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

Thursday, April 30, 2020


Team Apocalypse has established a position on reopening the country that is analogous in many ways to the position taken by anti-vaxxers. Team members are fervent in their belief that the country should not be reopened, and reject any notion that there are epidemiological realities that demand that herd immunity* occur (at least until a vaccine** is developed). They tell us with emotion that all they care about is the health and safety of people, while they allow their irrational fear to put the health and safety of the very same people in jeopardy.

To achieve their goal of keeping the country closed down, they use the strategy that has been applied for decades by the Left. Any person who opposes their anti-reopening view is branded "uncaring about human life" or worse, a person who puts "money ahead of lives" or has "blood on his/her hands." It's an effective attack, but it's total B.S. And when a medical doctor offers a view that differs from the Team's chosen experts (Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of those experts), he or she is branded either: (1) someone who doesn't understand epidemiology, (2) someone who is a "country doctor" and doesn't have the experience to comment, or (3) someone with a dishonest agenda.

Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a Professor at Harvard Medical School, but I'm certain that some members of Team Apocalypse will dishonestly accuse him of faults (1) and (3) noted in the preceding paragraph. Kulldorf writes:
Climate scientists are frustrated by people who do not believe in climate change. In epidemiology, our frustration is with anti-vaxxers. Most anti-vaxxers are highly educated but still argue against vaccination. We now face a similar situation with ‘anti-herders’, [aggressive members of Team Apocalypse] who view herd immunity as a misguided optional strategy rather than a scientifically proven phenomenon that can prevent unnecessary deaths.

Because of its virulence, wide spread and the many asymptomatic cases it causes, Covid-19 cannot be contained in the long run, and so all countries will eventually reach herd immunity. To think otherwise is naive and dangerous. General lockdown strategies can reduce transmission and death counts in the short term. But this strategy cannot be considered successful until lockdowns are removed without the disease resurging.

The choice we face is stark. One option is to maintain a general lockdown for an unknown amount of time until herd immunity is reached through a future vaccine or until there is a safe and effective treatment. This must be weighed against the detrimental effects that lockdowns have on other health outcomes . The second option is to minimise the number of deaths until herd immunity is achieved through natural infection. Most places are neither preparing for the former nor considering the latter.
Kulldorff goes on to recommend what I and many others have suggested for the past month: Institute broad-based and simple basic health measures (e.g., social distancing, handwashing, masks) for all. Isolate seniors, who are most vulnerable statistically, but let the rest of the country go back to work and play. He writes:
While the appropriate magnitude of countermeasures depends on time and place as it is necessary to avoid hospital overload, the measures should still be age-dependent ...

Among anti-herders, it is popular to compare the current number of Covid-19 deaths by country and as a proportion of the population. Such comparisons are misleading, as they ignore the existence of herd immunity. A country much closer to herd immunity will ultimately do better even if their current death count is somewhat higher. The key statistic is instead the number of deaths per infected. Those data are still elusive, but comparisons and strategies should not be based on misleading data just because the relevant data are unavailable.

While it is not perfect, Sweden has come closest to an age-based strategy by keeping elementary schools, stores and restaurants open, while older people are encouraged to stay at home.
Every person who joins the herd is helping those who have yet to contract the virus. And as the herd grows, it becomes a natural 'vaccine' that will be available in a matter of months, not years. It's worth noting that just under half of the younger members of the herd will not even know that they have had the virus; another non-trivial percentage will have minor symptoms akin to the common cold, while still another percentage will have symptoms similar to the common flu. A very small percentage of younger people will get very sick, but that's happening right now under a draconian shutdown that works against herd immunity. Remember, older people with co-morbidities, the most at-risk group, can and should be separated from the mainstream while the COVID-19 threat persists.

Kulldorf skewers Team Apocalypse when he concludes:
The current one-size-fits-all lockdown approach is leading to unnecessary deaths. Protecting older people and other high-risk groups will be logistically and politically more difficult than isolating the young by closing schools and universities. But we must change course if we want to reduce suffering and save lives.
The more I watch and listen to the members of Team Apocalypse, the more I come to understand that reducing suffering and saving lives may be one but certainly not the only goal many of the team members have.


* Herd immunity is a well understood and scientifically proven epidemiological event that occurs when a percentage of the population has become infected with a virus, has developed antibodies to combat the virus, and therefore reduces the virus' ability to spread from host to host. In essence, herd immunity 'immunizes' an entire population.
** A prediction: If by some miracle a vaccine is available in, say, September, many on Team Apocalypse will tell us that it hasn't been tested thoroughly enough or vetted widely enough and is therefore unsafe. The goal is to keep the country as closed down as is possible—thereby encouraging fear, anger and economic dislocation—at least until the presidential election in November.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Team Apocalypse

As they ran onto the playing field in a time of crisis, the crowd cheered. And as each team member was introduced the crowd truly believed that the Team would make them proud. Each member was introduced to a standing ovation:
  • Medical experts who were expected to use the very best science along with reliable statistical models to recommend solid policy decisions.
  • Members of the media who were expected to report facts in an unbiased manner and be certain that those facts informed rather than frightened the public.
  • Politicians who were expected to work together in a bipartisan fashion to implement the policy decisions in a way that best benefited the country.
At first glance they were “Team America,” heroes all — saving the day. But what began as Team America quickly became Team Apocalypse.

"Team Apocalypse" (h/t: @AlexBerenson, Twitter) has been working hard to create an environment in which hysteria, fear-mongering, bad information, lack of context, and purposely distorted advice and warnings reign. Their intent is to put as many roadblocks in the way of re-opening the country as possible, now arguing that endless amounts of testing are required before we can even think of re-opening. On its surface, the team's strategy is all about saving lives. But if that actually was the case, the ruination of 1000 times more lives (and businesses) would matter just as much. Given that reality, it's important to look just below the surface. Team Apocalypse has used fear-mongering to achieve purposeful delay, and as a result tens of millions of workers have gotten crushed. Far too many members of the team hope their results will lead to profound public anger, fear, and dismay, yielding the desired election result in November.

On the opposing team, we have rational, critical thinkers, driven by actual real-life data along with a not-so-small dose of common sense. Heather McDonald is one of those critical thinkers, battling against Team Apocalypse to put COVID-19 into perspective. McDonald is a resident of New York City, but even there at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, she recounts a degree of irrational hysteria and fear that is not so much the fault of the hysterics as it is the fault of the health experts who feed it and the media that has worked 24-7 to amplify it. She writes:
The public health establishment is fighting desperately to maintain this degree of hysteria in the populace, in order to prolong its newfound power over almost every aspect of American life. Death will erupt if the lockdowns are lifted, the experts warn every few minutes on the cable news networks, to the angry approbation of the anchors. ‘It’s going to backfire,’ Dr Anthony Fauci warned on April 20. Even as evidence keeps mounting that the virus is magnitudes less deadly than was advertised, the public health professionals are hardening their economy-killing prescriptions, rather than loosening them. David Kessler, a former head of the FDA, claims that Americans will need to eliminate two-thirds of their social contacts for a year or more until a vaccine is developed. The federal government should commandeer private factories to produce the millions of test kits that will be required on a daily basis before anyone can be ‘fully free’, he says.
After recounting the all-too-typical warnings cherry-picked from supposed "experts," McDonald writes:
We are in a race between the ideology of safetyism and the facts. The future depends on which side prevails. The data is clear. The coronavirus danger is narrowly targeted at a very specific portion of the national population: the elderly infirm, especially those located in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. It possesses minimal risk to everyone else. New York State accounted for 42 percent of the national death toll on April 24, with 77 percent of those New York State deaths occurring in New York City.

The average death rate from coronavirus in New York City is 128 per 100,000. In New York State, it is 71 per 100,000. To put those numbers in perspective, the national death rate for all causes was 723.6 per 100,000 in 2018; for heart disease it was 163.6 per 100,000. New York’s coronavirus death rates bear no resemblance to the country at large, despite New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent pronouncement that ‘an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere’. California’s coronavirus death rate is four deaths per 100,000; Pennsylvania’s, 13 deaths per 100,000; Utah’s, one death per 100,000; Washington State’s, nine deaths per 100,000; Wisconsin’s, four deaths per 100,000; Georgia’s, which we are supposed to believe is about to unleash a mortal plague upon the country, eight deaths per 100,000; Texas’s, two deaths per 100,000; and Florida’s, four deaths per 100,000, despite its elderly population. An MSNBC pundit gleefully predicted several weeks ago that Missouri would succumb because it had not halted its economy soon enough. Its virus death rate stands at four deaths per 100,000.

For further perspective on those state rates, the death rate of flu and pneumonia in 2018 was 14.4 per 100,000, for kidney disease it was 13 per 100,000, and for diabetes it was 21.4 per 100,000. In other words, most of the country has suffered a toll from coronavirus that is markedly lower than the annual deaths from the flu and a host of other ailments.

New York City’s average coronavirus death rate conceals vast differences in risk, as is true everywhere. The rate for people 75 and older is 950 per 100,000. That is seven times higher than the city-wide average, itself greatly influenced by that highest rate. For those 17 and younger the coronavirus death rate is zero. This age-based disparity is typical. The average age of confirmed coronavirus decedents in Massachusetts was 82, as of April 23.
Why aren't these data published and discussed prominently along with the media's ubiquitous 'death scoreboards'? Why don't Drs. Fauci and Birx discuss them in depth and explain their import? Why are we continuing a policy that was created (with the best of intentions) based on projections that we now know were wrong -- very wrong?

As I noted at the top of this post, McDonald is a critical thinker who is driven not by hysterical projections, but my hard, quantitative data that reflect the actual outcomes we've experienced with COVID-19. Based on what we now know, it appears there was never any reason to shut down the entire economy in most parts of the United States. Shelter seniors—yes. Discourage air travel for a time—yes. Ban very large gatherings—yes. Put distancing and handwashing measures into place along with masks—yes. But continuing the shutdown of businesses with the consequent crippling effects on the economy and on people's live. NO! Unequivocally, no.

It's time to change course aggressively, and if Dr. Anthony Fauci or any other member of Team Apocalypse doesn't like—too bad.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Refusal to accept the prevailing COVID-19 narrative would probably result in ostracism by the most fearful among us, except no group is allowed to gather so physical ostracism is out of the question. Refusal to accept the dishonest garbage that pretends to be accurate reporting on COVID-19 should result in a serious public debate, but the media refuses to give voice to any view that opposes their catastrophist narrative. And the degree to which those in favor of a continuing national shutdown are very often members of a particular political party, should make any thoughtful person ask whether their objections to reopening the country are less about the damage that the virus can do and more about the damage a continuing shut down can do to their hated political opponent.

R.R. Reno comments:
We need to be told the truth about COVID-19’s effect. It is not a uniquely perilous disease; for people under 35, it may be less dangerous than the flu. We have every reason to take prudent measures to protect vulnerable people from the disease, but we cannot reasonably expect to contain the coronavirus. The high proportion of asymptomatic carriers defeats strategies of testing and tracing contacts. In all likelihood, it also defeats such radical measures as lockdowns, as the example of Sweden seems to suggest.

These truths point toward clear and urgent action. We need to allocate resources for protecting vulnerable populations. We need rigorous testing of nursing home workers (a five-country study in Europe reported that 50 percent of coronavirus fatalities occurred in elder-care facilities) and others who care for vulnerable populations. We need to allocate funding for at-risk poor people to move to hotels or other places where they can self-isolate.

We can do this without closing every restaurant and bar. We can do this without locking churches, without requiring everybody to stay at home, without throwing tens of millions of Americans out of work. The lockdowns can and must end.

But I doubt that truth will guide decision-making. There is too much fear. Fear of the virus is compounded by the (reasonable) fear of experts, policy-makers, and politicians that if they change course they will be exposed as poorly informed, reckless, and cowardly. Our entire ruling class, which united behind catastrophism and the untested methods of mass shutdown, is implicated in the unfolding fiasco.
Those of us who have been on the record for some time now opposing the draconian measures that treat all of our country like New York City (a legitimate hot zone) are very worried that the "cure" proposed by "experts, policy-makers, and politicians" will indeed be far worse than the disease. We are also concerned that these same "experts, policy-makers, and politicians" refuse to adapt and/or change course as more and better data are collected and analyzed. The new data simply do NOT support the early claims made by these elites and yet, a corrupt and biased media acts as their praetorian guard, protecting a very flawed narrative.

Are these elites (e.g., government, media, health experts, politicians) afraid to admit that they might have been wrong? If that's true, their refusal isn't a sign of leadership or intellectual strength or expertise—it's a sign of insecurity and incompetence. In my experience, the very best of us are quite willing to admit when they've made a mistake. They have the confidence and experience to recognize that no one and no policy is perfect.


J.D. Tuccille describes all of the many ways the federal, state and local bureaucracies screwed up early in the COVID-19 response and then writes this about the damage that has been done to our healthcare system:
Rules closing businesses, limiting gatherings, and even restricting outdoor excursions were supposed to "flatten the curve" to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that hospitals didn't get overwhelmed. But the virus didn't hit the same way everywhere. Instead, New York City and a few other hot spots got slammed. Elsewhere, most medical facilities found themselves tending empty beds, pondering the fate of patients whose "elective" cancer, heart, and back surgeries are deferred to some uncertain date in the future, and watching cash reserves dwindle for lack of patients to treat.

"Mayo Clinic is furloughing or reducing the hours of about 42 percent of its 70,000 employees across all of its campuses in an attempt to mitigate the financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic," reports the Rochester Post-Bulletin of the famed medical system. "About 60 percent of Mayo Clinic's business comes from elective procedures of the kind that are now on hold."

Furloughs and pay cuts are "a function of clumsy, if well-intentioned, federal and state directives to halt all non-emergency procedures," writes Rick Jackson of Jackson Healthcare, a medical staffing company. He wants the government to get out of the way so doctors and patients can decide for themselves.

Idled doctors and untreated patients are the consequences of rules intended to help the healthcare system. Stay-at-home orders take an even bigger toll on people and industries that are collateral damage.
A majority of Democrat leaders and their trained hamsters in the media insist that the destructive and ill-conceived COVID-19 shutdown should continue. They keep changing the criteria for re-opening the country in a blatant effort to keep it closed for reasons that are political. As they watch businesses fail, breadlines lengthen, and workers lose their jobs, it's really quite remarkable that they simply don't give a damn. Tuccille notes this:
If you can assess the conduct of government officials [an leaders of one political party in particular] through the pandemic and conclude that what we really need is more of that, then we're probably going to cure the novel coronavirus long before we find a treatment for whatever it is that ails you.
No question about that.

Monday, April 27, 2020


The goal of the trained hamsters in the main stream media is to promote one and only one narrative—COVID-19 will kill you and for that reason we MUST keep the country shut down for an indefinite period. The media's collection of dishonest, unethical and biased hacks will avoid context, disregard any hard scientific data that challenges their narrative, use only words and images that are designed to promote fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and worst of all, attack anyone who challenges their false narrative by implying those with opposing views have "blood on their hands."

Instead of constantly questioning the prognostications of the catastrophists whose policies just might destroy our economy and the lives of tens of millions of working people, the hamsters work overtime to amplify the fear that allows those policies to remain in place. But science and statistics are inexorable, and as more and more data comes in and is analyzed, the shut-down narrative is increasingly being shown to be a highly questionable, extremely high risk strategy.

T.J. Rodgers reports on a correlation analysis:
To normalize for an unambiguous comparison of deaths between states at the midpoint of an epidemic, we counted deaths per million population for a fixed 21-day period, measured from when the death rate first hit 1 per million—e.g.,‒three deaths in Iowa or 19 in New York state. A state’s “days to shutdown” was the time after a state crossed the 1 per million threshold until it ordered businesses shut down.

We ran a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown, which ranged from minus-10 days (some states shut down before any sign of Covid-19) to 35 days for South Dakota, one of seven states with limited or no shutdown. The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.)

No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly, because their death rates ran the full gamut, from 20 per million in Oregon to 360 in New York. This wide variation means that other variables—like population density or subway use—were more important. Our correlation coefficient for per-capita death rates vs. the population density was 44%. That suggests New York City might have benefited from its shutdown—but blindly copying New York’s policies in places with low Covid-19 death rates, such as my native Wisconsin, doesn’t make sense.
Hmmm. I wonder if one of the trained hamsters will ask Fauci or Birx about that. I'm not holding my breadth.

And then there's this little factoid. Tokyo and New York City are among the most densely populated cities on the planet. Both encountered COVID-19 at approximately the same time. To date Tokyo has had approximately 100 deaths, while New York city has had approximately 12,000. Oh, by the way, Tokyo invoked only a limited business shutdown, allowing many business to remain open (thereby doing relatively little damage to the city's economy). New York City invoked a full, draconian shutdown with predictable damage to all businesses. Possibly the trained hamsters will ask Fauci or Birx or DeBlasio or Cuomo why New York's death rate was 120 times that of Tokyo when NYC shutdown completely and Tokyo did not. You'd think the hamsters would be curious about what appears to be a rather significant difference. Nope.

And finally, the obsession with "testing!!!!" and then the handwringing about a continuing increase in the number of cases uncovered because we're doing significant "testing!!!!" If the hamsters did even a little research into the progression of all SARS-like viruses they would learn that at the end of the day, COVID-19 will likely infect tens of millions of Americans (approximately half will be asymptomatic and the vast majority of the remainder will have minor symptoms) regardless of whether we shut-down or not, so the increase in the number of "cases" is both predictable and even a good thing (think: herd immunity). You'd never know any of that listening to the dishonest, context free coverage that the hamsters present.

There is no doubt that the virus is a threat to our collective health, but the media's coverage of it may ultimately be seen as a far greater threat to our country's rapid recovery.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Riskiest of all Paths

Our the country was shut-down based on the advice of health care advisors offered to our political leaders who were terrified by what they heard. Collectively, we were told that "lives" were all that mattered and that the shut-down was precipitated by the best available "scientific models" that predicted catastrophic loss of life if we didn't shut down (millions dead) and significant loss of life (hundreds of thousands dead) even if we did shut-down. These "scientific models" were fed data every day and were adjusted every week. The adjustments were always downward and the projections were always proven wrong. As weeks passed, politicians (especially Democrat politicians) were adamant that the shutdown continue, even as data indicated that the severity of COVID-19, although very serious, were not at Armageddon levels.

Here's the thing. The economy was shut down without any analysis. What models were used to project what would happen to our economy as the shutdown went on for 4 weeks (26 million unemployed), then toward 8 weeks (as many Democrat politicians suggest), and finally, 12 weeks (as more than a few catastrophists recommend), or indefinitely (as those who are paralyzed by fear) desire? The answer is -- none. There was no serious economic or scientific analysis of the shut-down decision, just wild-ass guesses and promises of a quick rebound.

Tyler Cowen describes the problem:
If we keep the economy closed at current levels, it will continue to decay, and at some point turn into irreversible, non-linear damage. No one knows when, or how to model the course of that process. That decay also will eat into our future public health capacities, and perhaps boost hunger and poverty around the world.

If we keep people locked up at current levels, fewer of them will be exposed to the virus, and in the meantime we can develop better treatments, and also improve test and trace capabilities. No one knows how quickly those improvements will come, or how to model the course of that process, or how much net good they will do.

The relative pace of those two processes should determine our best course of action. No one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes. Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have.

That is where we are at!
It is true that no one has the answers to the questions that Cowen implies, but we do have historical knowledge of one aspect of this crisis and absolutely no knowledge about the other. We know the general progression of a virus throughout the world population. We understand that many tens of millions will be infected, that potentially a million will be hospitalized, and that hundreds of thousands may die. It's happened before. It's awful to be sure, but not all that uncommon (think: H1N1 in 2009). And now that we've weathered the worst of the storm, it's highly unlikely that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with new cases (they currently sit near-empty in many locales because elective surgery has been banned), even if the virus resurfaces with a vengeance.

But how about the other aspect, the one that shuts down the entire economy. We have absolutely no historical data for that one—none, because it's never happened before. We do know that the economy is decaying rapidly and "at some point [that decay will become] irreversible." And what happens if the worst comes to pass, if the economy implodes, if more tens of millions are unemployed, if tax revenue dries up, if the feds incur added trillions in debt, if hospitals close, businesses shutter, travel comes to a halt, if the the supply chain breaks, hunger becomes a real concern and out that, social unrest becomes a real possibility. All of that can happen and yet, the shut-down brigades led predominantly by Democrats at the national, state and local levels seem focused on risking all of it. Why?

Maintaining the shut down for even a few more weeks is a VERY risky decision, yet mostly Dem politicians seem to be okay with it. They keep telling us that the only criterion is that "lives matter," and that implies that they're really, really risk averse. But they choose the riskiest of all paths forward (the continuing shut down) and then become really defensive and then aggressive (name calling kicks in) when some of us begin to question their wisdom, and as time passes, their sanity. It's reasonable to look behind their professed concern for "lives" and repeated ask why they enthusiastically embrace the riskiest of all paths forward.


There are VERY few regular columnists for the New York Times who aren't hard left, offering extremist positions on everything from the economy to health care to politics. All of them hate, hate, hate Donald Trump and believe (irrationally, I might add) that if it weren't for him, the virus would be a non-story. An exception is Bret Stevens, who will certainly make no friends among the nation's left-wing catastrophists by suggesting that we shouldn't play by New York Metro Area rules for the remainder the COVID-19 crisis. He writes:
Even now, it is stunning to contemplate the extent to which the country’s Covid-19 crisis is a New York crisis — by which I mean the city itself along with its wider metropolitan area.

As of Friday, there have been more Covid-19 fatalities on Long Island’s Nassau County (population 1.4 million) than in all of California (population 40 million). There have been more fatalities in Westchester County (989) than in Texas (611). The number of Covid deaths per 100,000 residents in New York City (132) is more than 16 times what it is in America’s next largest city, Los Angeles (8). If New York City proper were a state, it would have suffered more fatalities than 41 other states combined.
He goes on to explain that population density is the primary driver for NYC's crisis, exacerbated by the pre-travel ban flow of tourists from other hot spots around the world.

Stevens continues:
No wonder so much of America has dwindling sympathy with the idea of prolonging lockdown conditions much further. The curves are flattening; hospital systems haven’t come close to being overwhelmed; Americans have adapted to new etiquettes of social distancing. Many of the worst Covid outbreaks outside New York (such as at Chicago’s Cook County Jail or the Smithfield Foods processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D.) have specific causes that can be addressed without population-wide lockdowns.

Yet Americans are being told they must still play by New York rules — with all the hardships they entail — despite having neither New York’s living conditions nor New York’s health outcomes. This is bad medicine, misguided public policy, and horrible politics.

On Friday, I spoke with Tomislav Mihaljevic, C.E.O. of the widely admired Cleveland Clinic, and an advocate of the need to use “tailored and discriminating solutions” that also recognize regional differences. At the moment, he says, “We’re using the methodology from the 14th century to combat the biggest pandemic of the 21st century.” It can’t go on.

Dr. Mihaljevic acknowledges the necessity of the lockdowns to contain the virus, along with the urgent need for ramped-up testing and ongoing monitoring. But, he adds, “we cannot hold our breath forever.” The U.S. will not soon be able to test 330 million people. Effective therapies or vaccines may be long in coming. Covid-19 will be “a disease we have to learn to live with.”

That means accepting that the immediate goal of public policy cannot be to eliminate the risk of Covid-19. It is to mitigate, manage and frame expectations for it — while not losing sight of other priorities. In Ohio Dr. Mihaljevic says that Covid patients take up just 2 percent of hospital capacity, and the curve of new infections has been flat for more than two weeks. Yet there has been a dramatic decline in people seeking care for heart attacks, strokes, or new cancers, presumably out of fear of going to hospital.
Of course, the trained hamsters of the mainstream media, doing the bidding of Democrat catastrophists who seem to want the crisis to continue indefinitely, won't give Dr. Mihaljevic or any of the hundreds of epidemiological experts who agree with him any airtime of print space. After all, that conflicts with their narrative.

Stevens concludes with this:
I write this from New York, so it’s an argument against my personal interest. But I don’t see why people living in a Nashville suburb should not be allowed to return to their jobs because people like me choose to live, travel and work in urban sardine cans.
Hundreds of millions of Americans prefer NOT to live in a "sardine can." We can sympathize with those that do, but we shouldn't be forced to follow sardine can rules.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Two News Stories

It's a small news item, really. When COVID-19 hit and shortages of medical equipment and protective gear were projected, factory workers at a company called Braskem America voluntarily decided to spend 28 days shuttered inside the factory, working 12-hour shifts to produce needed materials to fight COVID-19. 28 days away from their families. 28 days of working 12-hour shifts. They walked out of the factory with smiles on their faces, flashing the "V" for victory sign on Wednesday.

There's another small news item worthy of mention that occurred on the same day the Brakem America workers ended their 28 days of help in the fight against COVID-19. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, whose Marxist politics make her the poster girl for the hard-left wing of the Democratic Party, gave an interview to left-leaning ViceTV's "Seat at the Table." In the interview she said:
"When we have this discussion about 'going back' or 'reopening,' I think a lot of people should just say, 'No. We're not going back to that. We're not going back to 70 hour weeks just so we could put food on the table and not even feel any semblance of security in our lives.'"
No doubt there are plenty of leftists who would nod their heads in approval, and hopefully, a few who might wince.

Adam Ford suggests that these two news articles represent two different ways of being an American:
May I suggest that the way of the Braskem America workers is the spirit that built America into the greatest and most prosperous country the world has ever known. It's also the animating force by which our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond were able to survive and sometimes even thrive in a world far different and far harsher than our own.

The attitude of responsibility and hard work. Sleeves rolled up. Playing through the pain. Standing tall as one on whom others can lean in tough times. Whatever needs to be done — just turn me loose on it. I'll get it done; I'll figure it out. And keep your handout! I'll work for my own. And I'll outwork anyone here. I'm grateful for my job — and I'll be running this company in five years.

The other way, the AOC way, if you choose it, will lead to a life of resentment, covetousness, laziness, narcissism, anger, and misery. If the most prosperous economy in history is, to AOC, cause for nothing but a workers' boycott, then nothing will ever be good enough. No handout large enough, no government overreach far enough, no tax on others confiscatory enough ...

The more I thought about these two [news stories], the more stark the differences became. So I had to share.

Yesterday, forty-some men with smiles on their faces clocked out from a month-long shift during which they literally lived in a factory working their fingers to the bone to help their neighbor and provide for their families.

While one do-nothing politician who collects almost 200,000 taxpayer dollars per year sat in her luxury D.C. apartment — complaining.
Well said.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Ghost Town

The Rolling Stones just released a song about the COVID-19 virus, "Ghost Town." By all accounts, it's breaking the internet.

Interesting that they used that title. Here's a description of a ghost town [my emphasis added] from Wikipedia:
A ghost town or alternatively deserted city or abandoned city is an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one that contains substantial visible remaining buildings and infrastructure such as roads. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it (usually industrial or agricultural) has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, prolonged droughts, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, pollution, or nuclear disasters. The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighbourhoods that are still populated, but significantly less so than in past years; for example, those affected by high levels of unemployment and dereliction.
In our case, our national "ghost town" was initially created by a combination of a "natural disaster" and by decisions made by our leaders, supported initially by both major political parties and many, but not all, "experts." Those decisions were driven by models that projected catastrophe, but have over the past 6 weeks been scientifically proven to be woefully inaccurate.

And now, many of those same leaders, the opposition political party (with their own destructive agenda), and the same experts who influenced the shut-down decisions, refuse to change course, even though recent scientific data, along with significant critique of the original model projections indicates that non-trivial adaptation is required. Real scientists are always ready to adapt, based on recent knowledge that demands a modification in theory. It's extremely troubling to see the current scientific influencers (of the administration and the Governors of many states) insist that their course is the ONLY one that can be taken.

If they persist, the metaphorical ghost town the Stones sing about will become very real, "economic activity" will take years to recover, and "unemployment and dereliction" will become a dangerous normal. The future will be bleak.

We must begin to re-open, now.

Plausible Deniability

Plausible deniability. It's a really powerful political tool and it's being used copiously by far too many Democrats as we move through the COVID-19 disaster and into the 2020 presidential election season. The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media insist that their concerted effort to keep the country closed down is all about "saving lives," and of course, in typicql fashion, they question the morality of anyone who can keep two thoughts in their head at once. If you argue it's possible to save lives through smart social distancing AND also begin to open up the economy before we enter a true depression, you're a bad person. As if to emphasize the point we have today's op-ed (screed) in the New York Times, "How Republicans Became the Party of Death."

Here's yesterday's op-ed in the Left's house organ, The New York Times, entitled, "It’s Too Soon to Reopen States. The Coronavirus Is Not Under Control." The NYT chose to show hazmat-suited responders carrying a coffin. The photo was in Italy, not the United States. I guess the NYT couldn't find an image that was scary enough in this country.

Or how about well-known progressive writer, Matt Yglesias, who writes an article entitled, “Opening up the economy won’t save the economy.” Yglesias’ thesis is that people will be afraid to go to restaurants, so the economy must remain shut. I’m sure that Yglesias and his hipster friends are too busy sheltering in place to care much about folks who eat at the drive-through in McDonalds. But those folks, not the hipsters, need the economy to open, at least in limited ways, RIGHT NOW! And BTW, the economy is just a little bit more complex than a collection of vegan, sustainable, locally grown restaurants that might struggle to entice customers gripped by fear and hysteria promulgated exclusively by their own trained hamsters in the media.

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.

But what about "plausible deniability"— denying what, exactly?

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.

Most of them are cunning enough to try to hide it, but some of them will bray it out loud, as [de facto] party leader AOC did when the related oil crash hit. She was positively giddy that millions more Americans were facing destitution, but even she was aware enough to eventually understand that was a bad look and delete her hi-five tweet [link added].

... The Democrats want to slow walk the reopening too. They are an urban party, and those cramped petri dish cities are going to take awhile to recover. But out in the fresh, clean open spaces of red America, there’s no need for this continued lockdown nonsense. Yet the Democrats, aided and abetted by the scuttling cockroaches that comprise the media, are demanding that every place be treated like the worst place. We’re terrible monsters for – let me get this right – wanting to go back to work and not go bankrupt.
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.

Watch the coverage of the early state openings (e.g., Georgia). It will likely consist of biased fear-mongering, all intended to slow down the national reopening and increase the negative economic and human consequences. And when the accusation that they want to tank the economy is made, the Dems and their media hamsters will be theatrically outraged. After all, they have plausible deniability. To paraphrase a line from William Shakespeare, "Methinks [the Dems] protest too much ..."

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Yesterday, I wrote briefly about the effort to re-open Georgia's economy:
Consider the case of Georgia. Governor Brian Kemp has decided that the state will begin to open up its economy. It's worth noting that someone must go first, that there are risks, but that the economy cannot and should not be closed indefinitely. Instead of commending Georgians for their attempt to pave the way for openings in other states, the Dems and their trained media hamsters (along with a few GOP catastrophists) have decided that the state's effort to restart its economy is somehow "irresponsible" and "dangerous." Why exactly? Because the governor correctly perceives continuing closure as something that will do enormous harm to his state's economy and as a consequence, to millions of residents?
In the nightly COVID-19 update yesterday, Donald Trump indicated that he didn't agree with Governor's Kemp's rapid re-opening strategy, but he noted that he respected the Governor's right to do what he felt was right for his state. Gosh, that's both constitutional and rational, but the Democrat's trained hamsters in the media will not be dissuaded from their quest to keep the country shut down. It's an absolute certainty that they will behave badly as they cover Georgia's attempt at re-opening. And I'm not alone in that opinion. Jake Novak writes:
We've already seen plenty of journalistic errors in the coverage of this story since it broke over the weekend. The best example is's headline on the story that includes the phrase saying that the move, "... will likely please Trump," thus ensuring that this issue will be seen as a yet another pro/con Trump dividing line where facts go to die ...

We also have lots of supposedly objective journalists who have already gone on record, on social media and elsewhere, rooting heavily against, (and in some cases for), the Georgia experiment to succeed. Thus, anything those journalists write about how the Georgia reopening proceeds is hopelessly tainted by their all-too-public admissions about where they stand on the idea.
Novak suggests three rules that journalists (i use that term very loosely) should follow as they cover this story:
1. Stop publicly rooting for a particular outcome. In this case, the hamsters want to see Georgia fail and they'll paint even innocuous events as "evidence" of failure. A cough inside a nail salon will be characterized as akin to the release of COVID-19 by the Wuhan Virology Lab. Oh wait ... there are many hamsters who refuse to investigate that allegation and still characterize it a "conspiracy theory."

2. Learn some basic math and use it with appropriate context. Even if a predictable and relatively small number of new COVID-19 cases are encountered, we're guaranteed to see headlines like "GA Cases Spike After Re-Opening." Compared to what? Novak writes:
Context is also a place where mathematics and journalism often converge, and leaves journalism lying lifelessly on the ground. Any changes to Georgia's death or infection rates will need to be compared to states of similar sizes that have not ended any parts of their lockdowns. Otherwise, there's no way to really judge if any state is faring better than another.

Don't make it all about Trump. Because Trump Derangement Syndrome is rampant among the hamsters, anything Trump favors, even if it good for the country and the health of its citizens, is by their demented definition, bad!! Trump favors restarting the economy, therefore any restart is bad unless unachievable and often ridiculous constraints are imposed.
This is good advice, but it's highly unlikely that it will be followed. Much of the coverage of GA's attempt at re-opening will likely be fake news, intended to defeat other early attempts at re-opening by other states.

Here's an example from anti-Trumper (and therefore, a supporter of keeping the country closed) Jill Filipovic of CNN. She does the usual virtue signaling, masquerading as thoughtful commentary (2nd indent in italics is my fisking of her comments):
Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida -- all states with Republican governors -- have announced plans to roll back social distancing measures over the next few weeks. According to public health experts and institutions, including the WHO and CDC, social distancing is already the absolute baseline when it comes to facing down a deadly and highly contagious disease.
That would be the same WHO that told us there was no virus threat in January and the same WHO that covered for China during a preliminary investigation of the virus' origins. And yeah, that would be the same CDC that botched early test release. Finally, does the person who wrote this actually believe that there are no eminent epidemiologists who disagree with the notion that all states remain locked down without adaptations for individual circumstances.
We really need the mass manufacture of tests and the attendant supplies necessary to test, not to mention adequate tracking and treatment. Plus, of course, actual widespread testing.
The United States has tested about 4 million people over several months. A new Harvard report says we need to be testing more like 5 million every day.
Yeah, that's easily achievable. Filipovic discounts the logistical challenge involved in something like this along with its sheer difficulty, not to mention the simple notion that it may not be necessary. In addition, she seems unable to grasp the simple reality that additional testing has already "grown the denominator" (does she even know what a denominator is) and therefore: (1) the case fatality rate for COVID-19 will almost assuredly drop to the level of the common flu (about 0.1 to 0.2 percent), and (2) in turn testing being conducted every day will validate the strategy of governors who want to re-open.
But because our federal government is failing so miserably in that effort, the rest of us are left to do what we can to at least try not to get this thing in the first place. That means staying away from other people.
So in other words, if we had just tested, and tested, and tested in late February and March, the virus, would have been eliminated. That's patent nonsense. In fact, at that time, the virus was already well embedded in the population (antibody studies by Stanford University in Santa Clara, CA indicate that fact). Oh, BTW, we did test, and test and test and guess what, the virus could not be stopped.
And it means hoping our states, cities and municipalities will step up and fill the leadership vacuum left by the White House. Because this is less a problem of people than leadership: Overwhelming majorities of Americans under lockdown orders are complying with them. Overwhelming majorities of Americans support the restrictions. But we know that many people will, understandably, trust what our leaders tell us -- and too many of our conservative leaders are not earning that trust.
So ... it's not a problem for the people, huh? Maybe the author is unperturbed, collecting a paycheck and safely questioning the "leadership" without so much as a single coherent suggestion of how it could be effectively (key word) modified, but there are tewns of millions of people out there who might characterize no income as a "problem." The lack of empathy here is absolutely astounding.
These Republican governors don't even want to do the bare minimum of telling people to stay home, despite the nearly unanimous advice of public health authorities and experts. (I say "nearly unanimous" here simply as a hedge; I actually couldn't find a single reputable public health authority or expert who recommends ending social distancing)
All she had to do was refer to a number of my posts. I'm not going to waste my time provided hyperlinks to refute this outright falsehood.
"If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back," Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's George Stephanopolous. So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire."
Ya gotta laugh, Filipovic couldn't resist quoting the word "spike" as I predicted in earlier in this post. And by the way, as a man who continually tells use we must rely on "the science," it's a bit surprising that Dr. Fauci would himself use words like "spike" and "backfire" when there is no clear scientific evidence to support his claim in this situation. To wit, we have NEVER before closed a society so there cannot be historical data to support his claim. It's his opinion, and that's all it is.
There you have it. The "journalist" who wrote the CNN piece violated every one of Novak's rules. No surprise there.

So yeah, the campaign to continue the shutdown and consequently disregard the very real risk destroying whatever is left of the economy, not to mention the hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of lives lost because the shutdown remains in place (e.g., deaths due to postponed elective surgery, deaths due to late diagnosis of other illnesses, deaths due to suicide driven by economic or psychological despair ) is led by the propagandist hacks at CNN. After all, sowing discontent and anger with the potential that it will spill over in Trump's defeat is worth it for them and their Democrat masters. Let the little people who are living without a paycheck (and increasingly, in danger of losing their house, or their car or their employer) be damned.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


It looks as if the Democrats have decided that COVID-19 virus is a better opposition candidate to Donald Trump than Joe Biden. The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are doing everything possible to lay the blame for the virus on Trump, and failing to do that, they've decided to stoke fear, anger and depression among the populace by prolonging the national shutdown for as long as possible—let the economy and the livelihoods of middle class workers be damned. Yeah, I know, all because they care so, so much about human lives.

Democrats at the local, state, and federal level and their media hamsters are fighting tooth and nail to promote a continually shifting set of criteria for re-opening the economy (not to mention parks and beaches). They sit ready to pounce when a courageous mayor or governor tries to open things up. Every COVID-19 case thereafter will reported as if it was a direct result of re-opening. The blame game will accelerate—all in service of maintaining a status quo that is unsustainable. Gosh, you'd think the catastrophists want to keep the nation shuttered indefinitely (or at least until November) ... and you'd be right.

Consider the case of Georgia. Governor Brian Kemp has decided that the state will begin to open up its economy. It's worth noting that someone must go first, that there are risks, but that the economy cannot and should not be closed indefinitely. Instead of commending Georgians for their attempt to pave the way for openings in other states, the Dems and their trained media hamsters (along with a few GOP catastrophists) have decided that the state's effort to restart its economy is somehow "irresponsible" and "dangerous." Why exactly? Because the governor correctly perceives continuing closure as something that will do enormous harm to his state's economy and as a consequence, to millions of residents?

It appears that some Dems and many in the media are incapable of holding two thoughts in their heads at once. It is possible to open up a state's economy AND maintain most, if not all, of the social distancing guidelines established at the federal level. Masks can be required, although most citizens recognize the risk of infection and will use them regardless. Regular hand washing can be accommodated at almost all businesses. Seating in restaurants and other venues can be "distanced. Temperature testing can be done with relative ease. Elderly populations can continue to be sheltered in place. Two thoughts: restart economic activity AND remain vigilant with appropriate, common sense health measures. It's really not that hard, if you live in a place with relatively low outbreak. And based on current data, that means at least half of the 50 states, maybe more.

But let's get back to the presidential race. Now that Bernie Sanders has been sidelined, Bernie Bros are betting on Sanders having significant influence of the Democratic Party platform. They're probably correct. After all, now that the economy is in the toilet there's a perfect opening for all of the utopian nonsense that socialists deliver. They'll save us all with national healthcare—after all, a similar system worked remarkably well to stave off COVID-19 in, say, Italy. Wait ... what? Or maybe a country that has gone deeply into debt should spend trillions more on a poorly crafted Green New Deal? Or maybe we should establish a centrally controlled economy—never mind that private enterprise provided most of the meaningful solutions during the time of the virus. And of course, let's encourage government to become even more controlling and dictatorial—after all, people liked it so much when their basic freedoms were limited during the virus.

But Bernie Bros continue to believe. Will Lloyd comments:
There was something hysterically nihilistic about the DSA’s [Democratic Socialists of America] refusal to endorse Biden. It only reinforced the (mistaken) image that much of Bernie’s support is made up of parentally-funded babies cosplaying 20th-century socialism. The perfectionist streak that runs through left-wing politics is an inheritance from the puritans, the abolitionists, the temperance movement and the Debsian socialists of a hundred years ago. More often than not this desire for purity doesn’t change the world, it’s a form of retreat from the world as it actually is.
But here's the thing. Socialists are trying to "perfect" a broken idea—an idea that fails repeatedly and predictably ruins those who try to implement it. The socialist's attempt to "perfect" a really bad idea is a lot like trying to wallpaper over a severely cracked wall. At first glance, the newly decorated wall looks pretty good. But the cracks are inexorable and sooner or later they'll reappear—bigger and uglier than ever.


Virtue signaling catastrophists (many, if not most, of whom continue to collect a paycheck or have sufficient savings to weather a prolonged shutdown) might be well served by noting this comment from a citizen in another state that wants to re-open:
Today, the economic cake has been baked. The U.S. economy is a consumer-driven economy, but the consumption has stopped. Politicians have said the economy needs to hibernate before we can resume a normal routine. The problem is the only animals that hibernate are ones with extra fat to survive winter. According to a study by JP Morgan Chase, the average small business has 27 days’ cash on hand. With no revenue coming in and overhead obligations remaining constant, small businesses are getting crushed. Many will simply fold and close. Employees will be displaced and miss rent. Car delinquencies add up. Mortgage payments will be missed and the fuse is set for a housing market correction as inventory inevitably rises.

Sadly, hourly employees are the most vulnerable and will feel this crisis most acutely. Single parents and single-income families have very few options. Those who are least equipped to retool in this economy are the hardest hit. And every day that goes by, we dig deeper into savings and debt to make ends meet.

This is not a trade-off between lives and the economy. It’s a trade-off between lives and lives. Lives lost to CoVid-19 and lives lost to deaths and despair through depression, overdoses and suicide. We need to move beyond the policies we had in place when a larger storm was forecast. The projections have changed and now the policies need to change to match the current risk.
Lives vs. (a lot more) lives. We adapted when the initial (erroneous) projections forecast hundreds of thousands of lives lost by this point in time. That was probably appropriate then. Now, we need to adapt yet again. And we need to do it stat.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Citizens across the United States are beginning to protest the continuing shutdown of our economy and the disastrous loss of jobs that has already occurred. Good!

The catastrophist brigades—increasingly manned by Democratic Party operatives and led by predominently Democrat Governors who are rapidly becoming petty tyrants and their trained hamsters in the media who selectively report the news with the intent of engendering fear—have begun their standard name-calling attacks. The protesters are "far right." The protesters don't care "about life" or about "science" or about their own children (even though children tend not to get the virus and suffer only mild symptoms when they do).

After all, closing beaches and parks, filling skate board areas with sand, defining what goods, services ands businesses are "essential," harrassing, fining, or arresting individual citizens for fishing, or running, or canoeing are part of the catastrophists' virtue signaling. And when they're not criticizing the protesters, they're busy whining like helpless children telling anyone who'll listen that Donald Trump isn't helping them "enough."

William McGurn comments:
There they go again, ordinary Americans denying science and refusing to defer to their betters.

In state capitals across the country, citizens are protesting the continued coronavirus lockdowns. A CNN critic calls them “Covid-19 deniers,” notwithstanding that the science they allegedly deny still lacks conclusive answers to some of the most fundamental questions about the coronavirus.

In the past week, demonstrations have broken out in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington. In Pennsylvania the state legislature got into the act, sending Gov. Tom Wolf a bill that would order much of the state re-opened more quickly than he would like. More protests are planned for this week ...

The do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do behavior of those imposing these rules isn’t boosting trust in authorities, either, whether it be Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot going out to get her hair done or New York Mayor Bill de Blasio being driven to his gym even as they were imploring everyone else to stay home. On Monday Mark Zuckerberg told George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that Facebook now classifies “a lot of the stuff” protesters are saying as “harmful misinformation”—and that Facebook will “take that down.”
Maybe the governors and those Democrat politicians who actively support the continuation of the shutdown should put their money and livelihood where their virtue signaling is. How about this:

Every local and state politician who is not presiding over a hot zone while at the same time telling us that he/she supports and empathizes with those workers and small business owners who are now unemployed or out-of-business, but further tells us that the shut down must continue until "more testing" is available should: (1) stop getting a paycheck; (2) stop paying ALL of their staff, and (3) consider furloughing all "non-essential" local and state employees -- immediately and until their state re-opens. All U.S representatives and senators who demand that state shutdowns continue indefinitely or who suggest that "more testing" (amount TBD) and comprehensive contact-tracing (details TBD) be implemented should: (1) stop getting a paycheck, and (2) stop paying ALL of their staff -- immediately and until the entire country with the exception of existing hot zones) reopens. That'll put a little bit of their skin in the game and maybe, just maybe, a little urgency in their re-opening plans.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Opposition Candidate

Victor Davis Hansen has been a keen observer of the near hysteria that has gripped significant portions of the population, driven by irresponsible media coverage specifically crafted to increase fear, uncertainty and doubt among the populace. After recounting the left-leaning media's continually efforts to promote their "armageddon" narrative to the exclusion of any evidence, data, facts, or opinion that might demonstrate just how weak their narrative really is, Hansen asks:
So, what explained the paradox of near paranoia to some inquiries [e.g., that the virus originated in the Wuhan Virology Lab] but magnanimous tolerance of other absurdities [e.g., that beaches and parks MUST remain closed until the entire population is "tested"]? Usually, one of three explanations suffice—or sometimes all three together.

First, to the degree an issue involved Donald Trump, the media and political consensus were predictable. He was for the experimental use of hydroxychloroquine; therefore, the drug must be seen as analogous to early uses of mercury or arsenic. If the Chinese lab was at fault, then Trump was deemed less culpable. So the lab was not at fault.

Second, we were to worship at the altar of Lord Pessimism. The more the numerators of death increased at a rate not matched by the denominators of positives, the higher the virus’s lethality appeared, and the more the public would be willing to put up with Draconian lockdowns.

The problem with the Stanford researchers and other antibody researchers was that if they were correct, then quarantines might be loosened a bit and normality might return sooner. And so they were not correct.

As I have written earlier, the psychology of the pessimist is always win-win: when wrong, his terrifying models are still efficacious in scaring the public into doing the right thing (and thus are often deliberately exaggerated). When right, “he bravely warned us of Armageddon.”

The poor optimist is trapped in a lose-lose dilemma: if right in doubting the end of days, only the response to the pessimist made his own hopeful reservations prescient. If wrong about a return of the Black Plague, then he is a veritable murderer, in a way that the flawed pessimist’s modeling is never held culpable for destructive shutdowns and lockdowns.

Third and finally, the subtext to the entire array of virus issues soon became the November 2020 election. The exalted left-wing hopes in Robert Mueller and impeachment were crushed on the eve of the epidemic. The coronavirus was soon seen as the magic X-ray machine that finally might penetrate Trump’s lead shield and reveal to the clueless voter the diseased organs of incompetence, pathology, and narcissism beneath ...

[Because Biden is cognitively impaired and a weak candidate], a virus became the opposition candidate of sorts. The scarier COVID-19 became, the more the need to shut down the nation, the more likely the economy would tank, the more it became certain that Trump would face a lose-lose decision in late April, as his win-win critics would either damn him as a latter-day Herbert Hoover who wrecked a booming economy or some sort of odious Wall Street financier who put profit over lives.
That pretty much sums it all up.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

It’s About Time

Casual observation indicates the vast majority of catastrophists are predominantly progressive in their ideology. It also appears that their heads are exploding as governors across the country begin the first baby steps toward returning to a pre-COVID-19 economy and society. Here in FL, progressive friends are outraged that Florida’s Governor has recommended the re-opening of beaches and parks beginning in Jacksonville.

“It’s too early,” they exclaim—oblivious to the notion that people locked in their apartments for the past 30 days need some outside recreation and enjoyment.

“They’re going to get the virus and give it to us,” they rant about beach goers—even though there is no evidence, study, or even anecdotal proof that going to the beach or just walking along the strand with responsible “social distancing” will accelerate the spread of COVID-19 any appreciable amount.

“They don’t care about 'lives,' ” they intone—perfectly willing to sacrifice the economic and psychological lives of millions who are out of work and worried about paying their rent or mortgage.

The catastrophists are generally innumerate, often quoting COVID-19 death statistics without context. Heather McDonald provides some perspective:
As governors and mayors debate when to lift their coronavirus stay-at-home orders, public health experts predict a flood of deaths should businesses be allowed to reopen before universal testing or a vaccine for the disease is available. These are the same experts whose previous apocalyptic models of coronavirus fatalities and shortages of hospital beds and ventilators have proven wildly inaccurate. It may be useful to look at some numbers for perspective.

As of 3.00 pm Eastern time on April 16, there were 30,920 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. New York State accounted for 14,198 – or 46 percent – of those deaths. New York City accounted for 11,477 of New York State’s deaths and 37 percent of national deaths. This week New York City started counting deaths as coronavirus fatalities if the patient had not been tested for the disease but was suspected postmortem of having it. This relaxed standard increased the U.S. death count by 17 percent. Other jurisdictions will inevitably follow suit.

The national coronavirus deaths represent a death rate of 9.4 per 100,000 of the U.S. population. Take out the New York fatalities and the New York share of the national population, and the coronavirus death rate for the rest of the country is 5.4 per 100,000 of the U.S. population.

In 2018, there were 2.8 million deaths in the U.S. from all causes. That is a death rate of 723.6 per 100,000, 77 times the national coronavirus death rate. The death rate for heart disease in 2018 was 163.6 per 100,000, or 17.4 times the national coronavirus death rate. (There were 647,457 heart disease deaths in 2017, the last year for which such numbers are available.) The influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model is now predicting 68,841 U.S. coronavirus deaths by August. Even if this latest estimate is accurate for once, that would make for a death rate of about 21 per 100,000, comparable to the 21.4 per 100,000 death rate for diabetes in 2018.

The year 2018 saw 708,000 deaths every three months. We are destroying tens of millions of people’s livelihoods for 30,000 deaths over three months, a number that will barely move the needle on the all-cause death count. The loss of each of those 30,000 victims is heartbreaking to their families and acquaintances, especially when the victim dies in isolation.

But the damage being wrought by the economic shutdown is also heartbreaking and is also a public health issue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced on April 15 that New York would decide which businesses could reopen based on how “essential” they were. To its employees, every business is essential.
But the catastrophists are unmoved by any of this. Instead they become hysterical when these numbers are mentioned, attacking the presenter with snippy statements that all boil down to “Well, you’re obviously unconcerned about lives.”

That’s a crock, of course, but it works to suppress any discussion that might weaken their narrative—to wit … keep the country shut down until unachievable and unrealistic goals (that BTW continually change) are satisfied. Can’t reopen until we have "more" (number undefined) tests, until we're sure we won't have a resurgence of the virus (absolute certainty is impossible), until, say, September—noooo problem. Let working people sit marooned and worried in small apartments, while catastrophists work comfortably in their home offices, collecting paychecks along the way.

They don’t like to hear this, but the catastrophists’ position is both uncaring and unsustainable, despite the media and Democrat narrative that largely supports it. The governors of many states are beginning to push back in small ways. It’s about time.


Roger Kimball discusses the aftermath:
I am hoping that the deeper and longer-lasting response will be a quiet revolution in sentiment against the people who abetted this wealth-destroying panic: against the media, first of all, but also the obscure bureaucratic elite that stoked the fear and helped spread the hysteria.

Every day, it seems, brings new reasons to distrust the models and projections that turned the American public into a fearful, quivering jelly. A month ago we were told that unless we turned our world into a giant condom and took care not to touch anyone or anything, millions would die. In recent weeks, those numbers have been revised downwards again and again, even as the strategies for counting cases and fatalities due to the insidious new virus have spiraled upwards. There is a great eagerness in municipalities thirsty for government funding to overstate the number of people affected by the virus.

In New York, the smoldering omphalos of the disease in America, with just over 40 percent of the cases nationwide, a third of fatalities were not even tested. Rather, they are said to have succumbed to “COVID-19 or an equivalent.” An equivalent, Kemo Sabe, like those generic drugs made in China that are supposedly the equivalent of the brand name varieties.

Things are moving quickly now. After losing some 10,000 points in a few weeks, the market has regained more than 5,000 points just as abruptly. Who knows whether that rally will continue. It’s pretty clear, though, that many of the 20 million jobs that evaporated and tens of thousands of businesses large and small that have been crushed will not be coming back. How do we deal with that?
The catastrophists don't seem to care, promoting a continuing shutdown that could very well result in another 10 or 20 million unemployed and a full-blown depression.

But there is some hope. Kimball concludes with these words:
The most awesome toll of this new coronavirus is not the number of lives it has claimed—tragic though the loss of every life is—but rather the stupendous damage we have done to ourselves. The American public has been dutiful to the point of self-harm in heeding the injunctions of the people who manage their lives and livelihoods. I suspect that that deference is evaporating. I regard that as a good thing, for it means that neither the instinct for self-preservation nor the taste for liberty has been entirely bred out of the body politic.

Maher's Take

I can't believe that I'm again cheering on Bill Maher (absolutely no friend of the GOP or Donald Trump) as he criticizes the media as it continues to promote fear, uncertainty and doubt in the era of COVID-19. I've made virtually every point the Maher makes in this video in many posts over the past 45 days, but he does it well. Kudos!

Saturday, April 18, 2020


It began with an "insurance policy" initiated by law enforcement officials within the DoJ intended to ensure that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election. After her upset loss, it continued as a soft-coup attempt by Democrat partisans within the intelligence community and the DoJ. It was built on a web of lies concocted by the Clinton campaign and then used by deep state operators to justify lies to the FISA court that allowed them to impugn a duly-elected president. It involved a set-up by the partisan and dishonest Director of the FBI that lead to the appointment of a Special Counsel who looked for "Russian Collusion" for two years and found none. It was aided and abetted by senior leaders within the Democratic party who, driven by hatred of the president, blocked and/or impeded any investigation that might uncover the soft coup attempt. It involved Democrat smear shops that worked overtime to ruin the reputation of those who tried to uncover the soft coup. All the while, the Democrats' trained hamsters throughout the media acted as a blocking force, calling all of this a "conspiracy theory." And it culminated with a despicable and ultimately failed attempt to impeach the duly elected president. It is the story of dishonesty driven by extreme partisanship, unethical/criminal behavior driven by unjustified feelings of moral superiority, desperation driven by hatred, and illicit behavior driven by the belief that the supposed elites who did wrong would NEVER be held to account.

Finally, in the midst of the COVID-19 virus, it looks like that's about to change. Another 'virus' that arose inside our government was, in its own way, as insideous as COVID-19. And now, it looks like there's a path for defeating both of these viruses.

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) writes:
“Travesty” is not a nice word. It usually is applied to gross perversions of justice, and that apparently is the context Attorney General William Barr desired when he dropped it into an interview answer the other day in the breezy courtyard of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

His composed, understated delivery almost disguised the weighty magnitude of that disturbing word and the loaded adjective that preceded it. “I think what happened to him,” he said, referring to the president and the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into his campaign, “was one of the greatest travesties in American history.”

Okay, it’s important to pause for a moment and absorb what the AG said. He just called an FBI investigation not just a travesty but one of the “greatest” travesties in the nation’s history. It was an unprecedented statement by an attorney general about his own department’s premier agency.
Over the past few years, I have blogged extensively (e.g., here, here, here, and here) on the "travesty" to which William Barr refers. From the very beginning, the accusations of Clapper and Brennan, Comey and McCabe and their defenders never rang true. The protestations of their defenders, Pelosi and Schiff, Schumer and Nadler are nothing but political sound bites with little content and even less honesty. The tower of lies that they all constructed accomplished nothing, except of course, in the fevered imagination of those who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Brock continues:
The AG then ominously stated that he is not interested in simply receiving a “report” from [U.S. Attorney and Special DoJ Investigator John] Durham. He expects him to focus on possible criminal violations: “And if people broke the law, and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.”

These are incredibly hopeful words to many Americans who have come to believe — after the 2008 Wall Street-driven financial collapse, after the numerous Clinton family schemes and scandals, and after the wasteful Mueller “investigation” — that the powerful are never held accountable.

This is an attorney general projecting an air of confidence, not afraid to speak truth to slippery politicians even though the pushback will be fierce and personal. In light of that, it’s hard to imagine his confidence isn’t buttressed with mounting evidence of abusive government actions.

This is what the Durham investigation could well conclude: A group of people aligned with or sympathetic to one political party conspired to illicitly use the authorities of the FBI to besmirch the opposing party’s presidential candidate — and that every effort should be made to indict those who can be charged as a result.
And if that happens, the country and our democracy will be better for it.


At about the same time that AG Barr gave an indication that indictments are possible, the redacted footnotes from the FBI Independent Counsel's report were made public. The revelations are not good for the Dems. Roger Simon comments:
The substance of the multiple footnotes is that, as of July 2016, a minimum four months before [emphasis mine] the election, the FBI was well aware that the Steele Dossier was at least in substantial part the product of Russian disinformation, some of it emanating from a purported supporter of Hillary Clinton who was Christopher Steele’s so-called “sub-source.”

Was he KGB? FSB? Or, in FBI parlance, RIS (Russian intelligence sources)? Who knows?

As a one time mystery writer, I could take this in a lot of directions, none of them good, but I will resist speculating. A few things are evident, however.

First, one of the big lies promulgated by Mueller & Co. was that the Russians favored Trump. This was always dubious. The dossier makes Trump look terrible, and since we now have evidence some of it comes from a Russian source, that the Russians wanted him to win seems pretty idiotic. As always, the Russians wanted to sow dissension.

More importantly, these footnotes expand the investigation considerably beyond the “mere” fudging of FISA applications to surveil Carter Page—into areas of treason and sedition.

What in the Sam Hill was the FBI doing dealing with someone, Christopher Steele, they knew was being manipulated by Russian intelligence four months before a presidential election? In other words, they understood in July, or possibly even June 2016, that Steele was compromised, yet they continued with and expanded their investigation based on his information, knowing it was false.

Why, if not for seditious or treasonous purposes? Someone has to explain.

The Chinese communists apparently fudged the data on the CCP virus, commonly called the novel coronavirus, and lied to the world about it, but what’s becoming clear is that our FBI, at least part of it, is or was not all that much better.
One can only hope that senior members of the FBI and Intelligence communities—the ones who lied through their teeth repeated during this "travesty," are frog-marched a la Paul Manafort or Roger Stone (whose crimes are trivial when compared to the perpetrators of the soft coup) into a federal court and indicted for criminal behavior.

Friday, April 17, 2020


Now that the administration has announced a set of measured and achievable guiidelines for re-opening the economy and suggested that the final decision should be tailored to each state and made the the Governor of that state, that battle has been joined. As I predicted in numerous posts, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media want to make this political, suggesting that only when we are 100% "safe" and have "comprehensive" contact tracing can we reopen.

Kim Strassel comments:
The shutdown came. The shutdown conquered. Long live the shutdown.

That’s the line congressional Democrats and liberal journalists are now adopting, as they set new battle lines in the pandemic debate. The Trump administration might have thought the hard call was shutting down the U.S. economy. The left intends to make reopening it far harder, lacing it with political risk by raising the bar for “success” to fantasy heights ...

By [the Democrats new and rapidly evolving] standards, no lockdown may end until the Trump administration can “guarantee” a “safe” world in which people return to “normal.” The feds must stand up a testing system capable of hunting down and snuffing out each new infection. There can be no more outbreaks, and reopening cannot “significantly add” to existing counts (and the press reserves the authority to define “significantly.”) The unsaid corollary is that Mr. Trump will be held politically responsible for reopening in any way that fails to meet these baselines—on the hook for each subsequent death.

Talk about moving goal posts. A month ago, the administration announced its 15-day plan to “flatten the curve” and “slow the spread” of the virus. Examine those phrases. The goal of the shutdown was never to eradicate the disease—an impossibility absent a vaccine. The lockdown was designed to buy the health sector time, to make sure all the cases didn’t hit at once in a crush that would overwhelm hospitals, à la Italy.

In that regard, the Trump administration has become a victim of its own success. The guidelines did flatten the curve. As ugly as the outbreak has been, even New York City and other hot spots have had enough ventilators. Numerous emergency field hospitals ended up sitting empty. The lockdown has been so effective that it has allowed Mr. Trump’s political opponents to lay out a false narrative of what counts as “victory.”

The political cynicism is extraordinary.
Consider the following data:

Any rational, caring person who examines this curve for more than 3 seconds understands that the economic devastation represented cannot be sustained for long. In fact, the damage already done is extraordinary.

It appears, however, that the Dems have decided that damaging Trump is far more important that any consequent damage to tens of millions of working people. Sure they wrap themselves in virtue signaling and tell us that all they care about is "saving lives." But that's simply not true, because if they really cared about "lives" they would recognize that their disingenuous opposition to restarting the economy has the potential to ruin the lives of the very working people they purport to care so much about. They have become destroyers.


It occurs to me that the same Democrats and other catastrophists who are now against reopening the economy became apoplectic when Donald Trump recommended a combination of therapies for COVID-19 that included hydroxychloroquine (HQC). They argued that complete double-blind testing must be done, that people's health might be damaged by HQC, that the therapy was "unproven," that reports of anecdotal success were meaningless, and on and on.

Turns out the Dems were dead wrong in their opposition. HQC therapies are now regularly used by thousands of front line doctors for COVID-19 patients worldwide. But never mind.

And yet, the caution espoused by Dems for HQC is nowhere to be found when the economic shutdown experiment is considered. The "destroyers" are perfectly willing to conduct an unproven and dangerous experiment that recommends the continuing closure of the American economy. All because the shadow goal of their experiment coincides with their overriding political objective (i.e., destroy Trump by any means necessary), there's no concern at all.


Thursday, April 16, 2020


In theory (and only in theory) the UN's World Health Organization (W.H.O.) is the world's health police. Wikipedia defines WHO's role this way:
The WHO's broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being.[6] It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. Its flagship publication, the World Health Report, provides expert assessments of global health topics and health statistics on all nations.[7] The WHO also serves as a forum for summits and discussions on health issues.
In early January, 2020, WHO was on the ground in China. It's mandate was to "monitor public health risks" and to "collect data on global health issues." At the same time, there was clear and copious evidence of a strange and ominous outbreak of pneumonias in Wuhan, China, known to multiple researchers and local politicians in Wuhan. Ben Lowsen reports on events in late December 2019 and early January 2020:
[The] Chinese Communist Party learned of the epidemic and made a decision to hide its existence, hoping it went away. Exposés in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and the Chinese mainland’s Caixin show that the information that did flow out of China early in the crisis did so only because of the courage of individual Chinese people in the face of government repression. People in the Wuhan epicenter, however, began to get wise — and scared (here and here) — by the end of December 2019, forcing their government to say something. The authorities gave the impression of a nontransmissible disease already under containment. We know now this was entirely false, likely designed more to ease civil unrest than protect the people.

The mayor of Wuhan even suggested that the central government prevented him from revealing details about the epidemic until January 20. Considering the first public announcements came out of Wuhan on January 1, we can assume that Xi had a sense of the danger prior to that.
Rumors within the health care community inside China were rampant. Some healthcare professionals courageously blew the whistle in defiance of the Chinese Communist Party.

From yesterday's post:
-- In early January, the Chinese government ordered all existing Wuhan coronavirus samples to be destroyed. [From 2010 onward, the prominent focus of Shi Zhengli, AKA The Bat Lady, and her team was a redirected to identifying the capacity for coronavirus transmission across species, specifically putting the spotlight on the S [spike] protein of coronaviruses.”

-- On January 2nd, an email from the Director-General of the Institute to all internal staff was circulated. The subject was “Notice regarding the strict prohibition of disclosure of any information related to the Wuhan unknown pneumonia.”

-- “February 3rd, Dr. Wu Xiaohua blew the whistle using his real name, that Shi Zhengli’s haphazard laboratory management may have led the Wuhan virus to leak from the lab. February 4th, Chairman of Duoyi, Xu Bo, blew the whistle using his real name, that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was suspected of manufacturing and leaking the Wuhan virus.
Where was WHO during all of this? Were they unaware of the health care whistle blowers reports? Did they not see the growing number of strange cases of pneumonia? Were they not concerned about China's reticence to report the facts directly and expeditiously? Were they unaware of Shi Zhengli's work and uninterested in connecting the dots? Were they somehow influenced by the CCP NOT to report their concerns? At the very best, the WHO acted incompetently. At worse, it was complicit with the CCP in hiding growing concern about COVID-19 within China.

And now, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media are clutching their pearls and expressing "concern" because the hated Donald Trump is asking these questions and threatening to cut funding to WHO.

In a perverse way, it's comical. The Dems are taking the side of an organization that at best didn't meet its mandate and at worse, through its inaction and silence, was complicit in the spread of COVID-19 in the USA. They whine that Trump didn't have the prescience to act in January (a ridiculous accusation) but somehow suggest that the WHO—on the ground in China and chartered with reporting health emergencies—was somehow innocent of any incompetence or wrong-doing.

I think back to the time that the Dems decided to become champions of MS-13, a hyper-violent criminal gang, only because Trump called them "animals". Now the Dems have become champions of WHO, an organization that has clearly dropped the ball (at best) and whose lack of reporting has contributed to the fact that all of us are now "sheltering in place" with 20 million people unemployed—only because Trump called out WHO.

Stupid is as Stupid Does.

Trump Derangement Syndrome is an amazing motivator for stupid.

And stupid should NEVER lead.

Claudia Rosett writes:
... China began colonizing the WHO at least 13 years ago, when China’s candidate, a former Hong Kong director of health, Margaret Chan, became WHO director-general, serving for 10 years before Tedros took charge. Chan was already controversial in Hong Kong for her slow and bungling early response to the 2003 SARS outbreak that spread from China to Hong Kong. Under her leadership, the WHO’s response in 2014 to the Ebola crisis in West Africa was a debacle — leaving the U.S. and a number of private medical charities to ride to the rescue. Commenting on this at the time, a Nov. 4, 2014, Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “since the 1990s the WHO has devoted ever more of it resources to political activism instead of its core disease-fighting mission — a loss of function that helps explain why the WHO failed to contain Ebola when it was less rampant.” Sound familiar?

If we judge by results, then as UN debacles go, the WHO’s 2020 failures, fictions, delays and Beijing boot-polishing in dealing China’s coronavirus outbreak rank right up there with the UN’s decision in 1994 to ignore desperate warnings from its own peacekeepers of the impending genocide in Rwanda. In that instance, more than 800,000 people were slaughtered. For the current pandemic, the cost in lives and livelihoods is already colossal, and we do not yet have a full tally. It would be gravely irresponsible of the U.S. to simply carry on bankrolling the WHO. An investigation into its public failures and internal rot is urgently needed — now — before the UN’s erstwhile health agency steers the world any deeper into catastrophe.
And yet, even with its history of incompetence, bad judgement and possible complicity, the Dems somehow characterize the WHO as a pivotal and irreplaceable element in the fight against COVID-19. Ya gotta wonder.