Archive for US politics

counting COVID-19 deaths (or not)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2020 by xi'an

Two COVID-19 articles in the recent issue of Nature relating to data gathering issues. One on the difficulty to distinguish direct COVID deaths from indirect ones from the excess deaths, which “to many scientists, it’s the most robust way to gauge the impact of the pandemic” (which I supported). As indeed the COVID pandemic reduced people access to health care, both because health structures were overwhelmed and because people were scared of catching the virus when visiting these structures. The article [by Giuliana Viglione] supports the direct exploitation of death certificates, to improve the separation, quoting Natalie Dean from the University of Florida in Gainesville. Although this creates a strong lag in the reporting and hence in health policy decisions. (Assuming the overall death reporting is to be trusted, which is not the case for all countries.)

“This long-standing neglect has been exacerbated by the lack of national leadership during the pandemic.”

The other article is about the reasons why the COVID-19 crisis in the US is doubled by a COVID-19 data crisis. Mentioning “political meddling, privacy concerns and years of neglect of public-health surveillance systems” as some of the sources for unreliable data on the pandemic range and evolution. Hardly any contact tracking (as opposed to South Korea or Vietnam), a wealth of local, state and federal structures, data diverted and hence delayed (or worse) to a new system launched by the US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) for an ill-used $10 million. And data often shared (or lost) by fax! “Lack of leadership,” to state the obvious….

and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2020 by xi'an

““Many doctors think hydroxychloroquine is extremely successful. Some people don’t. Some people, I think it’s become very political. I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period and I’m here, right? I’m here.”When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” DT, 28 July

“We are on the defence. We’re not out looking for trouble.” W. Barr,  28 July

“Fauci’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect – and the administration – with respect to the virus?” DT, 28 July

Mr. Barr said that “I don’t agree that there is systemic racism in police departments generally in this country,” and he quoted statistics that more white Americans had been killed by the police than black Americans. NYT, 28 July

“A lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening, and we’ll see what happens with them” DT, 28 July

““[John Lewis] didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK (…) Again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have. He should have come. I think he made a big mistake.” DT, 03 August

“When I took over, we didn’t have a test.” DT, 04 August


voting inequalities in the US

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2020 by xi'an

“We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.” Barack Obama

Following a poorly attended local election in France last weekend, over-interpreted by media and political analysts as usual, with poorer categories more likely to abstain, I reflected on the supplementary degree of voting inequality in the US, where active voter suppression and voting discrimination run uncontested by legislative and constitutional bodies. As it happens, even for federal elections, the election laws are state-based, voted by partisan state lawmakers and implemented by equally partisan officials.This means discriminating practices can become part of these laws, including different restrictions on acceptable forms of identification that poorer voters may be unable to purchase, restrictions on voter registration and in particular on active drives for minority registrations, discriminatory closures of voting (poll) places,  as e.g. a single voting place for 600,000 voters, meaning unreachable stations for those without transportation means and those housebound, abusive voter purges by local administrations, e.g., the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck System having 99% more chances to remove legitimate than illegitimate voters, lifelong felon disenfranchisement, including for citizens having completed their sentence, some places asking for on-the-spot proof of US citizenship, involving document poorer voters cannot access, mail-in voting discrimination, no worker protection for participating in the vote, which takes place during the week, grossly underfunded poll budgets, leading for instance to hour long polling queues and various mismanagement of the votes, the possibility for National Guard staffing poll stations, and the century long absurdity of gerrymandering, where something like 60 million Americans live in a place where the ruling party has received the minority of the votes in a state election. Not to mention the election by an electoral college of the president where the winner may lag by 3 million votes behind his contender… And running uncontested grossly misleading political adds


and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2020 by xi'an

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” DT, 28 May

“Trump has long advocated for selling off the Postal Service and recently called it “a joke.”The New Yorker, 30 May

“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” DT, 30 May

“Statt Öl ins Feuer zu gießen (…) Demokraten dürfen nie eskalieren – auch nicht durch Worte. Mit Gewalt zu drohen löst nur weitere Gewalt aus. Statt uns auseinander dividieren zu lassen. Heiko Maas, 3 June

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them..” DT, 1 June

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see ’em thrown in, rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’’” DT, 28 July 2017

and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2020 by xi'an

“They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.” DT, 03 May

“We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this [pandemic.]J. Kushner, 29 April

““We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here, we will not see terrorism come here, and isn’t that refreshing when contrasting it with the awful Presidency of President Obama?” K. McEnany, 25 February

“You all know what happened in 1917.” DT, 27 April

“Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify. As the pandemic has spread fear, disease and death, national leaders across the globe have been severely tested. Some have fallen short, sometimes dismally, but there are also those leaders who have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science and elemental decency, and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.” NYT editorial, 30 April

“In the past month alone, the [US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] has dialled down regulations on automobile emissions and fuel efficiency put in place under former president Barack Obama; it has weakened rules on mercury and other pollutants emitted by power plants; and it has shied away from strengthening standards to reduce fine-particle air pollution. Nature, 28 April“

“It would have been bad even with the best of government. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.” Barack Obama, 09 May

““Trump’s constant antics are a danger to the American people. The current approach to science and expertise within the Trump administration is a shame on many levels. Trump’s talking nonsense risks misleading the public, and it distracts top scientists who spend emotional energy neutralizing the damage he causes when they should be tackling the virus (…) Many scientists were dreading that the president would be faced by a test just like coronavirus. “ John Holdren, 03 May

“Probably it was incompetence. Somebody was stupid.” DT [an expert in the field], 10 May

DT, 18 May