Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

As President, Trump will be as transformative as Reagan; He has blown the political consensus out of the water

This document is part of an archive of postings on Dissecting Leftism, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written. My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia. My Blogroll. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this document.


30 April, 2020

“We’re all looking for answers”

Dr. Robert Cerfolio says his “aha” moment came at the bedside of a COVID-19 patient, who seemed literally to be suffocating to death on his own mucus. After hearing the code for a cardiopulmonary arrest, Cerfolio had rushed into the unconscious patient’s room and pulled out the thin ventilator tube delivering air into his lungs, to find it stopped up with discharge that had hardened to the consistency of concrete.

“Why aren’t we doing a bronchoscopy?” Cerfolio called out, referring to a procedure where physicians snake a thin scope through the tube in a patient’s airwaves and suck out obstructions. “This guy’s not dying of COVID. He’s dying of an obstructed tube!”

It was the early days of the crisis in New York City back when NYU Langone Health still had only a handful of COVID-19 patients. (The hospital declined to give a current number more precise than “hundreds and hundreds.” ) The answer that came back from the doctors in attendance was not what Cerfolio expected to hear. We aren’t allowed to, they told him. The procedure, which involved threading a smaller tube into the respirator conduit and down into the airways—and then pulling it out—could “aerosolize” the virus, dispersing it through the room and possibly infecting all the front-line health care workers around it. Which is why statements instructing against the procedure had been issued by a wide range of surgical and medical professional organizations.

Cerfolio, a thoracic surgeon whose many titles at the sprawling New York City medical center included senior vice president, vice dean and chief of hospital operations, was one of the few NYU Langone medical personnel in a position to override the directive. He was also the past president of the Thoracic Surgeons association, one of the organizations that had come out in opposition to the technique.

Cerfolio overrode the guidance. The patient lived. And Cerfolio and his colleagues at NYU Langone developed a new protocol for protective equipment and other precautions for doctors willing to do the procedure. They have since performed bronchoscopies on hundreds of COVID-19 patients.

Luis Angel, one of Cerfolio’s colleagues, invented a new self-contained method for tracheostomies that can sometimes keep doctors from putting critically-ill patients on ventilators, which requires them to be put in a medically induced coma. The procedure, which requires incisions into the lower neck, is known to place health care providers at risk, but if safely performed allows doctors to use a bigger tube than is used for ventilation, one that is easier to clean.

NYU posted a video demonstrating the procedure and Cerfolio’s phone lines lit up.

“I’ve been called by the head of thoracic surgery at the main academic institution in Spain, I’ve talked to a guy in Italy and we’re doing the exact opposite of what they have done there—even a friend at another hospital called me and said, ‘I heard you guys are doing traches, what the hell you doing?’” Cerfolio says. “We’ve done 63 of these and not a single doctor or nurse has gotten sick—not one. Sixty-two of the patients are still alive. We know we can do it safely and we know we are helping patents.”

As COVID-19 washes over the United States, doctors in hotspots across the nation are still deciding how best to battle a mysterious and deadly disease scientists don’t yet fully understand. And while many are looking to the experience of health care providers in China and Europe, they are also racing to develop new procedures of their own and debating best approaches—often on the fly. In a fast-moving pandemic, there’s not always time to wait for medical journals to publish. And the flood of reading material is growing so vast it’s hard for many to track. So every day, clinicians around the world are helping each other as they find their way, trading and debating tips through social media, over conference calls and even over old medical school email chains. Doctors at Columbia University Medical Center are cautious about the Langone procedures. “The experience we have from China, Italy, Spain, and Iran shows an increased risk to healthcare workers performing airway procedures and caring for patients with tracheostomy,” says Dr. Susannah Hills, a surgeon. “It’s crucial to learn from other countries that have been dealing with this for longer than we have.”

On the other side of the nation, Dr. Tom Yadegar, a pulmonologist and medical director of the intensive care unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in California, had his first “aha” moment when he got his first patients last month.

In those early days, he treated both a 60-year-old patient and an 80-something man, both of whom arrived stable, with good vitals, and normal X-rays, then spiraled into a rapid decline for seemingly no reason. Both ended up on ventilators, which drove Yadegar to the literature.

Through his research Yadegar realized that what he was seeing was a “cytokine storm,” a violent inflammatory reaction that often kills the sickest COVID-19 patients. Soon he identified several blood markers, like the levels of ferritin, a protein that contains iron, that seemed to predict which patients were most likely to develop the overactive immune response. He wrote up protocol guidelines for his staffto follow that have them sometimes administering immunosuppressant drugs normally used to avoid organ rejection to patients who seem likely to get in trouble.

“Up until a month ago, I didn’t know about cytokine storms,” he says. “I wasn’t looking for it. And then to treat it, you’re doing something that you probably have never done in your life, which is to give a patient in the ICU strong medications to suppress the immune system. It’s totally counterintuitive.”

Though similar protocols had previously been reported in China, Yadegar’s experience was the first time many of his local peers had heard of the approach. He estimates he’s kept three critically ill patients offof ventilators and removed three more as a result of the protocol. Now he is overseeing COVID-19 response in two affiliated area hospitals. Yadegar shared his experiences with 50 or so fellow graduates of USC Medical School on a weekly call coordinated by his old program director. He then was interviewed about his approach on Fox and Friends, which prompted a flood of inquiries from other caregivers across the nation. “This is such a new disease that all of us are struggling just trying to figure out what’s going on,” he says.

Through these kinds of discussions and experimentation, unexpected observations are emerging that could transform care in the months ahead. One of the more significant is the debate about when best to place patients on ventilators.

Dr. Scott Weingart, a critical care physician at Stony Brook University Hospital, one of the busiest COVID-19 hospitals on Long Island, recently made an observation that he was literally able to broadcast out to the world. The key metric used to move patients to respirators is “oxygen saturation,” which measures how much oxygen is being held in a patient’s blood. Usually, when a patient receiving oxygen through a normal mask can’t get above 80 percent, doctors assume the lungs are compromised and the patient needs to be intubated. But Weingart was noticing that patients at levels that guidelines told him needed immediate ventilation weren’t behaving like patients who were suffocating. Many, though short of breath, were able to speak in complete sentences, give full medical histories and were even cheerful—a state he and his colleagues call “happy hypoxia.”

Although Weingart couldn’t explain the discrepancy, he began to suspect some unknown characteristic of the virus was distorting the results. He began second-guessing the protocols.

“These levels are at numbers that would scare the hell out of us before this,” he says. “But when we started holding off on putting those breathing tubes in and used simple measures like making the patient roll over in bed like you do every night while sleeping, all of a sudden there is a cohort, a group of these patients that didn’t wind up needing the breathing tube.”

Weingart, who hosts a popular podcast and blog followed by tens of thousands of ER doctors and critical care doctors, shared his experience on air and online—and heard from scores of others around the world who were noticing the same thing.

The finding is significant. Not just because it saves ventilators for sicker patients but because in order to go on a ventilator, the patient must be put in a medically induced coma, and there is anecdotal evidence that the pressure exerted by mechanical breathing machines can be injurious to the lungs of COVID-19 patients, Weingart says.

“Supportive care and watchful waiting have worked out in a lot of these COVID-19 patients, as opposed to what I call a knee-jerk response to sticking a tube down their throats,” he says.

For physicians just now seeing their first patients— or still waiting for the full brunt of the pandemic to hit their areas—the experiences of frontline providers like Weingart, Yadegar and Cerfolio are proving invaluable. Sometimes the tips are as simple as telling conscious patients in the hallways to lie on their stomachs, instead of their backs, which results in more effective oxygen delivery to the lungs involved in air-blood transfer. Some are learned through hard experience, such as that the use of the blood thinner heparin seems to help prevent potentially deadly blood clots in patients with a body mass index greater than 40, who seem to be at greater risk of dying. (Both additional modifications were recently adopted at NYU Langone). But the tips can also prove logistical.

In the weeks before she saw her first cases, Michelle Diaz, an ER physician who works at hospitals across New Hampshire through her company EMstaff, tuned in regularly to Weingart’s podcast and others like it where she learned about the changing views on the timing of intubation. She also picked up numerous tips about what to expect and how best to prepare for it through an email chain that had previously been used to announce baby births by colleagues she had met while doing her residency back in the late aughts at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital.

“One day somebody wrote that their hospital was still quiet and asked how everybody else was doing, and people just started posting stuff,” Diaz recalls. “People are just sharing their experience, they are saying, ‘I’ve seen this kind of clinical course, I tried this way of helping their oxygenation.’ But also people are sharing ideas about what they’re doing at their hospital to help with the volume and manage flow—‘we have a tent set out over here and we have this personnel over there.’”

For physicians seeing their first patients, the experiences of frontline doctors is proving invaluable. Diaz even learned how to convert a wall oxygen outlet into a makeshift ventilator if she were to run out of equipment. “It’s been really helpful to see these ideas being exchanged,” she says. “It’s not just informative, it’s inspiring.”



Do Lockdowns Save Many Lives? In Most Places, the Data Say No.

Do quick shutdowns work to fight the spread of Covid-19? Joe Malchow, Yinon Weiss and I wanted to find out. We set out to quantify how many deaths were caused by delayed shutdown orders on a state-by-state basis.

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.

Sweden is fighting coronavirus with common-sense guidelines that are much less economically destructive than the lockdowns in most U.S. states. Since people over 65 account for about 80% of Covid-19 deaths, Sweden asked only seniors to shelter in place rather than shutting down the rest of the country; and since Sweden had no pediatric deaths, it didn’t shut down elementary and middle schools. Sweden’s containment measures are less onerous than America’s, so it can keep them in place longer to prevent Covid-19 from recurring. Sweden did not shut down stores, restaurants and most businesses, but did shut down the Volvo automotive plant, which has since reopened, while the Tesla plant in Fremont, Calif., was shuttered by police and remains closed.

How did the Swedes do? They suffered 80 deaths per million 21 days after crossing the 1 per million threshold level. With 10 million people, Sweden’s death rate?without a shutdown and massive unemployment?is lower than that of the seven hardest-hit U.S. states—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey and New York—all of which, except Louisiana, shut down in three days or less. Despite stories about high death rates, Sweden’s is in the middle of the pack in Europe, comparable to France; better than Italy, Spain and the U.K.; and worse than Finland, Denmark and Norway. Older people in care homes accounted for half of Sweden’s deaths.

We should cheer for Sweden to succeed, not ghoulishly bash them. They may prove that many aspects of the U.S. shutdown were mistakes—ineffective but economically devastating—and point the way to correcting them.




Trump lays out new coronavirus testing "blueprint" as states weigh reopening (NBC News)

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez tosses California's "onerous and convoluted" ammunition purchase law (AP)

24th Judicial Circuit Judge Judge F. Patrick Yeatts says Gov. Ralph Northam's gun-range shutdown violates state law (The Washington Free Beacon)

Two more people come forward to corroborate account of Joe Biden accuser (Bongino.com)

Michael Flynn files court documents with evidence he was "deliberately set up" by the FBI (The Daily Wire)

Senate will return on May 4 to start Phase 5 coronavirus relief bill (The Hill)

New York cancels Democrat presidential primary, angering Bernie Bros (The New York Times)

Policy: Ending the lockdowns isn't about saving money. It's about saving lives. (Mises Institute)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


29 April, 2020

How sunlight may help us fight coronavirus

People with low levels of Vitamin D are almost twice as likely to get the extreme lung infections that are now killing COVID-19 patients.

Even before the pandemic, acute respiratory tract infections have been a major killer. They were responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide in 2015.

In Neale’s review, which encompassed 78,000 participants, it was found that those with low levels of vitamin D — the “sunshine vitamin” — were almost twice as likely as those with high vitamin D levels to get the type of extreme lung infections that now are killing COVID-19 sufferers, and they were even more likely again to be sicker for longer.

And so how does this translate to the pandemic? “Now, more than ever, is not the time to be vitamin D deficient,” Neale says from Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. “It would make sense that being vitamin D deficient would increase the risk of having symptomatic COVID-19 and potentially having worse symptoms. And that’s because vitamin D seems to have important effects on the immune system.”

Neale was speaking before US President Donald Trump weighed in with his comments last week about disinfectant and ultraviolet light being used to combat the virus. And, as bizarre as it may seem, there is reason to think the President is on to something, at least as far as the sunlight goes.

It’s a message that people seem innately to understand. The carpark at my local beach has been more full in recent weeks than it usually is in the middle of summer school holidays. People are out there soaking it all up, feeling sorry for all those city folk denied access to their shimmering sands, not even allowed to sunbake in parks.

For all vitamin D’s advantages, Neale doesn’t take vitamin D pills. She is cognisant of the emerging evidence that the sun provides more benefits than just the sunshine vitamin.

Those other benefits are varied.  Dermatologist Richard Weller from the University of Edinburgh discovered more than a decade ago that the body got a shot of a molecule called nitric oxide when exposed to sunlight. He has been curious about the notion that nitric oxide and sunlight may have some effect on COVID-19.

Nitric oxide has been shown to cause blood vessels to widen, increasing oxygen flow and lowering blood pressure. The discovery of its role in the human body paved the way for Viagra.

“There are mechanistic reasons to think about benefit,” says Weller. “Ultraviolet light (which produces nitric oxide in the skin) lowers blood pressure and also markers of diabetes. Both of these are risk factors for death from COVID-19.” He points out that most viral infections wax and wane with the seasons, probably because of ultraviolet light, not heat.

The story of nitric oxide goes back to the 1990s when it was a hot molecule that won three scientists the Nobel prize. At that time, Goran Hedenstierna had a PhD student at Sweden’s Uppsala University who was among the first in the world to show that if you gave humans nitric oxide when they were suffering from severe constriction of the lungs, the lungs relaxed and oxygen levels normal­ised. During the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak of 2003-04, Hedenstierna had another student, Luni Chen, who wanted to go back to her home country, China, to see if nitric oxide worked to help patients dying of acute respiratory failure from that coronavirus.

“She went there in May 2003 when it was a most severe situation,” recalls Hedenstierna, Skyping from Sweden. “I organised things to be shipped — ventilators and bottles of nitric oxide gas. It took a lot of organising with the local authorities because it was a major intrusion on their crisis.”

Chen managed to get the nitric oxide treatment to six patients and she had eight in a control group receiving placebo. Five of the six who received nitric oxide were on ventilators when the study began. Only one was still on it by the end. Chest X-rays showed their lung congestion improved. One died.

Whereas in the control, six were on ventilators at the beginning and five were still being ventilated at the end. The X-rays showed only two improved, three stayed the same and three worsened. Two died.

The study was only small but Hedenstierna was surprised at the strength of the results. “We most often do see an improvement of oxygenation of 20 per cent or more in people with acute respiratory failure, but these SARS patients, they increased their PAO (the ratio of oxygen in the blood to oxygen that is breathed) almost threefold. I have never seen this big an increase. We never dis­cussed that to any extent at that time.”

To understand why nitric oxide appeared so devastatingly effective against SARS, Hedenstierna was involved in a further study in a high-security lab in Brussels where it was shown that nitric oxide killed the SARS virus in a test tube.

“It had an antiviral effect which was what we had hoped to see in view of the improved chest X-rays. So it’s helping the patient breathe and it’s killing the virus,” he says.

The way forward

Such results are now being picked up. Nitric oxide, this molecule we produce naturally with sunshine, has been used by doctors in Italy with success to help COVID-19 patients, but not in a study format. A trial of 240 COVID-19 patients is up and running in Sweden, the US and Austria.

Weller says the doses of nitric oxide the patients will receive are much greater than what you could get from sunlight. But the other half of the equation is whether people catch the disease in the first place. He is running a study to see what effects UV radiation has on the flu because there’s still not enough data on COVID-19. “I hope that our epidemiological studies will show whether it (sunshine) makes any difference at population level.”

One of Weller’s collaborators, Prue Hart from Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute, has spent a career pursuing matters of immunity and ultraviolet light and vitamin D. She isn’t so sure that UV light will have a direct effect on the novel coronavirus.

“I think the greater benefits of UV radiation during this pandemic are about our brain health,” she says. “We all know how good we feel after time in the sun, and these good feelings cannot be replaced by vitamin D from a bottle. Now that it is autumn, and the sun is not so intense and burning, I think everyone should be encouraged to get exposed to more sun, as long as they never get sunburnt. In addition, whilst outside getting a little bit more sunshine, they will be exercising.”

She says while the link between sunshine, endorphins, serotonin and mood have been known for years, in 2018 Chinese researchers proved another important piece of the mental puzzle involving a molecule called urocanic acid that resides in the outermost layer of the skin. The researchers proved that after giving shaved mice the equivalent of 30 minutes of sunshine, urocanic acid was released from the skin into the blood, then crossed the blood brain barrier and went into almost all parts of the brain. In the brain, it is involved in making glutamate — the brain’s most abundant “excitatory neurotransmitter” — which has long been known to play an important role in learning and memory.

“This is another reason time outside in the sun is important for children who are now doing online learning at home,” Hart says. Food for thought as police shoo sunbathers out of parks and arrest people lying on beaches.

And it certainly will encourage Neale to continue with her five-to-10 minute routine of midday Brisbane sun. “I personally think the best way of getting vitamin D is sun exposure because we get the other benefits that might be there, but I accept there is a role for pills for people who can’t get out,” she says, adding that she always takes care not to burn.



'It's a horror movie.' Nurse working on coronavirus frontline in New York claims the city is 'murdering' COVID-19 patients by putting them on ventilators and causing trauma to the lungs

A frontline nurse working in New York on coronavirus patients claims the city is killing sufferers by putting them on ventilators.

'It's a horror movie,' she said through a friend. 'Not because of the disease, but the way it is being handled.'

And she said relatives of the sick need to make it clear as soon as a person is taken to the hospital that they do not want them hooked up to the breathing machines.

The nurse, who has relocated to New York temporarily to help with the city's COVID-19 crisis, persuaded a friend — a nurse practitioner who is not working on coronavirus patients — to make the video for her in order to tell the world what she says is happening inside hospitals.

'I am her voice here. I'm going to tell you what she has told me,' said the nurse practitioner, who was identified only as Sara NP. 'She wants this to get out.'

'She has never seen so much neglect. No one cares. They are cold and they don't care anymore. It's the blind leading the blind.'

'People are sick, but they don't have to stay sick. They are killing them, they are not helping them,' added the friend in the video posted on YouTube.

'She used the word murder, that coming from a nurse who went to New York City expecting to help. 'Patients are left to rot and die — her words. People are being murdered and no one cares.'

Sara would not reveal which hospital the nurse is working in 'for the safety of those involved.'

More than 12,000 people have died from the virus in New York City, with another 4,300 dying in other parts of the Empire State, which is a far larger number than any other state in the country.

Republican Minnesota state Senator Scott Jensen told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that Medicare pays hospitals three times as much if patients are placed on ventilators.

'How can anyone not believe that increasing the number of COVID-19 deaths may create an avenue for states to receive a larger portion of federal dollars,' Jensen later posted on his Facebook page.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that around 80 percent of people who go on the machines die, although he's referencing patients who were already in dire conditions before being put on the machines.

 This is not the first time the use of ventilators have been questioned for its efficacy.  

In a YouTube video posted earlier this month New York emergency room doctor Cameron Kyle-Sidell said: 'I've talked to doctors all around the country and it is becoming increasingly clear that the pressure we're providing may be hurting their lungs.

'It is highly likely that the high pressures we're using are damaging the lungs of the patients we are putting the breathing tubes in.

'It's not our fault. We didn't know,' added Kyle-Sidell, saying that is the way other acute respiratory syndromes have been treated.

'We are running the ventilators the wrong way,' he said, calling for the protocols to be changed.

'COVID positive patients need oxygen, they do not need pressure. They will need ventilators, but they must be programmed differently.'

Kyle-Siddell did not return calls from DailyMail.com. He told Medscape on April 6 he stepped down from working in the intensive care unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn because he didn't want to follow the hospital's ventilator protocol.

'I could not morally, in a patient-doctor relationship, continue the current protocols which, again, are the protocols of the top hospitals in the country. 'I could not continue those,' he said. 'You can't have one doctor just doing their own protocol.'

Maimonides also did not answer a request for comment.

Sara said COVID-19 patients are placed on ventilators rather than less invasive CPAP or BiPAP machines due to fears about the virus spreading.

She said: 'The patients don't know any better. They don't have family with them. There is no one there with them to advocate for them. So they are scared, and they give consent.

'The ventilators have high pressure, which then causes barotrauma, it causes trauma to the lungs', adding that the best way to survive is to 'buck the system.'

'Your loved one is not going to have you in there advocating for them once they go in, you're not allowed in. 'Do not give consent for intubation if you don't want to be intubated or for your loved one to be intubated… As soon as you give that consent, you might not come out of it.'

And she said if there is a specific medication — such as the hydroxychloroquine that President Donald Trump has touted, the best thing to do is lie.

'A tip from inside the system — if you want a medication to be given, you've got to report that it's an at-home medication, and that you demand that it be continued.'

Sara claimed patients who stop breathing are not resuscitated — again due to fear of the virus spreading. 'Full code, not doing compressions, family is not there. They have no one to answer to. No one is being held accountable.'

She said there are other problems in the 'crappy' hospital where her friend is working, such as lack of personal protective equipment.

'They stay in the same PPE all shift, except for the top pair of gloves… they're only changing the gloves on the outside.'

They keep the same gowns and masks on because the theory is that all patients on a COVID-19 floor will already have the virus. But she says that is faulty logic as some are there to see if the coronavirus can be ruled out.

'So even if they're rule-out COVID and they're not COVID they're going to get COVID because they're using the same PPE all shift and they're carrying that contamination to all of the patients

And she claimed some nurses who have been brought to New York are sitting in hotels never being called.

'Yet they're still understaffed and there are hundreds of people, hundreds of nurses in the hotels waiting to be called on to a shift. So there is manpower enough if the goal were to actually save people, but resources are not being utilized properly or to full capacity in a way that maximizes the patient benefit or improves the outcomes.'

The nurse practitioner also criticized some of the nurses who are risking their own health to treat COVID-19 patients.

'We have nurses being celebrated as heroes who are killing people,' she said.

'They're not heroes, and they're being brainwashed to think they're doing something great just by going to work because they're brave enough to go to work.

'But what are you doing at work? You're certainly not saving people if you're not even running codes. You're not even going into patients' rooms. You're a coward. You're hurting people, you're killing them, you're contributing to the problem.

The nurse practitioner said she knows she will receive hate messages for her comments. 'Frankly, I don't care because this could save someone's life.'



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


28 April, 2020

If Sweden is so wrong to keep pubs open why is its health chief's face the tattoo everyone wants?

Children are still in school, bars and restaurants are open, as are garden centres and shops; crowds of up to 50 are allowed, and no one is chastised for sunbathing, sitting on park benches or daring to flee to countryside boltholes.

It is a strategy aimed at allowing some exposure to the disease to build immunity among the general population, while protecting the vulnerable and ensuring hospitals are not overwhelmed.

But the country’s light touch has incurred criticism. Sweden has a reputation as a ‘moral superpower’ and commentators seize upon any death-toll spike as evidence of a foolhardy gamble that risks lives for the sake of the economy.

Sweden considers the big picture, though, and argues that part of its policy is aimed at preventing an economic crash, as mass unemployment will have dire health consequences. For example, after the 2009 debt crisis, suicides in Greece increased by up to 40 per cent.

But many Swedes feel as if outsiders enduring lockdown are willing them to fail. ‘It makes you defensive,’ says Anglo-Swede Alex McBeath, who works at the Tudor Arms. ‘I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. I support the way we have approached the crisis.’

So does the majority of the country. Anders Tegnell, 63, state epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the architect of its Covid-19 response, fronts daily press conferences. Inevitably, he receives online vitriol.

Yet he is so popular that some in Stockholm have had his face inked on to their arms and legs. Tattooist Zashay Tastas, who designed the image, says: ‘Tegnell has become the face of Sweden’s approach. This is the first time a real nerd is being idolised.’

Or as Dr Tegnell himself puts it: ‘It is the first time in history that an epidemiologist has been considered famous.’ He modestly notes, however, that he is just one of 15 experts meeting daily to analyse data and make recommendations.

But have Dr Tegnell and his colleagues got it wrong? Is managing coronavirus impossible without a lockdown?

Sweden has recorded 2,192 deaths, more than twice as many as neighbouring Denmark, but it has almost twice the population, at ten million. In Britain, the toll has topped 20,000. So far Sweden has defied forecasts saying that, unless it changed course, it would suffer 50,000 to 180,000 deaths.

Arne Elofsson, a biologist at Stockholm University, initially estimated that the nation’s health system would be quickly swamped, but now concedes: ‘It appears the epidemic is plateauing and that the catastrophic scenarios predicted by some will never appear in Sweden.’

Dr Tegnell is cautious by nature but declares himself ‘satisfied’ the strategy appears to be working, even if there are some things he would have done differently, especially in care homes.

Nationally, the number of new cases rose sharply last week – due mainly to increased testing – and stands at 18,177. Most are in Stockholm and its suburbs, with very small numbers in the thinly populated areas elsewhere.

Every country, one way or another, has to reach herd immunity so the chains of transmission break, says Dr Tegnell. He believes Stockholm could do so in weeks – but acknowledges he doesn’t have all the answers as so much about the virus is still unknown.

In a way, the story of Sweden’s response to the crisis begins in Britain. Dr Tegnell studied in London and his team’s approach is based on models developed here.

In mid-March, both Dr Tegnell and Bjorn Eriksson, Stockholm’s director of health, believed Britain and Sweden ‘were on the same page’. On March 12, ITV political editor Robert Peston wrote about Government thinking, saying ‘herd immunity’ was the key phrase and warning against shutting schools.

But a fortnight later the UK abruptly changed tactics and imposed a draconian lockdown, having been unnerved by a study suggesting that without it, up to 250,000 people might die.

Today the Cabinet is divided between ‘doves’ such as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, cautious about easing restrictions, and ‘hawks’ led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak who want a quick end to lockdown.

Sweden stayed the course, based on the understanding that the disease can only be managed not eradicated. Social distancing and working from home were suggested, not ordered, as the elderly were encouraged to stay at home.

Stockholm’s mayor, Anna Konig Jerlmyr, told us: ‘We trust our citizens and treat them with respect. In return we expect them to take responsibility and I’m proud that the majority have done so. In other European cities I was saddened to hear how the police watch people and enforce rules. That is not our way. Also we are as transparent as possible. It is important to share information and all the figures.’

Anna Erdunbelau, a 46-year-old shopping in Stockholm last week, agrees. ‘We are generally a sensible people who usually do the right thing. We are treated like adults. And you have to understand this is all built on trust.’

Key to this is the independence of public bodies such as Dr Tegnell’s Public Health Agency. It ensures decisions are based on expertise, prevents ministers meddling and explains why it is Dr Tegnell leading press conferences while politicians take a back seat.

Politicians didn’t try to block his suggestion that schools remain open, a decision partly taken because younger children are not a major cause of the transmission, and partly so health workers don’t need to stay home to look after their children. ‘We need every healthcare worker we can get,’ says Mr Eriksson.

At the moment, hospitals are coping. Sweden had an enviable health care system in place before the outbreak, which has helped. And it hasn’t been beset by quite the same PPE shortages seen in the UK.

‘We think we are at a peak of infections in Stockholm and *we are not at full capacity in hospitals*, so I’m pleased,’ adds Mr Eriksson. ‘But we must not be complacent. The weather is getting warmer, more people will be outside and they will need to be disciplined about social distancing.’

Ministers have warned that bars and restaurants that failed to follow guidelines would be closed. But all around the city, people go about their business, shopping, cycling, watching the world go by while drinking outside bars and cafes.

‘It sometimes seems as if coronavirus doesn’t exist,’ says Andreas Hatzigeorgiou from Stockholm’s chamber of commerce. ‘Things are moving normally. People do observe social distancing – though we did it before Covid-19, it is in our DNA!’

He knows Sweden’s economy will suffer – it is doing so already – but believes it stands a chance of avoiding the kind of crash predicted elsewhere. Consumer spending is down 27 per cent, but’s that compared to 66 per cent in Denmark.



California Docs Say Lockdown vs. Non-Lockdown 'Did Not Produce a Statistically Different Number of Deaths'

On Wednesday Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi, who own seven Accelerated Urgent Care facilities in Kern County, Calif., gave a press conference to local media. They extrapolated from their own COVID-19 data, along with data sets nationwide and globally. Using this data, their own medical knowledge and information gathered from conversations with their colleagues around the country, they presented a compelling case, which included unreported health risks related to sheltering in place, for ending the severe shutdowns.

Both doctors understand and support the initial reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak by the federal, state and local governments. It was a novel virus and there was very limited information. However, now they assert that the data is telling them that the disease pattern of COVID-19 is more like the flu. Dr. Erickson phrased it this way, “Millions of cases, a small number of deaths.” He specifically noted that the difference in the number of deaths between Sweden, with limited restrictions, and Norway, which locked down, is not statistically significant.

"Lockdown versus non-lockdown did not produce a statistically different number of deaths. That is the bottom line," said Erickson.

Throughout the briefing he emphasized that decision making going forward needs to be based on data, not predictive models. This echoes comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci during press briefings. And we have all watched the predictive models be radically adjusted as actual data has been loaded into them.

Their data extrapolations, using a method similar to the one the CDC uses for influenza, suggest that death rates for COVID-19 are similar to those for the flu. According to their analysis, both Kern County and the state of California have likely experienced a widespread viral infection. They both agreed this is almost certain in New York as well. Based on their analysis, the death rate varies from 0.03% in California to 0.1% in New York state. This will be confirmed by additional testing finding new cases for the same number of deaths.

In addition to asserting that this is much more comparable to the flu than originally thought, the doctors present additional information to support their point of view. First, they discussed the rise in mental illness and abuse their clinics and local providers are seeing. This includes an increase in child molestation, domestic abuse, alcohol and drug-related emergencies, and mental health diagnoses.

Next, they were very clear on how self-isolation can actually compromise the immune system in otherwise healthy people. Dr. Erickson explained that the immune system is actually built by exposure to pathogens. Coming in contact with viruses and bacteria in the environment fires the body’s system for fighting infection. Additionally, the normal flora, or good germs we have on and in us all the time, also drop when we isolate.

Here Comes the Sun: The Good News about COVID-19 the Media Apparently Doesn't Want You to Know
The combination of reducing regular exposure to pathogens in the environment and lowering the good bacteria that helps us fight off infection, concerns both physicians. By reserving nearly all healthcare system assets to treat COVID-19, the available capacity of the system in their area has actually contracted. Two hospital floors are closed. Healthcare workers have been furloughed. In this environment, they worry about an increase in opportunistic infections that will strain the remaining resources as people get back to more normal activities if the isolation of healthy individuals continues.

Next, they say the current guidelines are not backed by science. Dr. Erickson repeated the finding that COVID-19 can live on plastic for three days. So, when you go to Costco or Home Depot, you pick up needed items that may carry COVID-19. He added that it is because of these fomites, inanimate objects that can carry and transfer disease, it is highly likely COVID-19 would be found if your home or car were sampled.

Additionally, there is no science that says it is safer to go to Costco than it is to go to the small local restaurant for lunch. In the opinion of both doctors, the current guidelines are not based on rational thinking. They also think people should absolutely be spending time outside. Dr. Massihi said keeping people indoors can cause Vitamin D deficiencies which further impact immune function and can cause a depressed mood.

Dr. Erickson then explained that the vast majority of people were dying with COVID-19, not from COVID-19. He said after viewing hundreds of autopsies in his career, people rarely die for one reason. A body that has been weakened by chronic disease is not as able to fight off infection. He compared this to deaths with the flu. Most often it is just one of a number of illnesses a patient is suffering with.

With the predictable negatives of self-isolation and the economic pain they are causing, the doctors are calling on political leaders to begin letting the healthy adults return to normal activities. They even say that this should happen without masks and other types of PPE. For those with preexisting conditions or who are immunocompromised, the use of PPE and self-isolation may still be the correct advice. However, for the 95% of individuals who will recover without significant intervention, they say it’s time to end the restrictions and continue testing.

Dr. Massihi said the fear of the unknown is understandable. But giving people accurate information is a way that fear can be reduced. According to the data on deaths for otherwise healthy individuals, the number of deaths is “infinitesimal.” He is equally worried about the person who has abdominal pain and fever and is too scared to seek care. So their appendix ruptures at home and they end up hospitalized with a severe infection. Or any individual with a minor medical problem that will have a bigger impact because care is delayed.

While most of the press conference remained focused on the science and medicine, they did share that their colleagues in emergency medicine around the country report they are being pressured to add a diagnosis of COVID-19. They did not speculate as to why this was happening, but indicated they found it odd.

And Dr. Erickson did hit back at journalists who were challenging his assumptions. At the end of the briefing, he was challenged on why he thought he was smarter than the Dr. Faucis of the world and state health officials. He was clear this was not about being smarter or right. He is using data and his own clinical experience to make these recommendations for his own community and others like them. Essentially pretending everyone is going to be New York is not the correct approach.

He also shot back at reporters who are being paid while their fellow citizens are not. His closing was also a caution worth taking note of:

Who says what’s safe? Are you smart enough to know what is safe for you? Or is it the government gonna tell you what’s safe for you? As soon as they use the word safe, that means control. 'We know what’s safe for you. You’re too dumb to understand disease. We know what’s safe.' And so, they are going to use this model for different things. 'We got a bomb threat from China. Everybody stay in their home for three months.' They [the government] are using this to see how much of your freedom can they take from you. Will you roll over and stay in your house? And it’s working.
Amen, sir. Let’s get America back to work.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


27 April, 2020

Nearly 9 in 10 COVID-19 patients who are put on a ventilator die

Around 88% of patients with COVID-19 who were put on a ventilator in a New York hospital system died, according to a new study.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data from 5,700 patients who were hospitalized from March 1 to April 4 through Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York, with 12 hospitals across New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. Of those patients, 2,634 were discharged or had died by the end of the study, and 320 patients with a recorded outcome were put on ventilators. Nearly 9 in 10 of those ventilated patients died.

But age made a difference. Around 76% of ventilated patients between the ages of 18 and 65 died, and 97%, of ventilated patients over the age of 65 died, according to the report. 

Related: 10 deadly diseases that hopped across species

Of the 2,634 patients, ventilated or not, about 21% died, according to the researchers. But that meant the majority, or 3,066, of the patients were still hospitalized when the study ended, which could have "biased the findings," the authors wrote.

The researchers found that among the patients that were hospitalized, the most common underlying conditions were hypertension (around 56.6%), obesity (around 41.7%) and diabetes (around 33.8%).

The bleak statistics don't imply that the ventilators caused harm, said senior author Karina Davidson, senior vice president and professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health.

Rather, "patients who are put on ventilators typically have more severe disease," and are therefore likelier to die, Davidson told Live Science in an email. "Mechanical ventilators are not dangerous, and in many cases, are life saving machines."

The findings were published April 22 in the journal JAMA.



The Hidden Costs of a Closed Economy Are Staggering - Time to Reopen America

It’s understandable that people are focused on the numbers coming out of the CDC about COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths. The sickness and deaths are the obvious, heartbreaking tragedy, that which can be seen. But Americans are determined and resilient, which is why our economy has weathered so many tough storms.

Unfortunately, another tragedy in numbers is also unfolding, simultaneously, but perhaps hidden from the paper-pushers who have appointed themselves heroes to save us from ourselves. It’s not only lives being lost but also livelihoods, a tragedy that will continue to unfold for many years if we don’t get the economy moving again.

Many state and local government officials have reacted to this crisis as governments tend to do - charging ahead with sweeping lockdown edicts so they can say they did something. To a certain extent, this is understandable, because public officials have been flying blind. The level to which the CDC’s botched top-down control of coronavirus test development has led to lousy or non-existent data upon which to base a rational response to this virus is impossible to overstate.

Nevertheless, here we are. Most of the wave of state stay-at-home orders, starting with California’s on March 19th, are now over a month old. Cause, meet effect: as of April 23rd, more than 26 million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance, another 4.4 million just last week according to the Department of Labor.

This is just the beginning. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned a few weeks ago that unemployment could reach 20 percent, and if this lockdown persists, he’s not wrong. We’re already seeing how bad it can get from our activist community at FreedomWorks. Of the respondents to an internal poll who had been fully employed previously, over 19 percent reported having lost their job as a direct result of pandemic shutdowns.

Almost a fifth of the workforce! Those are like Great Depression numbers, and more than double the number of unemployed after the 2008-2009 recession. PIMCO recently echoed Mnuchin’s projection, and predicted a possible GDP drop of -30% for Q2 of this year and perhaps a -5% drop overall. The numbers vary by who’s making the prediction, but they’re all really, really grim.

Now that we have a number of labs that have developed reliable tests - including even antibody tests that can help us understand how many people have likely already acquired immunity - there’s no excuse for not ramping up the testing, isolating those who need protection, and getting the rest of America back to work.

Critics of those of us who advocate reopening the economy insinuate that we’re prioritizing money over human lives. That’s nonsense; it’s not an “either-or” proposition. There is a real, human cost to this shutdown that is far beyond what can be measured by simple dollars in and dollars out.

These small business loans, corporate bailouts, and checks to individuals might certainly fill in a small part of what people have lost in this maelstrom. That’s, of course, assuming the government is competent to even get the money into the hands of the folks who actually need it in a timely manner. Checks mailed to dead people and huge corporate franchises securing loans intended for small businesses highlight the flaws of hastily swindling futurity while expecting lobbing buckets of cash to solve this government-caused catastrophe.

But if this keeps going on for another few weeks, as Rand Paul summed up best, “No amount of money - not all the money in China - will save us from ourselves. Our only hope of rescuing this great country is to reopen the economy.”

People forget that the economy isn’t some gadget that you turn off and on again by flipping some magic switch. The economy is all of us, the dreams of entrepreneurs, the livelihoods of millions of families, all trading our efforts to produce the goods and services that keep society afloat.

What about the people whose “elective” medical procedures aren’t happening - cancer treatments, heart check-ups, and the like? What about the supply chains for pharmaceuticals and other life-giving goods that are being disrupted as only activities “essential” to battling the coronavirus are allowed to continue?

What about the thousands of small business owners who have been forced to lay off employees, perhaps for the first time, and have no idea whether they’ll be able to make back enough revenue to rehire them?

What of the lingering damage to our supply chains, as farmers plow over their unpicked crops and are forced to consider euthanizing parts of their herds due to lack of demand?

What of the psychological toll, as people experience prolonged lost revenue, unpaid bills, new debts, layoffs, unemployment, not to even mention the depression and anxiety caused by prolonged isolation?

The shattered dreams represented by those unseen harms won’t be tallied on COVID-19’s casualty sheet; they’re impossible to quantify. The sooner we get America back to work and open as much of the economy as we safely can, the fewer of these hidden casualties there will be.



Opening Day in Georgia — Will Anyone Show Up?

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that the Peach State would begin to reopen today. The Republican governor’s move followed last week’s issuance of White House guidelines for doing so. President Donald Trump gave Kemp a green light on reopening, praising him on Tuesday as a “very capable man” who “knows what he’s doing,” only to turn around on Wednesday and insist he “totally disagrees” with Kemp’s decision, which he claimed is “in violation of the Phase One guidelines.” The president further ripped the governor on Thursday, saying, “I am not happy about Brian Kemp.”

Gov. Kemp, meet the bus’s tire treads. So what happened?

First of all, this is Kemp’s decision, not Trump’s, and the president repeatedly acknowledged as much. We operate in a federalist system in which states, not the federal government, have the authority in these cases.

Kemp’s decision was made with the approval of Georgia’s health experts, as the Leftmedia insists it should be, and it’s also not nearly so free-for-all as reports imply. “The entities that I am reopening are not reopening for ‘business as usual,’” he noted Monday. “Today’s announcement is a small step forward and should be treated as such.” He has not deviated from that all week, issuing fairly strict guidelines that businesses must follow if they are to reopen. Hair salons and tattoo parlors might generate a lot of unfavorable and hysterical headlines, but when it comes right down to it, Kemp’s guidelines provide serious benchmarks that will be tough to meet.

Second, for Trump, his disagreement was perhaps a wink-and-nod political move. Kemp doesn’t have the “baggage” of Trump’s approval, while the president avoids responsibility if things go south in Georgia (or Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, and other states that are moving in the same direction). He’s essentially saying, “The best we can offer is the federal guidelines, and it’s up to states to follow them.” Trump just has, well, his own way of saying things. In fact, he says all the things, apparently hoping to be able to later point back to having said one of the right things. It certainly keeps his opponents guessing, but it’s beyond obnoxious because it keeps his allies guessing too, and it leaves conservatives scrambling to justify whatever dumb thing Trump just said when the Leftmedia inevitably overreacts to it. We’d like to get off that ride now.

Third, reopening will increase the number of cases and deaths, which the Leftmedia will trumpet every hour of every day — especially when hanging those deaths around the necks of Republicans.

Kemp accounted for that. “When we have more people moving around, we’re probably going to see our cases continue to go up,” he conceded. “But we’re a lot better prepared for that now than we were over a month ago.” (That was, after all, the original goal of shutting down everything.) Moreover, he added, “I believe we’ll be able to stay on top of it. But … if we have an instance where a community starts becoming a hotspot, I will take further action.”

Every state will have to reopen eventually, and we need to be prepared as a society for the inevitable tradeoffs and consequences. At the same time, no one wants to be the first guinea pig, so both businesses and individuals will be slow to return to normal. Businesses may not open, and people may not leave their homes. Kemp’s guidances, for all the haranguing he’s endured, don’t throw anyone out of their homes or into barber shops against their will. Millions of Georgians are not going bowling tonight.

The governor has done well to emphasize the fact that the state aims to protect both people’s health and their liberty. His actions and announcements have conveyed hope and offered the opportunity to begin revitalizing our economy. We should all be cheering for the Peach State to succeed.

As a parting observation, Colorado Democrat Gov. Jared Polis is likewise working toward reopening his state, though somehow without the Leftmedia harassment. And he mentioned two words that are pretty key to this whole thing: “personal responsibility.”



Higher unemployment benefits undercut small businesses' ability to retain employees.

One of the most common occurrences when Congress rushes to fix a problem is that there are unintended or unforeseen consequences created by the “solution.” In fact, the bigger the “fix,” the greater the probability for it creating more problems than it solves. Congress’s recent $2.2 trillion CARES Act provides yet another classic case reinforcing this principle.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a part of the CARES Act that provides forgivable loans to “small” businesses to help them stay afloat and retain their employees throughout the China Virus-induced economic shutdown, has been undercut by other provisions within the overall legislation.

For example, “The Cares Act created a perverse incentive not to work,” write Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Emily Williams Knight, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “Because the Cares Act pays an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits, many restaurants will find it difficult to get employees back on the job. And if they don’t, restaurants can’t receive loan forgiveness.” Furthermore, Roy and Knight note, “The PPP requirement that 75% of the forgivable loan be spent on payroll puts restaurants with expensive rent in an untenable position. That requirement doesn’t account for differences in business structures.”

The PPP was ostensibly aimed at helping small businesses, but in several ways it’s making it harder for many small businesses to get back to business because they’re competing with government to retain their employees. For instance, the CARES Act’s overly generous unemployment compensation disincentivizes employees from going back to work. They’re getting more money for staying on unemployment than working.

As The Resurgent’s David Thornton observes, “For workers who have been locked into low-paying jobs for long periods, however, the choice might not be so easy. This is especially true when the unemployment benefits continue for an extended period, such as the 26 weeks granted in Washington. The difference in take-home pay would be YUGE for a low-income worker who earns an extra several hundred dollars per week on COVID unemployment for six months. It isn’t a matter of being lazy, it’s a sound financial choice, at least in the short-term.”

The problem is that by not going back to work, these workers prolong a recession, which will then only make it harder for them to find a job when their time collecting unemployment benefits runs out. Furthermore, a prolonged stay on unemployment suspends any opportunity for upward mobility and salary increases, as well as stunts retirement benefits.

The trouble moving forward is that Democrats will demand that these unemployment benefits be extended beyond the initial six months, pointing to the economic recession as justification. Then, any action extending unemployment benefits will slow the economic recovery in a vicious cycle. It’s a classic example of Democrats working to get and keep as many people as possible on the government dole.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


26 April, 2020

Eight reasons to support reopening our country

Several governors are beginning to engage in opening their states. Good. They should wait no further. As each day goes by, we learn more and more about the coronavirus and its effects, and the facts lead toward getting adults back to work and children back to school. We suggest a focus away from the blare and glare of raw death tolls and worst-case scenarios. Instead let’s look at less-alarming truths that are generally being ignored by a media more invested in shock and frenzy. Perhaps we should start with these:

The first numbers we heard were that the coronavirus would kill up to 2.2 million Americans. This dire prediction was the first out of the box and it stuck in too many minds, struck too much fear, and still lingers.

The correction came late in March, as we were told to expect between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. But the death toll estimates keep coming in lower and lower. We are being told this is because of mitigation and distancing orders. Forgotten is that those six-figure numbers included and factored in mitigation and social distancing orders. That is, experts and government officials now tell us our numbers are lower because we are doing what they told us to do, but social distancing was always part and parcel of their high predictions.

The same model used to predict 100,000 or more deaths now tells us to expect something closer to 60,000 deaths. Now, some health departments are artificially inflating their numbers. New York City’s Health Department is now counting “probable” COVID-19 deaths. As Dr. Deborah Birx put it, unlike other countries, “We’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality . . . if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

The per capita infection and death rates and dates of lockdown in various states confirm our questioning of not only one-lockdown-fits-all policies, but also the effectiveness of lockdowns themselves. Lockdowns don’t appear to be highly correlated with infection and death rates. Look at the timing. California, our largest state by far, locked down only three days before New York. Per capita, California’s infection rate is 6% that of New York’s, and its death rate is 4%. Florida, also more populous than New York, locked down almost two weeks after New York. Per capita, Florida’s infection rate is 9% that of New York’s, and it has had 4% of its death rate. Ohio locked down one day after New York, and yet Ohio’s death rate is only 5% that of New York’s. Missouri locked down more than two weeks after New York, but its infection rate is 7% of New York’s, and it has 4% the death rate. The rest of the country is not New York.

A recent Stanford University study reveals the virus is 50-85 times less deadly than initially thought. The infection/mortality rate of COVID-19 is not the 2% to 5% rate others have surmised, wrongly, but one somewhere in the small hundredths-of-a-single-percent range. An even newer study done at the University of Southern California comes to the same conclusion for Los Angeles County.

The closing of our schools is an increasing curiosity. We drastically transfigured over 55 million children’s educational and social lives to protect them from a virus that affects them less than the annual flu. As of this writing, a total of three children have died from the virus in New York City -- each of whom had underlying health conditions. Fewer than 10 children have died nationally from COVID-19, although about 80 have died from the flu. The argument that children could spread the new coronavirus to adults is true, but that is true of the flu as well. This has put an additional burden on families, children, and, for our poorest, has ripped millions of them from nutritious meals and trusted adults and institutions.

All perspective was lost. We have needed to hospitalize just over 80,000 people for this illness. The previous two flu seasons in America required nearly half a million hospitalizations. As Dr. Jonathan Geach has written: “Our health care system is now underwhelmed and health care workers are being laid off and furloughed in droves as a result of health care centers having neglected patient care not related to COVID-19 in fear of a COVID-19 surge that failed to materialize on a nationwide basis. This means tens of millions of patients are failing to receive the medical care they need in a timely manner. Almost every hospital outside of the hot spots is empty.” At the Mayo Clinic, as one example, he reports “65% of the hospital beds are empty, as are 75% of the operating rooms.”

Our overreaction to this epidemic will create myriad other health problems. California Rep. Tom McClintock put it well: “How many of the 1.8 million new cancers each year in the United States will go undetected for months because routine screenings and appointments have been postponed? How many heart, kidney, liver, and pulmonary illnesses will fester while people’s lives are on hold? How many suicides or domestic homicides will occur as families watch their livelihoods evaporate before their eyes? How many drug and alcohol deaths can we expect as Americans stew in their homes under police-enforced indefinite home detention orders? How many new cases of obesity-related diabetes and heart disease will emerge as Americans are banished from outdoor recreation and instead spend their idle days within a few steps of the refrigerator?”

If you don’t want to listen to a Republican congressman, how about the United Nations: “The economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020, reversing the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.”

The political posturing, while predictable, is hypocritical and often one-sided. The Trump administration did not neglect this virus. Instead, Democrats criticized the administration for doing too much and for too little at the same time. The travel ban from China was “xenophobic” in late January, but his declaration of a national emergency in early March was too late. Meanwhile, not one word about this virus was uttered at the February Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, even though China was brought up several times in other contexts, such as in trade and defense policy.

As late as Feb. 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was telling people, “We think it’s safe to come to Chinatown and hope others will come.” And, on the last day of February, the principle expert on whom the president relies and the press reveres, Dr. Anthony Fauci, stated: “Right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything you are doing on a day-by-day basis.”

Almost all of us are interested in the health, safety, and well-being of the American people. The daily death rate should decline dramatically in the next two weeks, and, by the end of the summer, most of this will be in the rear-view mirror. Already, we are being warned that a second wave of the virus will hit us in the autumn. Perhaps, but this is a certainty: There will be a second wave of this crisis that will result from massive unemployment and all the mental and social illnesses and deaths that will come from that and the other policies the lockdowns and shutdowns are bringing.

In short, there will be more pain and hardship -- and perhaps more deaths -- from the convulsing of our country as a result of the response to the coronavirus than from the coronavirus itself. The governors of our 50 states have real jobs — so do almost all other Americans. They should all be given them back while they still exist.



Wuhan laboratory scientists 'did absolutely crazy things' to alter coronavirus and enabled it to infect humans, Russian microbiologist claims

A leading Russian microbiologist has claimed the coronavirus is the result of Wuhan scientists doing 'absolutely crazy things' in their laboratory.

World renowned expert Professor Petr Chumakov claimed their aim was to study the pathogenicity of the virus and not 'with malicious intent' to deliberately create a manmade killer.

Professor Chumakov, chief researcher at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, said: 'In China, scientists at the Wuhan Laboratory have been actively involved in the development of various coronavirus variants for over ten years.  'Moreover, they did this, supposedly not with the aim of creating pathogenic variants, but to study their pathogenicity.

'They did absolutely crazy things, in my opinion. 'For example, inserts in the genome, which gave the virus the ability to infect human cells.

'Now all this has been analysed. 'The picture of the possible creation of the current coronavirus is slowly emerging.'

He told Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper: 'There are several inserts, that is, substitutions of the natural sequence of the genome, which gave it special properties.

'It is interesting that the Chinese and Americans who worked with them published all their works in the open (scientific) press. 'I even wonder why this background comes to people very slowly.

'I think that an investigation will nevertheless be initiated, as a result of which new rules will be developed that regulate the work with the genomes of such dangerous viruses.

'It's too early to blame anyone.'  He said the Chinese scientists created 'variants of the virus … without malicious intent' possibly aiming for an HIV vaccine.

Professor Chumakov is also connected to Russia's Federal Research Centre for Research and Development of Immunobiological Preparations.

Vladimir Putin's spokesman warned this week against allegations that coronavirus was manmade. 'In the situation where there is not enough information that has been supported and checked by science ... we think it is unacceptable, impossible, to groundlessly accuse anyone,' said Dmitry Peskov.



Mesoblast treatment achieves "remarkable" results for critical Covid-19 patients

An Australian-developed stem cell treatment has drastically increased survival rates in trials for ventilator-dependent patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to Covid-19.

Melbourne-based regenerative medicine company Mesoblast (ASX: MSB, NASDAQ: MESO) has been engaged in trials with New York City's Mt Sinai hospital to intravenously infuse its product remestemcel-L in patients, and the early signs are promising.

The sample size of 12 patients may be small, but 83 per cent (10) of them have survived after the stem cell treatment compared to a 12 per cent survival rate for ventilator-dependent Covid-19 patients with the condition at a major referral hospital network in the city.

Mesoblast reports 75 per cent of the patients (9) were able to come off ventilator support within a median of 10 days, compared to a 9 per cent rate for patients treated with standard of care during March and April.

Seven of the patients, who were given remestemcel-L within five days under emergency compassionate use, have been discharged from the hospital.

Using bone marrow aspirate from healthy donors, Mesoblast's proprietary technology is currently used to treat a condition called acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD), which many suffer after receiving a bone marrow transplant (BMT).

But as the Covid-19 pandemic took centre stage, the company hypothesised Remestemcel-L would be able to treat what is known as a cytokine storm in the lungs that often occurs with serious Covid-19 cases.

The company then quickly mobilised plans for trials in the US, Australia, China and Europe.

"The remarkable clinical outcomes in these critically ill patients continue to underscore the potential benefits of remestemcel-L as an anti-inflammatory agent in cytokine release syndromes associated with high mortality, including acute graft versus host disease and Covid-19 ARDS," says Mesoblast chief executive Dr Silviu Itescu.

"We intend to rapidly complete the randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2/3 trial in COVID-19 ARDS patients to rigorously confirm that remestemcel-L improves survival in these critically ill patients.

The company's chief medical officer Dr Fred Grossman emphasises a significant need to improve the "dismal survival outcomes in COVID-19 patients who progress to ARDS and require ventilators".

"We have implemented robust statistical analyses in our Phase 2/3 trial as recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to maximise our ability to evaluate whether remestemcel-L provides a survival benefit in moderate/severe COVID19 ARDS," he says.




Republican states Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina announce plans to reopen some businesses, wind down coronavirus stay-at-home orders (Fox News)

Good news: Los Angeles County antibody study produces more evidence of widespread COVID-19 (Power Line)

Nearly three-quarters of adults fear losing personal liberties because of coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

Sixty percent of Democrats blame Trump more than Communist China for coronavirus (Rasmussen Reports)

Phase 4 relief emerges: $500 billion state and local bailout (Hot Air)

The Supreme Court correctly holds that jury verdicts in state criminal cases must be unanimous (National Review)

Publicly traded firms get $300 million in small-business loans (AP)

Feast or famine, part I: Walmart announces another huge round of hirings (The Daily Wire)

Feast or famine, part II: United Airlines posts $2.1 billion loss, seeks more federal aid (CNBC)

Historic buying opportunity: With oil below zero, Trump to fatten up Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Fox Business)

South Korea: No reason to think Kim Jong Un gravely ill despite U.S. media report (USA Today)

Policy: Why Has the Voice of America become a voice of confusion? (National Review)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


24 April, 2020

Five Problems With the Study That Claims 'More Deaths' From Treating Coronavirus With Hydroxychloroquine

It's not a study at all.  Only the sickest patients were given Hydroxychloroquine.  So they were naturally more likely to die

On Tuesday, the results of a study on the benefits of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus were released. The study analyzed the impact of hydroxychloroquine with and without the antibiotic azithromycin and compared that to patients receiving standard care. The study found there were "more deaths" among those given hydroxychloroquine than those who just received standard care.

As you could expect, the media pounced on the study. The Washington Post,  CNN, Salon, TIME Magazine, and plenty of others were just itching to claim that Trump had been wrong or even irresponsible for touting hydroxychloroquine in the first place. International Business Times even wrote: "Trump's Hydroxychloroquine Caused More Deaths, Study Reveals."

But, if you actually read through the reporting, even read through the study itself, it becomes clear that the media, which was quick to downplay or ignore earlier studies showing the drug worked, were too quick to hype this study's findings. Here are five problems with the study that should give you pause before you turn your back on hydroxychloroquine.

5. It was a small, non-peer-reviewed study, not a clinical trial
Previous studies showing the promise of hydroxychloroquine in treating the coronavirus have been downplayed by the media because they were small studies, not large-scale clinical trials. This study was not a controlled clinical trial, but an analysis of medical records, and it hasn't been reviewed by other scientists yet.

Even the Associated Press noted that the difference in fatality between those given hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin "was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival." You think?  I'm willing to bet that upon peer review, scientists will acknowledge similar faults with this study that I've identified.

4. The patients were not representative of the entire population
By now there are a number of things we've learned about the coronavirus: It has a higher fatality rate with males, older people are more likely to be affected by it, most who die from it had other illnesses. The patients whose records were analyzed for this study were all male. The patients' ages ranged from 59 to 75, with a median age of 70 (for those treated with hydroxychloroquine), 68 (for those treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin), and 69 (for those receiving standard treatment alone). The patients were also disproportionately black. According to the census, 13.4 percent of United States population is black, but in the study, 68% (HC), 59% (HC+AZ),  and 65% (No HC) of the patients were black. There is a known racial disparity in how the coronavirus impacts those who contract it that isn't fully understood yet.

The prevalence of comorbidities in those who have died from the coronavirus tell me that a study done on VA hospital patients was never going to give an accurate representation of the drug's efficacy. This study was exclusive to a high-risk group of individuals, involving a drug that, like every other drug, has side effects. Could hydroxychloroquine or hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin have side effects that are disproportionately more severe, or even marginally fatal, to older patients? Maybe it does.  That wouldn't make it unique. But this study doesn't tell us anything about how the drug works with the overall population.

3. The most severe cases disproportionately received the drug
The study itself acknowledges that "hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, was more likely to be prescribed to patients with more severe disease." In such a small study that isn't representative of the entire population, this would likely impact the results. For starters, there is a direct correlation between advanced age and the severity of side effects. If more severe cases were more likely to be prescribed the drug, it's possible that these patients were more likely to be fatal cases regardless of the treatment, and perhaps the drugs weren't administered early enough to alleviate the symptoms to result in recovery. "The findings should not be viewed as definitive because the analysis doesn’t adjust for patients’ clinical status and showed that hydroxychloroquine alone was provided to VA’s sickest COVID-19 patients, many times as a last resort," a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs told Fox News.

2. Other studies and anecdotal reports suggest it helps
As PJM's Tyler O'Neil noted earlier this month, "Doctors and patients across America have reported positive results" with hydroxychloroquine in treating the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Cardillo, the CEO of Mend Urgent Care in Los Angeles, reported seeing "significant success" with the drug in treating coronavirus patients. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo even requested more hydroxychloroquine from the Trump administration after seeing promising results. Democratic Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett says the drug saved her life. Were they all just lucky? Unlikely. while these studies were small, and the reports anecdotal, I'd be willing to bet the patient base for all of them were more demographically diverse than the VA hospital study.

1. The study concluded that controlled trials are still needed
The study's conclusion states quite clearly that "These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs." It seems to me that the authors of the study were aware of its faults when they published. This study was too small and non-representative of the population. Yet we saw the media pounce on its results so they could fault him for promoting hydroxychloroquine. The bottom line here is that we now have studies that say it works and that it doesn't work. Hydroxychloroquine might not be as effective as the small studies with positive results that say it is, and it most likely isn't as ineffective as this VA hospital study suggests. Obviously, it's worth getting a reliable answer.



Virginia:  The naked face of the Democratic party

We see what horrors Democrats are when the constraints are off

Virginia Democrats are incapable of being courteous even in the midst of a pandemic. Due to the coronavirus, the House of Delegates will reconvene this week in a tent; but the Democrat majority did not even have the decency to inform Republican delegates of important matters, such as how votes would be taken and whether voting remotely would be permitted. Consequently, Republican delegates have been learning about the Democrats’ plans through the media. This is disgraceful, but it is typical of the way that arrogant Democrats have acted since they managed to seize full control of Virginia – with the substantial assistance of liberal billionaires.

For generations, politics in the Commonwealth have been conducted the Virginia Way – meaning that lawmakers acted civilly toward each other, listened to opposing viewpoints, and compromised when necessary. The Virginia Way helped make the Commonwealth a good place to live and helped us steer clear of the toxic politics of Washington. Those days are gone.

One of Democrats’ most shameful displays occurred in February when a black pastor, who had been invited by a Republican delegate, gave the opening prayer for the House of Delegates. The pastor’s prayer expressed his traditional family values, which offended Democrat legislators. Some responded by heckling him and walking out as he prayed. Even more egregiously, the House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), silenced the pastor by gaveling his prayer to an end and abruptly beginning to lead the chamber in the Pledge of Allegiance.

When Democrat legislators are not busy disrespecting a pastor or passing left-wing legislation, they are busy practicing the politics of spite and retribution. For example, Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), proposed legislation to increase the pay for sheriffs’ departments by three percent. Every Senate Democrat voted against the bill. After the bill was defeated, Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County), the octogenarian Majority Leader, told Stanley that the bill had been defeated because sheriffs had informed legislators that they would not enforce unconstitutional gun laws.

Democrats who dare to step out of line may also suffer retaliation from their own party. After a Democrat state senator voted against a sweeping gun control bill, a Democrat-run committee in the House of Delegates killed a noncontroversial bill sponsored by that senator – without regard for those who would have benefitted from the bill. The legislation, which passed unanimously in the Virginia Senate, would have allowed part-time police officers to purchase their service weapons when they retire. (The law currently allows full-time officers to purchase their service firearms upon retirement.)

Things are so bad that Democrat senators felt the need to threaten the Democrat House Speaker’s agenda to persuade her to do her job. After running on redistricting reform last fall, many House Democrats were suddenly not interested in real reform once they grabbed power. As this year’s regular legislative session neared its end, nine House Democrats broke with their party and voted with the House Republicans for a state constitutional amendment to reform redistricting. However, after the amendment passed the House, Speaker Filler-Corn refused to transmit the amendment to the Senate prompting fears that the bill would be killed. In response, Senate Democrats, who supported the amendment, threatened to retaliate by killing several liberal House bills. Eventually, Filler-Corn relented and transmitted the amendment.

Unfortunately, the lack of decency in the Virginia Democrat Party extends to the Governor’s mansion. Despicably, he supported a bill to make it easier to kill a baby right up until birth – an extreme position only supported by a fraction of the electorate. As if that were not bad enough, we learned early last year that Northam had the nickname “Coonman” in college; absurdly, he claimed not to know how he had acquired this moniker. We also learned that there was a photo of two individuals with one in a KKK outfit and another in blackface on his page in his medical school yearbook. At first, Northam admitted he was in the photo – without saying whether he was wearing blackface or dressed as a klansman – then quickly reversed himself and claimed not to know how the photo appeared on his page. This is the same man who, during his campaign for governor, smeared Republican voters as murderous racists.

The good news is that next year there will be elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and the House of Delegates. Because these thuggish Democrats have shown themselves to be unfit to serve, perhaps Virginia’s voters will take them to the woodshed and deliver a thrashing they will not soon forget.



Trump Orders Navy to Destroy Any Iranian Gunboats That Harass US Ships

About time

On Wednesday morning, Earth Day no less, when any responsible president would have been hectoring people about global warming, President Trump had other concerns on his mind. “I have instructed the United States Navy,” he tweeted, “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

Predictable scorn ensued from the Left. Writer Nick Jack Pappas was just one of the many who focused on Trump’s choice of words, tweeting, “Trump is giving the order to shoot down boats. I didn't realize Iran had flying boats now.” They ignored the fact that one can shoot a man down without his being able to fly, but anything will do for a dig at the President.

Iranian freedom activist and journalist Heshmat Alavi was more focused, tweeting: “The mullahs' regime ruling #Iran harasses UN [sic] Navy ships for propaganda purposes. Thank you, President Trump, for reminding this regime that the Obama years are gone. And BTW, this regime does not represent the Iranian people."

Alavi was right. The Iranian mullahs, apparently having forgotten that Barack Obama is no longer President, were at it again just last week. According to Business Insider, “nearly a dozen Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels sailed out Wednesday to harass a collection of US Navy and Coast Guard vessels conducting operations in international waters.”

The U.S. Navy stated that eleven Iranian boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches,” and added that “the IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision.” The Iranians, said the Navy statement, were violating the “rules of the road.”




Trump's 60-day immigration pause, which exempts temporary foreign workers, falls well short of full ban, but the White House's goal is to allow more jobs to be filled by U.S. citizens (Politico)

U.S. deaths top 45,000, doubling in a little over a week (Reuters)

The first stateside death was in California on February 6 — weeks earlier than initially believed (NBC News)

CDC chief warns second wave may be worse, arriving with flu season (Reuters)

NIH panel recommends against combining the drugs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (NPR)

"An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction": Missouri becomes first state to sue China over coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)

Trump says he will ask Harvard, which boasts a $40 billion endowment, and big businesses to return relief funds (The Hill)

For the record: Filthy-rich Harvard isn't the only university taxpayers shouldn't bail out (The Federalist)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer awards (then rescinds after being busted) coronavirus contract to Democrat consulting firm (The Washington Free Beacon)

Navy deploys two ships to South China Sea amid tensions (The Hill)

Policy: The world's bad actors see coronavirus as an opportunity (Bloomberg Opinion)

Policy: How public transit makes the nation more vulnerable to disasters (The Federalist)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


23 April, 2020

'Nobody wants to die but we've got to take risks and get back in the game': Texas Lt Gov defends decision to reopen the economy amid coronavirus pandemic after saying it was worth risking lives to save jobs

The lieutenant governor of Texas says there are more important things than living as he defended the decision to reopen the state's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was heavily criticized last month for suggesting it was worth risking lives to save jobs, doubled down on his stance in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Monday night.

'There are more important things than living and that's saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,' the 70-year-old said.

'I don't want to die. Nobody wants to die. But man, we've got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.'  

He had implied in an interview with Carlson on March 23 that he would rather die from COVID-19 that see the economy destroyed due to what he suggested was an overreaction to the disease.  In that interview, Patrick suggested that older people like himself, who are more at risk, would take care of themselves.

Patrick said on Monday that the economic hardships felt in Texas - who started reopening some businesses on Monday - and across the country as a result of the coronavirus lockdown measures had 'vindicated' him.

'When you start shutting down the economy and people start losing their paychecks and businesses can't open and governments aren't getting revenues... I'm sorry to say I was right on this,' Patrick said. 'I'm thankful that we are now... finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it's been long overdue.

Patrick questioned the science and projected death toll of COVID-19 after an influential model relied on by the White House and health officials has seen the number of possible fatalities lowered since the outbreak first started.

'I mean, at the end of January, Dr Fauci, who I have great respect for, said this wasn't a big issue. Three weeks later, we were going to lose 2 million people. Another few weeks later, it was 1 to 200,000. Now it's under 60,000,' he said.

'We've had the wrong numbers. The wrong science. I don't blame them but let's face reality of where we are.  

State parks reopened on April 20 and hospitals can start resuming surgeries on April 22.

From April 24, retailers can reopen but only if they can deliver their goods or services to people at home or in their cars to minimize contact.

'In Texas, we have 29 million people.... and every life is valuable but 500 people out of 29 million.

'We're locked down and we're crushing the average worker. We're crushing small business. We're crushing the markets. We're crushing this country.'

In Texas, there are currently more than 20,000 infections and 520 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

Patrick's comments came after Republican Governor Greg Abbott became the first in the country to announce the state would start lifting coronavirus restrictions.

As of Monday, retailers were allowed to sell items for curbside pickup, while elective surgeries could resume and state parks could reopen.

Abbott said last week that future decisions on reopening more of Texas would be guided by testing.

Although he assured that testing would 'go up quite a bit' in late April or early May, he did not provide a number.

Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have all since announced partial reopenings of state economies.

South Carolina opened some retail stores from yesterday, Georgia has announced plans to reopen gyms, beauty salons and barber shops this Friday, and Tennessee is set to ease stay-at-home orders within days.

Such a swift reopening runs counter to the advice of many experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top authority on infectious diseases, who warned again Monday that resuming business too soon risked a fresh spike in infections.  



A similar debate in Australia too

Most Australians accept that temporarily shutting down large parts of the economy is a difficult but necessary part of beating the coronavirus.

But others are using the tough measures as an excuse to engage in a cruel debate that pits the lives of Australia’s elderly against the cost to the economy.

The journal Science first floated the question in late March when it published research under the headline: Experts weigh lives versus economics.

The article discussed the dilemma being faced by macroeconomists who were “more familiar with gauging how interest rates might influence employment”.

“If it turns out a lot of people get infected and have few symptoms, the economically sensible approach might be to let the infection spread and accept that there will be some death toll,” researchers wrote.

Less than two weeks later, the following headline appeared in the Australian Financial Review: Lives matter but at what cost?

The author, John Kehoe, wrote that “there is a high economic and social price being paid” for Australia’s efforts to flatten the curve and save lives.

“Unemployment is surging, businesses are closing, incomes are being slashed. People are hurting,” he wrote.

Then he took it one step further by making the case that Australians over the age of 70 aren’t worth as much as younger Australians.

“Many seniors have had time to enjoy careers, children and grandchildren,” he began. “My father is 68 and insists he’s had a good run. With the swimming pool and tennis club in his Victorian town now closed, his daily pursuits are off limits. His physical fitness and mental wellbeing are suffering.

“Some seniors like him would not put their own life above the livelihoods of their children and grandchildren, if the economic and social costs become too great.”

Unsurprisingly, the piece caused outrage. Journalist Jan Fran was among those who hit back at the “reductionist” argument. “Maybe I’m wrong but none of the spicy ‘let the virus spread to save the economy’ hot takes are written by poor, sick, old or disabled people,” she wrote on Twitter.

“They’re always written by some legend in a suit who did some maths and worked out that your nan is probs not worth saving as much as — say — a young, healthy person who will contribute more to the economy.

“This is true if you think a human being’s value should be measured by their economic contributions. “If that’s the case then just cut the sh*t and say you think some lives are worth more than others because of the money/capital they make/earn/produce. Actually, say it!”

She argued that those willing to sacrifice the elderly to keep the economy running have “flattened what it means to be human”.

But Kehoe isn’t the only one pushing hard to remove strict quarantine laws and reopen businesses. The Institute of Public Affairs was slammed when it released a bizarre video on April 7 arguing that reopening churches, restaurants, cafes, bars and community sport was a “sensible” idea, despite experts everywhere saying the opposite.

“Our response to the coronavirus outbreak has decimated our society, ruined thousands of lives, turned Australia into a police state and, worst of all, put hundreds of thousands of Australians out of work,” the think tank’s policy director Gideon Rozner argued.

He said it was time for state and federal governments to come up with a plan to win the lockdown and let people rebuild their lives.

“Do it safely with appropriate social distancing measures in place, but do it now, not in six months, not in one month. Now, because Australians were not meant to live like this, and we cannot allow this to go on any longer,” he says. “Enough is enough. It is time to begin to end this lockdown now.”

Of course, to do so would be catastrophic. New modelling from the Doherty Institute and Monash University shows that Australia, plainly, is not ready.

It reveals that if Australia’s reproduction number — how many people could be infected by just one case — increased from below one to somewhere around 2.5, there could be more than 70 deaths in just three weeks’ time.

“If we lift measures, and it depends how much you lift them, but if we were to lift all of them and we get back to a reproduction number of 2.5, then we’re back on an exponential curve,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

“The numbers would get up to 10,000 in a matter of weeks. So we have to keep the reproduction number below one in order to maintain the pressure down on the numbers that we have in Victoria.”



AG Barr Says the DOJ May Take Legal Action against States if Lockdowns Are Deemed Excessive

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday said the Justice Department could take action against states whose coronavirus lockdowns are deemed too strict.

“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said in an interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce–our common market that we have here–then we’ll have to address that.”

Barr said states should enforce lockdowns and business closures only until the spread of coronavirus has halted. Then, states should eventually reopen in line with the Trump administration’s guidelines, he said.

“These are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty, and we adopted them, we have to remember, for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread, that is bending the curve,” Barr went on. “We didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease….You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say well, we’re killing the cancer, because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.”

While most U.S. states have adopted some form of business and school closures, several have seen protests against the lockdown measures. President Trump has repeatedly clashed with state governors on reopening the economy, urging them to do so as soon as possible.

Trump has called on protesters to “liberate” certain states, all with Democratic governors. Washington governor Jay Inslee subsequently accused Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion.”

Protests have been particularly strong in Michigan, whose governor Gretchen Whitmer has instituted some of the most stringent lockdowns in the U.S. Whitmer on Tuesday compared protesters to Americans who objected to the World War II production effort.




More than a dozen killed during shooting rampage in heavily gun-controlled Canada (New York Post)

More U.S. protests call for lifting restrictions as governors push back (Reuters)

Trump says "governors have gone too far" with restrictions (New York Post)

President says he'll end Obama-era funding to Wuhan lab (The Daily Caller)

U.S. officials confirm full-scale investigation of whether coronavirus escaped from Wuhan lab (Fox News)

Department of Defense travel ban extended to June 30 (Military Times)

What could possibly go wrong? Chinese-made drones are monitoring streets in 20 states to enforce social distancing (The Daily Wire)

Gov. Cuomo hires firm with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party to develop reopening plan (Hot Air)

"Anonymous" Trump slanderer identified as former Deputy National Security Adviser Victoria Coates (RealClearInvestigations)

As we've long suspected, antibody research indicates coronavirus may be far more widespread than known (ABC News)

Illinois takes advantage of pandemic, pleads for multibillion-dollar pension bailout (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Trump administration should double down on deregulation to relaunch economy (Washington Examiner)

Policy: After repeated failures, it's time to permanently dump epidemic models (Issues & Insights)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


22 April, 2020

Australian  Economics professor argues that Australia would have been 'better off' WITHOUT a lockdown

An economics professor has been slammed as 'cold' and 'heartless' for suggesting  Australia prioritised health over the economy by going into coronavirus lockdown.

University of New South Wales Professor Gigi Foster sparked outrage from fellow panellists and other economic professors while answering questions about the  impacts of shutdown measures on Q&A on Monday.

Professor Foster suggested Australia hadn't properly weighed up the economic consequences of tough restrictions introduced to reduce the death toll, and argued the 'economy is about lives' too.

'What frustrates me is when people talk about the economic costs of the lockdown they often don't think in detail in terms of counting lives,' Professor Foster said.

'Has anyone thought about how would you get a measure of the traded lives when we lock an economy down? What are we sacrificing in terms of lives?

'Economists have tried to do that and we try to do that in currencies like the value of a statistical life.

'If you do that kind of calculus you realise very quickly that even with a very, very extreme epidemic, in Australia, we are still potentially better off not having an economic lockdown in the first place because of the incredible effects that you see.  'Not just in a short-run way but in many years to come.'

Her views prompted a shocked response from fellow panellists on the ABC program. 'How can you say that?' ACTU secretary Sally McManus fired back. 

'We're avoiding what's happened in the UK, what's happening in the US, the idea of having our ICUs overrun, our healthcare workers dying as well is just the most horrible thought.'

'It's horrible either way,' Professor Foster replied. 'The coronavirus has made the world awful. There's absolutely no doubt about that.

'In order to have a proper discussion about trade-offs, you need to think in terms of lives you're giving up.

'I know it's invisible lives and difficult to imagine when we aggregate, for example, all of the health effects and the mental health effects and the effects of people right now who have illnesses other than COVID-19.' 

Earlier in the program, Professor Foster said human welfare costs should be considered more broadly. 'I reject the idea it's lives versus the economy. It's lives versus lives. The economy is about lives,' Professor Foster said. 'It's about protection of lives and human welfare and livelihood.'

Simon Longstaff, executive director of The Ethics Centre disagreed with Professor Foster's argument.

'There's so many things we can do to address the economic consequences on people's lives. It's not just the economy. Incidents of mental health. There's many things which are human fact beyond those,' he said.

Professor Foster later proposed Australia could implement a herd immunity strategy until a coronavirus vaccine was found.

Her comments on the program sparked division on social media, with some accusing her of being 'harmful and arrogant' and others praising her for her 'rational' response.

'She lacks capacity to appreciate that a mass outbreak would lead to same shutdown within a short time frame. A broad and orderly controlled shutdown is preferable to chaos of humans and companies dropping like flies,' one viewer tweeted.

Another added: 'Has Gigi considered the economic cost of post traumatic stress on a population like Italy? Is there a model for the way the economy and people behave after that?'

'What a disgraceful and cold thought process this woman has,' a third said. 'Has no respect for humanity, is all about the economy and the money.' 

Professor Foster was also criticised by some in her own profession. 'Hundreds of us warned today against the views like Gigi Foster's,' University of Melbourne economics Professor Chris Edmond tweeted.

'I’m an economics professor, and Gigi does not speak for me,' Steven Hamilton, a U.S-based professor tweeted.   

But not everyone was critical. 'Gigi Foster makes some excellent points and should not be trolled,' one supporter tweeted. 

'Gigi Foster is very much sharing a holistic rational view on coronavirus, not an emotional one that clearly doesn’t appeal to the everyday Australian,' added another.



Study will test if common anti-inflammatory drug can prevent serious COVID-19 complications

Study participants will receive the drug by mail within 48 hours of diagnosis.

An international study will test whether a common anti-inflammatory drug can ward off serious complications from COVID-19 and possibly prevent patients from ending up in the hospital.

The study, which would involve 6,000 participants in the U.S., Canada and Europe, is designed to be "contactless" — participants will receive the drug, called colchicine, by mail, and will be monitored by phone or video visits. Participants will receive the drug within 48 hours of a COVID-19 diagnosis.

"This is one of the very few COVID-19 trials designed specifically for patients who have not yet been hospitalized," Dr. Priscilla Hsue, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and principal investigator for one of the sites involved in the trial, said in a statement. "We suspect that early treatment, before the onset of severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, may provide the best chance to improve outcomes. By the time extensive lung damage has developed, it may be too late to intervene successfully."

Colchicine is a widely available drug used to treat gout, a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joints, particularly the big toe, according to the National Institutes of Health. The drug works by reducing joint pain, inflammation and swelling.



The Canadian Way of Dealing with a Pandemic: Ineffective, Clueless, and Dishonest

The only thing certain about the etiology of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it originated in and spread from China. Whether the local origin of the disease was a wet market in Wuhan specializing in bat soup or a Chinese lab with inadequate safety protocols is immaterial. The culprit in the lethal melodrama that is being played out around the globe is China.

Yet, if we are to believe many of our politicians and journalists, the good guy working to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 is—you guessed it—China. Some self-serving politicians in the U.S. would like to refer President Trump to the International Court of Justice in the Hague for crimes against humanity for his handling of the crisis—Ohio State Representative Tavia Galonski apparently can’t stomach Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine, which ironically has already saved the life of fellow Democrat Karen Whitsett. A reporter for Phoenix TV tried to put Trump in a bad light by asking whether he was cooperating with China, in her estimation obviously the heroic partner in the struggle. It turns out that Phoenix TV has intimate ties to Communist China and is linked with the PRC’s Ministry of State Security.

Joe Biden is a big fan of Communist China and has profited from his family’s business relations with the regime. Trump is beset by those who would like to see him fail in his ongoing effort to find a way between averting economic collapse and maintaining public health. Nonetheless, Americans can remain confident that a responsible president, for all the trials and confusions he must contend with, has their wellbeing at heart and labors tirelessly to provide a solution to the current disaster.

Canada, not so much. The country’s dilettante leader, who has no viable answer to the crisis, is not so embattled. The lying press, luxuriating in the prime minister’s $600-million bribe, is almost universally on his side, and his inept and intellectually challenged ministers are ritually lionized. 600 mil clearly helps you get your priorities straight. The sheer amateurism of this government is evident in its policy initiatives.

Some of these decisions defy belief. Shades of the famous Tennessee Ernie Ford song, Canada sent sixteen tons of PPE (personal protective equipment) to China while undergoing shortages of much-needed supplies, such as masks, goggles, gloves, and appropriate clothing, in the fight against the virus. University of Ottawa epidemiologist Amir Attaran was surprised to learn of this supernumerary gift. “It was absolutely certain in early February that we would need this equipment,” he said. “This decision went beyond altruism into high negligence and incompetence because Canada did not, and does not, have surplus equipment to spare.” Canada, as was to be expected, has no emergency management agency in place and no way of dealing with the export restrictions of needed medical supplies adopted by countries around the world.

Justin Trudeau: Canada’s National Disaster

Theresa Tam is Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, appointed to the office by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 26, 2017. According to her resumé, she is “a physician with expertise in immunization, infectious disease, emergency preparedness and global health security,” and is chiefly responsible for the coast-to-coast lockdown of the country. A daily presence on national TV, Tam has become the face of the anti-COVID task force and the regulations intended to check the spread of the disease. But she remains something of an enigma.

Writing in The Council of European Canadians newsletter, an online site which has reaped the displeasure and vicious slander of Canada’s progressivist “social justice” warriors and multiculti vigilantes, Kidist Paulos Asrat asks, “Who is this woman now in charge of providing the ‘chief’ medical information concerning Canada's lockdown? Where did she come from?” His research has produced little information of value. “There is very little available on her biography,” he continues, “very little personal (and even professional) information on Tam,” including her date of birth, place of birth (other than ‘raised in Hong Kong’) and the dates of her degrees. Indeed, the listings of her theses, dissertation, and alumni profiles seem to be missing, though Asrat has searched the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta websites where such data should be available.

What do we know about Tam? We know that Tam is a feminist who attended the 2019 Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, whose mandate is promoting “gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women.” As for the health, rights, and wellbeing of men and boys, nary a hint, which is why she seems to have expressed no interest in the fact that men are more likely to be infected by COVID-19 and twice as likely to die from it. We know that she is intimately associated with the World Health Organization, significantly funded by China, that initially downplayed the scope of the disease, and whose Director-General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus is a Marxist and a loyal defender of China, “uncritically repeating information from the Chinese authorities.” A petition is now circulating calling for his resignation.

Tam has warned against stigmatizing Chinese people, though it is far from clear that such a warning was necessary. Canada’s largest Chinese population is located in Vancouver, where I make my home, and I have not seen the slightest instance, whether in the media or the public, of prejudice or opprobrium. “Racism, discrimination and stigmatizing language,” she stated, “are unacceptable and very hurtful. These actions create a divide of Us Vs Them. Canada is a country built on the deep-rooted values of respect, diversity and inclusion.”

SPLC Blames Trump's 'Racist, Anti-Asian Epithets' for Coronavirus-Related Anti-Asian Harassment
This is merely more of the usual virtue-signaling and self-promoting boilerplate beloved of career politicians of the woke variety. The last thing we need during a health crisis is a lecture on race relations and feel-good multiculti.

Spencer Fernando, whom I regard, along with the redoubtable Rex Murphy, as one of the vanishingly few reliable journalists in this country, pretty much has the goods on Tam. “The facts are undeniable,” he writes. “Tam was late at every step, focused on political correctness and lecturing when the virus could have been stopped, and seemed less informed of the risk than the general public and the MPs who were asking her questions."

"Right now," she said at a critical juncture, "the cases are in China. Very few are exported… the risk is low in Canada." The cases did not stay in China but swept the world, including Canada. Moreover, we were assured that "WHO does not recommend travel bans" and that we need not worry about asymptomatic transmission. Wrong on every count. Her record is deplorable and her sympathies debatable.

Tam is a typical Trudeau appointee: a feminist, a self-aggrandizing special pleader, and a gross incompetent in the office she is expected to manage. There are others like her in the Trudeau cabinet, for example, the lamentable Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland who nearly deep-sixed our NAFTA treaty talks with Donald Trump and has a tendency to tear up at critical moments, though as former NDP Premier Bob Rae tweeted in Freeland’s patronizing defense, “Crying is not a sign of weakness, it is a natural emotional response to a lot of different situations”; and the equally hapless Minister of Health, cultural anthropologist (!) Patti Hajdu with limited experience in medicine, repeatedly said, like Tam, that the risk of infection from the virus “is low,” but now projects that up to 70% of Canadians may be infected. Despite being stroked by a shameless love article in The Globe and Mail, Hajdu’s performance is frankly pathetic. And like both Tam and their boss, she seems to have a soft spot for China, insisting that “there’s no indication that the data that came out of China in terms of their infection rate and their death rate was falsified in any way.” All these gender quota mermaids are swimming fathoms beyond their depth and I suspect their fealty is compromised.

Obviously, we should not be giving away our medical equipment and then hoping to receive apposite supplies from foreign self-interested nations. As Rex Murphy argues in a brilliant column for the National Post, “Take care first of your own citizens, which means limiting the contingencies of external dependence.” Our resources should be reserved for our own security if we are to protect ourselves “against pandemics and other unknown future shocks.” The argument applies across the board to every economic, industrial, agricultural, and medical sector of the country. Murphy points out that it is the salt-of-the-earth Canadians—hard-pressed farmers, unemployed oil workers, cross-country truckers, those who do not tend to vote for a progressivist Liberal Party—who have been hamstrung by their government and forced to pay a crippling carbon tax while struggling to survive a decimating pandemic. They are, unfortunately, outnumbered by the many who have been brainwashed by a compliant media establishment and who elect parasitical governments that fritter away the nation’s resources and mismanage the nation’s business and security needs, including the response to national emergencies.

Meanwhile, at 7 o’clock every evening these brainwashed Canadians step out on their balconies and doorways and bang pots and pans in solidarity with the nurses—though not with the preponderantly male doctors, ambulance drivers, orderlies, and janitors who, being men, are apparently expendable, as good feminist doctrine holds. It is rather sobering to reflect that we have largely become a nation of feminist-inclined pot bangers, as if noisy displays of carefully targeted goodwill were an effective way of dealing with the current pandemic.

You offload 16 tons and what do you get? A nation that owes its soul to the company store.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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21 April, 2020

Sweden’s unusual approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic is starting to yield results, according to the country’s top epidemiologist

Anders Tegnell, the architect behind Sweden’s relatively relaxed response to Covid-19, told local media the latest figures on infection rates and fatalities indicate the situation is starting to stabilize. “We’re on a sort of plateau,” Tegnell told Swedish news agency TT.

Sweden has left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants open throughout the spread of the pandemic. Instead, the government has urged citizens to act responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines.

The spread of Covid-19 across the globe is triggering different responses across national and even state borders, as authorities struggle to contain an outbreak about which much remains unknown.

It’s unclear which strategy will ultimately prove most effective, and even experts in Sweden warn it’s too early to draw conclusions. But given the huge economic damage caused by strict lockdowns, the Swedish approach has drawn considerable interest around the world.

Part of that approach relies on having access to one of the world’s best-functioning health-care systems. At no stage did Sweden see a real shortage of medical equipment or hospital capacity, and tents set up as emergency care facilities around the country have mostly remained empty.

Death Rates

As of Sunday, Sweden had reported 1,540 deaths tied to Covid-19, an increase of 29 from Saturday. That’s considerably more than in the rest of Scandinavia, but much less than in Italy, Spain and the U.K., both in absolute and relative terms.

Tegnell isn’t the only high-level official in Sweden to claim the country may be over the worst.

“The trend we have seen in recent days, with a more flat curve -- where we have many new cases, but not a daily increase -- is stabilizing,” Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the microbiology department at Sweden’s Public Health Authority, said on Friday. “We are seeing the same pattern for patients in intensive care.”

Just two weeks ago, the picture was considerably bleaker, and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven suggested the government may need to review its approach amid the prospect of thousands of Swedish deaths. But Lofven’s personal popularity has soared, suggesting Swedes approve of his decisions.

“I have very high confidence in the Swedish authorities that manage this,” Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a phone interview. “It’s a hard balance to strike, but I have full confidence in the measures that Sweden has taken.”

Volvo, which was forced to halt production across Europe and furlough about 20,000 Swedish employees, will resume production at its Swedish plants on Monday.

“Our measures are all based on individuals taking responsibility, and that is also an important part of the Swedish model,” Samuelsson said.

The Economy

Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy may ultimately result in a smaller -- albeit historically deep -- economic contraction than the rest of Europe is now facing, according to HSBC Global Research economist James Pomeroy.

“While Sweden’s unwillingness to lock down the country could ultimately prove to be ill-judged, for now, if the infection curve flattens out soon, the economy could be better placed to rebound,” he said.

Pomeroy pointed to some Swedish characteristics that may be helping the country deal with the current crisis. More than half of Swedish households are single-person, making social distancing easier to carry out. More people work from home than anywhere else in Europe, and everyone has access to fast Internet, which helps large chunks of the workforce stay productive away from the office.

And while many other countries have introduced strict laws, including hefty fines if people are caught breaching newly minted social-distancing laws, Swedes appear to be following such guidelines without the need for legislation. Trips from Stockholm to Gotland -- a popular vacation destination -- dropped by 96% over the Easter weekend, according to data from the country’s largest mobile operator, Telia Company. And online service Citymapper’s statistics indicate an almost 75% drop in mobility in the capital.

Sweden also recently pushed back against the notion that there’s little to no social distancing going on.

“We don’t have a radically different view,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with Radio Sweden. “The government has made a series of decisions that affect the whole society. It’s a myth that life goes on as normal in Sweden.”



Coronavirus Antibody Testing Study Suggests Coronavirus Fatality Rate Could Be Less Than Seasonal Flu

Remember how China originally covered up the coronavirus outbreak? That likely means that it spent weeks spreading around the world before any efforts to contain or mitigate it happened. There have been reports that spikes in pneumonia-like cases in November and December of 2019 may actually have been coronavirus cases. This means that many people contracted the disease, recovered, and have developed antibodies.

On Friday, the results of the first large-scale antibody study in Santa Clara County in California headed by a Stanford University professor, Dr. Eran Bendavid, was released, and based on the results, the actual number of positive coronavirus cases is likely 50-85 times higher than confirmed cases.

This means the fatality rate of the coronavirus may be significantly lower than the World Health Organization's 3.4 percent estimate, or Dr. Fauci's 2.0 percent estimate.

How much? Let's take a look.

3,330 Santa Clara County residents were tested in the study, and those tests found that 2.49% to 4.16% of the subjects had coronavirus antibodies. "These prevalence estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50-85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases." According to the study abstract, "Population prevalence estimates can now be used to calibrate epidemic and mortality projections."

Participants were “recruited using Facebook ads targeting a representative sample of the county by demographic and geographic characteristics,” and the results were adjusted for zip code, sex, and race/ethnicity.

The current death count for Santa Clara County is 69, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. While the death count in early April was likely a bit lower, I'll use that number to extrapolate the mortality rate of the coronavirus per this study.

Assuming the low estimate of infection count of 48,000, that gives us a fatality rate of .14 percent.

Assuming the mid-range estimate of infection count of 65,000, that gives us a fatality rate of .11 percent.

Assuming the high estimate of infection count of 81,000, that gives us a fatality rate of .09 percent.
The fatality rate of the seasonal flu is .1 percent.

An epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital told ABC News that the results of the study are not necessarily representative of the U.S. population, but conceded that the study did show that there are far more infections than confirmed cases. "There has been wide recognition that we were undercounting infections because of lack of testing or patients were asymptomatic," he said.

So, if this study is correct, there is a possibility that the actual fatality rate of the coronavirus is comparable, or even lower, than the seasonal flu.

It goes without saying that any deaths from the coronavirus are a tragedy, but our country (and the world) basically shut down over the World Health Organization's original estimates of a 3.4% case fatality ratio. This is why we need to be talking about opening up our country again.



Coronavirus Authoritarianism Is Getting Out of Hand
It’s reasonable to assume that the vast majority of Americans process news and data, and calculate that self-quarantining, wearing masks and social distancing make sense for themselves, their families and the country. Free people act out of self-preservation, but they shouldn’t be coerced to act through the authoritarian whims of the state. Yet this is exactly what’s happening.

There has been lots of pounding of keyboards over the power grabs of authoritarians in Central and Eastern Europe. Rightly so. Yet right here, politicians act as if a health crisis gives them license to lord over the most private activities of American people in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

I’m not even talking about national political and media elites who, after fueling years of hysteria over the coming Republican dictatorship, now demand Donald Trump dominate state actions. I’m talking about local governments.

Under what imperious conception of governance does Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer believe it is within her power to unilaterally ban garden stores from selling fruit or vegetable plants and seeds? What business is it of Vermont or Howard County, Indiana, to dictate that Walmart, Costco or Target stop selling “nonessential” items, such as electronics or clothing? Vermont has 628 cases of coronavirus as of this writing. Is that the magic number authorizing the governor to ban people from buying seeds for their gardens?

Maybe a family needs new pajamas for their young kids because they’re stuck in a new town. Or maybe mom needs a remote hard drive to help her work remotely. Or maybe dad just likes apples. Whatever the case, it’s absolutely none of your mayor’s business.

It makes sense for places like Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland to ban large, avoidable gatherings. But it is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk.

The criminalization of movement ends with 10 Philly cops dragging a passenger off a bus for not wearing a face mask. It ends with local Brighton, Colorado, cops handcuffing a father in front of his family for playing softball with his daughter in an empty park. It ends with three Massachusetts men being arrested, and facing the possibility of 90 days in jail, for crossing state lines and golfing — a sport built for social distancing — in Rhode Island.

There is no reason to close “public” parks, where Americans can maintain social distance while getting some air or space for their mental and physical well-being — or maybe see a grandchild from afar. In California, surfers, who stay far away from each other, are banned from going in the water. Elsewhere, hikers are banned from roaming the millions of acres in national parks. Millions of lower-income and urban-dwelling Americans don’t have the luxury of backyards, and there is absolutely no reason to inhibit their movement, either.

Two days before Easter, Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer attempted to unilaterally ban drive-in church services for the most holy day in Christianity. It’s one thing if people are purposely and openly undermining public health. The constitutional right to assemble peacefully and protest or practice your religion, however, is not inoperable in the presence of a viral pandemic.

Would-be petty tyrants, such as Dallas judge Clay Jenkins, who implores residences to rat out neighbors who sell cigarettes for “putting profits over public health,” forgets that we are not ruled by him, and that he is merely our temporary servant.

But it’s important and necessary, say the experts. Great. Convince us. Most polls show that 80-something percent of Americans will stay home for the rest of this month even if lockdowns are lifted.

The question of how many lives would be lost if we didn’t shut down the economy is a vital one, but it is not the only one. There is an array of factors that goes into these decisions. One of them should be preserving our laws and our freedom in times of crisis.

We aren’t at “war.” There are no coronavirus spies and no coronavirus sabotage. Affixing “war” to societal problems — the war on drugs being the most obvious example — is typically a justification for expanding state power. Also, authoritarianism isn’t defined as “strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom except when there is a pandemic.” Your declarative sentences and forceful feelings do not transform the meaning of either authoritarianism or freedom. Though if we dump our principles every time there’s a crisis, they might as well.




Trump's constitutional- and religious-liberty-minded DOJ steps up to defend Christians fined $500 for drive-in church service (PJ Media)

Kentucky GOP lawmakers override veto of voter ID measure, instituting "guardrails in our voting procedures that will help cure vulnerabilities that exist" (AP)

New unsealed documents show Planned Parenthood did profit from aborted baby body parts (The Federalist)

From Michigan to Kentucky to Ohio to Utah to North Carolina to Virginia, protests draw thousands over state stay-at-home orders (USA Today)

Weekly jobless claims hit 5.245 million, raising monthly loss to 22 million (CNBC)

New York and other East Coast states extend shutdown of "nonessential" businesses to May 15 (CNBC)

CA. Gov. Newsom announces $125 million fund to give stimulus checks to illegal immigrants (Fox News)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


20 April, 2020

Do the lockdowns achieve anything at all?

Israeli Professor Shows Virus Follows Fixed Pattern

Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel of Tel Aviv University, who also serves on the research and development advisory board for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, plotted the rates of new coronavirus infections of the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Spain. The numbers told a shocking story: irrespective of whether the country quarantined like Israel, or went about business as usual like Sweden, coronavirus peaked and subsided in the exact same way. In the exact, same, way. His graphs show that all countries experienced seemingly identical coronavirus infection patterns, with the number of infected peaking in the sixth week and rapidly subsiding by the eighth week.

The Wuhan Virus follows its own pattern, he told Mako, an Israeli news agency. It is a fixed pattern that is not dependent on freedom or quarantine. “There is a decline in the number of infections even [in countries] without closures, and it is similar to the countries with closures,” he wrote in his paper.

“Is the coronavirus expansion exponential? The answer by the numbers is simple: no. Expansion begins exponentially but fades quickly after about eight weeks,” Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel concluded. The reason why coronavirus follows a fixed pattern is yet unknown. "I have no explanation,” he told Mako, “There are is kinds of speculation: maybe it's climate-related, maybe the virus has its own life cycle.”

But what about Italy and their staggering 12% mortality rate? “The health system in Italy has its own problems. It has nothing to do with coronavirus. In 2017 it also collapsed because of the flu,” Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel told the news agency. Indeed, Italy’s exceptionally high coronavirus mortality rate is eerily reminiscent of their unusually high flu mortality rates. Supportive of this theory, Germany, has low flu infection and mortality rates and similarly low coronavirus rates.

Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel concludes in his analysis summary paper that the data from the past 50 days indicates that the closure policies of the quarantine countries can be replaced by more moderate social distancing policies. The numbers simply do not support quarantine or economic closure.

On the reasonableness of Israel’s unprecedented quarantine and closure, he commented to the news agency, “I think it's mass hysteria. I have no other way to describe it. 4,500 people die each year from the flu in Israel because of complications, so close the country because of that? No. I don't see a reason to do it because of a lower-risk epidemic.”

While the American policies remain less restrictive than those of Israel, it is important to understand the origins of our own “mass hysteria” response. President Trump urged a strong coronavirus response after consulting with Dr. Fauci and his team, who relied on a British model predicting 2.2 million deaths in the United States and 500,000 deaths in the U.K. But that model was developed by Professor Neil Ferguson, who had a history of wildly overestimating death rates through his prediction models. Professor Ferguson was not known for his reliability, and his 2001 disease model was criticized as “not fit for purpose” after it predicted that up to 150,000 people could die in the U.K. from mad cow disease (177 deaths to date). Ferguson’s U.K. coronavirus deaths prediction is now down to 20,000 people, 4% of the original prediction.

Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel has mathematically shown us that coronavirus closures were a mistake. It's a tough reality. Americans lost their jobs and businesses went under because the United States, along with most first world nations, acted on the chilling predictions of a severely flawed model, a reading of Professor Ferguson’s tarot cards. Hindsight is 20/20, so we have to be realistic with our criticism. President Trump did not want 2.2 million Americans to die and did what he thought was necessary to save our lives, relying on a model his advisors told him was trustworthy. It's done. It happened. But it doesn't mean that he should continue the course.

It’s been one month since our country declared a national coronavirus emergency and life as we knew it had ceased. Americans have been growing agitated, unwilling to continue in this way, knowing something is wrong. Trump has sensed that his constituency is displeased with the authoritarian power grab by our Governors and has repeatedly stated that he wishes to reopen the country, but that he needs more information to make the right decision. Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel’s data analysis provides Trump with the assurance that he needs to reopen America.

Mr. President, please review Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel’s research and take bold steps to mitigate the damage to our economy. Now that we see the actual data, continuing the closure course is a greater error, a knowing error, one that can no longer be justified by good intentions.



Coronavirus vaccine CAN be ready by autumn: Oxford professor says trials could end by mid-August but real challenge will be manufacturing 'many billions of doses' - as he reveals first tests on humans began this week

A coronavirus vaccine could be ready by autumn, an Oxford University professor has said.

Sir John Bell said trials could be finished by mid-August but warned the real challenge would be manufacturing 'many billions of doses'.

He also revealed the prestigious institution started human trials with a candidate vaccine this week.

There have been conflicting reports over when a vaccine will be ready, with No 10's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance saying one was not around the corner.

But he said the industry has 'stepped up' to the challenge as the crisis in Britain appears to slow, despite another 847 new deaths announced yesterday.

The government yesterday launched a task force to support scientists in their attempts to find a life-saving jab.

Sir John, who is a a member of the Government's vaccine task force, was asked on Saturday about the possibility of a jab being ready by the autumn.

He told the Today programme: 'The real question is will it have efficacy. 'Will it protect people, and that has not been tested and it will only be tested once you have vaccinated a significant number of people and exposed them to the virus and counted how many people have got the virus in that population. 'So, we won't even get a signal for that until May.

'But if things go on course and it does have efficacy, then I think it is reasonable to think that they would be able to complete their trial by mid-August.'

Sir John continued: 'The crucial thing is you have to do a proper trial because safety is really important for these things.

'But if we can see evidence of a strong immune response by the middle or the end of May, then I think the game is on.

'And they may well get across the finish line by mid-August. Then, of course, there is the massive issue of how you manufacture at scale many billions of doses.'

He added: 'They have got a candidate vaccine, which I think went into man for the first time this week after a wide range of safety studies.

'It went into man, I think, on Thursday. It was the first test of testing it in a human being.'

Oxford University scientists are already manufacturing a million doses of their jab to be available by September because they are confident it will prove successful.

As many as 510 British volunteers could be given the first dose of a potential coronavirus vaccine within the next week, leading researchers say.

Other leading experts around the world are scrambling to find a vaccine amid fears the infection will return in waves.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said at the Downing Street press conference last night: 'We cannot put a date on when we will get a vaccine. But, we live in a country with a rich history of pioneering science.

More than 5,000 coronavirus patients in the UK have volunteered to take part in a drug trial run by the University of Oxford to find a treatment for COVID-19.

The programme is called the RECOVERY Trial (The Randomised Evaluation of COV-id19 thERapY) and is the world's biggest single trial of drugs to treat the coronavirus.

The university got the support of Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and put out a plea to doctors around the country to enrol patients in the voluntary trial.

Volunteers have since joined the trial from more than 160 NHS trusts around the country and scientists are hopeful more people will continue to sign up.

Medics have not put a number on the amount of people the trial needs in order to be successful but has said the more participants the trial has, the more likely it will be the team will find answers.

Participants will receive one of four drugs currently on the market — including the anti-malaria drug touted by Donald Trump, known as hydroxychloroquine.

The other drugs being looked at as a treatment for COVID-19 include a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir (known by the brand name Kaletra), which is used to treat HIV; low-dose Dexamethasone,a steroid used to reduce inflammation; and azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic.

Similar trials are being set up around the world, which run independently to the Recovery Trial, but none have garnered as many participants as the UK programme.

'Producing a vaccine is a colossal undertaking. A complex process which will take many months. There are no guarantees.

'But the Government is backing our scientists, betting big to maximise the chance of success.'

Scientists at the Oxford University said previously they believed a vaccine could be available for use by the general public in September.

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the university, and her team have already created a potential vaccine that is shortly due to begin human trials.  

However, she said there is always an unknown and scientists can never be sure that vaccines are going to work.

Professor Gilbert has previously said she was 80 per cent confident of the vaccine's success, adding: 'Personally, I have a high degree of confidence.

'This is my view, because I've worked with this technology a lot, and I've worked on the Mers vaccine trials, and I've seen what that can do. 'And, I think, it has a very strong chance of working.'

Asked when the first dose of the vaccine might be delivered to a trial volunteer, Professor Andrew Pollard, chief Investigator on the study said it depended on when the last part of the testing from the manufacturing had concluded.

However, he added: 'But it should be within the next week or so, but we'll, we'll confirm that as soon as we can.'

Another limiting factors is manufacturing capacity. Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford, estimates we will need 'hundreds of millions of doses, ideally by the end of this year' to finally get the pandemic under control.

The hunt for a coronavirus vaccine - which normally takes one to two years - has been given a boost by the launch of a new Government taskforce.

Led by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan van Tam, it will support efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine as soon as possible.

As well as providing industry and research institutions with the resources and support, the group will review regulations to allow quick and safe vaccine trials.

It will also scale up manufacturing, so that when a vaccine becomes available, it can be produced quickly and in mass quantities.

Twenty-one new research projects combating coronavirus will receive Government funding from a £14million investment. This included a trial at Imperial College London for a vaccine.

This follows the Government's £250million pledge to develop a vaccine.

Representatives from Government, academia and industry will form the taskforce, including Government life sciences champion Sir John Bell, as well as AstraZeneca, and the Wellcome Trust.

There are three leading vaccine candidates – one from China and two from companies in the US, it was revealed earlier this week.

Another 67 vaccines, developed by scientists worldwide including teams from the UK, are also working towards trials in humans.

One project led by Oxford University will trial an anti-malarial drug to determine whether it could diminish the effects of Covid-19 on people in high risk groups.

Across the UK GP surgeries have been invited to take part in the trial to determine whether it could reduce the need for affected patients to go to hospital and speed up their recovery.




IRS relief-check tracking system crashes — but officials insist website is operating "smoothly and effectively" (Daily Mail)

8.7% plunge: U.S. retail sales see biggest drop ever in March, shattering the previous record in 2008 by 4.8% (New York Post)

Small-business relief fund runs dry amid Democrat-driven standoff (The Washington Free Beacon)

"Increasing confidence" China blamed coronavirus on wet market to deflect from Wuhan lab escape (Washington Examiner)

China may have conducted low-level nuclear test: "Beijing is modernizing its nuclear arsenal while the United States handcuffs itself with one-sided arms-control restrictions" (The Guardian)

Iran taunts U.S. Navy ships in Persian Gulf (Fox News)

Universities and colleges across the United States failed to report nearly $1 billion in foreign gifts from 2013-2018, despite legal requirements from the Department of Education (Campus Reform)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


19 April, 2020

Welcome back to the past, America

Americans are, for the first time since the Civil War, facing food supply disruptions. These aren’t war-rationing-style shortages, these are supply disruptions.

We didn’t expect the future to bring meat and toilet paper shortages.

Welcome to the past, America. Civilization has always hung by a thread. The Founders of this country knew that, and that’s why they crafted a constitutional order best suited to nurture domestic tranquility and the general welfare.

It is also why they included a Second Amendment.

Perhaps we are appreciating in concrete terms the value of stable homes, industrious values, and faith. A nation that was abandoning God might reconsider.

Get your kids and grand-kids The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They had it worse than your kids do, at least for now. If you think Zoom school is bad, if you are growing weary of beans and rice, try heating your freezing house with twisted wheat and eating grain porridge for every meal.

This was what befell huge tracts of America just 140 years ago where the Twins, Brewers, Cubs, and Tigers should be playing right now.

Welcome to history. We had it so good for a spell. It was a bounty of the superfluous. Sociology degrees and safe spaces. Preferred pronouns and Disney cruises. Hipster brunch and guaranteed futures. It was the land of milk and honey.

Now it’s the land of 33,325 deaths, and climbing.
Many public schools have thrown in the towel for the year. Instead of Alice Cooper’s "School's Out For Summer," it’s more like school's out before the last frost.

Fairfax County schools, purportedly one of the better school systems in Virginia, tried distance learning and it came crashing down with students putting images of bongs on Zoom video classes. Fairfax waited weeks to try distance learning, and when they finally did, people contributed with racial slurs, Hitler salutes and X-rated memes.

I shudder to imagine what the rest of Virginia schools are like if Fairfax County schools are the best in the state.

Speaking of Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam, best known for either wearing blackface or a Klan hood to a college party, has imposed an emergency edict that prevents people from going to church. Ten people cannot gather in church, but the entire Virginia General Assembly will gather next week in a tent to consider budget matters.

It seems northeastern Democrat governors are more comfortable issuing edicts and orders preventing people from earning a living, going to church or kicking a soccer ball around a park. It almost comes naturally. But then again, southern governors like Ralph Northam (D-Dixie Land) also seem perfectly comfortable in his authoritarian skin.

Let see how much patience Americans have with these stay-at home-orders. Already in Michigan, rallies have occurred, with protesters yearning to breathe free.

For now, Americans seem ready to wait a few more weeks. But at some point, and that point is coming soon, the cure is worse than the disease. Economic devastation ruins lives too. Poverty, despair and economic ruin will cost the country a lot more than the coronavirus can. When hungry people reach that point, don’t expect Americans to pay much attention to government edicts.



Don’t Let Liberals Federalize Elections

I’m sorry, but you have no constitutional “right” to vote by mail. You have no constitutional “right” to vote six days after an election is over. Nor do you have any “right” to censor information related to an election. Not even during a pandemic.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal court was not empowered to overwrite Wisconsin’s election laws and force the state to accept ballots without any postmark deadline nearly a week after the election. Likewise, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers did not have the authority to arbitrarily suspend in-person voting.

If these dictates had been allowed to stand, they would have created insanely destructive precedents, taking elections out of the hands of local legislatures. If we discard legal norms every time there’s a crisis, we no longer have a nation of laws but a country at the mercy of arbitrary decrees, emotional appeals, and pliable courts.

Not that any of this concerned the usual suspects, who began lamenting the alleged anti-democratic nature of Chief Justice John Roberts’ court. When will the conservative wing abandon their partisanship and begin “compromising,” wondered a news piece in The Washington Post.

Liberal pundits, apparently unable to differentiate between partisan policy preferences and the rule of law, launched into their customary hysterics, denouncing the Supreme Court for disenfranchised minorities and putting people’s lives at risk. But the court doesn’t exist to fix your local government’s incompetence or make life safer. It exists to uphold the Constitution.

None of this is to say that the situation in Wisconsin is fair to voters, who had to risk standing in lines during a dangerous pandemic. Many states have contingencies in place for emergencies. Wisconsin—while it had plenty of time to pass new guidelines—does not. That’s a Wisconsin problem, not a Supreme Court problem, not a “democracy” problem, and definitely not a federal problem.

If Wisconsinites don’t like their laws, if they’re disappointed in legislators, if they’re furious at the state’s high court and bothered by the governor’s ineptitude, then there will be plenty of future elections to right those wrongs. In no version of a healthy “democracy,” however, do we override existing laws, passed by previous elected officials, through fiat.

But make no mistake, the Wisconsin case will be used in the broader effort to federalize and centralize elections to create a more direct democracy—even though such efforts are antithetical to American governance.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has already proposed mandating automatic and same-day voter registration, ending ID requirements, compelling states to have 15 days of early voting, and forcing states to adopt voting by mail, among other liberal pet projects.

She wants the federal government to bribe states with billions to adopt these standards. And she wants those changes implemented by November.

She’s not alone. In “Phase 4” of the coronavirus rescue package, Democratic leaders are reportedly including provisions that would compel all states to offer voting by mail. Former Vice President Joe Biden also supports such a mandate, because, he claims, “all the experts” say we should do it.

Now, I don’t know what experts Biden is referencing, but Publius, something of an authority on these matters, once wrote that it was a no-brainer to condemn the suggestion that federal government should regulate state elections as both “an unwarrantable transposition of power, and as a premeditated engine for the destruction of the State Governments.”

As a practical matter, requiring states, all of which have varied systems, technologies, and infrastructures, to figure out how to handle mail-in ballot systems in the midst of a pandemic is absurd. And not merely because of the obvious feasibility problems, but because there is no proper time to debate the issue.

Democrats have spent years weakening the integrity of elections, but voting by mail opens up the process to real-world voter intimidation, disenfranchisement, fraud—and a host of other problems.

Then again, people of goodwill can disagree over the particulars of election policy. It’s far more critical to note that neither the Senate, nor the House, nor the White House, nor federal courts have any business compelling states to adopt uniform standards regarding mail-in ballots or IDs or voting machines, or much of anything else.

A national mail vote is meant to federalize the election, leaving smaller states to vagaries of a national majority. It’s exactly the kind of situation the Constitution wanted us to avoid.



Economic Illiterates Are Running Amok

One particularly terrifying consequence of the Chinese Bat Soup Virus that is not yet getting the attention it deserves is how this situation is making already stupid liberals even dumber, especially when they sound off about economics. In the wake of this pandemic, we’ve been subjected to a series of mind-numbing insights from the pinko blue check brain trust that reaffirms the clichéd but true observation that our elite is anything but elite. Leave it to our liberal betters to take a bad situation and seek to make it exponentially worse.

For example, Sally Kohn – oh, you know where this is going – offered an astonishing observation just as the Democrats were obstructing the vital relief our small businesses desperately need:

“I'm really tired of reading how business owners are "forced" to layoff workers. No one made them do that. They *chose* to do that. Not saying it isn't a hard choice, during a hard time, but to say they were *forced* obscures their agency AND casts owners/CEOs as the victims.”

If that hasn’t plunged your IQ to new depths, consider ever-dumb Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), who tweeted out this brainstorm:

“We need to cancel rent until this crisis is over.”

Wow. Her economics advice is even worse than her relationship advice.

Okay, it seems like you would not have to explain this to allegedly educated people, but apparently there are still some people who need a lesson in Economics 101. Since I actually own a business, perhaps I have a perspective that C Tier social media personalities and commie grifters could find illuminating.

Here goes.

Are you people stupid? What the unholy hell are you thinking? When there is no income, what do you expect a business owner to pay his employees with? IOUs? Monopoly money? Feelings?

Oh, maybe the boss of that local pizza restaurant that the cough police closed down should just go downstairs to the basement vault in his mansion, pop open the door and take out one of those dozens of big sacks with dollar signs on them that are stuffed with $100 bills and use them to meet payroll. And rent. And insurance. And supplies. And maintenance. And so on. And so on. And so on.

Because that whole thing about cash flow? No, it’s not a thing. It’s a myth! It’s just an illusion for those tuxedo n’ top hat-sporting fatcats who run the local pet stores and such use to fool the proles into believing that there’s not some bottomless well o’ cash these tycoons can draw upon forever.

Yeah, these bigwigs are claiming they are running out of money, but Sally sees through their web of deceit! But in a way she is right – it is kind of a choice. Of course, the choice is bankruptcy or layoffs. And either way, those employees are out of a job.

But the real tragedy would be if people might see “owners/CEOs as the victims” even though they are victims too.

You wonder if people can be this dumb and then you go on Twitter and yeah, people can absolutely be that dumb.

Or even dumber, if that’s even possible.

Really, Mrs. Brother? “Cancel rent?” I guess the president would just use that little-known “cancel rent” power buried behind all those penumbras and emanations in the Constitution. But let’s not get all wrapped up in talk of enumerated powers and stuff. Let’s look at this remarkable suggestion on its own feeble terms. “Cancel rent.” Okay, rent is canceled. Gone! No paying rent! Yah!

Wait, where did the lights go? Power’s out. Wait, you mean that miserable miser is not fronting cash for utilities anymore since you’re, you know, not paying rent? Hey, there’s a plumbing leak! You can just call…oh…awkward! Well, then you can just refuse to pay…oh, right. Well, then maybe you’ll sue your landlord for not doing the things landlords should do, though you are not doing things tenants should do. Oops. He’s bankrupt. Hear that? It’s a sad trombone.

But that’s only at the personal level. Our economy is interconnected. You don’t pay rent, so your landlord doesn’t pay his loan and all those people who used to manage the property. All those guys he used to pay, his bank, the gardener, the power company. Now, they can’t pay anyone anymore. And pretty soon no one can pay anyone anymore.

Now, we have focused on how these people are saying stupid things, and the underlying assumption is that they are stupid. But is that why they seem to be rooting for disaster? You’ve already seen progs looking on the bright side – at least this economic carnage will end up owning Drumpf!

Maybe they are simply bad people who want to impoverish you to increase their own power. Have you seen them do anything, anything at all inconsistent with that hypothesis? After all, if they can destroy capitalism by means of knocking out select pillars of the system – like by undermining selected contracts that obligate people to pay their debts – they can get to their desired endstate, and they can blame it on capitalism itself even though a system where you can’t collect rent isn’t capitalism.

Stupid? Evil? A bit of both? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that no matter how much these half-wits pipe up on Twitter, they can never, ever be allowed anything like real power lest we go full Venezuela.

And you should never go full Venezuela.




According to The Washington Post, two years ago, "State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses." The Washington Examiner's Eddie Scarry quips, "Now that the Washington Post reported on it, is it finally OK to say out loud that the China-borne coronavirus may have come out of a science lab in Wuhan?"

Meanwhile, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says "weight of evidence" suggests virus arose naturally, but still inconclusive (Hot Air)

WaPo-acquired draft shows the CDC and FEMA have created a plan to reopen America (The Washington Post)

For the record: Dr. Fauci says U.S. "not there yet" on reopening economy, May 1 target a "bit" too optimistic (Fox News)

Hunter Biden still listed as board member of Chinese company he pledged to resign from in October, an apparently unfulfilled decision his father once said "represents the kind of man of integrity he is" (The Daily Caller)

Unprincipled Bloomberg News quashed a 2013 China exposé over concerns the Chinese Communist Party "will probably kick us out of the country" (National Review)

Now that all the other candidates have dropped out, Obama endorses Biden for president, says he's the right person to "guide us through one of our darkest times" (NBC News)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


17 April, 2020

Bernie Sanders is done, but his ideas live on in an ideologically bankrupt party


Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign may have just ended, but his movement lives on. The Democratic National Committee should be worried.

Even in Joe Biden’s hastily made basement command center, Sanders’s ideas are still winning. Nearly all of today’s Democratic Party’s new proposals have their roots in the Sanders camp. "Medicare for all," free college, free childcare, higher taxes, some incarnation of a "Green New Deal" — all have pushed the Democratic Party to the far left. The Democratic agenda is essentially Sanders-lite, and even the DNC’s heir apparent, Biden, has tailored his message to emphasize the expansion of the failure that is Obamacare and a ban on fossil fuels.

Compare this with what Biden ran on during his first failed attempt at the presidency in 1988. For years, Biden was known as a deficit hawk and even proposed caps on entitlement spending. Yet his 2020 campaign website includes nothing on our burgeoning national debt. Even Sanders understands that his proposals are expensive, but Biden, the former deficit hawk, does not even pay lip service to the looming fiscal crisis.

Biden also was once a proponent of reforming Social Security to balance the budget. But when pressed by Sanders in a recent debate, he claimed his past comments were “taken out of context.” Biden used to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he says he’s not sure he’d join it under the current rules. Sanders is a staunch advocate of protectionism and an enemy of free trade.

Clearly, Biden has flip-flopped on his positions, rarely for the better, as is the case with criminal justice reform. But like Biden, the Democratic Party as a whole has moved to embrace the regulatory and administrative state to fix our problems.

It’s often been said these past few years, but the Democratic Party of today is a far cry from John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.'' The Sanders-esque Democratic Party is concerned with handouts, at the price of the free market.

Truth be told, much of Sanders’s base could be described as selfish political actors who maintain a thousand-foot view of how the world ought to work — from their perspective, of course. Sanders’s camp is centered on grievances that they believe a central government must fix. Nevermind that the same government has helped create and inflame such societal divisions as wealth inequality, Sanders’s camp believes that a one-size-fits-all approach will somehow save the world. This view is sophomoric at best and malevolent at worst.

No wonder Sanders is wildly popular with younger voters. But as usual, that level of enthusiasm doesn’t translate into success at the polls. Young people remain one of the least politically active demographics in the country. Unfortunately for Sanders, his younger base seemed more concerned with ranting about the senator’s ideological purity on social media than actually getting folks to turn out at the polls. Nevertheless, Sanders’s brand of socialism has a lock on the next generation of Democratic voters — that is, if they remain with Democrats. I’m confident they will.

After all, parties in our political culture are surprisingly resilient. Both of the major parties have undergone new twists and turns, and I believe we are in the midst of another such realignment right now. The Democratic Party is here to stay, but with socialism’s “red” taking over the blue.

Either way, gone for good are the days of the so-called moderate Democrats, those who understood and respected the value of free enterprise and limited government. Prepare now for a wave of would-be successors to Sanders, each of them striving to take up his mantle by moving further and further to the left. Progressive ideological purity might sound good to the far-left Democratic base, but it is assuredly a death sentence for down-ballot races in tough districts across the country.

Big government socialism has found a new home with the Democratic Party. Even in defeat, Bernie Sanders has helped remake the Democratic Party in his image.



We Have Become A Police State, And None Of Us Should Be Okay With That

On Saturday, police in Kansas City “intervened” to shut down a parade of elementary school teachers. The staff of John Fiske Elementary School decided to organize the parade as a way to boost the morale of their students and encourage them in their new distance learning adventure. All of the teachers and administrators were in their own cars. There was literally no chance whatsoever of any virus being transmitted from car to car. But a spokeswoman for the police later explained, after the elicit gathering was descended upon by law enforcement, that the celebration of learning was not “necessary” or “essential.”

Two days before the Kansas City community was saved from the threat of cheerful elementary school teachers waving to children from their sedans, police in Malibu arrested a man who was caught paddle boarding in the ocean. Two boats and three additional deputies in vehicles were called to the scene of the non-essential joyride. How could a man out by himself in the Pacific possibly contract or spread the coronavirus? Nobody knows. But orders are orders, after all. And so the man was pulled out of the ocean and hauled away in handcuffs.

Not far from this harrowing scene, the San Diego sheriff’s department was giving out citations to people who’d committed the nefarious crime of “watching the sunset” on the beach. At around the same time, over on the east coast, Pennsylvania state police were pulling over and ticketing a woman who, according to the citation, was “going for a drive.” You may think that going for a drive when you’ve been locked in your home for three weeks is indeed a rather essential activity. And you may also think that there is essentially zero risk of contracting or transmitting the virus while you drive along a country road in the rural county of York, Pennsylvania. But none of that matters. The politicians have spoken. You may leave your home only for the reasons they decree.

A woman in Minnesota was recently pulled over and ticketed for two offenses: First, driving with a canceled license, which seems fair. But second, for violating her state’s stay-at-home order. She said she’d gone to Taco Bell and before that had visited her storage unit. Why should one be essential and not the other? Who knows. That is up for the politicians to decide. The point is that you can’t just go out and move around as you please. What do you think this is? A free country?

Officials in other parts of the nation have banned essential retailers from selling non-essential items like mosquito repellent. I suppose the prevention of West Nile and malaria are no longer considered essential. The mayor of Port Isabel, Texas, has decided, for whatever reason, that residents may not travel with more than two people in their vehicles. What if you’re a single parent with two kids? Well, sorry, one of your kids is out of luck. It’s not clear how this rule will be enforced, but some states have made that easier on themselves by setting up checkpoints to stop and question every car that passes through. A driver from New York who gets caught in Florida might face 60 days in jail. I should stop here to remind you that Florida and New York are places in the United States of America, not Soviet Russia.

Meanwhile, protestors outside of abortion clinics in California and North Carolina have been arrested for violating their state’s stay-at-home orders, despite the fact that they were following the protocols of social distancing, not to mention that obscure legal artifact known as the First Amendment. But the First Amendment has officially been neutralized, as the multiple pastors arrested for holding worship services have found out. All of this may seem quite oppressive and gestapo-ish, but a police chief in Colorado put those worries aside by explaining that the act of leaving your house and going outside is not a right but a “privilege” that can be revoked if it is “misused.” A prosecutor in Ohio, exploding in a fit of rage during a radio interview, said that those who defy his state’s stay-at-home order are committing “felonious assault” and if you’re guilty of that, you can “sit your butt in jail, sit there and kill yourself.”

Again, I remind you: this is the United States of America. Or at least it used to be.

Apologists for our newly established police state will tell me that states and localities have the authority to impose restrictions in an emergency. That is true, but the question of how far their authority actually goes is complicated, and in this case made even more complicated by the fact that these stay-at-home orders, in many cases, are based not on a current medical emergency in the respective state, but on models that forecast the possibility of an emergency in the future. For example, Minnesota is under a stay-at-home order despite having only 29 coronavirus deaths among a population of over 5 million. Perhaps the situation will get worse. Perhaps not. The point is that there is no current emergency in Minnesota or many of the other states currently under lockdown. There is, rather, a model that projects an emergency. And if projected emergencies can justify the effective nullification of the Bill of Rights, where is the limit? Haven’t we now granted the government the power to seize near-total control on the basis of any real or phantom threat?

And there are other problems. We don’t know that these lockdowns will actually have the effect of saving lives. It’s possible, as Dr. Fauci has admitted himself, that the virus could come roaring back to life whenever we emerge from our homes. It’s also possible that the illness came to America in November, December, or January, aboard any of the hundreds of thousands of travelers from China who poured into our country during that span. If that’s the case, then the viral horse has long since left the barn, and the lockdowns are obliterating our national economy and driving millions into ruin for minimal preventative gain. So we have, then, a series of indefinite stay-at-home orders based on dubious models, and dubious projections, with a dubious chance of success, and which often outlaw behavior that could not even plausibly put anyone at risk from the disease that may or may not, or maybe already has, become epidemic in the states where these laws have been enacted. Is that good enough to justify treating Americans like subjects in a communist dictatorship?

I would argue that nothing could ever justify such a thing. Indeed, the First and Fourth Amendments — the provisions of the Bill of Rights that seem to be having the worst time of it, recently — serve no purpose and have no reason to exist if they can be canceled or overridden whenever the government might have a specially compelling reason to do so. It is only when the government has a specially compelling reason to violate the amendments that the amendments have any function. After all, we really don’t need them during the times that the government has no interest in infringing on them. It seems that if we toss aside our right to assembly, our right to practice our religion, our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc., whenever the government insists that such protections are hazardous to our health, then we might as well not have the rights in the first place. It’s like locking a criminal in a cell but giving him the key to open it along with a stern warning to only use the key if he has a very good reason. Doesn’t the key make the cell a rather pointless accessory? Sure he might remain in it sometimes, but only when he wants to. And it’s precisely when he wants to be behind bars that you don’t need the bars at all.

I’m not suggesting that state governments should do nothing in response to the coronavirus. I am suggesting that they shouldn’t have the power to do whatever the hell they want, for whatever reason they want, to whatever extent they want, for however long they want, with whatever penalty they want. Which is what is happening now all across the country. Governments can and should act justly and prudently to respond to threats that endanger their citizens lives. But there is little in the way of justice and prudence in these measures.




"We've got to get our country open": New White House panel to explore path to reopening the economy (AP)

Ten U.S. governors on the east and west coasts banded together on Monday in two regional pacts to coordinate gradual economic reopenings as the coronavirus crisis finally appeared to be ebbing (Reuters)

Trump administration to unveil $15.5 billion in first phase of farm aid (Reuters)

Due to pandemic, a reluctant Supreme Court will allow live audio broadcast for first time (Los Angeles Times)

Democrat-backed candidate Jill Karofsky wins race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, which greenlighted the much-maligned April 7 primary (The Hill)

Leftmedia personified: New York Times editor admits editing article on Biden sexual-assault allegation after campaign complained (The Washington Free Beacon)

Chinese aircraft carrier sails past Taiwan as U.S. Navy struggles with coronavirus and Capt. Brett Crozier's public memo (Fox News)

Expanded early voting, voter ID repeal, and Election Day holiday: Virginia is reborn as a leftist enclave following governor's weekend bill signing (CNSNews.com)

Michigan bans "all public and private gatherings" but still allows lottery sales (Reason)

Meanwhile, petition to recall Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer passes 150,000 signatures (Bongino.com)

Christian baker Jack Phillips sued again by relentless Rainbow Mafia, this time over transgender cake (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Is higher education COVID-19's next victim? (Issues & Insights)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


16 April, 2020

The American Left is as authoritarian as ever

The great slogan of the Nazis and most of the early 20th century German Left was "Alles muss anders sein" (Everything must be different).  That attitude lives on the the current American Left.

How can any politically person be unaware of Obama's endorsement of that idea when he said (in 2008) that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America?

Now in a recent dialog between Sanders and Biden we read that: "Biden concluded by promising that if he beats Donald Trump, he would "transform this nation" as much as Franklin Delano Roosevelt"

And Biden is the presumptive Presidential candidate of the Democratic party.  He speaks for it.

The impertinence of the Leftist program for change is breathtaking.  There's nothing voluntary about it.  They intend to upend many people's lives by sweeping legislation.  The great inert bloc of Congress prevented Obama for doing much but his many regulatory initiatives showed he had no respect for the importance of consent  He had no compunction at all about pushing around large numbers of people.  His policies have their clearest 20th century precursors in the policies of Benito Mussolini, the Italian Fascist dictator.

What gives the Left this authority to make sweeping changes in our society?  They don't even ask that.  If they want to do it, that is enough.  Might is right is their only authority.  What could make them more authoritarian than that?


White House adviser Peter Navarro says medical experts are 'tone deaf' over coronavirus lockdown and warns extended economic closure could cause 'very significant losses of life'

President Trump's trade adviser has described medical experts as 'tone deaf' for pushing for extending the coronavirus lockdown and warned the economic fallout could cost even more lives.

Peter Navarro accused health advisers of ignoring the potential long-term consequences for the public's health by extending the national shutdown.

Navarro was one of the first of Trump's advisers to warn about the economic cost of efforts to slow the spread of the virus by imposing restrictions on mass gatherings and shuttering non-essential businesses.

He has clashed with Dr Anthony Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert, who has warned against easing the lockdowns too soon and causing a second wave of the virus.

Last week it emerged Navarro privately warned that a pandemic could cost hundreds of thousands of American lives and wipe trillions of dollars off the economy while at the same time telling the public that it had 'nothing to worry about'.

He wrote two memos in late January and late February to his White House colleagues expressing alarm over the prospect of a pandemic.

These memos came at a time when Trump was actively playing down the threat of the coronavirus.

White House economic advisers have clashed in recent weeks with health experts over how to balance containing the virus without crashing the economy.

Navarro has now warned of 'very significant losses of life' if there were extended economic shutdowns.

He told The New York Times on Monday: 'It's disappointing that so many of the medical experts and pundits pontificating in the press appear tone deaf to the very significant losses of life and blows to American families that may result from an extended economic shutdown.

'Instead, they piously preen on their soap boxes speaking only half of the medical truth without reference or regard for the other half of the equation, which is the very real mortal dangers associated with the closure of the economy for an extended period.'

Navarro, who is known to a trade protectionist, made headlines last week when it was revealed by the Times he wrote a memo to the White House warning the coronavirus could become a 'full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans'.

The memo came at a time when Trump was actively playing down the threat of the coronavirus.

The January memo marks the earliest known high-alert to circulate within the West Wing as officials planned their first substantive steps to confront the disease that had already spiraled out of control in China.

The second memo, dated February 23, was much more dire. It warned that up to 2 million Americans could die and trillions of dollars would be lost because of the virus.

Navarro also warned the US economy faced a 'China shock' worse than at the start of the century when the Communist regime joined the World Trade Organization and a link was made between a rise in Chinese exports and decreasing American manufacturing jobs.

He told the Times: 'The unfair China trade shock that hit so many of America's communities in the 2000s not only destroyed over five million manufacturing jobs and 70,000 factories; it killed tens of thousands of Americans.

'As numerous academic studies have documented, economic shocks like China's trade shock can increase mortality rates associated with suicide, drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, liver disease, lung cancer, poor diet and cigarettes...while destroying families through higher rates of single-parent households, child poverty, and divorce and lower rates of fertility and marriage.'

Many medical experts in the government, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, have cautioned that easing up on social distancing too soon could lead a new wave of the disease that would require shuttering the economy again, with disastrous results.

A team, expected to be formally announced as early as Tuesday, has already begun meeting behind closed doors in the West Wing to tackle how to begin reopening the American economy.

The council, which is not expected to include health officials, could bring to the forefront the push-pull tensions within the White House between economists and public health officials over how quickly to reopen the economy vs. proceeding cautiously to ensure the virus doesn't spike again.

With the country barreling toward a likely recession ahead of November's election, Trump is eager to spur an economic revival, hoping to steady financial markets and restore some of the 16 million jobs already lost due to the pandemic.

He originally hoped to have the country stirring again by Easter but now wants at least a partial reopening by the end of the month.

Governors on both coasts of the US announced on Monday that they would join forces to come up with a coordinated reopening at some point, setting the stage for a potential conflict with Trump, who asserted that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to reopen.

In the US, about half of the more than 22,000 deaths reported are in the New York metropolitan area.

Among those expected to be part of the new team: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and White House economic advisers, past and present, Kevin Hassett and Larry Kudlow. New White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is expected to chair the effort.



Trump Derangement Syndrome Becomes a Threat to Public Health

Trump derangement syndrome—a well-documented illness that predominantly afflicts coastal elites and congressional Democrats—has turned into a political pandemic.

It is the reflexive refusal to agree with any position that President Donald Trump takes, regardless of merit. In a time of national emergency, this contagion is particularly dangerous.

Take hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs that doctors historically have used to treat or prevent malaria. When the president suggested that hydroxychloroquine could be helpful in treating COVID-19, sufferers from TDS immediately set out to prove him wrong.

CNN published an “analysis” titled: “Trump peddles unsubstantiated hope in dark times,” and The Washington Post proclaimed: “Trump is giving people false hope of coronavirus cures. It’s all snake oil.”

But several medical studies have suggested that these drugs have promise.

Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University expert on infectious diseases, cited an independent study from Chinese doctors that discovered a group of moderately ill COVID-19 patients improved when given hydroxychloroquine. The patients who received the drug saw their coughing and fever ease a day or so earlier than did patients in the control group who didn’t receive the drug.

Another study published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents found that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could be especially effective in treating COVID-19.

None of this is conclusive, of course. Trump has acknowledged that although hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may not “go as planned,” the drugs have tremendous promise if they end up being safe and effective to treat COVID-19.

Most neutral observers would conclude that the president’s invocation of those drugs is a way of demonstrating hope that our medical community will come up with drugs to treat COVID-19.

But TDS sufferers, obsessed with finding ill intent in every one of the president’s actions, chose to pick nits instead of check facts.

A key talking point, repeated endlessly on cable news, is that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are not “FDA-approved” for treating COVID-19. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did issue an emergency use authorization for the drugs March 28, again demonstrating the potential upside of the drugs.

Formal FDA approval takes years to obtain, but the hundreds of thousands of Americans afflicted with COVID-19 don’t have years to wait. In the meantime, it is perfectly legal and appropriate for doctors to prescribe the drugs “off-label” for COVID-19.

Contrary to the TDS narrative, off-label uses often are the standard of care and vital to patients. For example, doctors routinely use off-label drugs to treat cancer. Unfortunately, there’s no cure, off-label or otherwise, for Trump derangement syndrome.

The elite media and liberals also profess alarm that the president is encouraging a run on scarce hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine supplies.

But this isn’t a product that you can buy off the shelf at your local pharmacy. This is a prescription drug, and you can’t get it unless a doctor, in his or her medical judgment, decides you need it.

The president has done nothing to force doctors to prescribe the drug against their own better judgment. Nor did he force Italy and France to give the green light for doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine. He didn’t require South Korean and Indian doctors to begin prescribing the drug.

It’s clear, though, that these countries see the same potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine that our president does.

Let’s talk about the facts.

The president and his coronavirus task force have worked around the clock to monitor and prevent the spread of the virus. In January, he proactively enacted travel restrictions on flights from China. In March, he implemented further travel restrictions on parts of Europe.

Trump signed the CARES Act into law, providing sweeping relief to workers and small businesses; declared a national emergency, freeing up states, territories, and tribes to access billions in existing funding; signed legislation securing $8.3 billion for an initial coronavirus response; created a task force; and instructed the FDA to cut red tape that was preventing the rollout of tests.

Despite facing vicious attacks from sufferers of Trump derangement syndrome, the president has done everything he can to protect our country during this once-in-a-century global pandemic. He is going to keep projecting strength and hope during this crisis.

Too bad there’s no hope for the TDS folks, who are left only with their blind hatred of the president.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


15 April, 2020

What Would Hayek Do? Knowledge and Vaccines

Bloomberg opines the key to a lasting solution to the coronavirus pandemic is a vaccine. The most common projection is that it will take a minimum or one year to accomplish. Cooperation and innovation made possible by  open markets may provide the strongest measures yet to solve COVID-19. Do we have reason to optimistically question the current vaccine timeline assumption?

Perhaps the hesitation in making public projections is the number of unknowns and the fear of being wrong, as I heard from one top tier consulting firm hesitant to go public. But fearlessly making these qualified projections and sharing data is vital in the process of knowledge building. Hayek told us the use of knowledge held by dispersed individuals is essential for progress, now so more than ever. Widespread testing (combined with the right isolating behaviour) and finding a vaccine are widely seen as the key to getting the pandemic under control.

The application of knowledge is all too often hindered by regulation: In the instance of testing, Jeffrey Tucker points out the Centers for Disease Control had “previously nationalized all disease testing”. Writing at the American Institute for Economic Research, he says the group had just days earlier  “explained how a private researcher, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was forcibly prevented from producing and distributing a valid test”.

At the President’s request, “by Friday America’s robust private sector, including Walmart, Walgreens,  CVS, Roche Laboratories, and LabCorp, came up with a solution for mass testing, noted Robert Luddy in the American Spectator mere days later. A multitude of sources have concluded “quick, easy testing was the key to South Korea’s success”.

On the timeline for a vaccine, “European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen surprised the world this week, suggesting that the regulatory process for vaccines could be sped up and that a coronavirus shot could be on the market within six months,” reported ABC News Australia. Her comment is at odds with the World Health Organisation (WHO), “which does not expect a fully-tested and approved vaccine to be ready to reach the market before the middle of 2021”.

CureVac, a German biotech company working on a coronavirus vaccine, was the inspiration for her public comments. It is not the only company making swift progress. A range of discoveries and trials in the testing phases are documented, taking place at lightening speed as new standards are set for responding to a pandemic. In the interim, modest improvements in treatment well-underway are poised to make a significant difference. Peter Diamandis is keeping a tally on some of the major milestones already achieved early this month, with a list that is by no means exhaustive.

As of March 21, there are 48 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical evaluation, and two in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organization.

Studies are happening at lightning speed which help inform vaccine development, potentially affecting timelines: “The good news is two independent studies by teams of infectious diseases scientists helping Italy’s fight against coronavirus have reported they found the fast-proliferating pathogen to be reasonably stable,” reports Mark Blunden in the UK: “The findings will add to a better understanding of the virus and how it spreads — and raise hopes that a future vaccine could have a higher rate of effectiveness against the strain.”. On currently available prospective treatments, here at EconLog David Henderson argues safe drugs should not be kept of the market today.

William Yeatman, a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, argues COVID-19 has spurred the suspension of regulations that were never needed in the first places so address the situation: The emergency Declaration under Title 42 gives health agencies greater flexibility to suspend regulations that get in the way of responding, with many suspensions recognising the effectiveness of private supply chains in responding.

The Intercept reports Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recognizes the speed of delivering the manufacturing of a vaccine will come down to the private sector. “The federal government is not going to be able to make hundreds of millions of doses,” he said.

At the state level and federal level, a number of regulations have been eased or temporarily suspended. A number have been on the wish list for elimination during ordinary times, as pointed out during an interview with Yeatman.

Yeatman draws attention to the now well-known “fiasco in Seattle, where private parties had developed fairly effective tests for COVID and used it in violation of the law and FDA” as an example of rigidity that existed, citing New York Times coverage of the story. By going ahead before the regulatory roll-back, private players “arguably saved a lot of lives”.

Loosening of licensing regulations for nurses is another tangible, where previous measures had precluded a number of well-qualified and well-meaning people from getting behind the response.

Constitutional research fellows and economists don’t carry scientific credentials but may have a key role in crisis: to demonstrate the necessary conditions for the maximum application of scientific knowledge in an enabling environment, one that is conducive to the capital and collaboration necessary to fight COVID-19 or any future pandemic – and come out stronger, even if such a prospect seems distant in these tough times.

Hayek once noted “the range and variety of government action that is, at least in principle, reconcilable with a free system is (…) considerable”. Those actions include rolling back barriers to finding a solution in addition to new measures underway.



Could a 100-year-old vaccine protect against COVID-19?

Scientists around the world are racing to find ways out of the new coronavirus pandemic. Some are working to develop new drugs and vaccines, while others are looking to see whether therapies we already have may help against COVID-19.

In the latter category, researchers have dusted off one intriguing compound in our collective medicine cabinet — a century-old vaccine to fight tuberculosis, a bacterial disease that affects the lungs. A couple of early analyses, which have yet to be peer-reviewed, have found that countries that require this vaccine, called Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG), seemed to have been hit less severely, in terms of both number and severity, by the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

Could this vaccine be protecting people from COVID-19? The short answer is: We don't know. But several clinical trials around the world are now examining whether this vaccine could protect against this new foe.

"I was originally quite skeptical" that the studies could tease apart all of the other factors that could be causing some countries to be hit harder with COVID-19 than others,” said Paula Cannon, a distinguished professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, who is not a part of any of these studies. Among those factors are the quality of the healthcare system, measures put in place to fight the disease and testing capacity.  Still, it is a "provocative idea" and the "data is tantalizing," Cannon said.

Dozens of countries, including Japan and China, require children — typically newborns — to receive the BCG vaccine as protection against tuberculosis, an infection that is typically more common in lower-income countries. Other countries, such as Spain, France and Switzerland, used to require the vaccine but stopped because the risk of catching the disease in those countries lessened, according to one of the preprint studies published in medRxiv on March 28. Other countries, such as the U.S., Italy and the Netherlands never had such a universal vaccine policy for the BCG vaccine.

But scientists have long known that "almost by lucky accident," the BCG vaccine doesn't just protect against tuberculosis, it also helps fight other viruses, respiratory infections in particular, Cannon said. The vaccine, "in some sort of unexpected and magical way, is like a broad immune booster," she said.

For example, one study conducted in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa found that children who were vaccinated with BCG had about a 50% reduction in overall mortality, largely because the vaccine reduced respiratory infections and sepsis, or blood poisoning, according to the medRxiv study. Other studies, mostly conducted in animals, have found similar broad-spectrum protections from the BCG vaccine.

Weakened, live bacteria vaccine

The BCG vaccine is made up of weakened forms of live Mycobacterium bovis, closely related to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. It was first developed in the 1920s in Paris and later shipped all over the world.

Now, countries from Japan to Denmark have their own BCG vaccines, made using different formulations of live bacteria — and each one has varying degrees of immune boosting ability, said Dr. Ofer Levy, the director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children's hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Typically, live vaccines provide a "strong and long-lasting immune response" and sometimes even "lifelong protection" against the germ, whereas inactivated forms of vaccines, such as those in flu shots don't provide immunity that's "as strong," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

While most vaccines prompt one arm of the immune system — the adaptive immune system — to create antibodies that target very specific pathogens, the BCG vaccine taps into the other arm, the innate immune system. This system doesn't discriminate against pathogens and releases immune cells rather quickly  to fight any foreign substance. The BCG vaccine thus boosts the body's  production of non-specific immune cells.

The medRxiv study and another preliminary study recently published in Research Gate came to similar conclusions: there seemed to be a correlation between countries that require BCG vaccines and a reduced spread and severity of COVID-19 cases. For example, Portugal — which has required BCG vaccines for infants —  has over 16,000 cases of COVID-19  but only 535 deaths whereas neighboring Spain has over 169,000 cases and over 17,000 deaths.

Similarly, Ireland, with 9,655 cases and only 334 deaths, requires the BCG vaccination, whereas the U.K. with 89,554 cases and 11,346 deaths no longer does. Based on these numbers, Ireland has a fatality rate 3.5% whereas the U.K. has a fatality rate of 12.7%. Of course, there are big population number differences across these countries, along with other variables that could affect death and infection rates.

These preliminary studies are "very flawed," because many factors  such as differences in wealth and testing ability, can affect the outcomes Levy told Live Science. But the authors are "doing the best they can in a very difficult situation."  While there's no direct evidence that BCG vaccines will reduce people's risk of developing COVID-19, "I'm enthusiastic about the hypotheses," Levy said.

It's difficult to draw firm conclusions, but there's enough scientific evidence to prompt clinical trials, and his team is looking into starting one in the U.S, he said. Clinical trials analyzing the protective effects of the vaccine against COVID-19 are already underway in other countries, including Australia and the Netherlands.

Vaccination or revaccination?

"I'm kind of puzzled," by the implication that the BCG vaccine might be able to protect for such a long period of time once someone has received it as a baby, Cannon said. Indeed, it's not clear how long the BCG vaccine effects can last.

The second study, which also has not been peer-reviewed, analyzed how countries with re-vaccination policies — or booster shots — fared in the COVID-19 pandemic. That study found that countries without re-vaccination policies had a 5.2% case fatality rate, versus a0.6% case fatality rate in countries that required re-vaccination.

"The big kind of asterisk, if you like, against all of these studies, is that they are really dealing with massively incomplete information," Cannon said. "We're all guessing what the true infection rates and the case fatality rates are because there isn't widespread uniform testing in every country."

Still, "I applaud the authors for at least, you know, doing what they could with the available data and providing some very provocative hypotheses," she said. "The good news is they're very testable."

In another world, we would be doing animal experiments to test this hypothesis. In this world, amid the coronavirus pandemic, we don't have time for that, she said. But the BCG vaccine has a "very safe track record," and likely can be tried in those who aren't old and who don't have weakened immune systems (since this is a live vaccine, it can potentially cause more side effects for older people or those with weakened immune systems), she added.

The human immune system is like an orchestra, "it's massively interconnected and what the BCG vaccine seems to do is maybe it gives like a little bit of extra control to the conductor," Cannon said. "So in the symphony of immune attack against respiratory viruses, the orchestra is able to go full blast, straightaway, all together, in sync, rather than kind of playing catch up."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


14 April, 2020

Mass.: The only way this ends is through herd immunity

It has a bad rap, but in the long run it’s our best hope

Last week Governor Charlie Baker released projections of how many Massachusetts residents were likely to contract the coronavirus. By this reckoning, Baker said, the state would experience “somewhere between 47,000 and 172,000 cases during the course of the pandemic.” This represents between 0.7 and 2.5 percent of the state’s population.

These are daunting numbers. Unfortunately, they are not nearly daunting enough. Because while there is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, including exactly how many people are or have been infected, epidemiologists believe that this virus won’t begin to disappear until a far higher percentage of the population — at least 60 percent — develops immunity. If that doesn’t happen with a vaccine, it has to happen through exposure.



No, the United States Does Not Lead the World in Coronavirus Cases or Deaths

Last month, the media jumped on the news that the United States had more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other nation. That was bogus on two fronts. First, U.S. intelligence agencies believe that China is lying about its true numbers, and reports from inside the country tell of crematoriums working around the clock and people being paid off to keep quiet.

Second, the United States does not lead the world in coronavirus cases per capita—which is the best way to compare how the pandemic is being contained in each country. For much of the pandemic, Italy has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus, but Italy has fewer cases and deaths than the United States. The United States has nearly six times the population of Italy, and when you measure cases and deaths per capita it’s easy to see why Italy was overwhelmed and the United States is not.

Here are the top six countries by confirmed cases (based on the case numbers from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University as of 9:00 am ET April 12) in descending order (excluding China because their numbers are bogus):

USA (530,006)
Spain (166,019)
Italy (152,271)
France 130,730
Germany (125,452)
The United Kingdom (79,885)

Now, here are the top six countries by confirmed cases per million people (based on population numbers from the CIA World Fact Book) in descending order:

Spain (3319.33)
Italy (2440.14)
France (1926.80)
USA (1593.34)
Germany (1565.03)
United Kingdom (1214.78)

See? When looking at the number of confirmed cases compared to the population, the United States is not number one.

Just like with confirmed cases, when the United States’ whole number of coronavirus deaths passed 20,000, the media rushed in to say that the United States “now leads the world in deaths.” But does it really? Let’s look at the data.

Here are the total confirmed deaths of the top six hit countries in descending order.

USA (20,608)
Italy (19,468)
Spain (16,972)
France (13,851)
The United Kingdom (9,892)
Iran (4,474)

The United States has passed Italy for confirmed coronavirus deaths, that must mean we’re doing worse than they are, right? Wrong. Here are the top six countries for deaths per million people.

Spain (339.33)
Italy (311.97)
France (204.15)
The United Kingdom (150.42)
USA (61.95)
Iran (52.68)

Obviously, the media wants the public to believe that the situation in the United States is worse than anywhere else because that makes Trump look bad. Last month, when President Trump said the United States had done more coronavirus tests than South Korea, the media pounced on the claim and pointed out that the United States’ population is more than six times that of South Korea, and when you looked at testing per capita, the United States was still behind South Korea.

And through it all, the country that seems to avoid criticism from the media is China. They covered up the virus, even led the world to believe that it couldn’t be transmitted human-to-human for weeks. They’re even covering up the true extent of the spread of the disease in their country. Instead, the media chooses to push the narrative that things in the United States are worse than they really are because they hope it will result in Trump’s defeat in November. So, when the media tells you that the United States leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, they are wrong. The United States is a very big country, and when you measure coronavirus cases and deaths per capita, we don't "lead the world" at all.



'Some people have gone crazy': Eccentric French doctor trialing experimental coronavirus treatment championed by Trump hits back at experts who say it has fatal side effects and claims to get astonishing results

An eccentric French doctor has become a YouTube sensation and been approached by the French president for advice after he claims he has gotten astonishing results using Trump's favorite coronavirus treatment on sick patients.

Didier Raoult, a 68-year-old French infectious-disease specialist, has been using controversial antimalarial drug hydroxycholoroquine to treat COVID-19 patients.

The doctor has a history of defying conventional medicine practices, including blaming the pharmaceutical industry for the state of research, dismissing climate change predictions as 'absurd' and, more baffling still, touting the growing fears in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic 'crazy'.

But Raoult has now become an unlikely hero amid the pandemic, after he said he has given the experimental drug to more than 2,400 patients, with highly positive results.

His stance has divided opinion in France and overseas after many conservative medics warned of the dangers of using the drug to treat the virus, typically used to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases, due to a lack of evidence over its effectiveness. 

But panicked members of the public view him as a hero in the pandemic, with his each of his YouTube videos getting at least one million views and people urging their doctors to let them try the medication.   

Raoult is not the most conventional of doctors, often sporting a long white beard and a skull ring on his finger in his online videos and being known for challenging conventional medicine throughout his career.

The doctor has spoken out on Twitter and YouTube urging healthcare professionals and governments to not delay their use of hydroxychloroquine until after clinical trials.

Trials could take several months by which point thousands more lives could be lost to the killer virus. 

'Some people have gone crazy with methodology,' Raoult argues in a video posted this week. 'Our objective as doctors is to make people better.'

Emmanuel Macron met Raoult this week at his research institute in Marseille, where the doctor presented his research on coronavirus to the French President. 

French authorities have now permitted the drug to be used in 'the most severe cases.'  

However, Raoult's approach has come under fire from many in the medical world. Several experts have argued that further clinical trials are needed to determine its effectiveness in treating coronavirus.

Concerns have also been raised that it can have fatal side effects, especially in people with pre-existing heart conditions.  

More than 50 cases have been reported where coronavirus patients have developed serious heart problems after taking hydroxychloroquine, according to a doctor at France's drug-safety monitoring center.

Raoult said that 10 of the 2,400 patients he has treated using the drug have died, and recommends it be administered at an early stage of the virus.

Jean-Paul Stahl, a French doctor of infectious diseases, told the Wall Street Journal that he was turning patients away after they have seen Raoult's campaign and are now asking for the drug. 'We have to say no,' Stahl said. 'It's a matter of patient safety.'   

The controversial drug is a favorite of Donald Trump's. During his daily coronavirus press briefings, the president has repeatedly plugged the use of hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for the deadly virus. He has even said he'd consider taking hydroxychloroquine himself.

The president announced Sunday the government has purchased and stockpiled 29 million doses of the hydroxychloroquine to send to hot spot areas of the country battling the virus.

'I want people to live and I'm seeing people dying,' he explained Sunday about why he continually touts the drug, which scientists say has not gone under enough testing in regards to the coronavirus.

Chloroquine – sold under the brand name Arlan – kills malaria parasites in the blood, stopping the tropical disease in its tracks.

But tests of the drug – which has been used for 70 years – on COVID-19 patients in China show it has potential in fighting the life-threatening virus. Chinese officials claimed the drug 'demonstrated efficacy and acceptable safety in treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia'.

South Korea and China both say the drug is an 'effective' antiviral treatment against the disease, according to a report by US virologists.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology – in the city where the crisis began – claimed the drug was 'highly effective' in petri dish tests. Tests by those researchers, as well as others, showed it has the power to stop the virus replicating in cells, and taking hold in the body.

Twenty-three clinical trials on the drug are already underway on patients in China, and one is planned in the US and another in South Korea.

Professor Robin May, an infectious disease specialist at Birmingham University, said the safety profile of the drug is 'well-established'.

He added: 'It is cheap and relatively easy to manufacture, so it would be fairly easy to accelerate into clinical trials and, if successful, eventually into treatment.'

Professor May suggested chloroquine may work by altering the acidity of the area of cells that it attacks, making it harder for the virus to replicate.

Chinese scientists investigating hydroxychloroquine penned a letter to a prestigious journal saying the 'less toxic' derivative may also help'.

'I've seen people that are going to die without it, and you know the expression, when that's happening, they should do it. What really do we have to lose? We also have this medicine's been tested for many years for malaria and for lupus, so it's been out there. It is a very strong powerful medicine, but it doesn't kill people,' the president said.

'But what do I know? I’m not a doctor,' Trump conceded.  'I'm not acting as a doctor. I'm saying, do what you want.'

The president has also argued there isn't time to conduct in-depth studies on hydroxychloroquine's effect on the coronavirus.

'I would love to go to a laboratory and spend a couple of years testing something. We don't have time. We don't have two hours because there are people dying right now,' he said.

But his claims have often contradicted his own advisers, who say studies of its effectiveness are still too small to prove it is safe.

Dr Tony Fauci has previously warned against seeing the malaria medication as a wonder drug, saying Americans should not consider it a 'knock out' drug when it comes to treating the coronavirus.  

'We’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitely prove whether any intervention is truly safe and effective,' he told 'Fox & Friends' last week.

Some doctors in the US have already started treating patients with the drug but there have been reports of at least one death connected to the medication.

Lack of availability is also sparking a worrying trend for people self-medicating with hydroxychloroquine.

Demand for a cure is ramping up as the US death toll topped 20,000.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


13 April, 2020

Cure for coronavirus? The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

Worried Medicaid patients in an urban emergency room are reportedly asking doctors for “dat Klorokine pill.” Meanwhile, highly educated persons are quoting media reports that HCQ is very dangerous because it can trigger fatal heart rhythms.

Governors and state medical and pharmacy boards are threatening physicians who prescribe and pharmacists who dispense HCQ for COVID-19. One rationale is that lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients might not be able to get their prescriptions filled from the millions of doses drug manufacturers are now cranking out. Apparently, HCQ is not too dangerous for them.

Evidence is pouring in from around the world, including Los Angeles, where very ill patients were symptom-free within 12 hours after receiving HCQ combined with zinc.

In Brazil, HCQ plus azithromycin is being sent to patients’ homes based on a telemedicine consultation, and patients are reportedly cured at home. Virologist Paolo Zanotto of the University of São Paulo states that the drug should be given before day 5 to prevent lung damage. He believes opposition to the drug is political: President Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro have recommended it.

“If the people were not saying that this is ‘Bolsonaro’s remedy’ or ‘Trump's remedy,’ it would be different. If it were ‘Doria’s drug’ or ‘Lula’s drug,’ I guarantee it would be a success. There is a lot of ideology involved in the problem. For some, if the death of millions is needed to take Trump and Bolsonaro out, so be it.”

Can HCQ cause heart rhythm disturbances? Yes, but rarely. These have occurred in ICU patients who had heart damage from the coronavirus. Can it kill you? Very rarely—everybody has heard about the man who drank aquarium cleaner containing ten times the recommended dose of chloroquine.

Are there controlled, peer-reviewed studies? No. These take years; this novel coronavirus has been known for about 4 months.

Are Americans willing to learn from patients and Brazilians? Will American doctors be allowed to try promising drugs before millions are denied “unproved” remedies?



Haywire Immune Reaction Linked to Most Severe Cases

An immune system gone haywire may be doing more damage than the coronavirus itself in patients with the severest forms of Covid-19, doctors and scientists say, a growing theory that could point the way to potential treatments.

Much remains unknown about the path the virus takes in the sickest patients, but an increasing number of experts believe a hyperactive immune response, rather than the virus, is what ultimately kills many Covid-19 patients.

The out-of-control immune response eventually causes the patients’ lungs to stop delivering oxygen to the rest of organs, leading to respiratory failure and in some cases death, the experts said. The malfunctioning immune system might be driving the rapid decline in lung function experienced by some patients, including younger and relatively healthy ones, after the initial onset of symptoms, doctors said.

As scientists race to better understand the phenomena, pharmaceutical companies including Roche Holding AG are partnering with hospitals to explore whether drugs proven to tamp down an out-of-control immune response could help the sickest Covid-19 patients.

Some doctors are already administering the drugs to patients who are unable to breathe without the support of ventilators, or to prevent deterioration of patients who appear ready to slip into respiratory failure.

“You remove one piece of the storm, and it can quiet the whole thing,” said Kevin Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, which is testing Kevzara, an anti-inflammatory drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Doctors have used the term “cytokine storm” to describe an overactive immune response triggered by external pathogens such as bacterial and viral infections. Proteins called cytokines are part of the immune system’s arsenal for fighting disease.

When too many are released into the bloodstream too quickly, however, it can have disastrous results, including organ failure and death.

As with other diseases, it is a mystery why cytokine storms are experienced by some but not all Covid-19 patients, doctors said. Genetics may be a factor.

In the most severe coronavirus patients, the disease appears to have two stages, doctors and researchers said. First the immune system fails to respond quickly or effectively enough to the virus. Then the immune response becomes too aggressive and floods the body with cytokines.

The surge of cytokines damages blood vessels and allows fluids to seep into the lungs, filling them up like water balloons, doctors say.

“The virus initiated it,” said Ya-Chi Ho, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine who studies infectious diseases. “The second problem is our immune system handled it wrongly, and induces this cytokine storm and clogs our lungs. That’s why patients die.”

Drugs called corticosteroids can be used to treat patients with cytokine storms, but studies are mixed on their effectiveness, with some studies indicating that Covid-19 patients might be at a higher risk of death when treated with steroids. Some doctors are reluctant to use steroids because they broadly damp the immune response, which is risky in patients fighting infections.

Drugs targeting specific cytokines rather than the entire immune system may be more effective, doctors said.

Among the most promising targeted treatments, doctors said, is Roche’s rheumatoid-arthritis drug tocilizumab, which is marketed under the brand name Actemra. The drug was approved in 2017 to treat cytokine storms caused by cancer treatments known as CART cell therapies.

On Tuesday, a federal agency that supports health research said it is committing $25 million to accelerate a late-stage study of Actemra in Covid-19 patients.

Last month, doctors from Seattle’s Swedish Health Services used Actemra to treat a 45-year-old emergency-room physician who was infected while caring for patients from a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash.

The man was transferred to Swedish and put on life support after his lungs and kidneys began to fail, said Samuel J. Youssef, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Swedish. Lab tests showed the man’s inflammation levels were 200 times greater than the normal range, indicating he might be suffering from a cytokine storm.

The doctors at Swedish decided to administer Actemra after discussing a small Chinese study that had shown that 21 Covid-19 patients with high levels of inflammation had been successfully treated with the drug. Over the next two days, the patient’s inflammation levels began to decline and his blood-oxygen levels increased, Dr. Youssef said. After a week, he was well enough to be taken off life support on March 23, and was released from the hospital on Sunday.

“All we did was quiet the storm and support his body— his kidneys, his lungs, his heart—to give him the time to fight the virus,” said Dr. Youssef, who attributes the recovery both to Actemra as well as other interventions like being put on life support.



Are we all authoritarians now?

‘China bans 23million from buying travel tickets as part of “social credit” system’, said one outraged headline in the Guardian, just one year ago. The Chinese social-credit scheme set out to penalise citizens for their errant behaviour while rewarding others for good behaviour. The State Council, China’s chief administrative authority, said the scheme’s purpose is to ‘allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step’.

Such an insidious assault on civil liberties by the Chinese state, under the guise of protecting social stability, was roundly and rightly condemned in the UK as authoritarian, illiberal and staunchly un-British. Britain firmly believes in the autonomy of the individual and the right to free movement, it was said. The Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorial actions were held up as exemplary evidence of the differences between our two countries and our two systems.

One year later, the Sun newspaper reports that British Transport Police have been ‘deployed… to enforce a ban on unnecessary travel’. The Guardian dutifully announces that ‘Dominic Raab advises UK public to avoid all non-essential travel’. The BBC unquestioningly reports the London mayor proclaiming that key workers and ‘nobody else’ should be using public transport. The freedom of movement ideal was ditched rather quickly. Suddenly, the British government has restricted travel for almost 60million citizens – the same number of people quarantined in China’s Hubei province – but this was hardly questioned in the media.

The West has also long criticised the covert monitoring of citizens carried out by China’s ruling Communist Party. The government stalks the public’s social-media activities to find details of illicit online behaviour. It films people secretly using CCTV and drones. Ordinary people are encouraged to send in their own footage to the authorities to ensure that the state doesn’t miss anyone in its official trawl. Last year, the Wall Street Journal compared China’s attempts to enrol the public to snitch on miscreants to the East German Stasi. Fast forward six months and the same paper reports casually on Western internet users ‘naming and shaming people they believe have flouted lockdown orders, travelled or socialised recklessly’, without making any moral judgement on the shamers.

How have we lost our moral compass in such a short space of time? The medical basis for state-enforced isolation is still debatable. But even if it is a fundamental necessity to protect lives, should we be welcoming confinement so eagerly? Should we really be asking for ever-more state powers to enforce lockdowns? Shouldn’t we be defending liberty, free movement and assembly rather than accepting restraint at the behest of the political and medical establishment?

I am not suggesting that we all rush out and hug each other, but it seems that Western values can be usurped and abandoned much more easily than we ever imagined. That ought to be a cause for concern, and maybe something worthy of national debate. Instead, those advocating for the liberal rights that have upheld the cause of Western societies for centuries are frequently shouted down and branded ‘irresponsible’ or ‘dangerous’. In the words of the Chinese state, penalties will be enforced in order to ensure a harmonious society. Responsible citizens and trustworthy actions are rewarded; dissenters are blacklisted.

One Chinese dissident warned that China’s social-credit system would give ‘officials unparalleled scrutiny over every minute of everyone’s life’. So what are we to make of Google’s announcement last week – made without permission from any of us – that it will release all of our location data to the authorities? It seems that the footnote ‘in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus’ is all that is needed to justify such a monstrous breach of privacy. Facebook is also in talks with the US government about the possibility of sharing our location data. After months of alarmist criticism of Huawei’s potential to reveal users’ data to the Chinese state, few in the media or Twittersphere are raising critical concerns about the same thing happening in the West. Some are raising their glasses. After all, it might save lives, so it’s all right, apparently.

The media seem to have forgotten the maxim of ‘holding truth to power’ and are perhaps intent on simply holding power. During China’s Cultural Revolution, intellectuals were forced to participate in ‘struggle sessions’ – a vicious form of public humiliation. There were echoes of this at the weekend when Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, was forced to make a grovelling televised appearance to beg for the nation’s forgiveness. She had ‘made a mistake and let people down’. ‘I cannot justify it’, she said. ‘I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that… What I did was wrong.’ The media were delighted with the scalp. Her crime? She had driven to her second home in a car.

Actually, there is one good lesson to learn from China, and that is the proud – and often unsung – tradition of rebellion. China has had a couple of revolutions, after all. In recent weeks, thousands of migrant workers and working-class protesters from Hubei province have revolted, overturning police cars and fighting with state forces who refused to allow them to cross over into the neighbouring Jianxi province. These desperate people have been locked down for months. They have no work and no money, even though they are healthy. But the neighbouring provincial authorities were worried about the risk of the second wave of the virus.

In these topsy-turvy times, the best lesson to take from China is how, even in the most dire circumstances, ordinary people can still keep the spirit of free movement, critical engagement and non-complicity alive.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


12 April, 2020

No lockdown in Sweden

by Jeff Jacoby

DID SWEDEN BLUNDER? Or did everyone else?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the world's governments have gone to unheard-of lengths to keep people apart and try to slow the spread of the virus. Schools and businesses have been shuttered, public gatherings banned, construction projects halted, restaurants darkened, air travel grounded, borders locked. Tens of millions of "nonessential" workers have been furloughed or laid off. In some jurisdictions, people are forbidden to leave their homes except for food or essentials. Leaders worldwide have made the wrenching decision to incur a devastating economic recession in order to prevent a devastating death toll.

But not in Sweden.

In Scandinavia's most populous nation, life has continued more or less normally. Public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. Grade schools and day care are still open. So are parks, restaurants, stores. Streets are still full of people. Swedish health officials have advised residents older than 70 to stay home and emphasized the importance of hand washing. But unlike elsewhere, their public messaging has not reflected frantic desperation.

Why has Sweden adopted an approach so different from other nations'? Not because the country has been untouched by COVID-19. Far from it: As of Tuesday, it had recorded 7,693 confirmed cases and 591 deaths. Sweden's coronavirus death rate (fatalities per million residents) is 59 — markedly higher than that in the other Scandinavian countries, all of which are enforcing stiff social-distancing restrictions. Then again, Sweden's infection and death rates are far lower than in Switzerland, a country of comparable population. Switzerland is in lockdown. Yet three times as many infections have been confirmed, and the death rate is 94.

Such widely divergent results help explain why Sweden's health authorities, led by state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, have charted a different course. Their goal has been to keep sickness rates low enough that hospitals aren't overrun, without taking a sledgehammer to the economy and throwing vast numbers of people out of work — because unemployment, too, correlates with increased mortality.

Like epidemiologists everywhere, Tegnell is operating in uncharted territory and making projections on the basis of mathematical models. But scientists are using different models and coming to conflicting conclusions. In Britain, researchers at Imperial College London calculated last month that without draconian social distancing measures, as many as 250,000 UK residents might die. A few days later, scientists at Oxford, working from a different model, reported that more than two-thirds of the British population might already have been infected without knowing it — implying that widespread resistance to the virus was already accumulating through "herd immunity."

No one knows yet which conclusion will turn out to be right. Most governments have opted for extreme restrictions, and the severe economic pain they entail, in hopes of keeping deaths from spiking uncontrollably. Sweden's health officials, who are granted considerable autonomy under Swedish law, have so far resisted that approach. Tegnell isn't dogmatic about his position — in a BBC interview, he acknowledged "self-doubt" and said he is "more than prepared" to switch gears if developments warrant.

Swedish culture is highly trusting, but Swedes aren't being asked to take their government's policy on faith. "Hospital data is published all the time, so Sweden's 'experiment' is being conducted in the open," writes Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph. "Every time a patient is admitted, the data is updated on a COVID-19 live website. . . . If Tegnell's analysis proves wrong, the public will be able to see it unravel on his dashboard."

Critics of the strategy haven't been shy. One Swedish epidemiologist called it "a huge experiment" that could "crazily" wrong. An immunologist at the prestigious Karolinska Institute warned that the policy "is leading us to disaster." Some lawmakers are proposing tighter coronavirus restrictions. At the same time, other Swedes have strongly defended the non-lockdown policy — including Johan Giesecke, another Karolinska scientist and author of a textbook on infectious disease epidemiology.

So did Sweden blunder? Or did everyone else?

All we can say at this point is that it's too soon to be sure. But by marching to the beat of its own drummer, Sweden is making it possible for scientists to evaluate competing strategies in real time. However the experiment turns out, we'll all have a clearer idea about the best way to fight pandemics in the future. Sweden's anomalous approach may succeed or it may fail. Either way, mankind stands to gain.



Projected death toll dramatically lowered after anti-malaria drug approved

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement reacting to the IHME’s death toll projections being lowered to 60,415 from 81,766:

“Projections on the number of cases of COVID-19 are far less important than the actual deaths from the China-originated virus.  Now, the most influential projection of future deaths from the disease has lowered that guess again. Just one week ago on April 1, the death projection was 93,651, it was lowered on April 4 to 81,766 and just one week into April the projection is now at 60,415.

“While the public health care bureaucrats will attribute the precipitous drop in the all-important death projections to social distancing, the model assumed that social distancing would be implemented in its projections.

“What has significantly changed in the past week was President Trump’s successfully convincing the Food and Drug Administration to allow the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine  and other antivirals to be prescribed to treat the disease on March 31.  While correlation does not necessarily mean causation, it is significant that doctors across the nation have been given the go-ahead to use this treatment and many are reporting success that should not be discounted.  Those governors who are restricting the use of this medicine need to reevaluate that political decision in order to help save as many of the lives of their constituents as possible.

“President Trump has put the health of Americans first and has risked his economic legacy to protect American lives. Now, as the death projections continue to collapse, Americans for Limited Government urge the country to come behind President Trump as he looks toward restarting the economy. The great news that we are winning the war against the COVID-19 virus will hopefully lead to our economy re-opening around the country not suffering as a hot spot by May 1.”



'Social Justice' in a Pandemic

America is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic meltdown caused by shutting everything down. It’s affecting every American in some way, and we’ll need to unite to get through it. The worst may be yet to come.

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams over the weekend. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”

Unfortunately, unity is not exactly this nation’s strong suit in recent years. Some are trying to fit the round peg of COVID-19 into the square hole of social justice.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” complained Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

This is, of course, in line with the Democrats’ view that the current crisis is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” But it’s also an extension of their view that America is such a racist backwater that even equal-opportunity viruses actually target minorities.

It does seem to be true that, at least in some areas, blacks are contracting and dying of COVID-19 at a higher rate. According to ProPublica, “As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black. Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on black communities nationwide.”

But the numbers don’t tell the whole tale. In fact, ProPublica’s story inadvertently draws attention to something that might be a bigger factor than race. “Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40% of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are black.”

When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, residents of New Orleans declined to observe evacuation orders, evidently believing that, no matter what transpired, government would come to their aid — as it does on a daily basis. The resulting death toll there was terrible.

Could it be that the inner-city communities around the country — where populations disproportionately depend on government checks, government food stamps, and government housing — are simply not complying with warnings or protocols regarding the current pandemic? In other words, rather than a failure of social justice, is it a failure to abide by social distancing?

It’s beyond troubling that when so many Americans of every color are legitimately suffering, Democrats are so focused on scoring cheap political points by dividing us.



Japan too wants to bring back some manufacturing from China

Coronavirus is causing Japan to reconsider depending on China for its supply and manufacturing base, reports the Japan Times.

Japan has earmarked ¥243.5 billion of its record economic support package to help manufacturers shift production out of China as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts supply chains between the major trading partners.
The extra budget, compiled to offset the devastating effects of the pandemic, includes ¥220 billion for companies shifting production back to Japan and ¥23.5 billion for those seeking to move production to other countries, according to details posted online.

It's not a huge amount of money yet but the trend it bucks is important. Japan's relationship with China has gotten complicated over the past few years. They're longtime rivals but China has made itself Japan's top trade partner while, at the same time, threatening Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands just this week. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought warmer relations with China despite this. But the pandemic is forcing his hand. It's unwise for any nation to depend on communist China too much for anything, given its habit of lying about important things.

Abe could have reacted to the pandemic a bit quicker.

[M]any in Japan are inclined to blame China for mishandling the early stages of the outbreak and Abe for not blocking visitors from all of China sooner. Until last month, only visitors from Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, and one other province had been banned.
Advantage...Trump. Who, by the way, wanted U.S. firms to start leaving China well before the COVID outbreak. Countries that can afford to leave China, will.

Captain Obvious prediction: Taiwan will end up benefiting from some of the coming avalanche of divestment from the mainland. Taiwan is free and transparent, its legal system is predictable, and it has handled the COVID pandemic very well. Because of this, its economy may rebound ahead of others. It also enjoys a defense pact with the United States, which has a decades-long defense pact with Japan.




Drill, baby, drill: Trump signs executive order encouraging mining for minerals on the moon (Washington Examiner)

Coronavirus was spreading in New York City weeks before first case, compounding the mayor's lackluster response (New York Post)

Kansas legislature cites constitutional rights in rescinding governor's limit on religious gatherings (Washington Examiner)

"We want to have some common approach to this across the state": Arkansas blocks mayors from implementing stay-at-home orders (The Daily Wire)

Nothing to see here... Official Chinese newspaper reports chance of 10,000-20,000 new cases in Wuhan. It's quickly deleted. (The Daily Wire)

Taiwan shows up China, sending hard-hit countries lifesaving coronavirus supplies (Fox News)

Tone-deaf celebrities organize major benefit for China-complicit WHO (The Federalist)

Policy: How Woodrow Wilson let flu deaths go viral in the Great War (RealClearInvestigations)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


11 April, 2020

Meet the former NYT reporter who is challenging the coronavirus narrative

As daily life across America is upended by the coronavirus crisis -- with mass business closures plunging the economy into freefall -- one former New York Times reporter is sounding the alarm about what he believes are flawed models dictating the aggressive strategy.

Alex Berenson has been analyzing the data on the crisis on a daily basis for weeks and has come to the conclusion that the strategy of shutting down entire sectors of the economy is based on modeling that doesn’t line up with the realities of the virus.

"The response we have taken has caused enormous societal devastation, I don't think that's too strong a word," he told Fox News in an interview Thursday.

Berenson is a former reporter who worked for the Times from 1999 to 2010 primarily covering the pharmaceutical industry. He recently came to prominence again with a book, “Tell Your Children The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence,” which challenged prevailing narratives on marijuana.

In the face of a broadening consensus on both the left and the libertarian right that sees marijuana as mostly healthy and even a positive in some circumstances, Berenson argued that the evidence instead shows a link between the drug and serious mental illness and an epidemic of violence.

Now he’s turned to challenging the narratives on the response to the coronavirus. What Berenson is promoting isn’t coronavirus denialism, or conspiracy theories about plots to curb liberties. Instead what Berenson is claiming is simple: the models guiding the response were wrong and that it is becoming clearer by the day.

"In February I was worried about the virus. By mid-March I was more scared about the economy. But now I’m starting to get genuinely nervous," he tweeted this week. "This isn’t complicated. The models don’t work. The hospitals are empty. WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT INDEFINITE LOCKDOWNS?"

Hospitals, of course, are not empty in places like hard-hit New York City, and tales are widespread of overburdened doctors and emergency rooms. Berenson acknowledged as much in the interview Thursday.

Concerns that this virus is significantly more contagious and deadly than any ordinary flu strain are what's driving the current government approach, in America and around the world. Perhaps due in part to more testing, America reports the highest number of cases in the world right now, with more than 430,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths. Symptoms vary widely, with some patients reporting only minor discomfort yet others dealing with crushing physical pain and struggling to breathe, forced to go on ventilators.

But Berenson is taking a broader look. He initially challenged the model put forward by the Imperial College in London, when one of the authors of the models appeared to significantly walk back projections that the U.K. would see 500,000 people killed by the disease to closer to 20,000 -- although the author later said that the 500,000 prediction was without social distancing measures, and 20,000 was with them in place. That model is being used to advise the U.K. government on its strategy for the virus.

“That was March 22 or 23, and ever since then I’ve been paying incredibly close attention to the modeling and trying to figure out whether it lines up with what we’re seeing in reality -- and the answer is it hasn’t lined up at all," he said.

Recently he’s been focusing on discrepancies within the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model. That model has come under renewed scrutiny as it has revised its metrics multiple times. It once predicted more than 90,000 deaths by August but recently issued a new estimate that has the figure closer to 60,000. Government officials say it's a model that's moving with what the country is doing.

"We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary," Dr. Deborah Birx said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday. "I know many of you are watching the Act Now model and the IHME model— and they have consistently decreased the number, the mortality from over almost 90,000 or 86,000, down to 81,000 and now down to 61,000. That is modeled on what America is doing. That’s what’s happening."

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the indicators are that social distancing efforts are working: "Because remember, what you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models, depending upon your data, and our data is telling us that mitigation is working."

But Berenson argues that those models have social distancing and other measures baked into them. As for further proof, he says that outside of places like New York there has not been a national health crisis that was predicted -- nor are there signs that the level of lockdown in various states has made a difference.

“Aside from New York, nationally there’s been no health system crisis. In fact, to be truly correct there has been a health system crisis, but the crisis is that the hospitals are empty,” he said. “This is true in Florida where the lockdown was late, this is true in southern California where the lockdown was early, it's true in Oklahoma where there is no statewide lockdown. There doesn't seem to be any correlation between the lockdown and whether or not the epidemic has spread wide and fast.”

He has also argued, in lengthy Twitter threads, that the drop in cases seen in various states has come before lockdowns would have had an impact -- since it takes a few weeks for social distancing measures to take effect due to the window between infection and symptoms.

Berenson blames the models for a response that has effectively shut down large sectors of the economy and is causing significant financial harm to Americans. On Thursday it was announced that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits swelled to 6.6 million last week, surging for the third consecutive week. Congress has sought to alleviate the pain by boosting those jobless benefits.

His is a view that has seen some sympathy from President Trump, who has spoken about the "cure being worse than the problem" and has indicated that he is keen to end the strict measures as soon as is possible -- saying Wednesday he wants to re-open the economy with a "big bang."

Berenson says the correct response in the initial days of the crisis would not have been to do nothing, but instead to adopt a more measured and targeted approach.

“There was incredible pressure to do something ... so these lockdowns all cascaded, every governor tried to outdo the next. And no one stopped and said ‘OK what about Japan, they don't seem to have a terrible epidemic, they wear masks, maybe we should wear masks,” he said.

He said other measures such as protecting individuals particularly at risk, and even things such as banning large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events could have been appropriate. But now he fears it may be too late for officials to say they overreacted.

“Now we’re in a bad spot because there’s clearly a dangerous political dynamic right now -- the economy is in freefall, a lot of people are hurting. If we acknowledge what is clearly happening ... the people who made these decisions, I think there’s going to be a lot of anger at them, so they don't want to acknowledge it, so they say 'oh it's the lockdown that saved us,'” he says.

Berenson is not a known partisan. His Twitter feed and other works contain few references to specific politicians, and there’s no indication that he’s in this to bash or defend Trump or either political party. But he noted that, like with his conclusions on marijuana, there has been a distinct lack of interest from the left.

“I went to Yale and I worked for the New York Times, the people on the left hold themselves out as being science-driven, as being smarter, they think they're smarter but they won’t look at facts that won’t meet their narratives,” he said.

He voiced frustration that these arguments have been ignored by a lot of mainstream outlets.

“That is frustrating for me ... but everyone needs to hear this counterargument, whether or not it's right, you need to hear it because the damage we are doing to ourselves right now is so enormous.”



Authoritarianism on full display amid the lockdowns

We are going to have to begin today’s Morning Briefing with a preemptive strike/disclaimer sort of thing. I have been writing a lot in the last month about being cautious and responsible while fighting the spread of the virus. I’ve been sticking to the rules and being more isolated than I usually am. Still, I’ve occasionally expressed my wish that we had a clearer endgame and I’ve also mentioned some worries about various petty tyrants using this crisis to turn the Constitution into the toilet paper so many people need right now.

My approach is prudent, my concerns valid.

Every time I attempt to explain that, however, somebody pipes up about me not understanding the gravity of the situation.

I write this from the bottom of my heart as an early response to the first person who wants to pipe up this morning: I’ve been out of my house a total of five times since March 7th, so shut it. I’m taking everything plenty seriously.

Glad we had that talk.

Now let us move on to my disdain for the overreaction of the petty tyrants, like the ones who arrested a man for playing in a park with his six-year-old daughter and wife while trying to comply with social distancing rules.

Sure, the bosses of the petty tyrants let the guy go, but he was still hauled away in handcuffs in front of his family by the local Idiot KGB.

In the more dystopian 21st-century department, a New Jersey city is sending out drones to get all up in the business of the local social distance scofflaws.

Do we all feel safer with our airborne overlords watching over us?


A little less totalitarian glee wouldn't be a bad thing, however. That's all I'm saying.

But hey, on the bright side, some of the more heavy-handed municipalities are finding a way to profit off of all of the anxiety and fear:

Manhattan Beach is cracking down on those violating city's physical distancing guidelines. Since zero tolerance policy went into effect last week, officers have issued 129 citations. They say violators can face $1,000 fine

Don't worry kids, the police are assuring us that none of this is reminiscent of a police state.

One of the worst of the petty tyrants has been Eric Garcetti, the mayor of my longtime city of residence, Los Angeles. It's quite obvious that he's relishing his authoritarian turn in the spotlight. He gave everything a Soviet flare last week when he encouraged the citizens of the City of Angels to snitch on neighbors who aren't obeying lockdown rules.

Not creepy at all.

Here in Arizona, we've been told to both stay at home but get outside and breathe some fresh air, as long as we maintain proper social distancing. It seems to be working so far.

Granted, we are quite spread out here in the Southwest -- even in the cities -- so distancing is easier.

My point, however, is that we’re keeping our distance without the threat of arrest from the state. Sure, people from state-to-state are different, but I maintain that human nature tends to react badly to threats, especially when that human nature is also American nature.

We have already been told this week to expect death tolls here in the U.S. that are far lower than originally predicted because we’ve been heeding the social distancing suggestions. Most places haven’t gone full Eric Garcetti while exhorting citizens to remain at home and/or away from each other. We’re still making it work though.

There is a very real possibility that we could have pulled this off without the Eric Garcetti and Gavin Newsom types fetishizing their political authority.

Just sayin'.




CDC loosens guidelines for some exposed to virus to return to work (NBC News)

CDC releases early demographic snapshot of worst cases, which skew toward those with underlying conditions, men, and African Americans (The New York Times)

Over 300,000 people have recovered from coronavirus around the world (Newsweek)

Ninety percent of federal PPE stockpile depleted amid pandemic (National Review)

A cumulative 16 million and counting: Weekly unemployment claims swell another 6.6 million (Fox Business)

Americans could start receiving relief checks starting today (USA Today)

Regulatory state: Thirty regulations that stymied Trump's virus response (Washington Examiner)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


10 April, 2020

Coronavirus questions that the media slide over


It’s probably a coincidence, but I notice that as businesses go under, jobs are lost, careers are ended and trillions of dollars are drained from the economy, the people most avidly pushing the coronavirus panic are doing quite well.

No politician or government official has taken a salary cut. To the contrary, dusty bureaucrats now find the entire country transfixed by their every utterance. Cable news hosts still make millions of dollars -- and now they get to work from home!

Annoyingly, though, journalists can’t seem to relay the basic elements of a news story: who, what, where and why.

First, who’s dying? It appears to be mostly the old, people with specific medical conditions and vapers.

To be sure, that’s not as important as daily updates on Chris Cuomo’s personal battle with the coronavirus, but it might be kind of important to the 17 million Americans who’ve been thrown out of work, many of whom are not elderly, immunocompromised or vapers.

Second, the “what.” What exactly constitutes a “coronavirus death”?

It turns out a person with Stage 4 lung cancer and a bullet through the heart will be counted as a “coronavirus death” if he also tested positive for the disease, OR merely exhibited symptoms associated with it (symptoms that are coextensive with the flu and pneumonia).

We’re told that, if anything, coronavirus deaths are being undercounted because the numbers don’t include those who die of it at home.

If so, then the death count also excludes those who die at home of other things, like heart attacks and poisonings. Many of these people might have survived -- except they were too scared to go to a hospital or couldn't find an EMT to take them there, per current edicts.

The “where” is: Where did the virus originate, and where did it first land in this country?

Despite the media’s best efforts -- DON’T CALL IT THE “CHINESE VIRUS”! -- people know that the virus began at a wet market in China.

But where did it start in this country? Washington state was the site of our very first case. Washington state is also 9.3% Asian. Even now, it has eight times more coronavirus cases per capita than neighboring Oregon (4.8% Asian).

Could it be that Chinese-Americans have more contact with the epicenter of this plague than other Americans? As the left always lectures us, BELIEVE THE SCIENCE!

The virus next leapt to New York (9% Asian) and New Jersey (10% Asian). The worst-hit borough of Manhattan is Queens. Guess which borough has the most Asians? Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is the worst-hit hospital in the nation. Elmhurst neighborhood: 50% Asian.

Notice a pattern? While it’s true that “viruses don’t have nationalities!” -- and thank you very much for pointing that out, media! -- the carriers of viruses do have nationalities.

Arguably, Trump had a reason to shut down travel from China other than “hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering", as Joe Biden claimed in a tweet on Feb. 1.

Of course, once it’s here, it’s here and can spread all over. Still, compare New York and New Jersey to, say, Montana and West Virginia.

Chinese virus deaths, so far, by population:

-- New York (9% Asian): 29 per 100,000

-- New Jersey (10% Asian): 13 per 100,000

-- Montana (0.9% Asian): 0.6 per 100,000

-- West Virginia (0.8% Asian): 0.2 per 100,000

Then there’s California, which alone among the four states with the highest Asian populations has relatively few coronavirus cases, probably due to its warm climate and little public transportation, among other things. In those respects, California is a lot like Texas -- which has about a third as many Asians and also about half as many coronavirus deaths (1.1 per 100,000 in California, compared to 0.71 per 100,000 in Texas).

MEDIA: Oh, why does it matter?

OK, OK, you’re right. But isn’t the prevalence of the coronavirus in states with high Asian populations at least as interesting as this recent article in The New York Times magazine?

Story summary:

Man with severe asthma gets coronavirus, has low-grade fever for approximately 10 days with muscle pain, nausea and fatigue, develops walking pneumonia per X-ray (no clinical evidence) ...


The End.

Finally, why? Why do we have to deal with this virus at all?

The media would prefer if you would stop asking this question, but Americans who didn’t have to die are dead because of Wall Street’s decision to merge our economy with the Chinese, who have unusual eating habits.

The Chinese eat wolf pups. But eating dog wasn’t weird enough. It didn’t give them a frisson of freakishness. They also eat bats, snakes and chicken testicles.

Husband: Oh, honey, golden retriever again?

[Kids groan]

Mom: Not tonight! For a special treat, we're having chicken testicles!

Kids: Aw, you're the best mom ever!

Tigers and rhinos are the most endangered species on Earth because Chinese people think rhinoceros horns and tiger penises can cure impotence. The Caspian, Bali and Javan tigers are already extinct because of this charming folk remedy.

Recently added to the endangered species list is the cute, cartoonish pangolin, the most trafficked animal is the world. Unfortunately, the pangolin’s scales are believed to cure any number of ailments, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Where’s PETA?

The media are too busy covering for China. At least the Chinese aren’t white.

Although, it occurs to me that, despite America’s terrible toxic whiteness, one way our culture is superior to others is that we don’t believe lunatic nonsense that wipes out entire species or launches viral pandemics on the world.

Now back to Chris Cuomo’s riveting battle with the coronavirus.



Curve Ball: The Worst-Case COVID-19 Scenario Was Just Dramatically Cut by Modelers

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle has just revised down its COVID-19 worst-case scenarios for the country.

One of the projected next hotspots, California, is projected to need only half the ICU beds, ventilators and critical hospital equipment than originally predicted because there will be many fewer COVID-19 cases, according to IMHE. All of the state's supplies are on hand, according to the survey.

IMHE has revised down the number of expected COVID-19 deaths from 6,100 to 1,783 in California.

The state's peak for the worst number of deaths originally was expected to be at the end of April; now it appears it will be mid-April.

While the modeling has been updated daily since being published, the latest numbers reveal a somewhat dramatic shift from just six days ago — the reflection of “a massive infusion of new data,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the institute’s director, said in a news release.

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said.

Across the U.S., there will also be less of a need for hospital and ICU beds to deal with the outbreak than earlier figures showed, according to the institute. But there will still be an estimated shortage of roughly 36,654 hospital beds, including 16,323 ICU beds.

The nation's peak of deaths from COVID-19 is expected on April 16th with a projected 3,130 deaths.

The effort everyone has made to socially distance to flatten the curve is working. We'll see if the economic devastation the country has suffered in service to this has been worth it or a historical curveball.




After 76 days in lockdown, the Chinese city at the heart of the global pandemic reopened Wednesday and tens of thousands immediately hopped on trains and planes to leave (AP)

New York virus deaths hit new high, but hospitalizations slow (The New York Times)

NYC data: Vast majority who have died from COVID-19 had serious underlying conditions (The Daily Wire)

On top of being a bureaucratic train wreck, $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program wasn't enough, Congress says, racing to send billions more to small businesses (Politico)

"We have a lot of IGs in from the Obama era": Trump removes inspector general who was to oversee $2 trillion relief spending (The Washington Post)

An awkward, experimental Democrat primary in Wisconsin (Washington Examiner)

Trump says U.S. may put a "very powerful hold" on funding to communist-supporting World Health Organization (Fox News)

Instead of helping workers on furlough, leftist groups spend more than $20 million attacking Trump, GOP on coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigns after suggesting ousted captain was "stupid" for writing letter (National Review)

How many more evaded inspectors? Border Patrol stopped a Chinese biologist carrying viable SARS, MERS viruses at Detroit airport in 2018 (National Review)

The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping border-wall construction (The Daily Caller)

For the record: China's long tentacles extend deep into American media (The American Conservative)

Enabling the lawbreakers: Chicago mayor signs executive order to ensure illegal immigrants can access relief funds (National Review)

Why weren't they replaced? Michael Bloomberg's emergency ventilator stockpile in New York City ended up on the auction block (ProPublica)

Larry Kudlow: We're looking to open economy in four to eight weeks (The Daily Wire)

Getting out of Dodge: New data shows U.S. companies are definitely leaving China (Forbes)

Observations: "There isn't much point in trying to talk rationally to a guy in an asylum who thinks he is Napoleon. Likewise, there probably isn't much point in trying to talk rationally to a Democratic politician or activist in 2020 America." —John Hinderaker


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


9 April, 2020

Drug Is Safe and Sometimes Works, Let All COVID-19 Patients Take It

In mid-March a Palo Alto, California, woman’s COVID-19 worsened to pneumonia while being treated at Stanford Hospital. She had already suffered from asthma and diabetes.

In a trial, doctors decided to give her the drug remdesivir, which has been well established as safe and used to treat Ebola. It worked; she’s now home recovering wonderfully.

The outstanding question is: Is it helpful for COVID-19? The answer is: Yes, at least for some coronavirus victims.

So why not let the drug be given to all COVID-19 patients rather than just in trials, as was the case with the Palo Alto woman’s trial? They have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The drug sometimes cures pneumonia and possibly prevents it in the first place.

Governmental medical science, tragically, does not work this way. The Food and Drug Administration requires that, before a drug can be prescribed, it must clear three sets of clinical trials to prove that it is safe and effective; that usually takes a year.

COVID-19 patients usually have anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to live or die. Why can’t patients with the coronavirus take remdesivir to see if it helps?FDA approval for efficacy is largely pointless.

I learned of this sad FDA policy the hard way. I was on the board of the Abigail Alliance that sued the FDA when a terminal cancer patient was denied the right to experimental drugs even though the FDA had found the them clinically safe and promising.

Our argument was that if we have a constitutional right to defend ourselves against an attacker, why can’t we have that same right of self-defense when the attacker is cancer? I based this logic on my own wife’s experience: she had terminal lung cancer and was given an experimental drug that extended her life and eliminated her chronic pain.

Our case was heard in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on August 7, 2007. We lost and would likely lose today because the FDA still mandates three clinical trials to prove drugs safe and effective.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases cites frequently the necessity of this three-clinical-trial process referring to any other drug cure of the coronavirus as merely “anecdotal.”

Judge Judith Rogers supported our case and pointed out a cruel irony: In rejecting our appeal to extend cancer patients’ lives, said the judge, “the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life.”

Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg also supported our case. He argued: Do we have a constitutional “right to eat meat” when the Constitution is silent on the matter?

It is silent on drugs, which does not mean that we can’t take them. It is a right we are given by the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

It is tragic that a patient with COVID-19 and pneumonia or difficulty breathing cannot be given the remdesivir, which is safe and, in some cases, effective.

It sent the Palo Alto woman home rather than to the morgue.



Coronavirus Deaths Will Be 'Much, Much, Much Lower' Than Predicted Models, Says Head of CDC

In the ever-changing contradictory nature of information during the pandemic age, the head of the CDC, Robert Redfield, told listeners of Arizona's 1030 KVOI radio he believes there's good news ahead. Redfield said the death toll from the Chinese COVID-19 will be "much, much, much lower" than the models have predicted. “If we just social distance, we will see this virus and this outbreak basically decline, decline, decline. And I think that's what you're seeing,” he said.

The models the White House is using projected the deaths of between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. Redfield says models aren't the end of the story. "Models are only as good as their assumptions, obviously there are a lot of unknowns about the virus,” he said. “A model should never be used to assume that we have a number.”

He continued to praise the American people for taking the social distancing seriously, saying, "I think that's the direct consequence of why you're seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models."

Redfield has vociferously approved of the social distancing measures taken by the federal and local governments.



Dem Lawmaker in Detroit Says Hydroxychloroquine and Trump Helped Save Her Life

State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Detroit Democrat, tested positive for the coronavirus last month. Now, she's crediting hydroxychloroquine and Donald Trump with saving her life.

President Trump has been touting hydroxychloroquine as a potential game-changer since mid-March after small studies showed it potentially served as an effective treatment for coronavirus patients. “I feel good about it. Just a feeling. I am a smart guy, we’ll see soon enough and we have certainly big samples of people,” Trump said at the time. The media was quick to pounce on Dr. Anthony Fauci's reluctance to fully endorse the drug because there had not been a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus yet. Hydroxychloroquine has long been approved by the FDA as an antimalarial drug.

Whitsett was prescribed hydroxychloroquine, and she said she felt relief from her symptoms in less than two hours. She had experienced shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, and what felt like a sinus infection.

Boston Globe Editorial Board Claims Trump Has 'Blood on His Hands'
Whitsett had been aware of  "the wonders" of hydroxychloroquine after a previous Lyme disease affliction, but, the Detroit Free Press reports, "does not believe she would have thought to ask for it, or her doctor would have prescribed it, had Trump not been touting it as a possible treatment for COVID-19." Whitsett says she's been taking the drug in combination with antibiotics.

"It has a lot to do with the president ... bringing it up," Whitsett said. "He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority."

When asked by the Detroit Free Press whether she thinks Trump may have saved her life, she replied. "Yes, I do," and "I do thank him for that."

President Trump responded to the story on Monday, "Congratulations to State Representative Karen Whitsett of Michigan. So glad you are getting better!"

The media has desperately tried to undercut Trump's positive message about hydroxychloroquine's potential as a treatment for the coronavirus, calling it "unproven" and claiming there's "no proof" that it works. The New York Times even alleged that Trump's motivation for touting the drug was self-serving because he holds “a small personal financial interest” in Sanofi, the company that makes a brand name version of hydroxychloroquine, even though the drug's patent is expired and any pharmaceutical company can manufacture their own generic versions of it. Even New York governor Andrew Cuomo conceded that “There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising."



Setting a 'D-Day' to Restart the American Economy


Much is being said these days about how the two-week period of April 5-19 is expected to experience a peak in coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths. This prediction applies to the city of New York as well as certain other cities and areas of the United States.

Concurrent with the above time period and continuing thereafter, the nationwide supplies of essential face masks, protective clothing, ventilators, protective gloves, and other needed medical supplies to combat the virus are exponentially mushrooming. As of the last week in April, there should be little or no scarcity of the above items to treat dangerously infected Americans, no matter where they live. Furthermore, by the end of April, one or more therapies will most likely receive greater approval as effective treatments against COVID-19.

It is well known that the president and state governors have a delicate balancing challenge. On the one hand, they must consider COVID-19 death rates. On the other hand, they must consider the ongoing tremendous damage and harm being done to the mental and physical health of millions of Americans who have suddenly lost jobs, lost savings, become bankrupt, or otherwise are experiencing severe mental anxiety, hopelessness, and/or depression.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far rightfully have concentrated on the number of people infected, recoveries, and deaths. Largely overlooked, however, are predictions that the ultimate death toll from the pandemic could be higher due to job losses, bankruptcies, lost savings, and containment/mitigation efforts than from the actual virus itself.

It is well established that unemployed individuals often suffer from loss of self-esteem and a sense of shame, humiliation, or despair. They may suffer from hopelessness, depression, and social isolation, which are all serious risk factors for suicide.

Given the above, this article suggests that in order to establish a degree of certainty, and absent any further catastrophic event(s), President Trump and his administration should designate a day in May as the target day — D-Day, if you will — for America’s $22 trillion economy to be “back in business.” A possible date to consider is May 12, which happens to be the 75th anniversary celebration of the allied victory over Nazi Germany in Europe.

In taking this action, the president will, of course, need to defer actual implementation to the governors of the 50 states according to their own assessments of their containment, mitigation, and recovery efforts in their respective states. But the president can set an example by, among other things, authorizing the opening of federal buildings and other facilities and services under his control.

The president’s decision and recommendation for when people should return to their jobs is similar in at least one important aspect to the decision General Dwight Eisenhower had to make concerning the launching of the Normandy invasion in June 1944. Both decisions revolve around life-and-death issues. Eisenhower knew that the allied death rate could be very high (many tens of thousands) if the invasion was unsuccessful, whereas President Trump understands that the number of COVID-19 deaths could be in the many hundreds of thousands if he acts too early or, conversely, too late. As with Eisenhower, President Trump ultimately must make his decision for all Americans, not just those who unfortunately happen to be directly in harm’s way.

No doubt many will say that the president is “between a rock and a hard place.” He will be criticized no matter when he eventually recommends that people return to their jobs even with the understanding that critical mitigation actions need to be maintained for the foreseeable future such as frequently washing hands, not touching one’s face, and maintaining a safe distance from another person.

Thus, Mr. President, please work with the state governors and push for the American economy largely to be “back in business” during May 2020. This senior citizen is more than willing to take responsibility for my own personal COVID-19 mitigation actions, as I am sure many others like me will do the same. Get the economy rolling again — soon.




The steep rise in coronavirus deaths appeared to be leveling off Monday in hard-hit New York (AP)

Austria and Denmark are first in Europe to announce easing of lockdowns (The Washington Post)

Researchers lower fatality projections in model used by White House (The Daily Caller)

Trump approves USNS Comfort to treat New York patients (UPI)

Communist sympathizers at WHO demand abortion be considered "essential" healthcare services during pandemic (The Daily Wire)

Trump nominates White House lawyer Brian Miller to serve as Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (The Daily Caller)

Pelosi says next stimulus boondoggle will be $1 trillion or more (Bloomberg)

"I appreciate his calling": Trump says he and Biden had a "warm conversation" about coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

Trump asks reporter if she's working for the Chinese government after pro-Beijing questions. Sure enough, her agency is a front for the CCP. (The Daily Caller)

Bring back Scott Walker: Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns governor's gamesmanship, orders Tuesday elections to proceed (Politico)

Hillary Clinton can't duck out of Benghazi testimony by citing official privilege, State Department says (PJ Media)

"He made a mistake": Trump urges Navy not to "destroy" captain who wrote coronavirus letter (Washington Examiner)

Rise in searches for "How to set fire" a sign insurance fraud beckons as economy crashes (Washington Examiner)

Auto insurers rightfully refunding millions due to stay-at-home policies (Fox News)

District court upholds closing of Los Angeles-area gun shops (The Volokh Conspiracy)

Policy: How the Left is trying to blame capitalism for COVID-19 deaths (Mises Institute)

Satire: The Bidens still don't know how many grandchildren they have (The Washington Free Beacon)

For the record: "More people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year." —U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams

Food for thought: "Our national media is ROOTING for hydroxycloroquine to not work as a treatment for #Covid_19. Think about that." —Matt Mackowiak


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


8 April, 2020

The End of America?

BY PHILIP CARL SALZMAN.  "Salty" Phil is a Canadian anthroplogist so knows about how societies evolve

How do societies and cultures end? What causes the death of societies and cultures? It is not always the obvious threats.

Today we are struggling with the coronavirus which has unfortunately sickened many and killed some Americans. The deaths are tragic, but so are the many Americans who die annually from the flu, from cancer, and from auto and industrial accidents. The death rate from the coronavirus will be low, far below any existential threat to American demography.

In order to fight and contain the expansion of the virus, we have suspended much of the American economy. That has led to a major loss of jobs, a serious threat to business, and destructive pressure on individuals and families, leading in some cases to abuse, breakdowns, and suicides. But the economy has been put on hold, not destroyed, and financial support from the government will go some way toward preserving jobs and companies, as well as individual and family budgets. It seems likely that the economy will rebound, probably fairly quickly, even with some displacement. Our economy and our country will not be destroyed.

Here is the critical fact: the death of societies and cultures is usually suicide. Members of the society lose faith in its institutions, reject its cultural values, demonize their fellow citizens, enthusiastically entertain foreign ideologies, and open their doors to foreign adversaries. This is particularly devastating when elites turn against the society’s institutions and culture. The initial result is social conflict, loss of confidence, and eventually civil war and or foreign invasion.

The example of Sweden illustrates cultural self-hate well. In 2010, Mona Ingeborg Sahlin, the leader at that time of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, told a gathering of the Turkish youth organization Euroturk: "I cannot figure out what Swedish culture is. I think that's what makes many Swedes jealous of immigrant groups. You [immigrants] have a culture, an identity, a history, something that brings you together. And what do we have? We have Midsummer's Eve and such silly things."

In October 2015, Ingrid Lomfors, head of the Swedish governmental "Forum for Living History," later told a group officials, "There is no native Swedish culture."

In December 2015, Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, president of the European Council in 2009, gave an interview to TV4 ahead of his departure from the leadership of the Moderate Party, in which he asked rhetorically: "Is this a country that is owned by those who have lived here for three or four generations or is Sweden what people who come here in mid-life makes it to be?... For me it is obvious that it should be the latter and that it is a stronger and better society if it may be open... Swedes are uninteresting as an ethnic group."

So Swedish elites have opened the country’s borders to floods of “refugees” from across the Middle East and Africa. The refugees see Swedes as “infidels” and Swedish girls as existing for “the pleasure of Muslim men.” Sweden has thus experienced an explosion of crime: “honor” killings, forced marriages, violent gang swarming, bombing, gang rapes, antisemitic hate crimes, most perpetrated by immigrants and children of immigrants. Sweden’s elite have dealt with this crisis by refusing to identify perpetrators. The old Sweden is disappearing, and the Swedish elite appears pleased.

Not to be outdone, in November 2015, the newly sworn-in Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, gave an interview to the New York Times, and published a month later, in which he said: "There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. There are shared values -- openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.”

Trudeau followed up by opening the borders to illegal immigrants crossing from the United States, then sending the Canadian army to build shelters for the immigrants! Earlier, Trudeau had opened Canada to Syrian Muslim refugees, but not the Yazidi victims of Sunni Muslim ISIS. Under political and public pressure, Trudeau finally admitted some Yazidi refugees. Because of the American continental buffer to the south, but no thanks to multicultural Trudeau, Canada has escaped the great waves of illegal immigrant invasion.

Far more serious than opening Canada’s borders beyond the vast legal immigration that makes Canada the world’s per capita immigrant host, has been Trudeau’s determined effort to destroy Canada’s strongest industry, the energy industry, and to undermine Canada’s most prosperous province, Alberta, the province that for decades has transferred vast sums of money to Canada’s poorer provinces. Trudeau does not much like Canada or Canadians, wishing to transform Canada into a woke, multicultural paradise. Trudeau, like members of the Swedish elite, suffers from Oikophobia, hatred of one’s own culture. What he has succeeded in turning Canada into, for example by allowing environmental extremists to blockade highways and railroads, is a shambles.

The Swedes and Canadians are small players in a world largely dominated by the United States. In Oikophobia, as in much else, American Leftists lead the world. I would estimate that, in 2020, America is about 75% gone. American culture has been swept aside by “woke social justice” ideology, a neo-marxist framing of American society in terms of identity class conflict. Feminist, race, and sexuality activists have pushed a narrative that divides American society into white, male, heterosexual oppressors, on the one hand, and, on the other, the oppressors’ female, black, and LGBTQ++ victims. America is thus seen as inherently and entirely evil, and must be rejected and replaced. The preferred means is to provide special privileges and benefits for females, blacks, and LGBTQs.

“Woke social justice” is an anti-American, anti-capitalist, internationalist, and multicultural rejection of American culture and society. This ideology is now totally dominant in all colleges and universities, where social science and humanities disciplines have mostly abandoned their traditional fields of study in favor of “social justice” victimology. But it does not end there, for teachers are trained in radical faculties of education, and teach “social justice” ideology throughout the school system.

“Social justice” ideology is totally dominant in the mainstream and heritage media, notably in the Washington Post and the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC (and abroad as well, in the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the British Broadcasting Company). The New York Times has been hideously exemplary in its 1619 Project, which argues that America was not founded on the basic of Judeo-Christian human rights, on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but on the basis of slavery. Slavery is the indelible sin that progressives love to bludgeon America with, as if America invented slavery, rather than it being a characteristic of all civilizations and most societies, including African societies, up to the 19th century. Progressives today reject the American Constitution on the grounds that its authors were slave owners, and slavery thus becomes the tool to discredit everything about America.

What exactly about America has been rejected by progressive “woke social justice”?

First, national sovereignty is rejected in favor of international ties and supranational organizations, such as the corrupt and ineffectual United Nations, much beloved by the likes of American progressive politicians and foreign leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau.

Second, citizenship is rejected as an unearned privilege, to be corrected by open borders and floods of illegal immigrants, spun as “undocumented.” Joe Biden, presumptive nominee of the Democrat Party for Democrat candidate for the Presidency, announced that illegal immigrants are more American than American citizens. Furthermore, as progressives view whites as racist oppressors, “social justice” requires their replacement by black, brown, yellow, and red non-whites, until the whites are in the minority and no longer have any power.

Third, individuals no longer count as constituents of society. Individual achievement, merit, and potential are rejected by progressives as “white male supremacy.” Today, only identity categories count. What is important is statistical “representation” of different categories based on percentage in the general population. Under the guise of “diversity,” individual can no longer be considered as individuals, but must be considered only as members of identity categories, and treated accordingly. Males, whites, and heterosexuals must, in the name of “social justice,” be vilified, demeaned, and excluded. (Oddly, East Asians have become personae non grata because they are too successful, and thus honorary, or dishonorable whites.)

Fourth, capitalism is of course rejected because it is a cause of inequality. That capitalism is responsible for the prosperity within which the inequality exists, is no excuse for the radical levellers. The increasing popularity of socialism among progressives, no doubt because socialism has been so successful historically (not), expresses their rejection of capitalism.

Fifth, economic and political freedom are obstacles in progressives’ plans for “social justice.” Equality of opportunity and economic freedom are rejected by progressive advocates of “social justice” in favor of equality of results, that is, absolute equality, which requires government control of the economy. Progressives, like socialists and communists, also have never been that fond of political freedom, but prefer to control the results. We have seen the Democrat Party, and its media and identity allies, reject the results of the last presidential election because it was not the result they wanted, and launch a “resistance,” both inside of Congress and out in the streets, to the duly elected president. Rejecting the results of elections means the rejection of democracy.

Six, children are no longer wanted in America, which is currently unable to replace its population. Feminists have disdained motherhood as overemphasizing females’ biology and as obstructing economic independence and occupational mobility. The highest progressive value is killing babies in the womb, up to a million a year, ten million in a decade. Feminists and their progressive allies celebrate abortions and urge women to celebrate theirs. Killing babies has now been extended to infanticide, the newest progressive initiative. Likewise, families are regarded by feminists as the source of oppression for females, so say goodbye to families as well.

With the Democrat Party, all colleges and universities, the school system, and the mainstream media all devoted to anti-American progressive values and objectives, it is clear that America is 75% gone. Who is left to uphold American society and culture and the values of freedom, opportunity, prosperity, individual integrity, and family unity? We know that the half of the American population in “flyover country” maintains American values, even while the national elites on the coasts despise that population, infamously characterized by the Democrat Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton as “the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.” The Republican Party, faced with a pro-American candidate for president, retreated in part, while another part fought against, so it is unlikely to be the cavalry coming to save America. Do not bet against seeing the emergence of the United Progressive States of Socialism.



How About Some Good News on the Economy?

Appearing remotely on Sunday's Face the Nation, St Louis Federal Reserve Bank Chairman James Bullard indicated that the Fed has no idea, really, just how bad the Coronavirus Contraction is going to get. Asked by Margaret Brennan about his team's prediction that "47 million Americans could lose their jobs," bringing the unemployment rate up to 32%, Bullard said the "32 percent number is a compromise in the middle."

In the middle of what, you might ask. Bullard told Brennan that he and his economists at the St. Louis Fed estimate that the "unemployment rate could go anywhere between 10 percent and 42 percent."

So things could get Great Recession bad or blow past the 25% unemployment record set during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933. That's a bit like the doctor telling you that you either have a bad case of the flu or maybe caught a rare form of cancer that makes all your limbs slowly fall off.

I'm not picking on Bullard here. Not only does no one know what's going to happen to the economy, at this point nobody can know. The question is less "How bad is it going to get?" but "How quickly do we recover?"

The answer to that could be very nice, indeed.

An economy with plenty of liquidity and weeks of pent-up demand ought to bounce back almost as quickly as it sank -- like a big kid on a trampoline. Sharp economic downturns are usually followed by equally sharp recoveries. The 1981-82 and 1991 recessions come to mind.

What made the Great Depression and the Great Recession alike were anemic recoveries that took seemingly forever. As I noted back in March [VIP link]:

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into office pledging to end the Great Depression, he and Congress simmered up a party-size bowl of alphabet soup agencies to micromanage the business, wages, prices, and employment. The result? A couple of left-leaning UCLA economists were forced to conclude that FDR's New Deal actually lengthened the Great Depression by seven years.
Coming into office on the heels of the 2007-08 financial panic (caused in no small part by Washington meddling in the mortgage markets), President Barack Obama indulged in a flurry of lawmaking and micromanagement unseen since FDR. As a result, Obama's recovery was the slowest since FDR's. In some ways -- Washington's addictions to spending and debt are the worst examples -- we're still dealing with the hangover from Obama's reaction to the Great Recession.

Biden Switches to 'Front Porch' Campaign, Loses Porch
But back to Bullard on Face the Nation. Asked if there "will be somehow just a switch that flips on and the economy will come back roaring," Bullard said:

Well, I think it can be done. Whether it will be done depends on execution. I thought Congress did a great thing in passing their bill. I thought it was appropriately sized for this situation. The object is to keep everybody whole during the period when you're asking people to not go to their jobs and not go to the shops and - and basically not participate in the economy.
This is no bailout for big banks like we saw during the Great Recession. If anything, Congress is following the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth states that private property cannot "be taken for public use, without just compensation." If your labor isn't your property, then what is? If stopping a pandemic isn't public use, then what is? Relief checks aren't enough in my opinion, but they do represent at least some small amount of compensation for government orders to stay home and not work.

And as Bullard noted, "There's nothing wrong with the economy itself. The economy was actually doing quite well going into this health situation." If Washington can manage not to insert itself into the recovery, we ought to get right back to where we were before coronavirus in short order. The Democrat-controlled House is going to have a very strong itch to hobble the economy with a progressive wishlist of crap legislation, but the GOP-held Senate and White House ought to put the kibosh on any such nonsense.

There are some excellent indicators that the worst might soon be over. The White House noted on Sunday that there have been signs of stabilization in hospital rates, and New York enjoyed -- if that's the word -- its first daily decline in COVID-19-related deaths. Death rates are slowing in Europe, too, even in hard-hit Italy and Spain. Social distancing works, and as I reminded you three weeks ago [VIP link], "extreme measures at the start of a crisis can prevent extreme consequences later on."

For now we're stuck in the middle: We've taken the extreme measures, but the crisis persists. But it also looks like we'll avoid the extreme worst-case scenario, in no small part because of those extreme measures. Strangely enough, gridlocked Washington is kind of a best-case scenario for this particular crisis. The economy needs craploads of liquidity at a time when spending craploads of money is the one thing both parties can agree on. What the economy doesn't need is a bunch of new agencies and regulatory schemes hobbling the recovery -- and gridlock ought to prevent just that.

So hang in there. We're not off the bumpy road yet, but I think America and Americans are going to emerge from this thing stronger than ever.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


7 April, 2020

Suddenly, Neither Liberty nor Civilization Is Assured

The two biggest uncertainties about the post-COVID-19 world are whether any privacy will survive and whether China or the United States will dominate. With regards to the first, the Guardian rhetorically asks whether you would  trade the total loss of your privacy for safety from the coronavirus, even if it meant entering a "cybergulag." That's what Russia is planning to do and China already did.  As the City Journal put it, perhaps the only way out of the lockdowns  is to voluntarily submit to 24x7 electronic tracking.

The responses adopted by governments around the world seem to fall into two main categories. Those countries able to leverage new and emerging technologies to fight the virus have done better in limiting the number of cases and fatalities, while managing to keep most of their economies and societies operational. The countries unable to use technology had to rely on lockdowns, quarantines, generalized closures, and other physical restrictions—the same methods used to fight the Spanish flu more than a century ago and, in many cases, with the same slow, painful results. In Singapore and South Korea, individuals are digitally monitored, but life is almost normal. In Spain, they are not monitored—but they cannot leave home.

Western publics seem willing to submit to previously unthinkable levels of government control in the name of public health. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is able to say with considerable support that "We do not have enough ventilators. Period. I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need. The National Guard will be mobilized to move ventilators to where they are urgently required to save lives."

Residents are now officially encouraged to inform on each other. "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week that 'snitches' in his city will get “rewards” if they tattle on neighbors who could be violating the stay-at-home order put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus," Fox News reported. "Google will help public health officials use its vast storage of data to track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, in what the company called an effort to assist in unprecedented times."

The effort is just a fraction of what Google has on tap for the global pandemic. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Alphabet Inc. unit is among companies that have cooperated with a White House task force looking at controversial technologies such as individual location tracking to enforce distancing guidelines. Such technologies that have been effective in some countries are out of bounds in many democracies because of privacy concerns.

Privacy concerns are likely to be swept aside by the understandable fear of disease. As a fictional CIA agent explained to an idealist, people in distress will let government do anything to make the problem go away. "Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em."

Although such measures might be sold as temporary expedients, power once obtained is rarely relinquished. After all, it's a chance to remake the world:

[California governor] Newsom said, “forgive me for being long-winded, but absolutely we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern. And that shouldn’t put shivers up the spines of you know one party or the other. I think it’s an opportunity a new for both parties to come together and meet this moment and really start to think more systemically, not situationally, not just about getting out of this moment, but more sustainably and systemically to consider where we can go together in this historic moment if we meet it at a national level, in a state, and sub-national level. So, the answer is yes.”

The City Journal writes:

"if you think that the measures being tested in China grant too much power to public authorities, different ideas can be found elsewhere. The uses of technology are, by definition, plural and creative. In Singapore, for example, the government has launched a new app for contact-tracing that both increases its effectiveness and keeps each individual in charge. The app works by exchanging Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating users in close proximity. Records of such encounters are stored on each user’s phone. If a user is interviewed by the medical authorities as part of the contact-tracing efforts, he can consent to share his data. The app does not collect or use location data and does not access a user’s phone contact list or address book. Importantly, no data are uploaded to a government server."

Privacy issues will become the centerpiece of Western domestic policy debates. The public can try and reclaim its privacy but they shouldn't get their hopes up.

Foreign affairs will be dominated by the rivalry between China and the United States as each country vies for which can most successfully recover and regroup from the disaster. Beijing is already claiming the title. "Beijing is bolstering its soft power and taking the lead in a global response to the coronavirus public health crisis. The moves come as China’s daily number of new infections decline while those in the U.S. rise."

On social and state media, China continues to promote its shipments of medical supplies to hard hit countries in Europe and Africa. China’s officials have also used Twitter — blocked in the country — to trumpet China’ssuccess in containing the outbreak domestically, even though the virus was first reported there and was met with missteps initially. Through the efforts, Beijing is touting the superiority of its governance model and tapping into patriotic sentiments at home.

The Chinese rivalry loomed, like the proverbial elephant in the living room, over the relief of the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly over a complaint sent to the newspapers about the coronavirus without consulting the chain of command.

When the Commanding Officer of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT decided to write his letter of 30 March 2020 that outlined his concerns for his crew in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of the Navy had already mobilized significant resources for days in response to his previous requests. On the same date marked on his letter, my Chief of Staff had called the CO directly, at my request, to ensure he had all the resources necessary for the health and safety of his crew. ...

But there is a larger strategic context, one full of national security imperatives, of which all our commanders must all be aware today. While we may not be at war in a traditional sense, neither are we truly at peace. Authoritarian regimes are on the rise. Many nations are reaching, in many ways, to reduce our capacity to accomplish our national goals. This is actively happening every day ...

The nation needs to know that the Big Stick is undaunted, unstoppable —and that you will stay that way as we as a Navy help you through this COVID-19 challenge. Our adversaries need to know this as well. They respect and fear the Big Stick, and they should. We will not allow anything to diminish that respect and fear as you, and the rest of our nation, fights through this virus. As I stated, we are not at war by traditional measures, but neither are we at peace. The nation you defend is in a fight right now for our economic, personal and political security, and you are on the front lines of this fight in many ways.

The most intriguing aspect of the naval press conference is the linkage of the virus to deterrence in the new cold war. The natural world is setting the agenda in domestic and international politics. As City Journal notes "the coronavirus proved that our natural environment continues to be as dangerous and hostile to human life as it has always been. ... climate change seemed to show that human activity was the problem ... Nature is once again the problem ... almost as if humanity is once again discovering the Neolithic."

Suddenly, neither liberty nor civilization is assured. Once again it is about survival. Survival of the fittest.



Modern society is 'so afraid of death' no one asks if lockdown measures to battle coronavirus are the right approach, says former Supreme Court judge

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathon Sumption believes that the public's 'irrational horror of death' has lead to unnecessarily 'costly' measures surrounding coronavirus.

Writing in The Sunday Times Lord Sumption, 71, a former judge turned author and medieval historian, stated that the strict governmental measures will bring 'even greater misfortunes of a different kind'.

He wrote: 'We have acquired an irrational horror of death. Today death is the great obscenity, inevitable but somehow unnatural. In the midst of life, our ancestors lived with death, an everpresent fact that they understood and accommodated.'  

Lord Sumption went on to list a number of historic epidemics such as Bubonic plague, smallpox, cholera, typhoid, meningitis and Spanish flu, reminding people that such outbreaks with higher mortality rates were met with less 'hysteria'.

Adding: 'Fear is dangerous. It is the enemy of reason. It suppresses balance and judgment. And it is infectious. (...) Is the coronavirus the latest and most damaging example?'

He stated that earlier generations would struggle to understand the current hysteria over Covid-19, due to it having 'milder symptoms' than previous outbreaks.   

The former judge believes it is the public's 'risk-adverse' attitude which has lead us to not accept 'the wheel of fortune'.

Lord Sumption said current government measures are inflicting suffering on other less obvious victims of the coronavirus, such as future generations who will be left to deal with 'high levels of public and private debt' and the one fifth of businesses being pushed into bankruptcy.

He believes it is fear which has prevented governments and the public from thinking about 'remote costs' of the measures brought in to avoid tragic coronavirus deaths, and adds that we do not know enough about the Covid-19 mortality rate, which he hints is lower than stated due to limited testing.

Making the comparison to cars, which he calls 'the most lethal weapons ever devised', as they kill and injure thousands every year, he states that society has accepted that fact as a 'Faustian bargin' in order to drive in comfort - suggesting we may have to take the same approach to coronavirus.

Meanwhile Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, warned that certain cancers which were until now thought survivable are to become 'inoperable' due to delays in the current crisis.

He told The Sunday Times: 'We know that if you operate in most early stage cancers, there is a high chance of a cure.

'If we wait too long before we operate the disease may spread beyond the primary site rendering cures less likely. Delays to surgery are of huge concern for many cancer charities.'

Currently 90 per cent of those with breast, bowel and ovarian cancers, survive when the disease is caught early.

This is due to early diagnosis and quickly scheduled surgeries.

Professor Swanton added: 'There is a risk that trusts may have to make a choice between ventilatory support for an acutely unwell patient with Covid-19 at the expense of an elective admission for primary surgery for a potentially curable tumour requiring a short post-operative stay in intensive care.'

A source close to The Department of Health told The Sunday Times that it was possible more people, including cancer patients, could die from delays to their treatment caused by the virus than from the coronavirus.



Leftmedia Trump Derangement

Media pundits are frustrated that his approval rating has risen during this national crisis.

A clear majority of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of the China Virus pandemic — 60% according to Gallup polling. That’s even better than his 49% overall approval rating, which matches the highest of his presidency. But one would think just the opposite is true given the mainstream media’s incessant negative coverage of the president’s handling of this national crisis.

One example that typifies the MSM anti-Trump coverage was the reporting on an Arizona couple who ingested fish-tank cleaner thinking it would prevent them from getting COVID-19. Sadly, that stupid decision led to the death of the husband and put his wife in the hospital. Yet the Leftmedia saw fit to blame Trump for “misleading” people into doing demented things, all because he mentioned a malaria drug that some medical professionals believe could be helpful in combating the virus. The only explanation for this level of journalistic malpractice is Trump Derangement Syndrome.

However, as mentioned above, even with the negative media coverage, Trump’s approval ratings have been rising. Why might that be? The most likely reason is due to Trump’s daily national briefing in which he speaks directly to the American people on what he and his administration are doing to combat the pandemic. Millions are tuning in to watch, due in large part to the fact that many Americans are quarantined and are looking to the president for information and leadership. And that is exactly what Trump has provided, much to the dismay of the Leftmedia.

The New York Times laments, “The numbers are continuing to rise, driven by intense concern about the virus and the housebound status of millions of Americans who are practicing social distancing. On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites.” But of course, after reporting the facts, the Times inserts its own anti-Trump spin: “The audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong.”

In response to Trump’s rising popularity, many MSM outlets have begun limiting their coverage of his daily briefings, cutting away to their own talkingheads while giving the ridiculous excuse that they must prevent the spread of misinformation. “I would stop putting those briefings on live TV,” pontificated MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation.”

Former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel perfectly expressed this MSM elitist mindset when he argued, “Training a camera on a live event, and just letting it play out, is technology, not journalism; journalism requires editing and context. I recognize that presidential utterances occupy a unique category. Within that category, however, President Trump has created a special compartment all his own. The question, clearly, is whether his status as president of the United States obliges us to broadcast his every briefing live. No. No more so than you at The Times should be obliged to provide your readers with a daily, verbatim account.” In truth, Koppel’s real beef is that he doesn’t like Trump being able to speak freely and directly to the American people unfiltered by Leftmedia spin.

Don’t miss another important reason why MSM outlets have begun cutting away from Trump’s briefing: ad revenue (or lack thereof). Trump’s evening briefings last an average of two hours during prime-time hours — all without commercial breaks. With millions tuning in to watch, media outlets are loathe to lose ad revenue, even during a national crisis when information is paramount.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


6 April, 2020

Coronavirus and Elections — Changes Increase Risk of Voter Fraud

The recent coronavirus relief package will provide $400 million to states for the 2020 elections. Beware: If this pile of money isn’t spent wisely, the integrity of the elections will be at risk.

Residents of some states may not be able to vote in person and may be forced to vote using absentee or mail-in ballots as long as the current emergency continues, with social distancing being the norm and schools, businesses, offices and government facilities closed.

But no one should forget that absentee-ballot voting is vulnerable to intimidation, fraud and chaos as all-mail elections move behind closed doors beyond the oversight of election officials. Not to mention prolonged counting and potentially lengthy delays in certifying questionable results.

Election officials should start taking steps now& to ensure that if a mailed ballot system is ordered, the election itself can be protected from the dangers that will otherwise result.

Georgia, for example, has declared that its June 2020 primary will be conducted by mail. Election officials have taken steps to avoid some of these concerns. Only registered, active (not inactive) voters will be sent an absentee-ballot request form. This will cut down on fraudulent voting, as unauthorized persons won’t be able to send in unsolicited ballots that show up in states that simply mail absentee ballots to all registered voters without receiving a request.

As an added benefit, by sending the request forms first class, election officials will receive valuable information from the U.S. Postal Service, such as whether a voter has moved or died. This will help confirm the accuracy of the voter-registration list.

All states and localities contemplating voting-by-mail should require voters to respond with a request for an absentee ballot in a written form — with a signature. That accomplishes two objectives: active voters are notified of the change in the process, and the signature will allow election officials (and interested citizens) to compare and authenticate voter identity.

For further protection, officials should require a photocopy of an ID or, for example, if they have a state driver’s license or ID card, the serial number of that identification on the absentee-ballot request form.

State voter-registration lists around the country are notoriously inaccurate and out-of-date, with many jurisdictions having duplicate or triplicate registrations, registrants who have died, and registrations lacking full address data. Some counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens.

Not every new resident at an address will throw out a ballot automatically mailed to the old resident at that address, and where there are no safeguards, individuals may cast votes using ballots originally intended for other voters. It is further tempting to campaign workers and activists to canvas neighborhoods — often poor, minority neighborhoods — looking for those “extra” ballots.

Simply put, automatically mailing ballots to all registrants is an open invitation to fraud.

States should require voters to register prior to Election Day with sufficient time for election officials to validate and verify the information provided by voters of their identity, their residence, their citizenship status, and any other information relevant to their eligibility to vote. Same day or Election Day registration doesn’t allow for such verification.

States should only accept absentee ballots that are officially postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service on or before Election Day. This assures that ballots are not cast after Election Day and after preliminary election results are known, which would otherwise risk giving voters (or vote “harvesters”) the ability to manipulate close races after the polls have closed.

States should ban all ballot “harvesting” by third parties. Only the voter or close family members should be able to hand-deliver a completed absentee ballot. Candidates, political consultants, party activists and campaign guns-for-hire — all of whom have a stake in the outcome of the election — should not be allowed to collect absentee ballots from voters.

Anything else is a recipe for intimidation and fraud, as occurred in the 2018 election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, and in multiple other cases. Moreover, it is difficult to see how vote harvesting would comply with government orders requiring or recommending “social distancing.”

Election officials must also establish protocols and work with local U.S. postal authorities to ensure integrity in the mail system, to prevent the slow delivery of ballots.

When processing the returned absentee ballots from voters, states must have strong authentication standards. This includes allowing election officials and observers to compare signatures on the ballot envelopes to voter registration signatures.

If states insist on unwisely mailing out absentee ballots automatically, voter rolls must first be reviewed and cleaned. The Justice Department should swiftly file lawsuits under the Help America Vote Act against states with suspected inaccurate voter rolls.

Only accurate voter rolls should be used for mass mailings of absentee ballots, and proper voter-roll maintenance and clean-up ought to include comparisons with other databases. That includes state social service agencies, tax authorities, the DMV, and corrections departments, as well as federal databases at the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to confirm voter information and eligibility.

The Department of Homeland Security must end the roadblocks states currently face in verifying the citizenship of registrants. States and localities should also utilize the National Change of Address system available from the U.S. Postal Service to update addresses of registered voters and remove those registrants who have relocated out of state.

As the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a 1998 report, absentee ballots are the “tools of choice” of vote thieves. Switching to mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus outbreak should only be a temporary measure that is not used for future elections. In the meantime, adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of an all-mail election must be implemented.

The coronavirus has taught us a valuable lesson: election officials should be ever-mindful and actively engaged in ongoing voter list maintenance, year-in and year-out. They should be complying with federal law and ensuring that only eligible voters are on the voter rolls, and that voters who die or relocate are removed in a timely manner.

By engaging in zealous voter roll maintenance, election administrators will be prepared for any changes in the system that might result from emergencies that may interfere with the voting process. Hopefully, the emergencies from the coronavirus will be long since lifted by Nov. 3 and there will be no need for changes in the process for the general election.

The fallout from the disease is a stark reminder, however, that the integrity of our elections can only be protected by the ongoing actions of conscientious election officials committed to ensuring that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot, with the sure knowledge that it has not been diluted by error, fraud or mistakes that could have been corrected months or years beforehand.



How Would Free Market Health Care Respond To The Coronavirus?

John C. Goodman

Have you ever wondered how a free market for health care would handle the COVID-19 crisis?

Most patients would have a health kit in their home, with a temperature gauge, blood pressure cuffs and an oxygen sensor. Patients would have these because doctors, hospitals and health plans would encourage them. Patients with older models would call in the readings to their doctors. Newer models would send the doctor an automatic, electronic alert if there was reason to be concerned.

The initial doctor/patient contact would probably be by phone. If warranted, a virtual face-to-face examination by Skype or similar device would take place. If the services of a specialist were required, that connection would be made – again, remotely and electronically.

If the patient were suffering from a cold or a mild case of the flu (which would be the case more than 90% of the time), the doctor would order a prescription, which would be filled and delivered by a local pharmacy.

In the face of coronavirus indications, a doctor or nurse would arrive at the home (within an hour), take a swab sample and perform a COVID-19 test – with results in, say, 10 minutes.

In the serious cases, patients would go to the emergency room. But that would not be a scene of coronavirus roulette, as it is today. Hospitals would know in advance which patients had the virus. A special team would be there to greet these patients. They would be escorted to isolated rooms with appropriate equipment and safeguards to protect other patients and hospital personnel.

The demand for special masks (with better protection than the masks you see surgeons wearing on TV), ventilators and other equipment would rise dramatically. But it would be a targeted demand, informed by real data. You wouldn’t see hoarding and over-subscribing by providers who scramble to get more than they need “just in case.” The demand would be met by suppliers who would work nights and weekends to step up production because …. well …. because they would expect to get paid extra, just like in any other market.

So why aren’t these things being done now? They are being done. But not as often as they should. The reason: government.

Getting diagnosed in your own home. If you go to a doctor’s office or a hospital emergency room you risk infecting other patients or being infected yourself. So why not stay home? As I wrote last week, telemedicine is being used extensively in China to diagnose the coronavirus right now. Vice President Pence and major health insurance companies say it is “the first line of defense” against the virus. And more than 40 million Americans can currently get doctor consultations by phone, email or Skype. Yet federal and state laws have been major barriers.

Until recently, Congress outlawed telemedicine in Medicare, except for patients in rural areas, and even then they couldn’t be in their own homes. However, with President Trump’s approval, Seema Verma (who directs Medicare and Medicaid), began allowing all Medicare patients to have “virtual check-ins” from their homes to see if a doctor office visit is needed.

After the coronavirus struck, Verma used the president’s executive authority to give Medicare Advantage plans broad discretion with respect to remote diagnosis and treatment. Congress responded with legislation that now allows Medicare to pay for telemedicine in connection with coronavirus. But it imposed an onerous restriction: the doctor must have had a previous relationship with the patient within the past three years.

That requirement is a disastrous barrier to remote medical care. It would make every telemedicine company in the country ineligible. Fortunately, the administration is using its emergency powers to override the restriction in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Getting tested in your own home. The first known person with the COVID-19 virus was discovered in the United States and in South Korea at about the same time. Since then, South Korea has engaged in a massive testing campaign (including drive-through testing) to determine who has the virus and who doesn’t. Overall, that country has tested more than 5,000 people for every one million residents. By contrast, the number tested in our country is 125 for every million residents. In fact, the U.S. testing rate is about the lowest in the developed world!

US officials claim that the tests used in other countries are not as accurate as those approved by our government. Even so, the proof is in the pudding. As Alec Stapp writes in the Dispatch:

South Korea has effectively contained the coronavirus without shutting down its economy or quarantining tens of millions of people…. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan have also managed to contain the virus via a combination of travel restrictions, social distancing, and heightened hygiene.

Until early February of this year, all testing for COVID-19 had to be done at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Once the CDC recognized it was ill prepared to handle a pandemic, it sent out testing kits to about a hundred public health centers around the country. Unfortunately, about half of the kits were defective.

President Trump on numerous occasions has made clear his desire to wipe away regulatory obstacles. Along those lines, Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, declared a public-health emergency, on February 4. Since then any lab that wants to conduct its own tests for the new coronavirus can get authority under something called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the F.D.A.

But although this was supposed to usher in deregulation, the EUA process bought with it a new set of bureaucratic obstacles. The entire process, which is described in great detail by Robert Baird in the New Yorker, reads like an episode of the Keystone Kops.

Meanwhile, the private sector has been responding. Biomerica has developed a test that involves little more than a finger prick. It can be performed by trained professionals almost anywhere – airports, schools, offices, homes, etc. The test sells for $10 per patient.

Another company, Kinsa Health, has developed smart thermometers which are Internet-connected. It has given away or sold a million of them to households in which two million people reside. The company, which can track the flu across the country in real time, says it can do the same for COVID-19 at a time when U.S. health officials have been flying blind.

Exercising the right to try. Another reform championed by the president is allowing patients to try drugs that have not been approved by the FDA if the patient is terminally ill. He now says the same principle should apply even if the patient is not terminally ill. Chloroquine, for example, is an 85-year old drug that is safe for use to prevent malaria and it apparently can work on COVID-19. (It has worked for other SARS viruses.) The president asks, “What have you got to lose?”

Continuing to enjoy the benefits of deregulation. One reason the country is doing as well as it is in defending against COVID-19 is that President Trump began deregulating the health care market early in his presidency. Those efforts have laid the groundwork for further deregulation.

Donald Trump is the first president in over a century who has understood that in health care, government is not the solution; it is the problem.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


5 April, 2020

The coronavirus recession will shift British politics – but not to the Left

The economy’s collapse will prompt profound and unpredictable changes to people’s political priorities

It is hard, for us moderns, to grasp what is happening to our world. We are the children of the most technologically advanced civilisation of all time, and yet are plunged into a pre-modern health crisis, forced to revert to equally pre-modern tools as the death toll spirals horrifyingly. Quarantines, lockdowns, field hospitals: as we wait for tests, protective equipment, high-tech tracing and vaccines, we are stuck with the medieval techniques our forefathers used to control the bubonic plague. We use Zoom and Houseparty, but otherwise are following a 1919 Spanish flu playbook, shutting down society to save lives.

This is also the first pre-modern recession since the Second World War. Downturns since the industrial revolution have normally been about monetary policy errors or bubbles going pop. The coronavirus recession is like a war or a crop failure or a natural catastrophe, events that, together with pandemics, have caused the most savage depressions in history.

Drawing on the Bank of England’s Millenium of Macroeconomic Data, Deutsche Bank reminds us that the worst ever recessions were in 1624 (GDP down 25 per cent the year Parliament voted for war against Spain) and 1349 (down 23 per cent during the Black Death). The current downturn – GDP down 6 per cent this year – will only be slightly less severe than those of 1919 and 1921, both connected to war and flu. No “modern” recession has come close. It is also an exceptionally concentrated collapse: the second quarter will be the worst three month period for the economy since records began.

In 1919, those US cities that reopened too soon suffered a worse overall hit to the economy – after the flu returned with a vengeance in a second peak – than those that waited longer in lockdown, according to Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck and Emil Verner. While the lessons are obvious, if we test and trace on a massive scale, we ought to be able to lift the lockdown more quickly than a century ago. But so far it’s not looking good, implying that this recession will be severe, perhaps continue into the third quarter, many firms and jobs will be permanently destroyed and that the bounce-back, when it comes, won’t be great enough to catch up all the lost output.

It is a golden rule of political economy that downturns of this magnitude have huge political ramifications. But while much will be different AC (After Coronavirus), this doesn’t mean that British politics will automatically shift Left-wards. That would be a lazy assumption.

The NHS was already untouchable and unreformable, and Boris Johnson was already planning to shower it with cash: it will merely get even more. The railways were already being renationalised: the crisis has accelerated this. Other bailed-out entities will be reprivatised.

It will be self-evidently unaffordable for the Government to continue paying for half the jobs in the country when the crisis ends, and some of the abuse of furloughing that can even now be detected will remind the public of the dangers of generous welfare. Rishi Sunak’s superstructure will be dismantled: extremely elevated levels of benefits essential during total war can’t continue in peacetime without massive incentive problems.

The greatest change AC will be to our culture, and this won’t help the Left: we will rediscover the advantages of economic growth and have to relearn to live with unemployment. The BC (Before Coronavirus) obsession with frivolous “first world problems” will be gone: there will be no interest in identity politics, just in hard-headed policies that can boost growth and jobs and put money in people’s pockets. There will be a cost of living crisis, and reduced support for taxes or green policies that hurt the poor and middle class, just as there was in 2008-09. It may delay but won’t derail Brexit: national self-interest is back worldwide. The EU is facing severe strains, with fury at how member states aren’t helping each other and Hungary going fully undemocratic.

Taxes may not go up either, at least not conventionally, despite the massive budget deficit (though the self-employed will be hit). The national debt may be “repaid” without explicitly hammering taxpayers: we may see higher inflation in the years ahead, eroding the real value of IOUs. We could even see actual debt write-offs: a rich world Jubilee.

And why would a Tory government be stupid enough to cripple an economy on its knees with higher taxes? A million businesses could easily have gone bust by the end of this, unemployment will be through the roof and asset values – including house prices – could have dropped by 20-25 per cent. Hurting the rich for populist reasons is something that governments can afford to do in the good years, not when they are desperate to attract entrepreneurs, capital and talent. Taxing wealth will be impossible when the price of mansions has collapsed, and hitting the middle classes politically suicidal. The Tories will have to rediscover their supply-side instincts, and do what it takes to encourage growth.

Any higher inflation caused by the monetisation of the deficit will also infuriate Middle England. Only Left-wing economists believe that inflation is popular: it never is. It always leads to a shift to the Right, sometimes to the poujadiste variant.

Many private sector businesses will have their reputations enhanced by their crisis, including supermarkets and even tech firms. Almost everybody blamed profit-making firms for the financial crisis; nobody is blaming them for the virus. There are some caveats: banks can’t pay dividends or bonuses anymore, which will limit the backlash, but they will face reputational damage unless the cheap business loans promised by the Government can be accessed easily.

Most important of all, Johnson’s plans for a big government conservative spending spree are in tatters. With the national debt at 100-110 per cent of GDP, it will become imperative to keep the finances under control, and only spend more on projects to prevent another pandemic.

Nobody can know for certain how politics will change as a result of this humanitarian and economic catastrophe. But as our shell-shocked society, stunned that it isn’t as advanced as it thought it was, goes back to basics, I wouldn’t bet on a Left-wing renaissance.



South Korea's Successful Pandemic Strategy

It effectively limited the virus's spread without shutting the country's economy down.

South Korea only just now passed 9,000 total positive tests for the China Virus, and yet the East Asian nation was one of the earliest outside of China to report infections. Furthermore, South Korea did not engage in a nationwide shutdown to slow the virus’s spread, which has many wondering how it has been able to so successfully keep COVID-19 at bay.

The head of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Program, Mike Ryan, noted, “We’ve seen examples in places like Singapore and [South] Korea, where governments haven’t had to shut everything down. They’ve been able to make tactical decisions regarding schools, tactical decisions regarding movements, and been able to move forward without some of the draconian measures.”

The key, Ryan believes, has to do with widespread testing. South Korea quickly engaged in a vast testing regimen, which allowed it to essentially locate and then target those infected areas for isolation and quarantine, thereby slowing and limiting the spread of the virus to other areas of the country. Thus, those regions of the country free of the virus are able to operate more normally. As explained by South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, “Testing is central because that leads to early detection. It minimizes further spread.”

National Public Radio also reports, “Japan is another Asian country notable for its response. Although Japan has more than twice the population of South Korea and also has strong ties to China, it has recorded only a fraction of the cases that South Korea has. … Japan hasn’t been testing nearly as widely as South Korea, but appears to have fended off significant community transmission by quickly investigating any flare-ups of cases, identifying who exactly is infected and then monitoring their contacts.”

Finally, nothing helps like learning from past experiences. Back in 2015, South Korea was hit hard by a MERS outbreak that brought the nation to a near standstill. Lessons learned from dealing with that outbreak have proven pivotal in guiding its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.



Removal of navy captain 'poor judgment'

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden says the Trump administration showed "poor judgment" in relieving the commander of an aircraft carrier who sought stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

"Donald Trump's Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger - a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic," Biden said in a statement to Reuters.

"And the Navy sent a chilling message to the rest of the fleet about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors."

The commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was removed from command after writing a scathing letter to Navy leadership about conditions on the nuclear-powered carrier. The letter leaked to the public.

But acting navy secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander "demonstrated extremely poor judgement" in the middle of a crisis.

On Thursday, Mr Modly told reporters that Capt Crozier was being fired for allegedly leaking the letter to the media.

He said the captain copied too many people into a memo, which was leaked to the California newspaper and then quickly spread to many news outlets.

He said Mr Crozier should have gone directly to his immediate commanders, who were already moving to help the ship.

Mr Moldy said the letter "created the impression the Navy was not responding to his questions".

He also said Mr Crozier created a panic by suggesting 50 sailors could die.




We need an exit strategy: Weekly jobless claims double to a whopping 6.6 million (CNBC)

So about those declining numbers... Chinese county goes into lockdown amid fear of second wave (South China Morning Post)

In typical communistic fashion, Chinese doctor disappears after blowing the whistle on threat (National Review)

Coast Guard tells cruise ships with cases to stay away from U.S. ports (TPR)

Dr. Anthony Fauci given security detail after receiving threats (Washington Examiner)

Environmentally "woke" San Francisco ironically joins Massachusetts in banning reusable bags from grocery stores (Fox News)

California engineer ran train "off the end of rail tracks" in attempted attack on USNS Mercy in Los Angeles (USA Today)

Trump, in preemptive maneuver, says Iran planning "sneak attack" on U.S. troops, assets in Iraq (Fox News)

"There is a growing threat that ... malign actors will try to exploit the situation": Trump launches massive military offensive on drug cartels (The Daily Wire)

Rep. Adam Schiff drafting legislation to set up 9/11-style commission so Democrats can exploit coronavirus response (The Hill)

Rep. Matt Gaetz proposes commonsense bill blocking funds from Congress to China-owned businesses (Washington Examiner)

America's civilian arsenal grows by some 2.5 million firearms after record-shattering gun sales in March (The Washington Free Beacon)

Massachusetts governor infringes on the Second Amendment by closing gun stores (NRA-ILA)

Florida issues statewide stay-at-home order (Fox News)

Pennsylvania placed under stay-at-home order (NBC Philadelphia)

Policy: We can fight pandemics without the communist-allied World Health Organization (The Federalist)

Policy: Statewide lockdowns and the law (Hoover Institution)

For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


3 April, 2020

The shutdown is excessive

In Italy, all those who die in hospitals with Coronavirus will be included in the death numbers. In the article, Professor Walter Ricciardi, Scientific Adviser to Italy’s Minister of Health, reports, “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity—many had two or three.”

Recording the numbers of those who die with Coronavirus will inflate the CFR as opposed to those that died from Coronavirus, which will reduce the CFR.

And, indeed, in an Italian study of those who died, only three patients (0.8 per cent) had no pre-existing health condition, 99 percent had at least one preexisting condition, half had three, and the average of all was 79.6 years. Those figures give some indication of the difference between dying withcoronavirus and dying of coronavirus. That’s a somewhat technical difference to the deceased and his family, but it’s a significant difference to any judgment of how big a threat the virus poses to our peoples. Ignoring it inflates the total of deaths owing to the virus; correcting it must mean reducing the raw data of Italian CFRs to something nearer the German ones. As the CEBD authors point out, moreover, the various estimates of case fatalities all decline substantially from the start of an epidemic to its final tally. Swine-flu estimates fell fivefold over that period.

Reports in the past few days, moreover, suggest that over the weekend the Italian curve “peaked” and should now gradually decline until it dissipates entirely. That may take some time, and I leave it to the epidemiologists and statisticians to guess where both will end up. At this “peak point,” however, the Italian figures are 69,176 infected and 6,820 deaths, while Germany at an earlier point on the curve is looking at 31,260 infected and 156 deaths. These two countries point to quite different estimates of final fatalities.

Let’s look at a slightly more average case. The U.K. has 8,164 infections and 423 deaths. It has far fewer infection cases than Germany does and three times the number of deaths. And in the report of the Imperial College scientists—the one that underpins the policy of the British government—their estimate is that the coronavirus could lead to the deaths of between 20,000 and 500,000 people, depending on whether nothing is done or a quite draconian “lockdown” is imposed. And Boris Johnson has just done the latter. (Their estimate for the U.S. is between 500,000 and 2,200,000 deaths.)

Their report, though not without its technicalities, is closely argued and readable. My advice is to read it here. I shall not attempt to paraphrase it, since Peter Smith, a former colleague at Quadrant and a fine economist, has done a first-class job of both summarizing and critically analyzing it. But I will make a few points that strike me as relevant and important:

The IC report itself is a balanced and flexible document. Though its authors chose a policy of “suppression” over “mitigation,” that was a matter of emphasis rather than of a strict division. Most of the practical policies to tackle the pandemic—case isolation, voluntary home quarantine, social distancing of the elderly, social distancing of the entire population, closure of schools and universities—are proposed under both headings but in different combinations, timescales, and so on.

The report itself was not a departure from previous government policy—the “U-turn” much touted in the media—but the evolution of policy that was a response in real time to the dimensions of the threat posed by the virus. What led the scientists to propose a move from mitigation to suppression was data from Italy showing numbers of infected people so high that the hospitals were overwhelmed.

Without a policy of suppression—i.e., immediately halting the spread of the virus by quarantining the population—the National Health Service would be overwhelmed, as in Italy. But the virus would remain in the population and resume spreading when quarantine was eased. There would be a second upsurge of infections and deaths in the fall, as has happened in earlier epidemics and may now be happening in China. And so a second lockdown. Or third.

At the same time, a “lockdown,” partial or total, under suppression would gravely damage the economy, perhaps reducing the gross domestic product by a fifth to a third and creating mass unemployment. It would also halt the gradual expansion of “herd immunity,” which under mitigation would have meant that most people would have suffered the mild symptoms of a weakening virus, thereby becoming immune, while the elderly and at-risk groups were protected by quarantine measures reserved for them until the virus had been more or less eradicated.

Great depression or the breakdown of the nation’s health service? It’s not an easy choice, and to be fair to the scientists, they recognized this in the report, acknowledging both that there were crucial social and economic aspects of the crisis and that they could advise only on its medical aspects.
Once the report was released, however, all restraints of practicality were released too. A mass public pandemic of panic took over. The merits of suppression versus mitigation seem to me to lie narrowly on the mitigation side of the argument. But its great failing is that allowing a virus to spread, albeit to sections of the population resistant to it (while protecting the vulnerable), is a very hard sell. That failing was magnified by media that scented government incompetence in the mythical U-turn (a reversal denied by the IC chairman) and set off to prove it. And that press campaign was made as toxic as the coronavirus by the fact that large numbers of pundits, including some conservatives, are in the grip of a wildly irrational “Boris Derangement Syndrome” that leads them to believe the most exaggerated (albeit contradictory) charges against him—“He’s a fascist who wants to control everyone.” / “He’s a libertarian who won’t impose the necessary controls on people.” (Much the same syndrome can be seen in the United States; indeed, some say it was invented there.)

One result is that public opinion has demanded—and governments have yielded to—the imposition of lockdowns that go much farther than the IC report proposed. The report was, for instance, ambivalent-leaning-to-hostile with respect to school closures. They would not reduce transmission of the virus between children, since they would still be mixing outside; if they had been infected, they might transmit the virus to vulnerable grandparents given the task of looking after them by harassed parents; and those parents working in the health sector and emergency sectors, now greatly needed to deal with higher patient loads, would be kept at home. But governments all over Europe—except, to its credit, the Dutch government—have now closed schools in response to public pressure, even though the ministers in them will tell you privately they think this is a bad idea with likely bad consequences. Boris Johnson’s Tory government has gone to extreme lengths in this regard, literally imprisoning people in their homes, with only an hour or so for exercise or shopping every day.

It offers only a little solace that Boris is doing this reluctantly. It is still leading to the deliberate economic ruin of the country. President Trump sees the same thing and so proposes ending or avoiding a shutdown, but without a plausible way of dealing with the threat of the coronavirus in the longer term. There is a basic flaw to this approach. As Peter Smith writes: “The policies being adopted by governments are not tenable. They will bring about unquantifiable and crippling economic and social (and quite possibly serious health) consequences. Make no mistake, governments will be forced to reverse course . . . and adopt a different strategy.”

What he has in mind is a weaponized version of the mitigation strategy.

Recall, this strategy consists of socially distancing only those who fit in the category of being particularly vulnerable to the virus, and quarantining those with the infection and those living in the same households. If that were done, it would cause some economic dislocation—e.g., for the travel and tourism industries—but it would allow most everyone else to get on with life as normal, albeit while practicing good hygiene. That is the economic and social advantage of mitigation.

The medical advantage is that it leads to a rapid spread of the virus and to herd immunity, “leading to an eventual rapid decline in case numbers and transmission dropping to low levels.” Unfortunately, in the meantime, under assumptions about its transmission to vulnerable groups (because of the likely degree of contact despite encouragement of social distancing) and the number of available critical-care hospital beds, it overwhelms health services and causes many deaths.

If we could solve the medical flaw in this strategy—and that might be possible: read on—it would still face a more obstructive flaw. Governments have already committed themselves and their prestige to a bold (if mistaken) policy and invested immense amounts of political capital in it. It’s hard enough to change their minds before they’ve made such a commitment; it’s nigh impossible to do the same when they’ve bet the house on a single number in roulette. Okay, events will force a retreat to mitigation or something like it eventually. But it would require a bolt from the blue to get them to change now.

Amazingly enough, two bolts have suddenly appeared from the blue.

The lesser bolt is that, as we noticed earlier, researchers have only lately begun to point out that the Italian statistics may greatly exaggerate those deaths caused by the virus: They amount to only 12 per cent of the total number of those who died with the virus. Most died, in effect, from other causes. And that smaller death rate from COVID-19 is likely to shrink farther as the pandemic runs its course. These doubts about the Italian statistics are important because governments and the media have been treating Italy’s experience with COVID-19 as a guide to what their own countries are likely to suffer after a time lag. What if it isn’t? This question has particular significance to the U.K. The IC scientists chose suppression over mitigation in their urgent advice to the British government because they were alarmed by data they had just received from Italy. Did that data exaggerate the Italian death rates? Or did it take into account the growing doubts about them? Probably the latter, though the U.K. media have begun to follow this story only in recent days..

Even if the Italian data showed no bias, however, a third factor must be taken into account: namely, the annual death rate in the U.K. In 2018, one full year before COVID-19 was heard of, 541,000 people died in England and Wales, most of them older and less healthy people. That’s almost the exact prediction in the IC report of how many people would die if nothing was done. Are the 510,000 deaths in addition to the annual total? Apparently not. They will be part of the total. Naturally, no one now knows how large a part, since the deaths are hypothetical and the deceased still alive. But since those Brits who died in earlier years are similar in relevant respects to the great majority of Italians who died with the coronavirus rather than by it, it’s reasonable to argue that the deaths from the virus in the U.K. will not add all that many to the annual total of the dead of previous years, since many of them would likely die if the virus hadn’t erupted among us.

That’s not to dismiss the fates of human beings with a claim on us, merely to refine what is at stake. If the main aim of policy is to prevent those deaths from occurring all at the same time and overwhelming the health system, then—yes—it makes sense to adopt suppression. But if the main aim is to save their lives while avoiding an economic dislocation that would put many more lives at risk too, then that might be better accomplished by Smith’s policy of weaponized mitigation. His policy would combine paying the elderly to self-quarantine for a period while organizing industry and the voluntary services to equip hospitals with more beds and better medical technology in real time. And the latter is already happening throughout the English-speaking world.

That approach would work more easily and surely, however, if “herd immunity” were more advanced in Britain, so that fewer people would be at risk of catching the illness and therefore fearful about it. That possibility has just been delivered by the second bolt from the blue, hurled, oddly enough, by the “Pink’ un.” The Financial Times has just broken a story that Oxford medical researchers have developed a model that shows among other things that Britain has already developed a high degree of “herd immunity.” Work by Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group suggests that the coronavirus could have arrived in Britain in mid January, far earlier than previously believed, spread widely under the radar for more than a month, and by now infected up to half of the population, most without their ever realizing they had been infected. Sunetra Gupta, the leader of the study and a professor of theoretical epidemiology, told the FT that, if the results are confirmed, they mean that “the vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all.”

If Professor Gupta’s work survives testing and, presumably, some pushback by the scientists at Imperial College, it will be a great and welcome achievement. It would mean that far fewer people are now at risk of a painful illness and death, that the balance of advantage between mitigation and suppression has now changed decisively in favor of the former, and that the destructive policy of closing down the economy to fight the coronavirus at recurring intervals can now be reversed or at the very least put on hold. As Robert VerBruggen points out on The Corner, “this is a possibility the paper sketches out, not an actual finding inferred from the data.” But if that possibility turns out to be true, it would change the entire gloomy landscape we have all felt trapped inside.

Millions of people already feel luckier. Among them, Lucky Boris, who’s been handed an alternative to trudging into a socialist prison (if he’s prepared to take it), and Lucky Trump, who’s been given the justification he needs to close down the shutdown.




Stocks close historically bad quarter with losses; Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all down between 15% and 24% (The Hill)

Larry Hogan and Gretchen Whitmer: What governors need from Washington during this health emergency (The Washington Post)

How South Korea reined in the outbreak without shutting everything down (NPR)

New Jersey backs down on gun-store closures (The Washington Free Beacon)

An answer to China? Trump calls for $2 trillion infrastructure bill as "Phase 4" of coronavirus response (Fox News)

For the record: Ten insanely wasteful spending items in the relief bill (The Federalist)

"Millionaires don't need a new tax break": In ironic turnabout, Grassley blasts Pelosi's attempt to eliminate SALT deduction cap (National Review)

The rule of men: DOJ IG checked 29 more FBI spy warrants and found problems with all of them (The Daily Caller)

Unconstitutional ban? District court finds bump-stock proscription may constitute a taking, because the federal government lacks a police power (The Volokh Conspiracy)

"Preparing for worst-case scenarios": The U.S. military's dealing with the virus — but keep it a secret (RealClearInvestigations)

With friends like these, who needs enemies? Chinese propaganda is now citing U.S. journalists' and Democrats' coronavirus rhetoric (Washington Examiner)

Marine Corps plans to cut tanks, shrinks F-35 squadrons to confront China (Naval Technology)

Policy: Even during these dark days, it's not all bad news in the jobs market (New York Post)

Policy: Why it's so hard to escape anti-poverty programs (Foundation for Economic Education)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


2 April, 2020

The Swedish alternative to ferocious shutdowns

Note that the death toll below becomes comparable with other countries only if we take Sweden's small population into account -- 10 million. So the 105 deaths reported below amount to less than 1 per capita, which is less than almost anywhere except Australia

There have been recent prophecies that Sweden will have to crack down soon.  But so far they are just that: Prophecies.  The basis of the claim is that deaths in Sweden have risen a bit recently.  They are however still very low by world standards

In the bright spring sun, flaxen-haired families held barbecues on the beach. Crowds in this provincial Swedish town shopped in ­designer boutiques and in supermarkets laden with toilet paper and pasta.

As much of the world hunkered down at home to hide from the coronavirus, life in Sweden was — for many — carrying on almost as normal last week.

Swedish public health experts argue that the virus can be stopped solely by vaccination or by herd immunity.

Since a vaccine for widespread use is still at least a year away, they say, the only possible way to stop the epidemic is by isolating vulnerable people while allowing the virus to spread as slowly as possible through the healthy population as they build resistance.

Scientists at Sweden’s public health agency say this will also prevent a harsh resurgence in ­infections. “It’s important to think how long can you keep these measures going,” said state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

“What we’re doing now we think we can do for a long time. Of course it slows down many things in society but we can make it work. We all know that this is going to go on for months. You can’t keep schools closed for months.”

There were 3447 infections in Sweden and 105 deaths by Sunday. Some restrictions have been imposed to slow the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned and colleges and universities are closed. Those over 70, or with pre-existing health problems, have been asked to stay at home except for a daily walk. But restaurants and bars are open and children are going to school.

The authorities say Swedes can be trusted to follow recommendations to socially distance and do not need draconian laws to slow the spread of the virus.

“If the public health agency goes out and says stay home, ­people do stay home,” Dr Tegnell said. “My feeling is that the actual impact of having a law in another country and a recommendation in Sweden isn’t that different.”

Last week The Netherlands, which has been aiming for herd immunity, announced a ban on ­almost all gatherings amid public fears over a large projected number of deaths.

In Sweden, scientists at the public health agency are shaping the national response to the virus together with the government, but — by law — politicians cannot ­intervene in the details of its ­implementation.

“The agencies have the technical and scientific expertise. The government has the expertise in policies and politics,” Dr Tegnell said. “Most experts in the world agree that there’s no way of stopping this any more. It hits almost every country in the world. We can’t get rid of it, that never happened in history — only with smallpox after decades of vaccination.”

Anders Bjorkman, a leading ­epidemiologist who spent years at the forefront of malaria research, challenges the model used by ­researchers at Imperial College London, which estimated that about 1 per cent of those who contracted the virus would die. He ­argues that the estimate is misleading as it does not include those with the virus who exhibit no symptoms.

“They say there’s 1 per cent mortality. That’s not true. They completely discard the asymp­tomatics,” he said. “In all these groups there are some who don’t have symptoms and aren’t reported. In Sweden the average age of all reported corona cases is 56 years roughly. The average age of the population is 40 … and I believe that all age groups have been more or less equally exposed. Among the younger population, those under 40, there are so many non-symptomatics.”

The death rate in Sweden, he said, was likely to be closer to 0.1 per cent than 1 per cent. Hundreds, rather than tens of thousands, would die before herd immunity was achieved.

The public health agency said that in tests of about 5000 people who had returned to Sweden from visits to Italy, the few hundred that were positive all exhibited mild symptoms — implying that there could be a large number of people in Sweden who are asymptomatic — with mild or no symptoms — who have not sought medical treatment.



Are We Sacrificing Liberty for Security?

We must evaluate the real price of the near-total economic shutdown.

In the midst of the current China Virus pandemic — and the media-generated panic that greatly exacerbates it — the reality of the above quote remains immutable. And right now, the presumptive default position — for reasonable Americans, at least — is that government is operating in our best interests. One says reasonable because there will always be those incapable of transcending politics. What they’re afflicted with is far worse than coronavirus, because while viruses may be ultimately beaten back, rabid partisanship appears eternal. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC) privately told his Democrat Party members that a coronavirus bill supposedly aimed at giving relief to millions of unemployed and sick Americans was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

What kinds of “tradeoffs” were Democrats seeking? Courtesy of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who showed her true colors in time of crisis, a hard-left wish list of items wholly unrelated to helping a nation teetering on the brink of collapse. One suspects millions of Americans beset by a crushing combination of self-isolation, unemployment, impending bankruptcy, and fear of death or serious debilitation are appalled by “solutions” that included same-day voter registration, ballot harvesting, gender and racial diversity data requirements for corporations and the government, automatic extensions for nonimmigrant visas, more wind and solar tax credits, or requirements that an already reeling airline industry cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 50%.

Pelosi ultimately caved, but one hopes voters will remember such despicable self-interest next November. Yet that is a topic for another day.


It will be interesting to see if he has even that much time. While our media elites have already branded Trump’s since-revised assertion as a choice “between solidarity and barbarism” or called it an “astoundingly boneheaded idea,” there is either a stunning level of naiveté or monumental self-unawareness attached to such sentiments.

First, the difference between solidarity and barbarism is in the eye of the beholder: New Yorkers fleeing Manhattan and hunkering down at well-stocked beachfront mansions in the Hamptons are likely far more sanguine about self-isolation than a single mother forced to wait it out with her two kids in a tiny apartment in the projects. And again, it’s easier to be noble when one is blessed with recession-proof wherewithal rather than facing financial calamity. Moreover, some people can tolerate loneliness, isolation, and adversity; some cannot — not even for a week.

Second, while it is easy to focus on the mortality rate of the coronavirus wholly by itself, to ignore the potential mortality rate associated with isolation-engendered drug and alcohol overdoses, accidents, suicide, or murder is a fool’s errand. In many cases, simply contemplating a future of enduring financial ruination may be enough to push someone over the edge.

Thus, to simply dismiss the idea of what may be best described as a more targeted approach to the dilemma as barbarism or boneheadedness — or, worse, to assume that such an approach is evil — is itself an indication that some types of solidarity are “more equal” than others.

At some point — utterly irrespective of the president’s hopes, expert advice, or a poisonous media thoroughly invested in sowing panic, discord, hatred, and hysteria — the pressure to reintegrate will become unbearable. It’s impossible to say where prolonged purposelessness ultimately leads, but to completely dismiss it as part of the equation is shortsighted.

Another factor? By self-isolating and social distancing, could we be kicking the proverbial can down the road and extending the timeline of the pandemic? We are told such measures are necessary to prevent overloading our healthcare system, but what happens to that same healthcare system when it must deal with a persistent level of coronavirus, coupled with the additional pathologies arising from the scourges of isolation and economic catastrophe? It’s worth remembering that the deaths arising from America’s opioid crisis — largely attributed to economic disruption exponentially less serious than what could happen now — outpaced those arising from car accidents. It’s also worth considering how many healthcare providers would be put out of business by an unprecedented economic catastrophe.

Moreover, when does “an abundance of caution” lead to an abundance of oppression? If it turns out coronavirus is only marginally more deadly than flu, what becomes the “standard” mortality rate for shutting down an entire nation, imposing draconian government controls, and essentially subverting the Constitution?

And not just for coronavirus, but any potential deadly disease going forward?

Already the Justice Department is asking Congress to expand its powers during a national emergency, including the ability to allow chief judges to permanently detain an individual without trial. As columnist Douglas MacKinnon reminds us, such “temporary” power, once given to government, “is rarely returned to the people and often abused.”

Moreover, do the people get a say in the matter? MacKinnon believes — and one suspects millions of other Americans do as well — that some sort of national referendum should be held. Let the people decide whether we continue indefinitely sheltering in place, or embrace a possible “herd immunity” strategy that incorporates a new set of social mores designed to provide safety to the nation’s most vulnerable people. One that can be effected without committing economic suicide.

Unthinkable? With regard to the seasonal flu, it’s a choice we’ve already made, even though millions will get it and thousands will die — year in, year out.

That such a longstanding choice has never been turned into a political issue is telling. There is little doubt that widespread panic is a great enabler of power consolidation, and once the crisis passes — or Americans decide to endure a certain level of risk to put it behind them — the necessity of a thorough review regarding who can essentially suspend constitutional rights “for emergency sake” is absolutely imperative. If we don’t review such power grabs, many Americans will wonder whether we were properly responding to a crisis — or creating a template for totalitarian governance.

And finally, the media. The one that makes a complete mockery of hope, largely because hope doesn’t accrue to its political sensibilities, even when hope may be the only thing keeping millions of Americans from losing their minds. Fueled by arrogance and condescension, the media’s unrelenting effort to divide America during its most dire crisis is the sorriest spectacle of rank self-interest this nation has ever witnessed. This is one American who fervently hopes this contemptible army of doomsayers, panic-mongers, propagandists, and outright liars gets the mother of all comeuppances, as they have proven themselves incapable of embracing simple decency when it matters most.

We certainly hope President Trump’s current desire to reopen America by June 1 can be realized.



More on the deceptive coronavirus models

Why is pinpointing the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 into the U.S. so important? Because the Task Force must make decisions based on sound modeling. To avoid deep and prolonged economic harm, we should return to business as usual (excluding those at high risk) in the coming month. And if SARS-CoV-2 actually arrived here between mid-November and mid-January, then the modeling trajectory of its spread and fatality rate is significantly different than what has been projected and reported.

To that point, yesterday Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx made a remarkable disclosure. She condemned the "Viral Fear Pandemic" fomented by the mainstream media and, though she did not name them, the Democrat leaders who have disgracefully politicized that fear.

Regarding the breathless pandemic modeling that has been promoted by the media, Brix declared: "Models are models. When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it's very scary, but we don't have data that matches that based on our experience." She said the media should not assert "that when people need a hospital bed it's not going to be there, or a ventilator it's not going to be there [because] we don't have evidence of that." She added, "It's our job collectively to assure the American people. There is no model right now [and] no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that."

She referenced the "recent report out of the UK ... that said there would be 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the United States." She noted, "They've adjusted that number in the UK to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment. ... The predictions of the model don't match the reality." That original UK report was widely promoted by the mainstream media.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


1 April, 2020

The curious age discrimination of coronavirus

The generational effect of the corona-virus is cunning and baffling. By often being so mild in the young and healthy it turns people into heedless carriers. By often being so lethal in the old and sick, it makes carriers into potential executioners of friends and neighbours.

The virus is very dangerous for people who have certain underlying illnesses, which is probably the main reason it is so serious for the elderly. It is almost as if it does not kill people by itself, just worsens other disorders. This is unlike flu, where children are as much at risk as old people. By contrast, in this case, young people in good health, even very young children, generally get such a mild coronavirus infection that they rarely have to seek treatment. An analysis of Chinese cases found that just 0.1 per cent of children under the age of nine who caught the virus needed to go to hospital and only 5 per cent of those needed critical care; just 0.002 per cent died, compared with 9.3 per cent of those over 80.

It is surely this pattern that is making the disease so difficult to stop. People are passing on Covid-19 before they feel unwell, perhaps without ever feeling sick. According to a study of 468 cases in China, where the source of infection could be traced, the average time between one person getting ill and the person he or she gives it to getting sick (the ‘serial interval’) is about four days, with 59 of the infectees getting sick even before the infector felt ill — a so-called negative interval. (This could have been, for example, a young person with no early symptoms giving it to an older person.)

That serial interval is half as long as Sars, and signals how contagious Covid-19 is. In the absence of social distancing, the average person gives the disease to about three people, twice as many as flu. In short, the evil genius of this virus is that it is creating an epidemic of rapid transmission without making most of its victims sick enough to stop getting out and about. That is why its lethality for a few is not such a problem for the germ itself: normally, a virus transmitted by coughing would have to evolve towards not killing people in order to keep going.

The relative invulnerability of the young probably explains the indifference of some people to the government’s increasingly desperate advice that people should keep a distance from each other. On Sunday evening, a television reporter interviewed fit young men using exercise bars in a London park in close proximity to others and -frequently swapping equipment: an ideal recipe for spreading the virus. They were not bothered. ‘I thought, you know what,’ said one, ‘this is even better because I’ve got the fresh air.’ It had not dawned on him that he might pass on the virus while feeling fine.
Many younger people feel invincible anyway, but the horrible truth is that the data from the epidemic has made them more confident rather than less, apparently forgetting their risk as carriers, rather than victims, of the virus.

Typhoid Mary was a cook who moved from one rich employer to another in New York and Long Island, infecting seven households with typhoid between 1900 and 1907 before doctors traced her as the common cause of the infections. The key point is that she was in good health herself throughout. When confronted, she indignantly refused to submit stool samples for analysis, until eventually imprisoned for this refusal.

After three years she was released while promising not to work as a cook. -Unhappy with the low wages of a laundress, she changed her name, resumed cooking and resumed causing typhoid. After a 1915 outbreak in a hospital for women in which 25 people fell ill and two died, Mary Mallon/Brown was again arrested and kept in quarantine for the rest of her life, refusing to have her gall bladder removed. When she died in 1938, an autopsy revealed a thriving colony of typhoid bacteria in her gall bladder. For some genetic reason they had not caused any symptoms in her.

I am not suggesting that people are being as deliberately irresponsible as Typhoid Mary, and of course people are infectious with the coronavirus for only a week or two, not a lifetime. But there is a disturbing echo here, in the crowds that turned up at parks, markets and shops last weekend, of her unwillingness to believe she could have been part of the problem.

There may be another reason too. This was articulated by the broadcaster -Timandra Harkness on Twitter: ‘Is it tactless to -suggest that people who have spent the past 20 years being told not to do anything fun because it’s bad for them may now be less receptive to urgent Public Health advice?’ Don’t drink! Don’t eat sugar! Don’t leave your home! The indifferent may not be very public-spirited, but they are not irrational. Most people’s chances of dying if they get the disease probably are very low. The case fatality rate overall is likely to be well below 1 per cent. It seems much higher right now because most of those being tested are the people who have fallen ill enough to go to hospital. We all now know people who have caught the virus and are showing the symptoms — including that unusual feature of a loss of smell and taste — but have not been tested. And if you are under 70, then you are almost certain not to die unless you have a serious other condition.

Indeed, perhaps that is true if you are over 70 too. The elderly are increasingly plagued with ‘co-morbidities’ — the name for those who have several different things wrong with them, all being treated with separate drugs — and this is perhaps why they are succumbing to the virus. It may have nothing to do with age itself.

Thus, if we really could isolate those with underlying conditions from the rest of the society then everybody else could get the economy back to normal, push on through the epidemic to gain herd immunity. Schools could reopen, businesses get going again and the health service might cope. Once enough people were immune, they could care for those who are more vulnerable. But can that be done? How does a care home operate if some of the staff are spending time out in the rest of the world? Delivering post or shopping to a person with heart problems is itself a risk. Besides, the death of several doctors in Italy implies that the virus can still kill healthy people sometimes — though these individuals probably received much larger doses of the virus than most people would.

With luck a better choice may present itself: test and trace, as seems to have worked in South Korea. Once we have enough test kits, including a serological test to find those who have had it and are immune, then we can test enough people to identify and trace the contacts of every carrier, and we can surely turn the tide. But by then the health service might have been overwhelmed.



Poll: 15 Percent of Bernie Supporters Will Vote for Trump Over Biden

A new ABC News/Washington Post opinion poll has some very bad news for former Vice President Joe Biden. If he secures the Democratic presidential nomination -- which he will, of course -- a full 15 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters plan to cast their vote for President Donald Trump's reelection. That's extremely troubling for Biden, because in 2016, only 12% of Bernie's supporters broke for Trump after their guy's historic intraparty fight with Hillary Clinton.

But, USA Today reports, there's some good news in there. You see, the 15% of Bernie-istas who plan to vote for Trump in that scenario represent "just 6% of Democrats and voters who lean Democratic." Meanwhile, "Trump won 8% of Democrats in 2016."

Huh? Wait a minute. How about Democrat or Democrat-leaning voters who supported other candidates in the primaries... or who may not have supported any of them? Isn't it likely that these Democrat runaways will add some percentage points to the stat cited above?

You'd think so. And matters may get even worse for Biden considering the fact that Trump's approval rating is on the rise. That too will convince at least some traditional Democrat voters to go with Trump this time around.

Oh yes, this could get much, much worse for Biden than USA Today anticipates.



The Coronavirus Killed the Progressive Left

Covid-19 and the Democratic presidential primaries, the two biggest stories of the year so far, reflect a common theme: the death of the progressive left. Looking back, historians may well see late 2019 and very early 2020 as a kind of high-water mark for American progressivism.

It wasn’t so long ago that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were commanding most of the attention in the presidential campaign, especially among intellectuals. Right before Super Tuesday, Sanders was a clear favorite in the prediction markets. Yet the actual voting showed the strength of Joe Biden, a (relative) centrist; Warren attracted very little support, and Sanders failed to reach the same vote totals he achieved four years ago.

And a big comeback for the left four years from now seems unlikely. Democratic Party success is likely to come from other directions. Covid-19 could well be a front-page story for the next year or two, possibly more. Over the span of less than a week, virtually every major institution in American life has been subject to radical changes to their daily operations, and it is not clear when things will return to normal. Covid-19 may well make a bigger impression on the national consciousness than 9/11 or the financial crisis of 2008.

How will Covid-19 reshape public opinion? I am not suggesting that what follows is rational, much less correct, but here are some guesses:

-- The notion of very open international borders will seem strange and indeed intolerable, as most of the world’s wealthy nations have been looking for ways to keep foreigners out. The new restrictions on movement will not be repealed so quickly or so thoroughly, and for a while the U.S. may restrict movement across domestic states and cities. President Donald Trump will appear to have been ahead of his time, and immigration will no longer be a viable mobilizing issue for the left.

-- The egalitarianism of the progressive left also will seem like a faint memory. Elites are most likely to support wealth redistribution when they feel comfortable themselves, and indeed well-off coastal elites in California and the Northeast are a backbone of the progressive movement. But when these people feel threatened in their lives or occupations, or when the futures of their children suddenly seem less secure, redistribution will not be such a compelling ideal.

I am not saying you have to welcome this change, only that it is likely.

-- A massive dose of fiscal policy has been another progressive priority. Now that even Republicans are embracing stimulus, as a political issue it will cease to be effective for the left.

-- The case for mass transit also will seem weaker, because subways and buses will be associated with the fear of Covid-19 transmission. In a similar fashion, the forces of NIMBY will become stronger, relative to those of YIMBY, because people secure in their isolated suburban homes will feel less stressed than those in densely packed urban apartment buildings.

-- There is likely to be much more government intervention in some parts of the health-care sector, but it will focus on scarce hospital beds and ventilators, and enforce nasty triage, rather than being a benevolent move toward universal coverage. If anything, it will drive home the message that supply constraints are binding and America can’t have everything — hardly the traditional progressive message.

-- The climate change movement is likely to be another victim. How much have you heard about Greta Thunberg lately? Concern over the climate will seem like another luxury from safer and more normal times. In addition, the course of anti-Covid-19 efforts may not prove propitious for the climate change movement. If the fight against Covid-19 suddenly improves (perhaps a vaccine working very quickly?), Americans may come to expect the same in the fight against climate change.

Alternatively, if Covid-19 risk persists, it will distract and seem like the bigger problem. And the various national responses to date also do not suggest that international cooperation is going to be very successful on a wide variety of issues, climate change included.

Again, this is all conjecture. But as Covid-19 continues to spread, it is likely that the list of things it will change — in politics and the world of ideas, much less daily life — is only going to grow.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement



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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. And now a "Deplorable"

That Left and Right are so hostile to one-another is most unfortunate. Broadly, the world needs Leftists to highlight problems and conservatives to solve them. But the Left get angry with conservatives when conservatives point out that there are no good solutions to some problems

Social justice is injustice. What is just about taking money off people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not earned it? You can call it many things but justice it is not

But it is the aim of all Leftist governments to take money off people who have earned it and give it to people who have not earned it

Envy was once considered to be one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, 'social justice.’ - Thomas Sowell

At the most basic (psychological) level, conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the discontented people. Conservatives don't think the world is perfect but they can happily live with it. And both those attitudes are largely dispositional, inborn -- which is why they so rarely change

The Left Doesn't Like Christmas because Christmas is just too happy for them

As a good academic, I define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

So an essential feature of Leftism is that they think they have the right to tell other people what to do. They see things in the world that are not ideal and conclude therefore that they have the right to change those things by force. Conservative explanations of why things are not ideal -- and never can be -- fall on deaf ears

Who is this Leftist? Take his description of his political program: A "declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists". You could hardly get a more change-oriented or revolutionary programme than that. So whose programme was it? Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Trotsky? Mao? No. It was how Hitler described his programme towards the end of "Mein Kampf". And the Left pretend that Hitler was some sort of conservative! Perhaps it not labouring the point also to ask who it was that described his movement as having a 'revolutionary creative will' which had 'no fixed aim, _ no permanency, only eternal change'. It could very easily have been Trotsky or Mao but it was in fact Hitler (O'Sullivan, 1983. p. 138). Clearly, Nazism was nothing more nor less than a racist form of Leftism (rather extreme Leftism at that) and to label it as "Rightist" or anything else is to deny reality.

A rarely acknowledged aim of Leftist policy in a democracy is to deliver dismay and disruption into the lives other people -- whom they regard as "complacent" -- and they are good at achieving that.

As usual, however, it is actually they who are complacent, with a conviction of the rightness and virtue of their own beliefs that merges into arrogance. They regard anyone who disagrees with them with contempt.

Leftists are wolves in sheep's clothing

Liberals are people who don't believe in liberty

Leftist principles are as solid as foam rubber. When they say that there is no such thing as right and wrong they really mean it.

Leftists FEAR the future

There is no dealing with the Left. Their word is no good. You cannot make a deal with someone who thinks lying and stealing are mere tactics, which the Marxists actually brag about

Montesquieu knew Leftists well: "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."

Because they claim to have all the answers to society's ills, Communists often seem "cool" to young people

German has a word that describes most Leftists well: "Scheinheilig" - A person who appears to be very kind, soft natured, and filled with pure goodness but behind the facade, has a vile nature. He is seemingly holy but is an unscrupulous person on the inside.

The new faith is very oppressive: Leftist orthodoxy is the new dominant religion of the Western world and it is every bit as bigoted and oppressive as Christianity was at its worst

There are two varieties of authoritarian Leftism. Fascists are soft Leftists, preaching one big happy family -- "Better together" in other words. Communists are hard Leftists, preaching class war.

Equality: The nonsensical and incoherent claim that underlies so much Leftist discourse is "all men are equal". And that is the envier's gospel. It makes not a scrap of sense and shows no contact with reality but it is something that enviers resort to as a way of soothing their envious feelings. They deny the very differences that give them so much heartburn. "Denial" was long ago identified by Freud as a maladaptive psychological defence mechanism and "All men are equal" is a prize example of that. Whatever one thinks of his theories, Freud was undoubtedly an acute observer of people and very few psychologists today would doubt the maladaptive nature of denial as described by Freud.

Socialism is the most evil malady ever to afflict the human brain. The death toll in WWII alone tells you that

American conservatives have to struggle to hold their country together against Leftist attempts to destroy it. Maduro's Venezuela is a graphic example of how extremely destructive socialism in government can be

The standard response from Marxist apologists for Stalin and other Communist dictators is to say you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. To which Orwell retorted, ‘Where’s the omelette?’

You do still occasionally see some mention of the old idea that Leftist parties represent the worker. In the case of the U.S. Democrats that is long gone. Now they want to REFORM the worker. No wonder most working class Americans these days vote Republican. Democrats are the party of the minorities and the smug

"The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion — mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined." —T.S. Eliot

We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people -- Churchill

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others" -- Cicero. See here

The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them

Definition of a Socialist: Someone who wants everything you have...except your job.

ABOUT: Postings here from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. And now a "Deplorable"

When it comes to political incorrectness, I hit the trifecta. I talk about race, IQ and social class. I have an academic background in all three subjects but that wins me no forgiveness

Let's now have some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The current Leftist mantra

The difference in practice

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story

We conservatives have the facts on our side, which is why Leftists never want to debate us and do their best to shut us up. It's very revealing the way they go to great lengths to suppress conservative speech at universities. Universities should be where the best and brightest Leftists are to be found but even they cannot stand the intellectual challenge that conservatism poses for them. It is clearly a great threat to them. If what we say were ridiculous or wrong, they would grab every opportunity to let us know it

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

'Gay Pride' parades: You know you live in a great country when "oppressed" people have big, colorful parades.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out

Insight: "A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him." —Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

"Those who see hate everywhere think they're looking thru a window when actually they're looking at a mirror"

Hatred has long been a central pillar of leftist ideologies, premised as they are on trampling individual rights for the sake of a collectivist plan. Karl Marx boasted that he was “the greatest hater of the so-called positive.” In 1923, V.I. Lenin chillingly declared to the Soviet Commissars of Education, “We must teach our children to hate. Hatred is the basis of communism.” In his tract “Left-Wing Communism,” Lenin went so far as to assert that hatred was “the basis of every socialist and Communist movement.”

If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.

The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Leftists don't understand that -- which is a major factor behind their simplistic thinking. They just never see the trade-offs. But implementing any Leftist idea will hit us all with the trade-offs

Chesteron's fence -- good conservative thinking

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often their theories fail badly.

Mostly, luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.

Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

Seminal Leftist philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel said something that certainly applies to his fellow Leftists: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history". And he captured the Left in this saying too: "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself".

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals

Funny how to the Leftist intelligentsia poor blacks are 'oppressed' and poor whites are 'trash'. Racism, anyone?

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.

A Conservative manifesto from England -- The inimitable Jacob Rees-Mogg


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they (under the chairmanship of Ulric Neisser) have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

At the beginning of the North/South War, Confederate general Robert E. Lee did not own any slaves. Union General Ulysses L. Grant did.

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Revolutionary terrorists in Russia killed Tsar Alexander II in 1881 (after three prior assassination attempts). Alexander II was a great reformer who abolished serfdom one year before the US abolished slavery. If his democratic and economic reforms had continued, Russia may have been much less radical politically a couple of decades later, when Nicholas II was overthrown.

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Some rare Leftist realism: "God forbid if the rich leave" NY Governor Cuomo February 04, 2019

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research

The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.” ? Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

"Foreign aid is the process by which money is taken from poor people in rich countries and given to rich people in poor countries." -- Peter Bauer

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." --?Arthur Schopenhauer


The Bible is an Israeli book

There is a view on both Left and Right that Jews are "too" influential. And it is true that they are more influential than their numbers would indicate. But they are exactly as influential as their IQs would indicate

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

It’s a strange paradox when anti-Zionists argue that Jews should suffer and wander without a homeland while urging that Palestinians ought to have security and territory.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

Some personal background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

In my teenage years, however, I was fortunate to be immersed (literally) in a very fundamentalist Christian religion. And the heavy Bible study I did at that time left me with lessons for life that have stood me in good stead ever since

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.

As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

A real army story here

It's amusing that my army service gives me honour among conservatives but contempt from Leftists. I don't weep at all about the latter. I am still in touch with some of the fine people I served with over 50 years ago. The army is like that

This is just a bit of romanticism but I do have permanently located by the head of my bed a genuine century-old British army cavalry sword. It is still a real weapon. I was not in the cavalry but I see that sword as a symbol of many things. I want it to be beside my bed when I die

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

And something that was perceptive comes from the same chapter. Hitler said that the doctrines of the interwar Social Democrats (mainstream leftists) of Vienna were "comprised of egotism and hate". Not much has changed

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way


"Tongue Tied"
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"Education Watch International"
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"Marx & Engels in their own words"
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To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
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"Food & Health Skeptic"
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QANTAS -- A dying octopus
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Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
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Selected reading



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