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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Collateral Damage

In a recent post, I argued that by rapidly becoming the face of the "keep-America-closed movement (a.k.a. "Team Apocalypse"), the Democrats were heading down a cul de sac. As states begin to open up, there are still a number of Governors (all Dems) who insist on keeping things closed, let their state economies be damned.

After recounting the Dems unsuccessful and sometimes buffoonish efforts to unseat Donald Trump, Jordan Davidson writes:
... few crusades seem more idiotic and self-defeating than trying to keep the economy under wraps, which Democratic officials and their media allies are trying to do. We get it; soaring unemployment and continuing misery hurts President Trump’s reelection prospects.

But at the same time, 40 percent of low-income Americans have lost their jobs, entire industries are on the verge of collapse and tens of thousands of small business owners are watching their nest eggs and dreams go up in smoke.

Plus, the collateral damage to Americans is hideous. Millions have foregone medical treatments and check-ups. In addition, Well Being Trust, a national public health group, has recently warned that the isolation and fear brought on by the virus could lead to increased alcohol or drug abuse, resulting in 75,000 deaths.  

And our children are not in school.

Democrats think this is good?
Apparently so.

Just two days ago, as reports of a possible vaccine candidate from the biotech company Moderna have emerged (it's early and data are limited, but nonetheless encouraging), members of Team Apocalypse have leaped into action, questioning just about everything concerning the news. Why the pessimistic tilt? Sure, things remain tentative, but you'd almost think the Democrat catastrophists are hoping that Moderna's efforts fail—justifying their insane efforts to keep the country closed until a vaccine emerges (anytime after November 2nd).

After recounting the fact that hundreds of thousands of people across the country are flaunting overly restrictive stay-at-home guidelines and restarting their lives, Davidson continues:
These battles over reopening are making headlines all across the country. It seems absurd. Surely the fact that 40 percent of U.S. counties have had not a single death from COVID-19 should make media types clustered in New York and D.C. recognize that there’s a big country out there not much impacted by the virus, and that a top-down prescription is not the right approach.

Democrats seem to think they will score points by posing as the realists in the crowd, the authorities who follow the science and guide people to safety.
There's only one problem—history and science, not to mention the massively negative effects f continuing closure, dictate reopening a.s.a.p.

Over the long haul, their anti-reopening position will hurt the Dems, but it appears they're so driven by a need to oppose anything that Donald Trump recommends, they refuse to consider the backlash (that has already begin nationwide). So be it.

UPDATE-1:
----------------------
Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson writes:
The time for mass quarantines is passed. And yet in some places -- and this is the measure of bad leadership --lockdowns are becoming more restrictive, not less, and much, much weirder.

In Illinois, for example, J.B. Pritzker ...has issued yet another emergency order. This time, Pritzker vows to imprison business owners if they try to reopen.

Meanwhile, in New York City, pothead Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that anyone who dares to swim will be yanked out of the water, of course, because the virus spreads so easily in the ocean ...

In Los Angeles, ... the mayor there has told the beachgoers they can walk on the wet sand,-- totally fine -- but not the dry. Dry sand is dangerous.

On Long Island, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has banned doubles tennis ... Singles only, no doubles. She wants you to know that in Nassau County, it is illegal to touch other people's tennis balls.

This is what happens when neurotic dumb people get power. They do neurotic dumb things and then throw you in jail if you complain about it.

Thankfully, in spots around the nation, people are starting to remember that this is America. Just because morons like J.B. Pritzker would like to stage a flu d'etat does not mean that the rest of us have to play along. Several sheriffs in Illinois have now announced they will no longer enforce J.B. Pritzker's orders. They're too stupid. They're absurd. They're also unconstitutional.
In my own area, traffic has picked up substantially, businesses of all kinds are re-opening, youngish people are acting like what they are—a population cohort that is VERY unlikely to suffer any truly bad affects from COVID-19. 

Oh, BTW, my home state, FL, has seen hospitalizations and deaths go down, despite catastrophist predictions of disaster, ever since our governor had the wisdom to reject catastrophist propaganda and reopen.

UPDATE-2:
------------------------
This comment by Glen Reynolds of Instapundit touches on how Trump Derangement Syndrome makes people, really, really stupid:
I remain amazed at the complete abandonment of reason on the subject of hydroxychloroquine. It either works or it doesn’t. There’s decent evidence that it works with zinc, and that it doesn’t work very well without zinc. It could still turn out not to be very helpful, though if I were Trump I’d be taking it too after exposure. But pretending that it’s somehow highly dangerous when it’s been routinely taken by millions for longer than I’ve been alive is outright crazy. I swear if Trump endorsed Vitamin D, half the country — and 90% of the press — would be wearing burkas over 100X sunblock.
Oh, one more thing. If you're stupid enough to believe the canard that Trump recommended drinking or injecting bleach to cure COVID-19, and then you became hysterical when some idiot did just that, remember this reality—you can't just walk into a grocery story and buy hydroxychloroquine. It's a prescription medication, provided in consultation with a doctor. It represents a danger to no one, unless a doctor assesses the risk and agrees it should be taken in your situation. It it was a "dangerous" as Team Apocalypse says it is, why doesn't the FDA ban it outright. Screw the Lupus patients who benefit from HQC, not to mention those suffering from malaria—THERE ARE SIDE AFFECTS!! Yep, TDS makes people really, really stupid.

UPDATE-3:
---------------------
Team Apocalypse celebrates the indefinite closure of schools "to keep our children safe," even though "science" indicates that children are not at risk statistically. There have been no peer-reviewed, double-blind studies to confirm that closing schools will result in better health outcomes. 

Team Apocalypse cheers when beaches reman closed, even though UV light kills COVID-19 in about 2 minutes. There have been no peer-reviewed, double-blind studies to confirm that closing beaches is scientifically justified or results in better health outcomes.  

Team Apocalypse calls you a "murderer" if you suggest that the damage to the economy might be more severe than the damage caused by COVID-19. There have been no peer-reviewed, double-blind studies to confirm that closing the economy will result in any better health outcome than keeping it open.  

Glen Reynolds of Instapundit quips: "Apparently the only coronavirus countermeasure that can’t be deployed without peer-reviewed, double-blind studies involving thousands is hydroxychloroquine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Worse and Worse

The mainstream media just keeps getting worse and worse. It's credibility, seriously damaged by two-plus years of dishonest and biased "reporting" that promulgated a Russian collusion hoax (now proven to be completely untrue), was further eroded by their blatantly biased coverage of the Kavanaugh Hearings and the evidence-free Impeachment of Donald Trump. More recently, they have become irresponsible given their obvious intent to instill fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than providing context and honest reporting, examples derived from past pandemics that blew through our country with near-equivalent death tolls and far more cases, and honest reporting that provided both pro- and con- shutdown arguments from noted medical experts, the hamsters worked hard to terrify the public (they generally succeeded) in the hope of hurting the hated Donald Trump's election chances.

Now, grievously wounded at their own hand, the media hamsters have been backed against the wall by the growing scandal that is now known as "Obamagate*." In the main, the hamsters have circled the wagons to protect their beloved Barack Obama and his corrupt administration, arguing against copious evidence to the contrary that there's no there, there. Using excuses that are as dishonest as the Obamagate perpetrators, the trained hamsters have limited coverage of the growing scandal, denigrated actual journalists who have tried to cover the story (think: CBS' Catherine Herridge or Sharyl Attkisson), and otherwise done everything possible to obfuscate.

Kim Strassel and Molly Hemingway have been at the forefront of the few remaining professional and ethical journalists who have covered the Obamagate story since the first facts began coming out almost two years ago. Hemingway writes:
As new details emerge about the Obama administration’s broad spying-and-leaking campaign against the incoming Trump administration, reporters have a choice to make about whether to cover this story honestly, at long last. There is a brief window of time afforded the media to get the story right. They should take advantage of it ...
It was one thing for reporters to stick with the false narrative through the disappointing conclusion of the Mueller special counsel report, in which no evidence of any American colluding with Russia could be found. They were able to make it through the embarrassing results of that report and the embarrassing performance of Mueller in the hearing about the report and were never confronted with a need for a mea culpa.

But if reporters think they can continue to ignore the very real concerns about politicization of intelligence agencies under Obama, or gaslight Americans by claiming such spying and leaking is normal and even good, they should wake up.

Unlike the Russia collusion fiction that was maintained by the Obama administration, holdouts in the Trump administration, and finally the Mueller special counsel posse, the spying and leaking campaign story is coming out with facts. Declassifications, court documents, and investigative reports have all shown the falsehood of the Russia collusion hoax and the truth of the spying scandal. More could be coming ...
And the Democrats trained hamsters in the media will do everything possible to ignore it, to spin it, or to accuse those who report it as bad people, because ... it just might help Trump.
One thing to remember, though. Trump and his infant administration were the victims here. He had NOTHING to do with the unethical and possibly criminal actions of senior members of the Obama administration, the FBI and intelligence agencies. Trump didn't pay for a fake dossier suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a Russian operative, he didn't try to railroad (think: Gen. Michael Flynn) senior Obama administration officials. He didn't do the lying to FISA courts, he didn't conduct surveillance on his opponents, he didn't leak secret documents to the media. The Democrats and their partisan supporters did all of that and much more.

FOOTNOTE:
------------------------
* The trained hamsters keep asking: "What crime has Obama committed to justify the term 'Obamagate.' " At this point there is no evidence that Obama committed a crime, but that isn't the point. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that he and his direct reports knowingly approved of an effort by his administration to cripple the incoming presidency of Donald Trump by weaponizing members of the FBI, the DoJ, and various intelligence Agencies. Members of his administration and their supported conducted a soft coup attempt. The term "Obamagate" encompasses the entire Crossfire Hurricane scandal.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bailout

We're going to be hearing a lot in coming months about the need for a federal bailout for states that have been impacted by COVID-19. It is true that some states have spent hundreds of millions on their direct response to the virus, and it is reasonable to ask the feds (i.e., taxpayers from other states) for help with that. It's also true that Team Apocalypse's efforts to shut down state economies resulted in a dramatic drop in sales tax revenue and enormous stress on state paid unemployment benefits. A targeted bailout might be justified there, but only for states that have made a real effort to re-open and restart their economy. If a state insists on remaining essentially closed (e.g., Michigan), any losses going forward are on their Governor and legislature, along with their residents.

Having said all of that, it appears that many blue states (e.g., NY, NJ, IL, CT, MA, CA) want the federal bailout not solely for COVID-related expenses but to cover profligate spending that has put them in a bad financial condition over the past few decades. The editors of the Wall Street Journal compare NY and FL:
Democrats want a $915 billion budget bailout for states and cities, and the leading lobbyist is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His main public antagonist on the subject is Florida Senator and former Governor Rick Scott. Both men were first elected Governor in 2010, so let’s do the math to consider which state has managed its economy and finances better over the last decade.

In 2010 New York’s population of 19.378 million was larger than Florida’s 18.8 million. By mid-2019 Florida had grown to 21.48 million, according to the Census Bureau, while New York had barely increased to 19.453 million. Yet Mr. Cuomo recently signed a budget for fiscal 2021 of $177 billion that is even bigger than last year’s, papering over what was a $6 billion deficit before the coronavirus. Florida’s budget for fiscal 2021, not yet signed by new Governor Ron DeSantis, is expected to be about $93 billion.

Democrats in Albany are claiming to be victims of events that are out of their control. But they have increased spending by $43 billion since 2010—about $570,000 for each additional person. Florida’s budget has increased by $28 billion while its population has grown 2.7 million—a $10,400 increase per new resident.

New York has a top state-and-local tax rate of 12.7%, while Florida has no income tax. Yet New York has a growing budget deficit, while Mr. Scott inherited a large deficit but built a surplus and paid down state debt. The difference is spending.
Blue states have every right to spend as much as they want and to tax their citizens heavily until those citizens decide to vote with their feet and  leave (as is the case in NY). However, those same blue states have absolutely no right to ask taxpayers in other more fiscally responsible states to bail out profligate spending that occurred years or decades before COVID-19 came onto the scene and had absolutely nothing to do with the virus.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cul de Sac

Up until this week, there was an aggressive effort by members of Team Apocalypse to keep the country closed down.  At the same time that their arguments became more and more strident (e.g., "You want to kill grandma if you advocate re-opening), members of the team began to have trouble reconciling their close-it-down position when the shutdown put tens of millions out of work, increased the number of homeless by 30 to 40 percent, shuttered tens of thousands of small businesses permanently, and otherwise wreaked havoc on the economy.  

As members of Team Apocalypse—most of whom are Democrats and their media flunkies—initiated their effort to destroy the economy, I had the temerity to suggest the following way back in mid-April:
To enhance their plausible deniability (more on what they're denying in a moment), the Dems and their hamsters cluck their tongues expressing "real concern" over the now 26 million people who have been thrown out of their jobs by government edict. But the Dems' adamant position on keeping the country locked down implies that those people just have to suck it up because it's all about "saving lives," right? Until the last few days, the Dems and their hamsters rarely mentioned the "lives" that assuredly will be ruined by economic collapse, not to mention the lives that will be lost because elective surgery has not been done and medical diagnostics have been delayed egregiously. The drumbeat to keep the nation shut down is as constant as it is patently irresponsible. And please ... spare me sage quotes from Dr. Fauci, whose single minded focus on the epidemic is laudable, but doesn't consider other aspects of the problem that may actually be more damaging that the virus itself ...

It's true that few are willing to make an obvious accusation knowing it will elicit anger and be vigorously denied, but through their actions, at least a few Democratic leaders and most of their trained hamsters are showing all the signs of wanting the national shutdown to continue until we enter an actual depression. Obviously, they would be outraged by that claim, but there's plenty of circumstantial evidence to justify it.

Enter Kurt Schlichter, never known for pulling his punches. His comments might be over-the top, but there's an underlying truth in what he writes:
... the Chinese coronavirus was a dream come true, a deus ex pangolin that finally, after an endless series of leaks, impeachments, investigations, and media meltdowns, might be the magic bullet that actually takes Trump down.

Am I saying that the Democrats are exploiting the pandemic for their own cheesy advantage? Well, yeah. Everything they are doing is consistent with that. Everything. No, in the abstract, many of them would probably not prefer that tens of thousands of Americans die ..., but their attitude seems to be that if life gives you tens of thousands of dead Americans, make political lemonade. 

And upon reading this there will be lib blue check and Fredocon sissies huffing n’ puffing because I dared point out this manifest truth, so allow me to recommend that those who are upset go soothe themselves with a nice bowl of artisanal chocolate ice cream [link added], which I am reliably informed makes everything better. Absolutely no one believes the Democrats are not going to wring from this black swan all the droppings they can squeeze out onto President Trump ...
In general, the Dems always let their trained hamsters in the media do their dirty work. In this case the hamsters demand more and more testing for counties that often have fewer than 3 or 4 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. And when testing is no longer an issue (soon), they'll demand a vaccine before re-opening can be "safe," even though any vaccine many months away.
At the time I wrote this, I thought that the Dems had a winning political strategy, but they've become so blatantly obvious in their effort to ruin the economy, they may be headed for a dead end and I suspect they're beginning to realize exactly that. The anti-Trump #Resistance allowed widespread Trump Derangement Syndrome to morph into the anti-re-opening #Resistance. Conrad Black comments:
The Democrats attacked the president for not taking [COVID-19] seriously, attacked him for blaming China, gave him no credit for cleaning up in a couple of weeks the utter decrepitude of the emergency medical response system bequeathed to him by Obama, give him no credit for “flattening the curve,” and are now proposing endless testing and the impossible elimination of the virus, while tens of millions more people are thrown out of work and the Congress authorizes trillions more of borrowed dollars to pay the victims of the shut-down they wish to extend to the election.

It is a fatuous policy that will blow up.
If enough people recognize that Team Apocalypse (a.k.a. the Dems) was perfectly willing to play fast and loose with their lives and their livelihoods, put them into debt, put their jobs and homes in jeopardy, refuse to allow their kids to attend school, establish an atmosphere that dissuades people from getting much needed "elective" medical care, and arbitrarily impose on their freedoms, the road the Dems have chosen may become a cul de sac with a very large wall at its end. 

As the Dems speed down the cul de sac with their trained media hamsters at the wheel, they just might miscalculate and hit the wall—hard. Their hopes for a power grab in November could be totaled as a result. One can only hope.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Where Your Fear Begins

I recently saw a tee shirt with the following imprint: "My freedom doesn't stop where your fear begins ..." That's worth pondering for a moment. 

Because Team Apocalypse and their media allies have worked tirelessly to encourage fear, uncertainty, and doubt among the populace, political leaders were forced to limit freedoms (e.g., the freedom to leave one's home,  to work) in an attempt to "mitigate" COVID-19. Instead of targeted attempts at mitigation that would have achieved the same reduction in hospitalizations and deaths (remember, that was the "only goal"), politicians were stampeded into a shotgun approach that shut down the entire country, and in the end, won't stop the virus over the long term.

All the while, Team Apocalypse kept telling the rest of us that they are "data driven" and guided by "the science." That their only concern is "safety" and that saving lives is paramount. 

If that truly was the case, members of the Team would have looked at early data and concluded that the most vulnerable populations were the elderly, particularly those in long-tern health care facilities—the easiest population to quarantine.* An aggressive effort protecting them from the virus could have been accomplished without shutting down the country for months and negatively affecting the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

Members of the Team would have studied "the science" of past viral pandemics and concluded that such events, although scary and concerning, are a natural phenomenon, much like the wind. A viral pandemic blows through the population, sometimes with great force as it did in March and April. It ebbs and flows as it is doing now. It can increase without warning, as it is likely to do in coming months. We can shelter against it for a time, but doing so doesn't stop it. It will eventually have its way, blowing through the entire population until herd immunity (or the artificial immunity of a vaccine) causes a calm. And even then, it might re-emerge. It is, after all, like the wind. So ... we have to emerge from our shelters and live our lives.

That's what the country is trying to do, but the catastrophists are fighting back. Their approach is sort of like going into a storm shelter as a Tornado approaches. Once it passes, the catastrophists insist on staying in the shelter for weeks or months—at least until Tornado season ends. The rest of us want to emerge and begin to repair the damage. We refuse to allow their fear (if that's what this is really about) to limit our freedom.

But maybe the real objective of Team Apocalypse has become political. They've become a new kind of #Resistance—same overall goal, yet a very different narrative.

FOOTNOTE:
----------------------
*  Multiple studies indicate that between 40 and 50 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths in the United States happened in nursing homes. 60 - 70 percent of the remaining deaths occurred among a population that was over 50 years old and had one or more underlying health conditions.

UPDATE:
-------------------
Maybe the catastrophist narrative will begin to change, now that the media is finally beginning to understand how their tireless efforts to encourage fear, uncertainty, and doubt, using a narrative that discourages context, reports edge cases as mainstream incidents, and ignores many, many, many important facts, has begun to effect the companies they work for.

I would never celebrate anyone's job loss, but it's really hard not to feel at least a little Schadenfreude as the trained hamsters finally begin to suffer the consequences of their own journalistic actions.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Barr None

Just once during the Trump era, it would be nice to see the Democrats act like the leaders they claim to be. A leader recognizes that that government corruption is a cancer that will ultimately lead to the destruction of a nation. He or she further recognizes that uncovering and eliminating that corruption is in the long-term benefit of their party, even if it was members and/or sympathizers of their party (and only their party) that participated in the corruption. Instead, the Dems continue to work to keep corruption hidden, to attack anyone or any entity that tries to bring said corruption to light, and to manufacture dishonest counter-narratives to confuse and obfuscate the harsh truth. 

To wit, partisans within the Democrat party—infuriated that they lost an election they expected to win—manufactured a document (with the Russians!!) that was used to allege Russian collusion by Trump. They used it to railroad key officials (Michael Flynn comes to mind) in the incoming Trump administration. They were acting with the knowledge of the outgoing Obama administration whose complicity in what amounted to a soft coup is yet unknown. The document was used by Democrat partisans within the FBI, the DoJ and select intelligence agencies as a catalyst for a years-long witch hunt that resulting in nothing. The witch hunt also lead to a phony impeachment that was conducted as the threat of a world wide pandemic began.

You'd think that the "leaders" in the Dem party would be concerned and would act accordingly. Instead, they double down on dishonesty, venality, and duplicity.

AG William Barr is their latest target. Barr had the courage to pull the lid off the rancid machinations of  some Democrat leaders and partisans over the past 3+ years. And now, following their tiresome playbook, the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are vilifying Barr. 

Kim Strassel comments:
... instead of applauding Mr. Barr for divulging these facts, the Beltway has responded with ire. Mr. Barr’s transparency threatens to reveal further that the Russia-collusion narrative was pure fantasy, to puncture the self-righteousness of the likes of Mr. Comey and his scribes, to question the appropriateness of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, and to expose how hatred of Donald Trump drove people of power to break rules and destroy norms. Thus the vicious campaign to undermine Mr. Barr’s credibility, an operation that has now been joined not only by Democrats and the press, but also by Justice Department alumni and even the federal judge presiding over Mr. Flynn’s case ...

The press spent all week flogging an open letter from 1,900 former Justice Department employees calling on Mr. Barr to resign for having “assaulted the rule of law” by withdrawing the charges against Mr. Flynn. Never mind that this crew is an insignificant fraction of the tens of thousands of former department employees who didn’t sign a letter. Many stories also conveniently neglected to mention that the letter was organized by Protect Democracy, a nonprofit formed in 2017 by former counsels for President Obama.

The proof of the skullduggery behind these attacks and press stories is in the name they don’t mention: U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen. He’s the man Mr. Barr tapped in January to review the Flynn case, and who made the recommendation to withdraw the charges. Career prosecutors worked on the withdrawal brief. No one has dared suggest Mr. Jensen is anything but a fine lawyer—because they can’t. He spent 10 years at the FBI and 10 as a career prosecutor. His involvement refutes the critics’ assertion that this was a “politicized” decision by Mr. Barr on behalf of Mr. Trump. So they’ve excised him—and the career prosecutors—from the story.

Then there’s Judge Emmet Sullivan’s decision to join the smear campaign against Mr. Barr. Rather than grant the prosecution’s request to withdraw the Flynn case, Judge Sullivan appointed a retired judge, John Gleeson, to oppose the effort and to investigate whether Mr. Flynn engaged in perjury—an offense with which he wasn’t charged—by changing his plea. Mr. Gleason is singularly unsuited for this task. A former prosecutor, he once worked alongside Mueller “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann, who as a member of Mr. Mueller’s team helped railroad Mr. Flynn. And Mr. Gleeson has admitted his palpable bias in a Washington Post op-ed this week that urged Judge Sullivan to deny the prosecution motion and leave Mr. Flynn’s conviction in place ...

The bright light in this morass of rough justice and partisan slander is Mr. Barr himself. He knew what was coming and appears unfazed and unwilling to be rolled into meekness. The country is lucky to have a top law-enforcement officer who cares more about justice and his department’s reputation than about the former officials who abused its power. The more they howl, the more obvious their guilt.
The only people who continue to believe that all of these allegations are made up, that no wrong-doing occurred, that an attempt to undermine an newly-elected president didn't occur, that Democratic leaders (think: Schiff) didn't lie repeatedly, and that once discovered, a cover-up didn't happen are fantasy thinkers. Sadly, a significant percentage of the Democrat party fall into that category. That alone is sufficient reason to argue that the Democrats do not deserve to lead.

The Piece of Schiff Rule

Over the past three years I have written that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is without question, the most predictably dishonest, relentlessly hyperpartisan, monotonously vicious, and laughably inept of any member of Congress, Dem or GOP, since Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. 

Like McCarthy, Schiff sees conspiracies that aren't there, touts evidence he doesn't have, and makes accusations he cannot prove. Like McCarthy, Schiff sits on a major congressional committee, and in that role he can intimidate witnesses, bury information that doesn't fit his duplicitous narrative, and further any hoax that he believes will work to partisan advantage. 

We watched Schiff lie repeatedly throughout the so-called investigation of "Russian collusion" (now proved to be a hoax by the Democrats' own Special Counsel). We heard him claim to have evidence (of collusion) that didn't exist. When Devin Nunes began to uncover clear and compelling evidence of the "soft coup" that is now known as Obamagate, it was Schiff who led the charge to bring him up on bogus ethics charges and quash the inquiry (every claim the Nunes made has been proven to be true). It was Schiff who told us repeatedly that Donald Trump obstructed justice (an impeachable crime) but never included that charge in articles of impeachment because he couldn't prove his lies. We watched as he plotted with a so-called "whistle blower" (actually a Democrat plant) and then backed away when his duplicity was uncovered. We watched as he withheld sworn "secret" testimony that conflicted with his dishonest narrative. We saw him head the charge for a patently ridiculous impeachment inquiry and then lose ignominiously in the Senate.  He is a bad guy.

It's telling that the Democrat's and their trained hamsters in the media laud Schiff and have elevated him as a leader of the party. It's incredible that not a single Democrat has suggested that his bald-faced lies may not be appropriate or helpful to their party. If Schiff is an example of a man who the Dem's gladly put in a leadership position, they truly do not deserve to lead.

In pondering Schiff's serial dishonesty and the damage it has done to the country, I've concluded that politicians like Schiff pay no price for lying to the public. I'm not talking here about typical political spin—every pol does that. Rather, I mean knowingly lying when you are in possession of facts and evidence that prove the opposite of what you're saying. I'm talking about blatant  dishonesty that is intended to ruin reputations or destroy a political opponent when there are no facts or evidence to support your lies. Further, I'm talking about cherry picking witnesses and then prepping them without acknowledging that you have done so. In such cases I have a modest proposal:
IF a person is an elected official at the federal level OR an appointee in a senior governmental position (e.g., Secretary of State, DNI, Director of the FBI, Head of the IRS), THEN pronouncements and claims made by that person to the media or while making public appearances should be considered as testimony under oath.
If it is later proven that the person knowingly lied and/or was aware of solid information that directly contradicted his pronouncements or claims, that person can be prosecuted for perjury. 

Why is it that a person can be jailed for answering questions when interviewed by the FBI (no oath required) or testifying before congress (oath required) but does not suffer criminal or civil penalties for lying to the very people he or she serves?

If legislation is crafted around my proposal (fat chance!), we can call it "The Piece of Schiff" Rule. I kinda like the ring of that.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Science, History, and Common Sense

When science, history, and common sense aren't on your side, there's only one viable option—use fear, uncertainty and doubt to force politicians into really bad decisions that will be supported by enough people because ... fear, uncertainty and doubt. As the months pass, and the deleterious affects of the national shutdown become more and more obvious, those of us who were against the shut-down policy from the beginning have been vindicated. 

Let's consider science, history, and common sense.

The shut-down policies supported by the catastrophists on Team Apocalypse (lead by the Democrats and their media flunkies) have absolutely no historical and little scientific basis for their positions, despite the words of their public health oracle, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The models that were used as a catalyst for fear, uncertainty and doubt have been proven to be grievously inaccurate. The initial data that fed those models and led to very bad policy decisions were incomplete and have now been proven to be seriously inaccurate (on the high side). The public was allowed to make the erroneous assumption that "flattening the curve" would cause fewer cases of COVID-19 or cause it to disappear. That will not happen. The proven epidemiological concept of herd immunity* is almost never mentioned. The risks associated with shutdown were never thoroughly modeled in the mad rush to "mitigate the virus" and "flatten the curve." Most hospitals are now under-utilized with empty beds and little income. Cohorts that are least effected by the virus (children and people between 18 and 50) suffered the most by shut-down policies. Now, some blue cities are suggesting that schools will not open in the fall, even though children are the least affected by the virus. All of this and much more defies science, history, and common sense.

And now, we have reports that deep blue cities like LA have decided to remain closed for three (!) more months or until an undefined number of tests are conducted or a vaccine is developed. This defies science. It defies history, and it defies common sense. Yet it's a narrative that has been widely adopted by Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media.

Holman Jenkins comments:
You will be hard-pressed to find a scientist anywhere who maintains we don’t need to learn to live with the virus. Our incoherent lockdowns plainly lacked a scientific rationale for how to reopen when most of the public remains uninfected. An MIT group calculates that the desired benefits in terms of hospitals and the elderly could have been achieved far more cheaply by isolating the vulnerable rather than everybody, and with far less damage to civil liberties.

For some families, sheltering in place now appears to have increased their risk rather than reduced it. For most individuals, the danger was flu-like, which never before led to them being stripped of basic rights. Banning outdoor activities appears to have been absurd overkill. The notion that a vast testing and contact-tracing scheme is plausible and could halt the epidemic, much less is a requisite condition to resume most of our economic freedoms, would likely fall to sixth-grade math. Start with the challenge of identifying millions of asymptomatic carriers among millions of others whose symptoms are due to the common cold or flu.

That politicians took steps out of panic is understandable. That these steps were unjustified by the science that existed then much less now doesn’t mean their motives were bad. 
But what about the motive of those who insist that the country remain closed—indefinitely? Are those  motives, as Team Apocalypse claims, all about concern for people's lives or is their insistence on prolonging the shutdown about something else?

You'd think that the Dems and their media flunkies would be more subtle about the "something else," but we live in crazy times. They want fear, uncertainly and doubt to continue and escalate throughout the summer and into the fall—right up to the election in November, 2020. They're doing everything possible to ensure that happens—let the country, its economy, and its people be damned.

FOOTNOTE:
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*  In a way, it's kind of amusing to watch the machinations of Team Apocalypse when they are faced with hard scientific evidence that conflicts with their narrative. That's happening right now with herd immunity. This from the left-leaning Chicago Sun Times [indented, italicized comments are my fisking of the piece]:
Central to the argument of many proponents for an immediate reopening of the country is that doing so would lead to the quick building of herd immunity among Americans, slamming the brakes on the spread of the virus. As Americans came down with COVID-19 and recovered — if they did not die — they would become immune to catching the bug again or passing it on.
Why not mention that has been the case for every other serious SARs outbreak in the past 100 years. There is NO scientific reason to believe that COVID-19 would be any different, and to suggest otherwise is scientifically dishonest.
But an array of medical experts have poured cold water on that notion in recent weeks, including Fauci on Tuesday. While it is “very likely” that people who have recovered from COVID-19 enjoy “a degree of protection,” Fauci said, nobody yet knows how intense or prolonged an exposure to the virus is necessary to gain immunity or how long it lasts.
As usual, an appeal to Team Apocalypse's oracle, Fauci. There are dozens of eminent epidemiologists who disagree with the notion that herd immunity would not be ineffective, but of course, the one who supports the catastrophist narrative is the only voice that has been chosen by these writers.
Nor, he said, do we yet understand the full and long-term effects of the virus. He noted, for example, that doctors have just recently discovered the virus can cause “a very strange inflammatory syndrome” in children.
What an absolutely bogus argument. Fully understanding any virus can takes years. Are we to remain paralyzed with fear until we "fully understand." BTW, that's why we use historical precedent—to understand. The "syndrome" noted is an edge case, concerning, yes,  but exceedingly rare. The chances of a child becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 are so low it's represented as 0.0 on most tables of denoting hospitalizations.
In order for Americans to develop herd immunity, experts say, an effective vaccination against the coronavirus must be developed, and the earliest that might happen is late fall or early winter.
This is a half-truth. A vaccine will broaden herd immunity, but allowing the virus to spread naturally among a population that is VERY unlikely to be threatened by it will achieve the same result. Protect seniors, but otherwise, open up the country.
In the meantime, what are we to make of supposed expert medical advice from the likes of radio talker Rush Limbaugh, who’s all for throwing open the country and pursuing herd immunity right now?
Are these writers so ignorant of other  expert opinions that they believe there are no medical experts with impressive CVs  from prestigious institutions who disagree with Fauci? 
To take them seriously is to risk running out of coffins.
To take them seriously is to correct a well-intentioned policy mistake that if allowed to continue could destroy our economy and our health for years to come. Unless of course, the whole idea is to destroy our economy to gain political advantage. Come to think of it ...maybe deep down that's exactly what Team Apocalypse wants—more and more coffins and a dollop of economic wreckage for dessert.