There is No Switch

The policy choices before us are not a dichotomy between off and on.

Dealing with complexity is not the strong suit of the mass public. Simplicity is hard enough for large groups of individuals to work together to solve since in any mass of persons there are differing views, goals, interests, and needs. In many ways, modern governance of states that are often the size of continents is a truly remarkable achievement, even for all of its inadequacies.

Indeed, the limitations of allowing the crowd to manage complex decisions is a major reason why we need government at all. And it is why we need competent government. Such an observation could go into one of a thousand directions these days, including snarky-but-accurate observations about powerful lights inside the body, but let’s focus on the idea of opening up the country.

Fundamentally, this metaphor is wrong. The choice is not one of “opened” or “closed.” There is no switch by which we simply turn things back on. There is no easy return to “normal” around the corner. A lot of people, such as the President, appear to be in denial about the reality of what “opening up” really means. As James Joyner noted this morning, the grim reality is that we do not know how long this will last, or even what the next couple of months will really look like.

And note: I do want to acknowledge that there are clear and serious issues about the way in which the response to the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economy. There are people whose businesses are failing and others who do not have needed income to pay basic bills. These are real problems (and ones that it does not appear the federal government is doing an especially good job of addressing).

The problem is, of course, that a lot of the businesses that are hurting under stay-at-home orders (e.g., barbershops, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, etc.) are not going to just snap back into place. Again: there is no switch. The threat from the virus is identical now as it was when we all started staying at home.

So, even once stay-at-home orders are relaxed or lifted entirely, the ultimate decisions are going to be made by individuals. Let’s consider a CBS poll from this past week: Americans prioritize staying home and worry restrictions will lift too fast.*

Sixty-three percent of Americans are more worried about restrictions lifting too fast and worsening the outbreak — than worry about lifting restrictions too slowly and worsening the economy.

And more specifically:

21.png

Any attempt at opening things back up has to account for the actual likely behavior of humans. As such, a competent coordinated process would be asking questions about how to maintain social distancing, what will we do about masks, what new norms do we need to develop, etc. Instead, we get magical thinking and riffing from the podium by Trump and individual states are left to their own devices, driven more by partisan considerations in many cases than science (be it the medical science or social science–or, better yet, both).

That last line in the table is really significant. What is a “large gathering”? A sporting event? A movie theater? A church service? School?

Speaking for myself, I am not comfortable with the idea of going to get my haircut at the moment, or of going to a bar/restaurant, or flying on an airplane (although I would like to do all of those things). Longer hair and take-out are fine (and alcohol is marked far higher at the bar than if I just imbibe at home).

When we think about school in the Fall (whether it be K-12 or higher ed) some parents are simply not going to be willing to send their kids back (and many college-age students may find online learning preferable for a host of reasons). We need to be thinking about these kinds of issues, but we appear not to be. Well, I do know that individuals and institutions are thinking about these issues, but we need a national dialog, and it is something we would typically expect to hear from our president.

But, because the president wants to make this into a simplistic narrative, many of his supporters do as well. This is true of politicians in positions of power, media allies, and voters. Instead of clarity, we get nonsense, and then supporters have to rationalize how the nonsense is actually reasonable and rational.

But, the reality remains that we both cannot all stay at home forever and that the virus is not going to magically disappear. So, we need a way forward beyond simplistic assumptions about opening up without a hitch.

I would be remiss not to note that all of this is made worse by our polarized politics where all opinions end up sorting into my side or yours. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also note that our political institutions heavily motivate and exacerbate this polarization. We would be remarkably better off if we had a multiparty system so that every single fight wasn’t one that could be framed as My Party v. Your Party. It would not be a cure-all, but it would change the nature of the fight.

Still, the polarization may not be as much as the media narrative suggests.

Also from the poll:

17.png

And:

image001-9.png

Although, we do see some partisan divisions as we dig into the poll:

5.png

And, most significantly (I think, at least), this:

2.png

This last graph is concerning, as it shows that there are some clear differences, based on partisan identification, as it perhaps to what reopening looks like. It suggests that a majority of Republicans are comfortable opening up sooner, rather than later, but the opposite is true of Democrats.

Trump can brag about the raw number of tests we have done, but until we have a real testing regime in place, we are not a lot better off now than we were in early March.

A lot of hard choices are ahead and normal simply isn’t coming back soon. I really wish this fact was being addressed at the national level.

Alas…


*h/t to Chris Lawrence on Twitter for bringing this specific poll to my attention.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 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. Jim Brown 32 says:

    The beauty in this situation is that no one can politic their way out of this. You either defeat the adversary, or mitigate them. There will be no “declare victory and move on” . The enemy always gets a vote.

    I expect that people will still continue to vote for politicians that entertain them– but they will, at least in the mid term require a functional amount of competence in exchange for some entertainment value. It certainly would have come in handy here.

    7
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It wasn’t that long ago when trump said he was the lone authority about when to open up the economy again. I said then that there are approximately 328,199, 999 other Americans who had something to say about it too.

    6
  3. 95 South says:

    I appreciate the tone and points in this article. I’d only add that just as there’s no pure “open”, there’s no pure “closed”. There’s never been a dichotomy, just public policy in the middle. There are valid reasons why public figures should have promoted the idea of “closed”, after all it’s a change and has to be promoted. “Open” is also a valid if equally vague concept. Well-intentioned people can disagree about how open or closed we should have been, or should become.

    7
  4. Modulo Myself says:

    I imagine for a certain type of guy–travels frequently, business class–being stuck at home with family (and vice versa for the family) is pure torture. All he wants to do is use those miles to go to Orlando for a convention, play some golf, maybe stare in despair at an ad for a sex worker. If 100s of thousands have to die, so be it. These are the bleak people to whom Reopen the Economy is being pitched.

    The bare truth is that everybody knows what has to be done. Print the money, figure out a way to give it to people, and then focus on coaxing out of the quarantine some sort of way to survive psychologically. There’s no moral here. There’s no lesson to be taught by Dad about consequences. That this is hard is because a small faction of our country are sociopaths and absolutely can not tolerate other people getting things. They just can’t. They love power, and hate making deals with anybody, and that’s why they are on their knees in front of Trump and McConnell.

    7
  5. 95 South says:

    @Modulo Myself: Hey. 95 here. The last few days I’ve been pointing out how some people on this site aren’t even bothering to check their partisan assumptions. They’re telling stories that only exist in their heads. Because of that I’m wondering if your comment was parody.

    1
  6. gVOR08 says:

    The reality is we were never that closed and we will trial and error our way out to more open. Hopefully we’ll find an acceptable balance observing the 20% of restrictions that produce 80% of the benefit. Best I can tell, my beloved /s Guv DeSantis is about to let his FL closure order/recommendation/ more of a guideline quietly expire at the end of April. And he’ll probably get away with it. Some locales will maintain tighter controls, businesses will adopt some half way house situation, many people will still stay home, and we may get used to wearing masks and gloves as a polite thing to do. There’s a good piece at VOX on why FL is doing better than NY. And the tourist season is pretty much over. More people will die than otherwise, but there probably won’t be an attention grabbing crisis.

    GOPs are betting they can get away with loosening up and they’re already making a political issue of it. At least this time around the supposedly liberal MSM seem more willing to note the astroturfed nature of the Tea Party II protests. (And WTF do assault rifles have to do with anything?) But Trump and the rest of the GOPs, will campaign as on the side of freedumb against blue state style shutdowns, on the side of real ‘Muricans against blue state socialism and fiscal profligacy.

    Trump is flying on impulse, but you can be sure that deep in the black heart of the Kochtopus highly skilled people are polling and focus grouping this.

    3
  7. JohnMcC says:

    @gVOR08: Up vote not quite enough. I’d come to the same conclusion: That to some extent the ‘stay-at-home orders’ are welcomed because it feel right that there is someone to give the order’. But like grown children, we each are finding our own mixture of strict quarantine and necessary things getting done. And that will continue and that it depends on the sense of security-v-fear of the large run of our fellow Americans.

    It’s going to be a slow, trial-and-error transition that’s pretty much leaderless. At least til January.

    4
  8. de stijl says:

    @95 South:

    You are truly speaking truth to power in calling out commenters on an obscure politics blog on confirmation bias.

    You are Rosa frakking Parks of the 21st century.

    (Sorry y’all about the “obscure” but it is true.)

    6
  9. Modulo Myself says:

    @95 South:

    Lol. McConnell is out there telling states to go bankrupt, and wingnut welfare prole goons are following his lead and going after the main villains–greedy teachers and their pensions. People like you worship power and bullshit, and then expect to be treated charitably as if you weren’t a selfish little whiner.

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  10. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: If “muh FREEEDUM!” types are insistent on DeSantis opening up Florida again and are willing to be the guinea pigs as to whether COVID-19 is waiting around the corner about to come roaring back…I’m not going to complain. The worst that will happen is that they will kill themselves off.

    (Someone’s got to be the first goat trotting through the minefield. At least this way they’re all volunteers.)

    1
  11. Modulo Myself says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The worst that will happen is that they will kill themselves off.

    No way Trump or his supporters will believe that people died. They don’t think he told people to inject themselves with bleach, and mass death is a freaking statistic.

    1
  12. 95 South says:

    @de stijl: You’re overstating it. I’m no Rosa Parks.

  13. charon says:

    We are starting to get data on how, in practice, the disease is transmitted – primarily by droplets caused by coughing, sneezing or speaking. (When people speak, droplets of saliva get expelled/projected). So the disease travels through HVAC systems or by people talking. (Very little indication of transmission outdoors or by touching contaminated surfaces).

    So places the disease spreads include cruise ships, nursing homes, prisons, churches, meetings, hospitals, households etc. Not actually much danger associated with outdoor exercise.

    3
  14. de stijl says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Back that off a bit.

    Many Floridians who just want to get by will be sickened and some will die by De Santis’ and the re-open fools’ actions.

    You cast your net way too wide.

    It is not just the re-open protesters that might get infected, but everyone else they contact. Innocents.

    Plus, being wrong on internal politics is not a death sentence.

    I agree that actions should have consequences, but innocents must be spared.

    2
  15. de stijl says:

    @95 South:

    Perhaps don’t front as if then.

  16. charon says:

    @charon:

    hospitals,

    Because of not enough PPE availability, part of having a verkakte federal government.

  17. 95 South says:

    @de stijl: Calling out people who let their partisanship damage their humanity? You did the same thing one comment earlier. Let’s both keep fighting for truth on this obscure website.

    1
  18. de stijl says:

    @95 South:

    Back that up.

    How did I do that?

    2
  19. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If “muh FREEEDUM!” types are insistent on DeSantis opening up Florida again and are willing to be the guinea pigs as to whether COVID-19 is waiting around the corner about to come roaring back…I’m not going to complain. The worst that will happen is that they will kill themselves off.

    Umh, they might also kill me.

    Although likely not soon. I’ll still be partially isolating on my own initiative. I don’t care if DeSantis reopens the gyms, I ain’t going. Eventually I’ll need a haircut, but they’ll have to work around the mask.

    We do have to face the fact that suppression measures won’t keep us from getting it, they save lives by stringing it out so we don’t all hit the ER at the same time. Until we have widespread, effective vaccination or herd immunity, we’ll keep getting it. Vaccination isn’t coming soon and herd immunity happens when most of us have already had it. So I’ll take reasonable precautions, aware I’ll probably eventually get it anyway. And I’ll mask and glove as a courtesy to others as long as not too many people look at me funny.

    3
  20. charon says:
  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: No problem. I recognize obscure, too. 😉

    ETA: @95 South: And apparently, you have no ability to recognize irony and sarcasm, either.

    But you’re right. You definitely are NO Rosa Parks.

    4
  22. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Back when Memeorandum used to list linked articles, we had cred.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @95 South: Specks of dust, motes in eyes, etc etc. A puddle of water will serve as a mirror.

    1
  24. de stijl says:

    @95 South:

    This ain’t a bus in Montgomery.

    1
  25. 95 South says:

    @de stijl: You just called out Grumpy Realist for partisan callousness.

  26. 95 South says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I thought my reply was funny. “I’m no Rosa Parks?” That’s great. Can’t you recognize sarcasm? Anyone who can’t tell that was facetious shouldn’t be calling anyone else out.

    1
  27. de stijl says:

    @95 South:

    Yes. I did.

    You think this applies, but I do not get it.

    Not even going to try to falsely interpret. That would be rude.

    You are after some take I cannot see clearly. Please illuminate.

  28. 95 South says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: See, it’s actually complicated. De Stijl gave me very little to work with. “You are the Rosa frakking Parks of the 21st century.” Not funny, but also there’s nothing obviously funny to do with it.

    I have to reply, because it was obnoxious, and I’m locked indoors and I have nothing better to do. But how? I can’t go low, throwing a name-calling fit like Modulo did, because I’m a better person than that. I can’t go high, as if I’m respecting de stijl’s comment. No high, no low. I have to go straight ahead. Full Michael Scott. “I’m no Rosa Parks.” I fail to take the bait, and make the other guy spell out his sarcasm, which never comes off well.

    See, a joke is setup and payoff. Expectation and subversion. People like Modulo and de stijl are being over-the-top so I have to go deadpan. And it was Modulo who suggested the angle by calling conservatives sociopaths. What’s more sociopathic than treating a comparison with Rosa Parks as if it’s serious? I could have acted like I thought I deserved to be compared to Rosa Parks, or I think I’m better than her, but the commenters have such a low opinion of conservatives that they’d believe it. So I reply as if I’ve considered the comparison and find it flawed. Expectation, subversion.

    And whoever gave a thumbs up vote to you saying I’m definitely no Rosa Parks looks like he’s five steps behind the joke.

  29. de stijl says:

    Working back up the thread, I think I might see your POV.

    Do not want to put words in your mouth, though.

  30. 95 South says:

    @de stijl: To spell this out: it doesn’t faze me if you complain about me calling out people for blind or malicious partisanship because I think it’s the right thing to do. It looks to me like you even agree with me, given the way you called out grumpy realist. In any normal context, a comment that Floridians deserve to die because of their governor would be met with an uproar, but there’s something really toxic brewing. I grew up around liberals. They’ve made policy choices I disagree with, but they were motivated by compassion. My dad would never have said what grumpy realist did. He would have taken them as fighting words. I don’t see compassionate liberalism any more.

    1
  31. Teve says:

    There are hundreds of thousands more Dems here in Florida than Republicans. Problem is, while 16% of Americans are elderly, over 20% of Floridians are. And they have nothing better to do than sit around and watch Laura Ingraham and get all angered up and then go vote against that communist traitor Nancy Pelosi. The GOP does their usual voter suppression shit here, but lately it’s pissed off so many black people that they have turned out even more. Florida is slowly turning blue, despite the elderly distortion.

    2
  32. Jax says:

    @95 South: Of course there’s something toxic brewing. Republican’s have been working on it for at least 40 years, culminating in el Trumpo the Dumbo. The dog has caught the car, during a pandemic. Millions of people could die, thanks to Republican sychophancy and willingness to burn it all down to hold on to power. They don’t even care that it’s their own voters.

    Spare me your “My Dad’s compassionate liberalism wouldn’t look like this” hand-wringing. What has compassionate liberalism gotten us in the age of Trump?! More effing Trump, on TV, telling people to inject/drink disinfectant, picking petty fights with state governor’s who do not sufficiently kiss his ass. Health care worker’s dying for lack of protective gear. Meanwhile, Jared effing Kushner is selling it out the back door.

    My empathy for Trump voters has reached it’s maximum. Ohhhhh, I’m SO SORRY you can’t get your roots done, Karen, and OMG, those nails….get a freakin clue. You can recover from bad roots, ratty fingernails, and unemployment, but do you know what’s really hard to recover from?

    Being dead.

    7
  33. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The worst that will happen is that they will kill themselves off.

    It doesn’t work that way. In the long run, “sort of quarantine” is almost indistinguishable from “no quarantine”. Either almost everyone participates, or in the end everyone is infected. It might take longer, but that’s where it goes. It does not take very many defectors (in the game theory sense) to ruin it for everyone.

    Plus, the idea that state boundaries are relevant to the spread of the virus is about as confused as the idea that cigarette smoke respects the boundary between the smoking section and the non-smoking section of your restaurant.

    2
  34. Kurtz says:

    @95 South:

    What would constitute a non-partisan idea in this particular crisis?

    Is every criticism of a Republican by a Democrat, and vice versa, inherently blijd partisanship?

    Is there anyway to not be partisan about a pressing issue?

    How bad would a decision by Trump have to be for you to not label criticism of it “partisan.”

    Is David Frum’s criticism of McConnell’s push to force insolvent states to declare bankruptcy “partisan?”

    5
  35. 95 South says:

    @Kurtz: I’m not complaining about partisanship, but letting it blind you or as an excuse for hatred. Trump isn’t a partisan, because he doesn’t believe in anything and has no loyalty but he’s a bad person. This is a political site so the conversations are going to be partisan. Theyy don’t have to be blind or malicious. They can be conversations, where people hear each other and consider other points of view. Read Modulo’s first comment. Blind. When I called him out on it, he replied, “People like you worship power and bullshit, and then expect to be treated charitably as if you weren’t a selfish little whiner.” Intellectually, Modulo’s making himself little better than an animal. I’m not saying that to make me look better. I don’t care about that, you all probably hate me and it doesn’t affect my life at all. But someone hast to tell you you’re are regularly saying things that sound like your dreaded Trumpists. Somewhere there’s a batshit conservative site where they’re debating whether we should let all New Yorkers die because they voted for Cuomo. Outside The Beltway is no better. Grumpy Realist is making himself morally equivalent to Trumpists.

    1
  36. Kathy says:

    On related news, Sir Richard is looking for a buyer for Virgin Atlantic, as the UK government has refused to bail it out. Delta already owns 49%, and I think British law prevents it from acquiring more.

    On this side of the Atlantic, Boeing pulled out of a joint venture/merger with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. This leaves Boeing with zero prospects for a small jet in the foreseeable future. Embraer makes the E and E2 series of regional/small jets, which are quite successful and flown by airlines all over the world.

    Embraer claims Boeing was not justified by the terms of previous negotiations, and this may well be so. Boeing is suffering from the continued grounding of the 737 MAX line, and now the pandemic. Already a couple of Asian airlines have traded orders for the up´coming 777-X line for 787-9 and 787-10 models, and others all over are talking about it. this is not what you want to hear about a new line in the final stages of testing prior to certification. But the 787s are likely cheaper, proven, and they speak to a widely held forecast of reduced capacity in travel after the pandemic burns out.

    2
  37. grumpy realist says:

    @95 South: You’re the one who’s interpreted my complaints as being against Republicans. Where did I mention a word about Republicans?

    I’m against stupids–no more, no less.

    Your interpreting my comment as being against Republicans shows exactly what your own mind thinks of them.

    2
  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    @95 South: I read the initial comment you responded to as very partisan, yes. And a sort of hyperbolic description of a kind of person. Not a depiction of reality per se, but more an expression of frustration. Something that can easily be glossed over.

    Expressions like that are extremely common on the internet. Sometimes I challenge them, but mostly I don’t. I don’t perceive it to make much difference. It isn’t meant to be a statement of fact, or a parsing of data for fact. So my pushback doesn’t make me feel better, or them.

    It stung you for some reason, and you decided to respond. Now, I consider you pretty bright, and observant. And you give us your actual thoughts, rather than talking points. I find this valuable, in spite of our different political stances.

    Here’s the thing. I think it would be much better if you dug into the reason why some comment stung you. This can make one feel pretty vulnerable, and there’s no reason to expect you can share this with us. But if you can, that would be valuable.

    For instance, you might be the sort of person who normally would travel a lot and have a lot of business meetings with clients. You might be completely shut down now, and feeling very threatened by it. I would have a lot of sympathy for someone in that situation, regardless of their politics.

    I have no clue whatsoever about how to get such a person back to work, back to contributing to society, back to their mojo. But it is something we need to at least think about.

    2
  39. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    Are you in the aviation industry?

    You know a lot about this.

  40. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I wish!

    I just read a lot about it. I’ve been interested in commercial aviation for a long time

    1
  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @95 South:
    As I explained to you with great patience once before, you fall into one of two categories: Liar or Moron.

    Trump is a pathological liar. You support him. Either you don’t know he’s a pathological liar in which case you’re a moron. Or you know he’s a liar and don’t care, in which case you, too, are a liar.

    But pretending to be concerned about partisanship suggests one other possibility: comedian.

    1
  42. Kurtz says:

    @95 South:

    @Jay L. Gischer said.

    Now, I consider you pretty bright, and observant. And you give us your actual thoughts, rather than talking points. I find this valuable, in spite of our different political stances.

    So when you say things like:

    I don’t care about that, you all probably hate me and it doesn’t affect my life at all.

    It doesn’t compute. Multiple people responded to your comments on a recent thread by saying they think you’re smart and that you don’t seem to be a troll.

    I, for one, can be aggressive at times, but I also don’t think you’re dumb. You do, however, show the signs of someone who holds positions long after they are demonstrated to be untenable.

    The first interaction you and I had here illustrates this perfectly. It was about Taylor’s data about Congressional inaction. You didn’t complete your argument despite being asked to do so multiple times. You took steps one and two, but not step three. In a casual conversation, that’s fine. In a debate about interpretation of data, that is not fine.

    That, to me, is the frustrating thing about you. Well, that and the fact that your tone is a little trollish. Some of what you say is a little like the bright freshman in the back of the class. It’s that combination that leads people around here to respond the way they do. I can’t say that I am always better than the most aggressive commenters here, but I try.

    But someone hast to tell you you’re are regularly saying things that sound like your dreaded Trumpists. Somewhere there’s a batshit conservative site where they’re debating whether we should let all New Yorkers die because they voted for Cuomo. Outside The Beltway is no better. Grumpy Realist is making himself morally equivalent to Trumpists.

    This is exactly the type of comment that I find disingenuous. If you can’t see the difference between saying let the New Yorkers die and most of the comments here, it appears thst you are protecting/hiding something that you would rather not say.

    Ditto the conversation about the sacrifice the weak vs I love dead fetuses signs. When you refuse to believe that the former sign was serious, despite the notion being plausible given the public comments by a few elected officials and the subsequent agreement from some TV personalities. The latter sign just doesn’t exist.

    It’s as if you are confusing skepticism and contrarianism. Again, that’s only somethinf you can answer. You aren’t obligated of course, but when you interpret comments made here as hyper-partisan, it helps to explain yourself a little more.

    The comment about sociopaths not wanting anyone else to have anything has a similar trajectory. That isn’t directed at all Republicans. But it does describe people like the Kochs and Trump. I doubt anybody here would say that about rando Kansan in a trailer park. But that guy is a voter, not a political pro.

    On Trump, you’re technically right that he isn’t a partisan… At least in the traditional sense. But he behaves like a partisan now, because he is in a position that he perceives as deamnding partisanship. So functionally, he is.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I hope you understand my criticism as something a little different from what you seem to think it is.

    2
  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kurtz:
    The ability to write coherent sentences is not evidence that he’s not a troll. The metric here is not fluency, or even intelligence, it’s honesty. He’s not representing an honest point of view, he’s here to lie for Trump. If interacting with him amuses you, cool. But don’t kid yourself that he even processes your points, he doesn’t care what you have to say, there is literally no argument you could possibly advance that would alter his position. Debate with a liar is a waste of time.

  44. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I guess I just don’t see him that way.

    Hope you’re enjoying your hermit days.

    1
  45. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I told you, I’m not s Trump supporter. That makes you, by your standard, a liar or an idiot. Or are you going to show where I said I support Trump?

    I don’t need an elaborate apology, by the way. You could just say that you don’t pay a lot of attention when you get on a tear, and you’ve let yourself get so confined into your narrow way of thinking that you can’t relate to people as they really are. Something like that. You could add that you’ve realized your fundamental way of thinking has been so wrong that you suspect you may have been wrong on everything, so you’ve decided to reconsider Christianity.

    And there was the $10 that I said I’d give to the Nashville Rescue Mission if you could show where I’m a Trump supporter. I asked that you’d make the donation if you couldn’t show that. The longer you keep from proving it either way, the longer the poor go without their money. So maybe you could apologize to them as well.

  46. 95 South says:

    @Kurtz: There are several people who comment thoughtfully on this site. I don’t mean to put them in the same category. I’ve read some smart observations from you, and I always remember to thumbs up vote for them even if I don’t always reply.

    I said ad nauseum that I thought the Congressional inaction article was a misuse of data. If it was written by a layman I would have made my observation and nothing more. From a political scientist, it was worth more emphasis. A paper with weak methodology doesn’t have to be refuted to merit retraction. Pointing out the flaw in the methodology is sufficient.

    I don’t believe that anyone showed an example of a pro-lifer saying something like “Sacrifice the Weak”. The phrasing is significant. You may think that the lieutenant governor’s statement was the moral equivalent. I don’t. But in no case can I believe that a pro-lifer would have written “Sacrifice the Weak” without someone providing proof of it. It’s as improbable as an “I Love Dead Fetuses” sign at a Biden rally.

    The New Yorkers example was pretty close to word-for-word what others have said about Floridians.

    ETA: Ditto Jay L Gischer. A reliably good read. If I cast a wide net complaining about the commenters on Outside the Beltway, it’s because I really would rather not get personal. Michael Reynolds has attacked me personally, so I don’t see an option.

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  47. @95 South:

    I said ad nauseum that I thought the Congressional inaction article was a misuse of data. If it was written by a layman I would have made my observation and nothing more. From a political scientist, it was worth more emphasis. A paper with weak methodology doesn’t have to be refuted to merit retraction. Pointing out the flaw in the methodology is sufficient.

    Since you wish to impugn, let me note you never made a coherent argument nor any serious refutation of a single thing I said on that thread.

    You made no “methodological” critique.

    Quite frankly, you seemed not to understand what you were talking about despite numerous attempts by me to ask to you to clarify.

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  48. @95 South:

    I told you, I’m not s Trump supporter.

    Except for the fact that you often defend the administration (like in the post about Harrison at HHS, to name a recent example) and that you always seem to criticize criticism of the admin.

    You come across as a defender of Trump, even while claiming not to be a supporter.

    3
  49. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It means I’m capable of making my own decisions. I don’t like the man but I’m not going to insult his staff as dog-breeders if I don’t know anything about them. I’m not going to believe a drug works because he says so but I’m not going to swear to it that it doesn’t work because he says so. If I hear that he as up to $15000 in a company that makes the drug, I’m not going to accuse him of promoting the drug for personal gain. There’s a whole world between black and white, and the people who can’t see it are the fanatics.

  50. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Except for the fact that you often defend the administration (like in the post about Harrison at HHS, to name a recent example) and that you always seem to criticize criticism of the admin.

    I’m sure that 95_South will say that they never actively defend the administration — i.e. mount a positive argument in defense of it. And that would be, as far as I can tell, correct.

    However, your second observation is dead on. For the most part they tend to engage in what the editors of ArcDigital have labeled the “anti-anti-Trump move” – that subset of conservative intellectuals never directly and positively praise or defend the administration, but they constantly attack criticisms against it.

    Which gets to a broader pattern for 95_South, they rarely, if ever tell us what they positively believe (i.e. support). They simply tell us what they don’t support (i.e. Trump or “the media”). As a result, we are left to try and guess at their beliefs by looking at their actions. The fact that they only contribute in more or less and “Anti-anti-Trump” way (criticizing critique of the administration) makes it read as if they ultimately support the President (no matter what they say).

    This gets to the fact that ultimately, the folks at Arc Digital have come to the conclusion that Anti-Anti-Trumper’s actions make them practically indistinguishable from the President’s direct supporters. Personally I think it’s a pretty compelling argument.

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  51. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    I’m not going to believe a drug works because he says so but I’m not going to swear to it that it doesn’t work because he says so. If I hear that he as up to $15000 in a company that makes the drug, I’m not going to accuse him of promoting the drug for personal gain.

    FWIW, these are both great examples of the Anti-anti-Trump thing. In both cases you tightly define your arguements to ignore that bigger issue — that for a significant period of time (arguably far longer than the available medical evidence justified) the President used his bully pulpit to promote an unproven treatment in desperate hopes of having a short term solution to a problem. Let’s also note how quickly that behavior stopped once the evidence became overwhelming… but then again he switch to UV light and Disinfectants (or are you going to carefully explain how he didn’t actually suggest that people should inject themselves with bleach… because you’re right, he didn’t specifically say those words).

    At no point do I remember you ever positively stating your position on that point. If you did say you thought that behavior was inappropriate in a comment, please point me to it and I’ll retract that comment.

    But, if you didn’t, and decided to critique on those narrow points (the latter one I agree with you on, I don’t think the President’s promotion of Plaquenil had anything to do with a financial stake), then I hope you could see how your interactions would be taken as support of the overall behavior.

    (I can understand why you might not consider that a fair reading.)

    1
  52. @95 South:

    It means I’m capable of making my own decisions. I don’t like the man but I’m not going to insult his staff as dog-breeders if I don’t know anything about them.

    Except that isn’t what you did. You started out simply posting his HHS bio. You didn’t start out by saying, “Hey, maybe you are over-emphasizing the dog breeder issue. Here is a reason/argument…”

    No, you make us guess as to your point. You then tend to get belligerent/acting in an adversarial manner.

    All the while insisting you don’t support the admin.

    1
  53. @mattbernius: Yes, anti-anti-Trump fits.

  54. 95 South says:

    I’m feeling more like an ombudsman than a partisan. My object is rarely the issue as much as the lack of perspective Outside the Beltway shows toward an issue. I don’t know if a drug works but I can see people saying it doesn’t based solely on their hatred of Trump. It’s unhealthy to have a site operate like that.

    I’m distinguishable from a Trump supporter because I don’t support Trump. I’m indistinguishable only if you think that every story needs to be accusations against Trump. I’m distinguishable if you listen. If you don’t believe in listening that’s on you.

    I’m not going to affect policy from this obscure site, and I probably won’t persuade anyone on the issues, but someone has to call out insular thinking. Matt, did you comment about Trump probably not promoting the drug for financial reasons? If you did it might have helped the people who’ve lost perspective.

  55. @95 South:

    I’m feeling more like an ombudsman than a partisan.

    Then I would suggest being less belligerent, confrontational, and adversarial. I would also suggest being less personal in your interchanges.

    How about providing evidence and argument?

    Just popping and being contrary isn’t productive nor persuasive.

    Anybody can go on the internet and just shout that other people are wrong. That isn’t providing “perspective.”

    If you don’t believe in listening that’s on you.

    I accept that you don’t support Trump. I will note, however, that almost all of the time you are defending Trump or the Trump position.

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  56. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    How about providing evidence and argument?

    When I cite specific statistics and cut and paste bios, I’m not being clear enough. When I give you straightforward answers, I don’t use evidence.

    I will note, however, that almost all of the time you are defending Trump or the Trump position.

    “I’d like to send back this sandwich.”
    “What’s wrong with it?”
    “The layer of dog dirt.”
    “But what about the lettuce? It’s fresh. And I used the best mustard. You’re anti-sandwich.”

    You wrote an article that was half about Azar and half mocking a dog-breeder. When I called you out, you admitted that you weren’t giving the dog-breeder the benefit of the doubt, then you complained that I didn’t address the Azar portion. Dog breeding doesn’t disqualify someone for chief of staff, but smearing someone as a dog breeder comes close to disqualifying a thoughtful blogger.

  57. @95 South:

    When I cite specific statistics and cut and paste bios, I’m not being clear enough. When I give you straightforward answers, I don’t use evidence.

    Just posted a number or a link is not an argument. It isn’t even evidence. You aren’t making a case.

    you admitted that you weren’t giving the dog-breeder the benefit of the doubt, then you complained that I didn’t address the Azar portion.

    You are mischaracterizing the exchange. But, that’s par for the course.

    1
  58. @95 South: The main problem with almost all of your comment is that it honestly not entirely clear what your point is save that you want to be contrary.

    You come across as belligerent. Is that your intent? (This is an honest question).

  59. Kurtz says:

    @95 South: @Steven L. Taylor: @mattbernius:

    So Taylor makes a few similar arguments I intended on making, but I spiked the post.

    95, you and I have a decent relationship, so I hope that you will stop and think before you respond. If you think, and still disagree, so be it.

    Bernius makes a pretty good argument about the anti-anti-Trump thing. But I see it as useful in combination with Taylor’s point about the incompleteness of many of your posts. (If you recall, this was something I hammered you on during the congressional in/action discussion.)

    The pattern in your posts is plain to see. It’s important to keep in mind that many people will claim to not be x, but take the same positions as x. So, others tend to be skeptical when someone’s claim of non-support appears contrary to the rest of their claims.

    It’s fine to attempt to fill the role of ombudsman, but that requires the willingness to deliver nuanced criticisms by exploring potential distinctions between x and y. Your posts are typically not detailed enough to do enough to reach that goal.

    The dog-breeder thing:

    If anything, Trump’s tendency to appoint officials with zero experience in the department’s purview, hostility to the department itself, or in the case of federal judges, underqualication in terms of experience, dictates closer scrutiny of any appointment.

    In this case, what you see as reflexive opposition due to hatred, is much more likely reflective of past appointments–Wheeler, Perry, and Carson come to mind, all for different reasons. Interestingly, Tillerson’s appointment to State was more justifiable than any of those three, and most people don’t think his tenure was successful.

    The overall point here is to get you to understand that even when you make solid points, they aren’t complete. Your frequent unwillingness to engage questions and your tone doesn’t really serve your stated goals. I hope you can take this to heart, because it isn’t coming from a place of hostility.

    1
  60. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:
    Nicely put. I cosign.

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  61. @Kurtz: On point. Thanks.

    1
  62. 95 South says:

    Here’s my problem. On the Undercounting Deaths thread, a guy named Nightcrawler wrote:

    It’s even worse than that. They’re “opening up” because they don’t want to pay UI claims. They know they’re going to end up killing millions of people. They don’t care.

    He got four thumbs up, one thumbs down.
    He also wrote,

    The only “positive” will be that by the time it happens, the red states won’t be in any position to fight back. Half their populations are going to be dead, and their infrastructure will be in ruins. As the body count mounts, people are going to go nuts and start rioting, burning down cities. The feds will send in military to shoot all of them, but their bodily fluids will spread the disease even more quickly. If the feds decide to nuke those cities, well, you can expect secession of the blue states to happen pretty much two hours later.

    At least he got 0 up 3 down, but there was no thread derailment talking about how disturbing his fantasy was, or even that the blue states are getting hit much harder than the red ones. I’m not fantasizing about the death tolls. I pray that we get through the crisis with as few deaths in any state as possible.

    Steven wrote an article called “Only the Best People, Part ???”. He discussed two people, one of whom he cited as a labradoodle breeder turned leader of the coronavirus response team. He left out the man had been deputy chief of staff for the department for two years, and never demonstrated that he was leading the coronavirus response team. Where’s the discussion of Steven’s incompleteness?

  63. @95 South:

    never demonstrated that he was leading the coronavirus response team

    The article explicitly stated, and I quoted it to you, that he was coordinating the coronavirus response when Azar was the lead of the taskforce before Pence took over:

    Shortly after his televised comments, Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19.

    Source.

    You never gave much in the way of a positive argument as to why he ought to do that job, save that he had had some prior experience in the federal government. Given the nature of the outbreak in Wuhan, it is quite clear that the administration did a poor job of handling it. The fact that someone with an economics degree whose more recent work experience was with a dog breeding firm prior to returning to government is a problem in my opinion. You are free to think otherwise.

    And the context matters. Trump has had a string of questionable, if not downright incompetent people in positions of significance. That context matters, especially since the title of the post was a riff on him saying that he would only have “the best people.”

    The only point that you appear to make, on what is hardly the most important or in-depth post I have ever written, is that he wasn’t just a guy who worked at a dog breeding firm.

    Great. True.

    The questions are, however:

    Should he have been in charge of the day-to-day operations of coronavirus response?

    What does it say about this administration and its competence that he was?

    And does he represent “the best people”? in terms of whom we would want in government at a time like this?

  64. @95 South: And yes, Nightcrawler’s comment is full of hyperbole. Feel free to take him to task, as that is what the comments are for.

    1
  65. One last note, Harrison had been out of government working at the dog breeding firm for six years.

    It is really difficult to make the argument that he was well-positioned to take on the task that he was assigned.

    While I accept that you are not a Trump supporter, it is your dogged defense of things like this that make you seem like one.

    BTW: I fully allow that I could be wrong, and Harrison was perfect for the job. I would just like evidence beyond an HHS bio (that he or his assistant probably wrote, knowing how these things go) to support that position. Why is that so ridiculous? (Especially in the context of the Trump admin’s staffing record).

    If you want me to admit that his work at the Labradoodle firm, in and of itself, is not disqualifying, I will readily agree.

    But context matters. As does the rest of his resume. Not to mention weighing all of that against the task assigned (and how well it was done, or not done).

  66. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Can you find a reference to Harrison’s leadership outside the Reuters article (or the chain of articles based on it)? It may be true but I can’t find it. There’s a difference between leading a team and managing day-to-day operations. Also, his most recent job before being chief of staff wasn’t dog breeding. It was deputy chief of staff.

  67. @95 South:

    Also, his most recent job before being chief of staff wasn’t dog breeding. It was deputy chief of staff.

    And I noted: “Harrison had been out of government working at the dog breeding firm for six years.”

    This would be inclusive of his deputy time. He came back to work in the government in 2018. So, six years at a dog breeding firm, this a brief stint as deputy, then chief of staff.

    There’s a difference between leading a team and managing day-to-day operations

    Which I why I clarified that point quite some time ago. It still matters. If I delegate an important task to one of my Associate Deans to run on a day-to-day basis, then it sure would be nice if they had some background of relevance.

    Again: why are you arguing this so vociferously? What is your point?

    What is it that you are trying to get me to say?

    I have been clear: there is a pattern of poor hires. This appears to be a poor hire. Also the poor policy response is indicative of poor hires.

    How is any of that wrong?

    Can you find a reference to Harrison’s leadership outside the Reuters article (or the chain of articles based on it)? It may be true but I can’t find it

    So, what in Heaven’s name are you basing your position on?

    I am belaboring this because it underscores why you can come across as frustrating. You are trying to negate a point I have made (and indeed, see this point as some huge error that others ought to also be piling on me about) and yet you can’t articulate why I am wrong. You have no evidence to present.

    I acknowledge that the Labradoodle thing along is not disqualifying, but still note a broader, problematic pattern.

    I am happy to change my mind, but it requires evidence and logic to convince me. Not just a link without explanation and then paragraph after paragraph of negativity without any additional reasons or evidence.

  68. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Harrison had been out of government for 6 years. He then spent 18 months as deputy chief of staff then became chief of staff. Do you truly believe that an average reader would have have the same impression of Harrison if you wrote that? If your son were trying to get hired as an electrician, would you advise him to leave “18 months apprentice electrician” off the resume?

    Can you find a reference to Harrison’s leadership outside the Reuters article (or the chain of articles based on it)? It may be true but I can’t find it

    That’s me being generous and fact-based. I’m not going to say that he isn’t leading the task force, because I can’t find any proof beyond the Wikipedia page. I wouldn’t use Wikipedia as a source. So I have Wikipedia and you have the labradoodle hit piece. Somewhere there’s an authoritative answer. This is a government post after all. I’m not going to shoot you down because I could be wrong. On the other hand, if I wrote an article claiming that someone heads a federal task force and the only support I could find was one sneering newspaper article, I’d dig further before submitting, or at least I’d dig when someone questioned it afterwards.

    In summary, in questioning your article, I cited his HHS bio as authoritative proof that he was deputy chief of staff (which you omitted from your article) and I said that I couldn’t verify your claim that he was heading the task force. That’s sufficient to raise doubts about your article.

  69. @95 South:

    Do you truly believe that an average reader

    I would expect the average reader to click through and read the Reuters piece, which contains the info you note.

    So. basically, you are just being contrarian.

  70. @95 South: Here’s a way that you might have approached this:

    I think you are being unfair pointing out the Labradoodle angle. Don’t you think that his 18 months as deputy chief of staff, plus his prior federal government experience, make him qualified for this job?

    Are you over-reacting to the Reuters headline, perhaps.

    Even better would be demonstrating why you think this, but the above would have been a lot more engaging.

  71. Essentially, you think he deserves the benefit of the doubt and I am less inclined to give it given this admin’s overall track record (especially on the Covid-19 response).

  72. 95 South says:

    We’re arguing over how I commented about an article that didn’t mention relevant experience rather than how you wrote it?

  73. 95 South says:

    You know how a reader can decide if the decision to promote deserves the benefit of the doubt? You can mention his prior position and correctly describe his current position.

  74. @95 South: Your dedication to protecting Mr. Harrison’s reputation is noted.

    As is your inability to do anything other than essentially repeat the same thing over and over.