Why the coronavirus might boost Trump’s reelection prospects

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

The first and perhaps most important effect will be to make Trump’s nationalism seem ordinary, even understated. Hundreds of flights to China have already been canceled, countries are refusing to receive (or deciding to quarantine) Chinese nationals or visitors from China, and China itself is severely limiting travel within the country. Whether or not these prove effective measures, the idea of travel bans and restrictions no longer seems extreme or unconstitutional. Even if voters are confusing normal times with times of pandemic, on this issue Trump’s instincts now seem almost prescient.

When the flight of Americans returning from Wuhan was sent to Alaska last week instead of San Francisco, and subject to quarantine, very few political complaints were heard, including from leading Democrats. There might still be arguments about whether that was a justified violation of civil liberties, but the notion that a pandemic requires the federal government to take such measures, without a congressional vote, is not seriously contested.

That is going to help any incumbent president who believes in the strong exercise of executive power, as does Trump.

There is much more at the link.


In general, scary situations (terrorist attacks, war scares, crime waves, pandemics) are where authoritarian leadership both works well and appeals to the public. Even not-all-that-competent authoritarian leadership is reassuring in a crisis. That seems likely to boost Trump's prospects, and probably also Bloomberg's prospects in the Democratic primaries.


"Xi is not a dictator." Mini-Mike Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg is correct. He would make an excellent chief executive of Hong Kong.

Nancy's hissy fit last night won't hurt either. This is the Dems leader in the House?

Seems unlikely that this will be a sufficiently major situation come November that it makes any meaningful effect in voter choices, while not also tarnishing Trump for his performance in dealing with it.

Cutting Apple sales significantly, cutting commodity sales globally, won't have much impact in the short and long term?

Can't sell what can't be produced, and consumption prohibited by quarantine cuts sales of stuff already produced. The result is reduced GDP from normal.

Unlike conservative/GOP policy makers, China solves unemployment by increasing labor costs by paying more workers than ever, while the GOP tactic is to focus on increasing profits, the money not paid to workers, by cutting costs, meaning firing workers and slashing worker pay.

As I write this, Marketplace is reporting on cratering oil prices and Russia and OPEC calling an emergency meeting to kill jobs to cut oil production from expectations China commodity consumption will fall.


Did you know Trump was an anti-vaxxer, claiming vaccines were causing massive increases in autism?

Here are his tweets on vaccines: http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/highlights/vaccines

No man differs more from another
Than he does from himself
At a different time

Indeed, it's unfortunate that he dissuaded so many fron receiving a vaccine for this virus that was only recently discovered when the first cases emerged.

Since some people actually listen to him and believe him then if we actually do create a vaccine some people will probably refuse the vaccine based upon Trump's statements, not the science.

"As measles outbreaks rage in a number of states across the country, President Trump urged families to vaccinate their children on Friday.

“They have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House. “This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.”

“To me, this is one of the best things President Trump has done,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of the history of education at the University of Pennsylvania, who called out Trump publicly on his silence in a recent op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Shark and TMC,

Evidently you did not read his MANY,MANY Tweets on vaccines causing autism.

There were 28 Tweets against vaccination.

Apparently, you may be suffering from Trump blindness. There is no vaccine from that

Go look art the tweets in the link. That's why I gave the link for you to follow of his assembled vaccine tweets.

I'm aware that he was had anti-vax sentiments. My quote shows that he's reversed himself. He seems to be given to conspiracy theories. He even believed Hillary's birth certificate story about Obama. Who can blame him though. It wasn't long ago that if you believe in deep state you were a nut, until they started to explain how the deep state is good. He was also a nut for believing the FBI was spying on him, and we now know that to be true as well. I'm glad he's off the anti-vax bandwagon though.

I don't think he reversed himself on the combination vax drugs. He reversed himself on one vaxine after an epidemic developed and was told to do so.

This guy is not a scientist, doesn't listen to scientists, and thinks he is a stable genius.

By your own account, Trump has been gullible and/or dishonest enough to circulate at least two baseless conspiracy theories.

And any reasonable person would also add conspiracies about the deep state and campaign surveillance. On the latter point, Carter Page wasn't even placed under FISA surveillance until October 2016, by which time he had left the Trump campaign. The Trump people at the time downplayed Page's contributions to the campaign and, if they had heard of him at all, couldn't seem to describe what he was contributing. Now they want to have it both ways and claim post-employment surveillance of someone they previously characterized as a minor campaign worker now constitutes "surveillance of the Trump campaign" or of "Trump Tower."

The FBI agents who lied in getting the warrant should be punished but there isn't anything unremarkable about placing a U.S. citizen under surveillance if that citizen was a previously obscure foreign policy wonk and energy analyst who all of the sudden starts meeting with heavy hitters in the Russian government and business world, including people who were under sanctions by the U.S. government. It would be malfeasance for American intelligence agencies to not try to find out what that person is doing in Russia.

Only one baseless, the anti-vax one. The birther one started by Hillary at least might look legitatime as Obama spent over a million to not show his birth certificate - the one document that satisfies his legal requirements to be President.

As for deep state, we all now acknowledge it exists.

The Carter Page surveillance was first reported in Sept 2016, and the first FISA warrant was in October, both before the election. If it was reported in Sept then who knows how long it had been going on. The fact that the FBI used the Clinton fabricated Steele dossier- acknowledged to be fake by the FBI - to get the warrants indicated it was a spy mission on the campaign. So Trump comes out 3/4.

"As for deep state, we all now acknowledge it exists."

Fake News! /s

"That is going to help any incumbent president who believes in the strong exercise of actions people have been taking since before microbiology was even a thing..."

Never let common sense stand in the way of narrative, I guess.

..to the Takes One to Know One retort.

How will they react when he is re-elected?
That will be delicious to watch
Nancy will be tearing her hair out rather than tearing up paper

I see Trump as at best (worst?) a loudmouth jerk from Queens. And let’s face it, his re-election will happen, overblown fears of a minor virus notwithstanding. Why? He’ll be elected because have you seen the opposition? A socialist who joins the party every four years and who is hated by the party elite. A melange of identity politics types. A native woman who isn’t native and who pivots to support everything her radical rivals propose. And Biden, who wasn’t even capable of reaching a final 2-3 when he was young and in full command of his memory.

I got my eye on you

Definitely switching to Dos Equis.

Sorry I missed this albatross, busy with post-Super Bowl refereeing.

Great zinger, +5 i.p.

You forgot Buttigieg. Perhaps he's a long shot for the nomination but if he gets it I don't think Trump will have much of a chance. McKinsey training can be unstoppable.

Buttigieg doesn't have any appreciable chance of winning. Blacks dominate the Democratic process in the south east and they aren't voting for a white gay man.


His national polling is currently less than 7%.

Mayor Pete needs to stop messing around and run on his record as mayor of South Bend, IN. He was as good as Spartacus was for Newark, NJ.

Hell Hole Mayors of The US Unite! Do It To The Rest Of America.

Neither one was a bad mayor. As far as third tier city mayors go.

I don't think I'd rule Biden out. He just has to be coherent to be a plausible candidate, let Trump shoot off his mouth and have the rest of the Left restrain themselves.

Of course, the Left has had a problem with restraining itself. Trump would have done himself in if handled at arms length, but when the opposition keeps jumping in the mud pit, then Trump's comments don't matter that much.

For posterity’s sake Election 2020 theme:

Biden/Bernie vs Trump: “The Slip in the Shower Election. Democracy not thwarted by muh Russians, but instead by one or more elderly candidates falling in the bathroom.”

I'd give Biden a 75% chance of punching a voter who asks a question about his son, and 25% chance of showing up for a speech without his pants on.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching last night's World Series game.

I'll give you the first one, but I don't think the odds are nearly that high for not wearing pants. He has handlers for that kind of thing.

The most astonishing thing about Biden's campaign thus far has been just how inept his handlers are though. We are 6 months post people finding out Hunter Biden was taking 50K a month from a shady outfit and his best response to scream at reporters and constituents when they bring it up.

If they are too dumb to sort that out, I'd put the "Biden in town without pants" odds at about +150.

Trump has never been ahead of Biden in any national poll, and if his supporters think that him lying about the Bidens on Ukraine with no witnesses appearing in his impeachment trial is going to help him, well, then C-G, you are even a bigger cuck than it looks like you are already.

I can't tell if this is satire or you are serious.

Well, some of this depends on whether the novel coronavirus turns out to actually result in a "pandemic" as opposed to an overblown panic.
Being "worse than SARS" is not saying much.

"Being "worse than SARS" is not saying much."

That's true, but effectively Coronavirus is already worse than SARs. The massive China quarantines guarantee a significant economic effect. China just put Wenzhou on the coast in lock down. It's a city that comparable in population to Chicago.

" turns out to actually result in a "pandemic" as opposed to an overblown panic."

It almost certain that WHO will declare coronavirus to be a pandemic in the next two weeks.. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be crippling anywhere outside of China, but it does mean it is a serious issue.

"It's very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told The New York Times."


WHO's Situation Report for Monday, 3 Feb 2020:


--on this the 35th day of the outbreak.

Given that this virus seems capable of spreading from asymptomatic but infected persons, aren't calls for strict limits to international commercial air travel prudent until after investigators can determine virulence and lethality?

Assessing evidence that becomes available over the next month or two would also show what adaptations the virus is able to make in terms of virulence and lethality--additional reasons to restrict international commercial air travel at least for the next several weeks in response to the global spread of the virus over the past 35 days.

The numbers just updated and the number of confirmed Deaths jumped by 18% from yesterday. (362 to 426). The number of confirmed Infections jumped 13% from (17,496 to 19,843). We're still on an exponential growth path (in the middle of the sigmoid curve)

However, there is still only 1 death outside of China and only 188 confirmed infections.


The numbers filled out over night. The Deaths were pretty much the same 427 but more infections were reported bringing the infection percentages in line with the reported fatality rate at 18%.
(17,497 to 20,657.)

Unfortunately the additional death was outside of China proper (in Hong Kong) which is worrying.

Once again the numbers have jumped still on an exponential growth path.

Difference from the confirmed cases this morning:
Deaths jumped 15% (427 to 492).
Confirmed infections jumped 15% (20,657 to 23,865).
Confirmed infections outside of China: 226
Deaths outside of China: 2


2/5 update

Difference from the confirmed cases yesterday
Deaths jumped 15% (492 to 565).
Confirmed infections jumped 18% (23,865 to 28,276).
Confirmed infections outside of China jumped 14% (226 to 258)
Deaths outside of China: 2

2/6 update

Difference from the confirmed cases yesterday
Deaths jumped 12% (565 to 635).
Confirmed infections jumped 9% (28,276 to 30,814).
Confirmed infections outside of China jumped 8% (258 to 278)
Deaths outside of China: 2

Let's hope that the travel restrictions work, work at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. But they may not limit the spread of the economic damages; indeed, it's just as likely the travel restrictions exacerbate the economic damages. If nothing else, this may impress upon Americans our reliance on China for the goods we want and expect. By the way, 5 million people left Wuhan after the outbreak and before the quarantine. That's 5 million. History informs us that maximal exercise of executive power produces very unfortunate results. But I appreciate Cowen's point: people want somebody to do something, even if the something is stupid and counterproductive. My suggestion? Wash your hands. Often. Including the thumbs (often neglected). As for Chinese and other Asian restaurants, what's Cowen's suggestion? Avoid them?

"As for Chinese and other Asian restaurants, what's Cowen's suggestion? Avoid them?"

Why would you avoid eating at Asian restaurants in the US? That is just irrational panic. Are you going to start avoiding Asian-American's in public too?

You should continue eating at Asian restaurants, but only ones with ugly women and sinister-looking men speaking in a foreign language.

How the heck can you wash your hands without washing your thumbs?

I assume a serious question. It's the outside of the thumb people ignore, which, unfortunately, is where most people come in contact with disease. Think about it. Scrub.

I wonder if Tyler is referring to this:


+1, that's GOLD, Todd! nice find

Not surprising. The strength of the disgust reaction is corellated to conservative politics, in general. And increases in transmissible disease prevalence understandably would elevate the sensitivity of the disgust mechanism.

I guess we are past the "authoritarianism lol" of 2017. Now people get it, and it's an explicit question whether they buy in.

Authoritarianism trend is skyrocketing among Democrat party candidates. Let’s get real.

Unfortunately Biden has come out in favor of criminalizing free speech on the internet, as has Warren and Sanders.

I’m surprised and disgusted that Sanders supports criminalizing free speech. But we’re now at a point in which you either vote Democrat and for no internet, or for a buffoon and internet.

Biden, Warren, and Sanders now support criminal liability for any comment or post on the web. So no discussions, no comments, no posting, no information. Any blogger that allows comments will be liable for jail time if a commenter makes a joke about a politician. This is China level authoritarianism.

It’s officially Yang or Trump for anyone who isn’t a literal fascist.

The Political Compass actually ranks this.

Interesting results.

"The Political Compass actually ranks this."

LOL, they rank Buttigieg as far Right. And Sanders moderately Left and Libertarian!

That's the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a while. You got trolled.

It might be a tad opinionated, but remember that they think they are using some kind of global scale.

The US center could probably properly be determined in this moment by the weighted center of those candidates.

Somewhere around Delaney or Klobuchar?

For God's sake man, they have a Libertarian candidate (an extreme Libertarian) as more Authoritarian than Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard

I don't know anything about that guy.

And you are misunderstanding Warren:

"Warren wants to 'create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections.'"

That's election interference, not opinion making.

You’re literally spreading false information about elections ;). You’d be a criminal!

She’s called for the repeal of Section 230 and threatened to attempt it by Fascist Fiat executive order.

Under the Warren or Biden regime the POTUS could imprison any host of a website that had a comments section which contained any comments critical of the government. The DoJ would bring the power of the Feds to destroy any person that allowed comments sections.

The threat of imprisonment for blog hosts or social media companies would eliminate free exchange of ideas. Essentially any email sent could subject the sender and receiver to imprisonment and impoverishment.

This is fascism. Any non-insane Person should realize imprisonment for opinions is the opposite of America.

Good lord man, you’ve made great points about limiting the power of the executive branch. Now you go all in for eliminating speech?

I think you are mixing and matching, but I might be wrong.

Link to any "criminal penalties" unrelated to election interference.

Now if you want to talk separately about Section 230 and etc, that's fine. But Section 230 has only been law since 1996. It's not exactly founding fathers stuff.

It's a law about the Internet, doofus! When do you want the law to have been enacted, 1776?

The point is, if "criminal penalties" were related to political speech, that *would* be in conflict with foundational values.

""Warren wants to 'create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections.'""

So, would, "Vote for Donald Trump for 2020, the best candidate" be and example of telling people how to vote?

Or how about, "Vote party line Republican at the ballot, to save America!"?

Do honestly believe your own argument?

"How" means to me fake ballots, a thing that has been done.


Even worse,


Ok, let me put this in a form you'll understand.

If it was already an existing law and Trump was expected to use it, would you be fine with it?

What are you even talking about now, a fantasy restriction of the First Amendment? Or expanding punishments (now existing) for election fraud?

Here's what I think at this point, because none of you have produced a link with anything worse:

Warren really was talking about things like fake ballots, misinformation on polling places, etc. This went into a paranoia machine and came out the other side as a repeal of the First Amendment.

Just say no to paranoia, and use common sense about the strength of free speech in American law and culture.

I'll provide my link, here.

When I read that critically I see here trying to spread her message a bit, but on what would be "illegal" she sticks to what is legally possible, under the First Amendment and prior legal precedents.

"A North Carolina Republican operative already charged in a ballot fraud scheme that voided a congressional election was hit with numerous new charges related to another race where he is accused of election rigging."

According to the indictment, Dowless “instructed individuals to sign certifications indicating they had witnessed the voter vote and properly executed the absentee ballot when they had not, and mailed or instructed others to mail the absentee ballot in such a manner to conceal the fact that the voter had not personally mailed it himself.”

More here.

Lol. You’re old. Get off the internet. Or learn rationalism. Please see SSC for a belated education.

All of the Democrat candidates have promised to imprison any blog owner that allows comments.

The jump from median Democrat (Biden) to fascism was apparently 1 inch.

Biden supports jailing any blog owners. So does Warren and Sanders.

Resist fascism: vote for freedom of expression. Only Yang (WTF) supports non literal 5 year imprisonment sentenced for blog comments.

Once the diseases are under control, we can afford to no longer be authoritarian. :-)

Doesn't really replicate that well, sorry - https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/11/27/no-conservatives-dont-experience-feelings-of-disgust-any-more-than-liberals/

On 1, I don't think that Trump was elected last time _in spite of_ his hostility to foreigners, so why would mitigating this factor help him? More likely it would act as cover for others to move toward him and neutralise this advantage?

A few years ago I was watching a debate between Jeffrey Tucker for anarchism and Mark Skousen for minarchism at FreedomFest. The best Mark cold come up with was the need of a central government because of the possibility of pandemics. Even considering it true (which I do not), I frankly thought it was possibly the lamest of the excuses I had heard until then.

Let’s just hope that it will not become another permanent power of the State because of the ratchet effect.

Don't worry. If the epidemic takes off it will humiliate anyone near levers of power and influence. The best anyone can do is contain it and make very tough decisions about who dies where, with little effect on any outcomes except negative. A lost war becomes an orphan very quickly.

The best system is centralized information promulgation and decentralized decision making. Expect those who are hungry for power to suddenly become humble.

By the way where are all those people from the Ebola outbreak who were talking about how useless isolation and quarantine are?

Isn't a hostile foreign power the obvious reason you'd want a state around? I mean, invading foreign armies aren't going to be great about respecting individual rights, and it's hard to see an anarchist society successfully organizing an effective military without looking an awful lot like at least a minimal state.

Tyler, this was an excellent article. Granted, it's too early to tell if the long term effect of coronavirus will be significant in the November election, but outside of Trump bungling something badly it will play to his strengths.

Trump's nationalism is already both ordinary and understated. The United States blocked travel and immigration from many nations for most of its existence, and it didn't need a pandemic as a pretext for doing so. The immigrants who were allowed to arrive were checked for disease and quarantined if necessary, being denied entry if the illness warranted.

It's hard to imagine that the left would idly allow such egregious infringements of human rights today, even though the outbreaks of diseases in the illegal immigrant camps in Mexico suggest they are necessary. Of course, we know that part of the mental disorder known as leftism is a reduced aversion to poor hygiene and disease, so that is not unexpected.

One can imagine how the next few months might have played out with a committed leftist in office. No doubt the executive would still be working to assemble the most diverse task force possible, a shortcoming CNN noted about Trump's team. (I suppose if it were Elizabeth Warren, she would allow a transgender teenager to select the task force.) And of course there would be no talk of travel bans, etc. I don't know how what will happen in this timeline, but at least we have someone who is willing to take action to protect American interests in office.

This is a bit over the top, but then again...I recall the Ebola outbreak a few years ago where the main concern in certain quarters seemed to be that quarantines and travel bans might create stigma and would deny or delay some perfectly healthy people's travel plans.

Indeed, we are already seeing it in this instance. Trump put together a task force of experts to monitor the pandemic, and CNN criticized it as being too white, as if that were at all relevant to stopping the spread of the virus. We are already seeing sob stories in the media of the racism directed towards Asians as a result of the origins of the disease, and how it's not proper to avoid Asian people or establishments regardless of whether there might be an increase in exposure to the virus. And the travel bans, according to media pundits, will only serve to marginalize the Chinese community and make their lives that much more difficult. As per usual, the left misplaces its priorities; or, perhaps, they want the rest of us to misplace our priorities.

We need an authoritarian leader, so I'm voting for a femocrat.

What Cowen seems to ignore is that Trump doesn't exercise executive power to promote the public welfare, he exercises executive power for his own benefit. Indeed, I doubt he knows anything about public welfare, or is even capable of understanding public welfare. What I fear, what Cowen should expect and fear, is that Trump will exploit the public's fear of the coronavirus by identifying, demonizing, and punishing particular groups, especially groups who don't look American, such as Asians. In my first comment, I asked whether Cowen believes Americans should avoid Chinese and other Asian restaurants. It's likely they will be Trump's first target. But they won't be the last. Indeed, any of us could find ourselves the target. Cowen's newfound affinity for Trump is misplaced: no, Trump cannot exercise executive power to promote whatever policies Cowen may favor, Trump can only exercise executive power to promote Trump.

Shouldn't you avoid them? The variables in this equation are: a) the actual increase in odds of catching the virus around Asians as opposed to the general population, and b) the cost of catching the virus (and transmitting it on) versus the benefit of not appearing racist. If it's an easy decision now, would it be if/when the number of cases hits the thousands? Millions? To what extent, if any, should you be willing to risk your own health, if not the health of those closest to you, to appease the frivolities of the left, many of whom are either sufficiently insulated from the public themselves or display an indifference, if not an affinity, towards disease?

If the pandemic can reach that kind of scale it is obviously able to efficiently spread beyond blood relations that have correlated ethnicity. When 2% of South Dakota is sick they won't be any more Asian than the average South Dakotan.

What do you mean, "groups who don't look American" .... "such as Asians" ? ?

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has spread well beyond China and Asia, and the problem with a pandemic is that one carrier can infect hundreds who infect hundreds who infect hundreds. My point is that Trump will view the pandemic as a political opportunity, as he views everything in his small mind. I don't doubt that the pandemic will spread to Mexico and every other place Trump demonizes. Cowen believes Trump's propensity for authoritarianism can help limit the spread of the pandemic. No, it won't, it will just turn neighbor against neighbor.

"I don't doubt that the pandemic will spread to Mexico and every other place Trump demonizes"

That's just a dumb comment. The coronavirus is already in the US. There's 11 confirmed cases. There are 0 in Mexico.

Trump's nationalism will seem even more ordinary and understated if he can build a hospital in 10 days. Then, for sure, he will be a sure bet in November.

Since respiratory illness is in the air, I have to mention that Rush Limbaugh announced today that he has advanced stage lung cancer. Which reminded me of the Gospel of Peter, not in the canon, but topical. In it, sinners are punished according to their sin. Thus, a blasphemer is punished by hanging from his tongue over eternal flame. A woman who braids her hair to attract married men is hung by her hair over eternal flame. A married man who commits adultery is hung by his little member over eternal flame. Oh, my! Now, it seems, a blowhard will be punished by slowly losing the ability to blow hard.

Wow. That was mean.

Indeed, it's unfortunate that so many leftists take joy in the suffering of others, simply because they didn't agree with their viewpoints. But it's also hard for us to understand the mental anguish caused by their triggered amygdalae. When you're in that state you'll say or do anything to give yourself that dopamine hit, even if it does make you look like an ass.

I agree it is way out of line, and sort of invites devine retribution. For instance, if you said:

"Some news just in. Supreme Court Justice Ruth “Buzzi” Ginsburg has had lung surgery this morning, cancerous nodules removed..."


He was beating up on the media's reaction, not Ginsburg. Do you ever read your links?

It is not that simple. I do not like Mr. Limbaugh's political role, but I do not think his disease is funny.

Take it up with St. Peter. That poor soul was crucified upside down. By comparison, Limbaugh is getting off lightly, a wheeze here and there, a missed opportunity to demonize somebody here and there. On the other hand, like the sinners in the Gospel of Peter, Limbaugh may be hung by his tongue over eternal flame for being a blowhard.

It was both mean and uncharitable.

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

What did Jesus write in the sand when he confronted the men stoning the woman caught in adultery? Some say it was a list of their sins.

See 1 Corinthians 13:13 - in the Canon. "And love is the greatest because faith and hope can only work by love, and only show themselves by love."

Yeah, attitudes like this are why Trump got elected. If you're going to hate other people to this extent, they are gonna hate you back.

+1, the best response

Yes, I know, it's called the Apocalypse of Peter. Gospel sounded better than apocalypse (which means revelation).

Interesting that this comment was not deleted.

+1. Excellent comment. Rush has done more to divide the country since the slave trade.

I'm such a bitch.

The obvious point not made so far as to why this may not work out in Trump's favor is if it really gets bad enough to damage not only the world economy generally but the US economy as well. If that happens, Trump will suffer the consequences with nobody saying, "Oh, it is not his fault because he tried so hard to save the US from the coronovirus that caused this." And as of right now, the economy is almost the only area where a majority of the American people say Trump is doing a good job. If he loses that he has nothing except the fanaticism of his drooling supporters screaming at his rallies.

President Sanders? Don't make me laugh. Communism is as unpopular among ordinary Americans as capitalism is popular.

While the drool oozing all over my keyboard hasn't shorted said keyboard: Here's another area . . . ZZNNZZT . . .

Communism is as unpopular among ordinary Americans as capitalism is popular.

Which is to say: "Not at all". Don't kid yourself.

Latest (2020) NBC/WSJ poll: "Fifty-two percent of those polled said they viewed capitalism positively, while just 19 percent said the same about socialism. In an almost mirror flip, 18 percent had a negative view of capitalism, while 53 percent viewed socialism negatively."

19% popularity isn't quite the fringe, but to put it in perspective, it's half of Trump's core support.

Looks like he might be able to lose quite a few and stay even:
The demographics of the New Jersey rally are reflective of President Trump's previous rallies in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Minnesota and elsewhere. :
New Jersey Data:

✅ 158,632 Requested Tickets (92,841 distinct signups)

✅ 73,482 Voters Identified

✅ 10.4% Didn't Vote in 2016

✅ 26.3% Democrats

That last one is amazing. 26% of the people were Democrats.


How many of the attendees were from persons in other states. A marketing prof friend of mine attended a local Trump rally and found that over 1/3 of the license plates at the rally were from out of state.

Did you look at the residence of the ticket requester. If you can, please report your findings.

I'll find the source of that again. I don't remember if that was listed, though I think it wasn't. I'm not sure if it matters though. 26% of them were Democrats, that's a staggering number wherever they are from.

If only clipping "true things that happened" from the site also removed them from the world.

Either way, America will be fine.

Republicans will be punished in the polls for not supporting mass immigration. Democrats will be punished in the polls for supporting identity politics extremism.

The most important criteria for a POTUS are aversion to war and aversion to regulation (and Fed picks). A non-Biden/Buttigieg Democrat President with a non-ideological Supreme Court is probably fine. No wars, all regulatory Executive Orders overturned as per the constitution, legal marijuana, and amnesty for illegals.

Bernie or bust folks. Otherwise we’re back to endless wars.

I suspect a lot of us would support some kind of amnesty for illegals if that program were combined with support for a wall to restrict illegal entry on our southern border.

Yankees love the idea of wars as long as their kids don't get killed in them. That's why they introduce veteran non-coms at baseball and hockey games to standing ovations. Having an enemy to pulverize, if not defeat, is part of the American fabric.

No, it’s not.

That’s a terrible reading of history. The US is historically disposed to not care what happens abroad unless it affects us.

It’s only recently that the left and right wings embraced Wilsonian ideals.

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev'ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

No more Trump if the virus leads to a high U.S. death toll (not likely). Trump has three rules...lie, smear and make the .01% richer. A contained virus has no election impact.

When impeachment blows up in your face, I guess you have to start inventing random/bizarre reasons why Trump is going to get re-elected.

Start rationalizing now, folks! Don't want anyone to get the idea that he was simply the better option!

Episode 805 Scott Adams: The #Unpeachment, Coronavirus, Bernie Surging, Our New Dictator


“President Trump’s huge persuasion error requires an explanation”

The final item in this podcast by Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) was him saying that Trump was making a stupid mistake by not keeping travelers from China out. He said doing that would not cost Trump any votes, while not doing it could cost him lots of votes. But while he was explaining this, people sent him messages that Trump had just imposed travel restrictions on people coming from China.

SARS was quite bad in Toronto, where the hospital system did everything possible to spread the disease to as many people as possible. Vancouver had the same exposure but acted more sanely.

Harris, the Conservative premier at the time lost to McGuinty (Liberal) in an election that year, partly due to the mishandling of the epidemic.

If there are large numbers in the US it depends how it is handled. Right now there are a few cases in the US and Canada, and so far everything has been handled well, but we shall see.

In a way we should all be thankful that the media is preoccupied at the moment with the impeachment stuff. Then they will get preoccupied with whoever wins in Iowa. Then they will get preoccupied with Trump again over something. And the epidemic will pass without the 24 hour three week long searching for anyone in the US who has the sniffles.

If the virus spreads through China, it's hard to imagine a quarantine being effective worldwide.

Quarantines are like ballistic missile defense: they doesn’t have to be 100% effective to radically change the math.

If all the quarantines do is slow the rate of spread, that means more time to develop effective therapies, more time to stockpile antivirals, more time to test vaccines, less overwhelmed hospitals, fewer infected medical staff at any one time, etc. Eventually it will mean fewer people get the disease, and of those that do, fewer will die or suffer extreme consequences.

For example, this sort of thing is helpful, and takes time:


The Virus has already spread through China. Here's the John Hopkins map:


There's an interesting experiment to be had here. Canada is following the World Health Organization recommendation to not restrict travel: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-canadas-decision-against-travel-bans-tied-to-coronavirus-backed-by/. If it turns out there's an outbreak in Canada but not in the US, then we can say the US travel ban was successful. However, if it turns out (as I believe more likely) that there will be an outbreak in neither country, then the US travel ban will be exposed as just another authoritarian overreaction that messed up people's lives for no benefit, a smaller-scale version of the ineffective but highly disrupting quarantine in China. In that case, the lesson of coronavirus will be that the US government is indeed too powerful and that there do need to be congressional and other checks on the government's ability to unilaterally enact these measures.

Also, I was reading about the 2009 swine flu outbreak, and it seems that the US press criticized China for restricting travel from the US against the advice of actual health experts and other countries (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/29/kralev-us-warns-travelers-of-chinas-flu-rules/). It appears that the shoe is now on the other foot. Unfortunately, real people get caught in these machinations between the over-powerful authoritarian regimes on both sides.

I don't think there will be any such reaction in either direction:

Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s University Health Network, agreed that, in the past, travel restrictions have only “slowed down the inevitable."

But with the rapid spread of the new virus, known as 2019-nCoV, he said, “we’re in unprecedented times. ... I think it’s challenging to be dogmatic one way or another.”

People are not going to draw sweeping conclusions from however a policy does or does not work out and restrict governments' flexibility in the future, where even experts are unclear about what the counterfactual would be. That be a bad, Low Information Libertarian knee-jerk reaction.

If you know for a fact that a policy is causing significant negative direct effects, I think there ought to be actual evidence of positive indirect benefits to justify those negative direct effects. If coronavirus spreads no faster in Canada (with no travel restrictions) than it does in the US, then that would be evidence that the travel restrictions did not create benefits that justify the disruption and harms that they demonstrably did cause.

It's interesting that you accuse me of being "Low Information," yet I am the one advocating making decisions based on actual information (I'll admit I was wrong if Canada does indeed have an outbreak while the US doesn't), whereas you seem to be advocating sweeping powers to the government even when no evidence shows them to be effective. The World Health Organization also recommends no travel restrictions--are they "Low Information Libertarians" too?

It's an one instance case, where the policy recommendation is fairly tentative. There could be a number of factors as to why an outbreak would be worse in Canada or the US. Not a basis for a political restriction, which is the action I would term "Low Information" (or ignorant, ill-considered and rash).

The countries that have implemented travel bans (Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore and others) have done so on the basis of internal medical expertise. The WHO is a large intra-governmental wing of the UN, which is not wholly neutral to institutional pressure and bias.

But even with that considered, the WHO are not recommending political changes that restrict US government policy powers, which is the main distinction.

Sure, Canada may not be a perfect control group, as nothing in the real world is, but it's hard to point to any other major relevant differences between Canada and US at the given moment, which makes ex ante hypotheses relevant. This is far closer to an experiment than you normally get in the real world.

I've seen no evidence that the countries have implemented travel bans on the advice of medical experts as opposed to under political pressure.

And if we know that the government is consistently likely to overreact to this sort of highly-publicized-but-statistically-low-probability risk where much of the direct harms are borne by non-voters, then why shouldn't there be restrictions on the government's ability to act? The whole point of checks and balances is to identify the failure modes that the government is most likely to get into, and build checks and balances around those.

Now, have you actually researched if they have done so on the basis of internal medical expertise - the US announcement certainly claimed they had - and not political pressure? Or is this coming from one partisan article? The CDC is clearly involved in the restrictions - https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-reports-first-coronavirus-cases-as-china-allies-limit-ties-11580467046

Transmission patterns and epidemiology are different between outbreaks, and it would be remarkably incautious and blase to tie the hands of a government when the negative downsides of another pattern of transmission could be far worse and far more effectively inhibited by a travel ban, even if this one is not as effective as the US gov thinks.

When we argue for checks and balances, we argue for them to exist to check the government's ability to exercise tyranny over voters and its public. To prevent "direct harms borne by non-voters" is not really an argument for restrictions of powers in any normal civic sense, certainly not if the downside to non-voters are so low (some economic disruption) and the potential risks of pandemic (death) to voters potentially high.

This discussion seems to have sort of ended, but at this point I do just want to quickly clarify what you're suggesting here - seemingly either

a) moving powers away from the Executive and towards the Legislative branch, which wouldn't seem to do anything clear to remove it from politics and just decrease alacrity of response, or

b) to effectively move the powers from to national government to the WHO. The WHO themselves aren't really asking for this and probably would not think is a good idea. To add, that's certainly Globalist, but isn't really Libertarian at all (in the sense of moving things to individuals and away from institutions), and if anything seems further away in spirit from a Libertarian ideal (where such governments that there are, are accountable to specific people, who have a specific relationship with land that they privately hold).

In either case, neither move should be operated on the basis of taking a one-off jurisdictional policy difference that is then taken as a definitive case example, without thinking about the wider context and if there is any lack of clarity about who the power is actually being transferred to.
It is the sort of zeal to reduce the power of national states on any shallow pretext without any wider thought about whether this is being carried out on good information or with a wide enough thought of the consequences, and an indifference and lack of thought about where power will transfer to, so long as you feel like you're doing something, that I am thinking of and which I am disparaging and terming the worst sort of knee-jerk nominal "Libertarianism".

It's of course actually good that you're thinking about whether travel bans and quarantines are worth it in the trade-off of "time won" vs "difficulty in moving resources and vital people about", and it is a better quality of debate where this comes up rather than immediately leaping to bans being effective (as much of the general public would automatically think).


BC Center for Disease Control. Canada has a travel warning to avoid non essential travel to China and avoid travel to the province where the disease originated.

We shall see.

+1 and once again Zaua proves to be a most valuable commentator here.

"There's an interesting experiment to be had here. "

I agree. However, it will really only be a good test case if there's no outbreaks in the Western Hemisphere. An outbreak in Mexico clearly changes the calculation. Even a large outbreak in South America would obviously be a factor. The US gets far more unregulated travel from the South than Canada.

I have not noticed Libertarians who make public choice and non-coercion arguments against regulating externalities apply these to "public health" measures such as quarantines.

If {armies, quarantines, CO2 taxes, sacrifices to appease the gods} are necessary for the community to survive, then I want those things to happen under a libertarian government, either by the state or by private actors.

Isn't that asking for government with inherent contradictions? I mean, if you believe in the full blown libertarian position that nothing should be done "at the barrel of a gun," then you can't at the same time do those things. Without contradiction.

You’re thinking of anarchists. FFS dude.

Libertarians say governments should be focused on providing only public goods. Pollution abatement, national defense, safety standards for cars and airplanes, food safety, reducing externalities...

Conservatives say governments should be focused on imposing their own moral code on interactions between private individuals.

Liberals say governments should be focused on imposing their own moral code on interactions between private individuals, plus seizing the wealth of non-constituents and redistributing it to their constituents.

Public goods public. Private sphere private. That’s libertarianism.

I would think under libertarian philosophy if one knowingly carries a risk of transmitting a contagious disease, then one may be held liable for transmitting it.
Knowingly carrying a risk may include traveling from an area where the risk is high.
A libertarian solution might be to impose a large tax on travelers from those areas, proportional to the risk, as a form of liability insurance.

The UK has now advised all Britons if they are able to leave China.

"Travel advice has now changed with the UK government warning: ‘If you’re in China and able to leave, you should do so.’"

Link: https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/04/brits-china-told-get-can-avoid-coronavirus-12180218/?ito=cbshare

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