Thursday Forum

The end of the world as we know it?

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    For most of this year up to now, betting markets have considered Trump a favorite for reelection. But his chances plunged in the past week, and just in the past day or so they’ve slipped below 50%, making him nearly even with Biden.

    Hillary Clinton is now given a higher chance of becoming the Democratic nominee this year than Bernie Sanders.

    1
  2. Kari Q says:

    After Trump’s speech last night, I checked a couple of conservative sites to see what the commenters thought. I was hoping to get the immediate, unfiltered, unprepped reactions, before the talking points were decided on.

    There were articles up, but no comments for quite some time. I got the impression they were all staring at the screens, experiencing cognitive dissonance as a unit. They had just spent days calling it a hoax, only to have it’s reality confirmed, and they didn’t know what they were supposed to think. The recalibration was palpable, but slow.

    I’m sure they have the tactics figured out by now. But for a time, they were collectively speechless.

    5
  3. M. Bouffant says:

    As we know it? Could well be. Not everything will revert to its prior state.

    Possible changes in political campaigning & voting (vote-by-mail may get a real boost) & just because it happened in an election yr.

    Sports reporters are already worried they’ll never again have locker room access.

    You professor-types will know more about what the sudden switch to on-line classes will do.

  4. Paine says:

    I could barely stomach that address last night. The guy who politicized the 2014 Ebola outbreak and criticized Obama’s use of a teleprompter using a teleprompter to tell us not to politicize this crisis…

    8
  5. Scott says:

    Our overseas military members and families are basically frozen in place for 60 days.

    Pentagon officials announced significant restrictions on service member and family travel worldwide amid a series of new White House initiatives released Wednesday to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus throughout the United States.

    Effective Friday, all troops, military civilian employees and family members traveling to or from locations with widespread transmission of the illness, designated “Warning Level 3” (which at the moment include Italy, South Korea and China) will “stop movement” for the next 60 days, per a memo signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The perfect time for an Iranian escalation.

  7. mattbernius says:

    Someone recently asked on another thread “what has Trump gotten wrong so far that some other administration wouldn’t have?”

    How about getting 3 major policy statements things wrong in a *7-minute national address read directly from a teleprompter* requiring immediate walk-backs by White House staff.

    4
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius:

    “what has Trump gotten wrong so far that some other administration wouldn’t have?”

    Why do I suspect that question was met with a chorus of “EVERYTHING!!!”

    1
  9. Tyrell says:

    One thing that I would like to know: is Bernie on Medicare now? If not, why not? Well, if he was, he might be surprised to see what all it does not cover, and that a lot of doctors do not take Medicare patients. What Bernie needs to do is to offer the people some sort of voucher plan that they can use to buy the health plan of their choice. Bernie seems to be forgetting about the Affordable Health Care plan, which is overall better than the Medicare. Bernie can do better than to propose forcing Medicare on everyone. It is okay as a choice.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Stock market trading suspended. Again.

    1
  11. Slugger says:

    The travel ban on Europeans makes a bit of sense; although, since there are cases in almost every state (Iowa has 13, etc), it feels a bit like locking barn doors after the horse has been stolen. However, I don’t understand the UK exemption. Yesterday they had just under 500 cases.

  12. Teve says:

    @Slugger: Trump has properties in the UK?

    1
  13. Tyrell says:

    Spring is springing as winter left quickly: warm, sunny days ahead will have everyone outdoors for fresh air and some Vitamin D. People are already in shorts and sandals. Soon here it will be 90+. The sun will blast away any remaining germs, viruses, bacteria. Then the problems will be sunburn, insect bites, stings, sharks, and snakes. People will start complaining about the heat.
    Time for the beach!
    “Under the boardwalk, down by the sea” (The Drifters)

    1
  14. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Tyrell:

    lot of doctors do not take Medicare patients

    Is that you just spouting BS or do you have a reliable source for that?

    1
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Slugger: @Teve:
    Don’t forget that Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes have property in London and pass through Heathrow en route to American medical care.

    2
  16. reid says:

    @Kylopod: I’m been amazed that such a horrible president and person is over 50% re-election probability. In a sane world, only complete nutballs would vote for him and his odds would be 5%. (Actually, it would be 0%, because only 5% of the people would vote for him.) Now with the markets in turmoil and a pandemic crisis unfolding, it’s still close to 50%?! My countrymen are morons.

    4
  17. James Joyner says:

    @Tyrell:

    One thing that I would like to know: is Bernie on Medicare now? If not, why not? Well, if he was, he might be surprised to see what all it does not cover, and that a lot of doctors do not take Medicare patients. What Bernie needs to do is to offer the people some sort of voucher plan that they can use to buy the health plan of their choice.

    Bernie is a dude from Vermont who has 1/100 of a say of what gets passed through one house in a bicameral legislature. He wanted to get elected President but, in both 2016 and 2020, the Democratic nominating electorate said Nah.

    But, in fairness to Sanders, he’s not proposing to extend the CURRENT Medicare plan to all Americans. Rather, he wants to REPLACE THE ENTIRE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF HEALTH CARE with a single-payer system in which the government sets the rates for every doctor and hospital in the country. I think that’s a bad idea! But doctors would have no choice but to take “Medicare” if Sanders’s plan were enacted because private insurance wold be outlawed. Which, again, I think is a bad idea. Thankfully, it ain’t gonna happen.

    4
  18. Mister Bluster says:

    Brazilian official who met with Trump last weekend tests positive for coronavirus.
    CNN

    Brazil communications secretary, who met Trump, tests positive for coronavirus: Estado de S.Paulo

    reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-brazil/brazil-communications-secretary-who-met-trump-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-estado-de-s-paulo-idUSKBN20Z2K1

    He posted a pic standing next to Trump and Pence

  19. Kari Q says:

    Why assuming that covid-19 will go away with warm weather is far from certain. Short answer, it’s not the flu and may not behave like it.

    I certainly hope it does. If that happens, it will give us a few months to prepare for the likely reemergence in fall.

    5
  20. MarkedMan says:

    I have no problem with a little good natured trolling. Saying outrageous things just to get a response has a long history on the internets, and as long as it is not mean or vicious, well, c’est la guerre. But trolling about a virus that will kill so many is poor form.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: I’m on Medicare, and damned glad I am, thank you. I’m in FL, any doctor around here who doesn’t take Medicare is looking at a pretty small customer base.

    2
  22. DrDaveT says:

    @reid:

    In a sane world, only complete nutballs would vote for him and his odds would be 5%.

    In a conversation last night (about whether to cancel an event, as it happens), a person that I had not previously thought to be either a nutball or a moron said “I like Trump in general, but I don’t think he handled this virus thing well.”

    Trumpvirus is apparently already at endemic levels.

    3
  23. reid says:

    @DrDaveT: Yes, I too know people that are not stupid and yet like Trump. It’s frightening that we’re living in a country where things have led us to this reality. The underlying problems are not going away when Trump exits.

    1
  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kari Q:

    The other day, Kathy mentioned that there were few confirmed cases in Mexico City. If that continues to be accurate and it is related to the warmer climate of MC, that would be encouraging.

    As we knew Tiny is a dumb s……

    1
  25. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    the last count is 15 for the whole country, no deaths reported yet.

    IMO, this has more to do with the lower numbers of international visitors to Mexico as compared with the US and Europe.

    BTW, testing is incredibly low. there’s no way to tell how many cases there actually are. thus far, too, his majesty the president has not spoken much about the subject. I’m taking precautions as if anyone I come across is a potential carrier.

    1
  26. Scott says:

    @Kathy: On the other hand, it is Spring Break. May not be where you are but the potential for the mixing of dangerous pathogens is high.

  27. Erik says:

    @Sleeping Dog: sadly I don’t think we can rely on the warm weather all that much, else Australia and other Southern Hemisphere countries would be fairing better

    1
  28. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    I think Cancun gets more international visitors than Mexico City, especially Europeans. the weather there is warm almost all year long, and hot in Spring and Summer. I haven’t heard of any cases there.

  29. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @M. Bouffant: My experience, both as a teacher and a student, has been that online classes have lower completion rates*. The types of online instruction that I’ve seen mostly in K-12 have some problems with depth and low effects for critical thinking, but that may be mostly related to the bulk being credit recovery classes. But as a short-term, stop-gap measure, the move is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and probably is the best “bad choice available.”

    *A report that I read from a small private college in the 1980s noted a completion rate for correspondence courses at 15%. My guess would be that online courses would have to be higher than that, but attrition seems to still be relatively high compared to classrooms.

  30. Mikey says:

    My daughter just flew from Madrid to JFK airport. She’d been in Madrid for a week, as confirmed infections grew to 1600. I asked if anyone had done any type of questioning or screening when she landed at JFK. “Nope. Apparently having Global Entry means I’m immune! 🙂 “

    1
  31. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: We will need to remember that Tyrell is a former state employee, so when he’s complaining about how bad Medicare is, he’s comparing it to a plan that not only included vision and dental, but was probably among the most generous plans in whatever state he was living in. It was probably what’s being referred to these days as a “Cadillac” plan.

    4
  32. Kari Q says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    You got my hopes up only for @Kathy: to come along and smash them.

    Then I checked Australia – median temperature in Sydney Australia this time of year is 77 degrees, and they are having cases there. Still, I’m hoping that summer will at least mitigate the outbreak.

    1
  33. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @just nutha ignint cracker:
    regardless of Tyrell’s suspected comparison, that does not excuse his disinformation campaign to discredit Medicare.

    Tyrell’s assertion that

    a lot of doctors do not take Medicare patients

    is either based in ignorance or deliberate disinformation.

    1
  34. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    You ought to think of his serene royal majesty Manuel Andres the First as a center-left, less nationalist, less xenophobic, more competent, less stupid version of Donald the Moron. He also takes any crisis or setback as a personal affront to his legacy.

    On other things, as investors remove money from the stock markets, they seem to be seeking shelter in bonds. The problem is those who issue bonds can offer a lower interest rate as demand for bonds goes up, and the interest rates from the various central banks goes down.

    This is affecting my investments. But it’s worth it to keep going. Low interest is better than no interest, or than paying the bank for holding on to the money while I’m not using it.

    2
  35. Kylopod says:

    @reid:

    I’m been amazed that such a horrible president and person is over 50% re-election probability. In a sane world, only complete nutballs would vote for him and his odds would be 5%. (Actually, it would be 0%, because only 5% of the people would vote for him.) Now with the markets in turmoil and a pandemic crisis unfolding, it’s still close to 50%?! My countrymen are morons.

    If we lived in a sane world, Donald Trump would never have been elected in the first place. But we don’t live in that world, and it does no good to dwell on that fact incessantly.

    I agree with the betting markets on this. Up to now I’ve considered Trump a favorite for reelection, and now I view him as an underdog; it’s hard to see how his presidency survives this (and it’s only going to get worse from here). But I also think Dems have picked an exceptionally weak candidate in Biden. This seems obvious to me, and I’ve reached the conclusion that Biden’s supporters are in a state of willful self-deception. Perhaps the betting markets sense it too, making them view Trump as being in a relatively stronger position than he otherwise would be. But probably the real reason his chances haven’t completely tanked yet is that what we’re seeing has only just started; it takes some time to figure out where this is all going, and for the markets to exercise caution is to be expected. His chances have still plunged remarkably quickly, and are continuing to do so as we speak.

    1
  36. Kari Q says:

    Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has canceled an election to replace a retiring Supreme Court judge.

  37. Kari Q says:

    @Kylopod:

    But I also think Dems have picked an exceptionally weak candidate in Biden.

    Maybe. But then, a lot of people genuinely like Biden, so maybe it’s just the “who would you rather have a beer with” vote.

    Biden was not my first, second, or third choice. But by the time I voted, he was the only remaining candidate I could in good conscience vote for.

    Even if I agreed with Bernie on everything, which I don’t, I don’t think he would be a stronger candidate.

    2
  38. Kylopod says:

    @Kari Q:

    But then, a lot of people genuinely like Biden, so maybe it’s just the “who would you rather have a beer with” vote.

    Speaking as someone who has always found Biden personally likable, I think the above statement is a perfect example of seeing what one wants to see.

    In any case, the whole “who would you want to have a beer with” metric has always been empty-headed media pablum. It was used heavily in post-election analyses of 2000 (which is pretty ironic, given that Bush, as a recovered alcoholic, didn’t drink). We’re supposed to believe that because voters found Bush the more friendly, amiable candidate, that’s why Gore won the election too narrowly to prevent it from being stolen by Bush.

    The problem with the Beer Theory isn’t that likability isn’t an asset for a presidential candidate. The problem is that elections aren’t won just by being a certain way; they’re won by what the candidates do. It is absolutely obvious to anyone without their blinkers on that Biden isn’t all there anymore. His mental faculties aren’t what they used to be, and he seems notably lacking in energy. Biden’s defenders seem to imagine that he can just sail to victory on his qualities alone, without having to do much of anything beyond the required minimum.

    That’s a fundamental misunderstanding. You can’t beat the Republicans while in a glass case. They’re just too expert at sliming whoever comes up against them. They’ve done it to literally every Democratic nominee since the Bill Clinton era. They always find an angle, no matter who the candidate is. With the Clintons, it was their “scandals.” With Al Gore, it was his “lies.” With John Kerry, it was the swift-boating. With Obama, it was his “radical associations.”

    Obviously it doesn’t always succeed in destroying a candidate’s electoral chance. But the ones who did manage to win despite the smears (i.e. Bill and Barack) didn’t just sit there and take it. (Of course Obama was helped enormously by running during a massive economic collapse. We may well see something similar happening this year–we could be looking yet again at the sort of election where anyone with a D after their name is practically guaranteed to win. But the last thing we want to do is nominate the sort of candidate who puts that theory to the test.)

    We’re already seeing what the Republicans are going to do with Biden: besides all the Burisma nonsense, they’re going to depict him as a clueless, senile old man. Which is bound to stick at least somewhat because, in this case, there’s more than a kernel of truth to it.

    What, you say it won’t work because Trump is so much worse in terms of age-related decline? Next thing you’re gonna tell me a draft dodger will paint a war hero as a sissy.

    You say Biden is too likable for the public to fall for it. But how well-liked is he? According to RCP’s average, his favorability currently sits at 46.6% positive, 45.6% negative. (That’s an improvement from a month ago, when he was underwater.) Not awful, but nowhere near as good as the 67% positive, 29% negative enjoyed by Hillary Clinton just a couple of years before announcing her second presidential run.

    Like I said, the Republicans excel at sliming people.

    Frankly, I think Biden was always overrated, even when he was younger. His previous two presidential runs were unimpressive, his first one taken out by a (relatively trivial and overblown) plagiarism controversy. His current strength that has helped him through the primaries stems almost entirely from his being vp to the beloved Obama. Dems, in my opinion, dismissed the candidates younger than Biden too quickly, casting them basically as niche figures who couldn’t unify the Democratic coalition the way Joe could. Personally I think this was an illusion stemming mainly from Joe’s greater name recognition. Had any one of those other candidates become the nominee, the party would have unified quite quickly. The past three Democrats to make it to the White House–Obama, Clinton, and Carter–all started out as seeming “niche” figures. You gain a lot of gravitas just by winning the nomination. But gravitas alone does not win elections, and those winning candidates knew it. The scariest thing is that Joe’s supporters seem not to.

    1
  39. Kathy says:

    Good news of sorts. The FAA has waived slot use requirements in US airports.

    This applies to foreign airlines as well, with a caveat. from the article: “This applies to both US and foreign airlines, though the FAA notes that they expect US carriers to be accommodated in a reciprocal fashion by foreign authorities. In the event that a foreign authority doesn’t grant a reciprocal waiver, the US won’t reciprocate either.”

    That’s rather reasonable.

  40. Kari Q says:

    @Kylopod:

    Well that’s rather a lot of ranting to someone who isn’t even a Biden booster. “Likeability?” she said with a shrug when asked why other people voted for Biden. For me, I just thought that since it was Biden or Sanders, Biden had a better chance of being a good president than Sanders.

    “Likeability” is “empty-headed media pablum?” That’s exactly what I would expect from someone who follows politics closely and is driven by policy and a candidate’s demonstrated skill at governing. Most people aren’t. They don’t pay as much attention as you or I and ultimately choose a candidate on vague impressions, including just liking them.

    Am I “seeing what I want to see?” According to a Quinnipiac poll, Biden’s favorability among Democrats is 80 percent and 43 percent among independents. Sanders is 74 and 37. That tells me that Democratic primary voters – the only people whose opinions matter right now – like Biden more than Sanders. In December, polls showed Biden and Sanders had the highest favorability among Democrats; they’re the last two standing. Being liked matters. It’s not all that matters, but it does matter.

    As for the rest? Yeah, of course they’re going to attack Biden, just as they would attack whoever was nominated. Will it work? How should I know? I can’t see the future.

    Biden isn’t the candidate I wanted to win, but he did and here we are.

    1
  41. Kylopod says:

    @Kari Q:

    Well that’s rather a lot of ranting to someone who isn’t even a Biden booster. “Likeability?” she said with a shrug when asked why other people voted for Biden. For me, I just thought that since it was Biden or Sanders, Biden had a better chance of being a good president than Sanders.

    I wasn’t reacting to your voting decisions in the primary. Notice that I said Dems (not you specifically) dismissed too quickly all the candidates who were younger than Biden (i.e. not Sanders). I think it’s nuts the primary ended up as a battle between two late-septuagenarians with apparent age-related health issues (Bernie with his heart attack, Joe with his cognitive decline).

    “Likeability” is “empty-headed media pablum?”

    I didn’t say that. I said “Who would you have a beer with?” is empty-headed pablum.

    That’s exactly what I would expect from someone who follows politics closely and is driven by policy and a candidate’s demonstrated skill at governing. Most people aren’t. They don’t pay as much attention as you or I and ultimately choose a candidate on vague impressions, including just liking them.

    I’m the last person who needs to be reminded that the average voter doesn’t see the things the way we political junkies do; I’ve made that point many, many times. But that doesn’t mean I go around assuming I know what the average voter likes, without providing any evidence. What evidence is there that the public votes for the candidate they’d rather have a beer with? First of all, the notion is vague almost to the point of incoherence. Second, it’s just one factor among many. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that it’s established that the public would rather have a beer with (teetotalers) Trump or Dubya than with Hillary or Gore (yet somehow Trump and Dubya received fewer votes than their supposedly less beer-drink-with-able opponents). Was that the reason they (sort of) won, or was it due to other reasons?

    I already said I think likability is, in itself, an asset for a candidate. My point was that it can’t exist in a vacuum–it has to be accompanied with the skills, energy, and fortitude to campaign vigorously across the country and to take on the Republican slime machine that every modern Democrat must contend with. Obama didn’t win just by being likable, he responded vigorously to the smear campaigns against him both in the primaries and the general election. That isn’t something I see Biden doing at any level. This isn’t the same Biden who kicked Paul Ryan’s ass in a debate, it’s a much older Biden who’s clearly lost a step or two (“Some say he’s got one foot in the nursing home,” as Randy Rainbow put it a couple of weeks ago). And that’s who Dems chose as the one to take on Trump and Putin. Sorry if I think that’s effing nuts.

    1