The best we humans can do: When normal functioning came to a halt, we decided to treat ourselves in one major way. We decided to stop watching the Maddow show.
We broke our boycott on March 25. When we did, we were confronted with a four-minute opening riff about what sorts of things Maddow does and doesn't find "ooggy."
Once again, there was Maddow's endless desire to talk about herself, preferably in the dumbest way possible.
Just today, we decided to try it again. Through the wonders of On Demand, we started watching the tape of Maddow's show from last night.
We soon observed a puzzling array of errors involving charts about New York City and New York State's numbers of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Maddow spoke about "cases" when the graphic in question spoke about "deaths." Two successive graphics presented the same raw numbers, with the titles on the graphics describing the data in contradictory ways.
Everybody makes mistakes, we high-mindedly said. Then Maddow aired a short videotape from the BBC.
There's nothing wrong with the BBC tape. There was something crazily wrong with Maddow's exercised commentary.
The videotape shows the rising number of "confirmed cases of coronavirus" in the world's various nations since the start of the year. Maddow said she especially wanted us to watch what happens with the numbers starting in early March.
In March, the number of cases in the U.S does rise very fast. Soon, though, Maddow was saying this, and this makes no earthly sense:
MADDOW (4/8/20): Now, here, watch what happens at the beginning of March. Look at the speed at which the U.S. epidemic starts to take off.You'll have to watch the tape of the program to hear the dramatic tone of disgust in Maddow's voice as she offers this assessment.
By the end of March, we have surpassed everyone, and from that point on, cases in the U.S. continue to grow with astonishing speed, by the thousands, and then by the tens of thousands, and nobody is even close.
That, that is the proof in the pudding. That is the data that shows a failed national response—the worst failed national response on earth.
Sadly, her analysis makes no apparent sense. This is why we say that:
It's true! By the end of March, the U.S. had way more confirmed cases than even the next closest nations.
That said, the next closest nations were all much smaller than the U.S. All things being equal, there would be no reason to expect them to have an equal number of cases.
Which countries are we talking about? On the BBC videotape, the countries with the most confirmed cases were these, populations included:
Countries with the most confirmed cases, plus populations:Why would Spain—population, 47 million—have as many cases as we do? Like you, we have no idea.
United States: 330 million
Spain: 47 million
Italy: 60 million
France: 65 million
Amazingly, Maddow was working with raw numbers—not with numbers adjusted for population. On this basis, she was disgustedly saying that we have "the worst failed national response on earth."
We certainly have experienced a multiply-bungled response, but is it really the worst on earth? We turned to Kevin Drum's daily posting to borrow a set of relevant numbers—numbers which have been adjusted for size of population:
Deaths per million to date:The question of whose response has been most "failed" is of course somewhat subjective. But that's how some basic numbers look when you adjust for population size.
United States: 44.7
Does it look like our epidemic has been worst? There's no perfect way to measure such things, but we're not sure it does!
Maddow was sold to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar. She was the symbol of the intellectual superiority we liberals love to imagine ourselves possessing.
Her discussion of things she finds ooggy seems like elevated work compared to the way she handled those data from the BBC. Warning:
Among us humans—us rational animals—this is the best we now have! It will fall to our current 9-year-old kids to turn this whole mess around.
To watch the tape: The tape is available at the Maddow site under this heading: "Failed US federal response to COVID-19 manifests as international disaster."
Discussion of the BBC tape starts about 3:30 in.