The racism of COVID-19 bites back

Pittsburgh


Fig 1. Gratuitous guns in Crafton (left) and New Kensington (right). Photographs by author, May 24, 2020.

I really am covering a lot more territory since the pandemic began impacting my rideshare driving and I found two more gratuitous guns yesterday (figure 1), in Crafton (I’m a little surprised I hadn’t seen this before) and New Kensington, both places where a lot of Black folks live. These have been added to the map and the latter, by the way, helps to explain the gun in Springdale.

So when I got home last night, I figured I should bring all this stuff together. My photograph galleries are now public and you can find all of this stuff now, via my Pittsburgh page.

I had also taken a trip to investigate a candidate town (nice enough, but Internet and apartment options are limited) for my expected relocation next year, so by the time I got back from that and pulled the Pittsburgh page together, I was too tired to finish going through email.


Pandemic

A long-suspected second wave of the novel coronavirus is already appearing in places that had escaped relatively unscathed before. Healthcare systems in these areas are already stretched thin and higher proportions of their populations are vulnerable. The article uses the term ‘checkerboard’ to describe the pattern; I might suggest the term ‘hopscotch’ instead, as the virus does not spread uniformly across the country.[1]

This hints at three things: First, the notion of a ‘second wave’ is itself dubious. It suggests that even if this is not “one and done,” it might be “two and done.” But this is starting to look rather like an ongoing transmission of the virus from places where it has already struck to places it has not. Even with this ‘second wave,’ there are a bunch of those.[2]

Second, to the extent that the coronavirus may mutate, the longer it is in the wild, the greater the chance it will do so. And to the extent that the oft-seen analogy with the Spanish Flu of 1918 is accurate, a mutated version may be more deadly than the first.[3]

Third, the so-called ‘first wave’ appeared mostly in cities. The so-called ‘second wave’ is appearing in rural areas.[4] The former tend to be associated with support for Democrats and the latter tend to be associated with support for Republicans. Donald Trump and his supporters may have decided that COVID-19 was just fine as long as it was killing Blacks who are often (but definitely not exclusively) concentrated in cities.[5] We’ll see what happens as the disease affects more rural whites.

(I have updated my last blog post with the above text.)

Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/


Capitalism


  1. [1]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  2. [2]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  3. [3]Dave Roos, “Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly,” History Channel, March 30, 2020, https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-second-wave-resurgence
  4. [4]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  5. [5]Kenya Evelyn, “‘We’re expendable’: black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns,” Guardian, May 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/25/covid-19-lockdowns-african-americans-essential-workers; Bryan Armen Graham, “‘Swastikas and nooses’: governor slams ‘racism’ of Michigan lockdown protest,” Guardian, May 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/03/michigan-gretchen-whitmer-lockdown-protest-racism; Eugene Scott, “4 reasons coronavirus is hitting black communities so hard,” Washington Post, April 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/10/4-reasons-coronavirus-is-hitting-black-communities-so-hard/; Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” Atlantic, May 9, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/americas-racial-contract-showing/611389/

For Memorial Day

Pandemic

This New York Times front page (figure 1) is popping up all over Twitter:
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Fig. 1. New York Times front page for May 24, 2020, via Twitter, fair use.

I tend to be highly critical of the Times. I unsubscribed when I felt their coverage of the 2016 election had been slanted much too much in Hillary Clinton’s favor at the expense of Bernie Sanders. Margaret Sullivan was critical of that coverage,[1] but though she is now at the Washington Post, the Times seems to have heeded her advice not to normalize COVID-19 deaths.[2] This is to their credit.

It’s worth remembering that the “confirmed cases” count is almost certainly an undercount.[3] It’s also worth remembering that Donald Trump was more interested in protecting the stock market and his reelection chances than in protecting U.S. citizens and that he has peddled quack cures to that end.[4] Finally, it’s worth remembering that the entire political establishment has been complicit in refusing to provide adequate aid to enable people to stay home, which would have helped to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, and instead has rushed to reopen.[5]


  1. [1]Margaret Sullivan, “Has The Times Dismissed Bernie Sanders?” New York Times, September 9, 2015, http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/has-the-times-dismissed-bernie-sanders/
  2. [2]Margaret Sullivan, “Trump wants America to ‘normalize’ coronavirus deaths. It’s the media’s job not to play along,” Washington Post, May 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/trump-wants-america-to-normalize-coronavirus-deaths-its-the-medias-job-not-to-play-along/2020/05/09/72de4c32-9090-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “We may die at home or we may die alone but we are surely dying,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/28/we-may-die-at-home-or-we-may-die-alone-but-we-are-surely-dying/; Emma Brown et al., “U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/27/covid-19-death-toll-undercounted/; Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard, and Aaron C. Davis, “Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count,” Washington Post, April 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/coronavirus-death-toll-americans-are-almost-certainly-dying-of-covid-19-but-being-left-out-of-the-official-count/2020/04/05/71d67982-747e-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html
  4. [4]Associated Press, “FDA warns against using the drugs that Trump touts for coronavirus,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-24/fda-warns-against-using-trump-touted-drugs-to-treat-coronavirus; David Benfell, “The dangerous and delusional raging narcissist-in-chief,” Not Housebroken, April 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/25/the-dangerous-and-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief/; Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/; Allyson Chiu, Katie Shepherd, and Brittany Shammas, “Trump comments prompt doctors, and Lysol, to warn against injecting disinfectants,” Washington Post, April 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/24/disinfectant-injection-coronavirus-trump/; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump; Aaron Rupar, “Trump and Fox News want to send their hydroxychloroquine hype down the memory hole,” Vox, April 22, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21230982/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-trump-fox-news-hype; Anna Sanders and Chris Sommerfeldt, “A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments,” New York Daily News, April 24, 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-new-yorkers-household-cleaners-trump-20200425-rnaqio5dyfeaxmthxx2vktqa5m-story.html; Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html; David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Paul Waldman, “The real reason Trump is obsessed with hydroxychloroquine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/07/real-reason-trump-is-obsessed-with-hydroxychloroquine/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “The worst of times and the worst of humanity,” Not Housebroken, April 2, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/02/the-worst-of-times-and-the-worst-of-humanity/; David Benfell, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/09/i-fear-for-our-world/; David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “Elite priorities: Why social, animal, and environmental justice remains essential with COVID-19,” Not Housebroken, April 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/26/elite-priorities-why-social-animal-and-environmental-justice-remains-essential-with-covid-19/; David Benfell, “We may die at home or we may die alone but we are surely dying,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/28/we-may-die-at-home-or-we-may-die-alone-but-we-are-surely-dying/; David Benfell, “Yet again, a season for cynicism,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/10/yet-again-a-season-for-cynicism/; David Benfell, “Surprise! Surprise! The capitalist god is greedy!” Not Housebroken, May 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/23/surprise-surprise-the-capitalist-god-is-greedy/

The Year of Fear

There is a new blog post from Sunday entitled, “Pittsburgh, race, and a threat to appropriated identity.”

The Columbia Journalism Review has been running a series entitled “The Year of Fear,” featuring essays from local journalists in four towns in this election year. I’ve been following Jason Togyer, who covers McKeesport, largely because he helps fill in the blanks in my understanding of what has happened to Pittsburgh and that new blog post responds to one of his essays. For me, this is truly amazing stuff.


Do these pastors hear their god, or their accountants?

Pandemic

We still refuse to take care of people. What the fuck is the point of civilization if it comes to this?

In general and as a consequence, the reactionary nuttery to the lockdown continues to intensify.

I have to wonder whether it is their god that pastors reopening in-person services hear,[1] or their accountants.[2]

Moriah Balingit, “Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind,” Washington Post, May 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-michigan-republicans-whitmer/2020/05/12/54975e1a-9466-11ea-82b4-c8db161ff6e5_story.html

Heather Kelly, “Twitter employees don’t ever have to go back to the office (unless they want to),” Washington Post, May 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/12/twitter-work-home/

Mark Scott and Steven Overly, “‘Conspiracy bingo’: Trans-Atlantic extremists seize on the pandemic,” Politico, May 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/trans-atlantic-conspiracy-coronavirus-251325

Neena Satija, “‘Come on, we’re human beings’: Judges question response to coronavirus pandemic in federal prisons,” Washington Post, May 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/come-on-were-human-beings-judges-question-response-to-coronavirus-pandemic-in-federal-prisons/2020/05/12/925e5d32-912a-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

Brandon Showalter, “3,000 Calif. churches vow to reopen on Pentecost Sunday, regardless of gov. orders,” Christian Post, May 13, 2020, https://www.christianpost.com/news/3000-calif-churches-vow-to-reopen-on-pentecost-sunday-regardless-of-gov-orders.html


Gentrification

One of the very odd things in my life has been the parallels between two places I have lived, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. It shows up in lots of ways. Bridges are named for Joe Montana, the famous San Francisco 49ers quarterback, near the Monongahela River and the town of Monongahela. San Francisco’s cable cars are echoed by the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, remnants of a once much more common form of transportation. San Francisco has the reputation for hills and certainly has some but Pittsburgh has some of the steepest streets in the world.[3] A street in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, bears the name of Willie Stargell, a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball star. The list goes on, really, I think, to ludicrous lengths.

And I wonder how it is that two places I have lived have so much in common. The coincidences seem surreal.

Another is more troubling: There is a new blog post entitled, “Pittsburgh is repeating San Francisco’s mistake.”


  1. [1]Hailey Branson-Potts, “Pastor who refuses to cancel Sunday services because of coronavirus greeted by police,” Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-05/pastor-who-refuses-to-cancel-sunday-services-greeted-by-police; Brandon Showalter, “3,000 Calif. churches vow to reopen on Pentecost Sunday, regardless of gov. orders,” Christian Post, May 13, 2020, https://www.christianpost.com/news/3000-calif-churches-vow-to-reopen-on-pentecost-sunday-regardless-of-gov-orders.html; Sam Stanton, “Judge rejects Lodi church’s bid to resume in-person services, says California order legal,” Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article242512621.html
  2. [2]Michelle Boorstein, “Church donations have plunged because of the coronavirus. Some churches won’t survive,” Washington Post, April 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/04/24/church-budgets-coronavirus-debt/
  3. [3]For example, Canton Avenue: WTAE, “World’s steepest street: Welsh road claims the title over Pittsburgh’s Canton Avenue in Beechview,” July 16, 2019, https://www.wtae.com/article/worlds-steepest-street-pittsburgh-canton-avenue-beechview-ffordd-pen-llech-wales/28413028

Twelve years vegan

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 5, 10:50 am.
  2. May 6, 10:02 pm:
    • I should have emphasized that a study led by Los Alamos scientists identifying a potentially more contagious mutation of the novel coronavirus has not yet been peer-reviewed.[1]

Twelve years ago today, I drove up to a vegan sandwich shop in Oakland, California, ordered a sandwich made with fake meat, decided I could go vegan, and did. That shop is long gone as are, I’m sorry to say, a number of vegan restaurants that had been open as of about that time. But I remain vegan.


Pandemic

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Fig. 1. Meme from Truthout, posted on Facebook on May 3, 2020, fair use.

Yet again, classified evidence. It was manipulated with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist[2] and therefore undermined assertions that the Russians had interfered with the U.S. election in 2016.[3] Now the Trump administration is flogging[4] a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab.[5] Relying on classified evidence.[6]

Of course, no one serious will believe them. But Donald Trump’s base will. And those are the only people Trump thinks he needs to persuade.

Whatever the origin of the novel coronavirus,[7] there is, apparently, a new, more contagious mutation now in the wild. “In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, [a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory] warned.” Further, it is possible that people who have been infected with the earlier version may be susceptible to the mutated version.[8] Yay, team.
95567354_10157219184608027_5486718380159270912_n
Fig. 2. Cartoon by Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer, posted to Facebook by the Union of Concerned Scientists on May 1, 2020, fair use.

Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us

Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html

Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original


Academia

Emma Whitford, “Public Higher Ed Funding Still Has Not Recovered From 2008 Recession,” Inside Higher Ed, May 5, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/05/public-higher-education-worse-spot-ever-heading-recession


  1. [1]Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html; Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  2. [2]Greg Palast, “The Downing Street Memos, Manipulation of Prewar Intelligence, and Knowingly Withholding Vital Information from a Grand Jury Investigation,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 131-142; Nancy Snow, “Propaganda, Lies, and Patriotic Jingoism,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 143-160.
  3. [3]David A. Graham, “What Mueller’s Indictment Reveals,” Atlantic, February 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/mueller-roadmap/553604/
  4. [4]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  5. [5]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  6. [6]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  7. [7]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  8. [8]Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original

The Great Depression, redux?

I have no reason for pride tonight.

I got the car back from the mechanic. He fixed control rods and a fan that had started making noise the day before I took it in and got it through the annual Pennsylvania-required inspection.

The steering seems tighter and the brakes somewhat firmer. I had probably been driving with broken control rods for months, at some risk to my own and to my passengers’ safety. I had no idea. And Spitzer, which had been so anxious to flag my rear brakes as needing immediate attention when they still had over fifty percent remaining, never noticed.


Pandemic

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Fig. 1. We can only wish. Meme included in a semi-private email, April 8, 2020, artist uncredited, fair use.

I had been working on a new blog entry entitled, “I fear for our world,” when I got the call from my mechanic that my car was done. And so I took off, went to work, and didn’t get either the blog entry or this issue out until this evening.

Caitlin Oprysko, “Jerry Falwell Jr. says warrants are out for 2 journalists after critical stories on coronavirus decision,” Politico, April 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/08/liberty-university-falwell-reporters-warrants-176346

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, “6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the pandemic total to over 17 million,” Washington Post, April 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/09/66-million-americans-filed-unemployed-last-week-bringing-pandemic-total-over-17-million/


Joe Biden means to win even if it kills the voters

Pandemic

The bipartisan malfeasance exacerbating both the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic collapse has already been documented at considerable length[1] and Aaron Blake pulls some of it together to offer a damning timeline of Donald Trump’s responses diminishing and downplaying the crisis.[2]

But when Joe Biden insists on obvious and blatant bullshit that it is safe to line up to vote in person at a starkly reduced number—from 180 to five—of polling places in Wisconsin,[3] the message is clear that he means to win even if it kills off the entire electorate. This virus is an indictment of our entire political system and Blake’s article[4] is only part of the story.

Scott Bixby and Hunter Woodall, “Biden: Voting in Wisconsin Is Safe. Locals: It Could Kill Us,” Daily Beast, April 7, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-biden-says-voting-in-the-wisconsin-primary-is-safe-locals-say-it-could-kill-them

Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/

John McCormick and Alexa Corse, “Wisconsin Voters Go to Polls Despite Coronavirus Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wisconsin-holds-election-despite-coronavirusafter-efforts-to-delay-failed-11586270200


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Why do Republicans seem better prepared to present proposals on coronavirus relief than Democrats?” Irregular Bullshit, March 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/20/why-do-republicans-seem-better-prepared-to-present-proposals-on-coronavirus-relief-than-democrats/; David Benfell, “While neoliberal hot air floats over gig workers’ heads, here’s the Trump administration,” Not Housebroken, March 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/23/while-neoliberal-hot-air-floats-over-gig-workers-heads-heres-the-trump-administration/; Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Nick Martin, “This Is Crisis Colonization,” New Republic, March 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157091/crisis-colonization; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/
  2. [2]Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/
  3. [3]Scott Bixby and Hunter Woodall, “Biden: Voting in Wisconsin Is Safe. Locals: It Could Kill Us,” Daily Beast, April 7, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-biden-says-voting-in-the-wisconsin-primary-is-safe-locals-say-it-could-kill-them; John McCormick and Alexa Corse, “Wisconsin Voters Go to Polls Despite Coronavirus Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wisconsin-holds-election-despite-coronavirusafter-efforts-to-delay-failed-11586270200
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/

Imagine being more worried about the stock market than a predicted pandemic

Coronavirus

One consistent picture that emerges right now is that Donald Trump is more concerned[1] about the stock market drop[2] than he is a predicted pandemic.[3]

Gunjan Banerji, “Stocks Suffer Biggest Weekly Losses Since 2008,” Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-markets-head-toward-correction-territory-as-coronavirus-spooks-investors-11582864550

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary,” February 28, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/

Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/


David Brooks


  1. [1]Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  2. [2]Gunjan Banerji, “Stocks Suffer Biggest Weekly Losses Since 2008,” Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-markets-head-toward-correction-territory-as-coronavirus-spooks-investors-11582864550
  3. [3]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary,” February 28, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

A lack of journalistic imagination

Bernie Sanders

I believe this[1] is likely the same Margaret Sullivan who criticized New York Times coverage of Bernie Sanders in 2016 as the paper’s public editor.[2] If I’m right, she’s back, criticizing media coverage of Sanders more broadly.[3] But to illustrate her point,

I tend to disagree with Nate Silver on methodology, because I think appallingly low response rates in survey research[4] eviscerate the rationale for this type of research, but his reply here is well taken:

In the wake of an election that Sanders just won, a McClatchy newsletter manages to cover campaign news for ten, count ’em, ten whole paragraphs before Sanders’ name even appears.[5]

Sullivan notes that Sanders does not bother to massage journalists’ egos and I would hope we can all agree that some self-reflection may be long overdue when framing may be determined in whole or in part by whether a candidate congratulates reporters on their birthdays.[6] Here’s Jon Allsop at the Columbia Journalism Review who, having noted numerous complaints from Sanders and his supporters and a number of specific possible causes,[7] concludes,

In a broader sense, such parts of the media often have a hard time conceiving of possible worlds beyond the status quo. Inevitably, that failure of imagination has limited our coverage of [Bernie] Sanders. That’s not to say Sanders shouldn’t face scrutiny—his agenda is highly ambitious, and we should ask sharp questions about its political viability as well as its logistics. But those aren’t the questions we’re asking; not consistently, at least. Instead, when he toured the Sunday shows this past weekend, Sanders faced questions about remarks he made 50 years ago, competency concerns raised by the mess in Iowa (for which he was not responsible), his hostility toward billionaires (They’re People, Too! Chuck Todd said), and the likelihood of Trump weaponizing the toxicity of “socialism” to harm him. (This is a fair point, but in making it incessantly, we risk wielding the weapon on Trump’s behalf.) Too often, we channel a world in which the status quo is neutral; where action always costs money but inaction does not.

Do we ask other politicians to justify capitalism every time we interview them? Do we ask how much not doing Medicare for All or the Green New Deal would cost as often as we ask the inverse? Again, this isn’t about advocacy; it’s about recognizing that, at present, we tend to talk about such ideas, and the politicians who espouse them, in a one-sided way. “Imagination” might not seem a desirable trait to fact-based journalists, but without it, our coverage is constrained by the deadweight of conventional wisdom, which is a bias in itself. It’ll take imagination—more than we’re currently showing—to adequately frame, and interrogate, the choice facing America this year.[8]

However we attribute the causes, mainstream journalism has been downplaying Sanders’ unconventional candidacy, betraying a bias that Allsop sees in its treatment of his unconventional proposals.[9] It should go without saying that if you’re going to call yourself “objective” and “unbiased,” you need to be doing better than this.

Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php

Alex Shephard, “Bernie Sanders Has an MSNBC Problem,” New Republic, February 12, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156545/bernie-sanders-msnbc-problem

Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html


Iowa

On Wednesday, the [Iowa Democratic Party] said it had agreed to conduct the recanvass of certain precincts as requested by the [Bernie] Sanders and [Pete] Buttigieg campaigns.

The party said the recanvass, which is a less-involved check of the results than a formal recount, will start Sunday and take about two days.[10]

Also, the state party’s chairman, Troy Price, will resign.[11]

John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239


  1. [1]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  2. [2]Margaret Sullivan, “Has The Times Dismissed Bernie Sanders?” New York Times, September 9, 2015, http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/has-the-times-dismissed-bernie-sanders/
  3. [3]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  4. [4]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  5. [5]Emily Cadei to Impact2020 list, “On to Nevada, and South Carolina, and California, and Florida,” February 12, 2020, https://m1.news.mcclatchydc.com/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40HaihNrJgXP9DKJOMklZgSPecJyZURC%2FWyrMcimAku28%3D&ac_cid=DM136835&ac_bid=2041820311
  6. [6]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  7. [7]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  8. [8]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  9. [9]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  10. [10]John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239
  11. [11]John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239