Press Conference

SCENE: THE PRESS natters away, focusing their cameras and exchanging black-market hair stylists, waiting for a conference with POLITICS, GOVERNMENT and REALITY.

Shortly, the three enter the room and move to the podium. POLITICS – a dapper, 30-something man with CEO hair and a perfectly cut suit, steps to the microphone.

POLITICS: Welcome, and thank you all for coming out to this joint press conference. We’re going try to take this opportunity to clarify our mutual, cooperative response to the Covid virus in Minnesota. Before we take questions, I’d just like to say “We’re all One Minnesota, and we’re all in this together. (). Anything to add?”

(GOVERNMENT, a morbidly obese woman in a frizzy red “Karen” hairdo and a slightly long in the tooth pants suit, sticks her head awkwardly in front of POLITICS to get to the mike).

GOVERNMENT: I’d just like to add, that not are we all not in this together and practicing a second or subsequent Minnesota is subject to reporting, citation and arrest.

POLITICS: Thanks, Government! Anything to add, Reality?

(REALITY, a slovenly man resembling a larger, fatter Danny DiVito, wearing an ill-fitting red track suit and carrying a Jimmy Johns sandwich whose paper wrapper he’s been rolling down like the skin of a banana, nudges himself to the mike.

REALITY: This process has remorselessly worked its say down to a series of haves and have nots. (Shrugs)

POLITICS: Thanks. Again, we’re all in complete agreement.

(PRESS nods as one)

POLITICS: Any questions?

PRESS (in unison): So when can MInnesota businesses return to normal?

POLITICS: We’ve developed, in cooperation with Government and Reality, a 12 step process of steps and levers that will be the red lines leading to re-opening. Care to elaborate, Government?

GOVERNMENT: Yes. I’d just like to say, I’ve never had a job outside the public sector, and I don’t actually trust businesses to do anything but exploit the people.

REALITY: You’ve got people who are neither scientists nor businesspeople making decisions for and on behalf of both. If you expect anything other than a glorified junior high school production of West Wing, you probably watched way too much of the actual West Wing.

POLITICS: Thanks. As I said, One Minnesota. Next question?

PRESS: What does the science tell us?

POLITICS: We are using the best data science tells us.

GOVERNMENT: Anyone using or repeating information from scientists not on the approved list will be facing serious consequences.

REALITY: The “science” is being applied via a layer of sociology, and at best everyone is winging it and nobody has a clue what the future holds.

POLITICS: Thanks. We are all in this together. Next question?

PRESS: What are your current preconditions for getting back to normal.

POLITICIANS: Well, obviously, sufficient testing.

GOVERNMENT: We have chosen the figure of 20,000 tests a day, for no reason that we choose to make available to you.

REALITY: And she could say 1,000, or 10,000, or eleventy-teen million, because after a month of yammering about testing, the daily tests performed are creeping along in the low four figures a day, and there is no visible indication that is changing, or for that matter that it’s going to matter, if indeed it turns out this epidemic has been active in the population since January.

POLITICS: Minnesota strong. Next question?

THE PRESS: Any others?

POLITICS: Standard public health practice would be to do contact tracing.

GOVERNMENT: Therefore, all MInnesotans must keep a list of all their contacts.

REALITY: This is pure fairy dust. Contact tracing is incredibly labor intensive work even for a disease with a fairly predictable means of transmission, like AIDS, and which spreads from symptomatic people, like Ebola. This is neither. Someone could unknowingly pass it on to hundreds of people before they knew they were sick. Contact tracing could be the CIvilian Conservation Corps project of the new millennium, employing hundreds of thousands of people, and we’d still never get it all done.

PRESS: How about a vaccine?

POLITICS: Our best and brightest are working 24/7 to try to develop one.

GOVERNMENT: We will be locked down until a vaccine is developed and tested, however long it takes.

REALITY: (Tosses the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, talks while chewing) Nobody has successfully developed a vaccine for a corona virus, and even if this is the first, it’ll take years – and if we shut down the entire economy nobody will be able to pay for the vaccine, much less developing it.

POLITICS: Last question?

PRESS: How about re-opening businesses?

POLITICS: We’ll re-open businesses according to the plan.

GOVERNMENT: And anyone not adhering to the common-sense, scientific plan will face consequences.

REALITY: (stifles a burp as he rumples up his now-empty Jimmy Johns bag) Look, the policy is utterly capricious today. There is literally no reason to keep a Walmart or a Menards open but shut down a Vape shop or a guitar store. There is literally no reason they can’t follow the same restrictions. Restaurants and bars and barber shops are more complicated, but do you honestly think a business owner is less suited to see to their own survival than… (nudges head toward GOVERNMENT).

POLITICS Well, thank you all for coming out. Remember – we’re one Minnesota…

PRESS: (as one) We’re One MInnesota…

POLITICS: And we’re all in this together.

PRESS: And we’re all in this together.

GOVERNMENT: Depart the room in an orderly fashion in the reverse order you came in, via the door you came though…

22 thoughts on “Press Conference

  1. Whatever it takes to remove the lock down will always be lacking.
    Just call it “unobtanium.”

  2. Shows why “following the science” is insufficient from our political leaders. Weighing all factors you may arrive at the same policy as we have now, but failing to weigh those factors is an abdication of duty. We should demand to know how they are choosing that balance.

    One of the lessons from the early 2008 crisis is that expertise is narrow, and that experts tend to optimise for some outcomes but tend not to optimise multidisciplinarially due to the narrow focus of their expertise. In 2008 that meant the focus on moral hazard to the point where a massive credit crisis was allowed to develop. In this period, there is a really risk that relying on epidemiological modellers optimising for the least deaths from the virus will fail to take into account the many other ways that we will harm ourselves.

  3. Who is this REALITY jerk and who let him in?

    Keep in mind all media participation is coordinated by the Governor’s communications officer Teddy Tschann and Teddy don’t like no stink’n REALITY.

  4. Science, eh?
    Where is the evidence that 6′ is the appropriate “social distance”? Where is the evidence that closing shops slows the spread of the disease? Where is the evidence that asymptotic bearers of the virus are a contagion risk? Where is the evidence that mask requirements slow the spread of the disease?
    You need to avoid the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. “We put the force of law behind social distancing, and the spread of the disease and deaths due to the disease was reduced, therefore putting the force of law behind social distancing caused the spread of the disease and its fatal nature to be reduced” is not a rational statement.

  5. I was just having this same conversation yesterday. If we do everything right, and things aren’t as bad as we fear, SO many people will take the wrong lesson away — that we overreacted, that it was “fine.” Not that it worked.

    It’s a catch-22 for officials: if they take severe measures and it turns out OK, they’ll be blamed for overreacting; if they wait/don’t close or cancel things and the virus explodes, they’ll be blamed for not taking it seriously.

  6. As opposed to made-up conversations in your head.. how about this one that reflects what actually happened in Stillwater.

    Doorbell sounds “Ding Ding”, middle-aged man enters an establishment.

    Clerk behind the counter (who is wearing a mask), “Sir, would you mind please putting on a mask, there’s one at the door there for you.”

    VeryAngryBoy, “Sheeeeet boyya, you must be one them Trump-H8ers!”

    Clerk, “No sir, I don’t really follow politics but it’s store policy as well as city policy. So, please, would you put on a mask?”

    VAB, “Fu$# no, I won’t, I got goddamn rights. I don’t wanna wear one, I don’t have to.”

    Clerk, “Umm.. well you have to wear one in here.”

    VAB, “Boy, your (sic) pissing me off. Go to hell, I’m goinna buy something, I have a reason to be here and it’s my right.”

    Clerk, “No sir, you can’t stay, please leave if you won’t wear a mask.”

    VAB, pulling out his pistol, “I got goddamn rights, BOY! And I’ll defend them!”

    Clerk, “Whoa, whatever, buy what you need and then please leave.”

    Clerk mutters to himself, “I don’t get paid enough for this. I wonder if this guy realizes he’s on private property, oh yeah, we’re in Oklahoma, gun rights trump property rights, I remember now.”

    VAB: Damn Right they do.

  7. You are missing several outcomes, Emery.
    They could institute harsh lockdowns and have the disease explode anyway, or they could impose few restrictions and have everything turn out OK.
    To me it seems entirely random. They are making decisions using incomplete data when they need to have complete data to make a reliable prediction.
    This seems to be a perfect case where the best outcome would be to use the power of the marketplace. Individuals pursuing their own interests are far more creative and nimble than bureaucrats.

  8. ^^ The problem with risk calculation is that we are in unknown territory. The first data on Covid-19 are collected now, and there are still many unknowns. We have no models or historical data on the interrelation between a plague and our modern economy. So we are in a situation characterized by “real uncertainty”, where data based risk management is imposible. In this kind of situation, there is a very good rule: “the precautionary principle”: identify the worst case outcome, and avoid it. That is where the epidemological modellers came in.

    I think their focus on avoiding a too high mortality by flattening the curve and protecting health institutions was sensible. The challenge now is to unlock without creating a new wave.

  9. Paddyboy: The pictures out of Michigan made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. How do the men carrying the guns explain to themselves or anyone else why they were carrying guns to a protest? I assume they would argue they were defending themselves. But against whom? Or what? Was someone threatening them? Have they been protected from the virus by the guns? Are they actually proud of the “posing with my guns” photos that have been published all over the world?

    I simply don’t understand how you can decide to use your guns to intimidate democratically elected government officials in order to get your way but somehow apparently deceive yourself that you’ve done it for your own personal safety. How can anyone who does that have any self- respect?

  10. Probably because you are trying to read the minds of people you do not understand, Emery. People who habitually act without rationally thinking through the consequences usually end up dead or in jail.

  11. When one side shows up armed to intimidate citizens and chill their free speech, that’s ‘maintaining public order.’

    When both sides show up armed, that’s ‘intimidating elected officials.’

    Of the two, Option B is less dangerous to a free society. I’ll take B, please.

  12. Carrying guns just doesn’t bother me. Though I wouldn’t get a CC license, even if I could. Too much trouble, not worth it to me. But every law-abiding citizen should own a gun and know how to use it. I have several. Sovereign power comes from the citizens up, not from the government down.

  13. Probably because you are trying to read the minds of people you do not understand, Emery.

    That’s sort of Emery’s MO, isn’t MP?

  14. Been out and about today. Restaurants in town have tables out on the sidewalk; even if there’s only room for a couple, town seems to be OK with that, and the 3 bars in town are busy as hell (they have decks). Zero maskies in sight.

    Was in Lowes getting some filter bags for my wet/dry vac, it’s been a madhouse in there and Home Depot for weeks. Everyone is completely ignoring the little stickers on the floor, and only the geezers are wearing maskies. I took note of the glances people are sharing as they pass one another…kind of like an unspoken “we’ve been had”.

    What I have seen, in other words, is what I’ve been hearing. Most people (outside leftist strongholds) haven’t bought the plague narrative and are just ready to put it behind them and start rescuing their lives.

    In addition to the anger that is coming as more people lose their houses and cars (the Fed is predicting 25 – 32% unemployment this year; worse than the great depression), questions will arise from relatives of people that have died due to be refused medical care like chemo therapy and surgeries. There’s a shit storm coming. The pols know it and we’re in for some World Class moonwalking from Trump as he attempts to walk his statements back to the hoax days.

  15. “I simply don’t understand how you can decide to use your guns to intimidate democratically elected government officials in order to get your way…”

    Pffft. Yeah, who would ever have thought an armed citizenry might ever confront an unresponsive government. jezuz…

    As I’ve said, pale, moist, legless insects cannot the things people say or do. At best, they can surf the internet on their little bug computers, copy and past things they have no idea the meanings of and hope it makes sense to someone. Never does.

  16. If a governor rules by decree for month after month, with no clear evidence of a crisis (the hospitals are not filling up), he should expect a visit from armed citizens.
    Say, suppose we retain the habit of using masks in public, and of using purell before & after contact with strangers, won’t this weaken our immune systems in the medium & long term?

  17. ^^ Trump administration: We’re ready to open the County, but it’s still too dangerous to open up the White House for tours.

  18. Considering your loose talk about assassinations, I say keeping the White House closed to tours is probably smart.

  19. Paul Mirengoff, at Powerline, explains the actions of AG Barr in stepping in contesting enforcement of the Virginia governor’s decree against church gathering. Takeaways:
    “. . . there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.”
    The executive orders prohibit the church from holding a sixteen-person, socially distanced gathering in a 225-seat church but allow similar secular conduct, such as a gathering of sixteen lawyers in a large law firm conference room.

    This is why the “public health experts” who are pushing for a months-long shutdown are crazy. The governors’ orders are an arbitrary mess. The courts can’t stay closed for a “crisis” tat lasts for months. The state legislatures can’t either.
    I take Trump’s confusing message to the governors to be “make either your lock down work, or make ending your lock down work. But stop what you are doing now, because it is not working.”

  20. Utah’s governor did not issue a “stay at home” order. Instead he closed churches, bars, restaurants, and large concerts.
    Guess how many deaths to date?
    That’s about 2/100,000, similar to Hawaii, which has closed all non-essential businesses and issued a stay-at-home order.
    If these governor decrees are doing anything but smashing their state’s economy, the data doesn’t support it.

  21. Paddyboy,

    If that happaned – and I’ll wait for independent corroboration – that would be called a crime.

    Did the not-at-all-made-up-in-anyone’s head clerk call the cops? Have any video?

    If so, then the perp should be arrested.

    By the way – I’m gonna guess the dialog is no more made-up than mine And mine has the benefit of being on topic, although I am at a bit of an advantage, being the proprietor and being able to set the topic.

    But it’s odd, PB – after all these years, you’re still unclear on the concept of “satire?”

  22. Emery Incognito said:
    “How do the men carrying the guns explain to themselves or anyone else why they were carrying guns to a protest? I assume they would argue they were defending themselves. But against whom? Or what? Was someone threatening them? Have they been protected from the virus by the guns? Are they actually proud of the “posing with my guns” photos that have been published all over the world?”

    At first I thought EI was referring to the hundreds of police in full riot gear who cordoned off the State Capitol building in Sacramento, California to guard it against a group of citizens peaceably assembled to petition their government for redress of grievances. Then I realized he was talking about something else…

    As Joe said, “When one side shows up armed to intimidate citizens and chill their free speech, that’s ‘maintaining public order.’ When both sides show up armed, that’s ‘intimidating elected officials.’”

    We’re supposed to be a ‘Free association of equals’ not a ‘Collection of subjects’.

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