [1]Ross Guidotti, “Road Conditions In Pittsburgh: Morning After 2 Days Of Storms Sees Streets Both Good And Bad,” KDKA-TV, February 5, 2022, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/05/road-conditions-pittsburgh/
  2. [2]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Pickle,” Puck News, February 3, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-pickle-russia-ukraine/; Joshua Yaffa, “Putin’s Next Move in Ukraine Is an Open Question in Moscow,” New Yorker, February 3, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/putins-next-move-in-ukraine-is-an-open-question-in-moscow
  3. [3]Simon Tisdall, “Biden rattles his sabre at Putin … but it’s Xi he really wants to scare,” Guardian, February 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/06/biden-rattles-his-sabre-at-putin-but-its-xi-he-really-wants-to-scare
  4. [4]Simon Tisdall, “Biden rattles his sabre at Putin … but it’s Xi he really wants to scare,” Guardian, February 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/06/biden-rattles-his-sabre-at-putin-but-its-xi-he-really-wants-to-scare
  5. [5]Andre Damon, “End of COVID-19 hospital death reporting is ‘incomprehensible,’ says US health official,” World Socialist Web Site, February 3, 2022, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/02/03/deat-f03.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Doctors need to act like doctors,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/30/centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention-doctors-need-to-act-like-doctors/

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