Monday, May 11, 2020

Is Putin Losing the Battle Against COVID-19?

Friends, there are intriguing signs that the spike in coronavirus infections and deaths that many of us expected in the developing world, or at least the non-Western world, is beginning to build.  Take, for example, news that Russia is now the country with the third most infections in the world:

Mexico too seems to be struggling with the virus:

Note that in both countries, though, it's the capital city where one finds a huge percentage of cases.  Density and international travel links really do seem to have a lot to do with the susceptibility of populations to COVID-19.

In other news, relations between China and the U.S. are strained -- that much will come as no surprise.  Direct investment flowing from China to the U.S., and from the U.S. to China, is consequently down in some respects, but overall trade remains robust.  This article puts it well: "decoupling" the world's two largest economies is an immensely hard thing to do, and that's assuming that either country wants to decouple, which I don't frankly believe is the case.  Sinophobia is a convenient political ploy for many U.S. politicians, but very few of them mean business.  Does Trump?  That remains to be seen.

Finally, as you know, I've not always been a fan of Elon Musk, but his impatience with the draconian lockdown measures in California is boiling over, and I have to say I'm impressed.  Most elitists are going along with the fashion for shutting down everything, but Musk thinks it's all a bit much, and he's not afraid to say so.  Good for him!


  1. No fan of Musk either. I think I read something earlier this morning; he caved and will open the plant.

    I say keep China on the rails. I hope the President keeps doing what he is doing in regard to China-which I think is probably nothing, which is good. Let them swing in the wind a little bit.

    Russia has Vlad problem, wink.

    ...and in comment to the last post, Mexico Dr. Waddy, really? Face palm--I see you more in Florida or SC. Of course, you can always join us in TN--IF that is where we end up. Right now, I am afraid jobs are just not there yet. I have a friend in Chattanooga who is helping with a lot of things. Love love that area. I think this shutdown has really hurt a lot of businesses, especially the museums and such.

  2. Dr. Waddy

    Reference "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" please do check it out. It is my favorite Clint Eastwood movie, because it is unique. Filming locations were around Great Falls, Montana, as I recall. Actually, Jeff Bridges stole the show, which in no way minimized Eastwood, in my opinion. I wonder what Eastwood believes his best film was? I'd love to know. Perhaps he has already said it, and I just did not catch it. I like all of his movies, but many were very "predictable" such as the "Dirty Harry" series, and his Westerns. But again, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot really was unique. It probably was not Eastwood's favorite because Bridges was nominated for an award for his role in it. Ha! It's a great Eastwood movie, so please watch it. Thanks.

  3. Dr. Waddy et al: I once read a very perceptive article which maintained that in order to understand Russia one must appreciate Russian winter. It said it is an October to May ordeal which is profoundly taxing to the Russian psyche. And their stifling summers offer little relief.

    It may be reasonable to think that this unrelenting climatic stress has a damaging effect on the immune systems of Russians too(?) So Russia may be very vulnerable.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone who has spent alot of time there, but my brief visits to Tijuana and a little second hand knowledge of Mexico City, say to me that widely seen third world crowding is often to be found there. I've been to Manila and think it MAY be analogous. If its so, these cannot be favorable settings for combating any aggressive pestilence, yes ?

  4. Dr. Waddy: Please elaborate on your use of the term Sinophobia.Am I interpreting correctly your intent in using it to cast some measured doubt on perhaps hyperbolic fear of or hostility to China? Perhaps the completely disingenuous Russophobia of the left in the Trump years is roughly analogous?Not completely, that is for sure. The anti Trump Russian collusion hoax is utterly discredited now. But concern about China is not. My own view: China is a superlatively significant world power; if their intent is to destroy us we must stand up; I sense though, that it is not. I think they want our trade and they want to be strong,prosperous and secure in large part because of their interplay with us. Surely, in this process, there will be points of friction generated by history, deep cultural differences and geographic verities. But surely today's China is a good place for very many of its people. My China expert Chinese Geography Prof tells me "there is wealth everywhere". Given China's terrible story 1820-1980, that is a hopeful thing,as is that of once almost hopeless India.

    Unless China presents us with a clear and present threat (and I do not think they will, for what it is worth) we should take pains to live with them in this world.

  5. Dr. Waddy and Ray: I hope I have proven I am no "moral equivalence" equivocator. China's insane Maoist period manifested all the sociopathic madness imposed by Stalin in Russia. But China, having had all along the solid core of a transcendently positive 3000 year old civilization (albeit with periods of dissolution) was redeemed by the courage of Teng Tsiao Ping , who, at very terribly personally experienced risk, freed China for its entrepreneur and vigorously constructive work ethic. And the results are undeniable. China is back! We of the West from 1800- thought that unthinkable but we were wrong.

    1. Jack

      It's NOT the Chinese people who are the problem! It is their government that runs one of the most ruthless dictatorships in history, and has decided to become a super power. That's the problem! Another problem is that this damn virus came out of China! Then the PRC delayed telling the world about it, and then they lied about it. The United States of America needs to rethink its' relationship with China. Actually, why were we so damn close with this dictatorship to begin with? We shipped most of our industrial base over there, and now we get paid like this. The Hell with China! They need to reform their politics. I could care less about their so called work ethic.

  6. Don't forget to wake me up when the world wide death toll from this Corona Virus passes the 50 million world wide deaths from the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

  7. So how many deaths do we have from the Corona Virus world wide now? I see 200,000, but I bet China has many more that we don't know about because of their secret Celestial Kingdom b. s. I see 50,000 dead from this in the U.S. So how does all this compare with the population of the entire world? Sure, people matter and all that, although in terms of international politics I doubt they really do. So go figure how serious this virus is? Gee, Bill Gates and his whiz kids said it was coming and that 200,000 would die. Where? The U.S.? Gee, guess we should listen to our billionaires, with their imaginary medical credentials. All in all, a lot of people are getting really fed up with being jerked around by a bunch of mediocre politicians who are having delusions of grandeur. This should probably be renamed "The Bullshit Virus".

  8. Linda, don't worry -- there's not much danger I'll become a refugee and flee to Mexico. I like Mexico, though. It's a fun place to visit.

    Linda, I want President Trump to hold China accountable too, but so far I don't see much action. Just rhetoric. And, to be fair, there's a lot we still don't know about China's role in this fiasco. I personally regard China as more negligent than anything else, but I try not to prejudge.

    You make a good point that museums will be hurt very badly by the pandemic. Old people are the key demographic for museum visitation, and they seem destined to be holed up in their laagers for many months to come.

    Ray, you make me more determined than ever to see "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"! I may not get the chance until the weekend, but I promise to give the whole WaddyIsRight universe a full report on its cinematic virtues.

    Jack, most Third World cities are FAR more crowded than anything we experience how is the dreaded virus not tearing through them? I honestly don't know.

    Now, I don't believe for a second that the Russians have weakened immune systems because of the rigors of winter. Seems to me that being Russian is one big exercise in "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger", no?

    Jack, when I use the term "Sinophobia," I do mean to imply that some hatred of China is irrational or hyperbolic, yes. Frankly, I also mean to imply that it is EMPTY. Or perhaps a better word is: opportunistic. China-bashing is popular in many quarters. In fact, the Dems, who are thoroughly enamored of China and happily hand over whatever the PRC desires in any negotiation, frequently abuse China duirng election years. C'est la guerre. Put me down as a skeptic when it comes to most forms of Sinophobia. I would love to see a REAL realignment of US-China relations, based on the achievement of MUTUAL respect and self-interest, but I think what we're more likely to see is the mirage of "cracking down" on China, while in fact business as usual continues.

    Ray, I concur that concern over the coronavirus is out of all proportion to the risk it actually poses to the vast majority of people. More and more evidence is emerging that the human cost of the lockdowns is likely to exceed that of the virus.

    If in the end the vast majority of people worldwide are exposed, as seems likely, we'll find out just how deadly this thing is. Here's hoping the doomsayers got it wrong.

  9. Dr. Waddy et al: Ray, I too am disgusted by our having to sue to incipient dictators like Cuomo and Newsom. (eg. "Local leaders ask Gov. Cuomo to ALLOW - allow! - our region to reopen"), for anything. Besides, its futile; Cuomo listens only to himself and considers us his wards and, any insolent opposition, so many noisome gnats. The courts and the President are the only hope for the real America in exile in NY.

    Dr. Waddy: What you said about Russia makes much sense. They certainly have proven a rugged bunch. Still, so often they appear wan and world weary and morale is a factor in resistance to disease or injury.