Another Example of Lack of Leadership

Ongoing ambiguity is not helpful.

“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

As I have noted in a couple of posts lately, a major obstacle in the way of a coordinated and efficacious approach to the Covid-19 pandemic is the utter lack of leadership from Washington. The administration does not base its approach to the disease on solid science nor does it respect prudent public health guidance. The result is a mishmash of muddled, ill-defined messages that ultimately has left the public confused and often polarized and, therefore, with approaches to mitigation applied unevenly.

We do not have one shared approach. We don’t even have 50 clearly-defined approaches. Instead, we have city-level, county-level, and sometimes business-specific approaches. One often contradicts the other and the result is an infection rate that continues to climb.

I fully acknowledge that coordinating a public health response is complicated and, further, that guidance and policies can end up being wrong. But right now we are simply seeing a glaring combination of incompetence and fecklessness driven by the personal and political needs of the president.

CNN has the latest example: Education secretary won’t say if schools should listen to CDC guidelines on reopening.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday refused to say whether schools should follow guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening, saying those guidelines are meant to be “flexible.”

“The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” DeVos told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

I would encourage following the link and watching the whole response, which I consider vacuous and mostly a non-answer.

It is truly stunning that the a cabinet Secretary cannot say the words “the administration endorsed the CDC guidelines.”

Hiding behind that notion that every situation is different is a dodge. While yes, guidelines are not requirements, but it is stunning that a member of the cabinet cannot straightforwardly endorse a CDC report. Indeed, there is nothing inherent in endorsing the guidelines that would obviate the fact that, yes, each school/district is different from another.

Surely the Center for Disease Control has something useful to say about controlling this disease and not simply some organization that has an opinion. And if they don’t, then the President of the United States and his cabinet ought to be able to mobilize the national expertise needed to attack the problem. Vague statements about the US being, as DeVos says in the clip, “a nation of doers” is not a plan. It is barely a platitude.

Ultimately, this appears to be driven by the current insistence that school open in the fall:

“Kids need to be in school. They need to be learning, they need to be moving ahead. And we can’t — we cannot be paralyzed and not allow that or not be intent on that happening,” DeVos said.

The maddening thing is: if the Trump administration wants kids back in school, they should be helping guide a national strategy to do so instead of sending the Secretary of Education on TV sounding like she didn’t prepare for her oral book report.

Having read the CDC’s guidelines and skimmed the report that was leaked, one suspects that the Trump administration doesn’t want those assessments to be the focus of school opening discussions because they spell out the risks and complications associated with reopening. It stands to reason that the more difficult reopening appears, the less likely it will happen, and so the administration would rather not bring attention to those complications. If that is the motivation, and it appears to be, then it is playing crude politics with the lives and health of American citizens.

At a minimu, Trump does not want to complicate his message about reopening schools with any of the details related to actaully accomplishing the feat. Details, it would appear, are for suckers.

Fundamentally the privileging of political considerations over expert assessments as well as eschewing coordination is only going to make the situation worse. These are the kinds of moments for which good, competent governance is essential.

The administration’s approach to the schools (and the pandemic in general) is not any different than saying we are going to the moon, and since we are a “nation of doers” it will happen if we just let the “smart people” figure it out while sticking a NASA report on the matter in a desk drawer and just hoping a bunch of other folks with questionable skills and limited information will be able to come up with a process on their own because reasons.

We would not plan a military action like this.

We are in a national crisis and the leadership in Washington is abdicating its responsibility.

On a daily basis.

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FILED UNDER: COVID-19, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    If the administration really thought that getting kids back to school and people back to work was important, they would lock down the country for 3 weeks to crush the curve, while providing emergency food and rent money to the people who need it. At that point, with appropriate testing and workplace hygiene, we could get on with life.

    I’m not even sure this would piss off Trump’s base the way he assumes it would. They are just as eager to get away from their kids as they are to be able to get a haircut and drink a margarita. And the lingering death of almost reopening for a while has to be pissing them off even more.

    6
  2. @DrDaveT: To steal Drezner’s shtick for a second, a major problem is that Trump thinks like a toddler and he wants things to be normal, so he asserts that they will be and his sycophantic cabinet just goes along with it.

    11
  3. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    We would not plan a military action like this.

    Gee, I dunno. I seem to remember a statement about “going with the army you have rather than the army you would wish f0r” about an entirely optional (IMHO) military action some time back. It’s more than 3 weeks ago, so I’m sure community memory will be hazy, but…

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  4. Kurtz says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    about an entirely optional (IMHO) military action some time back.

    I don’t think you need the IMHO here. There are people who still defend the Vietnam intervention, but I doubt you’d qualify that one.

    2
  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Well you shouldn’t plan a military action like this, but it must be something in the upbringing of a repug.

    At the beginning and end of the day, no one in that admin wants to get ahead of Tiny, he might change his mind after lunch.

    2
  6. Paine says:

    Why democrats aren’t referring to Covid-19 as the “Trump Virus” at every opportunity, I just don’t get. They should be tying those two words together like peanut butter and jelly or bacon and eggs.

    4
  7. @Just nutha ignint cracker: I actually think that statement by Rumsfeld was one of the few intelligence things he said, because the reality is that you always go into a situation with the tools at hand, and not necessarily the ones you want. I actually paraphrase that statement all the time.

    We are, for example, planning for the Fall with the resources we have, not necessarily the ones we would like to have.

    There are clearly planning for the war in Iraq, and the Defense Department was not dismissed in that process (and the invasion worked quite well—the lack of planning for the aftermath, however, is another discussion).

    3
  8. Jax says:

    I’m not sending my kids back to school, we’re going to do Connections Academy. Our school district tried very hard with the distance learning, but it seemed pretty ineffective for the younger grades. Plus with my Dad injured I’m gonna need the teenager’s help on a daily basis all the way thru November, so I’m not even going to mess around with public school this year. Maybe not til there’s an effective vaccine, however long that takes.

    5
  9. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t understand why DeVos’s finances get such a pass from the media. Her family’s fortune comes from Amway, a barely legal Ponzi scheme responsible for the dissolution of more friendships and family ties than anything else shy of drugs and alcohol. And her personal schtick are for-profit schools, essentially the same scam as Trump university but skirting that fine line of legality her parasitic family is so good at.

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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I spend some time wandering through their forums and such, as well as having a number of them on my Facebook (fellow hunters). Their almost overwhelming attitude at present is 1) that they typically don’t know anybody who has contracted the virus, 2) that it’s overblown and the masks & other measures are unnecessary and 3) that the mask orders and such are illegal impositions on their liberty with which they do not intend to comply. The unifying theme seems to be that they believe that Democrats are trying to cause a panic by overplaying the risks in order to keep Trump from being re-elected. As a result, they’re all very highly motivated to vote in November.

    1
  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I actually think that statement by Rumsfeld was one of the few intelligence things he said,

    Rumsfeld had a habit of saying obvious commonplaces, like that there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns, as though he’d said something terribly profound. It was hugely irritating.

    Also, the remark about the army you’ve got was intended as a crack at Bill Clinton. Sort of like Trump saying Obama left the cupboard bare.

    3
  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: Connections is pretty good. The biggest downside on remote education is that “you have to take all you’ve got coming ’cause nobody’s gonna give you any.” That being the case, Connections has more “stuff” than most DE programs out there. Good luck and a speedy recovery for your father (and the nation–though its “condition” is more intractable).

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    @HarvardLaw92:..As a result, they’re all very highly motivated to vote in November.

    Democrats should NEVER forget this!

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  14. @gVOR08: I remember the context and the implied criticism of the previous administration (as well as his penchant for trying to sound wise).

    I still find that particular formulation to be useful, FWIW (and it may not be worth much).

    2
  15. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And her (DeVos’s) personal schtick are for-profit schools

    She is pushing that if public schools won’t open we should somehow provide vouchers to send kids to private schools that will.

  16. @Mister Bluster: Agreed–but it is worth noting that in the aggregate Dems are also highly motivated. I think turnout in 2018 illustrates this.

    I am not certain if marginal Reps are as motivated as the MAGA types, however.

    1
  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The interesting thing is that I’ve gotten to watch quite a few of what you’ve termed marginal Reps become solid, motivated Trump supporters over the past few months over all of this.

    At basis, they’re stressed out by economic worries, but they aren’t blaming Trump for them. They’re blaming Democrats for locking down the economy unnecessarily over what they see as nothing. Sayings like “imagine a disease so deadly you have to be tested to know you have it” are commonplace. They’re convinced it’s no worse than the flu, and they legitimately believe that Democrats are using it to cause a panic and a recession, deliberately screwing up their lives, just to win an election, they’re quite pissed about it, and they’re motivated to vote as a result. I think you may too entrenched in the polling and too removed from the reality on the ground.

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  18. @HarvardLaw92:

    The interesting thing is that I’ve gotten to watch quite a few of what you’ve termed marginal Reps become solid, motivated Trump supporters over the past few months over all of this.

    I am sure that is true. But that’s anecdotal evidence to be contrasted with the approval numbers I posted earlier today and a 9-point gap in Biden’s favor. I am not saying those numbers can’t shift (they can). But the evidence the Trump is in trouble is more compelling than the opposite at the moment.

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  19. steve says:

    “They’re convinced it’s no worse than the flu, and they legitimately believe that Democrats are using it to cause a panic and a recession, deliberately screwing up their lives, just to win an election, they’re quite pissed about it, and they’re motivated to vote as a result. I think you may too entrenched in the polling and too removed from the reality on the ground.”

    Pretty much with you here except for the word legitimately. I have taken care of a lot of flu pts and now some Covid pts. Covid is nothing like the flu. It affects so many more organ systems, causes many more hospitalizations, much longer hospitalizations and looking at the early results coming back from my research teams, I think we are going to find that the long term sequelae are going to be much worse. (Hmm, on the chance I misread this, at work, I don’t know how to argue with the idea that they legitimately believe something like that about Democrats. You cam always find something too believe crazy ideas.)

    I think you are correct that in the less densely populated areas of the country this doesnt seem real to many people. However, over time I think that changes. My brother, a solid Trumo supporter called me two months ago to tell me this was all a hoax and wanted to know who was making money off of this. (On the same day I intubated two Covid pts in the ICU.) Now he and and much of his family have Covid and he is on Oxygen in the hospital after ignoring distancing and masks at church. I think this will be a reoccurring story and it will become more real.

    I think that still leaves the issue of deciding when to re open and how to do it. I don’t think there is an obvious answer and there are costs going both ways, opening vs staying closed. As long as we honestly acknowledge the costs and accept the consequences I am open to a pretty broad range of ideas.

    Steve

    11
  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Again, you seem to be scoped locked on polling. There is a place for that, but it can’t substitute for actually hearing what’s being said on the ground. Legit question – how many right leaning types have you actually directly interacted with / listened to lately concerning their attitudes towards everything that’s happening and the election in November?

  21. Kathy says:

    It’s the Trump version of the Brad Goodman model of leadership: Do what we feel.

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @steve:

    I totally agree. The problem there is that most of them are unlikely to contract the virus, but until they do there is little motivation to change their minds about it. The ones I’ve talked to are absolutely convinced this was all a plot by Democrats to try to steal an election, and they’re not what I would term super far righters. They’re pretty ordinary people under considerable stress who’ve found a villain to blame for their troubles – and it isn’t Trump.

    I meant “legitimately” as emphasis. You could substitute “actually” for the same effect.

    1
  23. @HarvardLaw92:

    you seem to be scoped locked on polling.

    Not locked. But when weighing evidence, I give a lot more credence to quality polling than I do to one person’s anecdotal experiences or social media stream.

    There is a place for that, but it can’t substitute for actually hearing what’s being said on the ground.

    Actually, “hearing what’s being said on the ground” is largely worthless in terms of making general projections about much of anything.

    I am honestly a bit baffled that you are trying to make these arguments based on anecdotes.

    Legit question – how many right leaning types have you actually directly interacted with / listened to lately concerning their attitudes towards everything that’s happening and the election in November?

    You may not recall, but I live in Alabama. S0, even with colleagues at the university, I have regular contact with right leaning types. I have friends and acquaintances who are right leaning and most of my family and my wife’s family fall in that camp.

    Indeed, I am surrounded by folks who will vote R in November.

    12
  24. DrDaveT says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    They’re convinced it’s no worse than the flu, and they legitimately believe that Democrats are using it to cause a panic and a recession, deliberately screwing up their lives, just to win an election, they’re quite pissed about it, and they’re motivated to vote as a result.

    I believe you, but I’m interested in the details here. Do they believe that reports of 135,000 US deaths so far (plus another 4000 each day) are lies? Or simply that the people who are dying don’t matter to them, since they are personally not at risk? Or do they simply not grasp the extent to which the same virus can have radically different severity of effects in different people (thus the “a virus so dangerous you have to be tested to know whether you have it” crack)?

    I would think that these people would especially favor a “three weeks to do it the Dem way, then everyone back to school/work” approach. That would be a win/win/win for them — a finite horizon for the pain, a return to normalcy, and an unlimited ability to say “see, I told you it wasn’t dangerous” forever…

    4
  25. Moosebreath says:

    As an example of how Trump could have led the country to better health outcomes, see the tweets in this link, with the exact same people going from saying masks are a plot against Trump to wanting them once Trump wears them.

    And a trigger warning to Dr. Taylor about the title of the linked post.

  26. @Moosebreath:

    And a trigger warning to Dr. Taylor about the title of the linked post.

    🙂

    2
  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It’s more along the lines of “this many people die every year from the flu, give or take, and we don’t shut down the country over that, so why this?” They don’t think the disease merits the response, so they’ve constructed a different rationale for it.

    I get that it’s different. I don’t agree with them. I’m just saying that they’ve decided that all of this was unnecessary and orchestrated by Dems to try to win an election.

    1
  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I just think you’re putting too much faith in polling because it’s telling you what you want to hear. A little skepticism is probably a good thing. At this point, I’m not even sure who realistically still gets polled.

    You need a broader sample. There is no chance AL goes anything but red in November. The folks I’m listening to are in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, among others. Turnout is entirely the name of the game there.

    1
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If that is the motivation, and it appears to be, then it is playing crude politics with the lives and health of American citizens.

    That’s how they have approached governing since the very beginning. Why would this be any different?

  30. @HarvardLaw92:

    I just think you’re putting too much faith in polling because it’s telling you what you want to hear. A little skepticism is probably a good thing

    I certainly am not suggesting that this is all over with. And I even caveated some of my references above to the numbers and their potentials. But what is your evidence that I shouldn’t put stock in the polling?

    Still, it is rather remarkable to say “be skeptical about the polling, so listen to my anecdotes.”

    You need a broader sample. There is no chance AL goes anything but red in November. The folks I’m listening to are in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, among others. Turnout is entirely the name of the game there.

    You are kind of moving the goalposts on me. Your initial question was whether I had any exposure to right-leaning voters. I tell you I am pretty much swimming in them, and then you pivot to I am not talking to the right ones.

    FWIW, a chunk of those with which I am in contact are in AZ, which is a possible swing state.

    Regardless, I am unclear on how you are basing an argument on the notion that your anecdotes are the good stuff that proves your argument, and yet I am overly relying on polling while, at the same time, not talking to the right people.

    (And I thought you moved out of the country).

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  31. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “I still find that particular formulation to be useful, FWIW (and it may not be worth much).”

    I understand the value of the formulation in a vacuum, but in Rumsfeld’s case he was speaking about a war of choice which could have been started at any time, so that if the army was insufficient they could have built it up before launching the invasion.

    1
  32. @wr: Sure. I never set out to debate Rumsfeldism, TBH 🙂

    1
  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The problem there is that most of them are unlikely to contract the virus,

    Here in Misery, some of them are starting to realize they are just as likely to contract the virus as anyone else.

    FTR, I know quite a few conservatives, and not one of them ever thought it was a hoax. Maybe I just know a better class of conservative voters.

    3
  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Swimming in them and interacting with them isn’t necessarily the same thing. You didn’t strike me as the sort to venture outside of your ideological bubble, and you tend to go on and on and on about polling, no offense intended.

    I did. What’s your point with bringing that up?

  35. @HarvardLaw92:

    Swimming in them and interacting with them isn’t necessarily the same thing

    I rather directly told you above that I interact regularly with colleagues, friends, and family who do not share my specific politics.

    You didn’t strike me as the sort to venture outside of your ideological bubble

    It strikes me that it would be impossible to tell from interactions on a blog as to what I do and do not do.

    Side note, you realize that I used to vote consistently Republican, yes?

    and you tend to go on and on and on about polling, no offense intended.

    None taken, but I still fail to understand how you can argue from anecdote. What else do we have, in terms of aggregated, empirical evidence, than the polling?

    Plus, I keep bringing up in this discussion because you keep ignoring it.

    I did. What’s your point with bringing that up?

    I bring it up because I am trying to gauge where you are coming from (I suppose both literally and figuratively).

    Also: it strikes me as an odd position, given that you are arguing from the notion that directly being in contact with people can be used to provide the basis of an argument.

    It seems, therefore, that if we want to play that game (and I really don’t), I am in a better position in a deep red state than you are living abroad.

    But, of course, I also know that specific experiences don’t really tell me much about broader reality, and hence I go to the polls.

    The notion that any of us can make broad claims based on our specific encounters is not good social science and really has no basis as the foundation of an argument.

    I have no doubt that you are seeing what you are seeing. The notion, however, that you can extrapolate out to the country as a whole is simply incorrect (or even make inferences about specific Senate races).

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: One of the great balancing factors in the situation in my part of Red State ‘Murka is living in Washington and being close enough to Seattle so that it impacts life and belief. We, just like the people you talk to, don’t actually KNOW anyone with SARS CoV 2, but we know that 1400 people, most of whom live ~150 miles away are in the ground because of it and there are another 100 or so 60 miles to the south in Portland. It brings a reality to the situation that you might not be able to duplicate in Hope, AR.

  37. @MarkedMan: I tihnk it gets exhausting trying to keep up with it all.

    2
  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hope is the seat of Hempstead county. Just out of curiosity I googled it. With a population of 22,609, 76 cases, 1 death.

    Which comes to about 342 cases per 100,000 in Hempstead Co.

    Hope seems rather well acquainted with Covid just now. About 3 times worse than my Washington Co, MO.

    ETA for clarity

  39. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92 & @Steven L. Taylor: I suspect that one’s anecdotes and the other’s polling will come together in due time. Seeing as the coronavirus doesn’t much care whether someone believes it or not and hospitalizations are rising at an alarming rate, those it hasn’t touched yet are by no means immune. Those convincing themselves today that it isn’t real are very likely to know someone taken ill with it soon enough, especially as it rages through Trump territory.

    1
  40. Joe says:

    Vague statements about the US being, as DeVos says in the clip, “a nation of doers”

    This is a bold statement from an administration and a cabinet secretary who isn’t doing shit except telling others to open schools without any plan for that.

    Sorry to go all OP on your thread.

    3
  41. @Scott F.:

    I suspect that one’s anecdotes and the other’s polling will come together in due time.

    Well, I can say for sure that if you appropriately sample the anecdotes and aggregate them in a quantifiable fashion you end up with poll results. 🙂

    7
  42. Tyrell says:

    Most of the parents that I know around here have been ready for school to start back since May. They say they are about to go crazy and the “distance learning” has had all kinds of problems from passwords that don’t work to dropped signals. And the kids are very bored with the Chromebook lessons. The teachers say they are working twice as hard and getting much less results. Most parents won’t even attempt to teach their kids math. I have seen middle school math teachers at work: amazing, like watching an artist. Real masters of their subject area. When these students walk into their first algebra class, they are going to be hurting.
    Many schools have rooms to spread the kids out. The problem is having to hire more teachers from a state budget that is already millions in the hole. The state allots teachers to each school based on class membership. Too few kids and the school loses a teacher. So there you go. Most classrooms are overcrowded. At one middle school I substituted in, some kids were sitting on the bookshelves.
    Many parents have to work, or want to. Their kids are always needing extra money for field trips, book fairs, carnivals, school movies, parties, and the Christmas store.
    One big problem is school buses. Most kids around here ride the bus. How can they distance the kids on a bus? Most buses have three kids in a seat and two loads. They might add two more loads but that would put some kids getting home around six o’clock. Kindergartners, first, and second graders are constantly wrestling around and doing all sorts of stuff close up. That is called social developmental skills and is very important. Kids who are cooped up at home are going to be at a disadvantage if they do not get that at the proper age. To us it looks like they are just playing around with each other, but they are learning important skills that would be hard to duplicate at home in front of a tv or computer.
    Sports: the high schools and middle schools depend on their sports for money that pays for basic items. Also, schools have dances, band concerts, plays, chorus, recitals, carnivals, and other activities to raise needed money for basic items. Fund raising is the name of the game in public schools. And it gives young people and kids some fun time to socialize.
    If the school start is delayed or postponed indefinitely the state should help parents out who want to put their kids in a private or charter school.
    Our high schools did not have normal graduation this June. It was okay and the staff did their best, but it was not the real deal and the students got left out. After March, the senior class of 2020 never got to get together even once, and they missed out on many other valued and honored activities of senior year. Sad.
    From what I have heard, most parents and students want real school.

    2
  43. gVOR08 says:

    @wr:

    in Rumsfeld’s case he was speaking about a war of choice which could have been started at any time

    It was indeed a war of choice. But the PNAC guys felt the post 9/11 mood and their willingness to imply some connection of Iraq to 9/11 gave them a short window of opportunity that needed to be exploited while it was hot.

    2
  44. Teve says:

    I have lived in Lake City Florida, Tampa Florida, Valdosta Georgia, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill North Carolina, San Antonio Texas, Indianapolis Indiana, and Olympia Washington. In several of those places if I had gone with anecdotes of local chitchat I would’ve gotten entirely different understandings of the world than other of those places. Around NC State in Raleigh they were jubilant when Obama was elected, in Lake City Florida the entire town was visibly depressed. I trust polls, and even better, aggregated polls, vastly more than I would trust local anecdotes.

    8
  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Heh. a thumbs up for the giggle. 😉

    2
  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I regret only that I have but one thumbs up to give.

    1
  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You know, ya gotta point there….

  48. An Interested Party says:

    I tihnk it gets exhausting trying to keep up with it all.

    In some ways, I think they count on that…it is just so much that eventually a lot of people just tune it out…

    1
  49. inhumans99 says:

    @Tyrell:

    Tyrell, your post should be put in front of McConnell and used to motivate him to provide the states lots of money so they can do what you ask.

    I know that some folks have seen articles on the internet that a second wave of relief checks direct to U.S. citizens is something that was (is still) being considered in the latest round of bailout talks but I bet that most folks are like myself and would be happy to give up their share of the next round of stimulus if it went right to the school districts that need money to hire more teachers, put more school buses on the road, etc..

    You are not wrong, but please do point your words at whomever represents your state in Congress and put pressure on Congressional leadership to get schools the funds they so desperately need.

    That DeVos is not acting as an advocate to get schools more funds is reason number 7,004 why she is unfit to hold her job.

    1
  50. DrDaveT says:

    @inhumans99:

    That DeVos is not acting as an advocate to get schools more funds is reason number 7,004 why she is unfit to hold her job.

    Republican politicians are happiest when government is broken, for the same reason that muggers are happiest when the street lights are broken.

    3
  51. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    How do you say “you need a broader sample” while simultaneously elevating your personal anecdotes from social media over multiple systematic polls showing results at odds from your personal social media experience?
    I get that we can’t be complacent and can’t put too much faith in polling, or any other seemingly good news, but putting much faith at all in what you hear from people in your social media stream doesn’t seem wise whichever direction it points.

    10
  52. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Tyrell:

    From what I have heard, most parents and students want real school.

    From what I’ve heard , most parents and students want Covid-19 under control.
    Both of those desires may require effort, investment and patience.

    So you are a middle school substitute teacher, I’m assuming that you were once full time??

    2
  53. Kurtz says:

    @Grewgills:

    Yeah, I didn’t understand that either.

    (mostly) Paraphrased conversation:

    “Don’t trust the polls; talk to people on the ground.”

    “I live in Alabama. The majority of my family and my in-laws go Right.”

    “You need a broader sample.”

    That was strangely sloppy for HL.

    7
  54. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am sure that is true. But that’s anecdotal evidence to be contrasted with the approval numbers I posted earlier today and a 9-point gap in Biden’s favor. I am not saying those numbers can’t shift (they can)

    I don’t trust the polling because we have not run a national election during a pandemic in our lifetimes, and what we have done this year shows all the weaknesses and inequalities of the current system ramped up tenfold.

    I don’t know how anyone can feel confident of a likely voter screen in that scenario.

    5
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If you prefer to use your county for the example I’m trying to make, by all means go ahead. I just chose a random red state location.

  56. @Gustopher:

    I don’t trust the polling because we have not run a national election during a pandemic in our lifetimes, and what we have done this year shows all the weaknesses and inequalities of the current system ramped up tenfold.

    I understand this position. But, of course, that is a different position than “here’s what people I am talking to are saying.”

    I take the point about likely voters.

    Nonetheless, at the moment Biden is clearly more popular than Trump and we have multiple sources of evidence that show us that.

    1
  57. wr says:

    @gVOR08: “But the PNAC guys felt the post 9/11 mood and their willingness to imply some connection of Iraq to 9/11 gave them a short window of opportunity that needed to be exploited while it was hot.”

    Well, sure. But then it’s pretty disingenuous of one of them to make the claim that you can only go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had, because they could have easily waited to build up their army and chose not to.

    2
  58. Blue Galangal says:

    Those who want to see basic competency restored in this country must NOT be complacent, no matter how good the polls look.

    Anecdotally, my mom, who will vote for Trump in November, does not believe COVID19 is a hoax, nor do most of her friends. She wears a mask when she ventures out, which is not very often.

    On the other hand, as this goes on and the conspiracy theories start to gain traction, my sister went from “I can’t breathe in a mask” to “they’re [George Soros/Democrats/mysterious Illuminati] trying to take our voices away so I refuse to wear a mask.” She is making one niece quit her job in a nursing home because masks are required, and removing the other niece and nevvy from 4-H because masks are required.

    After long exposure to the white privileged conservatives who make up this section of the country, I think this is the danger HL92 may be warning about: my sister is becoming more entrenched and making up/following conspiracy theories to justify her position & support for Trump. This is I believe in large part because of the two months that the Republicans spent pooh-poohing masks. If they had jumped on it at the beginning she wouldn’t have gotten entrenched in this anti-mask mindset (she actually made and wore masks in April for about two weeks).

    So far the only reason my mother has not followed along is because there is strong social support and pressure in her peer group to stay home and mask up, including (to their credit) her church. But I guarandamntee you that she’ll vote for Trump regardless of how many people get COVID19 and die.

    2
  59. Tyrell says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Yes, I have had varying jobs in the school system: teacher, bus driver, one on one assistant, tutor, computer lab instructor, reading group instructor, interim teacher, assistant coach, and worked on school construction sites in summers (paid more than teaching). I liked school so much a friend told me that I should get a job working at one. The teachers always treated me very nice; most of them knew my parents.
    ‘School Days”
    “Up in the mornin’ and out to school
    The teacher is teachin’ the golden rule
    American history and practical math
    You studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass
    Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
    And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone
    Ring, ring goes the bell
    The cook in the lunch room’s ready to sell
    You’re lucky if you can find a seat
    You’re fortunate if you have time to eat
    Back in the classroom, open your books
    Keep up, the teacher don’t know how mean she looks”
    (The amazing Chuck Berry)
    That sounds like some of my teachers: 50 math problems in class, 50 more for homework! So I had no problem in algebra!

  60. @Blue Galangal:

    Those who want to see basic competency restored in this country must NOT be complacent, no matter how good the polls look.

    Indeed.

    I think this is the danger HL92 may be warning about

    But weren’t these individuals going to vote for Trump anyway?

    Indeed, it stands to reason that a lot of 2016 Trump voters are going to increase their personal intensity over these kinds of issues because they have to mightily rationalize their vote for him.

    5
  61. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I take the point about likely voters.

    I took this to be Slotkin’s major point.

    Likely voter screens are different per pollster and most don’t fully implement it until much closer to election day.

    I hesitate to say that it’s much ado about nothing. There’s certainly a possibility that Trump voters are uniquely, systemically under-counted by pollsters. But I am inclined to lean toward the explanation that late breakers went to Trump in the swing states, particularly with the Comey letter and subsequent coverage of it.

    Every Presidential election is its own beast. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be an outlier within that grouping. If there has been, it would be 2016–Clinton had the somewhat rare distinction of having the baggage of an incumbent unlike any other nominee in (recent) history vs. a tabula rasa celebrity.

  62. @Kurtz:

    There’s certainly a possibility that Trump voters are uniquely, systemically under-counted by pollsters. But I am inclined to lean toward the explanation that late breakers went to Trump in the swing states

    IIRC correctly, the evidence was, in fact, that late deciders were more Trump than HRC.

    But, as I always note, the national polling was pretty accurate in 2016. If 2020 is in the same boat, accuracy-wise, and Biden goes into November with a 9 point lead and polling over 50%, he should win, and win handily.

  63. (With the obvious caveat that it is July and not November).

    1
  64. Blue Galangal says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree, I think they were always going to vote for Trump. I’m heartened by the polling but the past 4 years have been such a beat down for rationality and basic common sense that I worry the polls aren’t reflecting the crazy pretzels. People won’t admit (including my mom and sister) that they still support and will vote for Trump but they do and will.

  65. Tyrell says:

    @inhumans99: Thanks for your attention and reply. Our schools start fund raising door to door in August with kids selling donut cards, cookie dough, magazines, jewelry.
    Then it is the fall carnival, barbecue, school pictures, dances. games, concerts, plays. Some years ago they ran out of paper towels and parents had to donate. At about the same time the school board gave the superintendent a big raise. Most of the schools’ money comes from the state, some from the county. About ten years ago there were federal cuts that eliminated the assistants in the resource classes. All those years they told us that the Disability act required assistants in those classes.
    Schools are not allowed to buy supplies just anywhere. They have to go through the state purchasing process which is a Byzantine maze of forms and procedures. One company has the blue construction paper, another has red. The supplies cost far more than what you pay at Staples or Walmart.
    Years ago the elected officials including the governor would often go through the schools, meet, talk to the teachers. I have not seen any in years. With the public school system the largest item in the state’s budget, you think they would be more concerned. Standardized testing became a political tool. But that is a topic for another day.