Anybody got a line on some polio?
With the daily increases in coronavirus deaths and Donald Trump's escalating meltdowns, it's easy to forget there's also a presidential election going on, or would be, if things were normal, which just reminds you again how non-normal all this is. But while Trump continues lying about the fantastic job he's doing, Joe Biden is busily doing what presidential candidates are supposed to do: getting ready for the fall, and, he hopes, getting read to president come next January.
And as the dual health and economic crisis has played out, it's starting to look like Joe Biden, Mr. Moderate, is thinking about all the things that will need fixing if he defeats Trump (provided Trump doesn't launch the entire US nuclear arsenal at coastal US cities), and is inclined to do some serious Franklin D. Roosevelt, New Deal-style responses to get America back in shape. As reporter Gabriel Debenedetti puts it, Biden's original centrist pitch, a promise of a return to the pre-Trump norm, seems "almost moot" now.
And so suddenly Joe Biden is talking about far bigger plans than his "first day" goals of rejoining the Paris climate agreement, issuing executive orders to put ethics back in government, and pushing for the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ rights. Now he's talking about big government spending on green energy and infrastructure, payments to families, student loan forgiveness, and the like. He's consulting regularly with Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee, and talking about creating "a 100,000-plus worker Public Health Jobs Corps and the doubling of the number of OSHA investigators to protect employees amid the pandemic." And isn't that some neat stuff!
But he talked to Chinese people!
CBS's "60 Minutes" decided to do some actual reporting (instead of a puff piece on a (pardoned but not exonerated) war criminal), and it was pretty good! We should encourage them when they don't suck, so let's pat Scott Pelley and team on the head and give them a cookie. The story looks at the work of Peter Daszak, a US researcher who works in one of the scarier fields in health science: viruses that originate in animals, particularly bats, that can be transmitted to humans. (That's called zoonotic transmission, nerds.) Daszak was the focus of a 2003 "60 Minutes" story about his work as a disease detective, in which he warned — as many infectious disease experts have also been saying forever — that what really worried him was the possibility that
we are going to miss the next emerging disease, that we're suddenly going to find a SARS virus that moves from one part of the planet to another, wiping out people as it moves along.
So there's your framing for what's happening now, ominous cello soundtrack optional.
Let's not eat this one.
Now with fun update: Tim Bray approves of this story. See end of post.
After so many stories about terrible rich greedheads grabbing up money that should be helping small businesses, let's raise a glass to former Amazon Web Services VP Tim Bray, who last week quit his job in protest over the company's retaliation against warehouse workers who just wanted safer working conditions. As Techdirt explains, Bray was a big name in internetting, having "helped develop XML and a variety of other standards/technologies the internet relies on." But Bray said he couldn't let himself be a part of any company that would respond to legitimate criticism by firing and smearing the workers calling attention to the problems. Fittingly, he left on Friday, International Workers' Day.
Come the revolution, let's remember not to eat this one.
You've got stimulus in your Green New Deal!
Joe Biden has some ideas about economic stimulus. In an interview with Politico, Biden said America needs a new stimulus bill that's a "hell of a lot bigger" than last month's $2.2 trillion CARES Act to get people through the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus, as well as bold thinking that goes well beyond the immediate crisis. My gosh, it's almost as if he knows that you don't get out of economic doldrums by forcing austerity.
Also, he cussed a lot about Donald Trump's terrible management of the crisis, but limited it to hells and damns to keep it all safe for primetime TV. We'll confess, we like Angry Joe.