The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Proactive

One of the primary defenses that Democrats use to justify widespread mail-in voting (aside from their nonsensical catastrophist view that people will die from COVID-19 infections if they go to a voting booth in November) is that mail-in or absentee ballots have been used for years with little fraud and abuse (unproven and highly questionable,* but let's take their claim at face value). Of course, the number of absentee ballots is a very small percentage of the total vote and is intended to be used for those who are disabled or away from their voting locale. Each person who desires to use a mail-in ballot must apply for one, fill out a form of some kind, and then return the ballot once received.

Donald Trump along with most conservatives are suspicious of widespread use of the mail-in voting mechanism, particularly when a voter is completely passive prior to getting a ballot. But let's set that aside for a moment.

Historically, voting in almost every state requires the voter to be proactive. To exercise their right to vote, voters must leave their homes, travel to a polling place, state who they are (valid ID should be required everywhere, but in many locales it is not), and then cast their vote. As I noted earlier, for a mail in ballot, voters must be proactive in requesting that form of voting. The Democrats tell us that being proactive is a bad thing. That every potential voter can be passive and simply receive a ballot in the mailbox. 

What the Dems choose not to recognize is that proactive voting is the foundation of a democracy, and it's the foundation of the vote. If a voter cares so little that he or she will do nothing active to exercise the right to vote, it's reasonable to believe that voter cares little about the candidates or the issues on the ballot. If voters do care, they are more than happy to be proactive to exercise their right to vote.

Maybe what we should do is modify our terminology. Let's call all voting "pro-active voting." You can vote in person or you can voted via the mail, but in either case, you MUST be proactive. In order to "vote-by-mail" a citizen would be required to fill out a form requesting identifying themselves and their residence, asserting under penalty of perjury that they, and they alone, will fill out the voting form, place in in a postage-free envelope, seal it, and then take it to a mail drop so it can be returned it voting authorities. That's what we do right now. The voter must be proactive, regardless of the manner in which he or she votes.

I wonder if the Democrats would be okay with that. And if they aren't, it would be interesting to listen to them defend passive voting. Is it because it's too hard to request a vote-by-mail form?That's condescending and potentially racist. Is it because some voters don't have the money to send in the ballot? But it's postage free. Is it because it's too expensive for government to implement? But their approach is equally expensive. Is it because it's disenfranchises some voters? Only if those voter choose to be disenfranchised.

So yeah, let all vote, but let's be proactive when we exercise that right.

FOOTNOTE:
--------------------
*  The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media tell us that there is no voter fraud associated with mail-in ballots. Twitter fact-checked Donald Trump and told us the same thing. 

But common sense, not to mention plenty of actual prosecutions, indicate that the 'no fraud'  claim is fake news.  Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, reports on a few anecdotal instances:
​In 2007, during a spirited debate over photo ID legislation while I was in the Texas Legislature, a Democratic lawmaker from Dallas objected to the bill on the grounds that it allowed voting by mail to proceed without photo identification.

The legislator said: “Vote by mail, that we know, is the greatest source of voter fraud in this state. In fact, all of the prosecutions by the attorney general – I shouldn’t say all, but a great majority of the prosecutions by the attorney general occur with respect to vote by mail.”

As the official now charged with prosecuting election fraud in Texas, I can say unequivocally that the legislator was right: going back more than a decade and continuing through the present day, around two-thirds of election fraud offenses prosecuted by my office have involved some form of mail-ballot fraud.

These prosecutions include instances of forgery and falsification of ballots.

One man pleaded guilty after forging 1,200 mail-in ballot applications, resulting in 700 suspected fraudulent votes in a 2017 Dallas election. He was identified after a voter, whose ballot he harvested, snapped a photo of him on her cellphone.

“Authentic” signatures are also collected from voters, either under false pretenses or by experienced harvesters who confidently gain compliance from voters, as illustrated in a video that surfaced during the 2018 primary in the Houston area.

The anonymous video appears to show how easily a ballot application and signature were collected from a voter by a campaign worker in less than 20 seconds. After providing her signature, the voter asked the worker: “Is this legal, what you’re doing?” The worker replied: “Yes, ma’am, we’ve done 400 already.”

In South Texas, a former U.S. Postal Service employee was convicted of bribery in a federal prosecution in 2017 for selling a list of absentee voters to vote harvesters for $1,200.

Once mail ballots go out, harvesters show up at a voter’s door and engage the voter to provide “voting assistance.” The variations are endless, but a common practice involves giving the voter the impression that the harvester is an election official.

Whatever the case, successful vote harvesters leave with a voter’s signature and a ballot that is either blank, voted in the way the harvester wants, or that can be modified (or disposed of) later ...

These instances are just the tip of the iceberg. Mail ballot fraud has been documented across the country. In fact, the Heritage Foundation has helpfully assembled a searchable database of over 1,000 instances of election fraud resulting in some form of plea, penalty or judicial finding.
But of course, the Democrat's trained hamsters look the other way. After all, the guiding principle form the Left is -- "By any means necessary." Why else would the Dems be so adamant about a passive voting approach that has significant potential for fraud and abuse.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

No Legitimate Predication

The Democrats trained hamsters in the mainstream media are all atwitter (pun intended) over Donald Trump's latest silliness—an unsubstantiated and debunked accusation that one of their hamster's—MSNBC's Joe Scarborough—might have killed an female visitor to his Congressional office many years ago. Trump's tweet and underlying accusations are nonsense, but then again, so are Scarborough's unrepentant allegations that Trump is a Russian puppet guilty of treason or that the president is "unstable" or "insane." But for the media, it's just another in a long line of "news stories" that signify nothing.

But there is a hard news story that makes the hamsters really, really uncomfortable, and covering Scarborough-like stories allows them to downplay or ignore it. It's the one that directly connects the Obama-era FBI via written documents and first person testimony to an effort to spy on and destabilize the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. That scandal is big enough, but it pales in comparison to the continuing effort by the FBI and intelligence agencies to conduct a "soft coup" once Trump was elected.

Kevin Brock reports:
Late last week the FBI document that started the Trump-Russia collusion fiasco was publicly released. It hasn’t received a lot of attention but it should, because not too long from now this document likely will be blown up and placed on an easel as Exhibit A in a federal courtroom.

The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney John Durham, will rightly point out that the document that spawned three years of political misery fails to articulate a single justifiable reason for starting the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation.  

Those of us who have speculated there was insufficient cause for beginning the investigation could not have imagined the actual opening document was this feeble. It is as if it were written by someone who had no experience as an FBI agent.

Keep in mind the FBI cannot begin to investigate anyone, especially a U.S. citizen or entity, without first creating a document that lists the reasonably suspicious factors that would legally justify the investigation. That’s FBI 101, taught Day 1 at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va.

To the untrained eye, the FBI document that launched Crossfire Hurricane can be confusing, and it may be difficult to discern how it might be inadequate. To the trained eye, however, it is a train wreck. There are a number of reasons why it is so bad. 
Brock goes on to deconstruct the document, noting all of the problems with it, including the fact that it was authored, directed to, and approved by one man—the infamous Peter Strzok. The names of those who were cc'd have been redacted. One has to wonder why.

After a lengthy and detailed discussion of the document (a smoking gun?), Brock summarizes:
... the nation was left with an investigation of a presidential campaign that had no legitimate predication; that spawned a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act intercept of a U.S. citizen that had no legitimate predication; that resulted in a confrontation with a new administration’s national security adviser that had no legitimate predication; and, finally, that led to an expensive special counsel investigation that had no legitimate predication. No pattern-recognition software needed here.

Hopefully, Exhibit A will be displayed in a federal courtroom soon. The rule of law, upon which the FBI rests its very purpose and being, was callously discarded by weak leaders who sought higher loyalty to their personal agendas, egos, biases and politics. Accountability is demanded by the American people. Let’s pray we see some.
The Democrat's trained hamsters in the media are trying mightily to ensure that we see none of it. Given the COVID-19 travesty that they are responsible for gleefully promoting, it's likely that the greatest scandal in U.S. political history may become a footnote, rather than a call for reform.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Told Ya So ...

On May 21, 2020, Yinon Weiss began an in-depth commentary on the worldwide response to COVID-19 with these words:
In the face of a novel virus threat, China clamped down on its citizens. Academics used faulty information to build faulty models. Leaders relied on these faulty models. Dissenting views were suppressed. The media flamed fears and the world panicked.

That is the story of what may eventually be known as one of the biggest medical and economic blunders of all time. The collective failure of every Western nation, except one [Sweden], to question groupthink will surely be studied by economists, doctors, and psychologists for decades to come.
Weiss presents actual COVID-19 data collected from around the world and uses it to criticize: 
  • the recommendations of those medical experts whom a corrupt media elevated to oracle status while excluding others who disagreed, and  
  • the political leaders at the federal, state and local levels who were led astray and ultimately took actions that have wrecked our economy and the lives of tens of millions. 
Weiss' summary paragraph (read the entire article) says it all:
There were, of course, people warning us all along. Among them was as John P.A. Ioannidis of Stanford University School of Medicine, who ranks among the world’s 100 most-cited scientists on Google Scholar. On that pivotal day of March 17 he released an essay titled “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data” — but it got little attention. Mainstream media was not interested in good news stories or dissenting views. The world instead marched lock step into its man-made calamity.
Although I do not have a large audience and am not a medical expert or an economist, I was one of the people who tried to offer a warning. Way back on March 18th, I cited Dr. Ioannidis in a post entitled, Killing the Elephant, arguing that the shutdown—even then—was a gross over-reaction based on known data at the time:
To date, we do not have statistical evidence on the virus that is trustworthy and accurate across all age groups and populations. Lacking that, we don't know whether morbidity is 5% as some claim or 0.5 percent as some data suggest. Ioannidis uses an interesting metaphor: 
That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies. 
We need statistically valid, time-sequenced random testing across the United States before still more draconian measures are put into place. Hard decisions may very well be necessary, but only after statistical evidence is compelling. If we choose to proceed driven by emotion rather than data, we may very well kill the elephant while the cat runs free.
Now with 3+ months of data collected and analyzed,  we have undoubtedly injured the elephant (hopefully it will not die) and the cat continues to run free.

But even before I read Dr. Ioannidis' analysis in March, I had grave reservations about the catastrophist hysteria that drove politicians to make what we know know were really bad decisions. In a March 17th post, Pump the Brakes, I wrote:
At a recent news conference during which he announced near-draconian measures (school closures, shuttering of bars and restaurants, cancellation of any event with more than 10 people, etc., etc.) NY Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked whether the potential economic and societal damage caused by those measures (and related federal measures) had been weighed against the threat of COVID-19. With righteous indignation, Cuomo responded that when human lives (particularly the most vulnerable) are at stake, other costs have relatively little weight.

Really?

Every day humans make and very often accept the consequences of decisions and policies that result in life or death. Consider two examples:

Every year, approximately 39,000 people die in auto accidents—young, old, children, minorities, men, women. That's over 150 people—a day! Yet, there are no media scoreboards for automobile deaths, no mass wringing of hands, and absolutely no attempt to ban cars or demand that they drive single file at 20 mph separated by 10 car lengths. As tragic as each of the automobile deaths are, our society is willing to accept them because car travel is an integral part of our daily lives and cars themselves are a major economic engine within our country.

Every year, there are about 70,000 deaths from drug overdoses. That's almost 200 people—a day! Yet, there are no media scoreboards, no mass wringing of hands and although there have been decades-long policies to outlaw drugs and interdict them, in recent years, there have been attempts by a majority of Democrats and a significant minority of Republicans to reduce the penalties for drug use and distribution. As tragic as each of the overdose deaths are, our society is willing to accept them in order to avoid a police state.
On March 15th, I argued that the "gross irresponsibility" of the mainstream media was creating a level of hysteria that was both dangerous and destructive. Just this week, after reflecting on the enormous damage the media encouraged (not to mention their underlying political objective), I labeled these fake news hacks as the #1 villain in the COVID-19 saga.

On March 13th, I related the history of the 2009 H1N1 virus pandemic, and asked why that virus's death toll and infection rate was accepted without shut-downs or hysteria. On February 29th I asked why vast amounts of data and the conclusions drawn from that data that argue against hysteria and a shutdown were suppressed by the media. Later on May 5th, I made the same argument and asked the same questions about the 1968-69 H3N2 Hong Kong flu pandemic.

In matters of virology, public health and economics, I am nothing but a lowly layperson, and yet, early on (in late February and throughout March) I recognized that there were many, many issues that mitigated against the draconian measures that our leaders ultimately invoked. There were many, many reasons not to succumb to fear or hysteria that was encouraged by media hacks who had an agenda. How is it that a simple layperson could see this, but our leaders did not? How is it that reasoned analysis was shunted to the side while catastrophist emotion won out?

Over the past three months, I have written dozens of posts on the COVID-19 milieu. Nearly all have criticized a group that I call Team Apocalypse, a collection of politicians (mostly Democrats), media types, and public health "experts" who have done everything possible to exaggerate the threat, while at the same time, locking down younger citizens who have little to fear from COVID-19 and negatively impacting our economy as a consequence. They shuttered businesses using authoritarian controls, ruining lives and livelihoods along the way. At best they were stupid and fearful. At worst, they were political and uncaring.

Many of my friends and acquaintances rejected my positions during February, March, and April, buying into the fear, uncertainty and doubt that was purposely fostered by the media. They argued that the shut-down was necessary, that 'flattening the curve' was paramount, that Anthony Fauci was a medical genius who must not be questioned, that the projections of "scientific epidemiological models" were "scary." How could I be such a contrarian? they asked. Don't I care above "lives?"

Many of these friends and acquaintances remain gripped by fear, some by hysteria. They are true believers who reject new information that challenges their beliefs. Encouraged by irresponsible and despicable media hacks, they continue to shelter in place. They would prefer to continue the wreckage they have created, just so they can feel safe. In essence, for fear of death, they're perfectly willing to commit [societal] suicide.

Now, as the very first detailed analyses of the response to Covid-19 are published, it looks like the positions I took in February, March, April and May have been validated by real world data and outcomes. A few of the true believers and many who were not gripped by hysteria are beginning to ask hard questions about why we did this to ourselves—the same questions I've been asking for 3+ months. As the answers begin to emerge, I can only say, "Told ya so."




Monday, May 25, 2020

Villain

If one is allowed to choose only one collective villain in the COVID-19 crisis, it's not the current administration, nor is it state governors (mostly Democrat) who have distinguished themselves with poor decisions driven by fear and CYA as opposed to their claim of "science" and data". You might argue that it's members of the public health establishment (e.g., at the federal level, Anthony Fauci et al) who allowed themselves to believe grossly inaccurate models of viral spread and morbidity and continued to follow "data" that was preliminary and inaccurate. But no, the public health officials had no ill-intent, even though their focus was too narrow and their strategy has proven to be questionable at best. Hindsight indicates that their recommendations did little to actually stop the spread of the virus and even less to build up herd immunity—the only known way to stop the spread lacking a vaccine.

The one collective villain—a charter member of Team Apocalypse—is the main stream media. Driven by a combination of initial hysteria, a business model that accentuates 'if it bleed it leads' and then, recognizing that they had a chance to hurt a president that they hate with a venom that is unprecedented in modern history (mainly because he calls out their duplicity, their dishonesty, and the unprofessional, biased behavior), the main stream media did everything possible to encourage fear, uncertainty and doubt within the broad population—driving 'sheeple' to a level of hysteria that is dangerous to themselves and the country. The media have been shameless in all of this.

Fear is gripping the American public health and media establishments: they are losing control. States are belatedly (and far too tentatively) easing their coronavirus lockdowns, many without having met the absurd CDC benchmarks for doing so. Customers are joyfully returning to previously shuttered restaurants and parks, some even discarding that symbol of subjugation: the outdoor mask.

The mainstream media and health experts are not going down without a fight, however; their newfound power over almost the entirety of human life has been too exhilarating to give up now. Their reaction to the current rebellion provides a glimpse of the strategies that will be deployed during the much-hyped ‘second wave’ of infections this fall in order to shut the economy down again.

The extent of media panic became clear in mid-May. On May 15, CNN checked back in to Georgia, that blackguard state that had started reopening in April without expert pre-clearance, drawing a rebuke even from President Donald Trump. On April 21, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Georgia governor Brian Kemp was seeking to ‘turn his state into the place to die.’

Three weeks later, things were not looking good for the proponents of indefinite shutdown. ‘Since reopening late last month,’ CNN glumly reported, ‘Georgia hasn’t seen a spike in coronavirus cases.’ Time to change the standards for success: ‘But there also hasn’t been a significant decrease in new case counts,’ the cable channel added. New case counts had decreased — 6 percent over a week — but the drop just wasn’t ‘significant,’ by CNN’s lights. Moreover, CNN pointed out, that downward trend was ‘unsteadily downward,’ as if any set of data does not have daily fluctuations.
The New York Times, in what has to be an epic case of virtue signaling, decided to list the name of every COVID-19 victim, letting us know that they care while people who have rejected a catastrophist view clearly want more death. Comically, the sixth name on the list was a homicide victim—so much for accuracy.

If there's a way to spin good news about our war against the virus into bad, the main stream media will try to do so. Showing video clips of people celebrating the beginning of summer at beaches across the country, trained media hamsters clutched their pearls, put on their somber faces, and lamented the fact that no one was socially distanced or wearing masks. 

As death counts and hospitalization have dropped precipitously, the trained hamsters now lament an increase in "cases" never bothering to note that many if not a majority of cases are asymptomatic or very mild, and that increased testing will surely uncover more "cases."

Back at the NYT, McDonald reports:
On May 17, the New York Times crushed its competition with the most audacious effort yet to turn good news into bad. ‘NEW CASES IN US SLOW, POSING RISK OF COMPLACENCY,’ read the lead headline in the print edition. Sub headlines further limned the gloomy picture: ‘TRAJECTORY UNCERTAIN,’ ‘Spikes Feared As the Very Steps That Curbed the Virus Are Lifted.’ Do not stop being fearful, in other words. While the virus risk may go down, complacency risk replaces it, leaving us as threatened as before. The only proper posture is to shelter in place permanently.
This blatant attempt to turn good news into bad, to frighten people, and to keep the country closed (with consequent damage to people's health and livelihoods) is despicable.

UPDATE:
--------------------------- 

Heather McDonald provides us with the media playbook for the coming summer months. The hamsters don't realize how predictable and dishonest they are:
Expect the following additional strategies this summer, besides the creative massaging of good tidings into bad:

–Hiding the numbers. We will hear about ‘surges,’ ‘spikes,’ and the ‘ballooning of the case count,’ without learning the numbers behind those spikes. A state will be reported as being in the grip of an exponential outbreak; if that outbreak meant going from five new cases one day to nine new cases three days later, say, those details will be omitted.

–Specious parallelism. This strategy combines ‘hide the numbers’ with the irrelevant ‘as’ construction: President Trump is calling for an end to the lockdowns even as there are ‘worrisome reports of spikes in infections in countries like China, South Korea and Germany,’ the New York Times put it on May 12.

–Coy double negatives and strained constructions. The risk of outdoor transmission is ‘not zero,’ according to a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs quoted by the New York Times on May 16. (To be precise, outdoor infection accounted for 0.01 percent of 7,300 cases in China.) Caseloads are not rising but remain ‘steadily worrisome.’

–Scary new models, revisionist models, and the continuing citation of discredited old models.

–The conflation of new cases with new deaths, and no information about the recovery rate.

–Concealing the locus of mortality. This is the mother of all fear-mongering strategies. Every coronavirus story that does not acknowledge the prevalence of nursing home deaths among coronavirus decedents is a story that deceives the public. It is now impossible to attribute the lack of such information to mere oversight. Preliminary estimates of the share of nursing home deaths in the national count range from 35 percent to over 50 percent.  ... Neil Ferguson, director of the apocalyptic Imperial College model that triggered lockdowns in Great Britain and the US, has conceded that as many as two-thirds of all people who die of coronavirus in 2020 would have died by the end of the year anyway.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

April 1st

Thankfully, science and the people who actually practice science aren't at all like politicians and the people who practice politics (or at least, they shouldn't be). There is no such thing as a "flip-flop" in science, New and reliable data are integrated with and/or replaces older data, and theories are modified as a consequence. There is no such thing, despite what progressives continually tell us, as a final scientific "consensus." Scientists may agree until the experiments and/or data they have used to form their agreement are proven incorrect or flawed. Science continually adapts to the real word and does so without shame or excuses.

That's not the case in politics. Once politicians take a position, they're accused (by opponents) of flip-flopping if that position changes. No matter that facts of the ground have changed, that their original position is now proven to be wrong, or damaging, or ridiculous—it's what they believed in the beginning and they're sticking to it. Crazy.

All of this is particularly relevant as the COVID-19 debacle continues.

Although the Democrat politicians on Team Apocalypse keep telling use that they're guided by "data" and "science," what they really mean is they've taken positions based on data that have now been proven to be grossly inaccurate and by science that is now outmoded because actual scientists have already adapted to a new reality (and much better data) and left the politicians far behind.

Enter the media's public health oracle, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Based on very early data that overestimated COVID-19 morbidity by an order of magnitude or more, Fauci, along with many other public health professionals, recommended a complete shut down of the economy to "flatten the curve" and allow time for our hospitals to prepare for an onslaught of virus victims. Initially, the shutdown was to have lasted 15 days.

Even after 15 days, many (including yours truly) expressed grave reservations about its continuation. Recognizing that the world and the USA had survived other viral pandemics without a shut down [think: Hong Kong flu (1968-69), 100,000 deaths in the USA or swine flu (2009), (13,000 deaths and 35 million cases in the USA)], we began to question Fauci's absolute insistence that the shut down continue. 

We asked why new data on COVID-19 (indicating that although very serious, it was not the bringer of armageddon) was not given heavy weight in in future decision making. We asked why obviously flawed predictive models continued to be used and referenced. We asked why schools were to be permanently closed for the year when irrefutable data indicated that COVID-19 presented little real threat to children and young people. We asked why the economy was to be shut down when new data indicated that younger workers in the workforce were not in significant danger from the virus. We asked why the damage done by the shutdown (economic and health effects) wasn't modeled and considered in decision making.

But Fauci and his cohorts were adamant. He refused to adapt as new and more accurate data was presented. Shutdown—good and effective. Re-opening—bad and very risky. Because that dovetailed perfectly with a Democrat and media narrative that saw political opportunity in a wrecked economy and millions of unemployed, Fauci attained oracle status.

And now, just this week, Oracle Fauci tells us that continuing the shutdown has it own risks and that a shut down can't be sustained indefinitely and will cause "irreparable damage." Ya think! 

Of course, the media downplayed those comments (doesn't fit the narrative) and some Dem governors like Gretchen Witmer (MI) insist on continuing the shut down into June.

Here's the problem: The Oracle Fauci did NOT adapt as new and reliable data were integrated with and/or replaced older data. He did not modify his position, despite criticism by many experts in his profession (the media helped the Oracle by ignoring that criticism). He acted more like a politician than a scientist, and continued to give actual politicians bad advice. 

Today, he tells us that a continued shutdown can cause "irreparable damage." It already has! Might have been a good idea to have mentioned that way back on April 1st.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Manipulated

The story of the origins of the COVID-19 virus (scientific designation, SARS-CoV-2) may never be fully revealed. Part of the reason is that if (and it's a big if)  the origins of the virus are not natural and can be traced to a Chinese virology lab, some will demand consequences. But we're talking about consequences levied against the second most powerful country on the planet, and the last thing the world needs right now is more upheaval. So elites on both sides of the political spectrum would prefer to look the other way. And that only "conspiracy theorists"  suggest that the origins of SARS-CoV-2 can be traced to a bioweapons laboratory in Wuhan, China.

In the United States members of Team Apocalypse have other motives for keeping the focus away from China. Catastrophists on the Team, along with their trained hamsters in the media, need the narrative to lead to the electoral defeat of Donald Trump in November. For that reason, any blockbuster news that might take focus off that narrative must be suppressed. 

When early conjecture that COVID-19 might be more than a naturally occurring virus originating from bats began to surface, Team Apocalypse scrambled to reference the media's all-knowing medical oracle, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told us that SARS-CoV-2 was naturally occurring virus. Because he is all-knowing, Fauci was able to state this BEFORE any scientific investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 was conducted. He argued that there was no chance that it originated in a Chinese laboratory and was accidentally released into the population in Wuhan. As the true believers often say—that means "the debate is over."

Unfortunately for them, that's not how science works. Researchers around the world are dissecting the genetic footprint of SARS-CoV-2, and some of their findings are unsettling. In a lengthy report, Bill Gertz relates the findings of two scientific teams, one in Australia and another in India. In both cases, these teams have found suspicious indications that the SARS-CoV-2 was manipulated by human actors:
A forthcoming Australian scientific study concludes that the coronavirus causing the global pandemic contains unique properties suggesting it was manipulated in a Chinese laboratory and was not the result of a natural occurrence.

Five scientists who conducted the study discovered an unusual ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as the pathogen behind COVID-19 is called, to easily infect humans.

The scientists said there is no sign so far that the virus can be found in other animals, including bats or the exotic wildlife sold for fresh meat at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified and where China maintains a major laboratory studying such viruses.
It's very important to note that these findings are NOT definitive and that further investigation and/or peer review may find flaws in the researchers' approach or logic. However, the preliminary findings are concerning. Even worse, they are not unique. Gertz reports:
The Australian study is the second scientific paper to suggest laboratory manipulation played a part.

A group of Indian scientists published a paper on Jan. 31 that found the new coronavirus contained four insertions to the spike protein that are unique to SARS-CoV-2 and not found in other coronaviruses. The features, they said, are similar to those found in the virus known as HIV.

Those scientists concluded that similar structures are “unlikely to be fortuitous in nature.”

The Indian paper was withdrawn under pressure from China, but the scientists involved refused to repudiate their research and promised to publish their findings eventually.
Since this research occurred outside the United States, it will be difficult for members of Team Apocalypse to dismiss it as "a political distraction." And because the Democrat members of the Team have worked hard to imply that the COVID-19 is Donald Trump's fault (if only he had planned better, or responded faster, or tested more), the last thing they want is breaking news that detracts from their narrative. So they'll dismiss Gertz's report as "racist" or a "conspiracy theory" and continue their partisan drum beat to keep the country shut down and blame Trump for the consequences of the virus and of keeping the country shut down.





Thursday, May 21, 2020

Destructive

Catastrophists who are members of Team Apocalypse are overwhelmingly Democrats. They are also COVID-19 true believers,  and when put in leadership positions (e.g., state governors or mayors), develop policies that defy logic; are often nonsensical and contradictory (e.g., why allow liquor stores to remain open while insisting that clothing stores close), and have risks that are far more dangerous than the virus they tell us they fear (e.g., wrecking the U.S. economy while putting tens of millions out of work), Despite clear and irrefutable evidence to the contrary (e.g., morbidity rates for healthy people under 50 are very low), catastrophists believe that everyone who has the potential of coming into contact with a COVID-19 carrier is "putting their life on the line." 

No matter that both the "data" and the "science"—two words that are generally ignored by catastrophists but nonetheless have become a tedious part of their narrative, indicate that statistically, the only people who have to fear COVID-19 are over 65 or 70 years old (actually, data from NYC, CT, MA, PA, MI, and other states indicate that the real age for concern is 80-plus. Yeah, I know, every catastrophist can cite an edge case in which a young person or a child got COVID-19 and became deathly ill or died, but that's a statistical anomaly (much like getting struck by lightning) that cannot and should not be used as an excuse for insane policy decisions.

I sit in absolutely stunned amazement when Democrat governors continue to insist that schools may not open in the fall. After all, why open schools when children have a near zero probability* of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19? I suppress a laugh when big city mayors (all Dems) continue to insist that bars remain shuttered and beaches closed, even as tens of thousands have decided to patronize both. And I get really angry when pampered progressives tell blue collar people (who can't work out of their homes) to just suck it up and get into a food line.

 A wag on Twitter wrote [paraphrasing]:
So let me get this straight, the people who are most likely to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19 are no longer in the workforce.

Let's close down the economy so that younger people who do work [but are very unlikely to suffer serious consequences if they get COVID-19], can't work.
Of course, the catastrophists clutch their pearls and tell us that those younger people can infect grandma. How about suggesting that grandma self-isolate and that younger people do everything possible to avoid contact with her—you know, wear a mask while at home, stay six feet apart, wash hands—all that good stuff. And please, spare me the "what about extended families!?" argument. Only 17 percent of all U.S. families are "extended families." Following typical catastrophist (il)logic, that's a good reason for putting all families in jeopardy of losing their livelihood and income.

But, but, but, the catastrophists exclaim ... Dr. Anthony Fauci!!  Who other than an untrustworthy and purposely ill-informed media have elevated Fauci to oracle status? He's a doc with an opinion. There are other docs with different opinions—and yeah, those docs are equally qualified and equally well-respected in the epidemiological community. For example, Adam Ford reports:
More than 600 doctors signed and sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reopen the U.S. economy, calling the coronavirus lockdowns a "mass casualty incident" with "exponentially growing health consequences."

The letter warns that tens of millions of Americans are at immediate risk of serious health concerns or death directly caused by the shutdown due to issues such as missed preventative healthcare checkups, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness, heart attacks, and strokes.
And finally, there's the whole business of "science" and "data."  After watching the bad decisions that have come out of catastrophist leadership, I'm convinced that the largely Democrat politicians on Team Apocalypse wouldn't know "science" if it stripped off its N95 mask, stepped inside the 6-foot social distancing boundary, and said, "You're so, so wrong, it makes me laugh."

Only problem  is that what the catastrophists are doing isn't funny, it's destructive.

FOOTNOTE:
-------------------------
*  The editors of the Wall Street Journal provide some perspective on the threat COVID-19 poses for children:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that 15 children under age 15 in the U.S. have died of Covid-19 since February compared to about 200 who died of the flu and pneumonia. [emphasis mine] Children represent 0.02% of virus fatalities in the U.S., and very few have been hospitalized.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics last week found that only 48 children between March 14 and April 3 were admitted to 14 pediatric intensive care units in the U.S., and 83% had an underlying condition. The most common was “a long-term dependence on technological support (including tracheostomy) associated with developmental delay and/or genetic anomalies,” the authors note. The fatality rate for children in ICUs was 5% compared to 50% to 62% for adults.

Another new JAMA study examines children treated for cancer at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering. Twenty of 178 pediatric patients tested positive for coronavirus—an infection rate of 11.2%—but only one required noncritical hospital care. Thirteen of their 74 adult caregivers also tested positive—an infection rate of 17.6%. “Together, our results do not support the conjecture that children are a reservoir of unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors conclude.
But all of this involves numbers and evidence. Catastrophists don't want to consider either. Better the run around with their metaphorical hair on fire making bad decision after bad decision.