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.


31 May, 2020

Infectious Disease and Authoritarianism

I am a great admirer of Jordan Peterson and agree with him on most things.  I certainly sympathize with the panic that seized him when his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. They were a pair since childhood so the loss was maximal. I myself was pretty upset at the recent loss of a long relationship but I cannot imagine how I would have felt if my  relationship had stretched so far back. 

I had support that meant I had no need to turn to anxiolytic drugs but I certainly understand that he did.  As is always the danger, use of such drugs can induce dependence and it is rather heroic that he fought so hard to defeat that dependence.  One hopes that he is back to full health soon.

I am not sure how recent is his article below but it does indicate a mind not at its best.  For a start, I can locate no article that is as he describes it. I think he is voicing a garbled memory of a well-known article about parasite load: "Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence Predicts Authoritarianism".  Parasite load is high in Africa so a number of theories about it have been circulated -- e.g. here

What it is NOT, however is a disease.  It is not of viral or bacterial origin.  It is caused by invertebrates. So Peterson's recollection that the study caused disease is incorrect.  It is also incorrect that the study was about psychological authoritarianism.  It was about political authoritarianism.

Finally, what can we make of the high correlation Peterson reports.  He is generally pretty good on statistics but it  would seem that he has not heard of ecological correlations. In statistics, “ecological” correlations have nothing to do with environmentalism.  They are "ecological" ones in Robinson's (1950) sense -- i.e. the units for analysis were not indivisible. As Robinson shows, such correlations can easily be beguilingly high, particularly where the units for analysis are few, and such correlations are not estimates of individual correlations.

As Menzel (1950) has pointed out, however, ecological correlations do not have to be estimates of individual correlations to be of interest. Ecological correlations tend to tell us more about broad processes than details within such processes.

The correlation between national IQ levels and national income levels reported by Lynn and Vanhanen are ecological correlations and H.C. Lindgren’s finding of a -.61 correlation between high income and voting for Richard Nixon in the the 1972 U.S. Presidential election is another example. It implied that richer and more highly educated people MUCH preferred the way-out Leftist McGovern

So Peterson is judging the correlation he reports by irrelevant criteria.  An ecological correlation of .7 is mundane, not striking


Lindgren, H.C. (1974) Political conservatism and its social environment: An analysis of the American Presidential election of 1972. Psychological Reports, 34, 55-62.

Menzel, H. (1950) Comment on Robinson's "Ecological correlations and the behavior of individuals" American Sociological Review 15, 674.

Robinson, W.S. (1950) Ecological correlations and the behavior of individuals. American Sociological Review 15, 351-357.

There was a paper published in PLOS ONE about a year ago. They were looking at [the following issue]. Let’s say I assessed your political attitudes—I could do that with, say, an authoritarian belief scale, because authoritarianism has been studied quite a bit since the end of World War II. Nobody really knew what to do with it in relation to personality, but it doesn’t matter; you can assess it with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

These people did two things: they did a cross-country survey and then within-country surveys. So if you were looking at a phenomenon, you could look at the country level—US vs. Canada—or you could go into the US and then you could look at a state level. And it’s nice to do the analysis of both levels, to see if it replicates itself across the two different conceptual strata.

And what they found was mind-boggling. It’s Nobel-prize-winning stuff, as far as I’m concerned.

The correlation between the prevalence of infectious disease in a locale and the degree to which authoritarian beliefs were held in that locale was about point 7. It’s like, you never see that in the social sciences. That’s higher than the correlation between IQ and grades, which is about as good as we ever get in terms of prediction.

So it’s like, really? It’s that high? And one of the things that implies is that one of the ways to get rid of authoritarian attitudes, assuming that you want to get rid of such things, is through public health. 


Nordic Countries Accelerate Opening and Abandon COVID-19 Testing Plans

One has to wonder if parts of Europe are a harbinger of what is to come for the United States in the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is, what is coming out of the Nordic countries is all good news. Revised testing guidelines, slower rates of infection and expedited opening are all indicated in the experience in Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland might be better than expected. It won’t make the “lockdown until November, we need 5 million tests a day” crowd happy at all.

Sweden has chosen a different path to public health from the beginning of the pandemic. Seeking to protect their hospital system and increase immunity in the population, they put light recommendations in place and allowed shops and primary schools to stay open.

Despite the hands-off, high-trust approach, Sweden falls in about the middle of the pack for deaths per million in Europe. Yet their disease penetration in Stockholm, a metro area of about 2.6 million people, is only 7.3% as of the end of April according to antibody testing.

This is far below expectations given the original R0, or measure of how contagious a virus is. Original estimates said this rate could be as high as one infected person infecting 5-6 others on average. Sweden’s approach suggests this might be much lower, which would be good news.

In Norway, they have abandoned their plans for broad-based testing:

Norway’s health agency has abandoned plans to test broadly for coronavirus after judging that the spread of infection in the country is now so low that doing so would be pointless.

Instead, tests will be reserved for those who have symptoms of coronavirus, those who work in healthcare or elderly care homes, and those in risk groups.

If 12,000 random people were tested in Norway today, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health estimated in a press release issued on Monday, 15 would test positive, of which only one would have a real coronavirus infection.

Based on the low forecasted infection rates and an even lower symptomatic disease forecast, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health issued new testing guidelines that mirror the kind of sentinel surveillance Dr. Deborah Birx has been describing for months. It suggests testing asymptomatic individuals in specific circumstances, not broadly:

After an outbreak of infection in elderly care homes, all employees and residents of the affected units should be tested

When diagnosing infection in health institutions, it may be appropriate to test asymptomatic close contacts

When new residents move into nursing homes, testing may be appropriate.

Prior to certain hospital stays or procedures (although this is up to each hospital).

In some cases, foreign universities or employers might require testing. This can be done on a private basis.

Research: In some research studies, all participants will be tested regardless of symptoms.

They also set COVID-19 testing priorities that focus on symptomatic individuals, screening specific populations and contact tracing.

In addition, Switzerland is accelerating its reopening efforts:

"The Federal Council thereby indicates that it wants to end the extraordinary situation again after three months and get out of the situation thanks to which it ruled in many areas by emergency law."

The Health Minister proposed changes and as of June 6, 2020, the only significant restrictions that will remain in place are bans on gatherings of more than 300 people. All schools, indoor and outdoor entertainment including sporting events, will be allowed.

 Their phased reopening approach has been progressing quickly since beginning on April 27th.

Additional information on vaccine testing tells us the United Kingdom is also seeing declining infection rates. They have declined to the point researchers are concerned about successfully completing the trial.

All of this is good news as America contemplates how to proceed with reopening on a regional level even a few weeks behind.



Fauci changes tune, now says second COVID-19 wave may never happen — and mask-wearing is symbolic

He is clearly out of his depth

Talk about an abrupt about-face. Dr. Anthony Fauci now says that a second wave of COVID-19 may not even happen and that wearing a mask is largely symbolic at this point.

What about the second wave?  In a Wednesday interview with CNN's "Newsroom," Fauci — member of the White House's coronavirus task force — said that a second COVID-19 wave is not necessarily inevitable.

"We often talk about the the possibility of a second wave, or of an outbreak when you're reopening," Fauci explained. "We don't have to accept that as an inevitability."

"Particularly," he continued, "when people start thinking about the fall. I want people to really appreciate that, it could happen, but it is not inevitable."

Fauci admitted that he is beginning to feel more and more optimistic as days go by, and insists that the U.S.'s expanded capability for testing is bolstering the COVID-19 response.

He pointed out that a second wave is entirely preventable if the U.S. is able to have the "workforce, the system, and the will to do the kinds of things that are the clear and effective identification, isolation, and contact tracing."

In April, however, Fauci insisted that second wave of coronavirus was inevitable.

During an interview with MSNBC, he said, "It's inevitable that the coronavirus will return next season. ... When it does, how we handle it, will determine our fate."

And so what about the masks?
Fauci also said that Americans should wear face masks in public to protect themselves — but also to get into good practices.

"I want to protect myself and protect others [by mask-wearing], and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing," he added.

During the interview, the infections diseases expert also admitted that wearing a mask is not 100% effective, but says that it is a gesture that shows "respect" for other people.




DOJ makes George Floyd death investigation a "top priority" after protests, rioting, and looting grip Minneapolis (Fox News)

Attorney General William Barr appoints U.S. Attorney John Bash to investigate "unmasking" requests by Obama officials (Washington Examiner)

A solid bedfellow: William Barr has become Trump's religious-liberty enforcer (Washington Examiner)

House passes Uighur human rights bill — via proxy vote (Axios)

Vaccine development threatened because infections are declining (PJ Media)

Over 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, pushing total job losses to 40 million from coronavirus lockdown (Fox Business)

A whopping two-thirds of furloughed workers may temporarily be receiving more money in unemployment benefits than they did from their jobs (MarketWatch)

Opening businesses while keeping churches closed is constitutionally problematic (Washington Examiner)

Is a $1 million donation the reason Governor Andrew Cuomo gave immunity to nursing homes? (PJ Media)

For the record: The Central Park dog case is Covington 2.0 (National Review)

Trump administration to end Iran deal waivers in a blow to Obama-era pact (The Washington Post)

California district attorney launches investigation into whether Joe Biden's accuser, Tara Reade, lied while testifying as expert witness (The Daily Caller)

Two days after WHO abandons trial testing, France bans hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment (The Hill)

Policy: Hong Kong's worst-case scenario is happening before our very eyes (The Heritage Foundation)


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 May, 2020

America Is Opening. It Should Never Have Closed

Jeffrey A. Tucker

I wanted to celebrate the opening day of breweries in Connecticut. But it was hardly that. Open means freedom of association and commerce. We are nowhere near that point.

You had to have reservations for a particular time slot, because they are only allowed a fractional capacity. You can only stay an hour and a half. Beer can only be sold in plastic cups and servers can’t touch the thing after you have touched it. You must bus your own table. You have to sit outside.

The mask mandate remains as confusing as ever: you have to put them on when you walk up the ramp to the beer garden but then you can take them off, unless you are the server in which case you have to scream your menu items through a cotton fabric and it comes out like a big muffle anyway. Health theater.

All of this is mandated by the government, as part of the slow-go opening, as if the politicians passing these mandates have any clue about risk, the power to control and direct a virus with precision, or any knowledge of this virus or viruses in general.

It’s all a crazy kabuki dance that everyone is going through, businesses and customers alike, even though it should be completely obvious to one and all by now that for the demographic of your typical brewery patron, this is hardly a disease at all.

We know vastly more about COVID-19 than we did early on, and the more we know the more preposterous is the entire lockdown, which is probably why the media-fueled fear mongering is rising and not falling during the opening. (To be sure, even if COVID-19 had turned out to be the bubonic plague, I still reject the idea that there is any excuse to violate human rights.)

Back to my brewery trip. My sense of dread about this outing quickly turned to happiness. There was a food truck. They were serving burgers. On the way in, I ordered one for me and each of my friends. They were delivered to the porch where we were seated. It tasted like the greatest meal I had in my life. It was astonishing. The food truck people were so incredibly happy to be selling, serving, making money, making people satisfied. Their typical tips this day were 50%. Rightly so!

It was the same at the brewery. Yes, the owner and servers were wearing masks, as mandated by the government. Still, you could almost see the smiles through them. They were practically yelling with delight to be back working, back in business, back serving the public. They were all hopping around like rabbits, even though the place was forcibly doing a fraction of its normal business. It was like two-plus months of pent-up energy pouring out all at once.

It was immediately obvious to me that these people have a vocation. They have dreams. They are meant to do this. It is a deep passion that burns within. They were wickedly and cruelly stopped from doing what they set out to do and robbed of two months of profits and two months of happiness in serving others. More importantly, their dreams of a secure legal environment to do business were crushed.

Finally with the opening, it was back – in a very truncated form but back nonetheless. You could just feel the energy and joy on the porch. It was a reminder to me that great entrepreneurs at every level of society possess a passion akin to great intellectuals, priests, or scientists. They believe that they are doing what they were born to do.

This country was founded to allow them to make their dreams come true. How and why we came to the place in which they were shut down coast to coast is a scandal for the ages.

Still, what I sensed here was a desire to move on. Don’t look back. Don’t seek justice. Don’t kvetch about whatever the hell just happened in the spring of 2020. Let’s just get on with business. Now.

A worry has haunted me during this lockdown concerning capital formation in the future. Why would anyone invest in anything if government can just shut it down on any pretext? Viruses, even new ones, even deadly ones, will always be with us, so does this mean that lockdowns and the pillaging of enterprises will be with us too? In that case, we face a very grim future.

But being out and about curbs my pessimism. The opening is taking place not because of government or the howling media; it is happening despite their objections and due only to massive public pressure. Sure, the polls are ambiguous; they always are on controversial topics.

What matters is the underlying passion for freedom that has been shown by the commercial community and average people, including the protestors in every town in America. People have been betrayed by their leaders; the passion to make matters right is boiling up all over the country. You see it in every Twitter feed of every governor. You detect it in conversations. You see it on the beaches, which are blessedly full. America is so over this.

What of capital formation in the future? It will undoubtedly be harmed. However: the passion and energy of the business community will not be so easily discouraged. It can overcome the threats, the bureaucrats, the political cowardice that led to lockdown, and even the legal ambiguity of the executive orders that brought it about.

The same passion will now seek absolute assurances that nothing like this will ever happen in our lifetime. There will be curbs on the powers that made this possible. They will be written in stone. Mixing the metaphor, they will hang over the political class like the Sword of Damocles. Changes in law can only go so far; the public must demand that their governments stop this. And if the public demands absolute assurances, and kicks out of office anyone who fails to promise “never again,” there is no reason for American entrepreneurs to be worried. The worst-possible thing has happened, and yet most have survived. Those who haven’t will find other ways forward.

American business owners and those who work to service the public via commerce cannot and will not let their dreams be stolen by a pathetic political class and a savagely ignorant media apparatus that understands not the first thing either about viruses or commerce, and cares nothing for people’s rights. This country is about realizing material and spiritual dreams. That means freedom as a first principle – a principle that can never be thrown away no matter the excuse of the moment.



Now, Norway's Health Chief Just Torpedoed the Case for COVID Lockdowns

Was the coronavirus real? Yes. Did some overreact to it? It appears so. I was one of them, but the past ten days have been a deluge of news pretty much undercutting the need for panic. First, most of the country was not hit that hard. New Jersey, New York, parts of New England, and some areas of the West Coast were heavy hit. The rest of the country was not nearly as badly ravaged. New York City is the mecca for the US-based outbreak, but most of the deaths appear to be concentrated in an area we all know would be a problem: nursing homes. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced these facilities to admit COVID-positive patients. Of course, it spread like a brushfire in there.

I supported the lockdowns to curb the spread and prevent the hospitals from being overrun. Fine—but the goalposts were moved by liberals. Also, we’ve flattened the curve, the hospitals are stable, and it’s time to re-open. Yet, in Norway, their health chief now says that maybe a lockdown wasn’t necessary at all—that the rate of infection was not accurately gauged. In all, she declared that Norway could have handled the infection without a quarantine. The Local Norway, the nation’s English-speaking news outlet, reported on this:

Camille Stoltenberg, the agency's Director General, told state broadcaster NRK that the agency's analysis now suggested less restrictive measures would have been sufficient.

"Our assessment now....is that we could possibly have achieved the same effects and avoided some of the unfortunate impacts by not locking down, but by instead keeping open but with infection control measures," she said.

The institute reported at the start of this month that the reproduction number had already fallen to as low as 1.1 even before the lockdown was announced on March 12.

This suggests that it would not have required heavy-handed measures such as school closures to bring it below 1 and so push the number of infected people in the country into a gradual decline.

"The scientific backing was not good enough," Stoltenberg said of the decision to close down schools and kindergartens, a policy her agency had not recommend even at the time it was instituted in March.

Well, that’s a gut punch, huh? Also, the “R naught” number which tracks how contagiousness of a virus was whittled down to 1.1. It was reported as closer to three, making it far greater more infectious than the seasonal flu.

North Carolina now has slashed its COVID death toll drastically. The CDC totally reevaluated the virus and how it spread on surfaces. Testing has increased dramatically, and positive results have never been lower. Also, in the UK, the vaccine tests have run into an issue: there aren’t enough infected people. The virus is dissipating at such a rate that the chances for a successful test hover around 50/50. That is a good problem, however. Also, the mortality rate has also been clarified to show that it's not as lethal as originally reported.



Pew Research Shows Republican Run Districts Controlled Virus Way Better

What was Pew Research thinking to trot this piece out about the differences between GOP and Democratic-controlled counties impacted by the coronavirus? Was this a way to take a swipe at the GOP? Was it to pour more gasoline on the fake news story about COVID hot spots being impacting rural areas? I don’t know, but it did succeed in pointing out that viral outbreaks spread like a brushfire in densely packed population centers, like cities, whereas the spread slows down in rural areas where people are more spaced out.

Sorry, I know you know this, but what the hell is going on here? The hook for liberal readers appears to be the fact that COVID deaths aren’t dropping as quickly in red counties, which weren’t hit nearly as bad as New York City or the Acela Corridor, so again—what is this? (via Pew):

Of the 44 hardest-hit congressional districts – the top 10% in terms of deaths – 41 are represented by Democrats, while three are represented by Republicans. These include the New York-area districts, as well as those in the Boston, Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas. The average death toll in each of these hardest-hit districts was 1,122 as of May 20.

The next 100 hardest-hit districts, which represent the remainder of the top third of districts, with an average of 270 deaths, also are disproportionately represented by Democrats: 75 are represented by Democrats, 25 by Republicans.

About two-thirds (68%) of the 44 least affected districts – the bottom 10%, with an average 13 deaths in each district – are represented by Republicans in Congress.

While the current death rates remain highest in districts controlled by Democrats, the trend in coronavirus fatalities over time has been decreasing in Democratic districts steadily since mid-April. In contrast, Republican-controlled districts have not seen the same declines in the trend over time.

Yeah, it’s why that study about how elderly deaths could impact Trump’s 2020 re-election was equally absurd, just red meat for Trump-deranged liberals to distract them from the notion that their areas are infested with COVID. This was partially due to their leaders sitting on their hands and doing stuff like forcing nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, looking at you Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo. The latter’s grim reaper policy is bound to boomerang on him, as he’s tried to deep-six the order:

Yet, let’s bring it over to Ed, our great friend from Hot Air, who took a blowtorch to this whole…article. Professor Morrissey has entered the chat:

The obvious reason why GOP-controlled districts have a shallower decline in death rates is because they had a much shallower incline. The peak in these districts was just one-third of the peak in Democrat districts, which still have more than twice the rate of deaths at this time. This is so obvious that it speaks to a blinding bias on the part of Pew Research that they couldn’t see it for themselves before publishing it — and then promoting this hot take.

Put it this way: what impact does a House member have on policy and governance specific to his/her district? None at all, which is why this analysis is entirely useless. This is correlation without causation, a very common statistical fallacy that one would ding students for creating in an undergrad paper.

To have this appear in a Pew Research publication suggests another form of causation — political bias. It undermines Pew’s credibility and calls into question all of their work in this political environment, if for no other reason the sheer idiocy involved in making that bias sooooooo obvious.




"A dereliction of our duty as elected officials": House Republicans sue Speaker Nancy Pelosi in bid to stop unconstitutional proxy voting (Fox News)

Justice Department closes insider-trading investigations of Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kelly Loeffler, and James Inhofe; Richard Burr inquiry continues (NPR)

Richard Grenell declassifies slew of Russia probe files, as John Ratcliffe takes helm as DNI (Fox News)

U.S. ahead of schedule in cutting Afghanistan troop strength; just 8,600 remain (Reuters)

Salaries get chopped for many Americans who manage to keep their jobs (Bloomberg)

Reopening optimism fuels stock-market surge (Washington Examiner)

Memorial Day weekend shootings leave 10 dead in Chicago — the most since 2015 (AP)

Illinois Democrats bank on a congressional bailout; state budget relies on billions in federal assistance (The Washington Free Beacon)

Obfuscation: New York health website deletes Governor Andrew Cuomo's order linked to nursing-home fatalities (Fox News)

Birds of a feather flock together: WHO praises Communist China for "very consistent message" of "openness" in virus investigation (Washington Examiner)

China wants to keep COVID tracking system in place permanently, fold it into social-credit system (The Daily Caller)

Despite confiscation, New Zealand sees most gun crime in a decade (NRA-ILA)

Policy: Donald Trump is right to dump the Open Skies Treaty (The Daily Signal)

Policy: The space business is about to get really serious (American Enterprise 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


28 May, 2020

Australia 'has BEATEN coronavirus': Top health official says a second wave of COVID-19 is unlikely as transmission rates plunge to nearly zero - with just 30 patients in hospital nationwide

The chance of a second wave of COVID-19 in Australia this year is unlikely, according to one of the country's top health officials, as transmission rates fall to nearly zero.

New South Wales chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant told state politicians the ban on international travel and the state's grasp of social distancing meant it was well placed to stem further outbreaks of the virus and prevent a second wave.

There is just one coronavirus patient in intensive care across the state - and only five nationwide as of Tuesday. A total of 30 COVID-19 patients remain in hospital across the country.

In the private briefing, Dr Chant conceded NSW's ability to prevent a second wave would rely on widespread adherence to social distancing rules.

It comes as the state looks to June 1 for the next stage of restriction easing - with beauty salons and nail bars set to re-open and regional travel permitted.

'The policy for how to deal with a second wave is that we'll evaluate it at the time,'  an MP close to the meeting told The Australian.

'[Dr Chant's] message was: It's very possible to contain all this ­because we don't have the inter­nationals coming in, and we have good social distancing and hygiene­ practices.'

There were only two new cases of COVID-19 in NSW recorded in the 24 hours to Monday.

There are 7,133 cases of the coronavirus nationally since the outbreak began, but just 478 of those are still active. 

Six million people have downloaded the government's coronavirus tracking app less than a month after its launch, helping authorities trace contacts of any diagnosed cases.  

It follows Premier Daniel Andrews announcing the new 'COVID normal' in Victoria ahead of the loosening of restrictions on June 1.

People in the state will kick off winter being able to enjoy meals with friends at home, attend weddings, swim at pools or even get tattoos, as long as there's no more than 20 people.  

The number will also mark the number of people allowed at weddings, while up to 50 people will be able to attend funerals.

'The rules that accompany that opening up will be with us for a long time,' Mr Andrews told reporters.

'This is a COVID normal, this is not a return to business a usual.'

Victoria's reopening will see 20 people allowed to visit libraries and other community facilities, entertainment and cultural venues, as well as beauty and personal care services.

The start of the coldest season will also include a lifeline for the tourism industry as overnight stays in hotels will be permitted.

Campgrounds will be open for those eager to pitch their tents, but not their communal facilities like kitchens or bathrooms.



Conservatives, save the economy by fighting liberal lies online

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages and the economic fallout of the widespread lockdowns continues to harm the livelihoods of millions of people, the November elections are rapidly approaching. In just six months, Republicans will attempt to retake the House of Representatives, retain their majority in the Senate, and ensure that President Trump serves an additional four years in the White House.

This uncertainty has greatly affected the political landscape. In recent months, left-wing groups such as MoveOn and Indivisible have utilized the grassroots playbook of the Tea Party movement following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. In their attempt to rally their supporters, liberals absurdly claim the lives lost due to COVID-19 and the unprecedented economic suffering are a manifestation of conservative, free market policies.

Such statements are riddled with factual inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. However, they have successfully energized the Democratic base.

For instance, Democratic incumbents in the “dirty 30” congressional districts, districts that voted for Trump in 2016 and elected a Democrat to the House in 2018, have outraised their Republican challengers by a ratio of 6-to-1. Additionally, groups such as MoveOn have experienced a dramatic growth in funding and an expansion of their activist base.

At a time when more than one-third of adults are increasing their time on social media, conservatives must use the digital sphere to cut through leftist falsehoods. To combat the fabrications of liberal activists, it is imperative to communicate a message of liberty.

Free market grassroots activists are fighting against left-wing disinformation. They are as engaged as ever and will be critical to victory. Through recruiting thousands of new activists and expanding its online presence, FreedomWorks and allied free market groups within the Save Our Country Coalition are emphasizing the importance of individual liberty and free enterprise in solving this crisis. Economic conservatives should take note. The GOP will need to look outside its typical base and make the winning argument to anyone who values a healthy economy.

The underlying message in countering the liberal narrative must be that free enterprise, which has done more to advance human prosperity than any economic system in history, will allow the economy to come roaring back. It is not Trump or Republicans that have fomented financial collapse but Democrats, who maintain that an indefinite national shutdown is the only solution. To emerge from this crisis stronger than we entered it, we must unleash the free market and lift draconian restrictions on individual freedom.

It is no surprise that the pandemic has been politicized by shameless Democrats and left-wing groups. Now, supporters of small government must fight back. A compelling argument that reaches groups outside the typical GOP base will be key to securing a victory for the free market and therefore a strong economy this November.



Two Billionaires Demonstrate the Limits of Money in Elections

Two and a half weeks after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) slammed Michael Bloomberg for trying to "buy this election," the former New York City mayor left the presidential race, having spent $570 million of his own money to win 58 delegates—3 percent of the number needed to secure the Democratic nomination. Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the race, did even worse, abandoning his campaign after spending more than $250 million and earning zero delegates.

Those spectacular failures should give pause to the politicians and activists who think money poses such a grave threat to democracy that the Constitution must be amended to authorize limits on campaign spending. Bloomberg and Steyer—who outspent former Vice President Joe Biden by factors of more than eight and nearly four, respectively—demonstrated that no amount of money can buy victory for candidates who fail to persuade voters.

Bloomberg's unprecedented ad blitz seemed to be effective at first, boosting his standing in national polls from around 3 percent in November to as high as 19 percent by early March. But when push came to shove, Democrats keen to replace President Donald Trump did not buy Bloomberg's argument that he was the man to do it.

The arrogance reflected by Bloomberg's strategy of skipping the early contests and debates, flooding the airwaves and internet with ads, and swooping in to rescue a party he had joined the year before launching his campaign probably helps explain why primary voters found him so unappealing. His disastrous performance during his first debate surely didn't help, and neither did his wooden demeanor or the generally uninspiring vibe of his TV spots, which one Democratic strategist described as "mediocre messaging at massive scale."

Steyer, a hedge fund manager who had previously spent many millions of his personal fortune to support losing Democratic candidates, saw almost no return on his investment in his own campaign. After polling at 0 percent last July, he climbed to 1 percent before dropping out in February.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that caps on campaign spending violate the First Amendment. Yet Democratic legislators are so obsessed with the supposedly corrupting impact of money in politics that they're ready to authorize such restrictions by fundamentally rewriting free speech law, as a proposed constitutional amendment—backed by every Democrat in the Senate and more than nine out of 10 Democrats in the House—would do.

Contrary to the fears underlying that illiberal initiative, voters are perfectly capable of rejecting even the most powerfully amplified messages. Just ask Bloomberg and Steyer.




And not a moment too soon: FBI director orders internal review of bureau's handling of Michael Flynn investigation (National Review)

Republican says Flynn judge may have "conflict of interest" after hiring personal attorney (Washington Examiner)

Trump announces that houses of worship are "essential," calls on governors to open them up (Fox News)

Trump threatens to move GOP convention over North Carolina's coronavirus restrictions (The Hill)

Dr. Anthony Fauci — previously a big advocate for lockdowns — now says extended stay-home orders could cause "irreparable damage" (Fox News)

Richard Grenell stepping down as ambassador to Germany following DNI stint (Fox News)

Mike Pompeo condemns China's Hong Kong law as "death knell" for freedoms (BBC)

U.S. threatens to impose sanctions on China over Hong Kong crackdown (Washington Examiner)

Thirty-five percent of patients are asymptomatic, CDC says (Fox13Memphis.com)

U.S. plans massive coronavirus vaccine testing effort to meet year-end deadline (Reuters)

South America a new epicenter; Africa reaches 100,000 cases (Reuters)

Trump suspends travel from Brazil (CNBC)

Republicans sue to stop Governor Gavin Newsom from sending mail-in ballots to all California voters (Washington Examiner)

Federal judge rules Florida felons don't have to pay fines before registering to vote (Washington Examiner)

Mississippi church that defied coronavirus restrictions is burned to the ground (The New York Times)

Lockdowns prompt raft of lawsuits against states (USA Today)

These are the most illogical COVID restrictions still in place (The Daily Caller)

Most Americans say they would pay more for products not made in China (Bongino.com)

Biden offshore drilling ban would kill 200,000 jobs, oil lobby says (Washington Examiner)

NASA astronauts go back to the future with capsule launch (AP)

Policy: U.S. Postal Service needs to get a grip on package pricing (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


27 May, 2020

The CDC confirms remarkably low coronavirus death rate. Where is the media?

Daniel Horowitz

Most people are more likely to wind up six feet under because of almost anything else under the sun other than COVID-19.

The CDC just came out with a report that should be earth-shattering to the narrative of the political class, yet it will go into the thick pile of vital data and information about the virus that is not getting out to the public. For the first time, the CDC has attempted to offer a real estimate of the overall death rate for COVID-19, and under its most likely scenario, the number is 0.26%. Officials estimate a 0.4% fatality rate among those who are symptomatic and project a 35% rate of asymptomatic cases among those infected, which drops the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) to just 0.26% — almost exactly where Stanford researchers pegged it a month ago.

Until now, we have been ridiculed for thinking the death rate was that low, as opposed to the 3.4% estimate of the World Health Organization, which helped drive the panic and the lockdowns. Now the CDC is agreeing to the lower rate in plain ink.

Plus, ultimately we might find out that the IFR is even lower because numerous studies and hard counts of confined populations have shown a much higher percentage of asymptomatic cases. Simply adjusting for a 50% asymptomatic rate would drop their fatality rate to 0.2% – exactly the rate of fatality Dr. John Ionnidis of Stanford University projected.

More importantly, as I mentioned before, the overall death rate is meaningless because the numbers are so lopsided. Given that at least half of the deaths were in nursing homes, a back-of-the-envelope estimate would show that the infection fatality rate for non-nursing home residents would only be 0.1% or 1 in 1,000. And that includes people of all ages and all health statuses outside of nursing homes. Since nearly all of the deaths are those with comorbidities.

The CDC estimates the death rate from COVID-19 for those under 50 is 1 in 5,000 for those with symptoms, which would be 1 in 6,725 overall, but again, almost all those who die have specific comorbidities or underlying conditions. Those without them are more likely to die in a car accident. And schoolchildren, whose lives, mental health, and education we are destroying, are more likely to get struck by lightning.

To put this in perspective, one Twitter commentator juxtaposed the age-separated infection fatality rates in Spain to the average yearly probability of dying of anything for the same age groups, based on data from the Social Security Administration. He used Spain because we don’t have a detailed infection fatality rate estimate for each age group from any survey in the U.S. However, we know that Spain fared worse than almost every other country. This data is actually working with a top-line IFR of 1%, roughly four times what the CDC estimates for the U.S., so if anything, the corresponding numbers for the U.S. will be lower.

As you can see, even in Spain, the death rates from COVID-19 for younger people are very low and are well below the annual death rate for any age group in a given year. For children, despite their young age, they are 10-30 times more likely to die from other causes in any given year.

While obviously yearly death rates factor in myriad of causes of death and COVID-19 is just one virus, it still provides much-needed perspective to a public policy response that is completely divorced from the risk for all but the oldest and sickest people in the country.

Also, keep in mind, these numbers represent your chance of dying once you have already contracted the virus, aka the infection fatality rate. Once you couple the chance of contracting the virus in the first place together with the chance of dying from it, many younger people have a higher chance of dying from a lightning strike.

Four infectious disease doctors in Canada estimate that the individual rate of death from COVID-19 for people under 65 years of age is six per million people, or 0.0006 per cent – 1 in 166,666, which is “roughly equivalent to the risk of dying from a motor vehicle accident during the same time period.” These numbers are for Canada, which did have fewer deaths per capita than the U.S.; however, if you take New York City and its surrounding counties out of the equation, the two countries are pretty much the same. Also, remember, so much of the death is associated with the suicidal political decisions of certain states and countries to place COVID-19 patients in nursing homes. An astounding 62 percent of all COVID-19 deaths were in the six states confirmed to have done this, even though they only compose 18 percent of the national population.

We destroyed our entire country and suspended democracy all for a lie, and these people perpetrated the unscientific degree of panic. Will they ever admit the grave consequences of their error?



Coronavirus, Gun Violence, and Lame Leftist 'Logic'

In order to attempt to stop a pandemic that kills far less than half of one percent of those who contract it, including a statistically infinitesimal percentage of those under 65, most of the world conducted a massive, overreaching, draconian lockdown effort that threw millions into poverty, shuttered businesses for good, disrupted critical supply chains, demolished liberties, and left much of the global economy in ruins that will take years, if not decades to rebuild. To call this ongoing absurdity an overreach is to put it mildly, but overreach is the term that seemingly has defined everything we’ve done attempting to stop a virus that has terrified people far beyond what its capabilities would suggest.

As more and more data comes to light, it’s becoming increasingly clear that, had we decided to employ a more measured approach like that of Sweden, we would not only have flattened the curve and not overwhelmed hospitals, but we would also be much further along toward the ultimate goal of obtaining herd immunity from the virus. Yet instead, we chose to burn the proverbial house down to deal with an ant infestation. We sank the ship to kill the rats below deck. We nuked the desert to get rid of a few scorpions. We … well, you get the picture. Instead of taking steps to isolate and protect the vulnerable, we closed schools, shuttered businesses, and essentially locked healthy people in their houses for months.

We tried an approach that hasn’t been tried in the entire history of pandemics, and we failed miserably. “But but but, the curve was flattened and deaths were kept to a minimum,” you say. To which I would argue that the curve would have been flattened anyway with a more measured approach and, while we may have had a few more deaths, we would be well on our way to herd immunity with a life-sustaining economy not completely off the rails. Instead, now we’re talking about having to wear facemasks for years and dealing with a potential second wave that could make our overlords force us to repeat this whole lockdown nonsense again in the Fall.

Most lockdown critics blame both right and left for the initial shutdowns, and I certainly understand where they’re coming from (though I’d like to humbly point out that I’ve been on the ‘right’ side of history on this since the beginning). Much was unknown, and some thought the death rate could reach as high as five percent. Though it’s obvious that President Trump wanted to do the right thing from the start, he was likely told by his advisors, especially the medical ones, that he would have blood on his hands if he erred on the side of inaction here. Fair enough. Were any of us in his situation, maybe we would have done the same thing, even if we didn’t want to.

So yeah, both sides are at fault to some degree, but those on the left have clearly been the ones loathe to learn from the world’s mistakes. Exhibit A? How about blue-state governors all across the land holding on to their newfound godlike power like it’s the last “hot & ready” Krispy Kreme doughnut? Of course, it’s not like any of us are surprised by this. Sadly, such tendencies towards overreach when dealing with a problem is par for the course with leftists. Give them a hammer, and everything looks like a nail.

No, their almost pathological desire to stick with the notion that locking down an entire population is an effective, long-term strategy for dealing with coronavirus isn’t surprising at all when you think about it. After all, they’ve taken the same approach toward gun violence for years. Just ‘ban’ guns, they reason, and gun violence will magically disappear. Instead of a functional, freedom-oriented society where good people have the right and means of self-defense, leftists would impose draconian gun legislation on the law-abiding, leaving the criminals, who have no intention of following gun laws, the ability to prey on society at will.

We all know that schools have been among the most vulnerable places for gun violence, for a variety of horrible reasons. However, instead of locking them down and protecting them with good people with guns, like trained teachers, principals, and resource officers, leftists reason that it is somehow easier to make guns magically disappear from the entire country.

Follow their twisted logic to protecting the vulnerable, particularly those in nursing homes, during the coronavirus pandemic, and you’ll see the tragic irony. We knew right from the beginning that this virus affected the elderly and sick to a greater degree. However, instead of locking down nursing homes from the start, certain blue-state governors, most notably New York’s Andrew Cuomo, mandated that they not be allowed to refuse COVID patients. And of course, what literally everyone knew would happen is exactly what DID happen - thousands more died than otherwise would have. In other words, the governors of New York and Pennsylvania “protected” their citizens from coronavirus by locking down the healthy and sending sick people into the one place everyone knew should be protected.

It makes absolutely zero sense, just like their approach to guns. But when has leftist “logic” ever squared with reality?



Cutting More Red Tape Will Aid Recovery

President Donald Trump's biggest accomplishments, in our view, are two stellar Supreme Court nominations, major tax cuts across the board, and a commitment to deregulation. Of the latter, the Wall Street Journal editorial board remarks, "The Trump Administration's long parade of deregulation — on everything from Title IX, to net neutrality, to environmental-impact statements, to joint employers — is among its biggest achievements."

Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, the Trump administration has worked to eliminate or waive regulations that hinder mitigation efforts. On Tuesday, the president made a significant move to continue this record. The Washington Times reports, "Mr. Trump signed an executive order, in his first Cabinet meeting since the crisis hit, that directs federal agencies to rapidly use all emergency and 'good cause' authorities to find red tape that can be rescinded or temporarily waived to promote job creation and economic growth. In addition to cutting regulations, the president's order instructs Cabinet agencies to 'consider exercising appropriate temporary enforcement discretion' for the good of the recovery."

Moreover, federal agencies should "determine which, if any," of the 600 deregulatory actions taken during the pandemic "would promote economic recovery if made permanent."

"Typically when our country has faced a crisis, Washington responds by grabbing more power," said Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. "President Trump understands that to get the economy moving, the power needs to be given back to the people and entrepreneurs. If a bureaucratic rule needs to be suspended during a time of crisis to help the American people, we should ask ourselves if it makes sense to keep at all."

Trump's rationale is surely influenced by his own career as a businessman. "I want you to go to town and do it right," he told members of his Cabinet. "It gives you tremendous power to cut regulation. We're fighting for the livelihoods of American workers, and we must continue to cut through every piece of red tape that stands in our way."

Many of the deregulation efforts are small in isolation. According to the Journal, they include: "Truck drivers hauling emergency supplies have more flexibility about hours on the road. Seniors on Medicare can consult doctors by iPhone. Colleges can ramp up distance learning without the usual red tape."

But regulations are also a sort of "death by a thousand paper cuts." Most regulations don't result directly in job losses, but the accumulation of them means business owners are busier obeying government fiat than they are serving customers, making widgets, or hiring new workers. Regarding the reopening, as long as businesses "have attempted in reasonable good faith" to meet guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, the bureaucracy has been instructed to lay off. Small moves like that will also accumulate and make it easier for businesses to recover from the pandemic shutdown.

Trump concluded, "With millions of Americans forced out of work by the virus, it's more important than ever to remove burdens that destroy American jobs." Can we get an "amen"?



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 May, 2020

Isolation and job losses are leading to higher number of suicide attempts  

The lockdown hit me at a time when I was having relationship difficulties  -- magnifying those difficulties.  I too could well have ended it at that time except for strong family support.  I am now at peace

Trauma doctors at a northern California medical center say the hospital they work at has experience more deaths from suicide than from the coronavirus. 

The head of the trauma at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek near San Francisco believes the effects of the coronavirus are not just affecting physical health but mental health too. 

Dr. Mike deBoisblanc believes that the lockdown restrictions need to end because of the impact they are having on mental health. 

'Personally I think it's time,' said Dr. Mike deBoisblanc to ABC7. 'I think, originally, this shelter-in-place order was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients.

'We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering.'

'We've never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,' he said. 'I mean we've seen a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.'

DeBoisblanc's colleague, Kacey Hansen, who has worked as a trauma nurse for 33 years also shares his concern.  'What I have seen recently, I have never seen before. I have never seen so much intentional injury.'

'They intend to die,' Hansen said. 'Sometimes, people will make what we call a "gesture". It's a cry for help. We're just seeing something a little different than that right now. It's upsetting.'

Doctors Hansen and deBoisblanc say they are seeing mainly young adults die by suicide brought on by the stress of isolation and job losses as a result of the quarantine.

California's shelter-in-place policy is set to last until midnight on May 31. 

Staff are encouraging those who are feeling depressed to call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK.       

'Generally speaking the vast majority of people say they feel better after they call and get the resources they need,' Executive Director Tom Tamura said.

'With help comes hope. I think that there are people and organizations out there that you can contact that can get you the information you need and resources you need to get you through this tough time.'

'I think people have found themselves disconnected from the normal supportive networks that they have, churches and schools and book clubs, you name it,' Tamura said. 'And that, coupled with the closure of some counseling services, people were maybe in a little bit of shock. They were trying to weather the storm a bit but as that isolation has grown people have come to realize this isn't a sprint it is marathon.' 



Lockdown was a waste of time and could kill more than it saved, claims Nobel laureate scientist at Stanford University

The coronavirus lockdown could have caused more deaths than it saved, a Nobel laureate scientist has claimed.

Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who correctly predicted the initial scale of the pandemic, suggested the decision to keep people indoors was motivated by 'panic' rather than the best science.

Professor Levitt also said the modelling that caused the government to bring in the lockdown - carried out by Professor Neil Ferguson - over-estimated the death toll by '10 or 12 times'.

His claims echo those in a JP Morgan report that said lockdowns failed to alter the course of the pandemic but have instead 'destroyed millions of livelihoods'.

Author Marko Kolanovic, a trained physicist and a strategist for JP Morgan, said governments had been spooked by 'flawed scientific papers' into imposing lockdowns which were 'inefficient or late' and had little effect.

He said falling infection rates since lockdowns were lifted suggest that the virus 'likely has its own dynamics' which are 'unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures'.

Denmark is among the countries which has seen its R rate continue to fall after schools and shopping malls re-opened, while Germany's rate has mostly remained below 1.0 after the lockdown was eased.

Prof Levitt told The Telegraph: 'I think lockdown saved no lives. I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few road accident lives, things like that, but social damage – domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism – has been extreme.

'And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions.'

Professor Levitt, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2013 for the 'development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems', has said for two months that most experts predictions about coronavirus are wrong. 

He also believes that the Government should encourage Britons to wear masks and find other ways to continue working while socially distancing instead.    

Prof Ferguson's modelling, on the other hand, estimated up to 500,000 deaths would occur without social distancing measures.

Prof Levitt added: 'For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and the people panicked. There was a huge lack of discussion.'

The 73-year-old Nobel prize winner in not an epidemiologist, but he assessed the outbreak in China at the start of the crisis and made alternative predictions based on his own calculations.

Although Professor Levitt does acknowledge that lockdowns can be effective, he describes them as 'medieval' and thinks epidemiologists exaggerate their claims so that people are more likely to listen to them.

His comments come as other scientists working in the same field also reported that they couldn't verify Prof Ferguson's work.

Competing scientists' research - whose models produced vastly different results - were largely ignored by government advisers.

David Richards, co-founder of British data technology company WANdisco said Ferguson's model was a 'buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel hair pasta than a finely tuned piece of programming'. 

Mr Richards said: 'In our commercial reality we would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust.'

University of Edinburgh researchers also reportedly found bugs when running the model, getting different results when they used different machines, or even the same machines in some cases.

The team reported a 'bug' in the system which was fixed - but specialists in the field remain staggered at how inadequate it is.

Four experienced modellers previously noted the code is 'deeply riddled with bugs', has 'huge blocks of code – bad practice' and is 'quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen'.

After the model's grim prediction, the University of Edinburgh's Professor Michael Thursfield criticised Professor Ferguson's record as 'patchy'.



How Florida's COVID Response, Skewered By the Media, Has Been Succeeding

We've been comparing and contrasting the policies, results and media coverage of New York vs. Florida for some time now, for fairly obvious reasons. New York has been the nation's worst Coronavirus hotspot for months, while Florida received a disproportionate share of negative media coverage for its handling of the virus, even though it seems to be working quite well. As of this writing, the Empire State has suffered approximately 23,000 COVID deaths, while Florida's death toll is approximately one-tenth of that number, despite the latter state having two million more residents than the former. New York's (reportedly undercounted) nursing home death count is nearly triple the entire state of Florida's.

Why, then, has Florida Governor Ron DeSantis been targeted with such withering and accusatory press coverage, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been afforded heroic treatment -- and is only recently starting to face some heat for the objectively bad decisions and tragic results over which he's presided? I'll remind you of this refreshingly candid Politico analysis:

Florida just doesn’t look nearly as bad as the national news media and sky-is-falling critics have been predicting for about two months now. But then, the national news media is mostly based in New York and loves to love its Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, about as much as it loves to hate on Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. First, let’s just come out and say it: DeSantis looks more right than those who criticized the Sunshine State’s coronavirus response...Cuomo also has something else DeSantis doesn’t: a press that defers to him, one that preferred to cover “Florida Morons” at the beach (where it’s relatively hard to get infected) over New Yorkers riding cramped subway cars (where it’s easy to get infected). In fact, people can still ride the subways for most hours of the day in New York, but Miami Beach’s sands remain closed. Maybe things would be different if DeSantis had a brother who worked in cable news and interviewed him for a “sweet moment” in primetime.

It's been partisan and ideological media bias compounded by parochial media bias, resulting in embarrassingly bad and unfair coverage. It's had an impact, too, with DeSantis' sky-high approval rating falling to diminished (yet still pretty robust) levels, and Cuomo soaring to dramatic heights. Perhaps those numbers will shift again, as realities and results become clearer to voters, but journalists spent weeks forging narratives that now appear to have cut in exactly the wrong directions, according to actual outcomes. In a valuable National Review piece, Rich Lowry interviewed DeSantis and key members of his team, who revealed how the Sunshine State's leadership -- contrary to current media mythology -- leveraged careful data analysis and laudable foresight into what is shaping up as a profound, under-heralded success story:

The conventional wisdom has begun to change about Florida, as the disaster so widely predicted hasn’t materialized. It’s worth delving into the state’s response — as described by DeSantis and a couple of members of his team — because it is the opposite of the media narrative of a Trump-friendly governor disregarding the facts to pursue a reckless agenda. DeSantis and his team have followed the science closely from the beginning, which is why they forged a nuanced approach, but one that focused like a laser on the most vulnerable population, those in nursing homes. An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freakout about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.” DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

The story goes on to describe how DeSantis -- often portrayed as a Trumpy yokel, who holds degrees from Harvard and Yale -- closely examined what was happening in other countries to help shape his own response, which was frustrated by a dearth of strong precedent and best practices in America. The governor and his administration quickly developed a healthy skepticism of dire models, relying instead on on-the-ground data. And it turned out that Florida's emergency infrastructure lent itself to very strong data-gathering, on which decisions were based:

Florida was better able to do that than many states because of its routine experience dealing with natural disasters. “Many states simply did not have the data infrastructure that Florida has,” says Mary Mayhew, secretary of Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration. “We have an emergency status system that gets stood up, as I mentioned, in the case of a hurricane. Hospitals and nursing homes and other long-term-care providers are required to submit data on a daily basis, twice-daily basis, regarding their bed availability.” The Florida Department of Health produces a report that DeSantis sees every morning: new cases, number of tests, positivity rates, etc. He also gets a rundown of the people who have gone into hospitals and of ICU usage. He can follow the key indicators down to the county level. This allows granular visibility into what’s happening. He cites the example of rural Hamilton County. It had 67 cases the other day. DeSantis was able to call the surgeon general of the state to find out what was going on, and learn it was an outbreak in a prison rather than a wider community spread.

The data and state leaders' experiences led them to almost immediately prioritize protection and mitigation efforts at nursing homes, which retrospectively seems both patently obvious and like a stroke of life-saving genius. Unlike New York, which allowed COVID-positive employees to continue working at such facilities, and required COVID-positive patients to be readmitted from hospitals, Florida did the opposite. Early on, the state government imposed restrictions and screenings for those wishing to enter nursing homes, rushed large supplies of PPE to these facilities as a priority, and explicitly forbade residents diagnosed with the virus from entering the facilities. A top Florida public health official said they established a "hard line" on this issue, working closely with hospitals to explain why 'normal' procedures would not be acceptable during the coronavirus crisis:

Mary Mayhew had daily calls with the hospitals, with people involved in discharge planning on the line. “Every day on these calls,” she says, “I would hear the same comments and questions around, we need to get these individuals returned back to the nursing home. We drew a hard line early on. I said repeatedly to the hospital, to the CEOs, to the discharge planners, to the chief medical officers, ‘I understand that for 20 years it’s been ingrained, especially through Medicare reimbursement policy, to get individuals in and out. That is not our focus today. I’m not going to send anyone back to a nursing home who has the slightest risk of being positive.’”... Early on, when tests had a slow turnaround, there was a lot of pressure to give way, but Mayhew was unmovable on the question...As the health officials put it, succinctly, “We wanted people out, not in.”

When the state was seeing infections at nursing homes presumably caused by staff, DeSantis deployed what he calls “an expeditionary testing force,” 50 National Guard teams of four guardsmen together with Department of Health personnel that tested staff and residents. Most facilities haven’t had confirmed cases. “But the ones that have,” he says, “the majority of them have had between one and five infections. So the infections are identified, but then, you’re isolating either the individual or the small cluster before you have an outbreak.” ...The state has also started a sentinel surveillance program for long-term-care facilities, routinely taking representative samples to monitor for flare-ups. Finally, it has established several COVID-19-only nursing homes, with a couple more in the pipeline. The idea, again, is to get COVID-19-positive residents out of the regular nursing homes to the maximum extent possible.

The article goes on to explain how DeSantis was an early adopter of region-by-region policies, using county-level data and consulting with local officials to drive decisions, as opposed to imposing knee-jerk "one size fits all" mandates across what the governor describes as a "big, diverse" state. Rather than assailing Florida for open beaches in barely-impacted counties and lecturing DeSantis about science, the national media should have been begging him for pointers and tips to share with other governors, especially in the Northeast. We should remain vigilant, of course, and it's possible that Florida's good fortune will take a tailspin based on premature re-openings. There are data points to keep an eye on, even as we work to keep such numbers in proper context and proportion. But things are looking relatively steady and encouraging so far, and if that trend continues, Lowry is right to ask, "where does Ron DeSantis go to get his apology?" Another governor who may end up in that camp is Georgia's. Brian Kemp's controversial reopening strategy has been underway for weeks now:

To repeat, it's too early for anyone to be taking definitive victory laps; uncertainties and risks remain. Officials need to be nimble and flexible based on changing conditions or data. But the hyperbolic critiques and predictions, almost exclusively directed at Republican leaders, are not panning out thus far. That's good news. Let's hope it continues.



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


25 May, 2020

The key tool to a safe opening is not social distancing

The Hong Kong system

Around the world, covid-19 lockdowns are ending — in some cases before the virus has been defeated, meaning that the risk of a second wave of infection is high.

But it is not inevitable. Many places, including South Korea and Hong Kong, have avoided lockdowns entirely and are now returning to something like normal conditions. Even when Hong Kong, where I live, got a second wave, we never went into lockdown, and now new cases are at nearly zero.

The key tool in these places’ safe reopening is not social distancing. Rather, it is contact isolation.

This policy, employed to various degrees in China, Israel and elsewhere, is a modern rendition of a strategy dating back to biblical and medieval approaches to leprosy and plague. Contact isolation is more effective than lockdowns and also less economically disruptive.

This is how it works: Most adults are permitted to return to work and routine activities, though masks, for now, should continue to be required. Anytime someone tests positive — regardless of symptoms — their close contacts are identified. The person with the positive test result and all of those contacts are then required to move temporarily into a government-run, hygienic, isolated environment — probably in a hotel or similar setting — until they can be ruled out as infectious. This process may involve testing if tests are available, or spending two or three weeks in isolation if the tests are not. For anyone who tests positive, the tracing program would extend to their close contacts, and so on.

In Hong Kong, many people get out of isolation in just a few days, thanks to the availability of tests. Daily tests per capita in America today are higher than in most countries with contact isolation programs, so it is likely that a similar pattern would occur among Americans.

This strategy is highly effective at breaking the chain of transmission, not least because contacts are presumptively isolated. Thus, contact isolation does not depend on mass testing but, rather, reduces the load on the testing infrastructure.

This system also encourages compliance because the centralized facilities would provide isolated individuals with all their basic needs (plus daily supervision so they would get treatment if they become sick). Food and medication can be delivered, WiFi would be free, and governments should provide financial compensation for lost work time. And, since covid-19 is much less dangerous to kids, families could choose for their children to be quarantined with them or separately, whichever they prefer. All of this would require legislation by state governments, but none of it is infeasible.

Alas, contact isolation sounds scary to many people. It conjures images of internment, stigmatization or family separation. But the truth is that the curtailment of our liberties would be minuscule compared with the society-wide lockdowns Americans have been enduring.

Contact isolation should be mandatory, but individuals who resist should simply be ticketed an amount sufficient to motivate compliance — not hauled off at gunpoint! Failure to pay tickets would trigger the kind of legal procedures we have for serious traffic violations. Some people would refuse, but the threat of fines and the promise of compensatory wages would work for most.

Notably, contact isolation does not require near-total compliance to be effective. Israel has pushed the spread of covid-19 to low levels with very modest amounts of centralized quarantining (just three main sites), alongside a stringent program for tracking carriers.

It’s hard to estimate how much isolation would be enough, but some basic math may be illustrative. Before social distancing measures, a person infected by covid-19 in America could be expected to infect an average of 1.5 to 2 other people. But that’s just an average: A “superspreader” might infect 100 other people, while many infected people might not infect anyone else, so tracking data indicates that more than half of coronavirus transmission is driven by fewer than half of infectious people. Even if this skew is quite moderate, average new infections per case fall to 0.7 to 1 (the level at which the disease will gradually vanish on its own, and the current level in most states) by isolating just 20 to 40 percent of infectious people.

With a few other measures, such as mask requirements — and given the fact that as summer begins, schools definitely won’t reopen soon — I estimate that contact isolation could enable the near-total reopening of businesses and moderate-size assemblies within six weeks. The better the isolation program, the sooner, and the fewer other measures will be needed.

How to make all this happen? Of course, federal and state governments would have to appropriate the necessary funds. Further, state and local authorities would need a manual for how to conduct contact isolation operations. That could be produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which already operates 20 centralized quarantine facilities.

Any big new initiative like the one proposed here will likely encounter a lot of skepticism. Policymakers could overcome that by stressing how narrowly targeted and temporary these measures are — and how effective they can be. Contact isolation is a pathway to social reopening. We can be safe together again.




Citing Russian strongman Vladimir Putin's recurrent infractions, "The United States announced its intention on Thursday to withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, the Trump administration's latest move to pull the country out of a major global treaty," Reuters reveals. The report adds, "Senior officials said the pullout will formally take place in six months, based on the treaty's withdrawal terms." This is hardly what we would describe as going "soft" on Russia.

Curious timing: Trump to honor coronavirus victims by flying flags at half-staff ... over Memorial Day weekend (Washington Examiner)

Strong, solid pick: Senate confirms John Ratcliffe as next director of national intelligence (Fox News)

"We're not going to close the country; we're going to put out the fires": Trump says America won't shut down afresh over second COVID-19 wave (The Hill)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia orders Michael Flynn judge to explain his roguishness (Politico)

Twenty-seven GOP senators ask Attorney General William Barr to investigate Planned Parenthood getting PPP funds (Fox News)

Trump administration approves arms sale to Taiwan — China denounces move (The Daily Caller)

FBI says Texas naval base shooting is "terrorism-related" (AP)

The man who took video of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery is arrested on felony murder charge (USA Today)

Phased reopenings in California and Minnesota discriminate against religious services (The Daily Signal)

Peloton is problematic again, and this time the problem is "racism" (Hot Air)

2020 Atlantic hurricane season may be "extremely active," NOAA says (Fox News)

China to impose sweeping national-security law in Hong Kong, bypassing city's no-longer-autonomous legislature (The Washington Post)


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 May, 2020

Many US states have seen LOWER infection rates after ending lockdowns that are are now destroying millions of livelihoods

Coronavirus lockdowns have 'destroyed millions of livelihoods' but failed to alter the course of the pandemic -- given many US states have seen lower infection rates after easing restrictions, a JP Morgan study has claimed.

The statistical analysis has raised questions about the effectiveness of the lockdowns put in place across much of the United States two months ago to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It suggests that the lockdown measures have not only resulted in economic devastation but could have also resulted in more COVID-19 deaths.

The strict stay-at-home measures put in place by the governors of most states in mid-March has so far seen nearly 39 million American lose their jobs and forced businesses to close.

There are now more than 1.6 million infections in the US and over 95,000 deaths.

'Unlike rigorous testing of potential new drugs, lockdowns were administered with little consideration that they might not only cause economic devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself,' author Marko Kolanovic, a trained physicist and a strategist for JP Morgan, said.  

The report also includes a chart showing that 'the vast majority of countries had decreased infection rates' after lockdowns were lifted.

The JP Morgan report says that restarting the US economy may not lead to a second surge in infections that health experts have feared given the falling infections rates seen since lockdown measures were lifted in parts of the country.

Infection rates have continued to decline even once a lag period for new infections to become visible is factored in, according to the report.  

The R rate is the average number of people who will become infected by one person with the virus. Researchers and health experts have said a rate below 1.0 is a key indicator that the spread of the virus has been maintained.

Reproduction rate data from Rt.live on Friday showed that all but two states had lowered the rate of infection.

According to that data, Minnesota's R rate was 1.01 and North Dakota's was at 1.02. 

The report also includes a chart showing that 'the vast majority of countries had decreased infection rates' after lockdowns were lifted. The chart, however, doesn't specify which country is which.

All 50 states have at least partially reopened this week by relaxing restrictions on businesses and social distancing in varying degrees across the country.

Kolanovic said governments had been spooked by 'flawed scientific papers' into imposing lockdowns that were 'inefficient or late' and had little effect.

'While we often hear that lockdowns are driven by scientific models, and that there is an exact relationship between the level of economic activity and the spread of [the] virus - this is not supported by the data,' the report says.

'Indeed, virtually everywhere infection rates have declined after re-opening even after allowing for an appropriate measurement lag.

'This means that the pandemic and COVID-19 likely have (their) own dynamics unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures that were being implemented.'

Those dynamics may be influenced by increased hand-washing and even weather patterns but seemingly not by full-scale lockdowns, the report suggests.  

'The fact that re-opening did not change the course of the pandemic is consistent with studies showing that initiation of full lockdowns did not alter the course of the pandemic either,' it says. 

The JP Morgan analysis linked the decision to impose lockdowns to 'flawed scientific papers' predicting millions of deaths in the West.  

'This on its own was odd, given that in China there were only several thousand deaths, and the mortality rate outside of Wuhan was very low,' the report says.

'In the absence of conclusive data, these lockdowns were justified initially. Nonetheless, many of these efforts were inefficient or late.'  

Kolanovic says that lockdowns had remained in place even as 'our knowledge of the virus and lack of effectiveness of total lockdowns evolved'.

'Despite the conditions for re-opening being mostly met across the US, it is not yet happening in the largest economic regions for example California and New York,' he said.

'While our knowledge of the virus and lack of effectiveness of total lockdowns evolved, lockdowns remained in place and focus shifted to contact tracing, contemplating second wave of outbreaks and ideas about designing better education, political and economic systems.

'At the same time, millions of livelihoods were being destroyed by these lockdowns.'

The US and other countries in lockdown are having to blow huge holes in their budgets to counter the economic standstill that is forcing millions of people into unemployment. 

The report cites 'worrying populism' as an obstacle to re-opening the economy, for example in the US where senators passed an anti-China measure this week.   

It warns that economic activity in the US is 'now largely following partisan lines' as Republican and Democratic governors adopt different strategies for their states.

As well as casting doubt on the wisdom of imposing lockdowns in the first place, the report suggests that economies could now be re-opened more quickly.

In other parts of the world, Denmark is among the countries that has started re-opening its economy without seeing a new surge in virus cases. 

Zoos, museums and cinemas have re-opened early in Denmark with many children now back at school after scientists said the R rate had continued to fall. 

Germany has also been confident enough to scale back the lockdown after the R rate mostly stayed below 1.0 following an initial lifting of restrictions.

However, chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly urged caution and warned that a second wave of virus cases could leave hospitals overwhelmed.

The UK government has similarly warned that some restrictions could be re-imposed if there is a 'sudden and concerning' rise in new cases.

Sweden has never imposed a lockdown, and its per-capita death rate is better than Britain's - although worse than that of its Scandinavian neighbours.  



Across the Wide, Growing American Divide
Red- and blue-state America was already divided before the coronavirus epidemic hit. Globalization had enriched the East Coast and West Coast corridors but hollowed out much in between.

The traditional values of small towns and rural counties were increasingly at odds with postmodern lifestyles in the cities.

There were, of course, traditionalists in blue states. And lots of progressives live in red states. But people increasingly self-segregate to where they feel at home and where politics, jobs and culture reflect their tastes.

The ensuing left/right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican divide not only intensified in the 21st century, it also took on a dangerous geographical separatism.

The coasts vs. the interior reflects two Americas — often in a manner similar to the old Mason-Dixon line that geographically split the U.S. for roughly a century.

Liberals scoff at the deplorables and irredeemables for embracing an ossified, unchanging 18th-century Constitution. The red-staters supposedly cling to their weird, dangerous habits such as owning guns and opposing abortion, while adhering to paleolithic ideas of small government, secure borders and don’t-tread-on-me individualism.

Blue-staters are confident that progressive citizens of the world like themselves are where the global action, money and future lie. And who could doubt the success of Silicon Valley’s wealthy tech companies, Wall Street’s investment giants or internationally respected universities such as Harvard, MIT, Caltech and Stanford?

Progressives believe the story of America has most often been one of discrimination, original sin and a need for constant repentance and reparations for a flawed past.

Conservatives feel just the opposite — that one does not have to perfect to be good, and that America is far better than anywhere else.

Red-staters contend that many blue states are broke and need bailouts to ensure that their generous pensions and entitlements don’t wither away into insolvency.

Cities are often seen by those in less densely populated areas as dirty, full of homeless people, dangerous and ungovernable.

Red-staters also see failed statist ideas the world over. For them, China, the European Union and much of Africa and Latin America are proof that democratic socialism is neither fair nor compassionate.

Conservatives welcome in immigrants, but only if they come legally, assimilate to U.S. values and arrive in manageable numbers to be integrated.

When the virus hit, these divides intensified.

Blue-state governors wanted long lockdowns, red-state governors not so much.

Elite professionals, state employees and the wealthy residents of the coasts feel they can easily ride out a bad recession. They believe that even a miniscule chance of dying from the virus still makes it too risky to go out.

Yet in red states, there are many self-employed people and small-business owners who are always at risk on the margins. They believe they have great odds to beat the virus but not to beat a more deadly depression.

The 2020 election is the unspoken force multiplier of the divide. Blue-state politicians believe that if the lockdown continues, the country won’t recover before November. Donald Trump will then be blamed for the downturn. They hope for a replay of the 1932 election, with Trump as Depression-era Herbert Hoover vs. a progressive challenger with big promises of more programs and larger government.

Progressives also want more connectivity with the world abroad to beat the virus. They rely on elite researchers, statisticians and epidemiologists to chart and predict the course of the epidemic.

Conservatives are convinced that entrepreneurs and individuals will better save us. Most elites, they believe, were wrong in their modeling, their predictions and their advice about the contagion. Many conservatives think that the best and brightest had little practical experience, less common sense and did not live in the real world.

Red-staters look at the lies of the Chinese, the enabling deceptions of the World Health Organization and the initial failures of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They conclude that transnational organizations are sometimes incompetent and corrupt, and that even our own bureaucracies are too unimaginative, sluggish, haughty and territorial.

Is there any agreement between red-state and blue-state America?


Red-staters are not flocking to blue-state urban corridors, where the virus hit hardest. They are happy to live in less crowded places, rely on their own cars, have detached homes and be free of government edicts that often make little sense other than to showcase the dictatorial powers of petty bureaucrats and local officials.

Even blue-staters are beginning to see their mass transit, high-rise living and clogged streets more as incubators of disease than as the circulatory system of an exciting, high-end life.

Perhaps in this time of plague, Americans can at least agree that the romance of Arcadia is suddenly preferable to the allure of big-city lights.




Barack Obama's Treasury Department spied on Trump associates (Power Line)

Senators "dramatically expanding" probe into Obama-era scandal, think surveillance may have started "even earlier" than 2016 (The Daily Wire)

Michael Flynn attorney files emergency appeal to shut down Judge Sullivan's orders and boot him from case (Fox News)

Deregulator-in-chief: Trump signs broad order to speed deregulation and relax red tape for economic recovery (The Washington Times)

Joe Biden's pledge to dump Keystone XL pipeline would kill thousands of jobs and prevent millions in local tax revenue (The Washington Free Beacon)

Federal judge rules that all Texans must have access to absentee ballots (Washington Examiner)

Georgia apologizes over "processing error" after accusations officials were manipulating coronavirus case counts (Fox News)

"There is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights": DOJ warns California governor over discriminatory church closings (Reuters)

Planned Parenthood affiliates improperly applied for and received $80 million in coronavirus stimulus funds (Fox News)

Wearing a face mask can reduce coronavirus transmission by up to 75%, study says (Fox News)

Anti-China sentiment is on the rise — 31% says the ChiComs are enemies, up 11% since January (Politico)

For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. birth rates decline, now at lowest level in 35 years (Today)


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 May, 2020

Time to Stop the Madness

Given what is now known about the coronavirus, governors opposed to ending the shutdown are on a fool’s errand.

By George Parry, a former federal and state prosecutor.

My maternal grandparents were Lebanese Christians who came to America in the first decade of the 20th century. They settled in Atlanta, Georgia, where my mother and her older brother, Tom, were born. When my mother was a toddler, her mother died.

My grandfather was a peddler who made a subsistence living selling dry goods to hillbillies from the back of a horse-drawn wagon. He and his children were very poor and lived in what was easily the roughest, most notorious, and least desirable part of the city.

One day, when he was about 12 years old, Tom vanished without a trace. My mother and her father frantically searched far and wide. But, after a week, my anguished grandfather gave up. Tom was gone, apparently for good, and his possible fate at the hands of persons unknown was terrifying to contemplate.

A few days later, as my mother continued her solitary search, she heard her name being called again and again. She looked around and then up. That’s when she saw Tom shouting and waving to her from a high window in a grim-looking stone building.

The building was called the “Pest House,” and it was where indigents with suspected communicable diseases were forcibly quarantined. As Tom later explained, a policeman had grabbed him off the street and marched him to the Pest House on suspicion that he might have a contagious disease. Which disease was never made clear.

Nevertheless, Tom was to be held until a public health doctor deemed him to no longer pose a risk of infecting others. His pleas to be allowed to get word to his father were ignored. It is a matter of speculation as to how much longer he would have been held incommunicado if not for my mother’s discovery of his whereabouts.

Whenever my mother would tell the Pest House story, she would shake her head at how off-handedly callous and indifferent the public health system had been to her big brother. But, she would sigh, that was just how things were handled back then.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have reflected many times on what happened to my Uncle Tom. He had been imprisoned and treated harshly with fewer due process rights than those of a common criminal. His offense? Being poor and sickly looking on the streets of Atlanta.

But, compared to the wanton, unwarranted, cruel, and industrial-scale destruction of lives, jobs, livelihoods, and businesses being caused by today’s ongoing, ill-conceived, and utterly destructive societal lockdowns in states across America, the Pest House’s quarantine-the-sick public health strategy was enlightened, rational, and benign.

The mantra among the governors who continue to preside over the destruction of their states’ economies is that they are following “the science,” which purportedly requires that the lockdowns remain in place to prevent another wave of COVID-19 cases. They contend that the lockdowns must continue until the number of COVID-19 cases decreases to an acceptable level and their states have adequate testing facilities and “armies” of investigators to track and trace any future infections. As they say, they don’t want to give up the progress already achieved against COVID-19 by reopening too soon.

Well, if that’s their true goal, then the governors are on a fool’s errand. Why? Because no matter how long we shelter in place, there will be future major outbreaks of COVID-19. We know this because COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus designated as SARS-CoV-2. Reasonably assuming that SARS-CoV-2 propagates like the coronaviruses that have caused seasonal influenzas, it will be with us for many years and will continue to infect and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between October 1, 2019, and April 4, 2020, there have been between 24,000 to 62,000 deaths related to the seasonal influenza. There is no scientific basis to expect that SARS-CoV-2 will not return annually and do the same or worse.

Admittedly, we have not — for very sane, sound, and obvious reasons — attempted to halt the spread of the seasonal flu by staging annual shutdowns of the economy. But, by the same token, the whole rationale behind the current lockdown was not to eliminate or permanently prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, but to “flatten the curve” so that our medical facilities wouldn’t be overwhelmed. The idea was to spread out the COVID-19 burden over time, during which our medical infrastructure could prepare for the onslaught. No medical authority has ever maintained that the lockdown would somehow deliver us to a safe harbor free from future infections.

So the governors really need to stop with the “losing gains” blather. Many more COVID-19 cases will occur, and prolonging the devastation and misery of the lockdowns won’t change that immutable outcome.

As for the idea that we have to stay locked down until the states have the testing capacity and investigators to enable tracking and tracing of future COVID-19 cases, we are told that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne. Isn’t that why we are being told to socially distance in public and wear masks? Moreover, now that between 5 percent to 15 percent of Americans are estimated to have already been infected, just how are we to track, trace, and confine future outbreaks? Isn’t the metaphorical cow already out of the barn, and won’t SARS-CoV-2 continue its airborne spread?  If so, just how will those supposedly necessary armies of investigators be able to effectively track and trace future outbreaks?

We are told that you are more likely to become infected by prolonged exposure to someone who has a heavy viral load. So, is such prolonged exposure more likely to occur in public places or by sheltering in confined spaces? Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the spiritual leader of the gubernatorial lockdown caucus, recently expressed consternation at a recent study showing that, of the 1,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to New York hospitals over the last week, 66 percent had been staying at home and 18 percent came from nursing homes.

“Overwhelmingly, the people were at home … which is shocking to us,” said Cuomo.

But, however shocking, the study necessarily prompts the uncomfortable question as to whether the lockdowns are either effective or necessary. Now that we have wrecked our economy and too many governors like Cuomo are continuing their destructive lockdowns, it comes as no small irony that the sobering and negative answer to that question is beginning to emerge.

Appearing on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, courageously spoke truth to the public health establishment’s power when he warned that the coronavirus can’t be contained, not even with massive testing. He confirmed the assessments of other experts that, within the year, 60 percent to 70 percent of Americans will have contracted the coronavirus.

“We have to understand that we’re riding this tiger, we’re not directing it,” he said. “This virus is going to do what it’s going to do. What we can do is only nibble at the edges, and I think it’s not a good message to send to the public that we can control this virus in a meaningful way.”

“Contact tracing and testing are important, but they won’t stop [the spread of the virus],” he said. “We can’t give people a false sense of security that we’re going to do more than we can, but we also have to figure out how to live with this virus, and that’s what we’re not doing.”

Although others have offered the same assessment only to be banned by YouTube, MSN.com, and similar platforms, this is the first time that the uncomfortable truth has been broadcast in the mainstream media. That alone is a sentinel event and a step in the right direction.

Since we can’t halt its spread, can we live with the coronavirus? We most assuredly can.

First, despite initial predictions of 2.2 million COVID-19 deaths in America and a correspondingly disastrous infection fatality rate, as of this writing there have been 79,180 COVID-19 “related” deaths, yielding a fatality rate similar to that of the seasonal flu.

Second, the general population is not at risk. COVID-19 deaths are overwhelmingly confined to persons age 65 or older and/or with comorbidities such as diabetes and heart disease. For example, Pennsylvania health officials have just reported that 79 is the average age in that state for persons suffering COVID-19 “related” deaths and that 11.7 percent of the deceased had four comorbidities, 22.7 percent had three, 27.2 percent had two, 22.6 percent had one, and 11 percent had none.

These statistics are commensurate with the data from across the country and around the world. In short, unlike the 1918 Spanish flu, which wiped out 675,000 Americans of all ages and physical conditions, COVID-19 threatens discrete cohorts that are readily identifiable and can socially distance themselves without having to shut down the country.

Third, we have highly successful, effective, scalable, and inexpensive drug treatments (e.g., hydroxychloroquine and methylprednisone), which, if administered in the early stages of COVID-19, will save lives without the use of hospitals, ICUs, or ventilators.

In short, we can most assuredly live with the coronavirus without having to shelter in place. The only question is whether or not the governors who continue to keep their states shut down will allow their citizens to reclaim their lives.

As with too many other so-called blue states, Gov. Tom Wolf recently extended his lockdown of Pennsylvania to June 4, 2020. Although he has allowed some counties to start very limited steps to reopen, vast areas of the Commonwealth, such as Dauphin County (where the state capital is located), remain closed. This prompted the chairman of the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners to publish a letter last Friday stating that “enough is enough” and that he has “no faith” in Gov. Wolf’s “ability to do the right thing.”

“It is time to reopen the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and return our state to the people (as prescribed by our Constitution) and not run it as a dictatorship,” the chairman wrote. “This decision has ruined the livelihood of millions of hard-working Pennsylvanians in exchange for 0.4 percent of our population. I have great sympathy for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. I also have great concern for the families that now have to struggle with financial concerns, mental health stress, addiction and more because of the shutdown. Again, our governor has pitted groups of Pennsylvanians against one another.”

The proposition can’t be stated any better than that. However well-intentioned in the beginning, we now know that in the long run the lockdowns won’t make us safe and are destroying jobs, livelihoods, and the economy. If we are to survive as a feasible, cohesive society, the lockdowns must end immediately.

The evidence is in, and the verdict is clear. It’s time to stop the madness.



CDC now says coronavirus 'does not spread easily' via contaminated surfaces

For those of you still wiping down groceries and other packages amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, breathe a sigh of relief: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says the novel virus “does not spread easily” from "touching surfaces or objects" — but experts warn that doesn’t mean it’s no longer necessary to take "practical and realistic" precautions in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Though it’s not exactly clear when, the federal health agency appears to have recently changed its guidelines from early March that simply said it “may be possible” to spread the virus from contaminated surfaces. The CDC now includes "surfaces or objects" under a section that details ways in which the coronavirus does not readily transmit.

Other ways in which the virus does not easily spread is from animals to people, or from people to animals, the federal agency said on its updated page.

“COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads. It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads,” according to the CDC.

The CDC did, however, remind citizens that the virus does mainly spread person-to-person, noting the virus that causes a COVID-19 infection, SARS-CoV-2, "is spreading very easily and sustainably between people.”

More specifically, the agency said the virus primarily spreads from person-to-person in the following ways:

* Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)

* Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs

COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms

The change comes after a preliminary study from March suggested that the novel coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours, and live on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to three days, prompting many to take to wiping down packages and other items. However, at the time, the study was yet not peer-reviewed, and, as Yahoo notes, did not determine if people could be infected from touching certain surfaces analyzed.

Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer for the healthcare website WebMD, called the CDC’s changes an “important step in clarifying how the virus is spread, especially as we gain new information.”

“It also may help reduce anxiety and stress. Many people were concerned that by simply touching an object they may get coronavirus and that’s simply not the case. Even when a virus may stay on a surface, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually infectious,” Whyte told Fox News in an email.

“I think this new guideline helps people understand more about what does and doesn’t increase risk. It doesn’t mean we stop washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. But it does allow us to be practical and realistic as we try to return to a sense of normalcy,” he added.



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


21 May, 2020

Torturing Our Elderly And Stealing From Our Children

Stay-at-home orders imposed on U.S. citizens – especially elderly singles living alone – amount to torture according to the standards advocated by the United Nations[1]. The UN expert concludes that:

“The severe and often irreparable psychological and physical consequences of solitary confinement and social exclusion are well documented and can range from progressively severe forms of anxiety, stress, and depression to cognitive impairment and suicidal tendencies. This deliberate infliction of severe mental pain or suffering may well amount to psychological torture."

If the psychological damage from the Federal and state governments’ unprecedented attack on the civil liberties of its current citizens is not enough reason to restore our freedoms, consider the financial effect on America’s future generations. The ongoing and massive Federal government giveaways are stealing money from our children. Each trillion dollars being given away saddles each American years from now with another $2,000 or more in debt. Future generations will never pay it off. Many young and unborn Americans will be burdened with huge annual interest expenses over their entire lives on debt that they did not incur.

The economic plight of our country was supposedly justified to reduce deaths from COVID-19. Eventually evidence will show that it was foolhardy. But it will be our children – not the dictators and bureaucrats – that end up bearing the long-term financial toll.

It should be noted that our Federal government is perfectly happy oppressing its citizens merely on the pretense of protecting property rather than saving lives. I remember as a child being warned over the radio that going into public after a certain hour risked being shot by the National guardsmen who were patrolling our town in the aftermath of a flood. The goal was prevention of looting because there were many unoccupied houses in the flooded areas. But the threat was not that looters would be shot or that shootings would only occur in flooded areas – it was that anyone violating the curfew risked being shot.

Victims of this flood in upstate New York in 1972 were eligible for small business disaster loans of about $5,000 (the program was available to anyone – not just business owners). Half of the loan was forgiven if the funds were used to rebuild property supposedly damaged by the flood. Thousands of residents were eligible to use the loans to upgrade their summer homes on the various lakes in the area. Most of that money went to make improvements to docks and sea walls since very few of the lakefront properties had damage to the living quarters.

The massive government giveaway of 2020 is allowing many businesses to reap massive profits on top of their usual profits. A firm with virtually no consequence from the pandemic can get two months of their 2020 wages paid by the Federal government if they declare in good faith that the “uncertainty of current economic conditions” makes the loan necessary for their business. Think about that phrase as you pay higher taxes in the future.

Government aid to displaced employees is so generous that firms will struggle for years to coax able-bodied recipients back into the workforce. Leftists are ecstatic that more and more unemployed Americans can get living wages and healthcare. But government giveaways remove incentives for recipients to contribute anything valuable back to society – where something valuable here is defined as something that people will voluntarily purchase rather than being something that the left proclaims as being valuable (e.g., community organizing).

Politicians are now turning their attention to bailing out failing local and state governments. Apparently financially-mismanaged state and local governments (primarily in jurisdictions controlled by leftists) feel that they should be bailed out by taxpayers of well-managed jurisdictions. State and local governments who struggled to keep their finances in order will find their stewardship was foolhardy and that future financial responsibility is unnecessary; simply wait for the next government-created crisis and pass the debt on to the whole country. It is a classic tragedy of the commons.

It has been said that “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” Our Federal and state governments are using both.



No Doubt, the Left Hates Grassroots Americans

From verbal smears to actual violence, leftists are increasingly angrily intolerant.

If there’s one thing that has been learned over the last three and a half years, it’s that Patriots are targets. Some, notably commentators Kurt Schlichter and Dennis Prager, have been warning us for years. Schlichter, in particular, has pulled no punches about the fact: On the Left, hatred of grassroots Americans exists and dealing with it is going to be very necessary.

Anyone who doubts this just needs to trust their own eyes and ears. It has been blatantly obvious in everything from venomous declarations on social media to campaign slander to smears you’d see while watching TV — news or drama, if you can tell the difference. Maybe you’ve even heard it from those around you.

It goes beyond statements. Look at the nearly 400 incidents of violence directed at Trump supporters. These things didn’t happen because someone just woke up and decided to beat up Trump supporters. It came from a long campaign of dehumanization involving a series of big lies. It’s gotten far worse since Trump pulled off a huge upset against Hillary Clinton.

But those who want to claim that somehow Trump made this all worse are simply not seeing what happened previously. Claims of racism have been aimed at Republicans at least since Ronald Reagan won in 1980. It wasn’t just Reagan: George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all faced such nonsense charges.

It wasn’t just those running for president, though. Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and scores of other prominent Patriots have been smeared as racists and Nazis. Had Mitt Romney won in 2012, or even if John McCain won in 2008, we would still see the same Resistance emerge, only this time citing the defeat of Barack Obama as proof of racism. The congressional power of Gingrich and DeLay made them targets.

For a long time, Patriots have joked that the way to tell if a leftist is losing an argument is hearing them declare their opponent a “racist!” The jokes have more than a grain of truth to them — as we have seen, the phony claims are often used to distract from failures. Even trying to fix messed up school lunches led to vicious personal attacks.

That said, perhaps we should have been far more serious, especially as the Left broke out more and more comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis. The fact is, we can answer one question Dennis Prager posed in 2018: They seem to really mean it, and they are acting on the belief that Republicans are no different than Nazis.

It’s graduated beyond name-calling to mobs of antifa outside the homes of government officials and journalists. People are attacked in restaurants or even while registering voters. Once upon a time, that was seen as cause to bring in the FBI. These days, though, there is some local coverage — maybe a report from Fox News — but it’s quickly swept under the rug by far too many journalists who seem to think the victims had it coming.

It’s easy for some on the Right to just dismiss the warnings from Prager and Schlichter. But those who have should be asked a very simple question: Is there any evidence that can disprove their observations? Because from where we sit, we have to say they’re right.




President Trump, citing the organization's "alarming lack of independence from the People's Republic of China," threatens to make WHO funding freeze permanent (NBC News)

Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine to protect against coronavirus (The Washington Post)

On the heels of Katie Hill's "throuple," Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford admits to decade-long affair with former intern (The Washington Free Beacon)

They've been through riots, protests, and natural disasters — but America's colleges have never seen anything like the financial meltdown the coronavirus is about to bring to their campuses (The Washington Free Beacon)

China slaps an 80% tariff on drought-affected Australian exporters as brutal punishment for push for COVID-19 inquiry — just hours after saying it'll support inquiry when pandemic is over (UK Daily Mail)

Japan has slipped into a recession as its economy sank for a second straight quarter (UPI)

Hope for producers as oil clears $30 a barrel (Washington Examiner)

Oregon's coronavirus restrictions ruled "null and void" after governor failed to get approval from legislature (Fox News)

Democrat-imposed coronavirus orders face lawsuits across the nation (Fox News)

Gov. Charlie Baker announces Massachusetts reopening plan (The Hill)

Mayor Bill de Blasio warns beach swimmers will "be taken right out of the water" (The Daily Wire)

Not-so-mission accomplished: Over 100 million in China's northeast face renewed lockdown (Bloomberg)

Good news: Early data show Moderna COVID-19 vaccine generates immune response (STAT)

Four ways the 1957 H2N2 pandemic resembles, and differs from, COVID-19 (The Daily Signal)

Policy: How blind faith in scientific expertise wrecked the economy (The Federalist)

Policy: The public health crisis means cities need to reevaluate transit projects (The Hill)


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 May, 2020

‘We could open up again and forget the whole thing’

Epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski on the deadly consequences of lockdown

Governments around the world say they are following ‘The Science’ with their draconian measures to stem the spread of the virus. But the science around Covid-19 is bitterly contested. Many experts have serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures, and argue that our outsized fears of Covid-19 are not justified. Knut Wittkowski is one such expert who has long argued for a change of course. For 20 years, Wittkowski was the head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. spiked spoke to him to find out more about the pandemic.

spiked: Is Covid-19 dangerous?

Knut Wittkowski: No, unless you have age-related severe comorbidities. So if you are in a nursing home because you cannot live by yourself anymore, then getting infected is dangerous.

We had the other extreme in Switzerland, which was hit pretty hard. There was one child that died. People believed that this child was born in 2011. In fact, it was born in 1911, and that was the only child that died. It was a mere coding error. Somebody with the age 108 was coded as aged eight.

spiked: How far along is the epidemic?

Wittkowski: It is over in China. It is over in South Korea. It is substantially down in most of Europe and down a bit everywhere, even in the UK. The UK and Belarus are latecomers, so you do not see exactly what you are seeing in continental Europe. But everywhere in Europe, the number of cases is substantially declining.

spiked: Have our interventions made much of an impact?

Wittkowski: When the whole thing started, there was one reason given for the lockdown and that was to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. There is no indication that hospitals could ever have become overloaded, irrespective of what we did. So we could open up again, and forget the whole thing.

I hope the intervention did not have too much of an impact because it most likely made the situation worse. The intervention was to ‘flatten the curve’. That means that there would be the same number of cases but spread out over a longer period of time, because otherwise the hospitals would not have enough capacity.

Now, as we know, children and young adults do not end up in hospitals. It is only those who are both elderly and have comorbidities that do. Therefore you have to protect the elderly and the nursing homes. The ideal approach would be to simply shut the door of the nursing homes and keep the personnel and the elderly locked in for a certain amount of time, and pay the staff overtime to stay there for 24 hours per day.

How long can you do that for? For three weeks, that is possible. For 18 months, it is not. The flattening of the curve, the prolongation of the epidemic, makes it more difficult to protect the elderly, who are at risk. More of the elderly people become infected, and we have more deaths.

spiked: What are the dangers of lockdown?

Wittkowski: Firstly, we have the direct consequences: suicides, domestic violence and other social consequences leading to death. And then we have people who are too scared to go to the hospitals for other problems like strokes or heart attacks. So people stay away from hospitals because of the Covid fear. And then they die.

spiked: Were hospitals likely to be overrun?

Wittkowski: Germany had 8,000 deaths in a population of 85million. They had 20,000 to 30,000 hospitalisations. In Germany, that is nothing. It does not even show up as a blip in the hospital statistics. In Britain, the highest hospital utilisation was about 60 per cent, if I am not mistaken.

In New York City, it was a bit higher. The Javits Congress Center was turned into a field hospital with 3,000 beds. It treated just 1,000 patients in all. The Navy ship sent to New York by President Trump had 179 patients but it was sent back because it was not needed. New York is the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States, and even here at the epicenter, hospital utilisation was only up a bit. Nothing dramatic. Nothing out of the ordinary. That is what happens during the flu season. People have the flu, and then there are more patients in the hospitals than there otherwise would be.

spiked: Are we on the way to reaching herd immunity?

Wittkowski: All the studies that have been done have shown that we already have at least 25 per cent of the population who are immune. That gives us a nice cushion. If 25 per cent of the population are already immune, we are very quickly getting to the 50 per cent that we need to have what is called herd immunity. We will actually get a bit higher than that. So we have flattened what otherwise would have been a peak, and if we now let it run, even if the number of cases would increase a bit, it would not get as high as it was, because we already have enough immune people in the population. So it is not going to spread as fast as it could have spread in the beginning.

spiked: Should we worry about a second spike?

Wittkowski: This is an invention to justify a policy that politicians are afraid of reversing.

spiked: Should people practice social distancing?

Wittkowski: No.

spiked: Why not?

Wittkowski: Why? What is the justification for that? People need to ask the government for an explanation. The government is restricting freedom. You do not have to ask me for justification. There is no justification. It is the government that has to justify what it is doing. Sorry, but that is how it is.

spiked: How did we get this so wrong?

Wittkowski: Governments did not have an open discussion, including economists, biologists and epidemiologists, to hear different voices. In Britain, it was the voice of one person – Neil Ferguson – who has a history of coming up with projections that are a bit odd. The government did not convene a meeting with people who have different ideas, different projections, to discuss his projection. If it had done that, it could have seen where the fundamental flaw was in the so-called models used by Neil Ferguson. His paper was published eventually, in medRxiv. The assumption was that one per cent of all people who became infected would die. There is no justification anywhere for that.

Let us say the epidemic runs with a basic reproduction rate of around two. Eventually 80 per cent of the population will be immune, because they have been infected at some point in time. Eighty per cent of the British population would be something like 50million. One per cent of them dying is 500,000. That is where Ferguson’s number came from.

But we knew from the very beginning that neither in Wuhan nor in South Korea did one per cent of all people infected die. South Korea has 60million people. It is about the same size as the UK. How many deaths were in South Korea? Did they shut down? No. The South Korean government was extremely proud to have resisted pressure to drop the very basic concepts of democracy.

The epidemic in South Korea was over by March, the number of cases was down by 13 March. In Wuhan they also did not shut down the economy. Wuhan had restricted travel out of the city. They stopped train services and blocked the roads. They did not restrict anything social within the city until very late. We have seen, then, in Wuhan and South Korea, if you do not do anything, the epidemic is over in three weeks.

Knowing that the epidemic would be over in three weeks, and the number of people dying would be minor, just like a normal flu, the governments started shutting down in mid-March. Why? Because somebody pulled it out of his head that one per cent of all infected would die. One could argue that maybe one per cent of all cases would die. But one per cent of all people infected does not make any sense. And we had that evidence by mid-March.

spiked: Just to clarify, cases are different from people infected?

Wittkowski: Cases means people who have symptoms that are serious enough for them to go to a hospital or get treated. Most people have no symptoms at all. But waking up with a sore throat one day is not a case. A case means that someone showed up in a hospital.

spiked: The UK government was also heavily influenced by the situation in Italy. Why did that go so wrong?

Wittkowski: What we saw in Italy was that the virus was hitting those who were both old and had comorbidities, so lots of people died. But the median age of those who died in Italy was around 81 years. It is not that children or working people were dying. It was the elderly in nursing homes – not even the elderly living by themselves mostly. We saw lots of deaths and that scared people. But then, Italy did an illogical thing. It closed schools so that the schoolchildren were isolated and did not get infected and did not become immune. Instead, the virus spread almost exclusively among the old, causing more deaths and a higher utilisation of hospitals. And that is mind-boggling.

Very early on, we knew from China and we knew from South Korea that this is an epidemic that runs its course, and there was nothing special about it. But when it hit Italy, we stopped thinking about it as an age-stratified problem, and instead lumped everyone all together. The idea that if we did not shut down the schools the hospitals would have been overwhelmed does not make any sense. I frankly still cannot fully understand how our governments can be so stupid.

spiked: Governments say they are following the science. Is that really true?

Wittkowski: They have the scientists on their side that depend on government funding. One scientist in Germany just got $500million from the government, because he always says what the government wants to hear.

Scientists are in a very strange situation. They now depend on government funding, which is a trend that has developed over the past 40 years. Before that, when you were a professor at a university, you had your salary and you had your freedom. Now, the university gives you a desk and access to the library. And then you have to ask for government money and write grant applications. If you are known to criticise the government, what does that do to your chance of getting funded? It creates a huge conflict of interest. The people who are speaking out in Germany and Switzerland are all independent of government money because they are retired.

spiked: Did the Swedish scientists get it right?

Wittkowski: Sweden did the right thing. And they had to take a lot of heat for it. Now compare Sweden and the UK. The only difference is that Sweden did fine. They did have a problem. They had a relatively high number of deaths among the nursing homes.They decided to keep society open and they forgot to close nursing homes. Remarkably, the politicians acknowledged that it was a mistake to extend that open concept to nursing homes. The nursing homes should have been isolated to protect the elderly who are at high risk. But I think the Swedish government is doing well to even acknowledge that mistake.

The first death in the United States was in a nursing home in Seattle. And that was by the end of February. So everybody knew that we were expecting the same thing that we had seen in Italy – an epidemic that hits the elderly. But until just this week in New York State, the government told the nursing homes that if they did not take in patients from hospitals, they would lose their funding. So they would have to import the virus from the hospitals.

One third of all deaths in New York State were in nursing homes. One could have prevented 20,000 deaths in the United States by just isolating the nursing homes. After three or four weeks, they could have reopened and everybody would be happy.

That would have been a reasonable strategy. But shutting down schools, driving the economy against the wall – there was no reason for it. The only reason that this nonsense now goes on and on, and people are inventing things like this ‘second wave’, which is going to force us to change society and never live again, is that the politicians are afraid of admitting an error.

spiked: Is this easier to see in hindsight?

Wittkowski: What I am talking about is not hindsight. The epidemics in Wuhan and South Korea were over in mid-March. In March, I submitted a paper to medRxiv, summarising all of that. At least towards the end of March, the data was there, and everybody who wanted to learn from it could.

On 17 April, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented data at the coronavirus presidential briefing at the White House. And there was one plot that he presented. And I looked at it and asked why people were not jumping to their feet. Why were people not understanding what they were looking at? The plot was the data from the ILINet. For 15 years, hospitals have counted every person who shows up with an influenza-like illness – fever, coughing, whatever. There were three spikes in the 2019-2020 flu season. The first was in late December – influenza B. The next was in late January – an influenza A epidemic. And then there was one that had a peak in hospital visits around 8 March – Covid-19. For the peak to happen on that day, those patients have to go through a seven-day incubation period and then have symptoms. But they do not go to the hospital with the first symptoms. If it gets worse over three days, only then do they go to a hospital.

Four weeks later, on 8 April, the number of new infections was already down. In time for Easter, our governments should have acknowledged they were overly cautious. People would have accepted that. Two weeks’ shutdown would not have been the end of the world. We would not have what we have now – 30million people unemployed in the United States, for example. Companies do not go bankrupt over a two-week period. Two months is a very different story. If you have to pay rent for two months for a restaurant in New York with no income, you will go bankrupt. We see unemployment, we see bankruptcies, we see a lot of money wasted for economic-rescue packages – trillions of dollars in the United States. We see more deaths and illness than we would otherwise have had.

And it is going on and on and on, just because governments are afraid of admitting an error. They are trying to find excuses. They say they have to do things slowly, and that they have ‘avoided 500,000 deaths’ in the UK. But that was an absurd number that had no justification. The person presenting it pretended it was based on a model. It was not a model. It was the number of one per cent of all people infected dying. And nobody was questioning it. And that is the basic problem.

spiked: People will say that the interventions in South Korea – like contact tracing – were more effective.

Wittkowski: How many orders of magnitude, take us from 500,000 to 256, the number of deaths in South Korea? To have that kind of effect you would have to put everybody in the UK into a negative pressure room. It is totally unrealistic to even consider a reduction from 500,000 to 256.



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 May, 2020

Vaccine 'by September'

Britain will get first access to a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca poised to make 30 million for the UK by September - if it works.

Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, today announced a deal has been done between the university and the company to manufacture the vaccine which is currently in clinical trials.

He pledged an additional £84 million to accelerate the development of the vaccine - on top of a previous £47 million pot of cash - so that mass production can start as soon as possible if it is proved to be effective.

Mr Sharma said the Oxford project is 'progressing well' and that another vaccine effort by Imperial College London is 'also making good progress'.

However, he cautioned that despite the growing optimism there are 'no certainties' and there may never be a vaccine developed capable of tackling the deadly disease.

Mr Sharma also revealed that six drugs designed to treat coronavirus have now entered initial live clinical trials. The world is yet to identify a drug clinically proven to treat the disease.

The COVID-19 trials are taking place at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and started on April 23. A second vaccine from Imperial College London is also hoped to face human trials in June. 

A working vaccine is viewed as likely the only surefire way for the world to go back to something resembling normal life.

Mr Sharma last month announced the creation of a new vaccine task force to bring together the Government, universities and industry in the hope that the UK could lead the way in developing a vaccine.

The Business Secretary said he was 'very proud' of how quickly different sectors had united for the 'critical mission' with the Oxford and Imperial programmes emerging as 'two of the world’s frontrunners'.

The Oxford vaccine is now in its first clinical trial and all phase one participants have now received their vaccine dose and are being monitored by the clinical trial team.  

Mr Sharma said: 'The speed with which Oxford University has designed and organised these complex trials is genuinely unprecedented.

‘Imperial College are also making good progress and will be looking to move into clinical trials by mid-June with larger scale trials planned to begin in October.

‘So far the Government has invested £47 million in the Oxford and Imperial vaccine programmes. ‘But today I can announce an additional £84 million of new Government funding to help accelerate their work.

‘This new money will help mass produce the Oxford vaccine so that if current trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away.



‘There is nothing unprecedented about the virus itself’

Lionel Shriver on the hysteria driving the worldwide Covid shutdown

The ‘new normal’ of lockdowns, social distancing and economic catastrophe has been greeted with remarkably little resistance. The novelist Lionel Shriver is a rare dissenting voice. In the language of coronavirus, she proclaims to have ‘immunity’ from the ‘herd’. She joined spiked editor Brendan O’Neill for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. What follows is an edited extract.

Brendan O’Neill: You have talked about the supine capitulation to a police state that has happened in the UK over the past few weeks. Do you think things are that bad? Do you think it is not only so bad that we have a police state, but it is even worse because everyone has capitulated to it in a rather craven fashion?

Lionel Shriver: I think it’s pretty impressive. I have come across, in more than one article, references to how ‘free thinking’ and ‘independently minded’ British people are supposed to be, and I don’t think that this situation bears that out. There has been research into the English attitude to authority. The English, in particular, capitulate to authority. They obey the law for the law’s sake. This runs completely counter to my own inclinations, because I’m afraid I have a very deep-set ‘fuck you’ impulse. I don’t like being told what to do, and most of all I want people to justify it when they tell me what to do. I don’t do things just because of the law. I do them because they are the smart and right things to do. There has not been enough questioning on the public’s part, especially as to whether or not these lockdowns are even epidemiologically sensible.

O’Neill: Why does the lockdown not add up, in your view?

Shriver: I don’t think it makes a lot of sense once the virus has spread generously in the population already. There is plenty of evidence that the virus does continue to spread, even if you do have a lockdown. What we are doing is dragging the period of infection out. A lot of epidemiologists will back that up. Rather than reducing the absolute number of infections and absolute number of deaths, you simply make them occur over a longer period of time. You could argue that is actually socially destructive. As long as your healthcare system can handle a higher rate of infection – which our NHS could do right now – then it’s probably better to get it over with.

O’Neill: One thing that you have raised is the absence of critical voices in the mainstream media. As you point out, there are actually epidemiologists who believe that the idea that you can lock a disease away in a cupboard and make it disappear is complete idiocy and is completely unworkable and only puts off the inevitable, which is that the disease will become part of the family of diseases. Those voices are not being heard as much as they might be, and certainly not with parity to the other, more terrifying voices. What have you made of the broader media culture around this discussion of the virus and the lockdown?

Shriver: The media are worse than the public. Of course, the media are also controlling the public to a degree. I have been especially appalled by how few dissenting voices ever appear on television. I force myself to suffer through news programmes on a nightly basis, and I was really struck recently by Channel 4. This was not even a story, it was just a little statistic that they flashed up on the screen. It was that we are expecting 1.5 billion people – which is, they were careful to clarify, half the workforce of the entire world – to have no source of livelihood. That was just a little fact. Then we went back to the situation in care homes in the UK, which took up most of the rest of the broadcast. It’s as if it was incidental. This never gets any attention.

Nor does any dubiety among the scientific community about the wisdom of treating this disease completely differently to how we treat any other disease. Nor do I ever see any comparative statistics aired on television news – and you rarely find them in newspapers, either – putting the deaths in context, both in the context of how many people die every year in certain countries and worldwide anyway, and also of how many people die of other diseases routinely.

In 2017, the number of people who died of malaria was 620,000. That is almost all in Africa. We totally ignore it. That’s three times the number of people who’ve died of Covid-19 so far worldwide. But it’s just ordinary. They live with it. In 2018, 1.5million people died of tuberculosis. And TB is especially dangerous because it’s developing a resistance to our treatment to it. So it’s actually more terrifying than Covid-19. Again, we forget about it. Typhoid, which we think of as a disease of the past, still kills up to 160,000 people a year. Cholera is the same – it kills about 140,000 people a year. Influenza, which Covid resembles in many ways, kills up to 650,000 people every year. It took me five minutes to find those statistics. Why don’t I ever see them reported?

O’Neill: I want to go back to a point you made there about the incidental nature of the unprecedented economic collapse that the world is heading for. I have noticed that too; that in the media and in lots of political discussions, the predictions of a historically unprecedented contraction of economic life are treated either as incidental, or as significantly less important than Covid-19 itself. You give the example of 1.5 billion people losing their livelihoods in some way. Of course, in the UK, it is now being predicted that this will mean a 13 per cent drop in national output, which will be the largest contraction ever recorded. Why do you think that stuff is being pushed aside? Part of me thinks it’s some kind of Covid-related madness in which the media cannot see the broader picture. Or do you just think they cannot let anything get in the way of the politics-of-fear narrative that they are currently pushing?

Shriver: Madness is the word, but it is a shared hysteria. We are dealing with an international hysteria. You hear that word ‘unprecedented’ all the time. There is nothing unprecedented about the virus itself. It is very much like lots of other viruses and lots of other illnesses. In fact, it is less deadly than many other illnesses that we have had to learn to live with – some of which we have cured.

What is unprecedented is our reaction. And it’s the reaction that is causing the inevitable economic depression – or collapse, even. That is the level of economic failure we are dealing with. But it is as if the disease has caused the collapse. All that economic fallout is seen as simply the inevitable fallout of this terrible illness. But it has nothing to do with the illness. It has everything to do with our reaction to it. We have never done this before. We have never said we must close whole countries because of a contagious disease.

With these kinds of contagious diseases, you cannot just wait. If you are going to wait for it to not be there anymore, you are going to wait forever. That is what is really dangerous about the government’s change of strategy. It used to call for flattening the curve to save the NHS. And then as soon as we saved the NHS, we were still in lockdown. A new purpose for the lockdown was found, instead of ending it once it achieved its purpose.

Of course, the other thing that has happened is that the people have been so successfully brainwashed that it is getting very difficult to un-brainwash them. So it’s going to be difficult to get people to go back to work. It’s one thing to open restaurants again, it’s another thing to convince people that they want to go out to eat.

Furthermore, these new laws look as if they are going to be virtually indefinite. Many of these laws are going to make it impossible to run a successful business – if the business is even allowed to open. If you have a restaurant in which everyone has to be two metres apart, then how do you serve enough people to pay your staff and pay your chefs and pay your food bill and, most of all, pay your rent? The whole model is not going to stack up. You can’t spread people out too much, the facilities don’t allow for it. And therefore, it cuts your productivity so much that you cannot make any money. Everyone is just dealing with all of these measures as if they are inevitable, as if it’s just too bad, and it’s the fault of the virus. No, it isn’t. It’s the fault of the rabid overreaction to the virus.

O’Neill: Do you think there is a class or cultural component to that blindness of the lockdown fanatics to the consequences of the decisions that they are taking and the actions that they are pushing through? We know from the experience of recent years that we live under elites that are cut off from ordinary people’s lives and beliefs. Do you think there are some sections of society who are rather enjoying the lockdown because they can carry on working from home and the Deliveroo guys will still bring them their food? They live in nice houses and their blindness to the consequences of what they are doing or what they are supporting seems to be driven by their distance from people who have to work and have to mix together and have to make a living.

Shriver: I do think there is a segment of the population that is having a wonderful time, especially people who are being paid 80 per cent of their salaries. The irony being, of course, that they are paying themselves 80 per cent of their salaries. It’s taxpayers’ money. These are the same people who are heavy taxpayers, so they are going to end up having to pay their own furloughed salaries in future.

I think for some people, this has turned into a kind of indefinite holiday. You do not have to work very hard. You do not have to get dressed for work. You can stay in your pajamas. You can sit in front of the computer and feel self-righteous about it. Right now, being incredibly lazy and unproductive is patriotic. It’s the best of all possible worlds. In this sector, it is going to be hard to go back to normal, especially now that we are constantly informed that we cannot go back to normal. There is going to be a so-called ‘new normal’ – one of those expressions that we all now have learned to hate.

O’Neill: In terms of the economy, one of the striking ways in which people justify their blindness to this situation, or justify the acceptability of what is about to occur, is by making this very shallow propagandistic distinction between lives and the economy. You will know from personal experience that anyone who questions the lockdown or the reaction to the virus is depicted as caring more about the economy than lives, caring more about profit than lives, hating old people and so on. But to make a distinction like that between how people live and economic life is completely false, right?

Shriver: I think it is self-evident. [We] cannot have a country without an economy. What is abstract about an economy is the word. An economy is anything but abstract. It is all the very literal, tangible things we do between ourselves that make high-density living possible. If we do not have an economy, we cannot have a city – we would all be grubbing on our own little patch of dirt trying to raise a stalk of corn. When we are doing that all by ourselves, then there is no economy. But if we want to go to the supermarket to get popcorn, there has to be an economy. This whole idea that you can shelter human life and throw the economy into the toilet is patently ludicrous.



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


18 May, 2020

Blood-thinning drugs can help save the lives of coronavirus patients by stopping dangerous clots forming on the lungs, British scientists discover

London specialists made the discovery after finding Covid-19 caused potentially deadly blood clots in the lungs of most patients who die.

NHS England will give hospitals new guidance on blood thinning, which may lead to the administration of higher doses for those who are critically ill.

Specialists at the Royal Brompton Hospital's severe respiratory failure service identified the clearest link yet between Covid-19 and clotting.

They used hi-tech dual energy CAT scans to take images of lung function in the worst patients - which found a lack of blood flow, suggesting clotting within the small vessels in the lung. 

This may explain why some patients die of lung failure through lack of oxygen in the blood, doctors told The Sunday Telegraph.

Low oxygen levels have been regularly recorded in Covid patients reporting no breathlessness.

Prof Openshaw, a specialist in experimental medicine at Imperial College London told the publication: 'This intravascular clotting is a really nasty twist that we haven't seen before with many other viruses.

'It does sort of explain the rather extraordinary clinical picture that is being observed with people becoming very hypoxic, very low on oxygen and not really being particularly breathless. That would fit with it having a blood vessel origin.'

As a result of the new evidence, clinical trials to test blood-thinning drugs are being fast-tracked as part of the Government's response to the pandemic.  

The new NHS England guidance is independent of the work, and is believed to have been issued on the advice of haematology specialists.

Doctors at the Royal Brompton said blood thinning medication should be used carefully and specialists have said treatment would need to 'start very early' to prevent clots forming.

Dr Brijesh Patel said she thinks the majority of patients will end up on 'significant therapeutic doses' of blood-thinning drugs as scientists learn more about the disease, and if implemented properly they will save lives.    



Delaying herd immunity is costing lives

The current lockdown is protecting the healthy instead of the vulnerable.

Climate scientists are frustrated by people who do not believe in climate change. In epidemiology, our frustration is with anti-vaxxers. Most anti-vaxxers are highly educated but still argue against vaccination. We now face a similar situation with ‘anti-herders’, who view herd immunity as a misguided optional strategy rather than a scientifically proven phenomenon that can prevent unnecessary deaths.

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

The choice we face is stark. One option is to maintain a general lockdown for an unknown amount of time until herd immunity is reached through a future vaccine or until there is a safe and effective treatment. This must be weighed against the detrimental effects that lockdowns have on other health outcomes. The second option is to minimise the number of deaths until herd immunity is achieved through natural infection. Most places are neither preparing for the former nor considering the latter.

The question is not whether to aim for herd immunity as a strategy, because we will all eventually get there. The question is how to minimise casualties until we get there. Since Covid-19 mortality varies greatly by age, this can only be accomplished through age-specific countermeasures. We need to shield older people and other high-risk groups until they are protected by herd immunity.

Among the individuals exposed to Covid-19, people aged in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, and 300 times that of those in their 20s. The over-70s have a mortality that is more than 3,000 times higher than children have. For young people, the risk of death is so low that any reduced levels of mortality during the lockdown might not be due to fewer Covid-19 deaths, but due to fewer traffic accidents.

Considering these numbers, people above 60 must be better protected, while restrictions should be loosened on those below 50. Older people who are vulnerable should stay at home. Food should be delivered and they should receive no visitors. Nursing homes should be isolated together with some of the staff until other staff who have acquired immunity can take over. Younger people should go back to work and school without older coworkers and teachers at their sides.

While the appropriate magnitude of countermeasures depends on time and place as it is necessary to avoid hospital overload, the measures should still be age-dependent. This is how we can minimise the number of deaths by the time this terrible pandemic is over.

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

While it is not perfect, Sweden has come closest to an age-based strategy by keeping elementary schools, stores and restaurants open, while older people are encouraged to stay at home. Stockholm may become the first place to reach herd immunity, which will protect high-risk groups better than anything else until there is a cure or vaccine.

Herd immunity arrives after a certain still unknown percentage of the population has acquired immunity. Through long-term sustainable social distancing and better hygiene, like not shaking hands, this percentage can be lowered, saving lives. Such practices should be adopted by everyone.

Social distancing that cannot be permanently sustained is a different story. Some people will eventually be infected, and for every young low-risk person avoiding infection, there will ultimately be roughly one additional high-risk older person that is infected, increasing the death count.

Anti-vaxxers do not suffer the consequences of their beliefs, as they are protected by the herd immunity generated by the rest of us. Neither will the anti-herders, many of whom can afford to isolate themselves from Covid-19 until natural herd immunity is achieved by others. It is older and working-class people that disproportionately suffer from the current approach, becoming infected and thereby indirectly protecting much lower-risk college students and young professionals who are working from home.

The current one-size-fits-all lockdown approach is leading to unnecessary deaths. Protecting older people and other high-risk groups will be logistically and politically more difficult than isolating the young by closing schools and universities. But we must change course if we want to reduce suffering and save lives.



How coronavirus spreads, and why some are spared – and others not

New study analysing dozens of actual Covid-19 clusters from around the world shows enclosed spaces are hotbeds of the virus

Risk of coronavirus infection is much higher within households or other enclosed environments in which contact is close and sustained

Almost every day now, a new study is published that shines light on the way in which the new coronavirus is spread. It will be years before the precise dynamics of transmission are nailed down, but the broad outline of how the disease moves is becoming clear.

The latest findings come not from epidemiological estimates but from analysis of dozens of actual Covid-19 clusters unpicked by contact and trace teams from around the world. These studies are like a forensics report from a crime scene. While a good psychological profiler can point detectives in the right direction, the CSI team gives them the smoking gun.

An analysis of such studies was recently posted on Twitter by Dr Muge Cevik, an infectious diseases clinician and researcher from St Andrews University. It was promoted by Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). "If you read one thread,make it this one," Sir Jeremy said.

Dr Cevik starts with a big Chinese study that traced 2,147 close contacts of 157 confirmed Covid-19 cases. The overall infection rate was six per cent, but it was much higher among friends (22 per cent) and family members (18 per cent). In terms of location, the main risk factors were homes (13 per cent) transport (12 per cent) and dinner and entertainment (seven per cent).

Broadly similar findings emerge in several other papers. Risk of infection is much higher within households or other enclosed environments in which contact is close and sustained. In the outdoors, it falls to something in the 0-5 per cent range.

Transmissibility also appears to be impacted by age and the type of relationship people have with one another. A Chinese study of 392 contacts of 105 confirmed cases found that the attack rate in children was just four per cent within the home, compared with 17.1 per cent in adults, for example. The infection of spouses was super high, at 28 per cent.

Emphasising the link with age, another study found that household members over 60 were much more likely to become infected (18 per cent) than those under 20 (five per cent).

Children, it seems, are not only better able to resist the infection within the home but also less likely to bring it back with them. A study, funded by the Australian Research Council, of 31 household clusters including children found that only 10 per cent had been sparked by children.

"Whilst SARS-CoV-2 can cause mild disease in children, the data available to date suggests that children have not played a substantive role in the intra-household transmission of SARS-CoV-2," said the authors.

Using these and other studies, Dr Cevik concludes that they suggest (not prove) the following:

Close and prolonged contact is required for transmission of the virus.

Risk is highest in enclosed environments such as houses, care facilities, public transport, bars and other indoor spaces where people congregate.

Casual, short interactions are not the main driver of the epidemic.

Susceptibility to infection increases with age.

Dr Cevik does not look at how the virus passes from person to person, but plenty of other research suggests it moves in droplets expelled from the infected. Droplets may land directly on the mucus membranes of others (eyes, nose, mouth) or indirectly via shared surfaces (plates, desks, doorknobs). If the virus were truly airborne, household infection rates would almost certainly be far above 20 per cent.

Is this good or bad news for the Prime Minister, who is working hard this weekend on the UK exit strategy? And what sort of policies might it point to?

On the upside, it suggests lockdown can be relaxed with much less risk in outside spaces. In truth, Britain has been more liberal on this from the start than places like Spain, France and Italy, and the evidence suggests it can almost certainly go further. The trick will be to find mechanisms to stop people from inadvertently forming crowds by turning up at the same places at the same time.

The evidence also points to the power of good hygiene. Household attack rates are high, at 20 per cent – but that leaves 80 per cent who escape despite living under the same roof. There is some evidence that UK infections started to fall ahead of lockdown because of hand-washing and other hygiene messages. These should almost certainly be ramped up again, and extended. Think hand-cleansing facilities at every doorway, public or private.

On the downside, our winters are cold and wet, forcing us to congregate inside. Dr Cevik says this points to the need to "redesign our living and working spaces and rethink how to provide better, ventilated living and working environments for those who live in deprived and cramped areas". That will be a hard task, but an essential one.

It is winter that the Government will be most worried about. It can give us some outdoor freedom now, but it knows that won't mean much beyond September. The NHS also comes under much greater strain in winter, and Covid-19 symptoms will become harder to detect when mixed with flu and winter sniffles.

Ministers will therefore want to do everything possible now to drive down the virus to levels at which contact tracing teams can keep it in abeyance before winter arrives. Anything else and they risk a second major outbreak two to three months after the nights draw in.



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 May, 2020

Neurosurgeon Says Face Masks Pose Serious Risk to Healthy People

Every Karen on Facebook is shaming her neighbors for not wearing a face mask. We are being told by governors that if we don’t wear masks we are selfish, horrible human beings with no souls who want Grandma to die a horrible death. Police are tackling people who don’t wear face masks properly in the subway. Grocery stores are throwing maskless people out and denying them service.

But now, there’s another doctor weighing in—besides Dr. Fauci, bonafide sex god and ruler of us all, who also said face masks are largely security theater and of no use to the healthy. Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon, has written an editorial saying that “masks pose serious risks to the healthy.”

First, Blaylock says, there is no scientific evidence that masks are effective against COVID-19 transmission. Pro-science people should care about this.

As for the scientific support for the use of face mask, a recent careful examination of the literature, in which 17 of the best studies were analyzed, concluded that, “ None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”   Keep in mind, no studies have been done to demonstrate that either a cloth mask or the N95 mask has any effect on transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Any recommendations, therefore, have to be based on studies of influenza virus transmission. And, as you have seen, there is no conclusive evidence of their efficiency in controlling flu virus transmission.

It is also instructive to know that until recently, the CDC did not recommend wearing a face mask or covering of any kind, unless a person was known to be infected, that is, until recently. Non-infected people need not wear a mask. When a person has TB we have them wear a mask, not the entire community of non-infected. The recommendations by the CDC and the WHO are not based on any studies of this virus and have never been used to contain any other virus pandemic or epidemic in history.

Beyond the lack of scientific data to support wearing a mask as a deterrent to a virus, Blaylock says the more pressing concern is what can and will happen to the wearer.

Now that we have established that there is no scientific evidence necessitating the wearing of a face mask for prevention, are there dangers to wearing a face mask, especially for long periods? Several studies have indeed found significant problems with wearing such a mask. This can vary from headaches, to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, to hypoxia, all the way to serious life-threatening complications.

There are studies to back that claim up.

In one such study, researchers surveyed 212 healthcare workers (47 males and 165 females) asking about presence of headaches with N95 mask use, duration of the headaches, type of headaches and if the person had preexisting headaches.

They found that about a third of the workers developed headaches with use of the mask, most had preexisting headaches that were worsened by the mask wearing, and 60% required pain medications for relief. As to the cause of the headaches, while straps and pressure from the mask could be causative, the bulk of the evidence points toward hypoxia and/or hypercapnia as the cause.

That is, a reduction in blood oxygenation (hypoxia) or an elevation in blood C02 (hypercapnia). It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, as happened to the hapless fellow driving around alone in his car wearing an N95 mask, causing him to pass out, and to crash his car and sustain injuries.

I am sure that we have several cases of elderly individuals or any person with poor lung function passing out, hitting their head. This, of course, can lead to death.

A more recent study involving 159 healthcare workers aged 21 to 35 years of age found that 81% developed headaches from wearing a face mask. Some had pre-existing headaches that were precipitated by the masks. All felt like the headaches affected their work performance.

Blaylock says studies have also shown that face masks impair oxygen intake dramatically, potentially leading to serious problems.

The importance of these findings is that a drop in oxygen levels (hypoxia) is associated with an impairment in immunity. Studies have shown that hypoxia can inhibit the type of main immune cells used to fight viral infections called the CD4+ T-lymphocyte.

This occurs because the hypoxia increases the level of a compound called hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), which inhibits T-lymphocytes and stimulates a powerful immune inhibitor cell called the Tregs. . This sets the stage for contracting any infection, including COVID-19 and making the consequences of that infection much graver. In essence, your mask may very well put you at an increased risk of infections and if so, having a much worse outcome.

In other words, if you wear a face mask and contract some sickness, you will not be able to fight it off as effectively as if you had normal blood oxygen levels. The mask could make you sicker. It could also create a “deadly cytokine storm” in some.

There is another danger to wearing these masks on a daily basis, especially if worn for several hours. When a person is infected with a respiratory virus, they will expel some of the virus with each breath.

If they are wearing a mask, especially an N95 mask or other tightly fitting mask, they will be constantly rebreathing the viruses, raising the concentration of the virus in the lungs and the nasal passages. We know that people who have the worst reactions to the coronavirus have the highest concentrations of the virus early on. And this leads to the deadly cytokine storm in a selected number.

How about cancer, heart attacks, and strokes? Blaylock says face masks can make all of those conditions worse.

People with cancer, especially if the cancer has spread, will be at a further risk from prolonged hypoxia as the cancer grows best in a microenvironment that is low in oxygen. Low oxygen also promotes inflammation which can promote the growth, invasion and spread of cancers. Repeated episodes of hypoxia has been proposed as a significant factor in atherosclerosis and hence increases all cardiovascular (heart attacks) and cerebrovascular (strokes) diseases.

If that’s not bad enough, how would you like COVID-19 in your brain?

It gets even more frightening. Newer evidence suggests that in some cases the virus can enter the brain. In most instances it enters the brain by way of the olfactory nerves (smell nerves), which connect directly with the area of the brain dealing with recent memory and memory consolidation. By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.

Why is it that we only listen to dire predictions from Dr. Fauci and we don’t consult other experts in the field of medicine? Is Anthony Fauci the only qualified person to talk about this virus? Furthermore, if he is, he agrees with Dr. Blaylock that only sick people should wear them and he said so on 60 Minutes. So why aren’t we listening to him?


Stanford Antibody Studies Indicate No Safe Option for Eradicating COVID-19, Including Lockdown

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford Medicine recently released his antibody study of the staff of 27 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams from across the nation. The study is of mostly staff, not players, and covered a broad demographic range. The results of the MLB study showed that only 0.7% of the staff had the antibodies indicative of having had COVID-19.

Some staff is located in areas where antibody testing has been conducted for the general population such as New York, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara. Most of these locations showed the MLB staff had a much lower rate of prior infection than the general population. For example, the New York City metro area showed 25% of the population had antibodies. The MLB staff for the Yankees only showed antibodies in 1.64% of the employees. The Mets tested positive at a rate of 2.61%.

Dr. Bhattacharya said this was indicative of a trend seen in the other studies he has done. Lower-income residents had higher exposure rates to COVID-19. While the MLB had put mitigation policies in place, he believes that middle-to-upper-income individuals, like most of these staff in this study, have lower exposure. The ability to work from home and live in areas away from where they work that are less densely populated may be a factor.

The conclusion that Dr. Bhattacharya comes to based on the studies he has done to date is that the epidemic is far from over. The good news is his studies show about 70% of those who display antibodies were asymptomatic. This testing also places the death rate at somewhere between 0.1- 0.5%. This is orders of magnitude lower than originally thought.

This is important because, according to Dr. Bhattacharya, containment strategies are not likely to be effective and the virus is not going to disappear:

“I think in the back of people’s heads there is this idea that somehow we can eradicate this disease if we just stay locked down. That is not possible. The serologic evidence, even the MLB study, suggest this. It suggests the epidemic is too widespread to eradicate. It spreads via asymptomatic contact. Like people who don’t have very many symptoms, even mild cold symptoms can spread the thing. They aren’t going to show up for testing. They aren’t going to show up at a hospital or a doctor.”

He said containment could actually backfire if a positive test requires forcible quarantine of the individuals and members of their households as some public officials are proposing. In these circumstances, he said people may begin to avoid testing. Then he added that lifting lockdowns will absolutely cause an increase in the spread of the illness. Lockdowns have simply delayed the full spread.

Dr. Bhattacharya is clear:

“There is no safe option. If you think that having a lockdown will provide you safety, you are mistaken. Because the problem is this lockdown has had enormous negative effects on the health of people in the United States and around the world.

For example, 1.4 million tuberculosis patients in India are not getting critical antibiotic treatments due to shutdowns. In the U.S., we know chemotherapy patients have missed treatments. Individuals have suffered heart attacks and strokes at home rather than go to the hospital, and mental health resources have seen staggering increases in calls. He also referenced the lagging deaths of despair that are likely, saying the current impacts will be larger than the 2008 recession.

Based on his research to date, Dr. Bhattacharya advocates for lifting lockdowns based on local experience data. His sense, though he has not confirmed via testing, is that this could be accomplished in most areas of the country. He also has some ideas of what the priorities need to be in proceeding, including widespread disease testing. He agreed with Dr. Fauci’s previous statement that disease testing is simply an answer at a point in time. A negative test does not confer any long-term assurance.

When asked, Dr. Bhattacharya clearly understood the political calculations that leaders are making. He said leadership is what is needed because politicians are going to face the consequences of COVID-19 or the problems caused by economic collapse. According to his assessment, a vaccine is an open-ended question. None of the other coronaviruses that infect humans have one and there is no guarantee this one will. So, he recommended the following:

Protect at-risk groups that are obvious such as nursing home residents. The disease most often seems to require some extended close contact to spread, so these environments need to be addressed.

Continue to share clinical information broadly. Ventilator protocols have improved significantly based on the sharing of best practices. This will result in more effective treatment.

Use the current global clinical information to determine more precisely who is at risk for severe illness with a COVID-19 infection.

He said the final bullet should be the focus for epidemiologists. For example, we know the elderly have a higher risk. But not all elderly patients suffer from severe disease. For those who suffered severe disease or death below the age of 65, what were their common health, demographic or genetic profiles? If researchers could refine this picture, then individuals and public health services could be advised appropriately.




FBI serves warrant, seizes phone of Sen. Richard Burr in stock sales investigation (USA Today)

Not good: Senate narrowly rejects plan to require a warrant for Americans' browsing data (TechCrunch)

House Republicans open inquiry into mysterious drone program officials use to police Americans who aren't social distancing (The Daily Caller)

FBI arrests NASA researcher for failing to disclose China ties (National Review)

Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidates state's stay-at-home order (Reuters)

Judge orders Massachusetts gun shops to reopen, but imposes unfair restrictions (PJ Media)

Los Angeles County announces new "safer at home" order with no end date (FOX 11)

Boy Scouts banned from planting American flags on veterans' graves for Memorial Day (Fox News)

Parkland cop, fired after school shooting, will get his job back (South Florida Sun Sentinel)


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 May, 2020

Media Lies: Democrat Governors Doing Great Jobs Despite Higher Virus Death Rates

What’s a Republican governor have to do to earn respect from the mainstream media? I’m asking because saving a lot of lives without totally trashing their state’s economy doesn’t seem to do the trick. Meanwhile, certain Democrat governors are portrayed as quietly competent heroes while having the worst infection and death rates in the nation.

AG Hamilton noted on Twitter earlier this morning:

Florida began its reopening process on Governor Ron DeSantis’ orders over a week ago, smartly putting retiree-heavy South Florida on a later, longer schedule. DeSantis also closed Florida much later than other states did — to media howls. Nevertheless, even though Florida has two million more people than New York does, and its population skews older than New York’s, New York has about eight times more COVID-19 cases than Florida has suffered.

Remember the Democrat attack ad from 2012, showing a Paul Ryan lookalike rolling a wheelchair-bound granny off a cliff? All Ryan had done was propose Medicare reforms. Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo got thousands of grannies and grandpas killed with his March 25 directive ordering nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients. Cuomo even forbade nursing homes “from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.” The result was thousands of needlessly dead.

In a sane world with a nonpartisan media, DeSantis should be enjoying improved poll numbers, while New Yorkers ought to be gathered in front of the governor’s mansion with torches and pitchforks. And yet, Cuomo’s approval rating has shot up to 72% according to the latest from Quinnipiac. DeSantis, on the other hand, has seen his once-strong approval ratings decline over the last few weeks.

Despite Florida’s impressive COVID-19 numbers, compared to New York or New Jersey’s, the Washington Post felt the need to ask two days ago, “Does Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis know what he’s doing?“. If the New York Times gave a damn about its own city, they’d be demanding the heads of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio. Instead, they’re running scare pieces on Florida with headlines like “‘Found Unresponsive at Home’: Grim Records Recount Lonely Deaths.” And Yahoo News felt the need to explain “How the coronavirus undid Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.” The Wuhan Flu didn’t undo DeSantis; the mainstream media did.

Cuomo has recieved almost nothing but fawning press coverage, particularly from the Orange Man Bad crowd. Eddie Scarry wrote on Tuesday for the Washington Examiner:

So how are the media’s COVID-19 governor heroes doing? Daily press briefings by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, are run top to bottom live on cable news outlets, and his performances are cherished by the press. The New York Times last month called Cuomo’s delivery “articulate, consistent and often tinged with empathy.” The paper also likened the briefings to a “tender embrace.”

That soft hug, however, is currently accompanied by the shockingly high death rate of 139 per 100,000 people, a number that was boosted in part by Cuomo’s appalling decision to force nursing homes to accept any elderly person who had been infected with the virus. This directly exposed many high-risk people to the coronavirus and has probably resulted in many deaths.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is a Republican, but he gets a lot of love from the press because he’s always ready to attack President Trump. His state isn’t doing so hot, either, with a rate of 28 deaths per 100,000. That means Maryland has a death rate more than twice that of Georgia.

New Jersey — where Democrat Phil Murphy is governor — has a population not much less than Georgia’s, yet has four times as many COVID-19 cases. I was unable to find a single negative MSM headline about Murphy in a week’s worth of stories from the mainstream media. The Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has been given the same treatment as DeSantis, portrayed as a cross between a bumbler and a murderer. Kemp has been accused of “deadly ignorance,” and begged not to “risk virus’ resurgence here.” He even placed on a list of “The Definitive Ranking of the Worst U.S. Government Responses to the Coronavirus.”

But would you rather be a retiree with existing medical conditions in Kemp’s Georgia, or in Phil Murphy’s New Jersey? Would you feel safer on a Florida beach, or in a New York nursing home?



Republicans increasingly doubt Anthony Fauci but trust Donald Trump

Washington: At the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak - and for weeks afterwards - there was one thing Americans could seemingly agree upon: Anthony Fauci.

Today, that's considerably less the case. While Fauci retains the faith of a strong majority of Americans, opposition from Republicans has crept up steadily over the past month or so, as conservative media figures and politicians have increasingly called his advice into question.

Picking up that mantle in a particularly prominent way Tuesday was Senator Rand Paul, who spent his time at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee grilling Fauci and suggesting he shouldn't oversell his knowledge about what might become of the virus - along with Fauci's role in decisions about the response.

Paul pressed Fauci to admit he wasn't the "end-all" when it comes to the response, particularly when it comes to decisions about whether the economy should be reopened at this point.

Fauci offered a subtly pointed response. While noting that he had never presented himself as the "end-all" - Fauci has made a point to say that others are in charge of economic considerations - he repeated Paul's allusions to using "humility" in offering prescriptions about what might lay ahead.

Particularly, he pushed back on Paul's suggestion that schools could reopen because children suffer many fewer deaths from COVID-19 by saying people should be "humble" about what they don't know about how the virus impacts young people.

But Paul's line of questioning reflects an increasing conservative scepticism of Fauci - a scepticism that has grown over the past month in part thanks to people like him questioning Fauci's advice.

And a new poll this week reinforces that this scepticism is slowly taking hold: The CNN poll suggests a significant decline in GOP regard for Fauci's expertise when measured against other similar polls of Fauci in recent weeks.

While 84 per cent of Republicans said they trusted the information they received from President Donald Trump about the virus, just 72 per cent said the same about the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, while just 61 per cent said the same about Fauci, the CNN poll found.

That split in regard for Trump and Fauci is something that simply didn't exist even a month ago.

A Fox News poll conducted in late March showed very little difference in GOP perceptions between the two. At the time, 85 per cent of Republicans approved of Fauci's handling of the coronavirus, versus just 8 per cent who disapproved. His plus-77 rating was about the same as Trump, for whom 86 per cent approved and 13 per cent disapproved (plus-73).

That gap, though, has progressively widened over the past month.

A Quinnipiac University poll in early April showed Republicans approved of Trump 89-10 and Fauci 77-8 - still sterling numbers for Fauci, but not quite on Trump's level.

By late April, a Gallup poll showed 91 per cent of Republicans approved of Trump on the virus, but just 71 per cent approved of Fauci.

Early this month, Republicans in a Washington Post-University of Maryland survey said Trump had done an "excellent" or "good" job on the coronavirus by a 79-21 margin (plus-58), as compared to 68-25 (plus-43) for Fauci.

And now, the CNN poll shows the biggest gap yet - at least on the narrower measure of trust. While Republicans trust Trump on the coronavirus by a margin of 84 per cent to 14 per cent (plus-70), they trust Fauci by less than half that margin, 61-29 (plus-32).

Trump has thus far declined to clash with Fauci publicly - apart from retweeting a call for his firing at one point in mid-April. But many of his allies in conservative media (and now the Senate) have been happy to pick up that torch and question Fauci's advice, as they push for a more aggressive reopening of the economy than Fauci has advocated.

And it seems to have gradually had the intended effect - even as Fauci, to date, retains a relatively strong image.



Social distancing not as effective as hoped, Minnesota modelling shows

Minneapolis: New modelling by Minnesota researchers of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that social distancing isn't as effective as initially expected in reducing deaths and infections, but will still help protect the state from a novel and highly infectious coronavirus.

Initial models were based on estimates that Minnesota's statewide stay-at-home order would reduce face-to-face contact and disease transmission by 80 per cent, but the new model released Wednesday showed it only reduced that by 59.5 per cent.

COVID-19 remains a new disease globally, and new understanding is helping to create a more precise model, said Stefan Gildemeister, state health economist, as he unveiled the new modelling results on Wednesday morning.

Initial estimates of the impact of social distancing in Minnesota were based on experiences in China, where the coronavirus first emerged. "Mitigation (in China) was very different from what we were experiencing here," Gildemeister said.

The modelling predicted roughly 1700 deaths in Minnesota by the end of May, but a range of 16,000 to 44,000 deaths over 12 months of the pandemic. That is higher than prior state modelling estimates, Gildemeister said, based on updated understanding of an earlier peak of the pandemic and broader spread of the virus in the state. "We hope these are pessimistic estimates, but it is certainly a plausible outcome," he said.

The latest model also was based on feedback from doctors that 100 per cent of people would die from COVID-19 if they needed ventilator care in hospitals to breathe and didn't receive it.

Minnesota hospitals have worked to increase ventilatory capacity in the past two months, and now have 3702 available - though 858 remain on back order. As of Wednesday, only 562 ventilators were in use statewide by patients with COVID-19 and other patients with medical problems unrelated to the pandemic.

Modelling of different scenarios showed that stay-at-home orders would reduce ventilator demand and deaths. A stay-at-home order through the end of May would cut in half the forecasted number of deaths compared to the state doing nothing at all from the start.

Modelling was instrumental early on in the pandemic for the state's governor Tim Walz, who issued school closures and statewide stay-at-home orders based in part on state-specific forecasts showing that COVID-19 cases would far outstrip the available supply of critical care beds and ventilators in hospitals.

The last model update was publicly unveiled on April 9. Walz has made key policy decisions in the absence of new forecasts - including another two-week extension of the stay-at-home order that is scheduled to end May 18.

More than 83,000 people have died in the US, representing more than one-fourth of global deaths and the world's highest toll. On the planet more than 4.3 million have been infected and about 295,000 have died.

Eager to restart the economy, US President Donald Trump has been urging states to lift restrictions, and many governors are doing so gradually, though consumers remain leery of going back to restaurants, social events and sporting competitions.



The Left hate us and want us out of the way

There are many on the Right, often with more, er, establishment leanings, who seem to be dismissive of the warnings we have seen from Kurt Schlichter and Dennis Prager, among others, of how much the Left hates grassroots Americans. The Never Trump faction has long been in denial of reality, and it starts with what seems to be misunderstanding the Left.

At the very least, many so-called “progressives” want Patriots to shut up and get out of the way. You don’t need to just take the word of your Patriot Post team; just look at Elizabeth Warren’s campaign platform. For her, it was not enough to pass sweeping restrictions on our Second Amendment rights, punishing millions of law-abiding Americans for crimes and acts of madness they did not commit. She wanted to sic the Internal Revenue Service on the National Rifle Association.

In her mind, the many lawmakers who defend our right to keep and bear arms do so because they are “corrupt” — the notion that another American could look at Second Amendment issues and come to a different good-faith conclusion about what policies should be pursued seems to be completely foreign to her.

Given that her presidential campaign flopped, Patriots might want to breathe a sigh of relief, but she is a top contender to be Joe Biden’s veep. Given what many speculate about Biden’s health, Warren would be a heartbeat away from being president.

Between Operation Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS Tea Party targeting, Wisconsin’s “John Doe” investigations, the efforts by state attorneys general to silence opponents of the “green” agenda, Spygate, and Andrew Cuomo’s jihad against the NRA, there is a clear pattern. When they are in power, Democrats have a proclivity toward using police-state tactics against their opponents.

Worse, the tactics worked. We’ll never know for sure, but those abuses undoubtedly played a part in losses over the years. Even the Supreme Court has not been immune from threats (particularly the chief justice), and in the recent Second Amendment case some justices backed down in the face of pressure.

Also coming as a harbinger of police-state tactics is the fact that, according to a report by Fox News, Department of Defense technology intended to combat radical Islamic terrorist groups is now being turned on domestic political actors — President Donald Trump’s supporters.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency denies it, but after seeing what happened with Lois Lerner, Fast and Furious, and Spygate, can we really believe that denial? Once again, the past misconduct, the bureaucratic usurpation of power, and the lack of accountability raise doubts about the denial.

Given all of this, the situation should be patently obvious to anyone. Leftists have been telling us who they are and what they intend to do. The question is, do those who criticize Trump supporters not believe them, or are they being willfully blind?



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 May, 2020

The lockdowns still aren’t working

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece for spiked arguing that there is little empirical evidence that regional lockdowns prevent the spread of Covid-19 better than well-done social-distancing measures. The piece received far more of a response than I expected. After literally thousands of email and Twitter comments – mostly positive – I have returned to respond to some of the more common methodological points raised by readers. Once again, I find limited – if any – evidence for the efficacy of lockdowns. My data set is available for anyone to request it via my Twitter.

The most basic response I received was that this could all change in a fortnight. The lockdowns simply needed more time to succeed. This argument has turned out to be false. As of the close of business Friday 1 May, the number of documented Covid-19 cases across the US states and territories ranged from 146 (in Guam) to 315,222 (in New York), with a per-state US average of 20,954. New York State is an outlier, so with that removed from the mix, state caseloads varied between 146 and 121,190 (New Jersey) for a mean average of 15,295.

Unlike most US states, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming did not issue ‘shelter in place’ orders and have enacted social-distancing measures instead. South Carolina did eventually lock down, but not until 6 April. It was the last state to do so, locking down some three-and-a-half weeks after California and New York. It also allowed major exceptions, such as religious services. The mean for the number of cases across social-distancing states was 3,895. Without South Carolina, the mean was 3,600.

Essentially, there is the same pattern for Covid-19 deaths. On 1 May, deaths nationally ranged from seven in Wyoming up to 24,069 in New York, for a mean of 1,229 deaths per state. With New York removed, the deaths varied between seven and 7,538 (New Jersey). The mean number of cases was 789. In the non-lockdown social-distancing states, the 1 May mean for deaths was 98.9 – falling to 79.3 with South Carolina removed from the analysis.

As before, I next adjusted for population. As of 10pm EST on 1 May, officially tested Covid-19 cases per million state residents in the US ranged from a low of 435 in Montana and Hawaii up to 16,068 in New York. The per-state average was 2,882 cases-per-million, or 2,624 with New York removed. Deaths per million ranged between 11 (Hawaii) and 1,227 (New York) for a mean of 147. Without New York, this falls to 126, with New Jersey (849) as the worst-hit state. In contrast, the non-lockdown social-distancing states averaged 1,704 cases per million and only 34 deaths per million. In other words, the number of deaths in social-distancing states is just 27 per cent that of the lockdown states.

A second suggestion was that I improve my regressions, by (1) re-running them using more up-to-date cases and deaths data for my dependent variables, (2) running them with current active cases as a dependent variable, and (3) adding variables. These new variables include the rate of testing, the date the epidemic started, and even temperature. Even with these adjustments, little has changed.

First, I treated caseload and deaths as of 1 May 2020 as the dependent variables. Population, population density, ‘strategy’ (lockdown or social distancing), median age, median income and diversity (minority-population percentage) were my independent variables. The regression analysis produced results very similar to those I wrote about in my earlier spiked piece. The main difference was that with the more-up-to date figures, population density became more significant as a predictor of caseload and deaths.

Secondly, the results were almost identical when current active cases of Covid-19 were used as a dependent variable. Again, both population and density were significant predictors in the model. But the strategy used by a state to respond to Covid-19 – social distancing or lockdown – was not a significant predictor of Covid cases or deaths.

Third, I added all of the new variables suggested by spiked readers and those in the online modelling community to my regression analyses. I first regressed each of these separately against the ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ dependent variables. The ‘state temperature’ variable had little influence. However, the ‘testing’ variable – representing the number of Covid tests administered by a state per million residents – was highly significant. The p-value for testing – the probability that its relationship with cases and deaths is down to just random chance – was only .006 for cases and .005 for deaths. The date-of-onset variable (days since the first confirmed in-state Covid death) was also significant against cases and was nearly significant against deaths (p=.026, .064).

Next, each of these variables was cycled into my original six-variable linear model. In this multivariate model, the relationships between testing rates and both cases and deaths remained statistically and meaningfully significant. In this model, the relationships between date-of-onset and the two dependent variables fell below statistical significance.

Interestingly, I observed a strong, significant and meaningful correlation between increasing temperature and decreasing Covid-19 caseload (B= -2,065, p=.029) and death totals (B = -169, p=.025). The unstandardised regression coefficient (B) means that, with all other variables adjusted for in the model, each one-degree increase in mean temperature correlated with a 2,065-unit decrease in Covid-19 cases and a 169-unit decrease in Covid deaths.

It should be prudently noted that, while the coefficients for the temperature variable remained consistent in the same direction (B = -900, -74.1), these relationships between temperature and the primary dependent variables did not reach significance (p=.199, .185) in the final model I ran – an ‘all critical variables’ regression which included population, population density, strategy, temperature, rate of testing and date-of-onset. In that model, the only conventionally significant variables were population and testing. However, the relationship between temperature and the fight against Covid-19, which has been the subject of much media speculation, should be explored in the context of data sets larger than mine.

In the context of my fairly small data set, I certainly encourage scholars to add individualised weights to the data (something I have largely resisted doing) and to try out log-linear rather than linear analyses. However, I will point out that my focus variable of government strategy has not proven to be a significant predictor of any of my dependent variables, in any model.

A final claim made against my original model is that I should compare the rates of weekly increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths. Data from day-by-day tracking resources like Covidtracking.com does indicate that, while their overall case numbers are low, states like Wyoming and South Dakota have seen major increases in their death totals during some recent weeks – 250 per cent and 300 per cent respectively.

However, the ‘surges’ we hear of in the social-distancing states tend to be tiny. Wyoming’s ‘250 per cent increase’ was a jump from two total deaths to seven. What is more, Wyoming’s death toll has remained stable at seven total deaths since 23 April – implying a zero per cent increase in death rate over the past week.

Also, other social-distancing states have done quite well against the same week-to-week metrics. Covid Tracking data for Arkansas indicate that the state’s death rate grew only from 37 to 45 between 17 April and 24 April, roughly half the increase of the week before and one of the top three performances among all states.

Finally, the varying dates-of-onset for different states indicate that regions are at different points along their epidemic curves, and this could easily affect rates of new cases and deaths in heartland states versus coastal states, regardless of response strategy.

With all that said, the fact that I have compiled two fairly solid Covid-19 data sets within a two-week period allows me to conduct a more comprehensive test of the effectiveness of lockdowns.

When I wrote my last piece for spiked, the US states overall had an average of 54 Covid-19 deaths per million persons. The social-distancing states, with South Carolina counted as a social-distancing state, had an average of 12 Covid deaths per million. As of today, that figure has jumped to 147 deaths per million for all US states (126 per million minus New York), and 34 per million for social-distancing states. Deaths per million have increased by 22 in the social-distancing states, and by 72 to 93 in the lockdown states, during only the past two weeks. This gap in new, post-lockdown deaths per million people once again suggests that the lockdowns are not working.

This should be a powerful argument for adopting social distancing. While social-distancing measures – like wearing a light medical mask or washing one’s hands 11 times a day – might be annoying, the practical impact of country-wide lockdowns has been utterly devastating. Unemployment in the US is approaching (if not surpassing) Great Depression levels. Thirty million Americans have filed jobless claims since March. Almost eight million small- to medium-sized businesses are at risk of closing permanently.

The original argument for the lockdown policies which have caused all this pain is that they were necessary to avoid an almost unprecedented wave of mass death. Early analyses from the WHO and from serious scientists estimated the infection fatality rate (IFR) for Covid to be between roughly one per cent and four per cent. They projected infection rates of up to 80 per cent, and argued that ‘mitigation’ alone would do little to stop it. Faced with the apparent prospect of corpses littering the streets, entire countries essentially shut themselves down.

Now, however, serological testing tells us that the actual IFR for Covid-19 may well be on the order of 0.3 or 0.4 per cent. Even the WHO is now lauding social-distancing Sweden as an effective model for other nations going forward. Sweden, which never locked down, currently ranks 20th in Europe in terms of cases-per-million and ninth in deaths-per-million – ahead of the locked-down UK in both categories.

None of this means that those making the case against lockdowns should do so glibly. Any human death is a tragedy. It is certainly possible that US states which lift lockdowns could see spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths – particularly if residents do not embrace voluntary distancing. Press photographs of packed beaches and flag football games in the park are hardly manna for those of us who favour ending the lockdowns (although many of these photos have been taken during lockdowns).

It is also worth noting another unsayable fact at this point: approximately the same number of people have always been projected to contract Covid-19 in most ‘curve flattening’ scenarios. Lockdowns simply spread the deaths out across a longer period of time.

The original argument for locking down to ‘flatten the curve’ was very specifically about stopping patients from entering hospital in a single stream that would overwhelm healthcare resources and cause millions of incidental deaths. Now, however, we know that hospitals have not been swamped on a large scale in any of the non-lockdown US states, nor in nations such as Sweden which never locked down. In fact, more than 200 hospitals in lightly hit areas of both lockdown and social-distancing states have begun to furlough their employees, after cancelling elective procedures in preparation for a Covid wave that simply never arrived.

Much of this result is almost certainly explained by the IFR for Covid-19 being apparently far lower than that originally predicted. The prevalence of the virus among the population is also much higher than expected. And now that we know the hospital system has not been swamped, there is arguably no reason whatsoever to destroy our economies simply to experience roughly the same number of infections later rather than sooner.

Again, there may well be responses to these points. Given the gravity of the situation, some might seriously expect to see a Covid-19 vaccine in three to six months, rather than the usual 12 to 18. But, to be useful, any such assertions must be based on facts, rather than hope and speculation.

No single set of numbers can be perfect, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that numbers, not emotions, must guide the debate about how best to respond to Covid-19. And the numbers just discussed, human and economic, do not make the case for lockdowns.



Dear Media, Governor Kemp Will Accept Your Apology Now

When Governor Brian Kemp announced that the state of Georgia would make the initial steps toward reopening the economy, the media went on the attack. He was called irresponsible and it was predicted Georgia cases would skyrocket.

Also-ran Stacey Abrams jumped into the fray as part of her audition for Joe Biden’s vice presidential slot. She called Governor Kemp “dangerously incompetent” during a national media appearance with Gayle King. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also called the governor’s plan reckless and the media trumpeted warnings of a second wave. Even Fox’s Martha MacCallum challenged Kemp on his plan during an interview at the time:

During that interview Kemp was clear. He had worked closely with public health officials to make the decision to begin the reopening process. Kemp made it clear that the state was not given carte blanche to reopen and resume normal operations. He was also clear that the health system was bleeding money because they were empty. The outline for testing and mitigation was also laid out. MacCallum said everyone would be watching Georgia because of his early moves to implement the Phase 1 guidelines. Kemp expressed confidence in the business owners and the citizens to make good decisions and protect each other using the guidelines the state was putting out.

Well, the results are in and the media can now apologize for the savaging of my governor. Since the tentative reopening on April 24, the state has not seen a spike in the percentage of positive cases or hospitalizations. Kemp and his team are measuring this correctly.

The entire purpose of mitigation was to protect the hospital system and ensure those critically ill with COVID-19 could be adequately cared for. Georgia has a more than adequate capacity to deal with a hot spot. Despite increased testing, a lower percentage are testing positive—even with increased mobility and business operations. Given the number of asymptomatic and mild cases we know exist, measuring the results against the capacity of the healthcare system to treat severe cases is the best measure of success. Not new cases.

Additionally, like many other states, Georgia has seen a significant portion of the deaths related to coronavirus occur in nursing homes. According to an analysis done by Phil Kerpen and a colleague using state-level data, nursing homes account for 48.2% of coronavirus deaths in Georgia. Governor Kemp ordered 100 National Guard troops to assist in ensuring infection-control procedures and other protocols were being implemented in these facilities to reduce transmission and preserve hospital resources in early April. Nationwide the analysis shows that over 50% of deaths are occurring in nursing home facilities. This should be a major focus for all governors to reduce deaths and save lives.



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 May, 2020

First at-home saliva test for COVID-19 earns FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first at-home saliva collection test for COVID-19, which people could use to sample their own saliva and send it into a lab for results.

Developed by RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a biorepository based at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the test received "amended emergency use authorization" from the FDA late on May 7, according to a statement from the university. In April, the lab received emergency use authorization for their saliva collection method, which allowed health care workers to begin testing New Jersey residents at select sites throughout the state, The New York Times reported April 29.

Now, the amended authorization will allow people to collect their own saliva at home and avoid potentially risky contact with people at testing sites. The only other at-home coronavirus test on the market requires users to collect samples using a nose swab, The New York Times reported May 7.

"Collecting a saliva sample at home mitigates the risk of exposure needed to travel to a facility or drive-through and is less invasive and more comfortable and reliable than sticking a swab up your nose or down your throat," Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR, said in the statement.

When compared with swab tests for the coronavirus, which rely on samples collected from the nose and throat, the saliva-based test generated fewer false-negative results in severely infected people, meaning it was more reliable at confirming an active infection, according to the Times report published April 29. The rate at which COVID-19 swab tests deliver false-negative results has raised concerns among health care professionals, Live Science previously reported; saliva-based tests could provide consistency where these other tests have faltered.

In the same comparison, the saliva tests garnered no false-positive results, either.

During collection, a person would spit into a container holding a preservative liquid developed by the medical equipment manufacturer Spectrum Solutions, according to the Rutgers statement. The exact recipe for the solution remains a secret, but the ingredients are readily available, the Times reported. Like swab tests, however, the saliva-based test relies on PCR machines to process sampled genetic material; specific chemical reagents are needed to run the machines and could present supply chain problems, Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, told the Times.

That said, the at-home saliva test could address "many critical issues associated with large-scale screening that is required to get people back to their normal daily lives," Brooks said. During the month of April, the Rutgers lab processed nearly 90,000 tests conducted at their in-person testing sites and planned to increase their testing capacity to 30,000 tests a day, Brooks told the Times. At the time, test results could be delivered back to patients within 72 hours, but the turnaround time could be cut down to only a few hours with all the right infrastructure in place, according to the Times report.

Now that people can collect their own samples remotely, the Rutgers lab could feasibly process "tens of thousands of samples daily," according to the statement.



Coronavirus pandemic takes staggering toll on mental health

By Jean Twenge

When the novel coronavirus roared into the U.S., mental health took a back seat to physical health. The number one priority was making sure hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed and that as many lives as possible could be saved.

Schools closed, remote work became the norm, restaurants shuttered and getting together with friends was no longer possible. The news cycle spun with story after story highlighting the ever-increasing number of cases and deaths, while unemployment soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Any one of these shifts could be expected to cause an increase in mental health issues. Put together, they created a a perfect storm for a crisis.

Experts speculated as much, and polls showed that many people seemed to intuitively grasp the mental toll of the pandemic. However, data on mental health metrics was scant; we didn’t know the magnitude of any changes in mental health issues, nor did we understand which groups of people were suffering more than others.

So I decided to collect data on mental health during the pandemic and compare it to data from before all of this happened. The differences were even worse than I anticipated.

A generational divide

On April 27, I surveyed 2,032 U.S. adults using a standard measure of mental distress that asks, for example, how often a respondent felt sad or nervous in the last month. I compared the responses with a sample of 19,330 demographically similar people in a 2018 government-sponsored survey of U.S. adults that asked the same questions.

The results were staggering: The 2020 participants were eight times as likely to screen positive for serious mental illness – 28%, compared to 3.4% in the 2018 survey. The vast majority of the 2020 participants, 70%, met criteria for moderate to serious mental illness, compared with 22% in 2018.

Clearly, the pandemic has had a devastating effect on mental health.

Yet some people are suffering more than others. Younger adults ages 18 to 44 – mostly iGen and millennials – have borne the brunt of the mental health effects. They’ve experienced a tenfold increase in serious mental distress compared with 2018. Meanwhile, adults 60 and older had the smallest increases in serious mental health issues.

Why might this be the case? After all, the virus has far more dire health implications for older people.

It could be because older people are more protected from the economic disruptions of the pandemic. Younger adults were more likely to lose their jobs as restaurants and stores closed and were more likely to be in a precarious financial position to begin with. The youngest adults were also already struggling with mental health issues: Depression among 18- to 25-year-olds surged from 2012 to 2017, possibly because young adults spent less time interacting with others in person than they used to, a situation only exacerbated by the pandemic.

Parents under pressure

The other group in distress won’t be a surprise to parents: those with children under 18 at home. With schools and daycares closed during the pandemic, many parents are trying to do the near-impossible by working and supervising their children at the same time. Sports, scouting, music classes, camps and virtually every other activity parents rely on to keep their kids occupied have been canceled. Even parks were closed for weeks.

This trend didn’t occur just because people with children at home are younger. Even among 18- to 44-year-olds, those with children at home showed larger increases in mental distress than those without kids.

In 2018, parents were actually less likely to be experiencing mental distress than those without children. But by the end of April 2020, parents were more likely to be in distress than their childless peers.

Where do we go from here?

The findings of this study are preliminary. The 2020 and 2018 samples, though very similar in age, gender, race and region, came from different sources and thus might differ in other ways.

However, there are also other indications that mental health is suffering during the pandemic. For example, calls to mental health hotlines appear to have surged.



Isolation Is Also Deadly

Isolation is the key to social or physical distancing aimed at curbing the transmission of COVID-19. But isolation of both the ill and symptomatic along with the well also intensifies problems with mental health, like depression. It’s impacting one key aspect of those in recovery from addictions, not to mention the deaths and diseases of despair.

Healthy social interactions range from the mundane of encountering smiling faces in our daily comings and goings to individuals who partner with a group or a counselor to overcome addictions through accountabilities. These human touches and encounters are needed in our lives for our own purpose, self-worth, camaraderie, and identity.

With the prolonged isolation of both sick and well, positive COVID cases with hospitalizations are not the only numbers that have to be considered. Deaths of despair will soon be part of the death count, though there won’t be extra COVID funding coming for those lives.

Forced unemployment in double digits has placed Americans who would never in their lives expect to receive a government unemployment check out of work. Wait, they’re told, on the population centers to stabilize their case counts and hospitalization rates. Wait on some authority to allow “nonessential businesses” — the estimated 30.2 million sole proprietors or authentic small businesses that make up more than 98% of all businesses in the U.S. — to resume operations.

Remember the opioid epidemic? Deaths of despair were characteristic of the opioid crisis, because there is a a correlation between economic instability or collapse and the increase in illicit drug use and addiction. Hence, the opioid epidemic had part of its roots in economic distress. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2017, there were 70,000 deaths due to opioid overdoses. America didn’t close its economy but there was a mounted response to intervene and reverse course, which happened to include improved economic opportunities for millions.

Yet today, some push a straw argument in efforts to marginalize the opposition in order to keep everything locked down. It goes like this: If you want to reopen the economy, you’re greedy and want people to die. Rhetorically, the question is posed, “How many deaths are too many before it’s time to close businesses again?”

It’s not just the out-of-work adults facing despair. The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman records several reports of increased volume at the teen suicide hotline as a result of social and physical isolation combined with family pressures within the home.

Social determinants and adverse childhood events are buzzwords in the academic community, with massive efforts to reconstruct environments to end destructive behaviors into more favorable and thriving situations. Yet the harsh polarizing defenses employed to keep strict closures and the quarantine of all — well, vulnerable, sick, and healthy — runs counter to the very foundations of these priorities when addressing children and youth in physical and mental health by addressing a variety of factors, including family income and socialization.

There was a need to understand this virus — its transmission and presentation — and to have a temporary intervention to contain and mitigate its spread. This virus from Wuhan is here to stay. But keeping businesses closed, workers unemployed, and government printing and borrowing money is neither sustainable nor healthy for adults, teens, or families. Yes, isolation kills. But it kills more than the viral transmission of a pathogen. It also kills an individual’s well-being through work, self-reliance, community, and ability to support a family.

The poison of political hatred, however, will cause a significant truth to be missed or dismissed: There’s a mountain of data and research demonstrating a wealth-health connection tying economic growth and work directly to better health and well-being.



FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization to First Coronavirus Antigen Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued the first emergency use authorization to a coronavirus antigen test. The Trump administration has been working to quickly expand testing abilities, and the antigen test represents a new category of testing that can rapidly detect infections of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Public health experts have said widespread testing is paramount to safely reopening the country, and the FDA's emergency use authorization to diagnostic health care manufacturer Quidel's new coronavirus antigen test is part of that effort.

Antigen tests have the potential to test millions of Americans per day and are cheaper to produce than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Expanded testing will allow infected individuals to be quickly identified and quarantined to help stop the virus from spreading.

According to CNBC, the new tests can quickly detect protein fragments belonging on or within the virus by testing samples collected through naval cavity swabs. The test results are returned in minutes, and while the new tests can't detect all active infections, the positive test results are highly accurate. Negative test results may require additional PCR tests to confirm the subject is negative for the virus. PCR tests are more accurate but take longer to analyze.




Attorney General William Barr's office shreds NBC's Chuck Todd for "deceptive editing" of Barr's comments (The Daily Wire)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly drafting a $750 billion bill to aid state and local governments; Republicans aren't happy (Fox News)

Office of Special Counsel blocks removal of HHS whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright to investigate claim of "political retaliation" (National Review)

Encouraging illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. is a crime, the Supreme Court rules unanimously (The Daily Caller)

Rhode Island becomes first in Northeast bloc to lift stay-at-home order (Fox News)

Field hospitals stand down, most without treating any coronavirus patients (NPR)

Joe Biden's virtual rally in Tampa goes hilariously wrong (The Daily Wire)

Policy: The left is at war with the Little Sisters of the Poor (American Enterprise 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


12 May, 2020

Government's short-sighted strategy to COVID-19 pandemic destroying America

Would you agree to buy a new motor vehicle without knowing the price? Of course not. Your options are many — sedan, convertible, sports car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, etc. in many different sizes with different features, including different safety features. Most people do not buy the “safest” vehicle because of both price and the fact that other vehicles may have features they value more.

Yet, when it comes to options regarding how to deal with the COVID-19 virus, most governors give the people no or, at best, few options. People voluntarily engage in all sorts of risky sports — many of which are much more likely to kill anyone under 65 than COVID-19 (as I described in my column last week). Less than 100 people (out of a population of 328,000 million Americans) under age 24 have died from the virus. It is much more dangerous for them to ride an electric scooter or walk across the street, yet the government has shut down almost all schools in the United States for a virus that is not going to kill the students.

We can see the lives lost to the virus. Every night on TV we are shown people being taken to the morgue. What is rarely mentioned is that the average age of death of the victims is well into the 80s.

What is not seen are all the lives lost to the restrictions being placed on the people — the careers destroyed, the damage from students not being in school, the damage to people who have spent decades building businesses that are now being destroyed by government mandate, the psychological damage from people being cooped up and unable to have normal human interactions with friends, family, business colleagues or even dating, etc. What price do we put on the loss of freedom? 

The great French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-50) had many important insights, and one of his most famous works was titled “That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen.” Bastiat was a master at making a point by telling a story. A store owner’s young son accidentally broke a window, and the store owner then paid a glazer to fix it.

Those who can see only the first-order effect say: “This is good because it gave the glazer a job and income.” Those who can see beyond the first order understand that the shop owner will now have less income to buy other goods such as a new pair of boots, thus depriving the cobbler of a job. The glazer, if not employed repairing the broken window, most likely would be spending his time putting windows in new structures — thus creating new wealth.

Those who say we can offset the cost of the government mandated shutdown of productive economic activity by just giving business people and individuals money to replace their losses stemming from the shutdown fail to understand that passing out money without creating wealth, over the long run, makes everyone poorer by debasing the currency.

In my fantasyland, I would make it a requirement that all of those who demand expenditures and restrictions on our behavior to mitigate the virus detail precisely the long-run cost of each restriction or proposed expenditure. If America had a better educated, less ideological and more responsible media, they would be insisting on such information rather than accepting what can be immediately seen as the only fact.

An old friend and fine economist, Jack Albertine, who among other things was executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress, sent me a note regarding my column of last week, parts of which I repeat here:

The data is clear, the U.S. lockdown did not measurably change the mortality rate in the United States. In addition, the models were wrong, period. Their predictions failed empirically. “Elective” medical procedures were banned so as to allow hospitals to have the capacity to deal with the avalanche of COVID-19 admissions. This was again in response to the models’ predictions. First, “elective” medical procedures are called elective because they are not required to stave off immediate death. They, however, are critically important to maintain the health of the population.

Additionally, the longer elective procedures are put off, the more they become not elective at all. So, we endangered the health of millions of people and to what purpose? The predicted avalanche never came. Hospitals have much unused capacity, and, as one who served for nine years on a hospital board, elective surgery and other procedures are huge money makers for hospitals. So now we have a financial crisis in hospitals.

In Texas, 67 percent of the counties have no COVID-19 virus deaths (which may be typical of many states). New York has suffered 88 deaths per 100,000 people, while Texas has suffered only 2.3 deaths per 100,000. So, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sensibly, rapidly eliminating unnecessary restrictions and getting his state back to normal, as are a number of other governors — while those who cannot think beyond stage I and who neither understand nor appreciate the importance of economic growth and liberty are depriving their citizens of both.



Is India a COVID-19 Anomaly?

The world's second-most-populated country has hardly been touched by the virus. Why?  Because the virus overwhelmingly targets the frail elderly.  Very few Indians live that long

As of this writing, the total number of confirmed cases of China Virus in India sits at less than 50,000 with about 1,700 deaths attributed to the COVID-19 virus. With the second-most populous nation on the planet still classified as a developing country, many are wondering why India’s pandemic numbers are so low.

One would think that, in a nation that struggles with high poverty rates and low levels of healthcare access, the spread of the virus would be rampant and widespread. However, that does not appear to be the case.

Some claim that India’s rapid social distancing and stay-at-home mandates are the reason. Yet in a country as densely populated as India, with notoriously massive poverty slums, such massive lockdown measures are near impossible. If anything, one would expect to see deadly virus hotspots in these slums. Even so, the numbers suggest otherwise.

Could it be that many COVID-19 deaths have simply gone unreported? That’s a plausible theory, as roughly only 22% of all deaths in India are ever certified by a doctor. However, the trouble with this theory is that if it were so, one would expect to see a sudden spike in the number of overall deaths across the country — but that has not occurred. So, even if there has been underreporting of COVID-19 deaths, the overall number of deaths has not seen any significant increase.

Maybe India’s hot weather can be attributed with slowing the spread of the virus, though many experts note there is no evidence yet supporting such a conclusion. Can this apparent anomaly be attributed to environmental, genetic, or cultural differences, or a combination of all three? Whatever the reason(s), what this anomaly does show is that there is much yet to be learned about this novel virus.



Flawed Models Show Why COVID-19 Policies Must Consider Total Mortality

Policymakers need to scrutinize their epidemiological models.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has been heavily influenced by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s computer model, which has projected from 60,000 to 240,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

This epidemiological model is now being criticized as flawed and misleading as a source of public information and for government decision-making. Besides the institute’s model, all other COVID-19 models are grounded in important assumptions about which there is currently little knowledge.

Approaches other than models are needed to properly understand this pandemic.

One approach that has not been explored in any detail is the examination of deaths from all causes in addition to deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Two major databases that track COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., but not total mortality, are WorldOMeters and the Johns Hopkins University Hub. These trackers show major variation in COVID-19 mortality risk. 

For example, as of April 22, WorldOMeters showed 47,681 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. (50 states and the District of Columbia) with a rate of 144 deaths per 1 million people.

However, note that 71% of the deaths have occurred in six high-risk states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Michigan) with 17% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 624 per million.

Ten percent have occurred in five medium-risk states (Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, and Indiana) and the District of Columbia with 12% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 124 per million, and 19% have occurred in the remaining 39 low-risk states with 71% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 40 per million.

It remains to be determined, however, whether these COVID-19 deaths have actually increased the total U.S. deaths this year. The best data on both COVID-19 deaths and total deaths in the U.S. come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s National Center for Health Statistics.

During the five weeks ending Feb. 1 through Feb. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 282,084 total deaths, which were 96% of the expected deaths based on concurrent 2017-2019 deaths. During the five weeks ending March 7 to April 4, the CDC reported 273,798 total deaths, which were 96% of the expected deaths. 

Of the 9,474 COVID-19 deaths reported during these 10 weeks, 78.5% were among people over age 65, 21.4% were between the ages of 25 and 64, and only 0.1% were ages newborn to 24 years.

Those death counts through the end of March are preliminary, but they do not indicate that the total number of deaths in 2020 is greater than the comparable number of deaths during each of the three prior years.

Once the number of COVID-19 deaths and total deaths during the entire month of April are known, it will be clear whether there has been an increase in the total number of U.S. deaths this year.

One reason there may not be an increase in total deaths is because some deaths are being classified as COVID-19 deaths even when COVID-19 is not the underlying cause.

Normally, mortality statistics are compiled in accordance with World Health Organization regulations specifying that each death be assigned an underlying cause based on the current 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that COVID-19 deaths are being coded to ICD-10 code U07.1 when COVID-19 is reported as a cause that “contributed to” death on the death certificate, but is not necessarily the “underlying cause.” Also, some of those deaths do not have laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection.

Thus, it’s possible that the focus on COVID-19 deaths has resulted in a lower number of deaths from seasonal flu, pneumonia, and other causes, compared with the number that would normally occur this year.

The CDC has stated that the number of flu hospitalizations estimated for this season is lower than total hospitalization estimates for any season since the CDC began making these estimates.

Furthermore, it’s possible that the lethality of COVID-19 is no greater than that of the seasonal flu. 

A new Stanford University survey indicates that the population prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, California, ranges from 2.5% to 4.2% and that the number of infected persons is 50 to 85 times the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This preliminary finding suggests that at most 0.1% of infected persons will die from COVID-19, comparable to the seasonal flu death rate. Several other new studies indicate similarly lower fatality rates for COVID-19.

Americans need clarity. The federal government response to the coronavirus pandemic should not be based on flawed models, but rather on a localized public health approach that focuses on the high-risk areas of the United States and also on the high-risk elderly and those with comorbid conditions.

The emphasis should be on changes in personal behavior, such as staying at home for work or school if ill, covering coughs or sneezes, hand-washing, and avoiding those with respiratory symptoms.

Above all, the pandemic and COVID-19 deaths must be put in proper perspective, given the unprecedented societal and economic disruption of the current national lockdown.



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 May, 2020

Two thirds of cases are missed, app expert says

The British government’s data on coronavirus cases is nonsense and two thirds of cases in Britain are undiagnosed, a leading epidemiologist has claimed.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, has criticised the British government’s refusal to class common symptoms as official indicators.

The government has listed a high temperature and a new, continuous cough as the primary symptoms of COVID-19. There is evidence, however, that a loss of taste or smell is a common sign of infection. Other countries, including the US, have recognised this as a symptom on more detailed lists.

The Australian Department of Health lists fever, coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath as possible symptoms.

Professor Spector has collected data from three million Britons on his team’s symptom-tracking app.

“The reason that we got a bit stuck in this country is we took the data from China and just instantly said, ‘OK, the disease only has two symptoms: it’s fever or it’s persistent cough.’ That meant we were missing about 60 per cent of cases,” he said.

“Only people with those two symptoms got tested and ended up on the statistics. All this governmental data on confirmed cases and how many people have recovered, it’s all nonsense.”

In partnership with the British Department of Health and Social Care, 10,000 app users are being sent COVID-19 tests each week, within the first day or so of developing symptoms.

Clear patterns have emerged from the data in the six weeks since the app went live and the team are close to being able to plot how the disease will progress, depending on the symptoms someone has on day one.

According to the data the virus may have arrived in Britain at the new year as many users reported symptoms in January. At the peak one in 10 people had the virus. The team estimated that at the end of April there were more than 300,000 symptomatic cases, a fall from a peak of more than two million at the start of the month.

Professor Spector said: “We’re able to allocate people into five or six groups at the moment that follow different patterns of symptoms at different time points. It’s not random.”

In one group are those whose symptoms are a sore throat and muscle pains, which then develop to include diarrhoea, stomach pains and fatigue.

People in another group start with a headache, which progresses to a cough and fatigue, then the cough gets worse, they develop shortness of breath and may need to go to hospital. This classification is important in determining which patients are high risk.

Alan McNally, professor of microbial genomics at the University of Birmingham, agreed that there were many other possible signs of coronavirus infection. “There are myriad less common symptoms attached to COVID: things such as COVID toe [a rash on the feet] and loss of appetite,” he said.

He defended the decision by the government to concentrate on a few, however, saying: “I don’t see where on earth you draw a line on symptoms and whether or not they are COVID.”

Users of the COVID Symptom Study app in Britain log how they feel daily, even if they are healthy. The most useful loggers are people who were in good health when they first logged on to the app and have since developed symptoms.



Flawed Models Show Why COVID-19 Policies Must Consider Total Mortality

Policymakers need to scrutinize their epidemiological models.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has been heavily influenced by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s computer model, which has projected from 60,000 to 240,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

This epidemiological model is now being criticized as flawed and misleading as a source of public information and for government decision-making. Besides the institute’s model, all other COVID-19 models are grounded in important assumptions about which there is currently little knowledge.

Approaches other than models are needed to properly understand this pandemic.

One approach that has not been explored in any detail is the examination of deaths from all causes in addition to deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Two major databases that track COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., but not total mortality, are WorldOMeters and the Johns Hopkins University Hub. These trackers show major variation in COVID-19 mortality risk. 

For example, as of April 22, WorldOMeters showed 47,681 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. (50 states and the District of Columbia) with a rate of 144 deaths per 1 million people.

However, note that 71% of the deaths have occurred in six high-risk states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Michigan) with 17% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 624 per million.

Ten percent have occurred in five medium-risk states (Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, and Indiana) and the District of Columbia with 12% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 124 per million, and 19% have occurred in the remaining 39 low-risk states with 71% of U.S. residents and a death rate of 40 per million.

It remains to be determined, however, whether these COVID-19 deaths have actually increased the total U.S. deaths this year. The best data on both COVID-19 deaths and total deaths in the U.S. come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s National Center for Health Statistics.

During the five weeks ending Feb. 1 through Feb. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 282,084 total deaths, which were 96% of the expected deaths based on concurrent 2017-2019 deaths. During the five weeks ending March 7 to April 4, the CDC reported 273,798 total deaths, which were 96% of the expected deaths. 

Of the 9,474 COVID-19 deaths reported during these 10 weeks, 78.5% were among people over age 65, 21.4% were between the ages of 25 and 64, and only 0.1% were ages newborn to 24 years.

Those death counts through the end of March are preliminary, but they do not indicate that the total number of deaths in 2020 is greater than the comparable number of deaths during each of the three prior years.

Once the number of COVID-19 deaths and total deaths during the entire month of April are known, it will be clear whether there has been an increase in the total number of U.S. deaths this year.

One reason there may not be an increase in total deaths is because some deaths are being classified as COVID-19 deaths even when COVID-19 is not the underlying cause.

Normally, mortality statistics are compiled in accordance with World Health Organization regulations specifying that each death be assigned an underlying cause based on the current 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that COVID-19 deaths are being coded to ICD-10 code U07.1 when COVID-19 is reported as a cause that “contributed to” death on the death certificate, but is not necessarily the “underlying cause.” Also, some of those deaths do not have laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection.

Thus, it’s possible that the focus on COVID-19 deaths has resulted in a lower number of deaths from seasonal flu, pneumonia, and other causes, compared with the number that would normally occur this year.

The CDC has stated that the number of flu hospitalizations estimated for this season is lower than total hospitalization estimates for any season since the CDC began making these estimates.

Furthermore, it’s possible that the lethality of COVID-19 is no greater than that of the seasonal flu. 

A new Stanford University survey indicates that the population prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, California, ranges from 2.5% to 4.2% and that the number of infected persons is 50 to 85 times the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This preliminary finding suggests that at most 0.1% of infected persons will die from COVID-19, comparable to the seasonal flu death rate. Several other new studies indicate similarly lower fatality rates for COVID-19.

Americans need clarity. The federal government response to the coronavirus pandemic should not be based on flawed models, but rather on a localized public health approach that focuses on the high-risk areas of the United States and also on the high-risk elderly and those with comorbid conditions.

The emphasis should be on changes in personal behavior, such as staying at home for work or school if ill, covering coughs or sneezes, hand-washing, and avoiding those with respiratory symptoms.

Above all, the pandemic and COVID-19 deaths must be put in proper perspective, given the unprecedented societal and economic disruption of the current national lockdown.



Coronavirus treatment: Antibody that blocks infection discovered

Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, as well as the Erasmus Medical Centre and the company Harbour BioMed (HBM), identified it as a potential method of neutralising COVID-19.

And while the team’s discovery was made on human cells grown in the laboratory, they are hopeful it will produce the same results in patients.

The breakthrough offers hope of a treatment or a vaccine for the deadly virus, which has infected more than 3.6 million worldwide and killed over 250,000 people.

Study co-lead author Professor Berend-Jan Bosch said the antibody targets the deadly bug’s infamous ‘spike protein’.

The virus hooks onto a locking point on human cells to insert its genetic material, make multiples copies of itself and spread throughout the body.

“Such a neutralising antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus,” Prof Bosch said

It could lead to a therapy that would be given to somebody immediately after they become infected or exposed.

The antibody binds to an enzyme called ACE2 which has been identified as the receptor COVID-19 latches onto when it attacks the body.

In tests, the monoclonal antibody neutralised SARS-CoV-2 – however, further studies are planned to see if the findings translate to the clinic.

Prof Bosch and his colleagues identified it from 51 cell lines from mice that had been engineered to carry human genes.

When they were exposed to different coronaviruses they produced antibodies to the spike protein.

Only one, named 47D11, destroyed both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. It was then turned into a human version.

Prof Bosch said: “This cross-neutralising feature of the antibody is very interesting and suggests it may have potential in mitigation of diseases caused by future emerging related coronaviruses.”

The study, published in Nature Communications, offers potential for “prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” said Prof Bosch.

It builds on almost two decades of work by the same team since the first SARS epidemic of 2002 which killed almost 800 people and infected over 8000.

Prof Bosch said: “Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells.”

“The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human’ – allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects.”

Conventional therapeutic antibodies are first developed in other species and then must undergo additional work to ‘humanise’ them.

The therapy is being developed by Massachusetts-based global tech giant Harbour BioMed.




Federal judge orders officials to restore New York primary, drawing cheers from Sanders camp (The Washington Post)

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office refuses records request on "murky" $1 billion mask deal with Chinese company (Fox News)

In 1991, Joe Biden voted to block creation of Senate office that handles sexual-harassment complaints (The Washington Free Beacon)

Nothing to see here — move along! Obama's office condemns Senate investigation into Ukraine, Biden (The Washington Post)

San Francisco police chief bans "thin blue line" face masks (PoliceOne)

Policy: Tom Cotton is right about restricting Chinese student visas (The Federalist)

Policy: Washington must preclude a flood of tort claims that threaten to kneecap the economy even further (City Journal)

Justice John Roberts and leftist colleagues wary of exemptions to birth-control mandate — an issue that shouldn't even exist in a country that cherishes religious liberty (The Washington Free Beacon)

Supreme Court reverses fraud convictions of Chris Christie aides in New Jersey "Bridgegate" scandal (CNBC)

The EU is facing its worst-ever recession; economy projected to shrink by 7.4% (The New York Times)

Health workers that volunteered to come to New York during pandemic have to pay state income tax, says socialist Governor Cuomo (PIX11)

Policy: Blame the federal government for militarized police crackdowns on citizen protests (Washington Examiner)

Policy: America needs to rediscover civics in education (E21)


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 May, 2020

Simple arithmetic demonstrates that the epidemic, outside nursing homes, is essentially over

Daniel Horowitz

We are weeks past the peak of coronavirus hospitalizations, yet the reported national death numbers keep rising 2,000 or more every single day. It made no sense to anyone who has followed the curves in any other country, but now we have our answer. The Hartford Courant reported that 90% of all deaths in Connecticut last week were in senior care facilities. This explains why these increased deaths don’t make sense with the reality of empty hospitals in most places.

This revelation should change everything we know about the current state of affairs with coronavirus. Governors are justifying the continued lockdown by pointing to rising deaths, sometimes significantly, in many states and counties. But it now appears, using simple arithmetic, that in most states, the overwhelming majority of deaths are in nursing homes, and in some states and counties, nearly every new death is in a senior facility. And in fact, even in nursing homes, it appears that while numbers are being recorded now, the actual deaths occurred earlier during the peak. Nothing else matters until this fact comes to life.

80%-90% of new deaths, 50%+ total deaths are in senior care facilities

As I reported yesterday, not only do deaths in nursing homes now compose more than 50% (and in some states as high as 80%) of total deaths from the beginning of the entire epidemic, that percentage is sharply increasing in every state day by day. This means that nearly all the new deaths, depending on the state, are occurring in nursing homes.

Every state has a recorded death count that you can track by date, but the recording of the subcategory of nursing home deaths is pretty new in most states, and there is no cumulative tally by date. Nonetheless, using news reports and data from previous dates, we can easily see how many of the new total deaths since then were from nursing homes.

Phil Kerpen has recorded these numbers in his Twitter account, and I have independently verified them by going to each state’s database.

Those are some state numbers of the total nursing home deaths in a respective state’s overall deaths since the beginning of the epidemic. But then you have Virginia, where there have been new recorded nursing home deaths that are higher than the entire total from the past week.

What this demonstrates is that not only are most new deaths occurring in nursing homes, some of them are also being backfilled into the count now that states are beginning to focus on nursing homes as an important demographic data point. This means that depending on the state, either some of the deaths weren’t originally recorded at all during the peak weeks, or they were recorded in the state’s total but because the patient died in a hospital, they weren’t initially listed as a nursing home death, even though the patient came from such a facility.

I’m seeing the same thing in my home state of Maryland. There have been 317 new recorded deaths in Maryland from April 28 through May 6, and 333 from nursing homes! Again, clearly, not only are there few coronavirus deaths outside nursing homes any more, but even some of the nursing home deaths are either being added retroactively to the state’s overall total or having the effect of revising the previously reported non-nursing home subtotal down because they are now researching past hospital deaths of nursing home patients.

For example, in Baltimore County, 124 of 149 total deaths occurred in these facilities. That is 83% of all deaths. But if you tally the numbers since April 29, there are 59 new nursing home deaths, even though the total county deaths only went up by 55.

Different states and counties have varying numbers. In Minnesota, for example, 89 percent of the new deaths recorded on Tuesday were in nursing homes. Some might not be quite as dramatic, but they tell the same story. The curve has long been flattened, the deaths have nearly stopped in most areas of the country outside nursing homes, and even in nursing homes, some of the numbers are being backfilled, and there are serious questions about the data and criteria for coding these deaths.

This is why some counties in Pennsylvania are asking the state to be transparent and separate out nursing home deaths from other deaths per day. They are being told they cannot open up because there are still people dying, but the question of whether the tragedy is largely confined to nursing homes or whether it’s widespread makes a huge difference. Most counties in Pennsylvania are seeing upwards of 80% of deaths occurring in nursing homes in recent days and weeks. The government of Livingston, New Jersey, is making the same request because 80% of all recorded deaths are occurring in long-term care facilities, and the growth of that share of the pie is accelerating every day.

I have checked over 30 states that produce data on nursing home deaths and have found that in each one, the share of deaths that nursing homes compose of the statewide total has dramatically increased to varying degrees over the past 1-3 weeks.

The implication is that there is no excuse whatsoever not to open up the country and throw all our resources at protecting nursing homes. But it also raises questions as to what is going on with the count in nursing homes.

A scary national death tally built on questionable nursing home data

Fox News reported on Tuesday regarding the New York numbers: “Exactly how many nursing home residents have died remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure, as the list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.”

At least during the peak time, that could have been a large number, if not the majority of nursing home deaths. This could shed light on what is going on now. Could it be that the numbers aren’t surging quite as much as the toplines suggest, but that some states are now recording more prior deaths as nursing home deaths? The implication of this would mean that even the states that have less than 50% of deaths recorded from nursing homes, such as New York (it’s about 36%) might wind up all being over 50%. The Washington Post already predicts that more than half of the nation’s total deaths are in nursing homes. That would mean that no more than 36,000 deaths so far were ever from non-nursing home patients and that nearly none of them are now.

Then there is also the issue of reliability of the data. There are concerns overall that too many people who tested positive for COVID-19 but died of “a clear alternate cause,” to quote Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, are being added to the count. However, this concern is magnified now that most of the numbers are coming from nursing homes. We know that once the virus gets into nursing homes, the overwhelming majority, if not all, of residents will test positive for the virus, as we’re seeing in other confined spaces, such as ships and prisons. While it is very deadly and dangerous for them, clearly not all who die in nursing homes are dying of COVID-19. People die fairly suddenly in nursing homes every day, probably more so than anywhere else.

Take New York’s nursing home death data, for example. States and counties began adding “presumptive” deaths to the overall fatality count in recent weeks. But usually the presumptive deaths are only a fraction of the confirmed deaths, and with New York’s overall total deaths, that fact is no different. Now, take a look at these numbers in New York just for nursing home deaths:

Confirmed: 2418

Presumed: 2585

There are actually more presumed deaths than confirmed deaths among the nursing home demographic. That is astounding. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to smell something fishy.

Remember, roughly 20%-24% of all deaths in America every year occur in nursing homes, and studies have shown that most die from dementia (36%), cardiovascular issues (30%), or pulmonary issues (23%). It’s very easy to see how, now that they are testing everyone in these homes, and most are likely testing positive, any typical death would be coded as a COVID-19 death.

Then there is the question of how many nursing home patients are dying now as a result of decisions by governors to force nursing homes to take back patients from hospitals after they tested positive for the virus. We know this had devastating results in the tristate area around New York City, and now Governor Gavin Newsom is doubling down on the same policy in California.

We need transparency

With our entire way of life destroyed because of false arithmetic and false science, what is the CDC doing with the tens of billions of dollars we gave it? At a minimum, they should publish a breakdown every day of the following:

How many nursing home residents died, as distinct from those who died among the general population, along with a state-by-state breakdown.

How many deaths occurred on the day they were recorded vs. how many were backfilled.

How many of the nursing home deaths are confirmed as having died as a result of the virus, as opposed to just having tested positive (like tens of millions of Americans who likely had the virus but didn’t get a severe case).

How many coronavirus patients were admitted straight from hospitals to nursing homes, broken down by state.

The results of any antibody serology tests the CDC has conducted (there’s no way they haven’t, and if they didn’t, that would be criminal) and a full breakdown of the real fatality rate, stratified for each cohort of age, gender, race, and health status. If they don’t have this data, then what is the purpose of throwing tens of billions at them?

A definitive national and state-by-state number of how many of the 72,000+ deaths were in long-term senior care facilities.

The reason we need independent conservative writers like me to investigate what should be the most publicized data ever is because our overlords do not want us to discover what these results would reveal.



Herd immunity

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

The choice we face is stark. One option is to maintain a general lockdown for an unknown amount of time until herd immunity is reached through a future vaccine or until there is a safe and effective treatment. This must be weighed against the detrimental effects that lockdowns have on other health outcomes. The second option is to minimise the number of deaths until herd immunity is achieved through natural infection. Most places are neither preparing for the former nor considering the latter.

The question is not whether to aim for herd immunity as a strategy, because we will all eventually get there. The question is how to minimise casualties until we get there. Since Covid-19 mortality varies greatly by age, this can only be accomplished through age-specific countermeasures. We need to shield older people and other high-risk groups until they are protected by herd immunity.

Among the individuals exposed to Covid-19, people aged in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, and 300 times that of those in their 20s. The over-70s have a mortality that is more than 3,000 times higher than children have. For young people, the risk of death is so low that any reduced levels of mortality during the lockdown might not be due to fewer Covid-19 deaths, but due to fewer traffic accidents.

Considering these numbers, people above 60 must be better protected, while restrictions should be loosened on those below 50. Older people who are vulnerable should stay at home. Food should be delivered and they should receive no visitors. Nursing homes should be isolated together with some of the staff until other staff who have acquired immunity can take over. Younger people should go back to work and school without older coworkers and teachers at their sides.

While the appropriate magnitude of countermeasures depends on time and place as it is necessary to avoid hospital overload, the measures should still be age-dependent. This is how we can minimise the number of deaths by the time this terrible pandemic is over.

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

While it is not perfect, Sweden has come closest to an age-based strategy by keeping elementary schools, stores and restaurants open, while older people are encouraged to stay at home. Stockholm may become the first place to reach herd immunity, which will protect high-risk groups better than anything else until there is a cure or vaccine.

Herd immunity arrives after a certain still unknown percentage of the population has acquired immunity. Through long-term sustainable social distancing and better hygiene, like not shaking hands, this percentage can be lowered, saving lives. Such practices should be adopted by everyone.

Social distancing that cannot be permanently sustained is a different story. Some people will eventually be infected, and for every young low-risk person avoiding infection, there will ultimately be roughly one additional high-risk older person that is infected, increasing the death count.

Anti-vaxxers do not suffer the consequences of their beliefs, as they are protected by the herd immunity generated by the rest of us. Neither will the anti-herders, many of whom can afford to isolate themselves from Covid-19 until natural herd immunity is achieved by others. It is older and working-class people that disproportionately suffer from the current approach, becoming infected and thereby indirectly protecting much lower-risk college students and young professionals who are working from home.

The current one-size-fits-all lockdown approach is leading to unnecessary deaths. Protecting older people and other high-risk groups will be logistically and politically more difficult than isolating the young by closing schools and universities. But we must change course if we want to reduce suffering and save lives.



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 May, 2020

What If We Already Have a Vaccine?

AS the world waits for a coronavirus vaccine, tens of thousands of people could die. But some scientists believe a vaccine might already exist.

Surprising new research in a niche area of immunology suggests that certain live vaccines that have been around for decades could, possibly, protect against the coronavirus. The theory is that these vaccines could make people less likely to experience serious symptoms — or even any symptoms — if they catch it.

At more than 25 universities and clinical centers around the world, researchers have begun clinical trials, primarily in health care workers, to test whether a live tuberculosis vaccine that has been in use for 99 years called the bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or B.C.G., vaccine, could reduce the risks associated with the coronavirus.

Another small but esteemed group of scientists is raising money to test the potential protective effects of a 60-year-old live polio vaccine called O.P.V. It’s counterintuitive to think that old vaccines created to fight very different pathogens could defend against the coronavirus. The idea is controversial in part because it challenges the dogma about how vaccines work.

But scientists’ understanding of an arm of immunology known as innate immunity has shifted in recent years. A growing body of research suggests that live vaccines, which are made from living but attenuated pathogens (as opposed to inactivated vaccines, which use dead pathogens) provide broad protection against infections in ways that no one anticipated.

“We can’t be certain as to what the outcome will be, but I suspect it’ll have an effect” on the coronavirus, said Jeffrey Cirillo, a microbiologist and immunologist at Texas A&M University who is leading one of the B.C.G. trials.

“Question is, how big will it be?” Scientists stress that these vaccines will not be a panacea. They might make symptoms milder, but they probably won’t eliminate them.

And the protection, if it occurs, would most likely last only a few years.

Still, “these could be a first step,” said Dr. Mihai Netea, an immunologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands who is leading another one of the trials. “They can be the bridge until you have the time to develop a specific vaccine.” The first evidence to suggest that live vaccines could be broadly protective trickled in nearly a century ago, but no one knew what to make of it. In 1927, soon after B.C.G. was rolled out, Carl Naslund of the Swedish Tuberculosis Society observed that children vaccinated with the live tuberculosis vaccine were three times less likely to die of any cause compared with kids who weren’t.

“One is tempted to explain this very low mortality among vaccinated children by the idea that B.C.G. vaccine provokes a nonspecific immunity,” he wrote in 1932.

Then, in clinical trials conducted in the 1940s and ’50s in the United States and Britain, researchers found that B.C.G. reduced nonaccidental deaths from causes other than tuberculosis by an average of 25 percent.

Also in the 1950s, Russian researchers, including Marina Voroshilova of the Academy of Medical Science in Moscow, noticed that people who had been given the live polio vaccine, compared with people who hadn’t, were far less likely to fall ill with the seasonal flu and other respiratory infections. She and other scientists undertook a clinical trial involving 320,000 Russians to more carefully test these mysterious effects.

They found that among individuals who had received the live polio vaccine, “the incidence of seasonal influenza was reduced by 75 percent,” said Konstantin Chumakov, Voroshilova’s son, who is now an associate director for research in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review.

Recent studies have produced similar findings.

In a 2016 review of 68 papers commissioned by the World Health Organization, a team of researchers concluded that B.C.G., along with other live vaccines, “reduce overall mortality by more than would be expected through their effects on the diseases they prevent.” The W.H.O. has long been skeptical about these “nonspecific effects,” in part because much of the research on them has involved observational studies that don’t establish cause and effect. But in a recent report incorporating newer results from some clinical trials, the organization described nonspecific vaccine effects as “plausible and common.” Dr. Stanley Plotkin, a vaccinologist and emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania who developed the rubella vaccine but has no involvement in the current research, agreed.

“Vaccines can affect the immune system beyond the response to the specific pathogen,” he said.

Peter Aaby, a Danish anthropologist who has spent 40 years studying the nonspecific effects of vaccines in Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa, and whose findings have been criticized as implausible, is hopeful that these trials will be a tipping point for research in the field. “It’s kind of a golden moment in terms of actually having this taken seriously,” he said.

The possibility that vaccines could have nonspecific effects is brow-furrowing in part because scientists have long believed that vaccines work by stimulating the body’s highly specific adaptive immune system.

After receiving a vaccine against, say, polio, a person’s body creates an army of polio-specific antibodies that recognize and attack the virus before it has a chance to take hold. Antibodies against polio can’t fight off infections caused by other pathogens, though — so, based on this framework, polio vaccines should not be able to reduce the risk associated with other viruses, such as the coronavirus.

But over the past decade, immunologists have discovered that live vaccines also stimulate the innate immune system, which is less specific but much faster. They have found that the innate immune system can be trained by live vaccines to better fight off various kinds of pathogens.

For instance, in a 2018 study, Dr. Netea and his colleagues vaccinated volunteers with either B.C.G. or a placebo and then infected them all with a harmless version of the yellow fever virus. Those who had been given B.C.G. were better able to fight off yellow fever.

Research by Dr. Netea and others shows that live vaccines train the body’s immune system by initiating changes in some stem cells. Among other things, the vaccines initiate the creation of tiny marks that help cells turn on genes involved in immune protection against multiple pathogens.

This area of innate immunity “is one of the hottest areas in fundamental immunology today,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, the director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-founder of the Global Virus Network, a coalition of virologists from more than 30 countries. In the 1980s, Dr. Gallo helped to identify H.I.V. as the cause of AIDS.

Dr. Gallo is leading the charge to test the O.P.V. live polio vaccine as a treatment for coronavirus.

He and his colleagues hope to start a clinical trial on health care workers in New York City and Maryland within six weeks.

O.P.V. is routinely used in 143 countries, but no longer in the United States. An inactivated polio vaccine was reintroduced here in 1997, in part because one out of every 2.7 million people who receive the live vaccine can actually develop polio from it.

But O.P.V. does not pose this risk to Americans who have received a polio vaccine in the past. “We believe this is very, very, very safe,” Dr. Gallo said. It’s also inexpensive at 12 cents a dose, and is administered orally, so it doesn’t require needles.

Some scientists have raised concerns over whether these vaccines could increase the risk for “cytokine storms” — deadly inflammatory reactions that have been observed in some people weeks after they have been infected with the coronavirus. Dr. Netea and others said that they were taking these concerns seriously but did not anticipate problems. For one thing, the vaccines will be given only to healthy people — not to people who are already infected.

Also, B.C.G. may actually be able to ramp up the body’s initial immune response in ways that reduce the amount of virus in the body, such that an inflammatory response never occurs. It may “lead to less infection to start with,” said Dr. Moshe Arditi, the director of the Infectious and Immunological Diseases Research Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who is leading one of the trial arms.

THE science on this is still early days.

Several pre-prints — scientific papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed — published over the past few months support the idea that B.C.G. could protect against the coronavirus. They have reported, for instance, that death rates are lower in countries that routinely vaccinate children with B.C.G. But these studies can be fraught with bias and difficult to interpret; it’s impossible to know whether the vaccinations, or something else, provided the protection.

Such studies are “at the very bottom of the evidence hierarchy,” said Dr. Christine Stabell Benn, who is raising funds for a Danish B.C.G trial. She added that the protective effects of a dose of B.C.G given to adults decades ago, when they were infants, may well differ from the protective effects the vaccine could provide when given to adults during an outbreak.

“In the end,” said Dr. Netea, “only the clinical trials will give the answer.” Thankfully, that answer will come very soon.

Initial results from the trials that are underway may be available within a few months. If these researchers are right, these old vaccines could buy us time — and save thousands of lives — while we work to develop a new one.



An Alternative to the Lockdown Strategy in the Fight Against Coronavirus

The current coronavirus strategy of most governments is a recipe for a worldwide economic disaster. In many countries, the strategy of confinement and forcing shops to close is a sure-fire path to large-scale business failures. The cascade of economic and financial repercussions to come is likely to lead to another Great Depression.

The Costs of Prolongation

Italy, for example, already had a 135 percent debt-to-GDP ratio before the crisis. It is hard to imagine how it will be able to borrow more without a commitment from other European countries to jointly be responsible for more Italian debt—something the northern European countries are still strongly opposed to. The ECB is already printing money like crazy, and another Greece-like situation will make it ramp up the printing presses even more. We have been down this path many times before, where the cure is clearly much worse than the disease. The German hyperinflation of 1921-1923 created a resentful, impoverished middle class which ultimately led to Hitler’s rise to power.

The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that originated in China is highly contagious. More than 80 percent of the patients show only mild flu-like symptoms but for the remaining 20 percent, mostly the elderly or people with preexisting conditions, the virus can be life-threatening. To save lives short term, the entire population in Europe is currently being held under house arrest and many businesses have been put into a pre-liquidation state by no longer being able to realize a profit due to inactivity.

The current strategy is not to stop the virus in its tracks but to spread out the contagion so that the peak is a level that will be more manageable for the health care system. Governments took the biased advice of health care professionals without a real weighing of all the pros and cons. This prolongation in time, however, will come at a steep economic and human cost.

Unemployment Correlates with Death

In the longer term, more lives will be lost if we continue this strategy. How many victims of financial ruin will end their own lives? In the modern era, for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate, there has typically been an increase of about one percent in the number of suicides. A study conducted by Brenner in 19791, found that for every 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate, mortality increased by 1.2 percent, cardiovascular disease by 1.7 percent, cirrhosis of the liver by 1.3 percent, suicides by 1.7%, arrests by 4 percent, and reported assaults by 0.8 percent (see here). How many lost lives out of 300 million in the USA does a 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent unemployment rate represent?

The use of the free market gives another strategy to control the spread of the coronavirus. For example, we now have strong evidence from trials in France and China that in 75 percent of the cases a combination of two extremely well-known antimalarial drugs (hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin) can bring the viral load down to nearly zero after just six days (complications usually arrive after the 6th day). These drugs could make the latent effects of the Wuhan virus as mild for 20 percent as the other 80 percent, and they were recently cleared for use.

There are many other possible drug combinations that might offer similar results, but FDA and EMA regulations requiring long term testing make it much more difficult for these drugs to be available in time to treat the virus. Yet the world economy is at stake and we cannot sit and argue on the quality of the water while our house is burning down.

An obviously better solution than sinking the world economy into a great depression is a greater use of “laissez-faire.” The current lockdown strategy is a bleak choice of (allegedly) fewer short term deaths against a much larger long-term death toll. We must return to a business-as-normal situation as soon as possible. We need to free drugs from overbearing drug regulations and make them widely available (with appropriate dosages and warnings) everywhere at a market price without the need for a prescription. We need markets to be free so they can provide a wide choice of medications.

Market-Oriented Strategy

The argument is not for a non-strategy; it is for allowing the markets to define the strategy. For example, the elderly might consider taking chloroquine preventively; it has a long history of being taken to prevent malaria in Africa. It is naïve to think that people can’t inform themselves and take appropriate actions for their own health benefits.

It is also naïve to think that businesses and people won’t adapt to the perceived threat. Restaurants can seat patrons several meters apart. Waiters and cooks can wear masks and gloves. There is an infinite number of innovative ways people will adjust. Just because we cannot imagine a voluntary market solution does not mean one does not exist. South Korea is an example to emulate. Instead of an authoritarian locking down of its people, it took a much more libertarian approach to the problem and is already showing promising results.

This market-oriented strategy is obviously not without risks, but we must move away from the current defensive 16th-century bunker mentality and consider less disastrous economic alternatives.



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 May, 2020

The Worldwide Lockdown May Be the Greatest Mistake in History

The idea that the worldwide lockdown of virtually every country other than Sweden may have been an enormous mistake strikes many — including world leaders; most scientists, especially health officials, doctors and epidemiologists; those who work in major news media; opinion writers in those media; and the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people who put their faith in these people — as so preposterous as to be immoral. Timothy Egan of The New York Times described Republicans who wish to enable their states to open up as “the party of death.”

That’s the way it is today on planet Earth, where deceit, cowardice and immaturity now dominate almost all societies because the elites are deceitful, cowardly and immature.

But for those open to reading thoughts they may differ with, here is the case for why the worldwide lockdown is not only a mistake but also, possibly, the worst mistake the world has ever made. And for those intellectually challenged by the English language and/or logic, “mistake” and “evil” are not synonyms. The lockdown is a mistake; the Holocaust, slavery, communism, fascism, etc., were evils. Massive mistakes are made by arrogant fools; massive evils are committed by evil people.

The forcible prevention of Americans from doing anything except what politicians deem “essential” has led to the worst economy in American history since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe. And the consequences in much of the world will be more horrible than in America.

The United Nations World Food Programme, or the WFP, states that by the end of the year, more than 260 million people will face starvation — double last year’s figures. According to WFP director David Beasley on April 21: “We could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries. … There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself” (italics added).

That would be enough to characterize the worldwide lockdown as a deathly error. But there is much more. If global GDP declines by 5%, another 147 million people could be plunged into extreme poverty, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Foreign Policy magazine reports that, according to the International Monetary Fund, the global economy will shrink by 3% in 2020, marking the biggest downturn since the Great Depression, and the U.S., the eurozone and Japan will contract by 5.9%, 7.5% and 5.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, across South Asia, as of a month ago, tens of millions were already “struggling to put food on the table.” Again, all because of the lockdowns, not the virus.

In one particularly incomprehensible act, the government of India, a poor country of 1.3 billion people, locked down its people. As Quartz India reported on April 22, “Coronavirus has killed only around 700 Indians … a small number still compared to the 450,000 TB and 10,000-odd malaria deaths recorded every year.”

One of the thousands of unpaid garment workers protesting the lockdown in Bangladesh understands the situation better than almost any health official in the world: “We are starving. If we don’t have food in our stomach, what’s the use of observing this lockdown?” But concern for that Bangladeshi worker among the world’s elites seems nonexistent.

The lockdown is “possibly even more catastrophic (than the virus) in its outcome: the collapse of global food-supply systems and widespread human starvation” (italics added). That was published in the left-wing The Nation, which, nevertheless, enthusiastically supports lockdowns. But the American left cares as much about the millions of non-Americans reduced to hunger and starvation because of the lockdown as it does about the people of upstate New York who have no incomes, despite the minuscule number of coronavirus deaths there. Or about the citizens of Oregon, whose governor has just announced the state will remain locked down until July 6. As of this writing, a total of 109 people have died of the coronavirus in Oregon.

An example of how disinterested the left is in worldwide suffering is made abundantly clear in a front-page “prayer” by a left-wing Christian in the current issue of The Nation: “May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.”

“Merely inconvenienced” is how the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a Protestant minister and president of the North Carolina NAACP, describes the tens of millions of Americans rendered destitute, not to mention the hundreds of millions around the world rendered not only penniless but hungry. The truth is, like most of the elites, it is Barber who is “merely inconvenienced.” Indeed, the American battle today is between the merely inconvenienced and the rest of America.

Michael Levitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford Medical School and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, recently stated, “There is no doubt in my mind that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.”

To the left, anyone who questions the lockdown is driven by preference for money over lives. Typical of the left’s moral shallowness is this headline on Salon this week:

“It’s Time To Reject the Gods of Commerce: America Is a Society, Not an ‘Economy,'” with the subhead reading, “America Is About People, Not Profit Margins.”

And, of course, to smug editors and writers of The Atlantic, in article after repetitive article, the fault lies not with the lockdown but with President Donald Trump. The most popular article in The Atlantic this week is titled “The Rest of the World Is Laughing at Trump.” The elites can afford to laugh at whatever they want. Meanwhile, the less fortunate — that is, most people — are crying.



The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Lockdowns

There will be much still to learn when COVID-19 has passed. Books will certainly be written questioning the knee-jerk authoritarian response from most governments. Opinions championing a more modest approach to future pandemics are already emerging, even as this one continues to smolder. Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, recently praised the Swedish government’s response, which largely resisted wide-scale shutdowns. Calm, rational heads will increasingly wonder if this situation should have been handled differently.

The financial devastation from forced lockdown will likely outlast the pandemic itself. While unfortunate (to put it mildly), most have argued that it has been necessary. The prevailing wisdom is that governments must choose either physical or economic health for citizens during this difficult time. Apparently, we cannot manage both ourselves. But believing that government actions have been justified also requires one to suspend reality and imagine that COVID-19 occurs in a vacuum. It requires one to pretend that nothing else factors into health and well-being. While the heavy hand of government has been intended to quell cases of COVID-19, it’s certainly worthwhile to examine the collateral damage directly resulting from its actions.

The pandemic has negatively impacted oncology services worldwide. Elective screening procedures (colonoscopies, mammograms, etc.) have been cancelled by government order. Naturally, this has led to a decrease in new cancer diagnoses. Obviously, new cancers haven’t stopped arising, but thousands of them have been neglected over the past few months. Those delays in diagnosis will equal delays in treatment. Even some patients with known cancers have experienced delays in therapy. A study from the University College London and the Health Data Research Hub for Cancer reports that in England and Northern Ireland, admissions for chemotherapy have fallen 45–66 percent and urgent referrals for early cancer diagnosis are down 70–89 percent, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Ominously, they predict that “Under conservative assumptions of the emergency affecting only people with newly diagnosed cancer … the model estimated 6,270 excess deaths at 1 year in England and 33,890 excess deaths in the US.”

It’s important to note that most of these deaths both here and abroad will be from delays in diagnosis and/or therapy, not COVID-19 infection. When considering total cancer patients living in England, they project the number of excess deaths could be up to 18,000 in that country alone. Dr. Alvina Lai, the lead author, claims the study demonstrates “the serious potential for unintended consequences of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may negatively impact on patients with cancer and other underlying health conditions.”

Perhaps the greatest harm from this pandemic comes from the toll on mental health.

Oncology patients are not the only ones being negatively affected by shelter-in-place edicts. Visits to pediatricians are also down, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In an effort to decrease exposure to SARS-CoV-2, children are missing routine vaccinations. Data from the Physicians Computer Company (an electronic medical record company focusing on pediatric settings) shows that, across the U.S., “The number of vaccines administered for diseases including measles, mumps, whooping cough and HPV each dropped by at least 40% during the week of April 5, compared to a week in February of this year.” Dr. Eileen Costello, a pediatrician and the chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, claims that her center’s clinic volume was down approximately 80 percent last month. She fears that “We’ll be having pertussis and measles outbreaks in a couple months, which are going to be way more devastating.” Generally speaking, COVID-19 infections in children are asymptomatic. The desire to keep them from becoming asymptomatic carriers is valid, but if the end result is an increase in fatal (yet preventable) childhood illnesses, should this be considered a win?

Perhaps the greatest (and most difficult-to-measure) harm from this pandemic comes from the toll on mental health. During this time of financial ruin and forced isolation, it’s logical to expect that rates of depression and suicide will increase. The Disaster Distress Helpline, a service of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has reportedly seen an 891 percent increase in call volume when comparing March 2020 to March 2019. The psychological harm that accompanies bankruptcy and related crises cannot be understated. Dr. Glenn Sullivan, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the Virginia Military Institute, warns, “If the U.S. [suicide] rate jumps in the same manner it did after the 1929 stock market crash, then … 2021 could see more than 54,000 deaths by suicide (versus about 48,000 in 2018). The 6,000 excess deaths … would be additional victims of the coronavirus emergency and its economic impact.”

Out of supposed necessity, heads of state in the U.S. and abroad have admittedly been picking winners and losers on the economic front. Will they ever admit that, indirectly, they have been choosing winners and losers on the health-care front, as well? Whether it’s a missed mammogram, a missed vaccine, or a suicide attempt spawned from forced bankruptcy, these are not trivial matters. In fact, some peoples’ economic and physical health are being greatly harmed by the government’s heavy hand during this time. The exact amount and scope of the collateral damage will only be known in hindsight. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences will be significant. With government serving as referee, this game may end up with more losers than winners.



‘Fear Is The Problem’: Stanford’s Dr. Scott Atlas Defends Reopening Stance

Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, defended his position, in the wake of rising model numbers, that Americans should reopen the country.

Atlas originally made national news after his column, “The Data Is In — Stop The Panic And End The Total Isolation,” was published at The Hill and went viral last month. In it, the Stanford doctor cites several facts currently “being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown,” along with evidence behind each.

Before his introduction on Monday night’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” Fox News host Martha MacCallum pointed out “unsettling data” that points to “a very big jump” in predicted U.S. deaths by August.

“Do these rising models change anything about your headline, that we need to stop panicking about this?” she asked.

“No, in fact they underscore some of the very things I was saying and they reveal a lot of, again, the same sort of misconception about models,” Atlas responded before pointing out that such models “change all the time.”

However, he said the most “important point” is that “nothing has changed here.”

“We should look at the evidence,” he said. “We don’t need to rely on hypothetical projections. We have a ton of evidence, and the evidence is consistent all over the world that we know the fatality rate is much lower than what the models were based on originally.

“We know that we have flattened, the curves have been flattened and the curves, to note, are not the numbers of cases. The only curves that count are the deaths per day and the hospitalizations per day and when you take all that into account, including the very important things that are catastrophically destructive about total isolation, you come to the same conclusion that I and many, many people all over the world support,” he continued.

Atlas called the notion that current reopenings are driving any spike today “completely false.”

“If you open the doors today and you have deaths in three days, there is no correlation there,” said the Stanford researcher. “It takes 23 to 30 days on roughly average to have somebody [go] from getting the infection to dying. When the number of deaths goes up in three days in the state opening their doors, there is no correlation whatsoever. That’s just a false conclusion to be made.”

After making an argument for protecting nursing homes and regulating sanitation and hygiene in certain areas, Atlas called fear the “real contagion.” (RELATED: Staying In Place Is ‘Actually Harmful’: Stanford’s Scott Atlas Makes The Case For Herd Immunity)

“There is a new standard evolving from this, but you can’t really make policy based on fear and catastrophic projections and this is another thing that’s actually harming, even things like the food supply chain,” Atlas said. “It’s the fear that’s the real contagion here. The fear is the problem.”

Atlas finished the interview by criticizing the logic behind keeping schools closed by saying there is “little, if any risk” to those under 18 who emerging research may show are even “less likely to transmit the disease.”



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 May, 2020

Under This Doctor’s Care, Most COVID-19 Patients Are Recovering. Here’s His Unusual Approach

One of the biggest hurdles in dealing with a pandemic caused by a completely new virus is grappling with the sheer amount of unknown information.

In the case of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, this was particularly difficult because the presentation of each patient seemed so vastly different from the previous case.

Furthermore, many patients seemed to improve clinically before deteriorating, requiring an admission to the intensive care unit for weeks at a time. The pernicious behavior of the virus made pandemic response that much more difficult, and the unpredictable nature of the disease consumed and strained health care resources.

Physicians who were treating COVID-19 patients took note and communicated to others by phone call, conference, or social media, but there was no central repository for their experiences, which ensured that the virus spread much faster than information.

Now, approximately four months since the first reported case in America, we are beginning to understand why.

Dr. Thomas Yadegar, a critical care physician for 20 years and now director of the intensive care unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California, has been on the front lines of the pandemic response.

The first time one of his patients deteriorated, he was completely stumped for the first time in his two decades in the ICU.

Many of his patients were in acute respiratory distress. But many other patients were experiencing abnormal coagulation, inflammatory heart disease, and some were even experiencing neurological deficits and weakened muscles.

“I have 20 years of critical care experience, and I can’t explain what just happened to my patient,” Yadegar said.

One evening after an exhausting shift, he sat down and pored over patient charts for all those cases, searching for a common thread. Finally, after one of the worst headaches of his life, he found it.

It was inflammation.

Early in the pandemic, Yadegar’s unit used treatment guidelines that came from doctors around the world, which recommended avoiding anti-inflammatory treatment and recommended early and aggressive use of ventilators to prevent patients from declining further.

But those guidelines were aimed at treating a severe viral respiratory disease by using a ventilator to assist with oxygenating the blood while the body uses its inflammatory pathways to mount a response to the virus.

Those guidelines did not address the treatment for when other organ systems began to fail.

In fact, using a ventilator is a highly invasive procedure, and the repeated and forced inspiration of air irritates the lungs, which feeds back into the inflammatory cycle. Many patients, once on a ventilator, never recover.

The only way to explain the highly complex disease course that seems to change from one patient to the next is that the virus is causing an autoimmune response, in which the body’s natural defense mechanisms go haywire and begin destroying the body they’re trying to protect.

The disease course is so unpredictable because every person’s immune system is unique to that person.

This phenomenon is not unheard of, and a common virus, Epstein-Barr virus, is known for potentially initiating the body’s inflammatory pathways to attack the nervous system and causing Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The main difference with SARS-CoV2 is that it’s much more efficient at doing this—and often in a catastrophic manner.

Yadegar and the ICU he manages have adjusted their protocols. Now, patients who test positive in his hospital for SARS-CoV2 are not sent home immediately, but tested for inflammatory markers.

Those with elevated inflammatory markers are kept in the hospital with a close eye on their oxygen saturation levels. If the patient begins to desaturate, the medical team evaluates the patient before starting a course of steroids and an IL-6 inhibitor.

IL-6 (interleukin-6) is a powerful mediator for the inflammatory pathway, so an IL-6 inhibitor would prevent a significant amount of inflammation from happening. Steroids have strong anti-inflammatory effects and also suppress the immune system more broadly.

The two of those do not treat the virus, but the potentially deadly autoimmune response it can cause.

But Yadegar cautioned that “you have to treat each patient within their own protocol.” Doctors must always treat the patients in front of them and cannot simply rely on these types of drugs for all critically ill COVID-19 patients.

That’s because using an IL-6 inhibitor with steroids would effectively strip the body of its immune response. If there’s a concomitant infection, which is extremely common in the hospital setting and even more so if a patient is on a ventilator, then using this combination of drugs will, almost certainly, kill the patient.

Still, Yadegar and his team have had remarkable success. They have not put a patient on a ventilator in at least two weeks, and the mortality rate in their ICU has been in the single digits, whereas nationally the mortality rate of critically ill patients has been between 40% and 70%.

There’s one thing we have known from the start about the COVID-19 virus, which is that it’s a tricky and pernicious one.

One of the important things that Yadegar has learned is that patients admitted to the ICU are often not coming in due to the direct effect of the virus, but rather from the out-of-control autoimmune process.

Information like that can only be had from front-line clinicians, and we should do our best to ensure they are heard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention periodically hosts a Clinical Outreach and Communication Activity, in which clinicians are able to discuss their findings and experiences.

The CDC should be using those frequently to update information about COVID-19 and its multiple disease manifestations and to make the information easily and publicly accessible.

Furthermore, the CDC should be actively seeking this information from the front lines of COVID-19 hot spots, where the most relevant data will be found.

With steps like these, clinicians can be assured of clear lines of communication that may help drive down mortality rates in the future and ease the process of reopening the country.



Critically-ill coronavirus patient with 'very grim' outlook is saved after NHS doctors gave him promising arthritis drug that is being trialed worldwide

A critically-ill coronavirus patient was saved after getting a promising arthritis drug that is being trialled by doctors worldwide.

Leonard Whitehurst was admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital on March 16 with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Over the course of his stay, his condition deteriorated until his prognosis was 'very grim', according to medics who treated him.

One of the 72-year-old's doctors decided to give him tocilizumab on compassionate grounds, after it showed promise in treating COVID-19 patients in Italy.

Tocilizumab, marketed as RoActemra or Actemra, is used to suppress the immune system of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

For COVID-19, it has the potential to stop the 'cytokine storm' that happens when the immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking the body.

As soon as Mr Whitehurst was given the drug as a last-ditch attempt, his condition began improving. He is now recovering at home.

Dr Giorgio Gentile believes he is the first to have tried the arthritis drug in the UK back in March following the advice of worldwide doctors.

Now, tocilizumab is part of three major trials involving British patients - with the first results expected by June or July.

Dr Gentile, a consultant nephrologist from Italy, has worked at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust since 2015, having moved here with his family.

He revealed that Mr Whitehurst needed 19 litres of oxygen but had not been put on a ventilator.

Dr Gentile said: 'Leonard was deteriorating quickly and escalation to intensive care for ventilation was not an option.

'As the patient wasn't prepared to be artificially ventilated, the outlook was very grim.

'I was desperate to try to save the patient. To me, tocilizumab seemed like the only viable option left to try and save his life.'

Dr Gentile had been regularly reviewing the medical literature of COVID-19 that was coming out from countries which battled the peak of their outbreaks before the UK.

He also maintained regular contacts with his network of colleagues involved on the frontline against COVID-19 in Italy - the only European country to record more deaths than the UK.

Doubts have been raised about the safety of tocilizumab, which has a long list of side effects including a cough or sore throat, blocked or runny nose, headaches or dizziness, mouth ulcers, high blood pressure, weight gain and stomach problems.

Tocilizumab has been shown to increase the risk of infections in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, including pneumonia and upper respiratory tract infections, according to Versus Arthritis.

Trials on patients with RA before approval were not designed to assess long-term efficacy and safety.

The Food and Drug Administration has received reports on 1,128 people who died after taking Actemra, according to a report by Stat News in 2017. It said the FDA declined to comment about Actemra.

Dr Gentile had become aware of multiple anecdotal reports of people in very severe conditions who had dramatically improved after treatment with tocilizumab.

'The AIFA, which is the Italian equivalent of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, had just approved a large trial with tocilizumab and was actively recruiting people,' added Dr Gentile.

'The Italian experience seemed to mirror a preliminary yet promising experience from Chinese scientists, who used tocilizumab in 21 patients with very encouraging results.'

Another promising study of 20 patients in China, published in mid-March, claimed tocilizumab cured 95 per cent of critically ill patients.

Dr Gentile said: 'Our patient had all the laboratory signs of the so-called "cytokine storm", which I was aware of thanks to a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet.

'The same paper speculated that tocilizumab could be used to treat patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and hyper-inflammation, who are at high risk of progression towards acute respiratory distress syndrome and death.

'Luckily, we have brave, compassionate and open-minded leadership here at the RCHT. They gave me the green light to use tocilizumab on compassionate grounds. 'The patient agreed to receive the treatment, which was then quickly administered.'

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; azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic which may have antiviral properties; and the steroid Tocilizumab.

Mr Whitehurst received two infusions of tocilizumab 12 hours apart from nurses.

Before the infusion, his oxygen saturation was 75 per cent. A normal reading should be between 80 and 100.

After the infusion, Mr Whitehurst's clinical conditions and his oxygen saturation improved very quickly, and then kept improving gradually and steadily over the subsequent days.

His oxygen requirement decreased gradually over time.

'At the time, we were at the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in the UK and the national lockdown had just been declared. So, it is quite possible that the RCHT has been the first NHS trust in the UK to successfully treat a patient with tocilizumab,' added Dr Gentile.

Mr Whitehurst was discharged from hospital last week 'smiling and overjoyed', having spent more than a month in the hospital.

Dr Gentile stressed that although tocilizumab worked for his patient, further evidence from rigorous randomised controlled trials is necessary to fully establish the role of the drug in COVID-19 pneumonia.



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 May, 2020

Funeral Directors Blow the Whistle on Deaths Falsely Attributed to Coronavirus

“Basically, every death certificate that comes across our desk now has COVID on it,” said a funeral director in Williston Park, N.Y., on a recorded phone call with Project Veritas in a newly-released video. James O’Keefe has been asking for people inside the medical system to blow the whistle if they see corruption or inconsistencies in reports about the Chinese WuFlu known as COVID-19. In conversations with several funeral directors across New York City, O’Keefe uncovered a shocking narrative where, without fail, every director he spoke to expressed his or her concern that coronavirus deaths are being inflated and every death in NYC is being recorded as a COVID death with or without testing to confirm.

“They are putting COVID on a lot of death certificates because people who are going to their hospital with any kind of respiratory distress, respiratory problems, pneumonia, the flu — the flu-like symptoms lead into the COVID-19,” said Joseph Antioco of Schafer Funeral Home. “To me, all you’re doing is padding the statistics. You’re putting people on that have COVID-19 even if they didn’t have it. You’re making the death rate for New York City a lot higher than it should be.”

One funeral director talked about a family who is related to an unnamed Supreme Court Justice who insisted on a private autopsy that discovered their relative did not have COVID-19. “I had one that was autopsied because the sister was famous, and apparently, and I don’t know who the Supreme Court Justice is, but the Supreme Court Justice was related to this family, and she says I know my sister didn’t die of COVID-19,” said Josephine Dimiceli of Dimiceli & Sons Funeral Home. “She said she had Alzheimer’s and they didn’t suction her. You have to suction because they forget how to swallow. And right away they put down COVID-19 on her death certificate, and the Supreme Court justice, whoever it is, contacted the hospital. They did an independent autopsy; bingo. No COVID-19.”

Dimiceli had other shocking tales to share. One nursing home assumed all its patients were positive without testing. “The guy that I just buried a little while ago from Long Island National Cemetery, they called me from the nursing home. They said, ‘Did Raymond have COVID-19?’ She said, ‘Well, no. It was a failure to thrive. But we’re assuming they all have it.’ And I’m all, ‘Why would you assume? Why aren’t they all in the hospital?’ She had no answer. ‘I can’t answer you,’ she said. They put it down on Raymond’s death certificate,” said Dimiceli. “He didn’t have COVID-19.”

There are several more funeral directors with similar stories.



Coronavirus: ‘Flattening the curve’ to eliminate COVID-19 could be dangerous, researchers say

No one can say for sure how the pandemic will unfold, but our lives will certainly be changed for the foreseeable future.
New research suggests “flattening the curve” may not be the most effective way to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team of international researchers, led by Peking University Professor Liu Yu, have projected that the “flatten the curve” approach could destroy economies while having not enough of an effect on cutting infections.

“The turning point will never come, the peak value of case numbers will remain the same as if there are no such measures,” the team said in a non-peer-reviewed paper released last week. “We strongly suggest they reconsider.”


“Flattening the curve” refers to shutting down non-essential businesses and issuing social distancing measures to ensure that a country’s health system can cope with the number of infections and deaths.

The research, first reported on by the South China Morning Post, looked at daily infections, the geographical spread of the disease, economic output and public transport to assess the effectiveness of social restriction policies on flattening the curve.

They found that only a few countries, including South Korea, Qatar, Norway and New Zealand, have been able to stop the spread with minimum disruption to the economy.

Others, like the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, have suffered major blows to their economies while also struggling with soaring infections and death rates.

They found that China’s “elimination” strategy was most effective at suppressing the virus, but was unsustainable due to its heavy impact on the economy. In other words, “flattening the curve” produces too little but costs too much.

The researchers suggested that the disruption to the economy and social life did not align with the reduction in cases.

“This choice still incurs 20-60 per cent loss of economic output, but only achieves a 30-40 per cent reduction in the number of cases, an extent which is insufficient to overturn the epidemic curve,” the researchers said. “Our results show that this is usually the worst scenario in terms of cost-effectiveness.”

But the basis of the research has been questioned. Jaymie Meliker, professor of public health with the Stony Brook University in New York, said the research failed to put a value on each life lost to COVID-19. “I could not find how much they estimate a life is worth in their cost benefit model,” he told the SCMP.

“If the hospitals are overrun and more people are dying because of that, then we need to quantify that cost for a cost-benefit model. “That is needed for us to be able to evaluate the pros and cons of the different containment strategies.”


In short, no it doesn’t.

Australia’s response to COVID-19 is proof that social distancing measures do work. The latter half of March saw virus cases increase more than ten-fold, from 376 cases on March 16 to over 4500 by the end of that month. Social distancing rules came into effect on March 21, and the case rate has been declining since the beginning of April.

On April 22, Australia recorded just four cases nationally, with several states recording zero new cases.

The researchers acknowledged that simply removing social restrictions, as US President Donald Trump has suggested, would be a dangerous way to go.

They warned relaxing lockdown measures without ramping up infection control capacity could prove disastrous and see countries’ death tolls skyrocket.

The solution, they said, is to only relax lockdowns while rapidly increasing testing and patient isolation.

The good news is that this is similar to Australia’s next move.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly stressed there are three criteria points that need to be met before our social restrictions will be lifted: increased testing, contact tracing and greater ability to respond to local outbreaks.

“If you're going to move to an environment where there are fewer restrictions, then you need these three things in place,” he said at an earlier press conference.

Even so, easing the lockdown will not be considered for a few more weeks.

“National Cabinet agreed that we will use the next four weeks to ensure that we can get these in place.”

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth explained that eliminating the virus was not a realistic option.

He told the ABC on Wednesday that Australia was “in a pivotal moment” of the fight against the pandemic, but that we cannot become complacent.

He said social restrictions will need to remain in place “for at least another three weeks to May 11” but “easing restrictions would, by definition, mean some of those numbers (of cases) could change”.

“Businesses and individuals need to prepare, though, that physical distance from one another will need to keep going,” Dr Coatsworth said.

“Great hand hygiene and cough etiquette will need to keep going, because we won’t have a vaccine. So, while some restrictions may be lifted, the way we behave has to stay the same.”

He rejected the notion that Australia could “eliminate” the virus.

“I’m using the word ‘suppression’,” Dr Coatsworth said. “I’ll tell you why I’m doing that. The problem with using words like ‘elimination’ and ‘eradication’ is that we are a non-immune population.

“So, you have to be so sure that you’ve got to that point that you would need to extend your restrictions for so long to get to that point, that I think that that would lead to Australians having to be under social restrictions for too long to get there. That’s an honest view.

“If, in the process of suppressing, we get to the point of eradication, then that would be a magnificent outcome. But we must continue to build capacity and we must continue to contain the virus, and remember that we’re not immune from it. So, the word that — the strategy that we’re using — is to ‘suppress’ COVID-19 until there’s a vaccine.”



Study: Nearly all NY coronavirus patients suffered underlying health issues

A new study by a medical journal revealed that most of the people in New York City who were hospitalized due to coronavirus had one or more underlying health issues.

Health records from 5,700 patients hospitalized within the Northwell Health system -- which housed the most patients in the country throughout the pandemic -- showed that 94 percent of patients had more than one disease other than COVID-19, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Data taken from March to early April showed that the median age of patients was 63 years old and 53 percent of all coronavirus patients suffered from hypertension, the most prevalent of the ailments among patients.

In addition, 42 percent of coronavirus patients who had body mass index (BMI) data on file suffered from obesity while 32 percent of all patients suffered from diabetes.

The study also revealed that the overwhelming majority of patients who were on ventilators eventually died, and those who did more often had diabetes.

Data gathered from 2,634 patients who either died or were discharged from the hospital showed that 12 percent of them were placed on ventilators and of those who were, 88 percent of them died.

“Having serious comorbidities increases your risk,” said Karina Davidson, one of the study’s authors and senior vice president for the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, which is part of the Northwell Health system, according to reports by Time.

“This is a very serious disease with a very poor outcome for those who have severe infections from it. We want patients with serious chronic disease to take a special precaution and to seek medical attention early, should they start showing signs and symptoms of being infected. That includes knowing that they’ve been exposed to someone who has this virus.”



Governors Provide a Liberty vs. Tyranny Contrast 

Governors were in the driver’s seat in terms of setting policies for stay-at-home orders, and they will be the ones deciding when those orders end and Americans can begin getting back to normal. The federalist system America’s Founders designed is as brilliant now as it was then, in part because everyone’s able to see the comparisons and contrasts across the nation.

All but five states issued some level of stay-at-home order, and many of those orders will remain in effect well into May, if not longer. Some orders are more restrictive than others. New York is encouraging citizens to snitch on other citizens for not abiding by restrictions. Some states are monitoring citizens with Chinese-made drones. Others are cracking down on Christians meeting in parking lots.

As we noted last week, Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders are so tyrannical that residents are protesting in the streets. She insists that makes her more likely to extend the orders. Protests have also flared up in Ohio, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

Likely thinking at least partly of Whitmer, who has been floated as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, President Donald Trump observed, “Some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that have happened are maybe not so appropriate.” Effectively ordering stores to rope off certain sections to prevent sales of items Whitmer deems nonessential is definitely an example of something being “maybe not so appropriate.”

It’s not just governors. House Majority Whip James Clyburn infamously said of last month’s massive relief bill that it was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

In short, one thing the pandemic has revealed is the authoritarian impulses of many politicians. Well before corona-anything was heard of, some governors, legislators, and bureaucrats — all egged on by a complicit news media — were already geared toward exercising control over the citizenry. The pandemic merely gave them “justification” for things they maybe couldn’t do previously.

Arguably the most revealing quote came from New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy, who said of his shutdown order, “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”

It’s still too soon to give a true evaluation of the actions we’ve taken as a nation, but it will serve us well to contrast the heavy-handed crackdowns in Democrat-run states with the easier approach of many Republican-run ones



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


4 May, 2020

The Unseen Death Toll of COVID-19 Measures

The accumulating death toll from COVID-19 can be seen minute-by-minute on cable news channels. But there’s another death toll few seem to care much about: the number of poverty-related deaths being set in motion by deliberately plunging millions of Americans into poverty and despair.

In the first three weeks since governors began shutting down commerce in their states, 17 million Americans filed for unemployment, and according to one survey, one quarter of Americans have lost their jobs or watched their paychecks cut. Goldman Sachs predicts that the economy will shrink 34 percent in the second quarter, with unemployment leaping to 15 percent.

Until the COVID-19 economic shut-down, the poverty rate in the United States had dropped to its lowest in 17 years. What does that mean for public health? A 2011 Columbia University study funded by the National Institutes of Health estimated that 4.5 percent of all deaths in the United States are related to poverty. Over the last four years, 2.47 million Americans had been lifted out of that condition, meaning 7,700 fewer poverty-related deaths each year.

It’s a good bet these gains have been completely wiped out, and it’s anyone’s guess how many tens of millions of Americans will have been pushed below the poverty line as governments destroy their livelihoods. It’s also a good bet the resulting deaths won’t get the same attention.

And that doesn’t count an unknown number of Americans whose medical appointments have been postponed indefinitely while hospitals keep beds open for COVID-19 patients. 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?

I have participated in many discussions among top policymakers in Congress and the Administration over the last few weeks. Such considerations are rarely raised and always ignored. Instead, policymakers fixate on epidemiological models that have already been dramatically disproven by actual data.

On March 30, Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci gave their best-case projection that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans will perish of COVID-19 “if we do things almost perfectly.” As appalling as their prediction seems, it is a far cry from the 200,000 to 1.7 million deaths the CDC projected in the United States just a few weeks before. And even their down-sized predictions look increasingly exaggerated as we see actual data.

Sometimes the experts are just wrong. In 2014, the CDC projected up to 1.4 million infections from African Ebola. There were 28,000.

Life is precious and every death is a tragedy. Yet last year, 38,800 Americans died in automobile accidents and no one has suggested saving all those lives by forbidding people from driving – though surely we could.

In 1957, the Asian flu pandemic killed 116,000 Americans, the equivalent of 220,000 in today’s population. The Eisenhower generation didn’t strip grocery shelves of toilet paper, confine the entire population to their homes or lay waste to the economy. They coped and got through. Today we remember Sputnik – but not the Asian flu.

It’s fair to ask how many of those lives might have been saved then by the extreme measures taken today. The fact that the COVID-19 mortality curves show little difference between the governments that have ravaged their economies and those that haven’t, suggests not many.

The medical experts who are advising us are doing their jobs – to warn us of possible dangers and what actions we can take to mitigate and manage them. The job of policymakers is to weigh those recommendations against the costs and benefits they impose. Medicine’s highest maxim offers good advice to policymakers: Primum non nocere -- first, do no harm.



Boss of tiny Oxford firm is 'extremely optimistic' over one-a-day pill it has developed to combat coronavirus

A tiny British company could beat the world’s pharmaceutical giants in the race to defeat Covid-19 after developing a one-a-day pill that is as convenient as aspirin.

Thousands of scientists at the world’s drug giants are battling to find ways of combating coronavirus, but experts at BerGenBio, a British-Norwegian company with just 38 staff, believe they have found the key.

Their bemcentinib drug, originally developed for cancer, defends against coronavirus by stopping it from entering cells and preventing it ‘switching off’ one of the body’s most important antiviral defence mechanisms.

Bemcentinib has been fast-tracked to be tried on NHS hospital patients in Government-backed trials, one of only a dozen or so drugs to be picked.

Last night, BerGenBio chief executive Richard Godfrey told The Mail on Sunday that he was ‘extremely optimistic’ the pill would save lives. ‘I think there’s an 80 per cent probability of it working and being of benefit to patients,’ he said.

When US drugs firm Gilead last week announced that tests of its antiviral treatment remdesivir helped patients recover four days earlier from the virus, stock markets in the US and Asia soared.

But the impact on death rates is less clear, with eight per cent of those given it dying, against 11 per cent of those who did not get the drug. The difference was not big enough for scientists to be sure it was having an effect.

But Mr Godfrey said of bemcentinib: ‘I’m expecting something bigger because it’s so different to anything else that’s been tried. We are stopping the virus surviving.’

 When the drug was used in the laboratory on live SARS-Cov-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 – it showed ‘some very big effects that dwarf what I’ve seen’ from other drugs, said Mr Godfrey.

‘So I’m extremely optimistic and think there’s going to be something quite profound [in human trials].’

Two-thirds of BerGenBio’s staff are based in Oxford, with the rest in Bergen, Norway.

Mr Godfrey said the drug had been tested on 300 cancer patients, had a good safety record and was relatively easy to manufacture.

It works by stopping the virus from utilising a naturally occurring protein called AXL, which it uses to trick cells to allow it entry. The virus also uses the protein to cut production of interferon, the body’s own antiviral substance.

The drug should stop coronavirus ‘hijacking’ AXL, making it harder for it to replicate and leaving it more vulnerable to the immune system.

The first of the 120 trial patients is due to be given the drug at Southampton General Hospital in the next few days. Results are expected at the end of June.



Incredible scenes at Michigan Capitol as anti-lockdown protesters armed with rifles storm Senate gallery while lawmakers wearing BULLETPROOF VESTS vote against extending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's state of emergency

Lawmakers were seen wearing bulletproof vests as armed protesters stormed Michigan's Capitol in Lansing just moments before the state's House of Representatives denied Gov Gretchen Whitmer's request to extend her state of emergency. 

Photos from inside the Michigan House Chamber showed elected officials wearing bulletproof vests while men holding guns stood above them.

'Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today,' Sen Dayna Polehanki tweeted Thursday afternoon.

In Michigan, guns are permitted inside the state's Capitol as long as they are visible and carried with lawful intent.

Protesters, who weren't wearing masks, were seen yelling within inches of officers from the Michigan State Police.

Others were heard chanting: 'Let us in! Let us in!'

The 'American Patriot Rally' which was organized by Michigan United for Liberty, drew in hundreds of residents who carried pro-Trump banners and held anti-Whitmer signs while protesting outside of the Capitol.

Demonstrators began descending on the Capitol at 9am Thursday morning while lawmakers were trying to decide whether to extend Whitmer's state of emergency request for 28 more days. 

Ultimately, the lawmakers denied the governor's request and passed a resolution authorizing the Speaker of the House to commence legal action, which will challenge the governor's actions during the pandemic. Whitmer is unable to veto the resolution.  

Whitmer has acknowledged that her order was the strictest in the country.

Protesters, many from more rural, Trump-leaning parts of Michigan, have argued it has crippled the economy statewide even as the majority of deaths from the virus are centered on the southeastern Detroit metro area.

Organizers of a mid-April protest in Michigan took credit when Whitmer recently rolled back some of the most controversial elements of her order, such as bans on people traveling to their other properties.

Whitmer's stay-at-home order is set to continue through May 15, though she has said she could loosen restrictions as health experts determine new cases of COVID-19 are being successfully controlled.

On Wednesday, she said the construction industry could get back to work starting May 7

The slow reopening of state economies around the country has taken on political overtones, as Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with Trump's re-election promoted protests in electoral battleground states, such as Michigan.



Almost 18,000 more people could die of cancer due to coronavirus, study shows

Research has shown that amid the crisis, one in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they discovered a lump or a new mole that remained for a week

There could also be a 20 per cent spike in fatalities of newly-diagnosed cancer patients, according to research by University College London (UCL) and DATA-CAN, the Health Data Research Hub for Cancer.

The figures stem from real-time hospital data for urgent cancer referrals and chemotherapy attendances, which have experienced a 76 per cent and 60 per cent fall respectively.

While England’s top cancer doctor has urged people to not hesitate in seeking help or being checked.

The advice from Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS clinical director for cancer, comes after worrying research showed nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help.

Moreover, the poll by Portland revealed one in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they discovered a lump or a new mole that remained for a week or more.

After analysing data from 3.5 million patients, experts predicted before the Covid-19 crisis that approximately 31,354 newly-diagnosed cancer patients would die within a year in England.

But the pathogen could lead to at least 6,270 extra deaths in newly-diagnosed cancer patients — a rise of more than 20 per cent.

While the figure jumps further to 17,915 excess deaths if all people currently living with cancer are included.

There have been 21,678 fatalities from the virus at the time of writing, including more than 100 NHS staff and care home workers.

The main reasons for the increased likelihood that the public would ignore symptoms stems from a fear of contracting the virus itself by leaving quarantine.

There is also the selfless feeling from some that notifying their GP would further burden the NHS during this unprecedented time, though this has been rebuffed by Professor Johnson, who insists the opposite may be true if the public fail to seek help.

“NHS staff have made huge efforts to deal with coronavirus but they are also working hard to ensure that patients can safely access essential services such as cancer checks and urgent surgery,” said Professor Johnson.

“From online consultations to the roll-out of cancer treatment hubs, we are doing all we can to make sure patients receive the life-saving care that they need.

“We know that finding cancer early gives us the best chance to cure it, and ignoring potential problems can have serious consequences now or in the future.”


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 May, 2020

Five facts that suggest lockdown is a mistake

The tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be entering the containment phase. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts. Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function. Five key facts are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.

Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from Covid-19. The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies.

In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 10 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that.

For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000. Of all fatal cases in New York state, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness. Of 6,570 confirmed Covid-19 deaths fully investigated for underlying conditions to date, 6,520, or 99.2 percent, had an underlying illness. If you do not already have an underlying chronic condition, your chances of dying are small, regardless of age. And young adults and children in normal health have almost no risk of any serious illness from COVID-19.

Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding. We can learn about hospital utilization from data from New York City, the hotbed of Covid-19 with more than 34,600 hospitalizations to date. For those under 18 years of age, hospitalization from the virus is 0.01 percent, or 11 per 100,000 people; for those 18 to 44 years old, hospitalization is 0.1 percent. Even for people ages 65 to 74, only 1.7 percent were hospitalized. Of 4,103 confirmed Covid-19 patients with symptoms bad enough to seek medical care, Dr. Leora Horwitz of NYU Medical Center concluded “age is far and away the strongest risk factor for hospitalization.” Even early WHO reports noted that 80 percent of all cases were mild, and more recent studies show a far more widespread rate of infection and lower rate of serious illness.

Half of all people testing positive for infection have no symptoms at all. The vast majority of younger, otherwise healthy people do not need significant medical care if they catch this infection.

Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem. We know from decades of medical science that infection itself allows people to generate an immune response – antibodies – so that the infection is controlled throughout the population by “herd immunity.”

Indeed, that is the main purpose of widespread immunization in other viral diseases – to assist with population immunity. In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy.

That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation. In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.

Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections. Critical health care for millions of Americans is being ignored and people are dying to accommodate “potential” Covid-19 patients and for fear of spreading the disease. Most states and many hospitals abruptly stopped “nonessential” procedures and surgery. That prevented diagnoses of life-threatening diseases, like cancer screening, biopsies of tumors now undiscovered and potentially deadly brain aneurysms. Treatments, including emergency care, for the most serious illnesses were also missed. Cancer patients deferred chemotherapy. An estimated 80 per cent of brain surgery cases were skipped. Acute stroke and heart attack patients missed their only chances for treatment, some dying and many now facing permanent disability.

Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures. The overwhelming evidence all over the world consistently shows that a clearly defined group – older people and others with underlying conditions – is more likely to have a serious illness requiring hospitalization and more likely to die from Covid-19. Knowing that, it is a commonsense, achievable goal to target isolation policy to that group, including strictly monitoring those who interact with them. Nursing home residents, the highest risk, should be the most straightforward to systematically protect from infected people, given that they already live in confined places with highly restricted entry.

The appropriate policy, based on fundamental biology and the evidence already in hand, is to institute a more focused strategy like some outlined in the first place: Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasising empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.



Coronavirus patients can’t relapse, South Korean scientists believe

South Korean scientists have concluded that coronavirus patients cannot relapse after recovering from the disease, despite hundreds of recovered people testing positive again.

The new findings suggest that rather than indicating reinfection, the positive results were caused by shortcomings in the standard virus test. They will greatly reassure governments threatened by the nightmarish prospect of a never-ending cycle of infection and reinfection.

Positive test results on people who had tested negative were the result of “fragments” of the virus lingering in their bodies, but with no power to make them or ill or to infect others, according to South Korea’s central clinical committee for emerging disease control.

A total of 277 patients appeared to have relapsed



The forgotten Trump

Liz Crokin

Donald Trump is a racist, bigot, sexist, xenophobe, anti-Semitic and Islamophobe -- did I miss anything?....Yup: he is also deplorable. The left and the media launch these hideous kinds of attacks at Trump every day; yet, nothing could be further from the truth about the real estate mogul.

As an entertainment journalist, I've had the opportunity to cover Trump for over a decade, and in all my years covering him I've never heard anything negative about the man until he announced he was running for president. Keep in mind, I got paid a lot of money to dig up dirt on celebrities like Trump for a living, so a scandalous story on the famous billionaire could've potentially sold a lot of magazines and would've been a Yuge feather in my cap.

Instead, I found that he doesn't drink alcohol or do drugs. He's a hardworking businessman.

On top of that, he's one of the most generous celebrities in the world, with a heart filled with more gold than his $100 million New York penthouse.

Since the media has failed so miserably at reporting the truth about Trump, I decided to put together some of the acts of kindness he's committed over three decades which have gone virtually unnoticed or fallen on deaf ears.

 *  In 1986, Trump prevented the foreclosure of Annabell Hill's family farm after her husband committed suicide. Trump personally phoned down to the auction to stop the sale of her home and offered the widow money. Trump decided to take action after he saw Hill's pleas for help in news reports.

 *  In 1988, a commercial airline refused to fly Andrew Ten, a sick Orthodox Jewish child with a rare illness, across the country to get medical care because he had to travel with an elaborate life-support system. His grief-stricken parents contacted Trump for help and he didn't hesitate to send his own plane to take the child from Los Angeles to New York so he could get his treatment.

 *  In 1991, 200 Marines who served in Operation Desert Storm spent time at Camp Jejune in North Carolina before they were scheduled to return home to their families. However, the Marines were told that a mistake had been made and an aircraft would not be able to take them home on their scheduled departure date. When Trump got wind of this, he sent his plane to make two trips from North Carolina to Miami to safely return the Gulf War Marines to their loved ones.

 *  In 1995, a motorist stopped to help Trump after the limo he was traveling in got a flat tire. Trump asked the Good Samaritan how he could repay him for his help. All the man asked for was a bouquet of flowers for his wife. A few weeks later Trump sent the flowers with a note that read: We've paid off your mortgage.

 *  In 1996, Trump filed a lawsuit against the city of Palm Beach, Florida, accusing the town of discriminating against his Mar-a-Lago resort club because it didn't allow Jews and blacks. Abraham Foxman, who was the Anti-Defamation League Director at the time, said Trump put the light on Palm Beach not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. Foxman also noted that Trump's charge had a trickle-down effect because other clubs followed his lead and began admitting Jews and blacks.

 *  In 2000, Maury Povich featured a little girl named Megan who struggled with Brittle Bone Disease on his show and Trump happened to be watching. Trump said the little girl's story and positive attitude touched his heart. So he contacted Maury and gifted the little girl and her family with a very generous check.

 *  In 2008, after Jennifer Hudson's family members were tragically murdered in Chicago, Trump put the Oscar-winning actress and her family up at his Windy City hotel for free. In addition to that, Trump's security took extra measures to ensure Hudson and her family members were safe during such a difficult time.

 *  In 2013, New York bus driver Darnell Barton spotted a woman close to the edge of a bridge staring at traffic below as he drove by. He stopped the bus, got out and put his arm around the woman and saved her life by convincing her to not jump. When Trump heard about this story, he sent the hero bus driver a check simply because he believed his good deed deserved to be rewarded.

 *  In 2014, Trump gave $25,000 to Sgt. Andrew Tamoressi after he spent seven months in a Mexican jail for accidentally crossing the US-Mexico border. President Barack Obama couldn't even be bothered to make one phone call to assist with the United States Marine's release; however, Trump opened his pocketbook to help this serviceman get back on his feet.

 *  In 2016, Melissa Consin Young attended a Trump rally and tearfully thanked Trump for changing her life. She said she proudly stood on stage with Trump as Miss Wisconsin USA in 2005. However, years later she found herself struggling with an incurable illness and during her darkest days, she explained that she received a handwritten letter from Trump telling her she's the bravest woman, I know. She said the opportunities that she got from Trump and his organizations ultimately provided her Mexican-American son with a full-ride to college.

 *  Lynne Patton, a black female executive for the Trump Organization, released a statement in 2016 defending her boss against accusations that he's a racist and a bigot. She tearfully revealed how she's struggled with substance abuse and addiction for years. Instead of kicking her to the curb, she said the Trump Organization and his entire family loyally stood by her through immensely difficult times.

Donald Trump's kindness knows no bounds and his generosity has touched and continues to touch the lives of people from every sex, race, and religion. When Trump sees someone in need, he wants to help. Two decades ago, Oprah Winfrey asked Trump in a TV interview if he would run for president. He said: If it got so bad, I would never want to rule it out totally because I really am tired of seeing what's happening with this country.

That day has come.

Trump sees that America is in need and he wants to help. How unthinkable!

On the other hand, have you ever heard of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama ever doing such things with their own resources?

Now that's really unthinkable!




Sanders and Biden reach convention compromise — the deal helps avoid a potentially messy intra-party fight over delegates (Politico)

Nearly 900 workers at Tyson Foods plant in Indiana test positive for coronavirus (Fox News)

Tiny airports rake in big cash after botched stimulus formula (Politico)

Narrative buster: My Native American father drew the Land O'Lakes maiden. She was never a stereotype. (Robert DesJarlait, The Washington Post)

Taiwan thankfully emerging from pandemic with a stronger hand against the ChiComs (Bloomberg)

Policy: Ten steps America should take now to respond to the China challenge (The Heritage Foundation)


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 May, 2020

Gilead trial reveals more than half of life-threateningly ill coronavirus patients treated with Ebola drug remdesivir go from relying on oxygen to leaving hospital in two weeks

A trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir has produced 'positive data' for treating coronavirus patients, its maker, Gilead Sciences, said Wednesday.

Gilead announced the results of a clinical trial testing the drug, which was originally developed to treat Ebola patients, in people severely ill with coronavirus.

Half of the 397 patients, who were sick enough to need additional oxygen, but not to be placed on ventilators, improved within 10 days of a five-day treatment course and those who were on a 10-day regimen were better by the eleventh day.

More than half of the patients were discharged from the hospital within two weeks, Gilead announced in a press release.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci addressed reports of 'positive data' from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) own trial of remdesivir in a pool meeting with President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, calling the findings 'very optimistic'.

The NIH trial is separate from Gilead's own, and details have not yet been officially released, though Dr Fauci said that eight percent in the remdesivir group died, compared to 11 percent in the placebo group.  

Fauci added that the trial was proof 'that a drug can block this virus', and compared the finding to the arrival of the first antiretrovirals that worked against HIV in the 1980s, albeit with modest success at first.

The announcement of promising preliminary remdesivir results sent the Dow soaring by more than 500 points, though Gilead's own stocks were halted pre-trading ahead of the announcement of the trial's findings.

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014.

Remdesivir produced encouraging results earlier this year when it showed promise for both preventing and treating MERS - another coronavirus - in macaque monkeys.

The drug appears to help stop the replication of viruses like coronavirus and Ebola alike.

It's not entirely clear how the drug accomplishes this feat, but it seems to stop the genetic material of the virus, RNA, from being able to copy itself.

That, in turn, stops the virus from being able to proliferate further inside the patient's body. 

NIH researchers in charge of the macaque study recommended that it move ahead to human trials with the new coronavirus.

Scientists have listened, and human trials for remdesivir first began in Nebraska.

Most recently, researchers trialing the drug at the University of Chicago reported that most of the 125 COVID-19 patients they'd treated with the drug had been discharged from the hospital, according to Stat News. Two patients died over the course of the trial.

Remdesivir has been among the top contenders of existing drugs being trialed for treating coronavirus, although World Health Organization documents leaked last week suggested it had failed to help patients in a more than 200-person trial recover.

Gilead defended the trial, saying it believed the leaked data was a 'mischaracterization' of the study's results. It's unclear whether the newly-announced results are from the same trial.

The NIH is also studying remdesivir in a randomized controlled trial of 400 patients, meaning about half of the group would take the Ebola antiviral, and the others would get a placebo drug.

In addition to the results of its own trial (which did not have a placebo arm, making its data less informative), Gilead hinted at promising results from the NIH trial.

Addressing these reports in a pool meeting at the White House, Dr Fauci said: 'So that's something that will go with 31 percent improvement, doesn't seem like a knock out, 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept.

'This is very optimistic, the mortality rate trended towards being better in the sense of less deaths in the REM designate group. Eight percent versus eleven percent in the placebo group.

'So bottom line. You're going to hear more details about this this will be submitted to a peer reviewed journal, and will be peer reviewed appropriately.'

Timing mattered as well. People who were treated early - within 10 days of their first symptoms - fared better, with 62 percent being discharged from the hospital within 14 days.

But the trial's results suggest the drug may still be beneficial, even if given relatively late. Nearly half of those who received remdesivir 10 or more days after they developed symptoms were also released from the hospital by day 14.

Generally speaking, the drug appeared safe in the trial, regardless of the duration of the treatment course.

More than 10 percent of patients treated with the antiviral became nauseous, and six percent of the five-day treatment group and 10.7 percent of the 10-day treatment group were in acute respiratory failure (also a complication of the infection itself).

The greatest risk posed to the coronavirus patients treated with remdesivir was liver damage. Lab work showed enzyme build up in 7.3 percent of the patients. the risk of liver damage became great enough that three percent were removed from the trial. 



How Close Is US to Herd Immunity for COVID-19? What the Numbers Show

There has been considerable interest lately in Sweden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Sweden’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anders Tegnell, Sweden is expected to achieve herd immunity in several weeks’ time.

Sweden pursued a much more relaxed mitigation strategy, practicing social distancing while avoiding a national lockdown, and approximately 20% of Swedes may have been infected and may now be immune to the virus.

Herd immunity is the point at which a large enough percentage of the population is immune to a disease that new cases are not likely to spread to others.

In other words, it’s when there are enough people who are immune to the disease that the disease has nowhere to go and eventually dies off. Therefore, every person who has been infected and recovered, or infected and remained asymptomatic, will help contribute to herd immunity.

But how close are we to achieving this? Although several studies are suggesting that there are far more people with antibodies to the virus than we know of, it’s not clear that we are very close.

An earlier study of pregnant women found that 29 out of 33 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were asymptomatic at the time of the test, and 26 of them never developed any symptoms at all. That finding suggests that for every pregnant woman with symptomatic COVID-19, there were seven who were infected with the virus, but never developed the disease.

That also suggests that for every woman with symptomatic COVID-19, there may be up to four other women who were infected, but don’t show symptoms.

The study is difficult to generalize because the sample was small and because the study took place in New York City, where incidences are expected to be very high. Furthermore, women seem to be less susceptible to the COVID-19 disease, which would cause the numbers to overestimate the asymptomatic prevalence of SARS-CoV-2.

To get a better idea, the state of New York has been conducting antibody tests and announced preliminary results on April 23, which found that 13.9% of New York residents had the virus and recovered.

In New York City, that rate was up to 21.2%. In upstate New York, away from the metropolitan centers, the rate was much lower at 3.6%.

If those numbers bear out, approximately 2.6 million people have been infected in the state, including 1.7 million people in New York City.

As of this writing, the state’s health department is reporting that it has had 288,045 positive test results. Initial testing has focused on symptomatic patients, so the majority of the positive cases reported by the health department likely indicate a symptomatic case of COVID-19.

If that’s the case, there would be approximately nine asymptomatic infections for every symptomatic case of COVID-19. Granted, those are suppositions based on preliminary data that hasn’t been released in its entirety.

In one of the first complete antibody studies on prevalence, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine tested a representative sample of 3,330 people in Santa Clara County, California.

When adjusted by demographics to represent the county, it found that the estimated prevalence of the virus ranged from 2.49% to 4.16%, which would represent between 48,000 and 81,000 people.

If those estimates prove true, the actual prevalence in Santa Clara County would be 50 to 85 times greater than the number of confirmed cases.

However, some have raised issues with this study. The raw, unadjusted prevalence found in the study was 1.5%, representing 50 people testing positive for the antibody out of 3,330 study participants.

According to the manufacturer of the test, the false-positive rate for the test is 0.5%, which would correspond to 17 false-positives in this study. Based on that, a third of the positive results may in fact be false-positives, which would greatly inflate the estimated prevalence.

Still, the study of Santa Clara County echoes the studies from New York that suggest that actual prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 is likely much higher than the number of confirmed cases would lead us to believe (albeit likely not 50 to 85 times higher).

While Sweden’s 20% immunity corresponds to New York City’s estimated 21.2% immunity, the same is not true for the rest of the country.

There are nearly 1 million cases in the United States at this time, so even with the greatest estimated prevalence from the Santa Clara County study, there would be 85 million actual cases, each of which would result in a person being immune to the virus.

The obvious problem is that there are approximately 245 million Americans left to be infected.

Given that the Santa Clara County numbers are likely overstated even for the COVID-19 hot spot of Santa Clara, the actual number of Americans left to be infected is many tens of millions more than that.

Herd immunity is an unrealistic goal for the United States until there is a vaccine. Even if the virus proves to spread much faster than previously thought, that would only require a much larger proportion of Americans to get infected and develop immunity.

That’s not to say that we should hunker down until a vaccine comes, but rather that we should proceed with the assumption that we will not have herd immunity. That will require careful planning and deliberate steps, but it’s certainly possible.




Andrew Cuomo's malfeasance: New York refused to send nursing home's COVID-19 patients to nearly empty and underutilized USNS Comfort, which is returning to Virginia (New York Post)

Senate Democrats — the same ones who feverishly castigated Brett Kavanaugh — refuse to acknowledge sexual-assault accusations against Joe Biden (The Daily Caller)

Former Hillary Clinton adviser calls on Biden to drop out: "We lose all moral authority" if we don't take Tara Reade seriously (The Daily Caller)

This week, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, and Tennessee will get their economies rolling again, Reuters reports. Last week, it was Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska, and South Carolina.

Better late than never (but still maybe too late for her political career): Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends stay-at-home order while liberating state of draconian bans (The Federalist)

States face $500 billion shortfalls as Congress debates aid (Washington Examiner)

Trump calls reports he may fire HHS Secretary Alex Azar "fake news" (The Washington Post)

Navy recommends reinstating Brett Crozier, who was ousted as commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (Fox News)

How noble of them: Saudi Arabia bans flogging as criminal punishment (New York Daily 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



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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


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