covid-19 Ongoing disaster from Shambolic Clots

I’m working on an eventual series of posts on above theme but currently focussed on current pretence at preparing for mRNA vaccine production in Australia that requires catching up on technical details.

Meanwhile Dominic Cummings started a twitter storm on 17 May, fully documenting from inside just how Shambolic the UK response was.

The 59 tweets (so far) are well worth reading and thinking about carefully.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1394245014440529921.html

There may well be more coming and the original thread view shows what he is responding to so here’s a link to that:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Dominic2306/status/1395010951452237829

It also includes some responses on his own responsibility for helping promote that government.

More immediately relevant is a warning from Cummings that UK preparations for dealing with variants could be likewise shambolic and that transparency is vital to enable earlier reversals of wrong policies protected by official secrecy.

Naturally the “business case” for mRNA manufacturing in Australia is beiing witheld and an 8 week “process” is being rushed through to ask local manufacturers to confidentially provide detailed costings for know how and supply chains they don’t have. An engineering task needs to be recruited immediately (from anywhere, worldwide) to actually work out what can be done and who needs to be recruited and trained to do it. That will be difficult but is the obvious first step which simply is not being taken. They are instead talking to managers of the non-existant Australian BioPharma industry to fill out forms about matters they know nothing about.

I’ll write about that as soon as I can:

https://www.industry.gov.au/news/enabling-australias-onshore-mrna-manufacturing-capability-approach-to-market

Meanwhile here’s the text of the 59 tweets, although it is better to read them with accompanying graphics at links above:

1/ Covid… Summary evidence on lockdowns. For UK political pundits obsessed with spreading nonsense on Sweden/lockdowns, cf. SW econ did a bit WORSE than Denmark which locked down, AND far more deaths in Sweden:

Yes, lockdowns were good
It’s a moot point now, but let’s set the record straight
https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/yes-lockdowns-were-good
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One of the biggest misunderstandings, spread by political pundits even now, is the ‘tradeoff’ argument. Fact: evidence clear that fast hard effective action best policy for economy AND for reducing deaths/suffering
4/ Best example: Taiwan. Also shows that if you REALLY get your act together not only is econ largely unscathed but life is ~ normal. But SW1 (Remain/Leave, Rt/Left) = totally hostile to learning from East Asia
5/ There’s a general western problem based on nonsense memes like ‘asians all do as they’re told it won’t work here’. This is what many behavioural science ‘experts’/charlatans argued, disastrously, in Feb2020. This nonsense is STILL influencing policy, eg our joke borders policy
6/ Another confusion re Sweden: data shows despite no official ‘lockdown’ behaviour changed enormously. The closer your measures are to ‘welding people inside homes’ (per Wuhan at peak) the >> effect on transmission. Semantics of ‘lockdown’ obscure this really simple point
7/ If you are going to have to do measures ≈ lockdown to avoid health system collapse then the harder/earlier the better & the sooner they can be released. Pseudo ‘lockdowns’ w/o serious enforcement are hopeless: econ hit & people die anyway, nightmare rumbles on
8/ Waiting room, 1st jab. Remembered Vallance 24/3 amid disaster: will u support taking vaccines out of DH & a new Taskforce, we need different leadership & skills to drive it? CABSEC supported divvying up DH tasks. If not, normal Whitehall process, probably normal result

9/ Success seems to have blinded SW1 to important Qs. a/ We did it much better than Brussels, obviously, but Brussels is not a good comparison. How well did we do relative to ‘how well wd General Groves who ran the Manhattan Project have done it?’
10/ I think we’ll conclude we shd have done Human Challenge trials immediately & cd have got jabs in arms summer. This is not criticism of the VTF which has been constrained in ways they shdnt be. It’s cnctd to b/ where is the public plan for how the VTF will deal with variants?
11/ One of the most fundamental & unarguable lessons of Feb-March is that secrecy contributed greatly to the catastrophe. Openness to scrutiny wd have exposed Gvt errors weeks earlier than happened
12/ So why are MPs accepting the lack of a public plan now for VTF viz variants? Especially when rumours reach me that the silent entropy of Whitehall is slowly turning VTF back into a ‘normal’ entity?
13/ The best hedge re a variant escaping current vaccines is PUBLIC SCRUTINY of Gvt plans. This will hopefully show it’s been taken seriously. If not, better learn now that the Gvt has screwed up again than when ‘variant escapes’ news breaks
14/ I can think of no significant element of covid response that wd not have been improved by discarding secrecy and opening up. This was symbolised by e.g how COBR cd not be used: a constrained STRAP environment cd not cope with the scale/speed, another important lesson

15/ Having watched classified elements of covid response, Gvt cd make the vaccine plans 99% public without risks, ‘national security’ almost totally irrelevant to the critical parts of the problem, a few things cd be withheld while publishing all crucial parts of the plan
16/ These issues are relevant to c/ Who is writing the plan for ‘how we deal with something worse than covid?’ If we get this right now, we do not need to have this sort of disaster again. We’ll also be hedging vs future bioterrorism risks: cf:

Andy Weber on rendering bioweapons obsolete and ending the new nuclear arms race
Bioweapons are terrifying but scientific advances leave them on the verge of becoming an outdated technology.
https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/andy-weber-rendering-bioweapons-obsolete/
17/ The covid plan was supposed to be ‘world class’ but turned out to be part disaster, part non-existent. I urged inside Gvt to do a review of other contingency plans for more dangerous things than covid, a largely open process with e.g @wtgowers helping. Happening?
18/ MPs shd force publication of vaccine/variant plan & require mostly open review of other contingency plans before we find out the hard way they’re as ‘world class’ as the covid plan…
19/ Such reviews shd seek out those were right & early on covid. Such people are more likely to spot that other plans have errors, gaps, that institutional planning has blind spots, failure to look at crucial operational details etc. E.g @MWStory
20/ P Vallance & I supported opening up SAGE much earlier than it happened. I argued before 1st lockdown to open up the CODE of SPI-M models for scrutiny. Barrier = SW1 cultural hostility to openness & this barrier means SAGE still too closed & too little of its workings public
21/ Looking at minutes does not give good insight to reality of discussions. E.g looking at minutes of crucial 18/3, which I attended, does not convey true situation, discussion, atmosphere, effects
22/ With something as critical as variants escaping vaccines, there is no justification for secrecy, public interest unarguably is open scrutiny of the plans
23/ This point is critical re Groves/Manhattan/vaccines & wider covid & wider issue of gvt performance: our civilisation is abysmal at seeking Groves/Bob Taylors & getting them into critical roles, bureaucracies exclude & expel them, as they did with Groves/Taylor!
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24/ The public inquiry will at no point ask: how does the deep institutional wiring of the parties/civil service program destructive behaviour by putting the wrong ppl in wrong jobs with destructive incentives? It will all be about relatively surface errors
25/ If SW1 wanted to ‘learn’ there wd already be a serious exercise underway. The point of the inquiry is the opposite of learning, it is to delay scrutiny, preserve the broken system & distract public from real Qs, leaving the parties & senior civil service essentially untouched
26/ J Phillips, a brilliant young neuroscientist I recruited to no10, argued for immediate Human Challenge Trials, as did others. We were far too slow to listen to such advice. The science ‘misfits’ who urged this early were clearly right, the ‘ethicists’ disastrously wrong
27/ So true from @paulg, it’s amazingly rare to find people who deeply care about results at senior levels in politics/gvt, those who do are seen as mad/unreliable & are weeded out. SW1 incentives are ~all about rewarding process + fake signals. V relevant to covid fiascos
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28/ Of the 20 ppl who I saw do most to save 1000s of lives, it’s striking how many gone or leaving or planning to leave, & how many who were disastrously wrong/useless been promoted to jobs they can’t do/given honours etc
29/ @pmarca on the west’s covid failures (‘the harsh reality is that it all failed’) & the General Groves mentality needed, influential in no10, 4/20, as we pushed thro the vaccine taskforce

IT’S TIME TO BUILD – Andreessen Horowitz
Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, …
https://a16z.com/2020/04/18/its-time-to-build/
30/ Crucial data generally ignored by those who want to downplay covid danger, many 1000s will have serious health problems for years because of our failure to act faster/harder in Feb/March & Sep. Those who predicted this issue wd be ‘Gulf War syndrome bollocks’ were wrong
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31/ There was a PHE exercise called Exercise NIMBUS in a hypothetical future 14/4/20 with mock COBR slides. Assumed peak week 13/5 and >33M cases over 16 week wave, hospitals full by 14/4, >800K deaths, schools told stay open(!!). A/one know when exercise happened (think 3/20)?
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32/ This, evening of 31/10 re lockdown2, from @wtgowers who was ahead of the game in 3/20, was spot on. If mass testing had been developed properly earlier in year as cd/shd have been, wd probably have avoided lockdowns 2&3 while awaiting vaccine
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33/ True but also UK gvt did v badly, turned out we cd/shd have had these tests at millions p/day scale by Sep latest, instead of seriously starting in Sep, which wd have greatly changed q42020. Those screaming from ~Feb/March were ignored, months/lives/£ needlessly lost
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34/ Mass testing same story as elsewhere: some brilliant/dedicated relatively junior officials (e.g Alex Cooper) + great young scientists (e.g @gaurav_ven) + entrepreneurs held back by senior management/DHSC/PHE (particularly awful) & Whitehall legacy procurement & HR horrorshows
35/ Even tho the PM/CABSEC/I all told 9/20 most senior HR & procurement officials to treat mass testing ‘like a wartime project’, ignore their usual bullshit multimonth processes, mass testing hugely hampered by Whitehall’s optimisation for ‘[awful] process over results’
36/ So much ‘lockdown’ confusion. Obv they’re ‘destructive’. But if you have to do it cos alternative is 100s of 1000s choking to death + no NHS for months for everybody else + econ sunk cos everybody hiding in terror then earlier/harder is better for health AND econ
37/ If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown1, definitely no need for lockdowns 2&3. Given the plan was AWOL/disaster + awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown1 became necessary
38/ Media generally abysmal on covid but even I’ve been surprised by 1 thing: how many hacks have parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’ when ‘herd immunity by Sep’ was literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings until it was ditched
39/ Yes the media is often incompetent but something deeper is at work: much of SW1 was happy to believe Hancock’s bullshit that ‘it’s not the plan’ so they didn’t have to face the shocking truth. Most political hacks believe in ‘the system’…
40/ In week of 9/3, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan wd lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B. But how ‘herd immunity by Sep’ cd have been the plan until that week is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster
41/ All those referring to the Sunday Times story 22/3/20 re me dramatically ‘changing my mind’ at SAGE on 12/3: there was no SAGE on 12/3! It’s an invented meeting & invented story repeated for a year by political hacks as ‘fact’
42/ No10 decided to lie: ‘herd immunity has never been… part of our coronavirus strategy’. V foolish, & appalling ethics, to lie about it. The right line wd have been what PM knows is true: our original plan was wrong & we changed when we realised
43/ Lots of hacks have lost their minds. Herd immunity wasn’t ‘a secret strategy’, it was THE OFFICIAL PUBLIC EXPLAINED ON TV/RADIO STRATEGY! Halpern, on SAGE, literally explained it on radio explicitly, 11/3/20, as did others!!
44/ The whole ‘flatten the curve’ plan A was to get herd immunity by summer & avoid 2nd peak during annual NHS winter crisis. That’s why our official graphs had ONE peak over by summer! COBR docs/graphs describe herd immunity as ‘the optimal single peak strategy’ etc
45/ What happened is a/ panic about the phrase, ‘comms disaster’. b/ We ditched the herd immunity plan and shifted to Plan B, suppression, which previously the Gvt said/thought would be worse cos it wd lead to a 2nd peak in winter 2020 during the annual NHS crisis
46/ A COBR doc from week of 9/3/20 explains official thinking behind Plan A: ie. suppression either won’t work or wd lead to 2nd peak during NHS winter crisis, so the advised herd immunity approach was what DHSC/Cabinet Office described as ‘single peak optimal strategy’
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47/ In that week it became clear neither Hancock/CABOFF understood herd immunity effects: 100s of 1000s choking to death + no NHS for anybody for months + dead unburied + econ implosion; so we moved to Plan B: suppression + Manhattan Project for drugs/vaccines + test&trace etc
48/ Critical as I am of the PM in all sorts of ways, it’s vital to understand the disaster was not just his fault: the official plan was disastrously misconceived, DHSC/CABOFF did not understand this or why, & a PlanB had to be bodged amid total & utter chaos
49/ Jenny Harries told us, the same week herd immunity was the official plan, masks are a ‘BAD idea’, ‘we don’t want to disrupt people’s lives’, acting ‘too early we will just pop up with another epidemic peak later’. So Whitehall has promoted her, obviously
50/ ‘Herd immunity’ was officially seen as UNAVOIDABLE week of 9/3. It wd come either a) in a single peak over by Sep, or b) in a 2nd peak in winter. (a) was seen as easier to manage & less of a catastrophe so it was Plan A. Cf SAGE 13/3: ‘a near certainty’ suppression>2nd peak
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51/ It was in week of 9/3 that we started to figure out Plan B to dodge herd immunity until vaccines. Even AFTER we shifted to PlanB, COBR documents had the ‘OPTIMAL single peak strategy’ graphs showing 260k dead cos the system was so confused in the chaos, see below
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52/ Hodges = wrong: there was neither an intention to lockdown nor as of Fri13/3 any official plan for doing so. The SAGE minutes show the opposite of what Dan says they say…
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53/ Dan says the SAGE minutes show ‘The strategy was to wait for the optimum moment to lockdown’. No. SAGE said literally the opposite: lockdown = suppression = ‘near certainty’ of 2nd peak & this was thought to be much WORSE than single peak/herd immunity by Sep, hence graph
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54/ On 14/3 one of the things being screamed at the PM was ‘there is no plan for lockdown & our current official plan will kill at least 250k & destroy the NHS’. Cf the graph: ‘optimal single peak strategy’ with 3 interventions. That was the official plan, which was abandoned
55/ Another reason we ditched Plan A was it became clear the official system had given ~no thought to all the second order effects of 250k dying, almost all without ICU care. True deaths wd clearly be much >250k cos there would be no NHS for anybody for months
56/ On 12/3, the most surreal day of 18 months in Gvt, it was argued to the PM that a/ individual isolation be delayed (‘we’re not ready’), b/ we might not do household quarantine at all, c/ given Halpern’s interview on 11th, the PM shd publicly explain the ‘herd immunity’ plan
57/ Re D Halpern: a/ on 11/3 he was simply explaining the OFFICIAL plan, not freelancing; b/ unlike many he supported the switch to Plan B in the next week & told the CABSEC & DHSC that…
58/ NB. Even at SAGE on 18/3 it was not all clearly agreed ‘must do national lockdown ASAP’. Halpern supported it with others. Senior DHSC officials were saying even on 18/3: lockdown just means it pops back up again in 2nd wave so why change strategy?
59/ Even at SAGE on 18/3 some argued: even if lockdown needed, delay, finesse timing. Others argued: there’s no alternative so sooner must be better. The latter were right (I think) & that argument prevailed
• • •

Radicals – remembering the sixties and Panel Discussion tomorrow Sat 22 May

A review of “Radicals” by Meredith Burgmann and Nadia Wheatley has been overdue since March but will remain overdue since notice of a panel discussion on “What is Capitalism” will be obsolete tomorrow, this Saturday. The direct connecting link is simply that there is chapter on “Albert Langer (Arthur Dent): Hardened Apparatchik” in the book and Arthur Dent is also on the panel at discussion this Saturday, tomorrow.

I have been too preoccupied catching up on mRNA vaccine manufacturing to write on anything else and have run out of time to mention both separately.

For now I will focus on tomorrow’s discussion, but first just quickly provide links for the book in case anyone turning up here from the discussion might be interested. It is well worth reading for anyone wanting background on the Sixties in Australia (not just because it has a very friendly treatment of me in the chapter by a fellow rebel, Nadia Wheatley).

As well as the chapter and short bio notes at pp 362-3 there are background links on pp 380-381 including:

“It is Right to Rebel” written by Monash student radicals to pass on lessons. The epub version is better than the pdf:
https://archive.org/details/it-is-right-to-rebel-1972

Other works by Nadia can be found at:

http://nadiawheatley.com/

You can order the book here:
http://nadiawheatley.com/book-shop/radicals-remembering-the-sixties

There will also be a Melbourne book launch on Thursday 24 June at Trades Hall 6pm to 8pm.


Q&A panel will have the Melbourne people described by chapters – Gary Foley, Margaret RoadKnight, Margaret Reynolds, Peter Bachelor and me. Links will eventually be at Nadia’s web pages above.

The cover highlights the flags of the National Liberation front of south Vietnam:

There is of course also a deeper connection between a panel discussion about Capitalism in the 2020s and a book about Radicals in the sixties – more than half a century ago.

That connection is the fact that Radicals were central to the existence of a broader Left in the sixties and the absence of Radicals is central to the absurdity of what gets passed off as the Left today. I’ll be speaking tomorrow putting forward some ideas on why Radicals fought the pseudoleft back then and why that must, and therefore will happen again.

So, first the panel discussion, this Saturday, tomorrow, 22 May, 3pm to 5pm at the rear lounge of the The Clyde Hotel
385 Cardigan St, Carlton, 3053. Postponed from original 1pm due to clash with Palestinian rally at 1pm, State Library:

https://m.facebook.com/events/victoria/panel-discussion-what-is-capitalism-and-why-should-we-be-against-it/1138149399985555/

It is organized by a new Melbourne reading group affiliated to the international Platypus:

https://platypus1917.org/melbourne/

Their slogan is “The Left is Dead! Long Live the Left!” so we have something in common.

Unfortunately the title of their article explaining that excellent slogan is preceded by:

“Vicissitudes of historical consciousness and possibilities for emancipatory social politics today” and has lots of similar language from the “Frankfurt school”.

The people who obscured clear and simple slogans with that sort of language were not theoreticians but mere onlookers when there actually was a Radical Left in the sixties. Combining such opposite approaches in a single title perhaps suits affiliates of an egg laying mammal. So we have some differences too. I never got interested enough in the Frankfurt school to actually study their stuff, except for their first publication by Henryk Grossman, who had a theory of capitalist breakdown or collapse and was actually closer to Communism than to the Frankfurt school (while still obviously wrong about “breakdown”).

There is one central point of unity between revolutionary democrats and academic democrats. The pseudoleft that the mainstream tries to pretend is its old enemy on the left is in fact virulently anti-democratic and hostile to debate as well as being virulently anti-communist. That has always been characeristic of the far right. The broad Left has always been a milieu that lives and grows through debating opposing ideas. The pseudoleft is in fact far right.

Below is the panel descriiption for “What is Capitalism, and why should we be against it”:

The present is characterized not only by a political crisis of the global neoliberal order but also by differing interpretations of the cause of this crisis: Capitalism. If we are to interpret capitalism, we must also know how to change it. We ask the panelists to consider the following questions:

What is capitalism?


Is capitalism contradictory? If so, what is this contradiction and how does it relate to Left politics?

How has capitalism changed over time, and what have these changes meant politically for the Left?

Does class struggle take place today? If so, how, and what role should it play for the Left?

Is capitalism in crisis? If so, how? And how should the Left respond?

If a new era of global capitalism is emerging, how do we envision the future of capitalism and what are the implications of this for the Left?

The 15′ presentations will be transcribed for publication so to help the transciber I will include notes with references on that, point by point. First the references because my Android Tablet is about to crash. I will try to update this evening.

In 1962 Mao Tsetung said:

“The next 50 to 100 years or so, beginning from now, will be a great era of radical change in the social system throughout
the world, an earth-shaking era without equal in any previous historica! period. Living in such an era, we must be pnepared to engage in great struggles which will have many features different in form from those of the past.”

That was said when the Soviet Union and its satellites had already gone revisionist and the split in the international communist movement was becoming open. Nearly 80 years later we still have another 20 years “or so” to go.

Although the left upsurge in the sixties did not last a decade, nor succeed in revolutionary overthrow of all existing social conditions, a major reason it subsided was that the it succeeded in compelling the ruling class to adapt to a faster rate of change in the social system than any previous historical period.

When Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto, England was the most advanced society, but still with less than half the population urban. Today more than half the global population is urban.

A characeristic feature of the pseudoleft is its continual moaning that things have got worse and worse. In fact this period has seen the most rapid rise in both the numbers, the cultural and political level and the standard of living of the global working class.

From a revolutionary communist perspective it is far too slow. But it was fast enough for the radical left to be eclipsed by a reactionary pseudoleft that openly wants to at least slow things down to live more “simply”. There was certainly a lot more room for the productive forces to continue developing within the capitalist mode of production than Marx and Engels had hoped.

In looking up that quote from the Ninth National Congress documents I actually found it in:

Peking Review #25, June 18, 1976. (Slightly abridged translation of an article in Red Flag #6, 1976)

Text 39: “Capitalist-Roaders Are the Bourgeoisie Inside the Party”, by Fang Kang PDF format [10 pages; 715 KB]
https://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GPCR/Mao5/AndMaoMakes5-Lotta-1978-Text39.pdf [pp 358-367]

It is reprinted in a book with lots of other background on Maoism:

And Mao Makes 5: Mao Tsetung’s last great battle, edited with an Introduction by Raymond Lotta, (Chicago: Banner Press, September 1978), 539 pages. [Because of the very large file size of the entire book, each section and each included article is also being made available here separately.]

Entire volume in one big file: Searchable PDF format [21,605 KB]
https://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GPCR/Mao5/AndMaoMakes5-Lotta-1978-All.pdf

That can be found among the long list at:

https://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GPCR/index.htm

Material from the Red Eureka Movement is listed in a separate section along with other sections for other Australian groups at:

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/australia/index.htm#rem

This includes:

Click to access langer-maoism-after-mao.pdf

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/australia/may-day-81.htm

The 12 issues of the “Discussion Bulletin” there are far more relevant than “The Rebel”.

Number 11 with the first 6 parts of “Unemployment and Revolution” is available here at C21stLeft.com

Part 7 is also in DB12 and also at:
https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/australia/rem-unemployment.htm

Basically we reached conclusions that the Sixties left had collapsed more than half a century ago and REM’s last publication was DB12 in September 1982.

More than a decade later, and nearly 3 decades ago “Red Politics” continued similar ideas:

https://www.simplymarxism.com/RP/RP.html

I will be quoting from “Some Questions” by “Perplexed” in Number 1, September 1993.

Other classic works I will or may reference include:

“The Communist Manifesto”

“Socialism – Utopian and Scientific”

and

“The Capitalist Cycle” by Pavel Maksakovsky.

The latter, are available at Library Genesis as is pretty well anything you might want to read (see wikipedia and google for proxy links)

Hope to update this evening.

Ok, update below – leaving above unfixed.

“Below is the panel descriiption for “What is Capitalism, and why should we be against it”:”

The term anti-capitalism, along with anti-globalism and anti-imperialism was adopted by the pseudoleft to absorb the progressive leftist movement that fights to accelerate the transition from feudalism to capitalism and from capitalism to communism into a mush combined with reactionary opposition to capitalism from open Malthusians such as the Greens.

According to the Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising
the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of
production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed onesbecome antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his
kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products
chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries
whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every
quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the
productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into
their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns.
It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban
population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a
considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the
scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. Thenecessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national
class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff.

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

Clearly what is called “the left” these days is naturally and instinctively against all that. But Communists see it as a necessary and desirable move away from the past and towards the future. We are not part of the “anti-capitalist” mush.

“The present is characterized not only by a political crisis of the global neoliberal order but also by differing interpretations of the cause of this crisis: Capitalism.”

Neither the “global neoliberal order” nor it’s “political crisis” were concepts debated among sixties Radicals or our opponents. There were equally vague terms like “the system” and “the establishment”. But we were part of an explicitly globalist, internationalist movement that had a revolutionary communist and therefore also revolutionary democratic core.

The main opponents of Radicals within the broader “Left” were what we called “revisionists” and “social democrats”. They were more inclined to call themselves “Socialists”.

As Engels wrote in the preface to the English edition of 1888 of the Manifesto quoted above:

“… when it was written, we could not have called it a socialist manifesto. By Socialists, in 1847, were understood, on the one hand the … mere sects, …gradually dying out; on the other hand, the most multifarious social quacks who, by all manner of
tinkering, professed to redress, without any danger to capital and profit, all sorts of social grievances, in both cases men outside the working-class movement, and looking rather to the
“educated” classes for support… Thus, in 1847, socialism was a middle-class movement, communism a working-class movement.
Socialism was, on the Continent at least, “respectable”; communism was the very opposite. And as our notion, from the very beginning, was that “the emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself,” there could be no doubt as to which of the two names we must take.
Moreover, we have, ever since, been far from repudiating it.”

There was no need to quibble with their adoption of the term “Socialist”.

As far as I can make out the term “neoliberal order” was adopted when social democracy abandoned any pretence of aiming to eventually reform their way out of capitalism and the remnants of the revisionist “communists” had to come up with an even more mealy mouthed phrase than “socialist” to describe their common opposition to the center right.

The center right, like the center left was both conservative and reformist. Both sides of mainstream politics had very similar policies for adapting capitalism and avoiding another upsurge from a Radical left. By mouthing off more “militantly” against the “neoliberal order” people who could no longer even claim to be “socialist” were able to unite around the Keynesian adaptation of capitalism while posturing. In fact of course, as US President Richard Nixon said: “We are all Keynesians now”.

I do think there is an ongoing collapse of mainstream politics that could be described as a slow moving crisis and will eventually become a sudden sharp crisis when it actually confronts a Radical opposition. But I won’t try to interpret that and will instead focus on the more important crisis on the Left that has enabled the mainstream to keep limping on without facing a Radical opposition.

“If we are to interpret capitalism, we must also know how to change it.”

On the contrary, if we are to change the world and move on from its capitalist past and present to a communist future we must also understand where we are, how we got here and how things actually work in the world we live in now.

I prefer Marx’s version:

“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

That was the final 11th point in a list of “Theses on Feuerbach”. Here for the benefit of those stuck with the Frankfurt School is the third:

“The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated. Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-change … can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.”

“We ask the panelists to consider the following questions:”

I prefer Lenin’s question “What is to be done?”. I prefer it precisely because I do not know the answer, whereas I can give glib replies to the questions posed to the panel.

“What is capitalism?”

Capitalism is generalized commodity production based on wage labour.

“Capital does not consist in the fact that accumulated labour serves living labour as a means for new production. It consists in the fact that living labour serves accumulated labour as the means of preserving and multiplying its exchange value.” (Marx “Wage Labour and Capital”, 1847)

For a deeper view it is necessary to study Marx’s 3 volumes of “Capital”, and fourth volume on “Theories of Surplus Value”. According to Lenin the theoreticians of the Second Internatinal could not understand the first chapters.

The first page of the preface to the first edition says:

“This work, … forms the continuation of my book [A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy]
published in 1859….”

I strongly recommend starting with that beginning before its continuation.

Also the whole “Grundrisse” as well as its “Introduction”.

Marx also said in that preface.

“With the exception of the section on the form of value, there­
fore, this volume cannot stand accused on the score of difficulty. I assume, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself.”

As Hilferding remarked, that assumption was unsubstantiated.

Such readers are rare. Actual readers usually get lost at the first 3 chapters on the form of value. Partly because they ignore the preface and don’t read the “Contribution” before its “continuation”. But mainly because they don’t think for themselves – and therefore don’t think dialectically.

“Is capitalism contradictory? If so, what is this contradiction and how does it relate to Left politics?”

It is not necessary to acquire a deep understanding of “Capital” in order grasp the central contradictions of capitalism and how they relate to Left politics.

Engels short pamphlet “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” was a popular exposition read and understood widely in both the second and third internationals. It should be the starting point for anybody interested in actual Marxism as opposed to the “Marxians” (from Mars).

Engels made it easily accessible. I will not attempt to compress it further and there is no point discussing that central question with anybody that is not willing to read what the workers did read when they joined mass based Marxist workers parties before such parties ceased to exist.

“How has capitalism changed over time, and what have these changes meant politically for the Left?”

Although written nearly one and a half centuries ago I think Engels pamphlet was remarkably prescient in Part 3 on Historical Materialism. Complete ignorance of that has gone together with political bankruptcy of the pseudoleft.

“Does class struggle take place today? If so, how, and what role should it play for the Left?”

The class struggle plays a role for the pseudoleft. It is a prop for militant posturing and recruitment.

When there is a Left again it will that Left will instead play a role in the class struggle – educating, agitating and organizing.

The class struggle is essentially a political struggle and the present situation makes theoretical struggle primary.

Three areas of theoretical struggle that I am interested in are:

  1. Refuting bourgeois theories of macroeconomics and the business cycle by actually developing Marx’s theory of the capitalist cycle in the direction explained by Pavel Maksakovsky “The Capitalist Cycle”. http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=EAC7E58D683A34F76BC03CBC0934E753
  2. Supporting modern science and rapid development of the most modern productive forces against greenie nature worship funded by the “Gas and Wind” lobby.
  3. Mobilizing a united front for war on the current and future pandemics based on the scientific understanding that none of us are safe until the whole world is effectively vaccinated.

“Is capitalism in crisis? If so, how? And how should the Left respond?”

The term “crisis” is widely misused. A Global Financial Crisis was aborted in 2007-9 by extraordinary measures that have not resolved the underlying disproportions but have also not been resolved by exploding into full scale crisis.

We have now reached an untenable situation with zero and even negative interest rates etc. It has gone on for some time but I still expect it to eventually result in a crisis much deeper than the 1930s Great Depression.

I don’t expect a Left capable of responding to develop until after the crisis has actually broken out.

Meanwhile I recommend preparing for theoretical struggle on crisis theory by serious study eg of Marx and Maksakovsky’s theory.

“If a new era of global capitalism is emerging, how do we envision the future of capitalism and what are the implications of this for the Left?”

Crises mark sudden phase shifts and leaps in development that make envisioning the results very speculative.

But I would expect the development of State Capital as the “National Capitalist” as described in Engels part 3 on “Historical Materialism” to be greatly accelerated. I would also expect it to be supported by the pseudoleft. I would also expect a revolutionary Left to again emerge at least in the aftermath.

Further update: Regardless of expectations we need to understand the basic mechanism of the 19th Century and early 20th Century business leading up to the Great Depression as a foundation for understanding what changed after that Great Depression and what is happening now. There should be some serious study of Maksakovsky in a reading group. Below is where I got to, before encountering Maksakovsky.

Unemployment and Revolution is about 4 decades old but was a serious attempt to get started on understanding the business cycle that should be followed up. Links below are still not included as DB11 in html at ERO, but should be. It deliberately avoids references to Marx to avoid distraction by polemics with inananities from Mars by “Marxians”.

Maksakovsky’s “The Capitalist Cycle” is nearly a century old but got much further on “overproduction” and the “cycle” than part 5 below. It clearly completes that part of the work done by Marx in volume 2, which Marx postponed to volume 3 but never completed.

Part 1. Emphasises that unemployment is specifically a problem connected with market economies. Then it gets slightly distracted to talk about science fiction and jellyfish.

Parts 2., and 3. Analyse the economic mechanisms that regulate “normal” unemployment, in order to explain the conservative arguments for “wage restraint” and why such arguments are wrong.

Part 4. Examines “technological” unemployment and shows that the increased unemployment now is not “technological”.

Part 5. Attempts an explanation of “overproduction” and “cyclical” unemployment (without great success).

Part 6.Considers various “solutions” from the labour movements, in the light of the earlier analysis, and rejects them all, but cheerfully, in view of part 7.

Part 7. Tries to give some concrete content to the idea that “the only solution is revolution”.

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/10/unemployment-and-revolution-by-albert-langer-written-in-1981/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/11/unemployment-and-revolution-part-2-what-normally-causes-unemployment/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/13/unemployment-and-revolution-part-3-what-regulates-unemployment-written-by-albert-langer-in-1981/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/14/technological-unemployment-part-4-of-unemployment-and-revolution-written-by-albert-langer-in-1981/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/15/cyclical-unemployment-part-5-of-unemployment-and-revolution-by-albert-langer-in-1981/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/16/solutions-part-6-of-unemployment-and-revolution-by-albert-langer-1981/

https://c21stleft.com/2014/11/21/revolution-part-7-of-unemployment-and-revolution-by-albert-langer-this-part-a-draft-was-written-in-1982-a-year-after-the-fir/

See also note on Thomas Sekine at:

https://thecapitalistcycle.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/thomas-sekine/

Notes on Trump 63 – Collapse of anti-Trump GOP

It is more than two months since the “insurrection”. Many things still up in the air but some have landed so an update is overdue.

  1. I expected SCOTUS to hear some cases on unlawful changes to election rules. I was wrong about that. SCOTUS just refused to hear the last of the Trump campaign disputes (Wisconsin).

That has lots of implications which have not yet landed, so I won’t start analysis now.

  1. Trump’s recent speech confirmed his complete domination of the GOP with much the same orientation as before plus a focus on making it harder to vote in battleground States where GOP still controls the legislature but lost to Biden. Effects of that campaign and Federal legislation still have not landed.
  2. As I expected anti-Trump opposition within GOP has basically fizzled. A large majority of GOP Senators and a majority of GOP in House of Representatives oppose Trump but they won’t fight and Trump will. So the GOP will become a right wing populist party led by Trumpists with a large, militant and angry mass base and substantial representation in Congress.

The calibre of Trump’s opponents in the GOP is well illustrated by the fact that they want to use Trump’s brand to raise funds for defending GOP incumbents against Trumpist challengers:

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/542210-trump-ramps-up-battle-with-republican-leadership

That is a significant change to the US political system the results of which will become more clear after the 2022 primaries.

  1. Another significant change is the full commitment of Democrats to batshit craziness. It is now compulsory to believe that Trump incited an insurrection to overturn the last elections. Not one single Democrat in the House or Senate voted against that. The results of that, and of the efforts at media censorship, are also still up in the air.

In particular there is not yet any indication that the question of who decided not to protect the Capitol from an openly planned break in by militia groups will become an issue.

  1. There is still a race between vaccination and the new strains of covid-19 both in Europe and North America. Rest of the world still not likely to get vaccine quickly enough. Likely outcome still looks like at least several years of a new endemic disease. Less likelihood of hospital systems actually collapsing in developed countries but they are still trying to open up far faster than is justified by the levels of vaccination. Effect of that on US politics still up in the air along with general impact of new administration.

covid-19 – The next strain

As noted in previous post, the UK and USA are both engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before their hospital systems get overwhelmed by the more infectious strains of covid-19 that are now becoming dominant worldwide.

Both are in dire straits and taking extraordinary and risky measures such as prolonging the interval between the two doses required and hoping to be able to catch up using different vaccines for a second dose if necessary.

In the UK they do at least seem to now be fully aware of the situation and starting to lockdown seriously.

Europe is in a similar mess and all the developed countries are competing for emergency supplies ahead of the poorer countries that need them even more desperately.

My impression is that the US public is still not aware that they could be facing double the current numbers of deaths following Biden’s plan for 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days and that this period could be the very worst part of the pandemic rather than the tail end currently expected.

There are reports sounding the alarm but I have not yet seen signs of the new administration taking even the sort of lockdown measures now belatedly taken in the UK.

Here for example is a current alarm sounded by a member of Biden’s covid-19 transition team, so the US government presumably does know:

27/01/2021 8:47 PM AEDT | Updated 28/01/2021 9:11 AM AEDT

Infectious Disease Expert Warns Next 6 To 14 Weeks May Be ‘Darkest’ Of COVID-19 Pandemic

By Lee Moran

Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm said Tuesday that he fears the United States is about to enter its “darkest weeks” of the coronavirus pandemic yet.

The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who served on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board during the presidential transition, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that there could be another potential explosion in new cases if mutated, more contagious variants of the virus take hold nationwide.

“We’re down now to 150,000 cases a day, which seems down,” he continued. “Remember when 70,000 or 32,000 cases a day seemed high? And if this variant takes off here in North America like it has throughout Europe, I think we could be seeing numbers much, much higher than we’ve had to date.”

Osterholm said an eruption in the number of infections could hinder the work of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We just won’t have enough out in time,” he said. “If we vaccinate everybody that the government has said the vaccine will be available for through April, that’s only about 12% of the U.S. population. This variant could do a great deal of harm in that time.”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he concluded. “I sure hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does it’s going to be a long few weeks ahead of us.”

Osterholm echoed those fears on MSNBC, telling anchor Stephanie Ruhle on Tuesday that “the very worst of the pandemic is yet before us,” citing the “enormous challenge” of the new variants. (Watch the clip below.)

“I’m not at all optimistic,” he said.

The coronavirus has now killed more than 425,000 people nationwide. There have been 100 million confirmed cases around the globe, with more than a quarter of them (upwards of 25.4 million) in the United States.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/michael-osterholm-warning-coronavirus-pandemic_n_60112bc5c5b6b8719d888159

Here’s a very recent New York Times oped:

The New Virus Variants Make the Next 6 Weeks Crucial

By Ezra Klein
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2021

I hope, in the end, that this article reads as alarmism. I hope that a year from now it’s a piece people point to as an overreaction. I hope.

Coronavirus cases are falling. Vaccination numbers are rising. We are already jabbing more than a million people a day, which means President Biden’s initial goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days was far too conservative. In California, where I live, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide stay-at-home order. It feels like dawn is breaking.

And that is what makes this moment dangerous. The B.1.1.7 variant of coronavirus, first seen in Britain, and now spreading throughout Europe, appears to be 30 to 70 percent more contagious, and it may be more lethal, too. It hit Britain like a truck, sending daily confirmed deaths per million people from about six per million in early December to more than 18 per million today. The situation in Portugal is even more dire. Daily confirmed deaths have shot from about seven deaths per million in early December, to more than 24 per million now. Denmark is doing genomic sequencing of every positive coronavirus case, and it says cases involving the new variant are growing by 70 percent each week.

“What we need to do right now is to plan for the worst case scenario,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told me. “And when I say ‘worst case,’ I’m potentially talking about the most likely case. Let’s not wait until we wrap the car around the tree to start pumping the brakes.”

America is doing embarrassingly little genomic testing, but even the paltry surveillance that is being conducted has confirmed epidemiologists’ fears: B.1.1.7 is here, too. And there’s evidence of another super-contagious strain developing in California. It will take some weeks or even months for these new strains to become dominant, but virologists tell me there is every reason to believe they will. The results could be catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands dying before vaccinations neutralize the threat.

This is the part of the horror film where a happy ending seems in sight, but it is obvious, to those paying attention, that the monster is not dead, and that the worst may be yet to come. We cannot let ourselves be taken by surprise.

Paul Romer, the Nobel laureate economist, told me to think about it this way: The coming months are a race between three variables. There is the contagiousness of the virus itself. There are the measures we take to make it harder for the virus to spread, from lockdowns to masking. And there is the proportion of the country with protection against the virus, either because they’ve already caught it or because they’ve been vaccinated. If contagiousness is rising fast (and it is), then the measures we take to stop the spread or the measures we take to immunize the population need to strengthen faster. Romer’s modeling suggests that if we continue on our current path, delivering one million vaccinations a day and growing fatigued of lockdowns and masks, more than 300,000 could die in the coming months.

But calamity at that scale is a choice, not an inevitability. And so I’ve been asking health experts the same question: If you knew, with 100 percent certainty, that the coronavirus would be 50 percent more contagious six weeks from now, what would you recommend we do differently?

The most immediate danger is that optimism and exhaustion will overwhelm our common sense, and we will reopen just as the new strains are quietly building momentum. “Just in the last week or 10 days,” says Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, “a lot of state officials are looking at data of numbers coming down and asking me, ‘When can I reopen my restaurants to 75 percent? Bars have been closed for months, can I reopen bars now?’ It is true things are coming down but we are at a very high level. This is not the time to start letting up. This is the time to hunker down for what is likely to be a very difficult two or three months.”

With that introduction, one might expect the rest of the article to be explaining the need for prompt and drastic lockdowns, using whatever it takes, up to and including martial law.

Instead, it continues by assuming agreement against lockdown and pretending that testing provides some magic solution:

Let’s agree that total lockdown is the most ruinous of all options, and the one we’d like to use least. We have tools we could deploy to avoid it, but we’d need to start quickly. One is rapid, at-home testing. The technology exists to produce tens of millions of cheap, at-home antigen test strips each day. These strips are highly accurate during the period that matters most — when we are infected and contagious. Used widely, they’d let all of us check, daily, if we were potentially infected, so we could then isolate and avoid infecting others. “This is a public health issue and if we don’t empower the public to deal with it we won’t be able to defeat it,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard, told me.

The problem here is the Food and Drug Administration. They have been disastrously slow in approving these tests and have held them to a standard more appropriate to doctor’s offices than home testing.

I was going to write about the absurdity of pretending that cheaper and less accurate tests could be a substitute for lockdowns rather than a minor supplement when that idea was suggested here in a link to a podcast advocating them. But it did not seem worth the effort. It still doesn’t. Blaming the FDA for not being able to do it fast enough won’t work either.

Quite simply the oped takes it for granted that the only known effective measure is out of the question and proposes nothing but wishful thinking.

Some back of the envelope calculations in support of this from Paul Romer indicate the problem.

https://mobile.twitter.com/paulmromer/status/1355049460225765378

Despite having a Nobel Prize in Economics, Paul Romer is by no means stupid. Yet he looks for solutions by tripling the vaccination rate and doing lots of testing and contact tracing (without any optimism). Apparently locking down hard enough just isn’t worth analysing in the USA as they cannot do it any more than India or Indonesia could (but China, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia did).

The likely extent of the disasters elsewhere are difficult to estimate in many places that lag behind the more developed countries where people came in contact with the virus more quickly. They have much less capacity for their health systems to cope when the levels of infection do catch up.

The lockdown just announced in Western Australia lockdown for the whole city of Perth and nearby is lucky for Australia:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-31/covid-quarantine-hotel-worker-tests-positive-in-perth-wa/13106968

There are certain to be ongoing leaks of the new strains from quarantine facilities.

Most people want to do whatever it takes to suppress them immediately rather than risk community transmission exploding as it is doing elsewhere.

The ruling class wants to take that risk. As far as I can make out this is sheer irrationality on their part. Naturally they put their asset values ahead of other people’s lives. There are bound to be sectional interests, like tourism, airlines and hospitality that could reasonably imagine that they would actually benefit from taking more risk. But all the evidence shows that the risks they loudly campaign for do more damage to the economy as a whole than the costs of not taking those risks – and therefore damage the overall interests of the ruling class as a whole.

The problem is that most “business leaders” here do not make any independent analysis. In most of the world it is simply not possible to avoid community transmission so “opinion leaders” on behalf of the ruling class are attempting to optimize the situation for their asset values without having that option. The “business community” here mostly looks to the same opinion leaders from North America and Europe rather than thinking for themselves about their own interests.

In Australia, like New Zealand, it is quite possible to avoid another wave but becoming more difficult with the new strains that are more infectious and will therefore escape more easily from quarantine and isolation facilities that were able to more successfully contain less infectious variants. Once they have escaped they are more likely to overwhelm contact tracing quickly.

Fortunately WA is in the middle of an election campaign. The government has responded in the same way that South Australia did when it wrongly believed a case of community transmission was from a more infectious strain. That over reaction in SA was an entirely necessary reaction in WA where they are reasonably certain that it is in fact a more infectious strain. They will be accused of doing it to pander to voters in an election. But whether that is the case or not it will make it much harder for the pressures from the Commonwealth Government, the media and “business” to intimidate other State governments from doing what has to be done.

So there is a still a good chance Australia could reach herd immunity through vaccination without going through another wave like Victoria’s, let alone anything as bad is happening in Europe and North America. It just depends on how incompetent they are.

It really is “touch and go” since, as I mentioned on December 2, we were then only half way through the emergency declared in the middle of last March. That was 8.5 months of the way through. Another 8.5 months would take till mid-August this year.

Although there is still talk of completing vaccination in Australia by October it looks increasingly unlikely that there could be herd immunity by then, let alone before September. As predicted, Europe and North America will not be exporting much in the way of vaccine supplies until they have dealt with the collapse of their hospital systems. That is likely to take all year by which time the disasters elsewhere will certainly be higher priority than Australia.

So apart from importing small amounts, Australia will be relying on its own new manufacturing facilities that were started late for AstraZeneca (and possibly others). Significant volumes may start to be available to the general public in April but will take many months to cover everyone who wants to be vaccinated. The small amounts imported earlier will be useful to help maintain isolation of quarantine and health workers in the frontlines. That will further reduce the risks of another wave before herd immunity, but will have negligible impact on reaching herd immunity.

There is currently no reason to expect that complete vaccination with relatively inefficient vaccines will result in herd immunity this year. However it could still result in an end to the State of Emergency before October. With a large proportion vaccinated subsequent clusters and outbreaks would be relatively easy to contain by contact tracing (in more or less the manner that the vicious liars opposing emergency restrictions now pretend is the case already). We would then just have the “normal” risks of just another endemic infectious disease until the whole world achieves herd immunity. That could be done quite quickly with rational international cooperation but there seems little chance of that so it looks more likely to take years with major disasters still unfolding in many places.

The problem the USA faces is that they already have huge numbers that are close to overwhelming hospital systems and the vaccine will not have much impact in the first few months when more than 80% of the population remain susceptible compared with the impact of new more infectious strains. That is not the situation in Australia.

No doubt Australia will keep selfishly demanding priority vaccination ahead of places that desperately need it. No doubt the Australian manufacturing plants will not give priority to saving lives in neighbours like Indonesia but it is safe to assume European and North American plants will eventually join China, Russia and India in supplying developing countries rather than diverting urgently needed supplies to countries like Australia whether the Australian government complains or not.

Notes on Trump 62 – covid-19 and Biden

Biden got more votes than Trump largely because of Trump’s catstrophically bad leadership on covid-19.

Trump was very good at provoking enough insanity from deranged liberals that he looked like getting a second term simply based on being hated by deranged people rather than having actually delivered anything.

The Democrats were so hopeless that despite running against a Trump who could be blamed for many of the 400,000 deaths they nearly lost in the Electoral College and there are serious doubts as to whether their victory was lawful.

The Biden administration has just released a 200 page strategy for covid-19:

Click to access National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf

I have only skimmed the first half. I could not bear to even skim the second half which had chapters on “equity” and “US leadership” plus the full text of Executive Orders to implement the strategy.

As far as I can see the strategy document adequately highlights the fact that the current wave is spreading uncontrolled across the USA and will get worse, with hospital systems already starting to be overwhelmed. That is better than Trump and a necessary preliminary to having a strategy.

But I did not notice any plausible strategy. As with Trump the focus is largely on the vaccine. Various measures are proposed to accelerate delivery but I did not notice any that could achieve even a parabolic acceleration, let alone catch up with exponential infection. For example great stress is placed on delivering 6 doses from each vial originally intended to ensure 5 doses with allowance for wastage. That is merely an insignificant blip, not even a plan for constant linear, let alone parabolic acceleration.

The target of 100 million doses in 100 days is comparable to the current level of bungled delivery (900,000 per day). Proportional to population it is substantially slower than what the UK is currently delivering. That is probably realistic and reflects how disfunctional the US health system is. If achieved it could substantially reduce mortality both by protecting many of the most vulnerable and by keeping most of the health and aged care workforce functioning so that staff sick, dead or in quarantine are not the main bottleneck on health and aged care.

But I did not see any calculation suggesting that vaccination of less than 1 in 6 Americans could avoid continued exponential increase resulting from the more infectious strains becoming dominant with the current levels of shutdown. Continuing at that rate would take more than a year to reach herd immunity if it was not reached by infection first.

Instead of plans to tighten lockdowns what I did see was a goal to open up kindergartens and schools within the same 100 days and focus on “testing” to open up rather than immediate mobilization for more severe lockdowns.

In other countries that opened schools too early so as to get parents back to work too early, the pretense that children do not transmit infection has been dropped and schools are being closed as an emergency measure to help keep hospitals open.

The USA is still headed in the same direction as Trump, the opposite to what is needed. So is the UK and so is most of Europe.

A worse disaster can be expected in most of the developing world. Hopefully they may get enough vaccines to protect their relatively small healthcare workforce. But they won’t receive vaccines before Europe and North America so herd immunity will take much more than 1 year with no realistic prospect of overtaking the exponential growth of new strains.

On December 2 I wrote:

This is not just a half baked, but rather a quarter baked article on the current situation with covid-19.

My guess is that Australia is about half way through the state of emergency that began in mid-March.

Current indications are that a vaccine will start to be available here from about March or April, with full availability and likely herd immunity by the end of next year.

That should mean Australia goes to the back of the queue for vaccination. There is currently no urgent need here and major disasters elsewhere, so it should take much longer than the end of next year to vaccinate Australia.

But its far more likely the poorer countries that are likely to eventually get hit very hard will come last and Australia will be in the middle. I would be surprised if the production plants in Europe and North America divert supplies from the disaster unfolding around them until they have that under control. So the initial vaccinations here could also be later than March and April.

Anyway there is plenty of time before next March to analyse the recent news re vaccines.

A lot more information will be available in a few weeks so I am not attempting to analyse this further now. The disasters in Europe and North America are still unfolding and far worse is to come in the rest of the world, but it will be a lot easier to analyse in a few weeks than it is right now.

I am just dashing this off quarter baked because I expect to be paying more attention to US politics over the next few weeks.

https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/02/covid-19-quarter-baked-half-time/


A few weeks later there is no doubt a lot more information available. But I am still focussed on US politics and have not caught up on covid-19.

We are still in the silly season and a lot of things are up in the air and have not yet landed – both for US politics and covid-19 (of my three main topics last year, only Brexit has “landed”, with the expected whimper not bang).

As far as I am aware covid-19 has developed pretty much as I expected. But the new virus strains could make things considerably worse than I was expecting. Anyway here’s another “quarter baked” update.

The UK hospital system has now been in crisis for several weeks. The explosion in case numbers was inevitable due to catastrophic government failure (worse than in USA) but it has been confirmed that new virus strains are indeed significantly more infectious and are pretty certain to spread worldwide.

Report 42 – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Lineage B.1.1.7 in England: insights from linking epidemiological and genetic data
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-42-sars-cov-2-variant/

That is not an unexpected development. Natural selection favours survival of those viral strains that are more infectious.

Unexpectedly there is now preliminary data from the UK indicating that the strains expected to become dominant worldwide are also more deadly. Natural selection does not usually favour survival of viral strains that kill their hosts more quickly since dead people spread infection less than when alive. It is suggested that the mechanism which makes some new strains more infectious is stronger attachment between the virus spikes and host cells, which results in both a higher viral load that is more infectious and a more intense immune system response that is the main cause of death.

It is tempting to speculate that greater mortality could instead simply be due to collapse of the UK hospital system with government announcements naturally preferring to blame nature. But there is no doubt the preliminary data is based on serious statistical analysis by authoritative sources, not from Public Relations spokespeople.

Here is some commentary from outside experts followed by link to the technical paper that was just released:

expert reaction to suggestion made in Downing Street press conference that the new UK variant may be linked to higher mortality than the old variant (NERVTAG paper also now published)

I am not competent to evaluate any of this, but it seems likely to be important.

Both the US and UK are engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible as fast as possible to get their hospital systems back under control.

That seems to me an inherently implausible strategy. We know that the new strains still grow exponentially under the levels of lockdown imposed so far. A plausible strategy would move immediately to a severe enough level of lockdown to actually stop transmission despite the greater infectiousness. That would require only really essential workers allowed out of their homes to work on delivering food, electricity and other essential supplies and services direct to households (as in Wuhan).

We also know that the rate of manufacture and delivery of vaccines cannot grow exponentially as vaccinations do not produce more vaccinations in the way that infections produce more infections. Extreme acceleration of vaccination can only be parabolic, like the acceleration due to gravity, not exponential, like a “viral” epidemic or a nuclear “chain reaction”.

Of course it is possible that even a constant linear delivery of vaccinations could reach herd immunity before the virus infects everybody. But it is very much a short term race with unfavourable odds.

The emergency already justified “emergency use” authorizations without the length of studies usually required and accelerated parallel development of manufacturing facilities. There are health as well as financial risks in both. These are now compouded by lengthening the period between initial and follow up doses so as to maximize short term numbers and permitting use of untested combinations of different vaccines for first and second doses when supplies of the vaccines initially available (mRNA) cannot keep up and manufacturing plants for others (eg AstraZenaca) do come on stream.

One risk already visible is that those for whom vaccination is most urgent – frontline health and quarantine workers – are also the most aware of the risks and about a quarter of healthcare workers in the UK are already hesitant about getting vaccinated.

That will presumably be met by media campaigns and lots of reassuring pronouncements by authorities that could induce actual panic given the perceived trustworthiness of authorities and the media.

Another risk strikes me that I have not read any technical papers about. Partially vaccinated people could be an ideal breeding ground for new strains that are harder to get rid of. My understanding is that people given a course of antibiotics are required to complete the full course to avoid the survival of those more resistant bugs that were not completely killed off by the initial dose.

I gather the effects of triggering the immune reaction are sufficiently unpleasant (nausea, fever, headaches etc in a small but not negligible proportion) that the dominant reason for two doses is to reduce that impact. Indeed recent evidence from Norway suggests that enough frail elderly people are getting killed by the effect of the vaccine to make it possible that the more frail residents of aged care facilities are better off just relying on the vaccination of staff, visitors and other residents rather than getting vaccinated themselves.

If the severity of those effects is the main reason for two doses, it seems possible not enough attention would be paid to the danger of breeding new strains by delaying a second dose in an emergency situation where there really is desperation to outrace collapse of the hospital system. I would of course not be capable of becoming competent to make that judgment.

So far the level of blithering incompetence in Australia has been less fatal than elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether Australian governments will act quickly enough to prevent the new strains escaping from quarantine. I have no way to judge whether they will or won’t. So far they have not. But things are already desperate enough elsewhere that it is reasonable to expect that they will.

I am not commenting on the dispute about whether AstraZeneva should be paused in Australia because it is unlikely to deliver herd immunity. As far as I know the simple fact is that mRNA plants in Europe and North America are not going to deliver supplies needed in a race to save their hospital systems to countries that are worse off, let alone countries that are better off, no matter how selfishly the Australian government demands it and how high it bids up the price. My impression is that even Paul Kelly makes more sense than the competent virologists who started and then backed away from that dispute. That unfavourable impression of competent virologists is not an endorsement of Paul Kelly. But it does strengthen my lack of confidence that people who should know what they are talking about actually do.

Notes on Trump 61 Splodey Heads Splode

I don’t have time to write an analysis.

This official explanation from twitter speaks for itself and needs no comment.

Overview

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.

The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending.

The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.

The mention of his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.

Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

@Twitter
Twitter Inc.

‎@Twitter‎ verified

Your official source for what’s happening.

https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/suspension.html

If that had been written as a parody it would have been unconvincing.

But its real.

Of course Trump announced that his own platform will be rolled out shortly.

But Google took a more serious step. It won’t distribute apps for other platforms unless they meet its requirements for enforcing “better moderation”. (In Australia they would have said “safety”).

Since they have a near monopoly with semi-locked phones it could actually take a few days of email forwarding for most people who care to learn how to download and install apps from other sources such as those listed here:

https://forum.f-droid.org/t/known-repositories/721

The next logical step would be to suppress access to material that “glorifies violence” by preventing normal URLs from working through the normal DNS.

That could take weeks rather than days for people to learn how to configure access to alternate DNS services for the “dark web”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_DNS_root

It would be more significant by assisting NSA et al to keep closer tab on that smaller subset of people using the “dark web”.

Further escalation would involve actually shutting down server access at high bandwidth colocation sites.

So far they have not even been able to shutdown “Library Genesis” and “Sci-Hub” on the public DNS:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_Genesis
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832410/#

The resilience of the networks behind those sites was massively hardened during the explosion of scientific collaboration bypassing commercial publishers resulting from covid-19.

Now of course Google, NSA et al are thoroughly aware of and indeed contributors to all of that.

It would certainly be possible to shut everything down in an emergency. What’s missing is the ability to just make peoople disappear. That is far simpler, quicker and more effective. No actual fascist regime tries to impose such breathtaking levels of censorship as that being announced without being able to rely on just locking people up.

Meanwhile the main effect is just to drive people into narrower circles that can be more easily monitored – eg if they end up imagining that the Tor encrypted networks funded by the US Navy are some sort of way to avoid US government surveillance.

But the side effect is far more important.

Raising the general level of paranoia is certainly “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021”.

Suppressing that is likely to inspire some actual “domestic terrorism”.

Is that the aim?

Possibly for some. But my guess is the corporate liberals have just lost the plot.

Some Republicans really are stupid enough to imagine they could survive the primaries in two years by prohibiting Trump from running for public office.

If just 17 GOP Senators join the Democrats in impeaching Trump in order to impose that penalty, we would be in quite an extraordinary situation. Not worth analysing unless it actually happens. I have no way to guess whether there are that many who are that desperate and stupid.

But it is certainly plausible that there will be enough Democrats to start the impeachment process. They already did “the Russia thing” and they already impeached Trump once. What harm would they see in helping to intensify the fight that Trump has already unleashed in the opposing party?

So everything possible is being done to increase the relevance, support and enthusiasm of a large mass based right wing party with both a substantial Congressional representation and a militant extra-Parliamentary wing.

Moreover the complete desertion of basic democratic principles by Trump’s opponents forces others to unite with Trumpists on the simple issue of whether we want to be told what we are allowed to think and say by corproate liberals (who Trump calls the “radical socialist, Marxist left”).

I honestly cannot guess what the people at Twitter who signed themselves “Your official source for what’s happening” think will now happen.

My guess is it will be a lot easier to get along with the Trumpists in a united front than with that lot.

See also my comments of January 4 and 9:
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4322
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4332

Notes on Trump 60 – Georgia and Serendipity

With 98% of the votes counted, the outcome in Georgia is no longer “unknowable”.

Democrats ahead in both Senate races and most uncounted votes are from Atlanta so it is reasonable to assume that Democrats will have control of the Senate.

That largely insulates the Biden administration from threats of government shutdown and blocking of administrative and judicial appointments. That gives them less excuse for their inability to do anything useful.

It also gives Trump less leverage within Congress as he would have less scope to swing the 60 vote majority currently required for legislation (although it also increases the likelihood of that rule being abolished).

However Trump’s main relevance is still as leader of an oppositional mass based party that will be confronting its opponents in the Republican primaries (and many State legislatures) over the next two years as well as confronting a corrupt administration that cannot blame its opponents for its inability to do anything useful.

If SCOTUS did eventually declare both President and Vice President positions vacant there would be a smooth transfer within the same Democrat administration – either to Pelosi or, in the unlikely event of that being declared unconstitutional, to Biden’s Secretary of State, Blinken who can now be rapidly confirmed. But the Senate would then become deadlocked at 50-50 since Harris would no longer be Presiding officer with a casting vote.

Either replacement Democrat President might then have great difficulty getting their nominee for Vice President or any other position confirmed by the Senate and even getting funds to avoid government shutdowns.

Serendipitously that potential outcome might make it easier for SCOTUS to bite the bullet. As well as doing its duty to maintain the basics of bourgeois democracy by nullifying unlawful election results, it would avoid having overturned the popular vote and facilitated better conditions for a political solution to the absurdities left over from an eighteenth century constitution.

In “Notes on Trump 56 – Serendipity” I wrote:

“With no mandate, and no funds from the Senate, President Pelosi would have to agree with both parties and the States on the necessity for constitutional changes to enable fresh elections. I may return to that sheer fantasy speculation later.”

That fantasy would be a lot less dangerous than a right wing populist party pitted against a corrupt regime.

Tomorrow’s posturing in the joint session of both Houses will only be the start of a serious mobilization about electoral fraud mixed together with some seriously crazy conspiracy theories.

At present it still looks like we are stuck with the more dangerous situation.

Either way things would be a lot better if there was a revolutionary democratic left force openly hostile to both sides.

covid-19 Gold Standard again

As expected the weekly “Gold Standard” lottery in NSW has won a prize.

Tolerating non-zero “mystery cases” to avoid lockdowns was welcomed by the Federal government and its health advisors as “textbook” performance in Victoria to avoid lockdown.

With the media clamouring against lockdown the Victorian government delayed and attempted a limited local lockdown instead.

Naturally that failed. You cannot confine a pandemic to parts of a major city while people are still allowed to go to work.

Odd that anyone ever thought it possible. New Zealand’s success was because it went immediately into lockdown at the first case of community transmission and stayed there until the last.

But people do only learn from experience.

South Australia did learn from Victoria’s experience and locked down promptly.

The Federal and media campaign against Victoria’s lockdown was so intensive that it successfully avoided any attention being paid to the major blunder that led to it being so prolonged. That was not the (hardly unusual) blundering with Hotel Quarantine but the failure to act promptly and decisively as soon as “mystery cases” developed.

So NSW never did learn the lesson and is now repeating Victoria’s mistakes.

They got away without lockdowns despite having a small amount of community transmission and this weekly “risk management” lottery was held up as a shining example that contact tracing could make lockdown unnecessary.

Now that NSW has 30 cases in one day it is reluctantly and slowly moving towards a Greater Sydney lockdown.

But first it has to exhaust every other alternative.

They are following Victoria’s abysmally stupid example of first trying to lockdown a few suburbs.

Who knows, it might work.

But why would anybody be stupid enough to risk it?

Other States are also taking a risk by only declaring the Northern suburbs of Sydney a hotspot.

They should send a clear message by restricting travel from NSW and then limiting that to Greater Sydney once NSW has established controls protecting regional NSW and especially border regions with other States from any outbreaks in Greater Sydney.

Just after I drafted the above I heard Victoria closing border to all of Greater Sydney.

Unlike NSW there is no pretense that this might conceivably end by Wednesday.

Victoria’s expectation is that there will be more clusters outside the Northern beaches area of Sydney.

Victorian Chief Health Officer just gave clear explanation of why.

Did learn from experience. NSW did not. How could they with the Federal government and its health advisors praising their “gold standard” approach?

Notes on Trump 59 – Biden joins the Trump campaign

The media’s campaign to convince Republicans the election was rigged against them has been spectacularly successful.

Overall trust in elections has plummeted among Republicans: Prior to the election, 66 percent of GOP voters said they had at least some trust in the U.S. election system. In the latest poll, that dropped to 33 percent. Democratic trust, meanwhile, jumped from 63 percent to 83 percent.

Tracking Trust in the Fairness of U.S. Elections – Morning Consult

Simply by asserting that allegaions are “baseless” and “without evidence” in almost every paragraph, the media has been able to halve the number of Republicans who have any trust in the U.S. election system. Increasing the proportion of Democrats who trust it by a third is not much compensation.

Now President elect Joe Biden is joining in the campaign:

Joe Biden : (09:12)
Even more stunning, 17 Republican Attorneys General, and 126 Republican members of the Congress, actually, they actually signed onto a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas. That lawsuit asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials and one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states. And to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.

Joe Biden : (10:04)
It’s a position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before. And position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort. The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump that they would be no part of an unprecedented assault on our democracy.

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/joe-biden-speech-after-electoral-college-vote-transcript-december-14

That sends exactly the same two clear messages that the media has been repeating:

  1. The USA will now have a government that treats going to its courts to dispute election results as an attack by enemies of the people – exactly like every country that has rigged elections.
  2. Thankfully, the courts can be relied on to defend the government from such outrageous attacks by enemies of the people.

Can Biden succeed in halving again the number of Republicans who still have some trust in US elections so that only 1 in 6 Republicans remain trusting? Will he feel successful if he increases the numbers of Democrats with some trust by another one third?

He can certainly try!

It would be hard for anyone who does not support his government to fail to grasp this clear message that they will have to fight.

What remains to be seen is how many who oppose Trump will join in.

Trump makes it harder for people to oppose this attack on the basic principles of democracy. Biden is doing his very best to make it easier. Anyone who cops this shit from the government will cop anything.

I thought it would be extremely difficult for the Democrats to top the stupidity of having spent years claiming that the President of the USA was a Kremlin stooge.

I was wrong. Its easy and they are likely to become even more unhinged as the inevitable results of their efforts bear fruit.

Presumably they really do believe the conservative majority on SCOTUS is on their side.

So how are they going to cope if that turns out to be wrong? What if the same courts that refused to issue emergency orders without testing the evidence end up holding trials to consider the evidence? Obviously the media will continue to simply denounce that as an “unprecedented assault on our democracy” and insisting there is no evidence. Will repeating that again be helpful?

And what do they expect, and what does SCOTUS expect would happen if courts did simply refuse to consider election disputes as demanded by the President elect.

Are they going to find it easier to govern a country where more than half the voters don’t trust the election results, or the courts?

Not a problem. In the same speech where Biden denounced a majority of Republican voters for their “unprecedented assault on democracy” he also said:

Joe Biden : (12:32)
You know, in this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the people voted, faith in our institutions held, the integrity of our elections remains intact. And now it’s time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history, to unite, to heal.
That soothing message is bound to work out well. Can’t you just feel the uniting, the healing…

Notes on Trump 58 – SCOTUS goes slow


I added this comment to Notes 57:

SCOTUS has just dismissed Texas for lack of standing to dispute elections in other States.

That was the weakest point. Texas claimed it had an interest because of dilution of Texas votes in Senate where Vice President chosen unlawfully has casting vote.

I thought SCOTUS would take the case because otherwise they are stuck with multiple separate cases wading their way through the lower State and Federal courts.

But combined with dismissal of [emergency injunction in] Kelly v Pennsylvania this does indicate any eventual judgments will be well after Biden takes office, contrary to my expectation.

Unusually, it seems the “experts” were right. Not unusually, I was wrong.

Click to access 121120zr_p860.pdf

No idea what happens next, as I wasn’t expecting this.

Thinking about it, my assumptions now are as follows.

Certainly nothing dramatic happens before December 14 so Biden and Harris become President and Vice President elect.

I just read the Texas reply filings and it seems they were serious about wanting the State Legislatures to be able to appoint replacement electors and actually have Trump declared winner on December.

That was never going to happen and I took it as purely an ambit claim with the intention of throwing it to the House instead by just restraining the votes so that total required would remain 270 and Biden/Harris would have less than that. But perhaps State Legislatures really was the plan, which was doomed.

They also seriously tried to defend a statistical analysis rather mildly described as “nonsense” by defendants.

It was actually “completely idiotic” rather than merely “nonsense”, as clearly explained here:

More on Statistical Stupidity at SCOTUS

I also now think it is also highly unlikely that anything much will happen by January 6 or by inauguration day on January 20.

Another factor is that there were still only 126 (of 196) Republican Representatives signed on as friends of the court in a second attempt a day after the first 100. That suggests a serious likelihood that throwing it to the House would still result in Biden winning in the House (with Vice President Pence winning in the Senate). Representatives in “purple” swing States are often “moderates” to avoid alienating other voters. There could easily be enough Republicans in enough State delegations who could either vote against Trump or simply abstain so that their State delegation votes for the candidate that had the larger popular vote. Only 1 or 2 State delegations would need to swing or abstain.

The issues will end up going to trial at some point but it seems unlikely that SCOTUS intends to expedite anything at all. One case that blocked Federal trials on the substance for Pennsylvania was already listed has a response due December 28 to proceed normally:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-740.html

Any eventual declarations that the elections were conducted unlawfully in enough States could still result in removal of Biden and Harris from office. Equally it could just not.

It isn’t over but I was expecting lots of drama this week and I am not expecting that now.

How things develop with lots of people believing the election was rigged and a woeful Biden Presidency remains to be seen.

I still expect a mass based right wing party led by Trump with both a parliamentary and extra parliamentary wing.

Even if a majority of GOP representatives reject Trump, most won’t be likely to survive the primaries in 2 years.