Well What Do You Know! The New York Times Decided To Play It Straight This Time And Passed An Integrity Test….Well, For A While, Anyway. [UPDATED]

Maybe they decided they had arrived at a moment when unified resolve was essential and the national interest was at stake, and the paper had no choice but to stop spinning for the Democrats.

Tonight’s just breaking story is headlined, Coronavirus Live Updates: As State Pleas Mount, Trump Outlines Some Federal Action; Senate Democrats Block Stimulus Package.

It says in part,

Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked action on an emerging deal to prop up an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, paralyzing the progress of a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package they said failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.

The party-line vote was a stunning setback after three days of fast-paced negotiations between senators and administration officials to reach a bipartisan compromise on legislation that is expected to be the largest economic stimulus package in American history — now expected to cost $1.8 trillion or more. In a 47-to-47 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to advance the measure, even as talks continued between behind the scenes between Democrats and the White House to salvage a compromise.

The failure to move forward shook financial markets and threatened an ambitious timeline set by the Trump administration and leading Republicans to move the rescue package through the Senate on Monday and enact it within days.

In voting to block action, Democrats risked a political backlash if they are seen as obstructing progress on a measure that is widely regarded as crucial to aid desperate Americans and prop up a flagging economy.

Nancy Pelosi  suddenly announced today that she would not accept the Senate bill and would write a House Democrat plan for Phase 3 coronavirus relief. Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of pulling a last-minute partisan stunt when Americans desperately need relief, and the financial markets were looking for a postive development.   It seems that the Democrats misjudged the degree to which the mainstream media would give them political cover by rationalizing their routine obstruction of the President, as it has reliably done for three years almost without fail.

I cannot bring myself to believe that the Democrats would intentionally encourage a worst case scenario, crashing the economy and putting Americans in further peril in their mania to ensure that the public sees President Trump as a failed leader and rushes into the eager embrace of the far Left. That is certainly how this development looks, however.

Mitch McConnell has scheduled another Senate vote for early tomorrow (Monday) morning. One can only hope that the Times’ unambiguous  signal that there is a limit to how far its partisan loyalty and anti-Trump mission will corrupt  its duties to inform the public will have the desired effect.

This is how the nation’s “paper of record” is supposed to do its job.

UPDATE:  I spoke too fast, being as I am an easily hoodwinked optimist even regarding such a reliably bad actor as the Times.  Apparently the Axis of Unethical Conduct had an emergency meeting and got to the editors. The headline has already been changed twice to minimize implied criticism of the Democrats. The most recent version is on the bottom.

 

38 thoughts on “Well What Do You Know! The New York Times Decided To Play It Straight This Time And Passed An Integrity Test….Well, For A While, Anyway. [UPDATED]

  1. I wouldn’t feel too bad Jack, it at least shows that you are willing to give a notoriously partisan slanted organization, such as the NYT credit in the cases when it actually appears to engage in journalism (reporting facts unbiasedly even when they’re inconvenient), as opposed to just reinforcing talking points and pushing out smear pieces.

    I imagine this prompt about-face was due to backlash received from that bastion of free thought and civil political discourse, Twitter.

  2. The Democrats are like comic book villains. The Joker and Lex Luthor are so obsessed with defeating Batman and Superman that they jeopardize their plans constantly in order to get them.

  3. From my perspective one has to fight to separate out politics from science. There is a Times article today that nicely explains this:

    Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel.

    But doing so takes intelligent, rapidly adaptive work by health officials, and near-total cooperation from the populace. Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones.

    Many experts, some of whom are international civil servants, declined to speak on the record for fear of offending the president. But they were united in the opinion that politicians must step aside and let scientists both lead the effort to contain the virus and explain to Americans what must be done.

    The advent of this virus is an amoral event. The threat is amoral. One cannot say that it in itself will do good in the long-run nor that it will bring bad in the long run. It may, in fact, encourage in the long-run the sort of political policy peculiar to China: a dictatorial régime but a highly rationalistic/scientific one: that is, highly materialistic in many of the worst senses. Yet, this is where the world is going. Human life is reduced to the management of individual cells and agglomerations of cells. They are relevant only insofar as they obey central commands. And ‘morality’ and ‘ethics’ become, in so many ways, irrelevant.

    In a strange way this contagion supports political activity and social activity that is ruthlessly amoral. There is a very strange, even a dark irony in all of this.

    But none of this changes the basic facts: to control the contagion requires surrender to a central authority that will conduct itself according to harsh regulation. And if history is any indicator, any government that is offered that sort of dictatorial power has rarely if ever surrendered it back. However, all of this fits into already existing trends: the monitoring of each individual cell-person with extremely advanced technology run essentially by AI machines. What I mean to say is that this is the *diabolical direction* in which things have been moving for quite some time. These are *inevitabilities* that are peculiar to essentially amoral developments in the management of human systems. And all of these trends, of course, have *causal chains* that can be traced back.

    So, while it is possible for an individual and a community to respond properly to a situation like this one, and these actions may have an altruistic element and filled with human light & goodness, the underlying pattern or energy that the event presages has no moral component at all. The demands that it makes will not serve either what is moral and good as we might define it. It might simply add to the already increasing tendency away from what is *good and moral*: the management of the human entity like a cog or just a bit of mechanism. And the mechanistic/political fight over what political organization on a planetary scale will have control.

    It is curious to approach this from within one common and ever-present narrative: the demonic vs whatever we choose to say defines what stands in opposition to the demonic. It is inevitable that *people*, in one way or another, will recur to existing memes and themes as they attempt to *interpret* what is going on. It is already happening of course. And even (or perhaps especially?) what I am saying here fits into this mythic theme.

    What I mean is that we have no choice but to fully surrender to mass cooperative efforts in order to survive and recover. But the overall effect of an amoral intrusion brought on by the event may not, and may not at all, result beneficially for *us* (whoever that *us* refers to) and may be just one more step in the direction of what does us harm. But that which does us harm, what is it exactly? and where is it located?

    Well, we look at *China* as an emblem of something we recognize as ‘evil’. Yet it is *China* and what China is capable of doing (utterly control its population of person/units through military and technological control) that results in the most sane and rational defensive measure. In order to survive *we* will need to act more like China acts.

    There are so many different levels here, excuse me for engaging in a kind of ramble. But how should these things be *interpreted*, I am uncertain.

    • “DEATH IS A PREFERABLE ALTERNATIVE TO COMMUNISM”

      -Liberty Prime

      But in all seriousness-

      “In order to survive *we* will need to act more like China acts.“

      An interesting thought, but how would one proceed implementing such a measure in the United States? Citizens of the PRC are one thing, as they have essentially been culled into accepting the totality of the State’s control over their lives. The same could even be said for Europeans.

      Americans are another beast entirely. That being said, I somewhat agree with your point, but the libertarian side of me is screaming “BAD IDEA!!!”

        • This is odd. If true, it contradicts at least one rational source I access that says ‘responsible governments accept China’s reports as being largely accurate’: few new cases.

          It will be interesting when it all is over to discover who has lied the most; who was most right & who most right .

          • WHO’s director is entirely in the pocket of China. Ethiopia’s entire economy depends on continued Chinese investment.

        • In addition to the fact that indications are that China is completely lying about the effectiveness of its Wuhan virus measures…

          If radical and thoroughly draconian/totalitarian measures did not, in fact, contain this epidemic, then what this means is that there is a tremendous and very real danger that will soon present itself there and everywhere.

      • An interesting thought, but how would one proceed implementing such a measure in the United States? Citizens of the PRC are one thing, as they have essentially been culled into accepting the totality of the State’s control over their lives. The same could even be said for Europeans.

        I have little idea. Here in Colombia where I live we are right now on *lock-down*. Tomorrow people will be able to go out for shopping. But I think the plan is to keep up the *stay-at-home* measures into April.

        Argentina< Peru and Colombia seem to be taking the most proactive measures.

        This is the fellow I have been listening to. It sound right to me, but then perhaps he is exaggerating?

    • I would never let scientist lead an effort that would effective render our Constitution null and void.

      We have seen how science can be corrupted with government funding. Scientists are like lawyers. They often are at odds with each other on various theoriesm

      • Experts are good for advice, never for governance. Their individual lines of study don’t ever take into account the full picture of a civilization functioning. Allowing a cluster of experts to be in charge inevitably will cause them to make some terrifying utilitarian trade offs on the notion that the set of values and premises they rely on in their fields are appropriate for the rest of society while assuming that the rest of society will fall in line with their particular and unique value set.

      • I would never let scientist lead an effort that would effective render our Constitution null and void.

        But that is not what was suggested. What is suggested is that rational experts in epidemiology be given a platform to communicate, through rational & persuasive means, with people who do not understand what is happening, cannot understand, don’t take it seriously, and all the rest. Epidemiologists largely agree that strict actions be taken. They differ about the extent. And that is where the problem lies.

        But there is another level. In war-time, in the US, at regular intervals, constitutional guarantees have been suspended during crises. It also stands to reason that in a very serious pandemic (more serious than this one) that constitutional guarantees would require to be suspended. Not because I want that or don’t want that but because it is obvious. Is this such a situation? It seems an intermediate on (in my view).

        Now, the very real downside of an event like this is that, like after 9/11, rights will be subtracted & rescinded and not ever returned! This is exactly my point. 1) there is a real crisis and it requires rigorous measures, but 2) what government will do with the power given to it is a separate issue.

        And therein is the horrifying paradox and the *dark irony*. It seems we have to voluntarily choose to drink the poison. Therefore: this event is amoral but it seems that it will work to reinforce already in motion negative trends. That is another level of dark irony.

        • Alizia wrote:

          “What is suggested is that rational experts in epidemiology be given a platform to communicate, through rational & persuasive means, with people who do not understand what is happening, cannot understand, don’t take it seriously, and all the rest.”

          According to Dr. Fauci, that is exactly what Trump is doing. He meets with the experts, listens to them, and follows their advice on remedial measures.

          jvb

        • Maybe the presumption that it’s a national government’s place to segregate and protect us from every new disease, even against our will, was the more previous poison, and we’ve been dying for a long time now. Perhaps it’s a violation of subsidiarity to give a president or a congress the authority to shelter each family in place, the authority rightfully belonging to each patriarch. Then, the wise would survive on the advice of a wise board of health, and we’d have a wise populace rather than everyone bending their knees to one or more totalitarians. Who knows what would happen if we allowed individuals the freedom and opportunity to do what’s right? Isn’t it better that it’s decided for all matters from on high, and each is removed from the moral decision? Imagine, for instance, the spiritual benefit to each citizen when his wages are taken from him and given to the needy even without his ever having to give consent!

          We lose only what we’re unwilling to die for. For my part, I lose what I’d be willing to die for because a majority lack any and all principle. It’s a daily chore not to become a misanthrope. I would not be willing, like Socrates, to take the hemlock at the behest of any republican mob, but I couldn’t stop that mob from forcing it down my throat.

          But rather than my life, they aim to take my spirit – to save my life!

  4. “I cannot bring myself to believe that the Democrats would intentionally encourage a worst case scenario, crashing the economy and putting Americans in further peril…”

    I’m sorry, but are you serious? Have you not been paying attention for the last 3 years? Have you not seen the lengths the FBI, CIA, DOJ, and the judiciary have gone to in their attempts to remove Trump? Have you not listened to the TDS Facebook people you have mentioned many times? I have asked several Democrats recently about how they can support Biden and they have all said they would support him if he were brain dead and on life support. Did you not pay attention when the State Department employees intentionally infected hundreds of people from the cruise ship in Japan? The deaths of Americans mean nothing to them compared to the importance of removing Trump.

    • I do not believe the Democrats are evil. This is pure, unvarnished, Hanlon’s Razor. They are biased, blinded and stupid, as well as irresponsible, reckless and deluded. That’s bad enough.

      • I try not to. But then I have to remember the primary rule of political bad acting:

        If the Democrats are accusing the Republicans of something then either the Democrats are already doing it or the Democrats are trying to set the stage for doing it themselves.

        The primary slur by Democrats against Republicans is some variation of “You’re evil”.

      • I do not believe the Democrats are evil.

        My impression so far — please do correct me if I am wrong — is that you recognize evil in others (German Nazis, or Japanese totalitarians) but do not recognize evil as a category, or evil players within our own culture & polity. So, Democrats cannot be evil and nor can Republicans. No one in the US can be, by definition, evil. To bend Sartre: “Le mal, c’est les autres”. (L’infer c’est les autres = ‘Hell, for us, is always ‘the other’.)

        In the US there are some who will *locate evil* and they do so by a type of projection or exteriorization. Those who marched with Tiki torches chanting “You will not replace us!” and the occasional “Jews will not replace us!” are evil: can be seen as evil. The Southern segregationists are *evil* (more properly put they became evil through a transvaluation of values).

        In short, anyone who turns against the ‘tenets of the American civil religion’ as it is defined in the Postwar (it was very very different prior to this transformation) can be seen as *evil*. It is quite OK to express that contempt and hatred of evil: to see it.

        I could explain — that is, I could make a case through argument — that American Progressives and American progressivism can be linked to *destructive outcomes*, and that is the only way I know how to describe and define what is *evil*.

        Do you have a relatively short definition of Evil?

      • I didn’t say they were evil. I meant that they have been indoctrinated by the “By Any Means Necessary” people that any and all actions are justifiable if you are the righteous. They have been told that getting rid of Trump is of the utmost importance. Just because someone isn’t evil doesn’t mean they can’t be convinced to kill innocents in the name of a ‘Good Cause’. How many innocents did the US kill when we firebombed Dresden or Tokyo? Good people did that. The media and the Democrats have demonized Trump and made Trump out to be an imminent threat to all humanity to the same or greater extent than we demonized the Germans and Japanese in WWII.

        • The difference is that the Nazis and the Japanese WERE an imminent threat and had already committed mass murder by the time the US entered WW2. Show me Trump’s extermination camps. Show me Trump’s destroyed cities. Show me Trump’s occupied territories. SHOW ME HOW MANY RACES TRUMP HAS SAID MUST BE ELIMINATED!! Didn’t think so.

      • Evil is defined as “profoundly immoral and wicked.” The Democrats think they stand against evil, but just where do they stand?

        A Democrat is someone who:

        Is against execution of proven guilty criminals, but in favor of tearing innocent babies limb from limb for convenience.

        Is against corruption in office – unless it’s one of his own.

        Is in favor of equality of the races – but not for Europeans.

        Is in favor of equality of the genders – but not for men.

        Is in favor of freedom of religion – but only for black churches and mosques.

        Is in favor of freedom of speech – but not for those who disagree with him.

        Thinks those born in this country or here legally should bear the burden of paying for those who were neither.

        Believes that at some point everyone has made enough money – except him, and that he knows what that point is and what to do with anything over that point.

        Is in favor of the police – when he can use them to bully, intimidate, arrest and silence those who disagree with him.

        Is in favor of obeying the laws – for everyone except him.

        Is in favor of the court system – when it rules his way.

        Is in favor of the Constitution – except those parts that get in his way, like the Electoral College, the Senate, the Bill of Rights, and a few other things.

        Is in favor of accurate history – but only when he can use it to show how bad those who disagree with him are.

        Is in favor of elections – as long as they come out his way.

        Is perfectly ok with violence – but only by those who agree with him against those who don’t.

        Can never see things any way other than his own.

        Basically, Democrats are either evil, or they’re all two years old. They want what they want, when they want it, and want everyone to obey the rules but them.

  5. Six days ago Politico put out an article entitled “Pelosi Has Trump Over a Barrel” in which Michael Grunwald criticized Pelosi for essentially letting Trump off easy with regard to this situation, in which she could have demanded a lot more or refused to play ball. Maybe she read that, interpreted it as criticism, and decided maybe she should apply a little pressure to the presidential scrotum after all.

    If you’re still wondering whether the Democrats would really hold the nation hostage to this pandemic, then you haven’t been paying attention the last three years, and I know you HAVE been paying attention. Crashing the economy and putting many people out of work and in bad financial straits just means more people who are going to be dependent on big government, and, as the saying goes, if someone offers you a loaf of bread or a vote, how starving do you have to be before you choose the bread?

    The current left in the US is a textbook example of folks becoming so devoted to a cause that they will do whatever it takes to make that cause happen, no matter what the cost or who it affects, or how it affects them. It’s the kind of mentality that gave us William Wallace (although his talents as a politician and military commander were not quite up to snuff) and Giuseppe Garibaldi (although he needed to be reined in by the much more politically astute Count Cavour) and Patrick Henry (who almost tanked the Constitution), but also gave us Michael Collins (who set the pattern for terroristic asymmetrical warfare), V.I. Lenin, Timothy McVeigh (who wanted blood to flow in the streets), Osama bin Laden, and a certain failed artist from Vienna we need not name.

    Admittedly, the Democratic Party is not targeting officials for assassination, or ranting in the streets to foment general strikes, or planting bombs in courthouses, or driving airplanes into skyscrapers. What they are doing is something far more insidious. They are taking a leaf from Howard Dean, who said that the opposition’s role is just to oppose. So they are opposing, coming up with excuses, coming up with reasons, and all the while tut-tutting that they would SO like to help but they can’t just like they SO didn’t want to waste this nation’s time with impeachment but they had to. Now they see a way to sink the president, not directly, but indirectly, and by golly, they’re going to do it. Collateral damage is just what happens when you’re doing the right thing.

    • Remember when the GOP had the House and the DNC had the Presidency AND the Senate? Remember when the primary media narrative was how intransigent and implacable Representatives were? How the GOP was gumming up the works as old mean spirited cronies on the wrong side of history? How the GOP was antithetical to good governance and playing as a team?

      I remember.

      • I remember too. Just like I remember Chuck saying that for the last 18 months of his presidency GWB shouldn’t be allowed to nominate any Federal Judges, especially not to SCOTUS. But the left will just tell you that’s all ancient history and doesn’t mean anything now, or that that was different, because that was the old fogeys of the GOP getting in the way of the progressive vision of His Hipness and Coolness, or just tell you to STFU.

    • What they are doing is using this crisis to point to the need for Universal Health Care, Paid Sick Leave and other Progressive policies that Americans have, thus far, largely rejected. They may not be fomenting rebellion in the streets, but they are trying to cause a revolution, nonetheless.

      It is in the best interests of their platform for this emergency to continue. I have no problem believing that a party and its allies which have been guilty of ridiculing and demeaning the POTUS from before his first day in office, that has thrown its own Senators under the bus in order to enforce the #metoo mentality, that has rigged nominations and pandered to every conceivable fringe element in the country, sided with terrorist-sponsoring regimes and is now currently doing its best to kiss up to the government responsible for this whole mess rather than our own government is capable of gleefully tanking the economy to get rid of Trump.

  6. I largely suspect that democrat gamesmanship here is ultimately tied somehow remotely to abortion. It always is.

    BUT

    In fairness, if the bill being passed doesn’t have some sort of checks and controls on the large corporations receiving the aid to ensuring it touches the workers hands, or if it doesn’t ensure that small business owners (while individually aren’t even remotely as influential as the big names, but as a block represent most of American commerce) receive this aid, then it is a pretty stupid bill.

    Now the bill may very well do this, I haven’t read it, and probably won’t because these things are usually impossible to navigate.

  7. I would image the Times website is set up like Schrodinger’s Box.

    All headlines exist simultaneously, and you don’t know which one you will see until the website reads the cookies from your computer and determines whether you are a liberal or conservative. The website will then put up whichever headline it thinks will piss you off the least/most depending on the goal of the article.

    I am actually kind of serious, and rather assume there are algorithms that manipulate the front page to better get your clicks. This is of course deceptive and unethical, and allows the Times to duck accountability.

  8. Another good one from George Friedman –

    (again, I bolded key points)

    https://geopoliticalfutures.com/modeling-the-us-reaction-to-the-coronavirus/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=https%3A%2F%2Fgeopoliticalfutures.com%2Fmodeling-the-us-reaction-to-the-coronavirus%2F&utm_content&utm_campaign=PAID+-+Everything+as+it%27s+published

    The United States is under enormous pressure. The nature of the particular pressure is unique, though pressure on the United States from various forces is normal, as it is with other nations. What makes this pressure unique, aside from its biological origin, is that it has been so intense that virtually all systems are seeking to cope with the problem, both in defining and responding to it. This is largely true of all countries, but each responds to it differently, based on their institutional and cultural frameworks that existed before the coronavirus outbreak. Much of what we say about the virus is universal, and there are commonalities in the response, but ultimately each nation’s response must be understood on its own terms. Understanding the model allows us to understand events, stresses, failures and successes.

    At the moment, there are four distinct systems operating in the United States: the medical, the economic, the social and the geopolitical. Controlling these, and in turn being controlled by them, is the political structure. This obviously includes the president, on whom attention is always focused, but let’s not forget the rest of the executive branch and the vast and distinct bureaucracies operating within it, the judiciary, the Congress, and every state government. Already we have seen that, in times of crisis, the individual states are the most decisive actors in the short run.

    At the moment, the crisis has been defined by the medical system, the overriding goal of which is to limit the disease, infections and deaths. The medical system has developed no cures or preventatives. A vaccine is at least a year and a half away, and there is no obvious medication available yet. The medical system is thus asking for what it needs – supplies and equipment such as ventilators, masks and tests – which necessarily pressures the economic and political systems to produce them.

    The best countermeasure, then, is social. The disease appears to spread primarily by human contact, so the emphasis of the medical system has been to limit human interaction. It’s a minimally intrusive and (for now) viable strategy to mitigate infection.

    But this strategy has a significant and immediate effect on the economic system. In other words, the best available medical solution creates massive economic dislocation. Much of the economy cannot be sustained with social distancing. Social distancing reduces economic activity and could lead to economic failure. The danger of the social distancing strategy in all of its dimensions is not only the immediate decline of the economy but its systemic destruction. The destruction of current business activity can result in permanent destruction.

    The solution is to mitigate the effects of the medical system by using political means to dramatically support the economy on a short-term basis. There is a serious question of the long-term effects on the economy of a solution that involves infusions that will equal between 5 and 10 percent of our gross domestic product. But the risks of absorbing the cost of the medical solution are too high not to take this step.

    We remain at the stage where the primary concern of the social system is avoiding being infected by the disease, and surviving it if it strikes. The extreme measures imposed by many states are, broadly speaking, being accepted. But they are not sustainable, at least not for the amount of time the medical system needs to resolve the problem. Short-term measures such as prohibiting foreclosure for a month or two may help people ignore the fact that they are isolated and, in some cases, jobless, but at some point it will create a material crisis.

    Add to this that isolation can only be a short-term solution because humans are social animals. Creating a system in which all other human beings are seen as potential threats will have unfortunate effects. But to be simplistic about this, there is the concept of cabin fever. People confined to their homes, however comfortable, will rebel. Their understanding of risk will change as the risk of going mad in a small apartment with two children competes with the fear of the virus. Breaking quarantine and incurring the risk of disease seems irrational only if you regard the risk of disease as a paramount consideration. Mental health and finding a job can rationally take precedence.

    The longer-term outcome of the medical solution and the damage to the economy could be a depression neither the government nor society can cope with. If the short-term solution costs 5-10 percent of GDP, then long-term solutions will soak up wealth at a fantastic rate, undermining all aspects of the economy.

    In sum, the medical system’s only solution to an unprecedented event has stunned an economic system that the political system is trying to stabilize. Together they will lead to a breakdown in the radical quarantine systems and a massive social disturbance. This will, in turn, generate political instability and sow distrust in social institutions. This is all avoidable in the short term, but the longer this drags out, the less the time frames are in sync.

    No single system is at fault. Everyone now knows what should have been done, and undoubtedly there are some who argued for it. But societies are complex machines, and the response to a hypothetical threat that would cause this kind of instability will not be action, and few of us would have accepted the regime imposed on us to deal with the hypothetical. The system operated as well as a system involving 300 million people could. And it has crafted solutions driven by short-term considerations. Improvisation on this scale is most effective in hindsight.

    Still, there is a mismatch in the time frame of systems. It will take time for the medical system to develop a vaccine. The economic system cannot withstand social distancing for that long without consequence. The social system cannot withstand the stress of isolation coupled with fear of poverty. The stresses snowball. And no one is to blame as it appears that there is no solution.

    To the extent that there is a solution, it is in releasing people from isolation without risking their lives. The medical system is the only one that can do that. It is a system built on the avoidance of all risk possible in the introduction of medicines and vaccines. This is not only a practical consideration but a deep ethical principle of medicine. But given both the damage wrought by the disease and the damage caused in combatting the disease, including the very real risk of economic and social havoc, I wonder whether the medical ethic of first doing no harm can be extended to the economic and social reality. A principle of calculated risk, with the federal government passing laws to protect error, might shift the medical timeline sufficiently to short circuit non-medical risks. I know nothing about the creation of medical solutions and am not speaking with any knowledge of that, but in looking at the problem, the rapid introduction of medicines, even those with some potentially disastrous side effects, might align the timelines to give us a softer landing. Otherwise, we cannot withstand months of isolation and social distancing.

    I have left the geopolitical for last because it is the longest track of all. For now, normal geopolitical processes have been suspended. The U.S. did not respond to Iraqi-Iranian missiles. The confrontation between Turkey and Russia has disappeared for now. And China and the United States are trading insults but speaking little of trade wars. At the same time, borders are closing as foreigners are seen as potential carriers. Air travel is grinding to a halt. As divisions reemerge, we should remember that economic destruction due to war gave rise to Hitler and Lenin. Economic destruction in any form is destabilizing. But that is for later.

    For now, the crisis is not only the virus but the inability to combat it without massive economic cost, and ultimately social unrest. During Europe’s great Black Death, citizens marched with torches and burned those they felt were ill and those they felt were responsible for the illness. It was not only the plague that created a time of horror but the legitimate fear it generated in people and the inability of the state to protect them, in a world where kings were as likely to die as peasants. The virus is dangerous. The follow-on effect can be far more dangerous.

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