Tuesday, March 24, 2020

President Trump will watch over seniors, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says seniors will die willingly; the issue is lack of hospital beds for Millennials & kids

Repeat the mantra "the issue is lack of hospital beds for Millennials and kids."

It is truly frustrating to watch the Republicans strategically mislead Americans and not see any sign of a timely Democratic effort to counter the propaganda.

Today we have the headline about a Trump tweet Trump again breaks with experts by calling for people to go back to work, claims seniors 'will be watched over protectively & lovingly' and yesterday we had the headline Texas Lt. Gov.: Grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy.

Both these Republicans know that keeping senior citizens alive is not the issue driving the "shelter-in-place" policies closing down businesses. (Note: this writer is a 75 year old senior.) The problem is simple and one most Americans will deny knowing anything about - we have a shortage of hospital beds.

 It is a situation deliberately created by we members of the still-living generations who preceded the Millennials into adulthood, a situation which looks like this statistically:


Let's be very clear about this. In the United States there are 74% fewer hospital beds available to Americans per capita than there were in the year Jack Kennedy was elected President.

It was a deliberate choice made by Republicans, Democrats, and independents, by Bernie socialists and Koch capitalists. Any attempt to support through taxation the 1960 level of hospital beds per American would have meant most American families would not have had the money to buy more than one cell phone in the past five years. And there is nobody reading this who would have agreed to that.

When confronted with a situation where we don't have enough beds to meet the threat of a pandemic, we must attempt to reduce the number of people who are sick at any one time. That's why we are now sacrificing the economic gains  made in the 21st Century, which was wealth not equitably distributed. Republicans don't like this as they know Americans of all parties are going to be unhappy come November. They won't be able to buy the new iPhone for Christmas. They might vote Trump out.

The National Democratic Party leadership must strategically counter the Republican "blame it on dying seniors" strategy. I suggest repeating the mantra "the issue is lack of hospital beds for Millennials and kids."

Monday, March 23, 2020

The peculiar politics of this pandemic election year: can Democrats make the changes needed for safety?


Having a pandemic in the Spring of a Presidential election year is unprecedented. The test for the Democratic Party is how to make the required changes in their plans in order to keep people safe.

And that doesn't mean having Joe Biden live stream in response to Trump. It means proving the Party is an organization capable of making decisions in a time of emergency.

You see, there's the problem of the 2020 Democratic National Convention now scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee. Convention leaders issued a statement Monday in which they said they are "exploring a range of contingency options" amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday there were phone calls last week among organizers and groups involved in planning the event and that the options mentioned in the calls "included shortening the four-day convention by a day or holding a mostly remote event."

The problem facing Convention planners is the same facing the 2020 Olympics which is likely to be postponed to 2021. The federal government's plan (yes, they have one, and it is a well-designed plan) includes in its lists of assumptions: "A pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness."

While that 18-month period for planning is a worst case scenario, July 13 is less than four months away. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of March 23, 2020, about three months later, China believes they have mostly blocked the spread of coronavirus within the country. This is the result of extreme "shelter-in-place" rules. But reportedly they are now looking at reinfections.

In less than four months, expected in Milwaukee for the convention from across the United States were up to 50,000 people and planners are looking for 15,000 volunteers to help with the operation. So the idea is to shorten the convention by a day? Really? That's a "plan" being discussed?

In the meantime, Donald Trump is able to dominate news cycles with the frequent updates on the pandemic. Joe Biden has announced he will be streaming from his home what has been called "shadow briefings."

However, the situation is more complicated than that. In addition to the pandemic - how badly did the Trump Administration handle it - there is the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. How is that situation going to affect the voters a nation that is clearly as divided as the United States? What is it all going to look like at the beginning of October?

Sadly, Democrats in Congress are giving the appearance of bickering with Republicans over plans to address the economic impact of the pandemic. What should have happened last week is that Joe Biden should have stood on a stage with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presenting an economic stimulus package to be introduced in the House. Instead, any delays which worsen the outcome will be blamed on the Democrats.

And, of course, Bernie Sanders just cannot step back giving the Democratic Party a chance with suburban housewives and blue collar workers in November. He and a bunch of liberals think an economic crash will be blamed on Trump. Trump's strategists are working hard to make sure that doesn't happen. So we Democrats are going to help them.

The big question is can the Democratic Party make the changes needed (a) to keep people safe and (b) to win?

Friday, March 20, 2020

COVID-19 represents a serious health threat. But casinos shutting down represent a coming disaster within the world's reorganizing national economies


When you know that casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere are shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you know we do have a public health crisis. And it is clear that this crisis must be handled by state and local governments as stated yesterday by President Donald Trump with regard to hospitals lacking enough ventilators and other equipment to handle the coronavirus:

    “Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work … the federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. We’re not a shipping clerk. As with testing — the governors are supposed to be doing it … but this is really for the local governments, governors, and people within the state, depending on the way they divided it up.
    “Governors are supposed to get it. States are supposed to get it. For years, they bought ’em — and now, all of a sudden, they’re coming to the federal government.”

The fact is there will be a crisis in medical care because of the pandemic. It is embarrassing that as a nation, we didn't tax ourselves at the state and local level to prepare for it instead of buying smart phones. It isn't as if we didn't know it was coming as Bill Gates explained in a 2015 TED Talk:


We also know that when the Las Vegas strip and thousands of businesses across the nation are shutting down, an economic crisis will ensue. Our hope is that the federal government will effectively limit the impact on the national economy to the recession we are effectively already in.


On Monday the UCLA Anderson Forecast done by economists at the UCLA Anderson School of Management declared we are already in a recession (click on image above to read the news release):

    Revising a forecast published March 12, UCLA Anderson Forecast economists say the U.S. economy has entered a recession, ending the expansion that began in July 2009.
    The revised forecast, which incorporates data reflecting a rapidly changing U.S. economy, together with a review of the 1957–58 H2N2 influenza pandemic, is for the recession to continue through the end of September.
    This marks the first time in its 68-year history that the UCLA Anderson Forecast has published an updated forecast between its regularly scheduled quarterly releases.
    After the economy had experienced a solid start to 2020, the escalating effects of the coronavirus pandemic in March have reduced the first-quarter 2020 forecast of GDP growth to 0.4%. GDP for the second quarter of the year is now forecast to slow by 6.5%, and by 1.9% for the third quarter. With the assumption of an end to the pandemic and repaired supply chains by this summer, the Forecast predicts the resumption of normal activity in the fourth quarter of 2020 and a GDP growth rate of 4.0%.
    For the full 2020 year, it is expected that GDP will have declined by 0.4%. In 2021, with the abatement of governmental pandemic expenditures and the continued contraction of residential and commercial construction, the economy is forecast to grow at 1.5%. The full recovery and return to trend is now expected in 2022.
    For California, a state with a larger proportion of economic activity in tourism and trans-Pacific transportation, the economic downturn will be slightly more severe. Employment is expected to contract by 0.7% in 2020 with employment contracting during the second and third quarters at an annual rate of 2.6%. The state's unemployment rate will rise to 6.3% by the end of this year and is expected to continue to increase into 2021 with an average for 2021 of 6.6%. By the first quarter of 2021, California is expected to lose more than 280,000 payroll jobs with more than one-third of those in the leisure and hospitality and transportation and warehousing sectors.
    The revised forecast comes with an important caveat. If the pandemic is much worse than assumed, this forecast will be too optimistic. If the pandemic abates quickly because of the extraordinary measures being put into place to address it, an outcome that the medical community thinks unlikely but possible, then the forecast will be too pessimistic and economic growth in the third and fourth quarters of the year will be higher.

As observed today Bank of America agrees:

    Bank of America warned investors on Thursday that a coronavirus-induced recession is no longer avoidable — it’s already here.
    “We are officially declaring that the economy has fallen into a recession ... joining the rest of the world, and it is a deep plunge,” Bank of America U.S. economist Michelle Meyer wrote in a note. “Jobs will be lost, wealth will be destroyed and confidence depressed.”

Goldman Sachs projects initial jobless claims could spike to a record 2.25 million this week as coronavirus-driven layoffs hit the labor market.


Such a recession, depending upon how it evolves, could become a depression. Most certainly it will become a "great" recession whatever that means. The problem in this writer's opinion is that this disruption was not created by economic mismanagement by bankers as in 2008 or the 2001 dot-com bubble burst.

Instead this "economic downturn" is the result of a failure to heed the warning as expressed by Bill Gates in the video above, a warning about something other than money and stuff to buy. Unfortunately, it comes in the middle of an amateurish attempt by the right wing of the Republican Party to crush the international economic expansion of the late 20th Century because it did not adequately favor "traditional American values" reflected in nationalism.

Since 2016 the United States has withdrawn from its world leadership role and from international economic cooperation. Most countries today do not trust Americans. Yet the American economy, a consumer economy, depends upon imports manufactured by cheap foreign labor. It is not a coincidence that the picture above from the heading of the UCLA Anderson Forecast is of an empty port.

China is beginning its recovery from the pandemic. But manufacturing stuff for the American consumer will continue to be on hold because the U.S. is three months away from its recovery. There are serious questions about whether leadership in China and other Asian countries will continue to emphasize exports to the U.S.

Just as Brexit is to be implemented, the pandemic is sweeping through Europe shutting down those economies even including the unprecedented closing of the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco. In the middle of all this we read:

    In an unprecedented step for the British government, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the state would pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers if companies kept them on their payroll, rather than lay them off as the economy crashes. The extraordinary payments will be worth up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, just above the median income.
    Economists at Deutsche Bank forecast the British economy could suffer the worst recession for a century – outstripping the 2008 financial crisis – with millions of workers losing their jobs and the unemployment rate doubling.

The U.S. Congress, divided because the nation is politically divided,  has entered into a dispute within this election year based upon (a) the view that a one-time payment to individuals and bailing out businesses is best (Republicans) or the view that expanding unemployment benefits and personal tax credits is best (Democrats).

The casinos shutting down represent a coming disaster within the world's reorganizing national economies in this writer's opinion.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Four of 7 infected family members are dead. If you socialize unnecessarily you could kill people you don't even know and never had contact with.


In the period of a COVID-19 pandemic if looking out for the welfare of others includes you stopping by to visit with family or close friends you don't live with, you must understand that you may kill them. It's that simple.

If you don't believe that then you either aren't aware of, or choose to ignore, the sad story Coronavirus Ravages 7 Members of a Single Family, Killing 4 about a New Jersey family. In this particular case the 19 spouses and children of the hospitalized victims who were in contact since March 10 have been tested for COVID-19 with results pending. Beyond family members, members of the community came in contact with all of them.

How this happened is relatively simple. One family member days earlier came in contact with someone who was infected but didn't know he was infected. Though tentative warnings have been out there, today we know that initial studies out of China such as Substantial undocumented infection facilitates the rapid dissemination of novel coronavirus indicate that prior to the institution of tight restrictions on the general population 86% of all infections were undocumented which ultimately led to a high number of cases.

In other words, most people who have the infection have no symptoms or have mild cold-like symptoms.

“If we have 3,500 confirmed cases in the U.S., you might be looking at 35,000 in reality,” explained Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University epidemiologist and senior author of that study published March 13. 2020.

“Just because you get the disease from someone with mild symptoms does not mean yours are going to be mild,” Dr. Shaman said. “You could still end up in the I.C.U.”

Of course this morning the U.S. had 10,822 confirmed cases across all 50 states. And this writer's hunch is that we probably have more like 1,0822,000 cases most of which will never be confirmed. One of those cases could be you.

The Governor of New Jersey expressed his frustration:

    Gov. Phil Murphy promised more aggressive steps — including closing all schools statewide and a possible curfew — to slow the spread of coronavirus Sunday, as the number of cases in New Jersey shot up to almost 100. What had seemed unthinkable 10 days ago, when the first case was identified, is coming closer.
    "Not enough is being done," Murphy said Sunday. "It's too much business as usual." He rued the videos he said he had seen of weekend crowds packed into Asbury Park's bars and restaurants, stressing that everyone is responsible to protect not only themselves but others.

The news stories are overwhelming which may be why many people have had trouble understanding that "stay home" is a mantra for all of us. Some think because they are under 65 years of age, it really isn't a problem for them.

As explained in a New York Times story Younger Adults Make Up Big Portion of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in U.S.:

    American adults of all ages — not just those in their 70s, 80s and 90s — are being seriously sickened by the coronavirus, according to a report on nearly 2,500 of the first recorded cases in the United States.
    The report, issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that — as in other countries — the oldest patients had the greatest likelihood of dying and of being hospitalized. But of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized, 38 percent were notably younger — between 20 and 54. And nearly half of the 121 patients who were admitted to intensive care units were adults under 65, the C.D.C. reported.
    “I think everyone should be paying attention to this,” said Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It’s not just going to be the elderly. There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy.”

In other words, while it is true the elderly if hospitalized are more likely to die, far more people between the ages of 20-65 are hospitalized than most members of the public understand.

And so far we have been unable to test more than a small portion of possible infected persons. This is frustrating for those who have worked to protect community health and safety.

This is a headline over a January 26, 2020, story CDC confirms 5th case of new coronavirus in U.S. Clearly we have been aware of the probable pandemic in the U.S. for nearly three months. We knew that the outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019.

Even though we had plenty of time to prepare, our President had eliminated that portion of "the swamp", the bureaucracy, that was to prevent the spread of a pandemic. Of course with his focus on making deals related to money by isolating China, Trump essentially prevented the kind of international cooperation that limited the spread of Ebola (so far) and the 2002-03 SARS Coronavirus outbreak.

The story ‘If I get corona, I get corona’: Miami spring breakers say covid-19 hasn’t stopped them from partying makes it clear that the message is not getting across. With its extra-long spring break from college, this pandemic does not create different kinds of social opportunities. It is an anti-social environment meaning don't associate with more people than absolutely necessary. If you socialize unnecessarily you could kill someone you don't even know and never had contact with. Or it could be your family....

Saturday, March 14, 2020

States with the most COVID-19 cases per capita?

(Updated March 27,2020) 


A story in The New York Times Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map offers the following map:


The CDC's website offers this map:


These maps correctly represent the data they intended to represent. As a Californian, however, this writer felt a need to create the map at the top of this post to represent the following data to just present for consideration the fact that Louisiana has more than five times as many COVID-19 cases per capita as California using the numeric system that the press uses explaining your odds of winning the lottery:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

After Super Tuesday II: update on the status of the Democratic race for the Presidential nomination


In July Democratic Convention delegates will select the Democratic nominee for President. In the case of the 2020 Democratic primaries to date, centrism has 989 delegates (or 49.7%) of the 1,990 needed, socialism has 796 delegates (or 41.0%) of the 1990 delegates needed.

On Super Tuesday II, March 10, 2020, Joe Biden expanded his lead over Bernie Sanders including winning Michigan and Washington. Democratic centrism has now won 17 states (70.8%) of 24 states and 11 million (57.7%) votes compared to 8 states and 8 million votes for the democratic socialism.

The following is the list of remaining primaries:

Looking at the list above, absent the death of Joe Biden or other equally monumental event there is little chance that Sanders can gain enough delegates to win the nomination or even prevent Biden from getting enough delegates.

Nonetheless, it appears that Bernie Sanders intends to continue to run. What Sanders and his followers can do from this point on is aid in the reelection of Donald Trump just as they aided in the election of Trump in 2016.

Instead of waiting to focus on policy issues in the July Democratic Convention party platform, Sanders and his followers will use the remaining primaries as an opportunity to attack Biden and the Democratic Party.

This isn't just this writer's opinion. The Bernie Sanders spoiler campaign begins explains the political problem. But focusing on the truth is No surprise: Bernie Sanders is still all about himself, never the party which reminds us that Sanders and his most ardent supporters already proved in 2016 they would rather see Trump become dictator than admit that the democratic socialists lost their bid to take over the Democratic Party (unlike Trump who successfully facilitated a fascist takeover of the Republican Party).

If Sanders continues to run, likely Biden will not be able to garner enough total delegates to gain the nomination until early May. By then Sanders and the press will have pointed out Biden's weaknesses over and over again. And make to mistake about it, both Biden and Sanders have lived nearly 80 years, much of it as active governmental officials who made errors.

Because of dogmatic political attitudes, at this point in time the greatest threat to Trump's reelection is a virus not the Democrats.

(Updated from March 11, 2020 original post.)

Friday, March 6, 2020

A post Super Tuesday update on the status of the Democratic race for the Presidential nomination


Just as the total number of votes cast nationwide for each candidate is irrelevant in selecting a President, the actual number of votes cast in all the primaries and caucuses is irrelevant to selecting a nominee.

Members of the Electoral College select the President. Convention Delegates select the nominee.

As of Super Tuesday March 3, 2020, the fact that the Democratic Party is divided between the democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Democrat Joe Biden became obvious. All other significant centrist Democratic contenders, along with "lefty" Elizabeth Warren, are no longer competing with Biden in the primaries.

As of the (updated) Super Tuesday results, the total likely delegates for the centrist side exceed those for the leftist side 55%± to 45%±. The number of states in which centrist candidates won is double that of the leftist side. The number of votes for the centrist side exceed those for the leftist side 58%± to 42%±.

On Super Tuesday Biden won in Minnesota and Oklahoma, two states Sanders won in 2016.

Contrary to the impression given in many headlines, in this writer's opinion California was not the win the Sanders team should have gotten given the amount of money and effort spent here. Saturday the LA Times article Bernie Sanders holds 2-1 lead in California, poll shows told us "Sen. Bernie Sanders has taken a commanding lead in California’s Democratic presidential race, ahead of his nearest rival by 2 to 1 and on track to win a majority of the huge trove of delegates at stake in the state’s March 3 primary, according to the final UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll of the contest."

Indications are that the leftist side actually only won 46%± among California voters compared to 52%± for Biden, Bloomberg, et al.  However, because of the way delegates are allocated, the leftists will get 55%± compared to 45%± for the centrists.

Part of the problem for Sanders, of course, is indicated in the USA Today story Many young voters sat out Super Tuesday, contributing to Bernie Sanders' losses. Of course, Sanders is Sanders.

"The corporate establishment is coming together, the political establishment is coming together, and they will do everything," Bernie Sanders told reporters in Salt Lake City on March 2, 2020. "They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up."

That sounded familiar, like something we heard before.

“I want the entire corrupt Washington establishment to hear and to hear and to heed the words I am about to say,” Donald Trump said at a North Carolina rally on October 26, 2016. “If we win on Nov. 8, we are going to Washington, D.C., and we are going to drain the swamp.”

But even if one thinks comparing Sanders to Trump is all wrong, it's not the corporate and political establishment that gave Biden the Super Tuesday win. The Biden campaign was broke going into Super Tuesday, outspent by Sanders by a ratio of seven-to-one (and outspent by Mike Bloomberg by 100-to-1). The Biden campaign's skeletal presence on the ground was dwarfed by Sanders’ vast grassroots operation. It was not the establishment that turned out for Biden. It was African-American voters who backed him over Sanders by huge margins, along with suburban women. Meanwhile Sanders young voters turned out in lower numbers than in 2016.

It is telling that in the time of the coronavirus, The House and Senate, aka the political establishment, reached a deal on Wednesday to provide $8.3 billion in emergency aid to combat the novel coronavirus,  an amount substantially larger than what the White House initially proposed in late February. The money will be used by what's left of the denizens of the health bureaucracy "swamp" to produce treatments and vaccines to keep Sanders and Trump supporters alive.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Bernie wins most votes, school bond measure loses. Being progressive or socialist apparently doesn't mean providing for anything like an education.


It must be noted that Tuesday's election was one in which the Bernie "voter turnout machine" - "progressives" or "socialists" or whatever - gave Bernie and Elizabeth together nearly half the votes but apparently did nothing for the one education measure on the ballot.

It was the first failure of a state school bond measure in a quarter of a century. It was an election with a higher than "normal" hispanic and young voter turnout. Of course, teachers and construction union voters also turned out.

Yes it was a complicated measure. The measure was described on the ballot as follows:

Authorizes Bonds for Facility Repair, Construction, and Modernization at Public Preschools, K-12 Schools, Community Colleges, and Universities. Legislative Statute.

The measure would have authorized $15 billion in state general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of public education facilities including school, community college, and university facility projects. No tax increase was involved. In addition, school districts and community college districts would have been authorized to issue more local bonds.

Also, in keeping with the goal of providing more affordable housing, beginning in 2025 school districts would have new limits on their ability to levy developer fees, specifically a prohibition of fees on multiple family housing located within a half-mile of a major transit stop and a 20 percent reduction on housing located elsewhere.

Of the 5.5+ million votes counted to date, 1.5+ million were cast in the Republican presidential primary and 3.0+ million were cast in the Democratic presidential primary. On the bond measure, 3.0+ million were "NO" votes.

Though it would be unreasonable, one could assume that all 1.5 million Republican voters voted "NO." But that would mean that half of the Democratic voters also voted "NO."

This is what is troublesome about "progressive" politics. The measure would have had far more impact on education and housing in California than 4 years of a President Bernie Sanders. But it just isn't fun to rally and post on social media for a state bond measure.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Democratic race for President status today

Much like how the total number of votes nationwide for each candidate is irrelevant in selecting a President, the actual number of votes cast in all the primaries and caucases is irrelevant to selecting a nominee. Members of the Electoral College select the President and Convention delegates select the nominee.

So far the Democratic contest has results from Iowa (where in 2016 Trump won with 51.15% of the vote) and South Carolina (where in 2016 Trump won with 54.94% of the vote), plus New Hampshire (where in 2016 Clinton won with 46.98% of the 2016 vote) and Nevada (where in 2016 Clinton won with 47.50% of the 2016 vote).

The results from the delegate selection process in those four states are that the left wing of the party, Sanders and Warren, have won 67 delegates or 3.4% of the number needed to win on a Convention first ballot, while the centrist wing of the party, Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar, have won 86 delegates or 4.3% of the number needed to win on a Convention first ballot. (Note that these numbers are still preliminary and could change - not significantly, but they could change.)

Despite all the news coverage, now slightly overshadowed by the great 2020 plague, we really have no significant information about the Democratic race.

But this coming Tuesday is Super Tuesday when Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will all hold their presidential primaries. American Samoa will have its caucus that day and the Democrats Abroad primary, for Democrats living outside of the United States, will also begin voting on March 3, and conclude on March 10.  A total of 1,357 of the 3,979 pledged delegates to be awarded to the candidates in the Democratic primaries will be allotted as a result of Super Tuesday.

A total of 643 of those delegates will come from two states - California and Texas.  The remaining 714 will be divided between the remaining 12 states, American Somoa and Democrats Abroad. What we know is that in 2016 Clinton won in California with 61.73% of the vote while Trump only garned 31.62%, but Trump won in Texas with 52.23% of the vote while Clinton only garnered 43.24%.

Both California and Texas are likely to go strongly for Bernie in the primaries and California will vote Democratic in the November General Election while Texas likely will vote Trump absent an economic collapse. So we won't learn anything important about who will be President in 2021 from those two primaries.

But the press will make something out of the results no matter how meaningless, just like they did in the first four states.