Friday, February 28, 2020

Recertification of BOEING 737 MAX Again 'Crashes And Burns' In Latest Fiasco

The latest Boeing MAX 737 related headline, 'MAX Jet Needs Fix Related To Lightning' (WSJ, Feb. 26, p. B3) should come as no surprise after my Feb. 10 post ('Boeing's Troubles Far From Early')  In the latest iteration of Boeing's  foibles and fiasco related to the desperate effort to get the MAX flying again, we learn:

"The Federal Aviation Administration is mandating a new round of safety fixes before Boeing's 737 MAX jets can return to the air, this time targeting assembly line lapses that could result in a dual engine power loss in the event of a lightning strike."

In other words, a separate series of 737 MAX crashes could potentially occur apart from the MCAS software pushing  the plane down, e.g.

 In this case, the FAA directive (posted Tuesday in The Federal Register) requires Boeing to inspect and fix a metallic lining that serves as a shield against lightning strikes for engine control wiring.    In this case, the evident cuts and tears in the aluminum foil conductor would prevent a protective Gaussian "pillbox" surface from being formed, i.e. to cover the engine attachments on the wings.  Such a pillbox,  which we teach in basic electrostatics,  spreads charge evenly over the relevant surfaces so that it dissipates without incident. A tear or discontinuity in the conductor defeats the protective purpose, allowing the lightning charge to be conducted into the engines' wiring - with the likely resulting loss of power in the engines.

As noted in the WSJ piece, the FAA document covers 128  MAX 737 jets currently grounded in the U.S., but is also applicable to  all 737 MAX aircraft  assembled so far.   The reason for the latter? Because "the entire fleet may be affected by the identified unsafe condition."

The FAA estimates a time of 12 hours to check and repair each foil tear on each, and still expects the planes to be ready "by mid 2020" -which I personally believe borders on fantasyland, Pollyanna expectation.  Why? Because there remains the problem with two thirds of MAX jets having "some type of debris in their fuel tanks".  This was revealed in the course of separate inspections of hitherto undelivered planes and can no more be ignored than the torn aluminum conducting foil.  That, plus the complications of getting the MCAS software to work in the context of an aerodynamically flawed design could take years to resolve, if ever.

Oh yeah, then there is the additional problem of relocating the wiring bundles -  which the FAA (if it has good sense and really wants no more crashes) is leaning to.  The wire bundles are located behind the cockpit and under the cabin floor.  The need for relocating the wiring is because they help to control movable panels in the tail and power other related systems.   This is in at least a dozen locations, from the rear of the aircraft to the main electronics compartment beneath the cabin and behind the cockpit.  Any short circuit or "arcing"  of the current between the wires has the potential to cause control problems for pilots which the MCAS may not be able to correct.

Estimated time to fix each in terms of relocation?  The FAA allows some 2 weeks per plane. Do the math: 128 jets currently grounded in the U.S. alone,  with wiring relocated, and you will see the timeline stretches out for a lot longer than "mid 2020".

The MAX 737 ready by this summer?  NO way in this alternate universe- or any other!

Applying The Mathematics Of Traveling Waves & Diffusion To The Spread Of Pandemics - What's The Takeaway Applied To COVID-19?


Graph for the wave of advance for the Bubonic Plague of 1347, after Noble, J.V.: 'Geographical and Temporal Development of Plagues', Nature, 250, pp. 726-728.

As the COVID-19 virus continues its march toward being officially designated a pandemic, it is instructive to examine how pandemics spread- based on previous models.    Almost all such models are mathematically based on the concept of semi-linear diffusion, and diffusion itself (as a physics concept) is very useful in analyzing everything the spread of molecules of gas released in a container, to the behavior of plagues, to the spread of galactic civilizations, e.g.

How Difficult Would It Be For Advanced Extraterrre...

But in this post I want to focus on the spread of plagues, in diffusive "waves"  such as set out by Noble (1974) wherein he devised a model for the Bubonic Plague of 1347.  For reference his starting equations were:


1)   ¶ I /  t  =  KIS  -    m I   +  D Ñ 2  

2)  ¶ S /  t  =  - KIS  +   Ñ 2  S

The problem posed by these two partial differential equations entails predicting the (diffusive) wave advance of the given plague or pandemic over time and in one linear dimension (x) - which could be km or m across E or W terrestrial longitude.  Here,  S and I denote the densities of the susceptible and infected populations (per sq. km or per sq. m).  D is the diffusion coefficient and   is the mortality rate for the given disease. The coefficient K defines the rate at which the disease is transmitted locally.

Newman and Sagan (1981) referenced in the preceding blog link, in discussing Noble's plague model, note that "there is in fact a third species" implicitly included" which is 'B' - or the density of individuals who've contracted the disease and either i) died, or ii) recovered.   The mortality rate  then describes the rate at which B grows, or writing the applicable partial:

¶ B /  t  =    B

The  total population for the Noble model can then be expressed:

ò  (I + S + B)  d 2 x

which remains constant (given B includes all those killed by the disease).   As far as we know right now, the  m -value is 2 %  which rivals the lower estimate for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  To get a grounding here, if the worst seasonal flu - say H3N2 - has    = 0.5%  and has 80,000 killed in a year in the U.S. (as in 2014), then COVID-19 on the same basis of infected population potential would see 4 times that many killed, or 4 x 80,000 =  320,000.  

But it could be even worse for COVID-19  if one considers a global population of 7.9 billion, none of which have immunity - or would have any useful vaccine in time. (Estimated time to that now 12- 18 months). Hence, if the entire global population were to be infected with this virus and assuming the m -value of 2 %  doesn't change - say by mutation - then we could be looking at:

(0.02) x  7.9 x  10 9
 

  Or, 158 million dead across the planet.   For perspective, that compares with 50-75 million from the 1918 Spanish flu and 1 million from the Hong Kong flu in 1968.

 In the end,  all of this is still hypothetical and depends on how the equations actually work out.  Hence, zooming in on equations (1) and (2) we first would need to know the rate of change in the number of the infected within a small area (say the city limits of San Francisco or Colorado Springs) and as the rate of transitions (K I S) changes.  The latter will be arising from the susceptible population  minus the "removal rate" (- m I) from mortality - but also dispersal (Ñ 2  S).    

In other words, controlling the scale of the incipient pandemic will depend on defined regions-areas controlling the dispersal- diffusion of the susceptible population.  Since S is essentially the population of the whole planet - since there is no immunity - then one can see the Herculean task.   Basically, halting all travel afar for any of the susceptible population.  Question: How do you keep 7.9 billion people from moving into other areas and infecting others?  I mean, it's evident in the most recent case in California that we have the first incident of "community spread".      

That is, a woman who suffered with severe pulmonary and respiratory symptoms for 4 days (at VacaValley Hospital) who was then transferred to UC Davis Medical Center because the smaller hospital staff felt unequipped to deal with her symptoms. It was at UC Davis she was finally tested and was diagnosed positive with coronavirus, and is now on a respirator.  The sobering aspect is there's been no clear source infection or chain of transmission  identified. This is coupled with unprotected health  workers- at both the community hospital and UC Davis coming in contact with her.  They are isolated and now being monitored for potentially being exposed. So the question of additional exposure of healthcare workers who treated her remains as well as the original source of infection for her. (The community hospital where she first presented is less than 10 miles from Travis AFB, so it is possible HHS workers tending to a group of returned Americans at Travis AFB may have somehow infected her.   Those workers, as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, had no protective clothing when they attended the quarantined group, and then left the base to migrate to their homes, hotels, airplanes etc.)

We came to this critical information thanks to another patriotic whistleblower, e.g.

U.S. workers lacking protective gear met evacuees, HHS whistleblower says

That is a pathway to disaster.   As Maddow put things in perspective last night:

"This president is telling people things that are not true about the coronavirus and specifically how it is being handled in the United States. And this is a problem. Again tonight the president said there were only fifteen cases of coronavirus in the United States.  It is not fifteen cases but at lest sixty cases in the U.S.  He also insists the number of cases is going to drop and become near zero... He even said the virus has a death rate like the common flu which is quite dramatically, mathematically incorrect. Insisting on that is causing confusion for people trying to understand the scale of this problem."

Last night even blathering "it's going to disappear, like a miracle"


 Making it worse, Trump in his presser two days ago insisted "it's not the right time to limit travel between countries with major outbreaks".  Given that attitude -  consistent with the disaggregation and liberal travel enabled in capitalist nations- it is a certainty the virus will spread and reach pandemic level soon.  After all, we like to believe in a democratic capitalist society we let businesses make their own decisions on whether to hold major conferences or allow international travel. The problem is that such bows to profit mongering enhance the dispersal term, Ñ 2  S.     Trump's comments effectively seek to increase that contribution to dispersal, while displaying little evidence of the ability to contain it if a major outbreak hits the U.S.  With minimal testing kits we have an invitation to disaster, and as Dr. David Agus put it on CBS this morning, "In California you have 8400 to be tested and only 200 testing kits, that doesn't equal."

As Newman and Sagan further note, and which is basically common sense - looking a the equations and variables- the rate of change of S within a small area is effectively a net loss owing to its transition over time to an infected population (I)  and a dispersed population.  The first as taken into account by the loss term (- KIS) in equation (2). and the second by the diffusive term, Ñ 2  S.     

Noble, in his paper (full citation below the graph) performed a numerical integration of the 1-dimensional analog to the equation (1) and (2).  He found this simulation quickly developed into a pair of traveling waves as shown in the graph.   Note particularly the change in the infected population I(x) and the susceptible population S(x).  The latter ultimately "plateaus" because the human "fuel" to feed it has effectively been exhausted.   The smaller wave I(x) dips to zero density (infected per square m) because those individuals have either recovered or perished from the disease.  

The main takeaway is that this kind of a semi-linear diffusion model based on a "multispecies" input delivers a set of traveling waves but differing in amplitude  and termination point.   There is no reason to believe that such analysis applied to the COVID-19 virus will be any different, after it fully plays out.  One can only hope that the infected density I(x) can be controlled, but again that will depend on the control of diffusion of the susceptible population.   If we are now seeing true instances of community spread the diffusion in the U.S. is already under way.  As this dispersion occurs we are also more likely to see a more accurate value of K, the rate of local transmission - related to R-nought- the generic transmission rate, but in a local sense.

How can we determine that?   Only 445 individuals have been tested nationwide thus far, and tens of thousands of kits are needed. California on the putative "front lines" has forty million people and a testing capacity to cover hundreds at the most.  And what are the Trumpies doing?  Lying and exaggerating about their readiness, and oh, now mandating the CDC no longer deliver any messages until they first go through Pence.  Not grasping that the COVID-19 virus has no regard or respect for puny Trumpy autocracy or bullshit.

 My best guess right now from looking at the diffusion wave model-  and reckoning in the scant existing data-  is that we could be looking at anywhere from 1 million dead worldwide to 20 million, depending on the response of different nations.  In the U.S. - by September- we could be looking at anywhere from 10,000 casualties to 500,000, depending on the preparations being laid now by the Trump government. In that estimate I have not included any deaths other than from the disease.  Hence, if ten thousand people perish in a quarantined city, say Santa Fe.  because adequate food (or water, or medical) supply lines aren't set up, that is not included.

Right now, the major uncertainties in applying the diffusion-wave model inhere in the virus' speed and the lack of preparation with testing kits - the only way to distinguish it from the flu. (Since the main symptoms include fever, sore throat, breathing problems, severe fatigue).   Hence, right now cases are falling through the cracks as the virus speeds around the world faster than screening capacity or measures can update and track it.  This will also likely affect the final value of K and  m  as well as I(x).  Prominent too, as I've noted, is how this so far incompetent Trump government plans to deal with it, especially in mustering an effective response.

What we now face - if we are to come through this with minimal damage - is to adopt a plan of action anathema to the core of rabid Trumpism.  In the words of Dr. David Agus: 

"This is a new era of caring not about yourself but your community. If you feel ill do not go to work.  Don't send your kid to school if he has a runny nose.  We should have d one that before but now it's a call for all of us to work together to be part of the solution."

See also:




And:






Excerpt:

"Imagine for a moment guys like Louie Gohmert or women like Joni Ernst in charge of getting food to your community when the whole interlocked web of transport is frozen by millions of sick and dying people, along with frightened people not yet infected huddling in their homes, and a nation-wide quarantine in place that has shut down most all vital supply lines.

And then imagine yourself huddled in front of your television set, desperate for news, and there's Trump, in a haz-mat suit, with tweets and reassurances that everything is under control, and Larry Kudlow, brilliant medico that he is, assuring us that the virus is actually going to turn out to be a good thing for investors and population control advocates."

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Could Well Prove The End Of Trump's Economy - And Trump's Re-Election Bid

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"We're moving closer to the day when it is China's increasingly hefty economy, not America's, that's most to blame for a global recession."  - Ian Bremmer, TIME essay, 'The Economic Cost Of The Outbreak'.

"We're not prepared for this at all. Especially if we have a Chinese-scale outbreak."  
-   Health Policy Analyst and author of the book, 'The Coming Plague', Laurie Garrett.- on Rachel Maddow last night.

“Anyone who has a better idea for what lies ahead please let us know because right now the direction ahead for the economy is straight down.” -  Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank

The pundit class and scribes have been working overtime trying to figure out what if anything might put an end to the Trump administration, at least in terms of its revival after the general election.  The answer - as we saw the stock market tank a second day with nearly $1.7 trillion lost already, is the COVID-19 virus.  It would be particularly karmic to see this virus end the ongoing virus of Donald Trump given he's dismissed its effects, as have his lackeys and toadies.  As we learned from Business Insider:

"Trump spent much of Tuesday reassuring the public that the coronavirus is under control.
"China is working very, very hard," Trump told reporters at a business roundtable at the US embassy in New Delhi. "I have spoken to President Xi, and they are working very hard. If you know anything about him, I think he will be in pretty good shape. They have had a rough patch, but now it looks like they are getting it more and more under control. I think that is a problem that is going to go away."

Trump's comments are at odds with reality

The coronavirus, or the COVID-19 virus, originated in Wuhan, China, and has killed 2,700 people and spread to 30 countries. There are at least 36 confirmed cases in the US, including repatriated citizens.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it expected the virus to spread further within the U.S."
 These insights have arrived even as the markets themselves clearly aren't taking seriously a single word uttered by Trump or his lackey stooge Larry Kudlow (same crackpot who said there was no housing crisis before the 2008 calamity) .

Perhaps the worst crime, even as an incompetent media still fulminates over  Bernie's offhand Castro remarks, is that this vile president - whose first job is to protect the American people-    is doing nothing of the kind.    After all, what to make of a bunch which is told flat out - by the CDC-  not to put 14 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 on a plane with healthy passengers to AL, but does it anyway?  Oh, yeah, Trump was supposedly "furious" this happened, but later was caught in a presser saying "We brought those Americans in from that ship because it was the right thing to do".  The right thing to possibly start an outbreak that can't be contained, from an ignoramus who's gutted the CDC pandemic response.  As Rachel Maddow put it last night:

"This is the leader of the federal government in the midst of a response to what is looking like a global pandemic.  This is not how it's supposed to work.  This is not how the response to a global health crisis is supposed to look like. A leader is not supposed to say 'I think it will go away in April because the heat will kill it, we don't need to do anything'."
Apart from his pathological lies about the virus, over  successive years this orange garbage of a so-called leader  has cut the CDC budget to combat pandemics.    Now, grasping the "reaper" nearing the door,  his Health & Human Services chief (Alex Azar) is asking for "emergency funding" of $2.5 billion-  a lot less than what's been allocated to fight previous pandemics. 

Meanwhile, Trump is more concerned with how the virus is affecting the markets and his re-election chances.    Hence, his insistence all is under control and things will stabilize when warmer weather comes in and the daffodils emerge in the Spring.  Which is BS, as many health specialists (e.g. Dr. Nancy Messonnier) have pointed out.  

The markets themselves, including the bond market, aren't buying Trump's codswallop.  For reference, the yield on the Treasury 10-year note fell to an all time low Tuesday as "stocks swooned" (WSJ, today, p. A1).  According to Tradeweb, the yield fell as low as 1.310% on an intraday basis. before settling at 1.328% (ibid.).  This may not mean much to the average reader, but Treasury yields are key economic gauge, and when they get depressed it generally portends slow economic growth. In this case, if the COVID-19 virus spreads in the states, it could signify a recession and the end to this Bull Market.

In the wake of the news, James Athey - a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments- was quoted in the WSJ piece thusly:

"The size of this economic shock is looking increasingly large on a global scale."

Adding:

"What we're just seeing here is the crack in that sentiment driven equity rally."

In other words, investors are starting to awaken from their trance of irrational exuberance and face reality about the potential havoc of COVID-19.  But is our illustrious prez? Hell no.

Perhaps it is true, as a recent TIME essay pointed out ('The Economic Cost Of The Outbreak', Feb. 24, p. 39)  that most Americans have zero clue how Chinese product supply lines affect the global economy.    Or that China now accounts for nearly a third of world GDP growth - up from around 3% in 2000 (WSJ,   'Epidemic Takes Toll On Growth',  p. A5, Feb. 25).   Already many electronics producers that depend on Chinese parts "have suspended output because of the outbreak".

All this is germane in relation to the dissembling of Trump and his retinue of clueless clowns like Larry Kudlow, e.g. claiming "the economy is holding up nicely" because the virus is completely contained.    Whereas the cold hard fact is that economic disruption could be "severe", as CDC officials have noted.   In the end,  WHO are you going to trust with your lives and risk management?  A cabal of clowns and authoritarian poppets who only care about perpetuating their grifter circus via their lying leader, Trump?  Or the health systems and agencies for which they've cut funding to fight the damned thing?

Given only 4 states even possess the materials to test for COVID-19, you know you cannot trust the Trumpites when they insist they have it "contained".  You have to know, given their serial mendacity and history they are feeding you BS merely to keep themselves in power and destroy what is left of our constitutional democracy.

The key thing now is not to panic but rather to act in a rational and responsible way for your families, while taking anything Trump says (or Kudlow) with a grain of salt.  If you're told 'X' by Trump, and 'Y' by the CDC, it stands to reason you accept 'Y', not 'X'.  Thus, be prepared when schools slam their doors shut even as Trump says they're open,  especially as outbreaks pop up in many local communities. Also be prepared for possible supply shortages, for example in respirators and face masks - because our glorious government did not adequately prepare.  Why? Because these inveterate asswipes believe the "media and Democrats" are deliberately trying to tank the markets with fear.   (If you require an emergency antidote to this shit, please see the last link and Laurie Garrett's article, 'Trump Has Sabotaged America's Coronavirus Response'.)

Further down the line, look out for business shutdowns if the virus spreads further, and employees in different businesses are either laid off or told to work from home.   Universities should already be implementing remote (online) modes of learning to eliminate spread of infection. The scale of the U.S. outbreak may also affect whether - and to what extent- supermarkets remain open, and even if Amazon.com supply lines are affected. Hence, don't rush to prematurely stock the larders as so many did with the Year 2000 scare, but do keep your ears to the ground regarding the virus' effects in your own state or community.   If then it looks like it's ramping up, stock up on canned goods and non-perishables before the store shelves run bare. Also, it may be a good idea to stock drinking water if the worse comes to the worst (utility companies no longer able to function because of illness of critical workers.).

Extreme measures like this in a nation with a functional gov't  shouldn't be needed, but we can't bank on that with the likes of the ineffectual, lying Trumpites.  Do we even know if this government, or even local governments, have  a system in place using essential personnel to keep the sewer systems pumping? Or the water systems pumping water, and the electrical grid going?  What about the food supply chain, what if that is disrupted?  As health policy analyst Laurie Garrett asked last night (MSNBC): "Look at the Chinese and convoys as far as the eye can see,  bringing food into Wuhan. Could we do that?"

See another Laurie Garrett interview (on 'Democracy Now') here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_z297eni8c


Referencing how we my soon see a shortage of critical drugs, including for heart disease, diabetes etc. because of the virus- spawned shutdown of Chinese pharmaceutical factories.  This is why it's also a good idea to get a supplemental supply of the meds you may need (for a prolonged quarantine) now.

Whole cities soon shut down by quarantine and no food or fuel coming in, or medicines? Excessive?   Exaggeration?  Not really, not when one considers the fatality rate of COVID-19 is at least at 2 % (some Chinese provinces are reporting 6%) while the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic reached 1.9 % and we know historically how bad that was. See e.g.


Amidst all of this, it is tragic that we - the citizens of this nation- are saddled with perhaps the most self-aggrandizing, useless, and most dangerously misguided president in our history.  And that, incredibly, our pathetic media believes it more important to bray about a Dem candidate extolling the literacy program of a long deceased  dictator than what the current dictator is failing to do.

Trump, I understand, is to take to the airwaves tonight - to try to lie his way out of all the heat and scrutiny he's taking.  This is one American, in fact two (with Janice),  who won't be wasting time watching the performance of "Mr. Reality TV" Liar-in-Chief.   Put the head of CDC on and we'll watch but not the orange fungal maggot. 

Meanwhile, we have the likes of the Wall Street Journal's editorial reactionaries claiming today the congressional appeal for more resources to fight COVID-19 is merely "political opportunism" to enable more government spending (e.g. 'The Spending Virus')  p. A16.    These nabobs would do better to pay attention to the market's own reaction - a 1900 pt. drop and 6.6% retreat - that it doesn't trust the Bozo the WSJ seeks to protect.

The rest of us need to have the sense to grasp that neither Trump or his media defenders have our welfare at stake, but holding onto their own power.  Perhaps, as they seek to brazenly consolidate that power with lies, the one factor they can't control will ultimately put it an end to it.

See also:

https://www.newsbreakapp.com/n/0OEF8EVv?s=a3&pd=02XzPsdj


And:


The outbreak is exposing the problems with President Trump’s boasts about the stock market.

And:


Excerpt:

" In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion."

Other Voices Weigh In On That Democratic Debate

That was the last Dem debate, and the most aimless, chaotic and pathetic which wifey and I stopped watching after an hour. It was too much to take with all the stupid mudslinging which will merely provide fodder for the Trump cabal in the coming campaign.  The Guardian UK headline last night said it all: 'Democratic Challengers Face Fallout From Rowdy TV Debate.'

Dems ought to have known better than to fire so freely on each other, especially when the orange Turd-in -chief is doing nothing about the looming COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. - which will likely close schools, stores, you name it.   The Dems did themselves no favors, but as  blogger Cody Fenwick notes (link below) the CBS moderators were totally inept and out of their league, certainly compared to earlier CNN and MSNBC moderators.  Gayle King and Nora O'Donnell (as well as Major Garrett) would have been better served moderating a junior high debate.

Anyway here are a few other voices on what transpired since you won't get mine.

by Cody Fenwick | February 26, 2020 - 7:57am |

Excerpt: 


Well, that’s was a complete disaster.

Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate was the last time the candidates would meet on stage together before the potentially pivotal South Carolina primary, and largely because of absolutely dreadful moderation, the whole event was essentially pointless.


I often write up my analysis of debate nights by explaining my subjective perspective about who came out stronger after the debate and who left weaker — winners and losers. But by the midpoint of the debate on Tuesday night, that format looked less and less appropriate. 

The muddled, confused, and slapdash nature of the event made the candidates all look like they were struggling to get a word in edgewise. They talked over each other. The questions would insubstantial and amateurish (ironically, one of the best questions came from Twitter.) There was no cohesion to the discussion and no internal logic behind which candidate got to speak. And while there were jabs and counterattacks between some of the candidates, the moderators were usually unable to pull the discussions in a meaningful direction.

---

Opinion



Excerpt:


In case you were at all confused, Bernie Sanders is the apocalypse. Or something very close to it.


That was the message from his six rivals on Tuesday night at the latest and perhaps nastiest Democratic debate, which devolved at times into an oratorical melee of overlapping voices, overheated tempers and dire warnings about what would happen if Sanders, the current front-runner in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, becomes the party’s nominee. President Trump would get four more years. Several of the Democrats on the stage in Charleston, S.C., essentially guaranteed it.
---------------


(Video: Blair Guild/The Post; photo: Getty Images)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Skewering A Denver Post Letter Writer's Anti-Bernie Screed Using A Dose Of Reality - And Reason

Image result for brane space, Bernie sanders

The growing hysteria over Sen. Bernie Sanders' rise, now with 3 primary wins under his belt, was evidenced in no more extreme form than in a recent letter  (by a "Glenn Dotter") to The Denver Post (Feb.23, p. 3D).  It also merits a cogent response, using appeal to reality combined with reason.  Dotter writes (ibid.)

"Bernie Sanders is a millionaire through capitalism, yet thinks we should become socialist. So capitalism is good for him, but not  us." 

Okay, let's back up here.   Before about 2016  Bernie had roughly the same net worth as wifey and myself have now, roughly $750,000.   That was not through any excess or predatory use of capitalism  - but rigorous saving and  living well below our means for two decades, as Sanders and wife Jane also did.  In addition, at least 40 percent  of that net worth derives from the current value of our mortgage-free home (always included in net worth) - as also applied to the Sanders before 2016.     What hurtled Bernie over the threshold to become a "marginal" millionaire by  2016 were the sales of his books.  Yes, if you want to say capitalism "made him" a  millionaire, ok.  But it wasn't 'gratis' like Trump, i.e. via $400 m from his daddy, but through dint of hard work and having created something of value.  Not via exploitation of labor as predatory capitalists have done, including Trump in his real estate grifting.  And as Sanders was quoted at the time - for the benefit of Dotter and others:  

"If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too,” 

So, the form of benign capitalism that values creativity and hard work, yes, did redound to Sanders' benefit as it could to someone like Dotter - or anyone else. But let's not conflate capitalism that provides a market for such creative works and their sales, and the predatory capitalism Sanders has consistently railed against (and which the corporate media and Neoliberal websites -  like Politico etc. - constantly conflate.)  

So, in effect, no one is denying Dotter or his ilk the markets to become millionaires in their own right if they have the will and pluck to do so and not sit on their butts and just complain about others' success.   The form of capitalism Bernie is really trying to spare Dotter from is the predatory variety that would work him 12 hours a day, with no overtime, no days off for illness, and oh yeah... downsizing him before he can collect a pension, or health care benefit.

Dotter's blinkered bloviation goes on:

"He wants the Democrat vote but refuses to join their party."

Here Dotter, by the use of the  pejorative "Democrat" (instead of Democratic, which drives Janice crazy)  gives himself away as a likely Limbaugh follower and right wing tool.   And for his information, Bernie didn't join their party for the same reason fellow Maine Independent Sen. Angus King hasn't: he's an independent. BUT - he caucuses with the Dems - like Sen. King does- and gives them the two extra critical votes needed on many issues. (Like saving Obamacare back in 2017).  So this complaint is irrelevant and nitpicking, especially as the party itself has validated Sanders as a bona fide contender. (Obviously realizing he has a huge support backing, which would be alienated if Sanders was denied)

Dotter fulminating again:

"So what message do they have for us? Increase taxes, punish success, shut down industries, increase unemployment,   take away your health insurance, and make America a socialist country, where they have the power to become billionaries."

Okay, let's dissect this hysterical, paranoid piffle bit by bit.  First, any such policy change as increasing taxes, or changing the health insurance system would necessitate laws passed by congress. Sanders can't do so on his own, by fiat as it were. As even the WSJ acknowledges in a recent 'Heard on the Street' piece, e.g. 'Health Care Fears Are Overdone',   Feb. 3rd, p. B10:

"Even in a scenario in which a 'Medicare for All' advocate wins the nomination, and even the presidency, overhauling health policy isn't realistic without Congress on board. Building consensus among lawmakers  and other stakeholders won't happen overnight."

Indeed, and won't happen, period, if  the Republicans (and Mitch McConnell) remain in control of the Senate. So while Bernie, as well as Warren, can talk all they want about their proposed health system changes (and I concur with most, except forcing people out of existing plans that have more net benefits),  the chances of any real changes in this regard are slim and none. Ditto for any 'Green New Deal' or any other major policy change which requires congressional input.  So all this fretting about what Bernie will or won't do is like worrying about what will happen to humans if aliens from the Tau Ceti system land next year.  It's a colossal waste of mental energy.

As for "increasing unemployment" - Dotter ought to bestir himself to read a bit more (e.g. "AI Threat Targets Higher Paying Jobs', WSJ,  yesterday, p. A2) wherein we learn:

"Artificial intelligence - programming machines to think more like humans - is expected to alter American work on a scale similar to robotics....The most vulnerable occupations include marketing specialists,  financial advisers and computer programmers - jobs that tend to pay higher wages and skew male".

And in previous posts I've already covered how AI as well as other automation is displacing lower end jobs as well as higher, i.e.


 As for Dotter's babble about "making America a socialist country" - it already is, in many ways, such as the existing social insurance system with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.  Which btw, Trump wants to dismantle, as per his latest budget.   What Bernie wants to do is make these stronger, not bait for reduction to support more Trump- GOP tax cuts. The WSJ has had several pieces recently, e.g. by Gerald Seib et al,  noting that if Trump is re-elected he wants to extend his tax cuts, adding another $7 trillion to the national debt by 2035, and $1 trillion more in deficits by the end of his first year of 2nd term.   Is that what Dotter wants, really?  

As for his claim of having the power to become "billionaires" (who is "they", by the way), that is absolute balderdash.  That power only exists in Dotter's febrile brain not in reality.  This is given "they" would be voted out long before that ever happened. It isn't like Bernie - or any Dem - can suddenly become Robert Mugabe II on taking office!   But this overlooks the fact that Sanders has no intention of becoming a "billlionaire" including that most of these guys are born (inherited money) not "self-made".    This was pointed out by Michael Parenti in his book The Dirty Truths.

The jabber about "shutting down industries"  is also straight out of the Rush Limbaugh paranoid commie playbook - which you can hear any day you are inclined to waste time to listen to that fat gasbag.   The meme is simple, and ties into the conflation of democratic socialism with communism, a meme that even Oprah Winfrey had to be corrected on by a Danish woman she interviewed, .e. g.


Oprah got perfect response from Danish woman  


What is instructive to see in this video is the transformation of Winfrey's visage to one near panic and disbelief, before the women straighten her out on socialism, and the more relaxed, rational countenance after.

My first exposure to democratic socialism in fact came about while living in Milwaukee in the 1950s. At that time, Frank P. Zeidler was the city's  last Socialist Mayor,

 I  thank my mother for educating me on the contributions of Mayor Zeidler - who was a member of the Socialist Party of America. On assorted streetcar trips in the early 1950s (back from her night school - teaching English to the foreign-born)  she'd point out special landmarks and places in Beer City and inform me how these were there thanks to the efforts of Milwaukee's Mayor.



Before Mayor Zeidler, Emil Seidl became Milwaukee's first Socialist Mayor in 1910, followed by Daniel Hogan who lasted from 1916-1940 keeping the city out of debt during the Great Depression. Zeidler,  in his mayoral election campaign, noted the problem of ethnic division in other parts of the country and how this was exploited – especially by wealthy Republicans- to keep working class people divided. Zeidler vowed, if elected, he’d ameliorate these divisions and ensure all Milwaukeean Working class folks benefited – whether Croatian, German, Polish or whatever. Zeidler ended up winning three terms, enduring from 1948 until 1960 and turning Milwaukee into a prosperous post-war city.

Jobs proliferated, especially in major manufacturing (Allis –Chalmers etc.) while the Breweries hired thousands with excellent pay and benefits, including health care. Housing abounded as well, affordable housing off of Greenfield Ave. and Teutonia and in other suburbs to the north and west. Parks, meanwhile, were the envy of many other cities for their beautiful layouts, amenities and services. I can still recall going to Washington Park (across the street from where my family lived on W. 48th and Cherry Streets) on the 4th of July for band performances and later fireworks. 


So my appreciation for a respectable, beneficial socialism commenced at a very early age, and was reinforced by further study of many different socio-economic systems as part of a wide-ranging liberal arts education.  One sorely needed today, especially by the likes of Dotter and the Dem establishment making so much 'hay' over Bernie's democratic socialism.  

What the breathless, panic-stricken voters need to do (including the elderly blacks now set to make up their minds in SC- but clinging to Biden) is to take a deep breath, chill, and think whether they really want to continue to be under the yoke of the mega wealthy,  Trump tax cut -benefiting exploiters.   Do they really wish to remain as house slaves on their neoliberal capitalist owners  minimum wage plantations? Or are they prepared to embrace some political courage to cease making the rich richer and themselves  poorer?  We will see - certainly with SC on Saturday, and on Super Tuesday next week.

See also:


And: