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Crazy Like a Science-Following Fox June 17, 2021

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It’s now a matter of happy history that Governors DeSantis and Abbott did not cause widespread death and suffering by opening up their states before the Biden administration thought it was prudent. But you may not appreciate how ballsy the calls were at the time – more so for DeSantis than Abbott, but still . . .

Yup, DeSantis made his decision when daily deaths were near their all-time highs, and Abbott made his when they were still fairly high.

Seems like the Biden administration owes someone an abject apology, because some people’s reading of the science was far better than others’.

[The plot comes from the CDC, and I added the annotations (with a marked lack of success in matching the CDC’s green).]

RIP, COVID-19 June 17, 2021

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At least for now. Here are the latest plots from the CDC (with their awful formatting):

Both data series seem to be on a continuing downward trend, so hopefully we’ll continue to enjoy good news for the next month.

Biden’s Malignant Malignation June 12, 2021

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The Biden administration was (is) fond of criticizing Trump’s vaccine distribution efforts. Recalling the always-to-be-asterisked President’s March 2 press conference:

“When I came into office, the prior administration had contracted for not nearly enough vaccine to cover adults in America,” said Biden. “We rectified that.”

So let’s see just how badly Trump missed it. Remember, all of Trump’s initial contracts were issued in July 2020, with no real data on efficacy or safety. Here’s how they did:

Doses Administered
(6/11/2021)
Doses Purchased
(July 2020)
Doses Purchased
(Dec 2020)
Option for Doses
(July 2020)
Pfizer167 million100 million100 million400 million (12/20)
Moderna128 million100 million100 million400 million (12/20)
J & J11.4 million100 million200 million
AstraZeneca 0100 million200 million
Novavax0100 million
Sanofi0100 million500 million

There are 259 million adults in America, and Trump ordered enough vaccine for 300 million people (400 million double doses and 100 million single doses). So Biden’s statement was ridiculous on its face.

But it gets worse. Three months later we still haven’t used all of the 400 million approved doses purchased by the Trump administration, and even if we had, there were options in place to easily order more.

Options which Biden took advantage of, without giving any credit to his predecessor.

Suppressing Employment, the Biden Way June 4, 2021

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The news is abuzz with the tidings of the miss on employment (pundits were expecting 650K new jobs, but only 559K were added), but I thought this other little factoid was interesting. Look at the % of people who are employed (chart generated by the BLS site):

Nice steady increase in the % of the population that’s employed until COVID hit, when employment plummeted. But let’s zoom in on that period from January 2020 (just before COVID-19 blew up the economy) through last month:

Yeah, we were rebounding nicely until the election, upon which the curve goes essentially flat. This, despite the huge progress in vaccination and the reopening of many states.

The suppression of the recovery in employment suggests, if not trumpets, that the current administration’s policies are somewhat misguided.

Eurovision 2021 Winner May 30, 2021

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Time to check in on Eurovision. This year’s contest was not in front of a live audience, so it must have been tough for the acts to get fired up.

Måneskin, the entry from Italy, won with their (somewhat dated, IMHO) head-bangy rock song, Zitti E Buoni (“Shut Up and Behave”). Here’s their entry video (videos from the Finals aren’t yet available in the US):

A translation of the lyrics can be found here.

Old Vid of a Russian Guy With a Mean Falsetto May 29, 2021

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My daughter and I were playing “Dueling YouTube Videos” the other night, where we alternate in picking videos to impress, educate, and/or horrify the other party. One of her early entries was from Vitas, a Russian singer known for singing ridiculously high notes (for a guy, anyway). Here’s his Opera No. 2 (very poor quality video).

Can’t get enough? Try this goofy disco-ey song entitled The 7th Element:

Biden Proposes Uberhurtling Towards Doom May 28, 2021

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A few days ago I was lamenting over the CBO’s latest long-term projection, saying that it spelled inescapable doom for the United States.

Trust Biden and his team of woke advisors to step on the gas, because doom can’t come quickly enough for these guys.

Compare the already-dire CBO projections to Biden’s budget proposal:

Biden is cranking up spending from a historical level of 20% to 24%, and he’s taking 19-20% out of the economy to pay for it, vs. the historical level of 17-18%.

At this point you may not be able to see the charts through the tears, but here’s a comparison of the CBO’s disheartening deficit projections to the White House’s slit-your-wrists-now-to-avoid-drawn-out-agony projections.

Yup, our deficit was already enough to take the country down, and now it’s worse. When you get to 2029 the streams supposedly cross, but nobody has the ability to forecast accurately that far ahead. My impression is that reality is always worse than the worst projection.

I’m going to be beating his budget like a dusty rug over the next few days. I hope it’s not too tedious and depressing.

Watching COVID Turn Tail and Run May 27, 2021

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Nice lookin’ trend in COVID-19 cases (graphs from the CDC):

In case you’re wondering, Biden was inaugurated about a third of the way down that big downslope, and the big downward trend bottomed out a month after Biden took office. Two months later it started what is hopefully its final decline.

Here are COVID-19 deaths (however inflated they may be):

We haven’t had this few deaths since March of last year. Very encouraging.

Fauci’s Near-Sighted COVID-19 Guidance May 26, 2021

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I think we* all understand that the “sure-safe” lockdown recommendations of the medical establishment have to be tempered by consideration of the impact on the economy and the stability of the country. So when Fauci opines on a subject and the media takes it as gospel, vilifying any leaders who deviate from his guidance, we know they’re being naive idiots.

But what I don’t get is why the media hasn’t taken Fauci to task over his failure to even give balanced health recommendations. Critics have pointed out throughout the pandemic that there are serious physical and mental health issues associated with the lockdown strategy, but Fauci has ignored all of those, acting as though the only health consideration is COVID.

Now we see the fallout, with mental health issues due to extended isolation, aggravation of health conditions due to deferred medical treatment, and widespread weight gain. Some have estimated that people gained 29 lbs on average, which would push the formerly marginally-obese average American well into the obese range. Which in turn makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

You’d think the media would ask the question: “How did you try to optimize the total health of Americans when you created your COVID response strategies?”

But they won’t because he didn’t.

And we are left with the horrible consequences of his myopic strategy.

*We who value and practice logic & reason.

The Futility of COVID Policy-Making May 25, 2021

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It’s pretty clear that we don’t understand many aspects of COVID-19, like its transmission, its survivability outside the body, its effects, and why some people shrug it off while others die (…and its origin, heh). We won’t fully understand these things until long after it ceases to be a threat.

But I think I can say with at least a little authority that until we started vaccinating, nothing we did mattered all that much. Closures, curfews, re-openings, masks, distancing; these policies varied from state to state, but how did they affect the transmission of the disease?

Not so much:

I apologize for the horrible quality of this graph – I copied it directly from the CDC’s site. In any case, you can see that the six most populous states are all within +/- 10% of each other. Michigan, who is ranked 7th in population (you can only plot 6 for some reason), is pretty close to Texas.

Similarly, if you plot cumulative cases for metropolitan vs. non-metropolitan victims, you get no difference. All roads lead to the same place.

Without doing some real work (which I am oh so loathe to do), all I can say is that it seems like COVID cases are not transmission-limited, they are victim limited. That means that the virus made its rounds with little impact from our various policies, taking root in the 10% of the population (so far) who were susceptible.

This is not to say that throwing everything you have at the virus was an inherently bad idea, but that the lockdown policies should have been critiqued and updated much earlier in the pandemic. Sadly, those policies have assumed a religious status among some, so that was not possible.

If the US wasn’t broken before, it’s certainly broken now May 24, 2021

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The Congressional Budget Office just gave a presentation to The Conference Board, in which they summarized the results of the last Long-Term Budget Outlook report. I’ve included some of my favorite charts from their presentation below – you can see the entire presentation here.

Let’s start with the always-exciting (and by exciting I mean thoroughly depressing) public debt graph:

Yeah, that’s a pretty juicy one. All of our whining about the debt increases during the recession shows just how little we appreciated the actual peril we faced.

So when you see a chart like that, the next natural question is: “Well, is it because of falling revenues or increasing outlays?”

Hah! You already know the answer:

Yup, it’s always the outlays. But now I’m sure your question is: “What’s the source of the huge increase in outlays?”

From this you can see that the “bending of the cost growth curve,” one of the major selling points of the Obamacare legislation, is entirely mythical. From the cost projections, you can’t even tell that the Affordable Care Act happened.

The second thing you notice is that our interest payments are going to skyrocket, reaching almost 9% of GDP in 30 years. You can compare that to defense spending, which was a mere 3.4% of GDP in 2019.

With that level of interest payments, we will never balance the budget and never reduce our debt. Never.

I’m afraid that the United States has done been kilt, and we’re going to spend the next 30 years watching parts of it slowly die off. Our creditors will probably step in before that, though, using the hopelessness of the situation to force us into the global collective.

The Decline of COVID May 9, 2021

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Seems like the writing’s on the wall for COVID-19, at least so far as deaths are concerned. Check out this chart I lifted from the CDC:

As everyone who “follows the science” has been saying since the COVID onslaught began, there was never much risk of death for people under the age of 65. And looking at the trend since December 2020, even those deaths have declined to their lowest values since the first few months of the epidemic.

Then have a gander at this table, also lifted from the CDC, which shows vaccinations by age:

For all the hand-wringing about people refusing to be vaccinated, it seems to me that the most vulnerable people have done quite well in getting shots. It has, after all, only been 5 months since the vaccines were released, and we have fully vaccinated 71.3% of the people over 65.

A year ago we had 1846 deaths/day, while now we have 633. I expect that number to plummet over the summer.