Patterico's Pontifications


Monday Night Music

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:36 pm

“Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” by Roger Quilter, sung by Bryn Terfel.

The songs sets lines from a poem by Alfred Tennyson of the same name:

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The fire-fly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

White House To Protesters: Observe Physical Distancing Rules And Wear That Mask

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:50 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Throughout the nation, a segment of the population has become increasingly frustrated with ongoing coronavirus stay-at-home orders, and as a result, are holding protests in an increasing number of states. These Americans appear less concerned about a highly contagious virus tearing through the nation, and more focused on what they see as the heavy-handedness of government infringing on their civil liberties. Last week, President Trump egged on supporters to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Virginia and Minnesota – three swing states with Democratic governors – and now a segment of the population is following his lead. Even overwhelmingly Democratic states with Democratic governors are also facing protests in their cities.

As we’ve discussed at length here, this is a matter of competing interests which need to be balanced: public health and re-opening the economy. Findng the sweet spot is something that won’t come easily. As such, we’ve been cautioned repeatedly that opening up the economy will need to happen incrementally, and must include scaled-up testing, as well as keeping social distancing measures in place.

Dr. Fauci warned today that the the effort to dismiss stay-at-home orders could easily backfire on protesters:

Clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.

So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” he said. “So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem.

From viewing photographs and newsclips of protests across the nation, what stands out is a near-complete disregard for social distancing practices, including standing six-feet apart and wearing face masks. Clearly a lot of protesters have dismissed the well-documented vigorous rate of coronavirus contagion, and believe that they are immune to any possible infection. But the problem is, they aren’t just putting themselves at risk. Protesters will return home to their families, and, at some point, interact with community members, thus putting everyone at risk. This doesn’t bode well for an easing back to business as usual. If protesters don’t think they need to maintain an acceptable distance from their neighboring protester and wear a mask at a crowded rally, do you think they will voluntarily adhere to their state’s reentry procedure, which will very likely include wearing masks and continuing with social distancing measures? If you want to protest, fine. But ignoring safety measures – measures that the White House and the CDC have advised – puts others at risk. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

What’s caused further frustration, and this is somewhat understandable, is the inconsistency in restrictions. This has resulted in a dangerous risk of losing the voluntary compliance of these same people. And voluntary compliance is absolutely necessary to managing the virus, and ensuring a successful re-opening of the states:

[O]verzealous or otherwise foolish lockdown policies are a good way to increase the size of that minority and make its case look reasonable… Mayors in several Southern locales tried to prohibit drive-in church services before an outcry or court order got them to back down. In some cities, police have forcibly ejected people from subways for not using masks…Governor Gretchen Whitmer allowed Home Depot to stay open but forced it to close off parts of its stores…Most people understand that even basically sensible policies can be taken too far. But excess in enforcing social distancing poses special risks that deserve attention from government officials…they make the lockdowns less bearable and raise their costs. The would-be house painter in Michigan, the aspiring churchgoers in the South, the parents who would like to let their kids run around in the sunlight: All have legitimate complaints…they undermine confidence in the intelligence and sensitivity of the officials and the policies. People are putting up with the restrictions out of a sense that they’re unfortunately needed. But you don’t have to be a die-hard libertarian to think that when something is not necessary for governments to do, it is necessary for them not to do it – especially when that something is issuing orders to citizens…Social distancing, like a lot of public-health campaigns, depends on a high degree of voluntary compliance. It therefore requires that the public has confidence that the people leading the efforts are not just looking for excuses to boss people around, that they are mindful of the costs of their policies, that they have given some thought to what they are doing.

Nonetheless, while I appreciate a healthy wariness of government overreach where civil liberties are concerned and inconsistent foolishness from some governors, this does not change the fact that we are facing a highly contagious virus that doesn’t care about principles, political persuasions, personal philosophies, or anything that one might claim takes priority over practicing reasonable safety measures. We are not being compelled to permanently modify our behaviors. We are being asked to temporarily modify our behavior in order to help prevent further transmission of a deadly virus which is highly contagious and has wreaked havoc across the nation in a very short period of time. And it’s the sort of highly contagious virus that requires everyone to hold the line. Six feet apart and a mask when out in public. How is that a big deal? No matter what you think of government, or social distancing orders to help minimize the spread of the disease, let me ask you, why the isn’t your family, or your neighbor worth the extra effort?

It should be obvious that one can both understand the need to get people back to work and and the need to keep the public health risk as low as possible (through prescribed mesaures such as social distancing and wearing a mask). But the danger of not adhering to social distancing measures when re-opening the states will only certainly extend lockdown measures because more people will become infected . This isn’t rocket science. And while she sounded like a condescending scold when she made the point, Gov. Whitmer was right about this.

Just as I was finishing this post, Kellyanne Conway was on Fox News and said that Trump wants protesters to follows social distancing guidelines:

“We want people to adhere to the CDC guidelines. People should read those guidelines. We need physical distancing of at least 6 feet. Wear that face covering, that mask…

When it was pointed out to her that the protesters were clearly breaching those social distancing lines, Conway deflected and pointed out that some of governors had “distanced themselves from common sense,” and referred to the protesters as “the forgotten men and women,” (which will probably be tapped as a 2020 campaign slogan). She also believes that some of these state governors have been “more concerned about…controlling the populations than protecting them. She did come back around and say that “it’s the President’s guidelines that are out there that everyone should be adhereing to.”


Front Row at The Trump Show: The New Book by ABC’s White House Reporter Jonathan Karl

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Today I finished Front Row at the Trump Show, the new book by ABC White House reporter Jonathan Karl. I’ve read most of the big books on Trump.* Front Row at The Trump Show is not as comprehensive a history of Trump’s presidency as some of the other books I have read (I think Tim Alberta’s American Carnage is the most comprehensive) and does not really try to be. But it’s one of the most entertaining — and arguably the most credible.

I’ll write this review by flying through a few of the tidbits that grabbed my attention, as signified by my Kindle bookmarks:

  • Karl reminds us that the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s 1999 campaign for the Reform Party nomination was … a wealth tax of 14.25% on all wealth over $10 million. It would have been the biggest tax increase in human history by far.
  • Sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote that he played golf with Trump, who introduced Reilly to anyone who would listen as the publisher of Sports Illustrated. Reilly asked Trump why he was lying about him. Trump replied: “Sounds better.”
  • I had forgotten how Fox News was really on Jeb’s side at first, and was anti-Trump. But Trump got his airtime anyway — by going on Fake News CNN, once spending an hour with Don Lemon, who said Trump could come on any time.
  • When Trump came down the escalator to announce his candidacy, there was a crowd of people applauding. They were paid actors. A company hired by his campaign had put out a casting call offering $50 a head to come applaud Trump as he announced that he would be running for President.
  • One of the stories that bothers me the most is Karl’s lengthy description of a famous event at a campaign rally that many of you might remember. Trump started complaining that the cameras would never show the size of the crowd. He singled out the cameraman in the middle and started saying, over and over, that it was “terrible” that the cameraman would not turn the camera to show the crowd. Trump riled up the crowd for several minutes, whipping them up into a frenzy of anger at the supposedly biased cameraman who refused to show the crowd. I found the video online. You can view the relevant portion here:

    Karl explains that the cameraman was a guy named Stuart Clark who was performing the role of a “pool camera operator” for the big five TV networks. He had one job: keep your camera on the candidate. The networks could then use other cameras for other shots, knowing that the pool camera was assigned to do one thing and one thing only: keep that camera trained on the face of the candidate.

    Karl explains that many candidates might not know this, but Trump does:

    Nobody understands this system better than Donald Trump. If you watch his speeches, he plays to that center camera. He knows it’s the pool camera and he knows that the pool camera shoots the video that cable networks use when they broadcast his speeches live.

    If you watch the clip I have cut for you, you can see him playing directly to that camera. As you watch him look at that camera, it’s very obvious when you actually watch the video that Trump knows exactly what he is doing

    Karl talked to Stuart about it afterwards.

    “I just sucked it up and did my job,” Stuart later told me.

    As the rally ended and the crowd left, Stuart stayed behind in the fenced-off press area. After that experience, he didn’t want to have somebody take a shot at his as he left, lugging all his equipment, heading off to cover the next Trump rally.

    A CNN producer later complained to Corey Lewandowski, saying that this sort of thing was dangerous. The contemptible punk Lewandowski replied: “Yeah, right.”

I bookmarked a lot of other passages, but this post is getting long and you get the idea. If you’re a fan of this genre of book (and I definitely am), you’ll find this book as entertaining as any other on the market. And Jonathan Karl has a real integrity in the way he presents the story. He asked a lot of important, newsmaking questions, but he comes across like the consummate newsman — not looking to be the news, but merely to ask the questions that make the news.

I recommend this book.

*These include Fire and Fury (maybe 60-90% accurate!, Bob Woodward’s Fear (fun; pretty well sourced but take it with a grain of salt); Team of Vipers by Cliff Sims (enjoyable view from someone more favorable to Trump than most); A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig (enjoyed this one); and American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, by Tim Alberta (I never did a review but I found this book very wide-ranging and insightful).

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