SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020
Did Krugman and Brooks follow suit?: This past Thursday, Donald J. Trump had finally absorbed sufficient abuse.
At long last, the commander decided to take some credit for the masterful way he's managed to handle the virus. Purveyors of fake news sat before him, gazing about in the garden.
At long last, the commander made the following comments. We join his statement in progress:
TRUMP (9/10/20): In the past five weeks, per capita cases doubled in France, surged to over 300 percent in Spain, which I’ve been hearing about and speaking to some of the leaders of Spain, and they were having a hard time, and increased more than 400 percent in Italy, again.
And as you remember, I put a ban on people coming in from Europe, after the ban I imposed on China, Wuhan. Because of Wuhan, primarily, because that area was very infected. We also put a ban on Europe.
So Spain is being heavily impacted, France, and 400 percent in Italy. Yesterday, European nations experienced 50 percent more deaths than the United States. You don’t hear these things. You don’t hear these statistics, but the United States has done really well. I’m very proud of everybody that worked on this, and I really do believe we’re rounding the corner and the vaccines are right there.
Finally, the commander had been persuaded to mention his travel bans. Also, European nations "experienced 50 percent more deaths than the United States" on September 9, the much maligned fellow said.
"You don’t hear these things," the gentleman sadly reported.
"Cases" being a shaky statistic, we were struck by the commander's statement about the deaths. Fifty percent more deaths in "European nations?" We'll admit that the claim sounded wrong.
Incomparable, we decided to fact-check. When we did, we once again saw the way the new rules typically work.
Amazingly, the commander's statement was almost technically accurate! There actually had been a day when "European nations" reported more deaths than the United States.
That day had been Tuesday, September 8, not September 9. But the numbers that day looked like this:
Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded on September 8, 2020
United States: 267
Given those numbers, there had only been 40.82 percent more deaths recorded in Europe. But according to the time-honored phrase, the commander's statement had been "close enough for deceptive Rose Garden work!"
What was "deceptive" about the commander's statement? Let us count two ways!
First, the commander had apparently been referring to "Europe," not to "the European Union." The difference there is large.
According to the leading authority, there are roughly 750 million people in "Europe." Our own nation's population—roughly 330 million—is ginormously smaller than that.
At roughly 450 million, the E.U. also has a substantially larger population than the our nation does. Keeping these facts in mind, here's the fuller set of numbers for the (cherry-picked) day in question:
Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded on September 8, 2020
United States: 267
European Union: 192
Even on that (cherry-picked) day, the substantially larger European Union had substantially fewer deaths.
For our second point, we note the obvious cherry-picking of the day in question.
As data sites explain in detail, the number of deaths recorded on a given day is not the number of deaths which actually occurred on that day.
In this country, the formal recording of covid-19 deaths ebbs and flows over the course of a typical week and weekend. That's especially true with respect to the days before and after a holiday weekend—and Monday, September 7 had been Labor Day in these parts.
In part for those reasons, you can't cherry-pick the numbers from a single day, unless you're trying to run a con. You have to look at the numbers for a full seven-day cycle.
As it turns out, the commander's aides had cherry-picked a highly anomalous day. Here's the way the numbers looked for the seven-day cycle ending on the day when the commander chastised the snakes in in the garden:
Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded in the previous seven days, as of September 10, 2020
United States: 5,071
European Union: 1,246
Adjusting for population, our death rate over the course of that week was roughly six times that of the European Union. So much for the commander's mastery of the virus. But such is the way of The Con.
Did the commander know that he was working a con? We can't answer your question. We'll guess that Stephen Miller has an army of worker ants who sift the numbers all day long looking for statements the commander can make—statements which can even be defended as "technically accurate."
(Earlier this year, we occasionally thought we saw Dr. Birx playing this slippery game.)
Did the commander know that he was talking about "Europe," not about the E.U.? Did he know that he was citing one highly anomalous day? Had he seen the weekly numbers?
We have no way of knowing these things. Nor is it likely that the commander would actually care.
The commander's grossly misleading remark counts as a minor part of the ongoing game. His lunatic statements from February on, plus the lunatic behaviors which continue as he assembles his mass, unmasked in-person rallies are much more serious.
People have been dying, and continue to die, in the wake of those lunatic statements and these ongoing behaviors. In this morning's Washington Post, Colbert King refers to all this, and to other behaviors, as a "dereliction of duty" on the commander's part.
King's column is very interesting; we strongly recommend it. That said, we keep thinking we might be seeing other derelictions as we scan the work of the upper-end press.
Consider yesterday''s columns by Paul Krugman and by David Brooks. Like a wide array of colleagues, Krugman and Brooks will go to their graves pretending they can't fathom why Trump behaves as he does.
In print editions, Krugman's headlines said this:
Trump Wasn't Oblivious. He Didn't Care. / The coronavirus response was beyond incompetent.
In print editions, the Brooks headlines said this:
When A Heart Is Empty / The Consequences of Donald Trump's Inability to Feel
What kind of person is unable to feel and doesn't care if other people die? Presumably, Krugman and Brooks both know one obvious possible answer. Presumably, they're also playing by the guild rule which holds that they have to play dumb.
Colloquially, sociopaths don't care if thousands of other people die, and have an "inability to feel." Presumably, journalists know that Trump seems to be so afflicted, but their guild forbids such discussion.
Colloquially, narcissists care about nothing and no one but themselves. But for a more informed discussion of these formal psychiatric syndromes, people like Krugman and Brooks would have to speak with someone like Dr. Bandy X. Lee of Yale.
Readers assume that major journalists are trying to tell them the truth as best they understand it. Many voters believe the commander is trying to do the same thing.
When journalists follow the commander's example in refusing to speak to scientific/medical experts, could that possibly be their own dereliction?
Make no mistake. We're past the point where any of this could possibly make any difference.
The fight against climate change has long since been lost. So has the fight, such as it was, to maintain "the American experiment."
These fights were steadily lost over the past gruesome decades—decades in which major "journalists" like Diane Sawyer were asking Marla Maples if sex with The Donald was the best sex she'd ever had.
(Decades in which a whole generation of press corps lunatics spent twenty months wondering why the author of Earth in The Balance was wearing so many earth tones, not to mention those polo shirts.)
From her interview with Maples, Sawyer went on to stage scripted campaign kick-off attacks against Candidate Gore (major liar) and Candidate Clinton (too rich). The commander seems to be "mentally ill," but what the heck is Sawyer's excuse? How about her owners and colleagues?
At any rate, the die has been cast about those fights, or so we're reliably told. In particular, we're told that the fight to continue the American experiment is basically over—that there's no way out of this mess.
Yesterday, we decided to fact-check the commander's latest claim anyhow. Earlier, the analysts had gnashed their teeth in sheer frustration as they read Krugman and Brooks.
Dr. Lee waits in the wings—except for the fact that she's been disappeared. "This is the way our species was wired," future top experts have despondently said, speaking in the past tense.