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

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

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

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


30 September, 2020

From RBG to Mask Mandates, the Dems Beg for Authoritarian Rule

Imagine living in a country where your basic rights are subject to a single individual’s whim and decree. That this individual could die at any moment and her replacement will make a new decree removing those basic rights. Is this the country you want to live in?

Imagine in the late 18th century telling Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington that 240 years after the revolutionary war, millions of Americans would be mourning the death of a single individual with lamentations that their basic rights, freedoms, and even our system of government are endangered.

Imagine telling these patriots who were pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to facing down the most powerful monarch on the face of the planet that these Americans would be screaming and wailing at the sky over the death of this single individual who they often referred to as a “queen.”

Is there any doubt that our Founding Fathers, knowing that millions of their fellow Americans would vest such faith, power, and control in a single individual – a “queen” – would look at each other and say, “Oh, why bloody bother? We have our wealth and property; let’s go get an ale.”

I wouldn’t blame them, and neither would you.

This is not the America our Founders envisioned or expected for us, their posterity.

And those Americans who crave, yearn and plea for such a nation should be looked upon with suspicion.

There is a common theme in the fervent lamentations hurled upon the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the Left in this country: That she was the last standing protection in this country from multitudes losing their basic rights and now that she is gone, these rights are facing an existential crisis.

How obscene.

To think that our basic rights are in the hands of an 87-year-old woman with several bouts of cancer is terrifying and antithetical to everything our country was supposed to stand for. But this is the country the Left has created by lifting the Supreme Court to the level of some kind of super-legislature with its limited members enjoying lifetime appointments.

The basics of your constitutional rights are not supposed to be determined by one tie-breaking vote on the Supreme Court. Your constitutional rights are determined in the Constitution. And if you want to modify the Constitution to recognize and protect more rights, then there is a mechanism to do just that. They are called amendments. We’ve used it many times in our 240 years.

Instead of following James Madison and Alexander Hamilton’s recipe, the Left has used the courts to inject newfound rights and protections with unelected judges who are never accountable to the American people. This has been a recipe for disaster, which has now led us to this revealing moment.

The Left has not been circumspect about their strategy to remake our Constitution through judicial fiat. Instead, they are threatening violent revolution if they can’t have a hand in selecting their new, replacement monarch in Queen RBG’s place.

It’s telling. They actually like this arrangement.

This tendency toward authoritarianism is also revealed in their singular criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If Joe Biden and other Democrats are ever properly pressed on their hyperbolic attacks on Trump of coronavirus, the only real policy they point to that they’d have done differently is to have a national mask mandate. Now, let’s set aside some of the dubious science behind many of the mask mandates we’ve seen pop up in Democrat states. Let’s instead think through their real criticism of Trump in this regard.

Think about it: The one thing they’d do that Trump didn’t do is implement a nation-wide mandate to wear a mask. This mask declaration is undoubtedly unconstitutional, but they don’t care. They insist that not only is the mandate necessary, but any president who does not implement one is neglectful of his duties to the American people.

Their biggest criticism of Trump in this pandemic is that he has not been authoritarian enough.

“How dare the president not command what we should and should not wear in public and how we should or should not behave!!!”

It doesn’t end there. From the Green New Deal, mandates on your car, your travel choices, your diet, your choice of gun for self-defense, your income, your energy options, your income level, your medical choices, your doctor, your children’s school, and on and on and on… the Democrats have a plan to fix this country, as long as you just let them tell you what to do and fine or throw you in jail if you disobey.

They want their monarch to sit on the throne in the Supreme Court to grant or deny you your rights and they want the head of state to mandate your behavior and life choices so that it serves the state.

Imagine, we used to get upset in this country over a tax on tea.


Kamala Harris is branded ‘ignorant’ for praising BLM protests and calling them ‘essential’ just three days after two cops were shot during Louisville riots

Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris has come in for criticism after saying that protests against racial injustice, including those by the Black Lives Matter group are ‘essential for the evolution of our country’ – with some online branding her ‘ignorant’.

Senator Harris D-Calif. made the comments during the NAACP’s national convention in which she was interviewed for more than one hour and come just three days after two police officers were shot and injured during rioting in Louisville.

The shooting came after a grand jury’s decision not to charge the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor. One of the officers involved was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighboring apartment.

‘Nothing that we have achieved that has been about progress, in particular around civil rights, has come without a fight, and so I always am going to interpret these protests as an essential component of evolution in our country – as an essential component or mark of a real democracy.

‘The people’s voices must be heard, and it is often the people who must speak to get their government to do what it is supposed to do, but may not do naturally unless the people speak loudly – and obviously peacefully.’

Harris went on to praise the ‘brilliance’ and ‘impact’ of the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘I actually believe that Black Lives Matter has been the most significant agent for change within the criminal justice system,’ she said.

‘I think, a community and the country speaking out, understanding that nothing that we have achieved that has been about progress in this country has come without a fight. Nothing that we have achieved in our country that has been about progress, and in particular around civil rights has come without a fight.’

The comments came thick and fast with many seemingly shocked at the vice presidential candidate’s take on recent events.

‘Unmoved by the violence in our streets and the brutal attacks on our police officers, Kamala Harris says the ‘protests’ are essential for our ‘evolution’ as a country,’ wrote Arthur Schwarz as he used the senators own words against her.

It was a view shared by Steve Guest, Rapid Response Director of the GOP.

‘After months of left-wing violence, Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris says these protests are an essential part of our ‘evolution’ as a country,’ encouraging others to see fault with Harris’ words.

Robby Starbuck, a Cuban-American director and producer also attempted to place Harris’ quotes into relevant context.

”Nothing we’ve achieved… has come without a fight and so I’m always going to interpret these protests as an essential component of evolution in our country… and as necessary.’ – Kamala Harris Remember this when you see cities on fire & people attacked’, Starbuck added.

Another Twitter user, Philip Camp, called the senator ‘stupid’: ‘Kamala Harris praises BLM, says ongoing protests are ‘essential’ for change in US. Just shows how stupid Kamala Harris is. The country is going to pot with people like her in leadership roles.’

Christian author Daniel Bobinski was also far from impressed by what he had heard.

‘I’d like to publicly thank Kamala Harris for telling Americans that the protests (aka riots) need to continue … and hold her personally responsible for the violence and the medical bills … and yes, the deaths, too. I lay this at the feet of Congressional Democrats,’ he tweeted.

It’s not the first time Harris has defended the cause of protestors taking to city streets across the country.

‘We must always defend peaceful protest and peaceful protesters. We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter who was arrested for murder. Make no mistake, we will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice,’ Harris said last month.

Harris’ comments come at the end of another week of mass protests over the death of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor, whose case prompted a series of demonstrations earlier this week.

Two officers, Louisville Metro Police Department, LMPD officer Robinson Desroches, left, and LMPD Maj. Aubrey Gregory were shot during clashes in Louisville on Wednesday, after authorities announced a grand jury had decided not to charge anyone in connection with the death of Taylor

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted Taylor’s name and marched in cities including New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Portland.

People gathered in Millennium Park, Chicago, chanting demands for justice as drivers in Michigan Avenue honked their horns.

Police in Atlanta unleashed chemical agents and made arrests after some protesters tried to climb on a SWAT vehicle.

In Wisconsin, peaceful marchers blocked traffic on an interstate and spoke about Ms Taylor on the steps of the state Capitol.

In Louisville, police said they arrested 127 people after what began as peaceful protests. Officers declared an unlawful assembly after they said fires were set in bins and several vehicles were damaged.

A police statement also described the ‘looting’ of several stores. Footage emerged showing buildings vandalized and burned in Louisville

Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was detained in the shooting of two officers, who are expected to recover from their wounds.

Jail records later confirmed Larynzo D Johnson, 26, was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer and multiple charges of wanton endangerment of police officers.


Platinum Plan Just Another Example of President Trump Supporting the Black Community—Democrats Could Learn Something From This

All too often, we see Democrats attack Black Americans like me who refuse to fall in line and answer every beck and call. We’re called names like “Uncle Tom” and “traitor” for refusing to obey Democrats when they tell us we are supposed to believe or react a certain way. I personally witnessed this after leaving the White House for President Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention (RNC) acceptance speech last month.

As I left the White House, a group of far-left radicals consisting of Democratic allies like Antifa and Black Lives Matter surrounded me – throwing insults and threats my way. If it were not for the brave law enforcement officers who protected me, I may not be here today. These radicals are the people who Democrats have embraced in recent months, and silence speaks louder than words. Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have refused to condemn the far-left radicals of their party like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. If anything, the two are endorsing the fringes of their own party by refusing to take a stand against them.

As a Black man who is still a member of the Democratic Party, I am not afraid to support President Trump or call out the problems I see within my own party, and this is definitely one of them. All we have to do to see how radical these fringes of the Democratic Party have become is to look at the Black Lives Matter website.

The organization outright stated that they intend to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” until they just recently wiped the claim from their website. They called for the destruction of the nuclear family, which is already a problem that we are seeing in Black communities. If Democrats want to represent all Americans, why are they embracing radicals who hate everything America represents? As a proud American, as a proud Black man, and as a proud Democrat, I will be the first to condemn the fringes of my party.

But what do I get for speaking the truth? What do I get for telling Democrats they have a serious problem? I’ll tell you what I get – I get violent rioters screaming in my face that I am an “Uncle Tom,” a “race traitor,” and other awful names that I refuse to even give the light of day. After Senator Tim Scott, football star Herschel Walker, and I spoke at the RNC, “Uncle Tom” trended on Twitter. I have personally seen racism in America, and it’s not coming from the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party has a serious racism problem today in America, and it’s coming from the fringes that Democrats refuse to disavowal. Racism is ridiculing a Black man for breaking free from the Democratic plantation. It’s treating a Black man like he is stupid, ignorant, or some kind of traitor because he dares to think for himself.

I’ll tell you right now. If Democrats want to fix their racism problem, then they need to rid their party of the radicals like Antifa and Black Lives Matter that refuse to accept anything less than conformity – anything less than complete obedience. They’re prejudice toward those of us who don’t fit their “mold” of what a Black person is supposed to be or is supposed to believe. Democrats cannot allow this to continue.

It’s time for the Democratic Party to rid itself of the intolerant racists who refuse to step out of the way and allow the party to open up and welcome all Americans into its arms. We can’t do that when radical far-left groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter are controlling the direction of the party and when the party’s leaders like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris allow the nonsense to continue.

Meanwhile, President Trump has gone above and beyond to help Black communities – the same Black communities that Democrats pandered to and ignored for decades. As he just announced in his Platinum Plan, President Trump will be committing $500 billion to create what will be known as a new era of prosperity for Black communities and will also be committing to new legislation to further build on the historic First Step Act. What has Joe Biden offered? Nothing but empty promises.

If you’re a Democrat like me, that’s why we must re-elect President Trump. We must show the Democratic Party that we will not accept their intolerance any longer. President Trump has been open and accepting to all Americans, and the Republican Party has grown as a result. It’s time for Democrats to do the same, and they won’t get the message unless we send President Trump back to the White House once again.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

29 September, 2020

A dash of cold water on Kurt Schlichter’s triumphalism (Yesterday)

Jeff Jacoby:

A SUPREME COURT seat is vacant. A Republican-controlled Senate is preparing to confirm a Republican president’s nominee. And liberals are aghast at the tightening right-wing grip on the highest court in the land.

The sudden vacancy has given the president “a chance to consolidate what could become the most conservative majority on the Supreme Court in more than 50 years,” reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. With the addition of another Republican-appointed justice, observes Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs reporter, “the conservatives will all but have a complete lock on the Supreme Court.” In the Palm Beach Post, an editorial writer gloomily forecasts that “by next July, it’s likely that the most conservative Supreme Court in decades will have overturned Roe vs. Wade.”

There is no gainsaying the anguish on the left at the prospect of a conservative jurist succeeding Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, but those remarks weren’t gleaned from the past week’s news. They were made 30 years ago, when the Republican president was George H.W. Bush, and the vacant seat was that of retiring Justice William Brennan.

Laments about how ominously conservative the Supreme Court has become have been a staple of our national discourse for decades. In 2009, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick characterized the court as a venue “in which big business always prevails, environmentalists are always buried, female and elderly workers go unprotected, death row inmates get the needle, and criminal defendants are shown the door.” Eleven years later, she still calls it “without a doubt the most conservative Supreme Court we’ve had since the New Deal.” It is a description echoed widely, from The Boston Globe (“the most conservative in more than 75 years”) to The Wall Street Journal (“perhaps the most conservative Supreme Court in 80 years”). And, just like 30 years ago, there is no end of liberal distress about the travesties in store if another Republican appointee joins the court. Should President Trump succeed in naming Ginsburg’s replacement, declares Rolling Stone, “almost everything she worked for in her career is sure to be swept away in the coming years.”

Time for a reality check.

In its latest term, the most conservative Supreme Court since the 1930s handed down decision after decision that gladdened the hearts of liberals or disappointed advocates on the right.
It blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, preventing the potential deportation of 650,000 young immigrants known as “dreamers.”

It shot down a challenge to New York City’s restrictive handgun law, and refused to even consider 10 other cases contesting the constitutionality of gun controls.

It ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars an employer from firing a worker for being gay or transgender.

It invalidated a Louisiana law requiring doctors in abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

It rejected a church’s insistence that it was unlawful to keep houses of worship closed due to the pandemic while casinos were permitted to open.

It swept aside Trump’s claim that he is protected by presidential immunity from having his business records subpoenaed by Congress and federal prosecutors.

Yes, some of those cases were decided with 5-4 majorities. But on some of the biggest liberal wins (LGBT job protections, Trump’s immunity, handguns), two or even three of the conservatives were on the prevailing side.

In short, the “most conservative” Supreme Court repeatedly confirmed that it is no knee-jerk opponent of everything liberal Democrats value and offers no guaranteed victories for conservative Republicans.

It is a fallacy to think that the Supreme Court can be reduced to push-button predictability based on the politics of the justices or the party of the president who appoints them. The court simply doesn’t work that way. Notwithstanding the by-now-inevitable hyperventilation about how much is riding on whether a particular nominee is confirmed or rejected, the justices in most cases are not sharply divided. In its 2019-2020 term, the Supreme Court issued decisions in 69 cases. Only 13 ended in a bare 5-4 split, whereas 25 were decided unanimously or with just one dissent.

None of this is to suggest that the justices’ rulings are never influenced by their political ideology or judicial philosophy. But there are other considerations that bear on how cases are decided, from respect for precedent to shifts in public opinion to concern for the high court’s reputation. Decisions can be shaped by negotiations among the justices or by points raised during oral argument. And there is a long history of justices shifting ideologically — usually to the left.

Would the confirmation of another conservative justice affect future rulings? Undoubtedly. But it isn’t so easy to say how. “The conservative justices are jurisprudentially conservative, but that this doesn’t always translate into politically conservative results,” says Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. “This is why they often reach conclusions that those on their ‘side’ might not like. And the court’s conservatives are not all conservative in the same way. Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas are more originalist and textualist; John Roberts is more minimalist.”

For decades, abortion-rights activists have warned that Roe v. Wade is hanging by a thread, yet at every crucial juncture it has been upheld by Republican appointees on the high court. In the 1992 landmark of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ratified the “essential holding” of Roe, all the justices in the majority were Republican appointees. In the Louisiana case this year, Chief Justice Roberts switched his previous stance to demonstrate fidelity to the principle of stare decisis. The result, as National Review put it in a headline, was that “Roberts Sides with High Court’s Left Bloc to Safeguard Abortion.”

Whoever replaces RBG, there will be Supreme Court decisions that will have conservatives spitting nails. There are bound to be others that will have the same effect on liberals. What should matter most in a nominee is not whether she leans to the left or the right, but whether she will strive “faithfully and impartially” to deliver what the job demands: equal justice under law.


Trump is now more progressive than the left

Trump is Hitler. Literally. Remember that? Leftists marched through the streets with placards showing Trump with a Hitler tache. Serious commentators said Trump’s rhetoric had ominous echoes of the 1930s. And they’re still at it. Under Trump, America is ‘spiralling towards fascism’, said a columnist for the Guardian last week.

Not only is all this Hitler-talk a cheap and cynical shot, it’s the polar opposite of the truth. Far from being a reincarnation of mid-20th-century evil, Trump is increasingly saying things that the left ought to be saying. On every issue, from race to freedom to revolutionary history, the Bad Orange Man is now more progressive than the left that loves to hate him.

Something striking has happened in recent weeks: Trump has joined the culture wars with relish. And he’s joined on the side of those who want to live in a post-racial, free society that cherishes the leaps forward made by revolutionaries in the past. You don’t need to be an expert on 1930s and 1940s Europe to know that this isn’t what Hitler was about. Post-racial? Hitler was all about race. He loved it. He saw everything through its noxious prism.

Trump, in contrast, has set himself up as an opponent of racial thinking in its entirety. In a striking intervention last week, he attacked the racial myopia of the new left and the identitarian set. At a White House Conference on American History, he ridiculed critical race theory – the fashionable, academia-spawned outlook that says America is an inescapably racist country and that all white people are privileged and all black people are oppressed. It is a ‘horrible doctrine’, he said, which, ‘by viewing every issue through the lens of race’, risks imposing a ‘new segregation’ in American society.

Trump cited an example of critical race theory to show that it isn’t only demeaning to white people but to black people, too. He referred to the Smithsonian Institute’s recent claim that ‘concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, the nuclear family and belief in God’ are ‘not values that unite all Americans’ but rather are ‘aspects of “whiteness”’. This is ‘offensive and outrageous’, Trump said, especially to ‘children of minority backgrounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged’.

Trump countered critical race theory with the words of Martin Luther King. Describing King as one of ‘the most incredible people who ever lived’, he said we should ‘embrace [his] vision… where children are not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’. The identitarian left is trying to destroy that ‘beautiful vision’, he said, and to ‘divide Americans by race in the service of political power’.

No doubt some will say he is just posturing. What about the disparaging comments he has made about Mexicans? Or his travel ban on people from certain Muslim-majority countries? He’s no anti-racist. And perhaps these people have a point. But the broader question, surely, is why it has fallen to Donald Trump, the demagogue most hated by the liberal elites, to defend the legacy of Martin Luther King and the vision of a post-racial society against a new, sometimes violent identitarian movement that is obsessed with racial categorisation and which promotes a view of whites as wicked and blacks as weak and pathetic and incapable of hard work and rational thinking.

The question isn’t ‘Is Trump being opportunistic when he criticises the poisonous new politics of race?’. It’s ‘Why hasn’t Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or the apparently high-minded, left-leaning writers at the New York Times done likewise?’. The modern left has so thoroughly abandoned its old universalist principles – its rejection of racial thinking and its preference for character over colour – that it now falls to Trump to make these good, decent, liberal points. It’s no good people saying he’s just pretending to be an anti-racist, unless they also explain why so much of the contemporary left has fully and dangerously bought into the rehabilitation of racial thinking and the replacement of the MLK outlook with a wholly regressive view of whites and blacks as irredeemably different beings.

Trump took a shot at identity politics more broadly in his speech on American history. Instead of fragmenting the public into ever-splitting categories of race, gender and sexuality, we should recognise that our ‘only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans’, he said. And again the question arises: why haven’t the Democrats said this? Why is the supposedly left-liberal party constantly playing a modern, PC version of pork-barrel politics, always appealing to ethnic blocs, instead of emphasising the most important identity in the US – the national one, the unifying one, the American one? Trump’s executive order banning federal employers from promoting critical race theory is likely to be popular with a large swathe of American society.

Trump has also taken a firmer stand against insidious new forms of censorship than most of the liberal elite has. Three days before that Harper’s letter was published, in which literary figures and activists made some strong points about cancel culture, Trump gave a speech at Mount Rushmore in which he slammed the new McCarthyism. The ‘political weapon’ of ‘cancel culture’ is being used to totalitarian ends, he said, ‘driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees’.

In relation to the ideology of political correctness that insists that everyone must adhere to correct-think on race, gender and other issues, Trump said: ‘If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished.’ He’s right. It used to be the left, especially the countercultural left, that bristled at any ideology that demanded unflinching conformity. Now, much of the left imposes just such an ideology, or denies that it exists (‘cancel culture is a myth’), while it is left to Trump to stand up for the freedoms of thought and speech.

Trump also does a better job than the contemporary left of valorising the revolutionary ideals upon which America was founded. Where the new nihilists of the radical left and the academic elites constantly slam the US, and the West more broadly, as evil entities born in sin, arising from the horrors of slavery and Empire, Trump puts in a good word for Jefferson and the American Revolution and for 1776. He says he wants to counter ‘the crusade against American history’.

His key target is the 1619 Project, the New York Times’ multimedia educational tool that seeks to rewrite American history so that the arrival of the first slaves in 1619 would be its founding moment, rather than the revolutionary upheaval of 1775 to 1783, including of course the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Trump has now set up the 1776 Commission to teach children about the ‘miracle of American history’.

Like parodies of themselves, his critics have cited his 1776 Commission as proof of his fascistic tendencies. America is ‘spiralling towards fascism’ and the 1776 Commission is an effort to ‘Make America White Again’, said the Guardian, literally making no sense. The truth is that the cultural elites now sneer at the revolutionary founding of the United States – the first nation in history founded as a democracy – and tirelessly talk about America’s original sin of slavery and its legacy of white supremacy. Their political worldview is a nihilistic one that sees the US as malevolent society at root, whereas Trump holds the US up as a nation founded in revolution, optimism and the ideals of ‘incredible people’ such as Jefferson and King. And people still wonder why Trump appeals to working Americans more than coastal America-bashers do.

But Trump doesn’t really believe in freedom of speech, people will say. And he isn’t really against identity politics, they will insist. And he probably doesn’t know much about American history, they will joke. And again, perhaps they’re right. There are certainly many profound problems with Trump’s views and style. But this is the bottom line: he is going into this presidential election criticising cancel culture, publicly denouncing divisive identity politics, celebrating America’s democratic founding and quoting Martin Luther King, while the other side drones on about white privilege, hurtful words, BLM, slavery and the need to have a reckoning with America’s allegedly evil past. If Trump keeps this up, whether it’s an act or not, he will attract those many, many Americans who love their country and who think character is the only true measure of an individual’s worth.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

28 September, 2020

A cry of triumph from the inimitable Kurt Schlichter

I don’t like counting chickens before they hatch but this nomination would seem to be secure. Abortion will be the big issue here. As an atheist, I am not opposed to all abortion. I think we should leave it to the mother to abort a child of rape or a defective child, for instance.

And the fact is that there is no mention of abortion in the constitution so the judgments by past Leftist judges that prohibition is unconstitutional is just another liberal lie. If the new judge gets enough support to refer the matter back to the states, where it belongs, I would be pleased

But “stare decisis” could well interfere with any change

I had a happy laugh when I read these words from Judge Barrett:

“I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution”.

She is a true patriot and hence a real conservative

Feminists should love her for her success in a prestigious job while “having it all” by raising a big family. But they have no principles, only hate

Now that President Trump has picked Amy Coney Barrett for the SCOTUS seat, it’s time to get busy with our most important immediate task – rubbing liberals’ noses in how we are going to install a hardcore conservative on the court to crush their hideous pinko dreams. Soon we will switch into defending her from the hurricane of slander to come, but right now is a time when we need to reflect on the Fredocons’ calls for unity and reaching out and hugging and rejecting those sissy losers’ pathetic attempt to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Amy Coney Barrett is the justice we deserve, and also the justice that the simps, Never Trumpers, and libs deserve – and they deserve her good and hard.

One thing the elite has never quite gotten a handle on with Trump is how he blends policy and showmanship – he’s the best political communicator since at least Ronald Reagan. Picking the Notorious ACB is not just a policy triumph – she’s going to be great down the line, on guns, religious freedom, and not killing kids – but her appointment is a powerful message to our alleged betters. She’s not some Ivy League doofus mincing about Harvard Yard complaining about how the uppity gardener left grass clippings on the walkway that got on his deck shoes. She’s a married believer from Indiana and is therefore staggeringly normal compared to the coastal elitists who think they rule us. She’s young and bright and looks like she’s happy – which to our elite, mired in perpetual faux angst, is an outrage. She has got a bunch of kids (including one future icon who rocked a pale blue suit with an orange tie like a boss), which the frigid, barren feminists already hate but which normal people will think is kind of nice. People who drive minivans will identify with her; people who drive Volvos will Nadler themselves.

The message Trump is sending by appointing someone so different from the old ruling caste cast of characters is that he’s replacing the elite – those dour, bitter leftists who have a never-ending series of complaints about how we peasants think and pray and live – with someone like those of us who don’t live in some blue enclave on the coast, eat kale, and loathe America.

Liberals realize that they must therefore destroy her, because she will not only block their extra-constitutional schemes but because she represents our slow yet steady progress in liberating our country and culture from the control of our failed elite. So, how will they come at her?

Look for procedural shenanigans to delay her vote until after the election. You might have noticed that getting her confirmed is really important to the GOP base, and preventing the Republican Senate from doing it before November 3rd is vital to the Dems’ dwindling election hopes. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, himself in a tough race only because a lot of his natural base is still ticked at his past Lil’ Maverick shenanigans, understands that if he futzes around with the hearings instead of revving them up on October 6th, the other side will push the confirmation past Election Day and thereby make him and several other Republicans lose. Burned by their evil Kavanaugh machinations, and knowing his literal and figurative seat is on the line, woke Lindsey Graham (which is the best Lindsey Graham) is almost certain to return and ruthlessly push this nominee through.

They will come at ACB on policy, starting with her unwillingness to agree that the penumbras and emanations within the Constitution somehow require us to declare open season on unborn kids. Abortion is everything to these leftist weirdos, and that she will interpret the Constitution as it is written is the biggest threat to the leftist scheme to judicially remake America. They will accuse her of not being down with Planned Parenthood, as well as wanting to allow us to speak freely, to worship freely, and to keep and bear arms freely. When so accused, she should plead guilty as charged.

They certainly plan to attack her on healthcare, counting on the Democrat-owned teacher’s unions to have done such a garbage job teaching civics that the American people will not know that healthcare should not be a concern of the government or the courts, except to the extent the courts enforce contracts. What they ask her will make no sense, but the media will aid and abet the lies with such headlines as “Racist Nominee Thinks Healthcare Is Unconstitutional Because She Likes Jesus.” Whatever. She needs to be ready for the dumbness.

There are already attacks on her family. She has too many kids, the frosty harridans of the left insist, offended by her fertility and jealous that she has a husband who is attracted to her. Look for noted thinker Mazie (Your People Call Her “Corn”) Hirono to take a break from her pioneering particle physics research to ask ACB, “How can you have seven kids when global warming is a thing?” Other ghouls will question why she chose not to snuff her Down’s child. And the fact she adopted two Haitian kids has already led to creepy speculation that she kidnapped these children to “colonize” them, or some such idiocy – I refuse to spend valuable time deciphering these idiotic ravings. To libs, the proper thing to do with Haitians is rip-off their relief cash, like the Clintons did. Actually helping kids is racist or something.

As they attack her personally, her wholesome vibe will help. If a “She ran a sex gang!” accusation drops, people will look at her and think the only crew she could possibly run with would be a pack of Irish folk dancers busting out with a reel from Riverdance. And, of course, there will be manifestations of the anti-Catholic bigotry the Democrats allow to bubble under the surface within their caucus. They can’t fully get their heads around the idea that people actually believe this Jesus stuff, and they are so stunningly ignorant that they think the term “handmaid” originated in that stupid novel that blows lonely sophomores’ minds and not, you know, in the Bible.

The Dems will try not to make idiots of themselves and alienate voters with their prejudice, but they might not be able to help it – after all, her dogma lives loudly in their heads. The GOP, inside and out of government, should defend strongly religious belief, and Trump himself should take the opportunity to address black churchwomen – the one Democrat constituency that still actually believes in God – and invite them to join the party of Americans who don’t hold Christians and observant Jews in total contempt.

The left will try to leverage her faith in their inevitable tacky sex lie offensive. We likely won’t get “Amy Coney Barrett: The Epstein/Weinstein of Notre Dame.” What we will get is some creep claiming he scored with her at a dorm party when she was a freshman and had one Zima too many. See, because she’s Christian, a claim that she had sex before marriage will freak out us squares, don’t you know? That’s because no Christian has ever had sex before marriage, as far as libs know. Alternatively, as Dennis Miller opined, between bravura references to Joseph Wambaugh and the worst job in the Chinese royal court, that they will find some woman from ACB’s past who will swear the incoming justice counseled her to abort her baby. They expect we will believe it and recoil in horror, though Miller’s guest Mollie Hemingway shrewdly observed that that should make liberals like her. Either way, I am perfectly happy for the GOP to corner the market on imperfect Christians, and I expect such cheesy lines of attack, based on what libs mistakenly imagine normal people believe, to be about as effective as such prior ploys as trying to make us like Trump less because he used to score with Playboy Playmates.

We must fight back, and she will have to be feisty up there in front of that panel of Dem halfwits. I totally hope ACB, when asked about the inevitable hook-up claim, responds with something along the lines of, “Oh, I remember him, but we never did anything. He couldn’t make it, you know, happen. It was pretty embarrassing for both of us. I hear he now writes for the Bulwark.”

She’s going to go through hell in the next month and we need to have her back. Our GOP senators, led by Lindsey Graham, need to push this through and retaliate like rabid wolverines against the nonsense and lies of the Dems and their media serfs. Amy Coney Barrett is everything we need, and everything the liberals hate. She is a massive defeat for the left. Let’s rub the libs’ collective nose in it.


‘Naked ballots’ an issue in the US election

In the fiercely contested Gore vs Bush election of 2000, there were Florida’s notorious “hanging chads”: punch-card ballots had not been completely perforated, making it unclear whether they should be counted or thrown away.

The fight over Florida’s excruciatingly close result made its way to the US Supreme Court which, 36 days after election day, certified Bush the winner of Florida and, therefore, the presidency.

Among those in the minority of the 5-4 decision was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87.

In this year’s presidential election, the most contentious issue could be “naked ballots” in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that could determine the election outcome. On the same day as Ginsburg’s death, Pennsylvania’s top court ruled that all postal ballots must be placed inside a special secrecy sleeve as well as the official return envelope. Unlike in previous elections, all ballots returned without the secrecy sleeve will be rejected.

These so-called “naked ballots” could have major consequences given Americans are expected to vote by mail in bigger numbers than ever before because of the coronavirus pandemic. Polls show Democrats are far more likely to vote by mail than Republicans – meaning they have the most to lose if officials reject a substantial number of postal ballots.

Philadelphia city commissioner Lisa Deeley, a Democrat, warned that the court’s decision put more than 100,000 postal votes in Pennsylvania at risk, based on past error rates.

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by just over 44,000 votes.

In a letter to the Republican leaders of the state Senate and House of Representatives, Deely warned that the court’s naked ballot decision could make Pennsylvania the “subject of significant post-election legal controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000.” She asked the legislators to eliminate the secrecy sleeve requirement – a request they quickly rejected.

A stoush over Pennsylvania’s “naked ballots” is just one of the possible conflicts that could play out through the courts if the result between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is close on election night. Each state uses its own particular electoral rules, raising the chances of a variety of different legal challenges across the country.

Trump set off a firestorm on Thursday (AEST) by saying he would not necessarily accept the peaceful transfer of power if he does not accept the election result.

A widely-read article in The Atlantic this week said that Republicans have discussed taking the remarkable step of bypassing the will of the voters in crucial states if they are behind in the count. It is actually the 538 members of the Electoral College – the so-called “electors” – who decide the presidential outcome.

This fact is rarely discussed and even the most plugged-in political insider would be unable to name any of the electors, who are appointed by state party members and officials. That’s because, with only rare and usually inconsequential exceptions, the electors cast their ballots in accordance with the election result in their state. But that is not dictated by the US Constitution.

“With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly,” The Atlantic article said.


Could A Common Vaccine Prevent Covid-19? Washington University Leads Study To Find Out

Doctors at Washington University are investigating whether the commonly used measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could protect people against getting sick with the coronavirus.

The large international study is based on the concept of trained immunity — the idea that live vaccines can turbocharge the immune system.

“Of course it protects people from measles mumps and rubella, but activating the immune system with this type of vaccine could stimulate protection from other viruses as well,” said Dr. Mary Politi, a professor at Washington University and one of the researchers in the study. “The structural similarities might mean (that) when the body produces this response with antibodies with MMR, they could recognize the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The MMR vaccine could also trigger a more general immune response that could protect against multiple viruses, including the coronavirus, she said.

Washington University is coordinating the study in collaboration with other schools in England and South Africa. Researchers will give either a vaccine or a placebo to 30,000 health care workers in at least nine countries. Then they’ll see if those who received the vaccine have protection from the coronavirus or less severe symptoms if they do get sick.

Unlike the common flu shot, the MMR vaccine is what is called a “live” or “attenuated” vaccine. That means it contains a weakened form of the virus it protects against.

That’s key to its potential success, said Dr. Michael Avidan, another Wash U professor and principal investigator in the study.

“What seems to happen is when you get one of these live attenuated vaccines, it trains your immune system, and this lasts for a couple of months to a few years,” he said. “So [if] a year later you’re exposed to another infectious agent, your immune system is primed and ready in a robust and brisk way to fight off this new infection.”

“Trained immunity” only lasts for a short time, Avidan said. That’s why those who have received the MMR vaccine in the past may not be protected from COVID-19.

There’s also evidence live immunizations could protect against other viruses, Politi said. Earlier this year, close to 1,000 Marines, who receive MMR vaccinations when they join the military, were exposed to the coronavirus on a ship. Though many became sick, only one needed to be hospitalized.

It also could be why children, who may have received immunizations more recently, may not get as sick with the coronavirus as adults, Politi said.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

27 September, 2020

Survival rates for COVID-19

The CDC last week posted its new estimate of the survival rates for COVID-19, broken up by age.

This link put those number in clear terms:

0-19 years: 99.997%
20-49 years: 99.98%
50-69 years: 99.5%
70+ years: 94.6%

Those numbers are practically identical to those of the flu. In other words, practically no one dies from it. It makes some people sick for a week or so, and then goes away.

And we have destroyed western civilization over this. It boggles the mind (for those who are still using it).

The worst part is that no one will believe me. Instead, too many will be outraged that anyone would even hint that this virus is not the plague.


Just 1% of US Counties Have Had Nearly Half of All COVID-19 Deaths

As Heritage Foundation researchers have demonstrated throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. has been heavily concentrated in a small number of states—and among a small number of counties within those states.

As our research has pointed out, state-level figures do not adequately describe the concentrated nature of the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, even though the U.S. saw a rapid rise in cases during the summer, the overall levels of concentration have remained fairly consistent.

For instance, as of Sept. 15, the 30 counties with the most COVID-19 deaths accounted for 26% of all the cases in the U.S. and 40% of all deaths, much greater than those counties’ share of the population (18.4%). That is, just 1% of the counties in the U.S., representing just over 18% of the population, are responsible for almost half of the country’s COVID-19 deaths.

The Heritage Foundation’s newest interactive graphic allows individuals to see more detail on these concentrations among the counties with the most deaths as well as those with the fewest.

For instance, the graphic allows users to select data from the five counties with the most deaths, all the way up to the 50 counties with the most deaths. It also allows visitors to select data from counties with no deaths, all the way up to counties with 10 or fewer.

Once a category is selected, the graphic provides the percentage of counties represented by that category, the percentage of the population contained in those counties, and the percentage of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths in those counties.

For example, as of Sept. 15, 60.6% of all counties are reporting 10 or fewer deaths. These counties represent 13.1% of the population, and account for only 2.7% of total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

In contrast, the five counties with the most COVID-19 deaths represent just 0.2% of all counties, but they account for 16% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., nearly three times their population share of 6.5%.

A list of the 50 counties with the most deaths is also provided, and that list has not changed very much since April. New York, for instance, recorded 32,745 deaths as of Sept. 15.

In fact, New York City has exerted an outsized influence on the national COVID-19-related death rate. Removing New York City’s deaths moves the U.S. from eighth place in the world in deaths per million to 13th place.

The New York City metropolitan statistical area even has an outsized influence on the overall statistics for the state of New York.

Removing counties in the New York City metropolitan statistical area from the state’s totals drops the death rate for New York state to 348 per million, nearly 80% lower than the state’s rate when the New York City metropolitan statistical area is included (1,674).

That’s well below the national average and would move New York state from second place to 23rd place in deaths per million.

The same exercise with COVID-19 cases in the New York City area has a similar effect on the state’s totals.

Specifically, when withholding the New York City metropolitan statistical area cases, the overall case rate for New York state plummets by 71% (from 22,065 to 6,505), a level that is well below the national average.

Removing the New York City metropolitan statistical area moves the state of New York from sixth in case rate among U.S. states to 42nd place.

As new Heritage Foundation research shows, as of Aug. 22, the death rate of 2,196 per million residents recorded in the New York City metropolitan statistical area is almost twice that of its nearest rival, Detroit, at 1,177.

Furthermore, the gap between New York City’s COVID-19-related death rate and those of cities that have experienced more recent outbreaks is even more pronounced. The New York City metropolitan statistical area’s death rate is more than triple those of Phoenix and Miami—two cities that have recorded higher rates of infection than New York. It is four and a half times that of Los Angeles and nearly six times that of Houston.

Now that COVID-19 testing has increased dramatically and many state and local governments have relaxed stay-at-home orders, it’s even more critical to study the trends in deaths along with cases.

To make studying these trends easier, The Heritage Foundation now has two interactive COVID-19 trackers. One tracks trends in cases; the other tracks trends in deaths.

The trackers describe whether the trend of cases—or deaths—is increasing or decreasing over the prior 14 days, and provides a visual depiction of new cases—or deaths—during that time period.

These tools help put the concentrated nature of the pandemic in perspective with county-level data. They show just how difficult it can be to use only one metric to gauge whether a county—or state—is doing well.


FBI finds mail-in ballots discarded in Pennsylvania. All of them were cast for President Trump

HARRISBURG – On Monday, September 21, 2020, at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, the Office of the United States Attorney along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Scranton Resident Office, began an inquiry into reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections.

Since Monday, FBI personnel working together with the Pennsylvania State Police have conducted numerous interviews and recovered and reviewed certain physical evidence. Election officials in Luzerne County have been cooperative. At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded. Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time. Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot. All nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Our inquiry remains ongoing and we expect later today to share our up to date findings with officials in Luzerne County. It is the vital duty of government to ensure that every properly cast vote is counted.


Making Mail-in Ballots ‘Secure’

Although more deeply at odds than at any time since the Civil War, both sides of our fractious nation’s political divide seem to agree on this: the 2020 federal elections are the most consequential of our lifetimes. Voters are being asked to decide nothing less than whether they want to “fundamentally change” America, or to keep America fundamentally American.

If the franchise is so very precious, if voting is a “sacred” right, then government must do everything it can to protect the integrity of our elections. But government has been failing in that solemn duty. Yes, the states spend a bunch of money and go through the motions on voter registration, but they never go to the heart of the matter when establishing the identity of each voter.

The claim that there is no evidence of fraud in America’s elections needs much more scrutiny. The reason that some, like the “experts” at the Brennan Center, contend that there’s “no evidence” for widespread election fraud is because it’s a debate tactic, an attempt to put those who make the opposite claim in the position of having to disprove the experts’ claim. But two can play that game, for there is “no evidence” that election fraud does not occur, and that each ballot was freely cast by an eligible voter who voted only once. Why is evidence expected for one claim but not for its opposite?

We know that election fraud occurs because people have been convicted of it. So when apologists for the current systems say that there’s “no evidence” that such fraud is widespread, they should be required to put a number on it. But they can’t, because with our current election systems fraud can be undetectable.

Unless fraud is detectable, it’s crazy to talk about there being “no evidence” for it. Even with in-person voting, election fraud can be pretty much undetectable. If an ineligible person, like an illegal alien, can just get on a voter registry, there’s little to stop him from voting. (Check out this August 29 article by Jon Levine at the New York Post on fraud with mail-in ballots.)

Suspicion of fraud and thoughts of stolen elections are corrosive. Since an election can be decided by a single vote, no fraud whatsoever should be tolerated. So those who contend that election fraud isn’t a problem need to be able to show the means by which the states detect fraud.

It’s doubtful that mail-in voting could ever be as secure as in-person voting. Even so, mail-in voting can be made more secure. Recently, this writer wrote that the inclusion on the ballot of a single piece of information, the SSN, would help government to ensure election integrity. Indeed, with the SSN on the ballot, fraud becomes detectable. Without a valid SSN that is on file with the feds, a ballot could be rejected. By requiring the SSN, elections could be flooded with more ballots than there are U.S. voters and the true winners could still be known. We’d even be able to detect double voting.

But with our current methods of doing mail-in voting, fraud is much more likely than with in-person voting, and much more undetectable. For instance, how can one know that a mail-in ballot was used by the person to whom it was mailed and not by someone else, like some “ballot harvester”?

With our current methods, whether or not one’s mail-in votes are deemed legitimate and are added to the counts can depend on the subjective judgment of whether or not a signature is legitimate. This would be less of a problem if mail-in ballots had to be notarized by a notary public. This June 1 article at NPR treats the states’ notarization and witness requirements and it includes an interesting map. The map shows that the states have several ways to verify ballots. Congress should require the states to abide by a single standard when conducting their elections for federal office.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is running a series called “Voting Outside the Polling Place,” or VOPP. But the NCSL’s search page for “VOPP” doesn’t seem to list any studies regarding any notarization and witnessing standards for mail-in ballots held by the states, (perhaps you can find them).

However, when one looks at “Signature and witness requirements” in the Ballotpedia entry for “Absentee/mail-in voting,” one sees that the vast majority of the states have no requirement for notarization, nor do they even require a witness. The only states that have any such requirements are the Red States of Alabama, Alaska, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

Immediately after the section on signature and witness requirements, we come to this: “Temporary modifications to absentee/mail-in voting procedures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” And what we see is that requirements are being modified (waived, actually) for the 2020 elections. Of special interest are the modifications in Oklahoma: “On May 7, 2020, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed SB210 into law, reinstating the absentee ballot notarization requirement struck down by the state supreme court on May 4, 2020.” (When it comes to voting, Oklahoma seems to be more rigorous than the other states, see SB 210).

There seems to be a media blackout of Joe Biden’s cognitive decline. Yet, early voting has already begun, and we haven’t even had the first debate. I doubt that Biden voters availing themselves of the early voting option will be allowed to change their early votes if they’re horrified by Biden’s debate performances.

When one puts early voting together with the way the states are doing mail-in voting, one might think that the 2020 elections really should begin again. If we were to start over and send out mail-in ballots again, the voter should be required to enter his SSN on his ballot. The gist of this was laid out in my last article and it’s pretty simple. My solution assumes that there will be voter fraud, but it provides a way to detect and correct it.

Because it’s dysfunctional, it’s doubtful that Congress can get itself to do anything about this insecure election coming up. Besides, Democrats think it perfectly fine to allow fraudsters to decide the character of our nation and her future.

Left-wing “activists” are threatening violence if President Trump nominates a replacement for Justice Ginsburg. But the uncertainty that mail-in voting has put our elections makes it more likely that candidates will be headed to court, just as in 2000. Having the full complement of nine justices, with its impossibility of a 4-4 tie vote, is essential for achieving a definitive decision by the high court. America may need a new Supreme Court justice just to decide the election.

America is conducting a supremely consequential election with election systems that are wide open to fraud. If that be so, then we need to do nothing less than restart this election with a single secure new system that all the states must use. Yes, early voters would need to vote again. But if the authorities cannot give confidence to the electorate by demonstrating and proving that the vote counts are correct and legitimate, then we can expect continued chaos in the streets.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

25 September, 2020

Brisbane woman’s push to be infected with COVID pays off

The UK government has given the green light to controversial tests that could see Brisbane researcher Sophie Rose deliberately infected with coronavirus, which could also speed up the search for a vaccine by six months.

A coronavirus vaccine could be available six months earlier after a groundbreaking study proposed by a Brisbane public health student was approved.

Sophie Rose, a Brisbane Girls Grammar graduate, was behind a campaign to have volunteers deliberately infected with coronavirus to fast-track the testing of vaccines.

Now the British government has given it the green light.

Ms Rose was a key figure in the push for the trials as founder of campaign group 1DaySooner, which found 37,000 volunteers for trials and lobbied governments across the globe.

“I’m really excited. Given what’s at stake we need to keep testing vaccines until we find the best vaccine that we can have,” she said. “It’s really exciting, I’m really pleased and proud of all our team.”

The epidemiologist, who is studying at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has helped organised a coalition of public health heavyweights from across the world.

The trials will be conducted on a range of vaccines, which will help move them along the testing pathways, speeding up approvals by up to six months.

The Oxford vaccine, the world’s front runner, was not involved in the challenge trials. It is already in stage three trials with results likely to come back before Christmas.

However, there are dozens of other vaccines at various stages of testing, including the University of Queensland’s candidate, that could benefit from the challenge studies.

And while a vaccine such as the Oxford candidate may be approved, the studies will be able to check which other vaccines would be more effective, Ms Rose said.

The challenge trials were also important as lockdowns reduced the amount of virus circulating in a community.

That success makes it harder for scientists to work out if people were not infected because the vaccine worked or simply because they did not come into contact with a virus carrier.

“Say for example the Moderna vaccine works, we can only produce so many doses of that at a time,” she said. “And the more people we have vaccinated then the less vaccine testing we can do because people have already been exposed to the virus.”

Oxford researchers had to test in the United States, Brazil and South Africa to find a wider pool of the virus because, until recently, lockdowns had limited the spread of COVID-19 in Britain.

1 Day Sooner said in a statement that it welcomed the British government move. “These trials will help make COVID-19 vaccines equally accessible to everyone around the world, regardless of race or nationality by quickly narrowing the field of promising vaccine candidates,” the group said.

“We are glad to have had the opportunity to provide input into the preparations. We hope and expect that volunteer voices will be further incorporated into publicly available protocols for these studies.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK will sign off on the start of any trials. Doses of the live virus will be prepared by December, paving the way for the trials.


American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has announced it has begun its phase three trial in testing its potential coronavirus vaccine, sparking new hope for a COVID cure

It is the fourth pharmaceutical company backed by the Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed to enter late-stage testing. The others are Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The trial will enrol up to 60,000 adult volunteers across 215 locations in the US and other countries, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Participants will be randomly selected to receive a dose of the potential vaccine or a placebo, according to details of the trial, which will determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

“Four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 clinical testing in the United States just over eight months after SARS-CoV-2 was identified,” Dr Anthony Fauci said in a statement.

With the move, Johnson & Johnson becomes the 10th maker globally to conduct a Phase 3 trial against COVID-19, and the fourth in the US.


Right and Left have very different ideas for the nation’s direction

Well, here we are. We have regrettably arrived at America’s constitutional crossroads. Two hundred thirty-three years ago, our Constitution was signed by the Founders, and the United States began its journey of individual freedom, republican government, free enterprise, and respect for spiritual norms. The Founders had achieved agreement that the new Constitution would be the bedrock for future limited government across all the states and their peoples.

With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it is clear that battle lines (ideological and perhaps, God forbid, physical) are being drawn at the crossroads between those who cherish our longstanding constitutional government and those who would move the United States to a socialist or even Marxist regime. The friction is enormous, and the rhetoric is sizzling.

It appears that the appointment and confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice — a single human being — will offer an epic turning point. If a proven conservative jurist is confirmed, the Supreme Court will have a solid constitutional majority. One can expect that the laws and rulings that come before it will be interpreted against the actual words of the Constitution and the Founders’ intent for governance.

If a more liberal jurist is confirmed, the country can expect a majority of justices who desire to interpret the Constitution in terms of today’s societal meanderings, and thus the Court will surely approve many laws and directives that will rapidly move the nation to socialism or beyond.

Standing at the center of this epic moment is President Donald Trump. He will decide who and when to nominate, then turn that name over to the Senate for confirmation or rejection. But it is Trump who has become the lynchpin for the future of America.

And already, the saber-rattling is loud, with threats of violence and carnage should Trump dare nominate a new justice this close to an election. From what we have seen over the last six months, these are likely not idle threats. If Trump moves on a nomination, we’re told those threats could lead to civil unrest, strife, and even — again, God forbid — armed conflict. Armed conflict means we could face another civil war on America’s homeland.

Many will contend that Trump should acquiesce on behalf of more peaceful and so-called stable outcomes. Just let the next Supreme Court justice be nominated by the next president and confirmed by the next Senate, many argue. If Trump just acquiesces, much blood and treasure will be spared, they say. In all this they hope that at the polls they can secure either the presidency, the Senate, or both. They will use any tactic, legal or illegal, to ensure at least one of these three outcomes. With the presidency or the Senate or both secured, they will never allow a conservative jurist to become a Supreme Court justice. Thus, socialism will accelerate its march across the land — just as they desire.

Trump’s decision lies before him. Nominate now and face potential civil strife, or, worse, surrender and don’t nominate during this term. Allow the future of the United States to be tossed to the election and all its clear and looming frailties imposed by leftists.

So, what will he do?

One must look at the man. What has happened to him personally since he decided to run for and ultimately was elected president? The list, of course, is long, but there have been three keystone events that will surely underpin his decision on what to do now.

First, on the day he announced his bid to run for president, the “deep state,” which is very real — I’ve seen it up close and personal — began a horrendous and unconstitutional campaign to remove him from office should he be elected. The result was Robert Mueller’s investigation, and although it found no instance of collusion with the Russians by Trump or his team, the process had to deeply impact Trump’s soul. His worst instincts about the deep state had been confirmed. Strike one.

Second, he was impeached on the flimsiest of charges by the House of Representatives. Thank God, the Senate trial found him fully innocent of all charges. But to the president, this was surely strike two for his opponents.

Third, accepting the speaker of the House’s invitation to deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress and the American people on February 4, 2020, President Trump made his address only to have Speaker Pelosi literally shred the officially presented document behind his back but in front of national cameras. This was a clear signal by the speaker that the constitutional processes of separation of power and civility in governance were now terminated as long as Trump was president. Strike three for his opposition.

President Donald J. Trump has been savagely attacked by his political opposition arguably more than any president in our history. In the big three attacks against him personally, he has survived and, in many respects, even prospered. He is still standing, now with a full understanding of the evils of current governance surrounding him. His wounds from the ghastly attacks may be open, bleeding, and festering, yet he is still standing strong and steeled from battle. He is ready for the task at hand.

The Democrats have struck out in their attempts to depose and eliminate the president of the United States. President Trump must now take his turn at bat. Within one week from today he should and must nominate a conservative American who has a proven record of interpreting case law in accordance with the written words of the Constitution as signed by the Founders. I served and fought for 39 years in defense of those words. I cherish them. Our president must also insist that the Senate consider the nomination expeditiously and vote to approve the nomination before the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must drive this process relentlessly and purposefully.

Bloodied and injured yet victorious through years of political battle, President Trump stands at the crossroads of American history. May God give him the courage and perseverance to do what is right for America as envisioned by our nation’s Founders, just as they came out of a Revolutionary War and secured freedom’s first great victory. Our Founders are at today’s crossroads standing firmly with our president. Regardless of what the future may bring, even strife or internal conflict, may President Trump take the right turn at the crossroads as our Founders cheer perhaps the greatest American victory of all time.



“The Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs”: GOP-led committees release interim report on Hunter Biden-Burisma probe (Fox News)

Burisma bribed officials to shut down investigation seven months after Hunter joined board (The Federalist)

Hunter’s Chinese payments raise criminal concerns, extend to James Biden (The Federalist)

Jill Biden’s ex-husband says Joe — whom Democrats put on a pedestal — lied about marriage to cover up infidelity (The Washington Free Beacon)

Cindy McCain endorses Biden, citing debunked hit piece on Trump’s disparagement of troops (The New York Times)

House approves spending bill, sends legislation to Senate just days before government set to shut down (USA Today)

GOP senators introduce bill to prohibit schools from allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports (Washington Examiner)

Free college, guaranteed income: State and local officials steer coronavirus aid money toward leftist priorities (Fox News)

Seattle’s woke city council overrides mayor’s veto of police cuts (Fox News)

Florida advocates rally to raise money, pay legal obligations, register felons to vote (Washington Examiner)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg enabled an atrocity equal to slavery, and Andrew Cuomo wants to build her a statue (The Federalist)

Iran says it is ready to swap all prisoners with U.S. (Reuters)

Election watchdog finds 350,000 dead registrants on voter rolls in 42 states (The Washington Free Beacon)

“Defund the police” activist Alyssa Milano sparks massive police presence after calling 911 (Daily Mail)

Tucker Carlson airs never-before-seen footage from Kyle Rittenhouse shooting in Kenosha (The Daily Wire)

Policy: To counter China, we must strengthen ties with Europe (American Enterprise Institute)

Policy: What’s needed for healthcare reform: Personalized care that puts you and your doctor in charge (The Daily Signal)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

24 September, 2020

Has Sweden beaten coronavirus? Expert claims by refusing to shut the country down the Swedes now have ‘herd immunity’ and have avoided a second wave

Sweden has beaten coronavirus by refusing to shut the country down and achieving herd immunity, according to an expert.

The Scandinavian nation was the only country in Europe not to introduce strict lockdown measures at the start of the pandemic.

But scientists believe that this may have helped it avoid a second wave of Covid-19 as it continues to record its lowest number of cases since March – with just 28 infections per 100,000 people.

This figure is less than half of the UK’s own infection rate of 69 per 100,000 people.

Professor Kim Sneppen, an expert in the spread of coronavirus at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said that Sweden might have beaten the pandemic.

He told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper: ‘There is some evidence that the Swedes have built up a degree of immunity to the virus which, along with what else they are doing to stop the spread, is enough to control the disease. ‘Perhaps, the epidemic is over there.’

He said that the virus may now have run out of steam. He added: ‘That is what they have said.

‘On the positive side, they may now be finished with the epidemic.’

Sweden was initially criticised at the start of the outbreak after recording a spike in its mortality rates which was five times that of Denmark and ten times that of Norway and Finland.

Number of deaths per 24 hours peaked in April at 115 with more than half in care homes. But its seven-day average for coronavirus-related deaths is now zero.

Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who has become the face of the no-lockdown strategy, said in a recent interview that voluntary hygiene measures had been ‘just as effective’ as complete shutdowns.

Sweden kept open schools for children under 16, banned gatherings of more than 50 people and told over-70s and vulnerable groups to self-isolate.

Shops, bars and restaurants stayed open throughout the pandemic and the wearing of masks has not been advised by the government.

‘The rapidly declining cases we see in Sweden right now is another indication that you can get the number of cases down quite a lot in a country without having a complete lockdown,’ he previously told Unherd.

Tegnell added that ‘deaths are not so closely connected to the amount of cases you have in a country’, saying the death rate was more closely linked to whether older people are being infected and how well the health system can cope. ‘Those things will influence mortality a lot more, I think, than the actual spread of the disease,’ he said.

Swedish economic activity has also started to pick up with the effects of the downturn looking less severe than previously feared. The economy had shrunk by nine per cent but this too was less than the 20 per cent dip seen in the UK.

It is thought that because many younger people have already had coronavirus in Sweden it now has less chance to spread through the population.

Recent studies suggested that an infection rate of 43 per cent may be enough to achieve herd immunity – a figure much lower than the 60 per cent previously cited.


Lindsey Graham to Dems: We Have the Votes…And We’re Filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat Before the Election

Romney has now said he will not oppose a nomination

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pretty much told Democrats to shove it regarding their whining and tantrums over the Ruth Bader Ginsburg vacancy fight. The associate justice passed away last Friday at the age of 87. We have a seat to fill during what could be one of the most contentious elections in recent memory, maybe even more so than 2016. And then this atom bomb is dropped.

Despite what Democrats say, we’re filling the seat. I mean, we’re going to do that. We have a chance to have an ironclad conservative majority on the Court. You don’t pass that up because RBG wanted the next president to select her successor. That has no bearing on this process, and it can be ignored.

Democrats have threatened to impeach Trump over this. And they want to gut the legislative filibuster and pack the court, so now it’s definitely time to get this done. Trump won the 2016 election and the GOP expanded its Senate majority in the 2018 midterms. We have the right to do it. So, please, Democrats—shut up and get out of the way.

And Graham just delivered the kill shot to the Democrats’ hopes that this process could be stalled last night on Sean Hannity’s show. We have the votes. Yes, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are “no” votes, but Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is onboard and Mitt Romney is still AWOL. Even if we lose him, we’re still good. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is also onboard.

We just need 50 votes to get this done. Yes, losing three Republicans because they’re insufferable members of the squish squad who don’t see the prize in front of them are the usual suspects. The only person who gets a pass is Collins because Maine is a weird state—but Murkowski once again shows she’s a weak piece of trash and Romney really has no reason to oppose. If he does, well, then we should do everything we can to ensure his defeat when he’s due for re-election.


Even If Masks Work In Theory, They Aren’t Working In Practice

Our family’s visit to a Virginia restaurant the other day wasn’t particularly unusual in the coronavirus era, although that state’s requirements are more stringent than most. The staff were all wearing masks and, in this case, plastic gloves as well. The iced tea bin was behind the counter where customers couldn’t touch it, and Virginia restaurants are apparently required to give customers a new plastic cup for every refill. (Somehow, the left went from banning plastic straws to probably tripling the amount of plastic waste generated by restaurants but hey, there could be a .000001% less chance of someone possibly catching the WORSTEST VIRUS EVER, so screw the environment, right?)

Anyway, I won’t name the restaurant, but it was one of those places where you walk in, place your order, get your drinks, pay, then sit down and wait for your food to come up at the counter, at which point they call your order number. Of course, you had to shout through the giant plexiglass screen, then bend your head just to hear the muffled voice of the cashier, who was asking questions and punching buttons with one ungloved finger on an otherwise gloved hand. From the stains as well as the home-cut finger opening (so he could push the buttons), it was obvious he hadn’t changed his gloves in quite some time, and certainly not for the two customers in line before us.

Even more disturbingly, as he spoke to us the cashier adjusted his obviously moist, stained mask with his gloved hand at least five times, at one point putting his thumb and forefinger across his entire mouth and moving the mask farther up the bridge of his nose. Thank God we were ‘spared’ any potential ‘droplets’ from his nose (because we all know how those nose droplets barrel through plexiglass), but it did come at the cost of spreading whatever nastiness was on his mask to pretty much everything else he touched.

We placed our order, paid with a credit card, then then watched the cashier grab our cups from the stack and proceed to put his gloved fingers inside (INSIDE, I kid you not) three of them at once as he made his way to the ice maker and tea bin to get our drinks (COVID restrictions in Virginia apparently do not allow us to get our own tea … you know, for ‘safety’).

Now the last thing I’m trying to do is bash hard-working restaurant employees. I’ve been one myself and I know how hard and thankless the work is. I won’t go into any more detail on the incident above, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t have dreamed of being rude to him. What I am trying to point out, however, is how supposedly well-meaning COVID restrictions – and even restaurants trying to ‘help’ by going above and beyond, as the gloves seemed to be – have turned our reality into a place where the ‘letter of the law’ (or mandate) is more important than common sense or actual results.

Indeed, if you had told me in 2019 that there would come a day when virtually the entire world would seriously believe there are absolutely no negatives to wearing a moist, bacteria-laden germ-collector on one’s face and breathing through it all day, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here we are, where even the esteemed head of the Center for Disease Control is telling people with a straight face that masks – yes masks – are MORE protective than a vaccine. At this point, face burqas have become more than simply a talisman to encourage the public to venture out and engage the economy – they have become a religious cult. Dare to question it in any way, and they’ll shut you down – or attempt to – and they typically won’t even bother to try to respond to any of the points you make.

Take last week, for example, when I attempted to post that amazing mask article by Daniel Horowitz I mentioned in last week’s post on my own humble personal Facebook page. (I typically don’t plug this page, but lately I’ve gotten in the habit of posting some great clips and COVID-related news items there, so you’re welcome to visit and follow it if you like.) After a few days, the “fact-checker” bot discovered and flagged the post as “partly false information.” Why, you ask? Because Big Tech has apparently deemed fit to decide that this is “settled science,” or something. “Masks work,” don’t you know, and that’s all there is to it. To ‘refute’ the post, Facebook oddly linked to an article written by healthfeedback.org in May responding to an entirely different anti-mask post. It goes through the usual ridiculous model-based “studies” to ‘prove’ that mask-wearing ‘works,’ but then it also notably says this:

“The post is correct in stating that improper handling of face masks or cloth coverings creates a risk for infection, as infectious droplets may potentially contaminate the external and internal surfaces. However, this is far from an insurmountable obstacle, as this risk can be minimized by exercising caution when removing the mask. The CDC has advised that individuals should wash their hands and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth after removing their mask, and that cloth masks should be regularly washed.”

Now let’s put aside the other arguments, many if not most of which I have covered in past posts, and just get real for a second with some gold old-fashioned common sense. Does anyone sincerely think that most of the public, who are non-medical professionals, handle masks correctly? Just take a look at the masks on most restaurant employees or even people you pass in the street. People are constantly touching them and they’re often visibly dirty, which suggests they aren’t being laundered daily or even regularly. Most people I know carry them around in their cars, in and out of their pockets, and leave them lying around wherever with little regard for the biohazards they are. Instead of potentially dangerous droplets falling to the ground where they’ve fallen for the entirety of human history, we’ve chosen to catch them in one ‘convenient’ place so they can then be distributed to surfaces humans touch on a regular basis.

In other words, even IF correctly used masking worked to stop the spread of coronavirus in theory – a goal I’m not even sure we should have in the first place (as long as hospitals aren’t overwhelmed) – the practice and subsequent real-world results are an entirely different thing. This could be why in place after place that has instituted mandatory masking, from California to Israel to Peru to Columbia to India to countless others, the virus continues to spread unabated and seemingly even faster than in non-masked places, only finishing when it runs its course at 15 to 25 percent seroprevalence.

Please consider staying informed with the latest and BEST COVID-19-related information by joining the over 2,100 people already following my brand-new COVID ‘Team Reality’ list. It’s a great first step in the long-haul fight against corona fascism!



Biden on radical idea of packing the Supreme Court: “I’m not going to answer that question” (The Daily Wire)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in U.S. Capitol on Friday — the first woman to hold that honor (The Daily Caller)

CNN’s Don Lemon suggests blowing up “entire system” (Fox News)

Second wounded Los Angeles deputy released from hospital after ambush attack (Fox News)

“State of emergency” declared by Louisville police ahead of Breonna Taylor decision (LEX 18)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposes new felony charges for violent protesters, harsh penalties for cities that defund police (The Daily Wire)

Federal judge orders Wisconsin absentee ballots postmarked by November 3 to be counted in 2020 election (Fox News)

Pennsylvania mail-in ballot ruling could cause 100,000 ballots to be rejected (Forbes)

Congressional Budget Office: Federal debt nears “unsustainable” levels (The Washington Times)

U.S. household net worth spikes, surpassing pre-pandemic peak (National Review)

Anyone notice that the Trump recovery is doing much better than expected? (Issues & Insights)

CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden agrees to forfeit more than $5 million from book proceeds to the U.S. government (Daily Mail)

New York City, Portland, and Seattle deemed by DOJ as “anarchist jurisdiction” (WABC)

Sweeping new sanctions hit Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs (The Washington Free Beacon)

Mike Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Iran arms deals (Washington Examiner)

House Foreign Affairs Committee report says China tried to cover up scope of COVID-19, could have prevented pandemic (The Daily Wire)

Trump administration invests more than $100 million to fight human trafficking (Disrn)

Beta becomes 9th landfall storm of 2020 in a record-shattering season (NBC News)

Even with lockdowns, the woke Emmys post lowest ratings ever (The Daily Wire)

More than half of all Supreme Court justices were confirmed in 45 days or less (The Federalist)

California wants me to vote, even though I haven’t lived there for over eight years (The Daily Signal)

Policy: Too much centralization is turning everything into a political crisis (Mises Institute)

Policy: America needs a plan to bring key manufacturing home (Issues & Insights)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

23 September, 2020

Covid tests the merits of different modes of capitalism

Political economy is a discipline in which rigorous empirical testing is difficult. Scholars are rarely presented with the kind of naturally occurring experiments which crop up in other fields of economic inquiry, such as when one state increases its minimum wage while its neighbours do not. Covid-19 is different. Though it is quite the cloud, for political economists the silver lining is that it provides an opportunity to look, in real time, at how different models of governance react to a simultaneous shock.

Various taxonomies are used to categorise models of capitalism. A prominent one was set out in 2001 in “Varieties of Capitalism”, a book edited by Peter Hall, a political scientist, and David Soskice, an economist. It distinguished between liberal market economies (LMEs) such as America, Britain and Canada, and co-ordinated market economies (CMEs) such as Germany, the Nordic countries, Austria and the Netherlands. LMEs’ capitalism is redblooded, relying on market mechanisms to allocate resources and determine wages, and on financial markets to allocate capital. CMEs, though still capitalist, are fonder of social organisations such as trade unions, and of bank finance. Western economies tend to sit on a continuum between these two models. In recent years scholars have also tried to account for the authoritarian, state-driven capitalism found in China and some other countries. Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York calls this model “political capitalism”.

These frameworks are surprisingly good at parsing countries’ responses to the pandemic. Consider innovation. Scholars distinguish between incremental innovation, the continuous process of making marginal improvements to products and processes, and radical innovation, which may involve the launch of entirely new goods and services. Whereas CMEs, with their emphasis on specific skills and long-term thinking, should be better at incremental innovation, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to radical innovation. They are constrained by the structures they have erected to steer the economy, which are slow to adapt to wholesale change.

During the pandemic, CMEs such as Germany have generally had a more coherent strategy for containing the spread of the virus. Lockdowns may not seem like incremental change, but reducing working hours to limit social contact, apportioning the costs across society and gaining public consent for restrictive measures are all easier when there are already institutions in place which allow collective action. Success may be generated more by unity and consistency than by the strength of the intervention that is chosen. For instance, Sweden was able to muster high levels of public support for its unorthodox—but incrementally innovative—strategy of avoiding lockdowns entirely and relying on voluntary social distancing. Co-ordinated economies are well equipped to handle co-ordination problems, such as promoting public health.

By contrast, America’s and Britain’s virus-containment strategies can seem disjointed and occasionally chaotic. As swashbuckling LMEs, however, they are more likely to be the source of the most transformative innovations in the pandemic: treatments and vaccines.

Of 34 vaccine candidates tracked by the World Health Organisation, only four are in CMEs; LMEs have 13 (Astrazeneca, an Anglo- Swedish drugmaker working with Oxford University, straddles both categories). It was British researchers who discovered the effectiveness of dexamethasone, a cheap drug, in treating covid-19 patients who are admitted to hospital. The other leading candidate for effective drug treatment, remdesivir, is American. In a provocative Bloomberg column earlier this year Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, argued that Britain, despite its high death count, had done more than any other country to stop the spread of the virus.

What about China? Mr Milanovic argues that a key feature of political capitalism is the “zone of lawlessness” that allows the state to suppress and ignore private-sector interest groups. This is reflected in the extreme lockdowns China implemented to suppress the virus. China is also innovative. It has ten different vaccines at varying stages of development. However, political capitalism suffers from endemic corruption, self-dealing and lack of trustworthiness. There might have been no pandemic at all had local officials in China not at first tried to cover up the original outbreak in Wuhan. It also seems doubtful that outsiders would take China’s word that a vaccine it had produced was safe and effective, especially given how much of a propaganda coup it would be for the Communist Party to claim that it had saved the world.

Vaxx factor

The differences between models of capitalism are also apparent in economic trends. To the extent that the pandemic brings about permanent structural change, LMEs seem better placed to adapt. Anglo-Saxon firms have embraced a move towards more home working; France and Germany seem more resistant (see Briefing). The shift to online retail has been faster in liberal economies, too. And while both LMEs and CMEs have taken action to prop up household incomes, China has shown that under political capitalism the state’s lack of accountability to the public can lead to a disregard for individual welfare in the short term. Its stimulus has been focused on promoting investment and construction; poor households have been mostly left to fend for themselves, especially the migrant workers who often slip through local safety-nets.

After the pandemic, it is likely that every system will have some basis on which to claim victory. CMEs are on course to have lower death counts. China is enjoying a rapid economic rebound. But it is likely to be an LME behind the ultimate defeat of the virus. Life under the liberal model of capitalism can be risky and scary; its failures no doubt cause suffering. But the rewards when things go well can be immense.


Another 1 million leave unemployment in a week as Trump’s predicted rapid recovery continues

By Robert Romano

Another 1 million Americans left continued unemployment claims the week of Sept. 5 on an unadjusted basis, the latest data from the Department of Labor shows.

That brings the number collecting unemployment from its 13.8 million Aug. 29 level, and from its 22.8 million May 9 level, down to its current 12.3 million, an overall decrease of 10.5 million from its peak.

The biggest state gains the week of Sept. 5 were in California, with more than 256,000 coming off of continued claims, 115,000 in New York, 57,000 in Texas, 55,000 in Florida, 55,000 in Illinois and 51,000 in Ohio.

Meaning, when the September jobs numbers are reported the first week of October, the last monthly survey reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics before the election, it promises to be another huge number of jobs recovered — it might be a couple million more — as the rapid economic recovery almost nobody but President Donald Trump predicted continues.

On March 25, the President promised, “I don’t think it’s going to end up being such a rough patch. I think it’s going to, when we open — especially, if we can open it — the sooner, the better — it’s going to open up like a rocket ship. I think it’s going to go very good and very quickly.”

Turns out, President Trump was right.

The 1 million who came off unemployment will surely build on the record 13.8 million jobs recovered in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey in just four short months after labor markets bottomed in April with 25 million jobs lost — with millions more expected in the coming months as coronavirus daily new cases continue to stabilize.

In comparison, it took the Obama-Biden economy almost 5 years to recover the 8 million jobs lost in the financial crisis and the Great Recession after labor markets bottomed in Dec. 2009.

That’s a real contrast, and one the American people would do well to remember.

Just think, we were at a 50-year low in unemployment at just 3.5 percent, and the latest Census data shows household median income increased by $4,400 in 2019 to a record of $68,700.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning reacted to the favorable economic news, saying, “2019 demonstrated that capitalism, cutting unnecessary regulations, lower taxes and honest trade deals work together to decrease income inequality … While the impact of the China virus has set our economy back, there can be no doubt that President Trump has the right prescription for continuing the record rebound we are currently experiencing.”

Now, President Trump is promising to get the economy back quickly, whereas former Vice President Joe Biden is told ABC News’ David Muir that “I would shut it down” again to deal with the Chinese coronavirus.

On Aug. 24 tweet, President Trump responded to Biden’s call to shut down the country again, writing, “Joe Biden has said he would lock down the Country again. That’s crazy! We’re having record job growth and a booming stock market, but Joe would end it all and close it all down. Ridiculous!”

One item to keep your eyes on is pending phase four legislation in Congress, a continuation of the CARES Act. The payroll protection plan supported 5.2 million small businesses — which President Trump credits with saving 50 million jobs during the state-led lockdowns.

Now, Senate Republicans have offered legislation that would continue that program, as well as to send more checks to taxpayers, extend the current unemployment benefits while removing perverse incentives for some workers to get paid more than they did at their jobs, and to cut down on potential fraud in the pandemic unemployment assistance by compelling beneficiaries to document that they had a job, mirroring existing federal disaster unemployment assistance standards.

So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked new legislation, but after a series of Trump executive orders to provide more financial support for the American people, vulnerable Democratic members in the House have prevailed on Pelosi to get something done for fear of being viewed as obstructing the economic recovery — and getting no credit for what was already done.

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said he sent a direct message to Pelosi, telling Fox News, “To the leadership, we said this very simple message: It’s time for you to stop playing games. Let’s stop the charade. Let’s stop this stupidity. Let’s put the country first.”

That tells you that many Americans are still hurting from the lockdowns — and time could be running out for Pelosi to preserve her House majority.

When most Americans were afraid about what the pandemic might mean, and Democrats were urging an economic shutdown, President Trump was taking aggressive action to save as many lives as possible and to plan ahead to enable the economy to safely reopen, with millions of jobs recovered.

At the end of the day, as the American people evaluate an incumbent administration they tend to be pocketbook-minded, and this happens to be one area President Trump does indeed have a great story to tell to voters. Stay tuned.



Election fraud? Four voters claiming NPR as residence turn up in search of California voting records (The Daily Signal)

Judge blocks Postal Service changes that slowed mail delivery (Fox News)

“The questions … sound as if they were written by Biden’s campaign”: CNN panned for softball Joe Biden town hall (Fox News)

Trump fielding roughly five times more reporter questions than Biden since July (New York Post)

Leaked 2016 phone call to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reveals that hypocrite Joe Biden — who suggested using the Logan Act against Michael Flynn — risked national security to sabotage Trump (The Federalist)

Birds of a feather: Twitter public policy director decamps for Biden transition team (Politico)

DOJ considered bringing charges against Portland officials over unbridled rioting (New York Post)

Seventeen-year-old arrested for shooting at troopers in Arizona; third attack on police officers in a week (Daily Mail)

Louisville city council votes “no confidence” in mayor for handling of media-distorted Breonna Taylor case (NBC News)

New California Rainbow Mafia law increases the risk of child sexual abuse (The Daily Signal)

Not just Chicago: New York City murder rate soars by 27% and gang violence rises 52% in 2020 (Daily Mail)

New Jersey to hike taxes on state’s millionaires (Fox Business)

FBI Director Chris Wray: “Antifa is a real thing”; FBI has cases against people identifying with movement (Fox News)

U.S. pushes arms sales surge to Taiwan, needling the ChiComs (Reuters)

Planned Parenthood whistleblower David Daleiden sues abortion mill for defamation (The Federalist)

Woman with concealed carry permit holds supermarket murder suspect at gunpoint until cops arrive (New York Post)

Pandemic restrictions reintroduced across Europe under threat of a second wave (Washington Examiner)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

22 September, 2020

US election: Data guru Bela Stantic reveals Donald Trump is on track to win again

But can he allow for the huge voting frauds that seem likely this time?

A data guru who correctly predicted the 2016 US election, Scott Morrison’s win last year and the Brexit vote says history is repeating.

A data scientist who correctly predicted Donald Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 says the US President is currently on track to win again.

Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University’s Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters’ behaviour.

In the past, those predictions have been extraordinarily accurate.

Four years ago, Prof Stantic successfully picked the winner in 49 of the 50 American states. His lab also nailed the result of both the 2016 Brexit referendum and our own federal election last year.

In all three cases, public opinion polling pointed to the opposite result.

At the moment, the polls show Mr Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They’re a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Mr Biden leads by 3.9 per cent.

It looks like a comfortable lead for the Democratic Party’s nominee. But, just like Ms Clinton’s lead four years ago, it could be a mirage.

Prof Stantic recently conducted a preliminary, draft analysis of the upcoming US election. His lab’s complete analysis, along with a final prediction of the result, will come closer to polling day on November 3.

“It is obvious again that Trump will lose the popular vote,” he told news.com.au.

“However, he’s tracking really well in the crucial states. Florida is a coin toss, but he’s slightly ahead for me. And Minnesota and Pennsylvania as well. And then Texas, he will win easily.

“So then that gives him an edge to get about 270, 280 electoral votes.

“It is maybe early, but I can tell you that the trend we identified in advance last time is holding.”

In other words, the race is close – pretty much neck-and-neck – but Mr Trump is once again on course to lose the popular vote while winning the decisive electoral vote.

About 2.9 million more Americans cast ballots for Ms Clinton than for Mr Trump in 2016. However, the President’s support was distributed more efficiently.

While the Democrat racked up huge margins in populous but uncompetitive states like California and New York, Mr Trump managed to scrape to relatively narrow victories in the states that actually mattered, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

That gave him a 304-227 edge in the Electoral College, comfortably above the winning threshold of 270.

Prof Stantic said the 2020 election was, broadly speaking, the same sort of race. “It’s really a coin toss. I think Florida, at the moment, is a coin toss, but Trump is just ahead,” he said.

But his draft analysis dug up one particularly important – and perhaps surprising – difference between 2016 and 2020.

“I find that this time it is more polarised than last time,” Prof Stantic said. He reached that conclusion by analysing the comments on Mr Biden’s social media posts.

“People reacted so harshly against Biden. It was 30,000-something comments, and all strongly against him,” he said. “They are saying that he cannot be trusted, that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘At least Trump, what he says, he thinks.’ Comments along these lines. “There was not much support for Biden.”

This is an interesting wrinkle, because the conventional wisdom you often hear from political experts – and occasionally, from self-important journalists – is that Ms Clinton was a more polarising figure than Mr Biden is.

Four years ago, Mr Trump and Ms Clinton both had unusually high disapproval ratings in the polls. This time, Mr Biden’s favourability rating is pretty much split down the middle.

Prof Stantic’s method is not infallible. It did, for instance, get the result of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite wrong, for reasons he explained in detail afterwards.

But he says his lab’s analysis is more reliable than opinion polling, because it involves a significantly larger sample size.

“I think the polls are volatile because their sample size is very small. They have a thousand people, and it depends on who you interview,” he said. “I’m talking about millions of posts. Last month, I think I had 800,000 posts in one day. “It’s not just about these 800,000, but it’s also that some posts have 20,000-30,000 likes.”

People also tend to be more honest when expressing their opinions on social media than when a pollster quizzes them.

And the peculiar nature of America’s system, which hinges on the candidates winning states (rather than, say, seats like in Australia), helps make Prof Stantic’s job simpler, because the data allows him to pinpoint exactly which state people will be voting in.

“Australia, it’s a bit hard because of seats and their locations. The US election, it’s easier to predict,” he said.


Support for Black Lives Matter has dropped among Americans since unrest flared after George Floyd’s death, new poll finds

Fewer white and Hispanic Americans are supporting Black Lives Matter while African American backing for the movement remains virtually unchanged, according to a new poll.

A majority of Americans – 55 per cent – express at least some support for the movement, which is down from 67 per cent in June, a new survey by Pew Research Center shows.

The number of American adults who say they strongly support the movement has also dropped from 38 per cent in June to 29 per cent.

The previous survey was taken in the days and weeks following the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pew’s latest findings were taken in the aftermath of the police shooting of 29-year-old black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Among African Americans, support for BLM remains strong. In June, 87 per cent of black people said they backed the movement.

The latest survey puts the figure at 86 per cent.

Notably, the poll found a drop of African American adults who say they strongly support BLM. In June, 71 per cent said they strongly supported it, though now 62 per cent say the same.

Pew found that it is among whites and Hispanics that backing for BLM has wavered.

Among white adults, 60 per cent said they supported BLM back in June. That number has now dropped to less than half – 45 per cent.

In June, 77 per cent of Hispanic adults said they supported BLM. The latest findings show that number has slipped to 66 per cent today.

Among Asian Americans, backing for BLM has dropped slightly from 75 per cent to 69 per cent.

Support for BLM also brings down sharply along partisan lines. Just 19 per cent of Republicans said they somewhat supported the movement.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of Democrats said the same.

Broken down into race, 88 per cent of white Democrats expressed at least some support for BLM while just 16 per cent of white Republicans say the same.

A little more than half – 51 per cent – of white Democrats said they strongly support BLM, while just 2 per cent of white Republicans said the same.


American Catholics Moving to Support Trump

The Catholic vote in America used to be a monolith, with up to 80 percent of Catholics supporting the Democratic candidate for president. Those days are gone, but the Catholic vote — especially in the northeast and upper midwest — is crucial. Catholics have voted for the presidential winner in 8 of the last 9 elections. They make up about 22 percent of the electorate.

But Catholics are riven by divisions between those who say they mostly follow the Church’s teachings and those who don’t. More conservative Catholics have been trending Republican in recent elections and that trend is expected to accelerate when Catholics go to the polls in November and vote for Trump.

Trump has been called the most pro-life president in history. That, along with his appeals to faith, family, and patriotism are very attractive to more devout Catholics.

Washington Times:

About 18% of Catholics say they accept all the church’s teachings, versus 38% who say they accept most of them, and 29% who say they do not accept some key teachings, according to a February EWTN News/RealClearOpinion poll.

“Among Catholics who do practice the faith in a substantive way, yes, there’s been a dramatic shift over the last several decades away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party, and I think it’s been especially pronounced under President Trump,” [Catholic Vote President Brian] Burch said.

Biden is very touchy about his Catholicism, bristling when questioned about his pro-choice stance being directly opposed to church teachings on abortion. He has also opposed the Trump administration to carve out exemptions for people of faith in Obamacare.

For traditional Catholics, however, Mr. Biden remains a hard sell, given his pro-choice stance on abortion and his opposition to conscience exemptions for religious organizations, business owners and medical professionals under Obamacare.

CatholicVote sought to drive home the point by unveiling Tuesday a $9.7 million campaign in six key swing states targeting “Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic record and policy agenda,” including digital ads, canvassing and direct mail.

Catholics are not only worried about Biden, but also his running mate, Kamala Harris, who apparently believes the Knights of Columbus are some kind of super-secret anti-abortion club. In 2018, she grilled a judicial nominee over his membership in the KOC.

“Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” said Ms. Harris during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

The Catholic Association described Ms. Harris, a Baptist, as “the ringleader of the anti-Catholic bullying stance adopted by the Democratic Party.”

There are still enough Catholics in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota to make the difference for Trump in November. Whether they come out and vote for him is another question. But with so much at stake — and now, a Supreme Court vacancy that could be filled with a Biden nominee who would make abortion on demand far easier to get — you would think that turnout would give Trump a big boost.



“Go for the much higher numbers”: Trump undercuts GOP by calling for bigger COVID-19 relief package (The Hill)

Department of Health and Human Services unveils plans for vaccine distribution (Washington Examiner)

The Russian-bounties story turns out to be trash journalism (National Review)

White House press secretary excoriates media for failing to cover historic Middle East peace deals (The Post Millennial)

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow uses Obama-era photos to undermine Trump’s border policy and minority outreach (The Washington Free Beacon)

Senate Homeland Security Committee authorizes subpoenas for testimony from Obama officials as part of Russia probe (Fox News)

Robert Mueller declined invitation to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee (Washington Examiner)

Senator David Perdue cleared of wrongdoing on scrutinized stock trades (The Washington Free Beacon)

Pandering Biden criticized for playing sensual hit song “Despacito” at Hispanic Heritage Month event (Disrn)

“This is the most important election since our country was founded”: 235 retired military leaders endorse Trump in joint letter (Disrn)

BLM cofounder Alicia Garza in 2015 said capitalism must be abolished for black lives to matter (The Daily Caller)

Netflix subscription cancellations deservedly soar after “Cuties” controversy (The Daily Wire)

Minneapolis won’t let riot?battered stores install security shutters (Cato Institute)

“There’s not a comparable year”: Homicides are up 52% in Chicago (USA Today)

Four people apprehended, facing multiple charges for intentionally starting wildfires on West Coast (Disrn)

Former Atlanta CFO — who was employed by an anti-gun administration — indicted for illegal machine gun possession (The Truth About Guns)

New York City Mayor’s Office to take weeklong furlough (WCBS 800)

Fed leaves interest rates near zero; end-of-year unemployment rate forecast is reduced considerably from previous outlook (NPR)

“The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices”: World Trade Organization rules that some U.S. tariffs on China violate trade rules (National Review)

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. young adults unaware that six million Jews killed in the Holocaust (The Guardian)

Yoshihide Suga — facing daunting challenges — becomes Japan’s prime minister, pledging to follow Abe’s course (NPR)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

21 September, 2020

What life is really like in lockdown-free Sweden

The golden spire of Stockholm’s city hall glistens in the sunset, runners sweat away the day’s stresses on the boat-lined waterfront, and a young couple wobble along a cobbled street on a single-seater bike. I’m watching the evening unfold from the 52-metre high glass-flanked rooftop bar TAK, which, like almost every popular drinking spot in the Swedish capital, has remained open throughout the pandemic.

As a dual British-Swedish citizen living in Stockholm, I’m treating myself to a glass of fizz to celebrate Sweden finally joining the UK’s quarantine-free list. For me, it brings a chance to visit family for the first time since February. But my phone’s also been pinging with British contacts curious about holidaying in Sweden following the dramatic drop in cases here over the summer and an ever-dwindling list of alternatives for those seeking an autumn break in Europe.

The first thing any would-be tourist here will notice is the lack of face masks. They’re requested at Swedish airports but aren’t compulsory on transport, in shops, hairdressers or indeed any part of public life. A recent major poll found just 6% of Swedes currently use them, despite 43% believing they could stop the spread of infection and several prominent Swedish scientists lobbying the authorities to change their approach. Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, has said he might reconsider things if there’s a renewed increase in cases, but he’s repeatedly argued that hand-washing and social distancing remain more effective barriers against the virus.

For now, the lack of this year’s must-have accessory means Stockholm – usually ahead of fashion trends – certainly looks and feels significantly more “normal” than most European capitals. Yet it’s a myth that life hasn’t changed in Sweden, which also stood almost alone in shunning a lockdown at the peak of the pandemic and has relied largely on voluntary recommendations. At my rooftop location, there’s table-service only – ordering at bar counters stopped in March, in an effort to stop mingling. Social distancing between groups is guided by crosses of black and yellow plastic tape between the window seats, an incongruous clash with the venue’s plush leather and velvet seating. There is a DJ, but dancing’s not allowed. Major nightclubs have temporarily closed or, like the city’s hipster concrete mega-venue, Trädgården, pivoted into restaurants and maxed out their outdoor seating capacity.

As in other parts of the world, maintaining order once the drinks start flowing is challenging in some locations, while those hell bent on partying organised illegal raves in the forest over the summer. Yet at TAK, 27-year-old customer Olena believes that after six months of consistent guidelines, many young Swedes have got used to more sedate socialising. “You can meet friends in small groups. But a night out probably ends that evening, not going into the next morning!”

What she really misses are gigs, which, alongside most sports events and theatre productions, have largely been off the table since the spring due to a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people. The public health agency recently recommended increasing the limit to 500, although it’s unclear exactly how or when things will change.

Swedes’ working lives remain different too. They’ve been asked to do their jobs from home until at least the end of the year if they can, although there are no official figures on how many are actually following the guideline. “We think most major company buildings are still closed or they’ve put in place a rota so people can go back in once a week or so for a different quality of interaction,” says Staffan Ingvarsson, CEO of Stockholm Business Region. Telecommuting has largely been “going well”, he argues, due to high levels of trust between employers and employees, a tech-savvy population and almost 100% broadband coverage. But anecdotal evidence suggests some employees bored of working from home are increasingly hanging out in coffee shops or even paying for spots at coworking spaces. And, while figures from Stockholm’s public transport company SL indicate people are still travelling less than before the pandemic, there are concerns about overcrowding during rush hour, especially since over-16s returned to high school in August for the first time since March.

Visitors hoping to avoid subways and buses by using the capital’s bike sharing scheme will be disappointed; a break between suppliers saw all cycles and racks removed in 2018, although several e-scooter startups are plugging the gap in the market. Yet with hotels crying out for guests, it’s currently no challenge to find affordable, central accommodation from which to explore the main hotspots on foot.

“Although business is very slow, it is kind of beautiful to see the streets so quiet,” says Mats Bengtsson, who runs The Collector’s Hotels, three antique-filled boutique venues set amidst the iconic spice-hued buildings of the city’s Medieval old town. Bookings have been so low since March he’s made half his staff redundant, with the rest propped up by a government support scheme. “Places in the countryside got Swedish tourists visiting this summer, but there wasn’t much reason for Swedes to come to the city because all the events were cancelled,” he explains. “We are starting to get a few international guests now and the UK has always been a strong market for us, so I’m hopeful we will get some business back.”

Sweden’s world-famous fashion and design stores are also looking forward to more global customers. While the retail economy hasn’t taken as big a hit as in the UK, it’s still experiencing its worst year for four decades. Covid safety measures taken by shops vary considerably; I’ve seen staff at tills standing behind plastic sheets, while others have grumbled when I’ve asked why there’s no communal hand sanitiser. Many venues have introduced floor stickers designed to encourage distancing in queues, albeit with varying effects. Some clothing brands closed their changing rooms at the peak of the pandemic, but most have now reopened.

Unsurprisingly, the strictest changes to public life here are in doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, where, emergencies aside, nobody’s allowed in without an appointment. There’s a backlog of tens of thousands of operations affected by reorganisation and delays designed to prioritise patients with Covid-19. Therapists have been allowed to offer face-to-face meetings throughout the pandemic though, with reports of a recent increase in couples seeking help. Even in a country that avoided a lockdown and the pressures of homeschooling, there’s been a spike in separations.

Despite intense international criticism over the country’s high early death toll and sharpening national political debates about the government’s preparedness for the crisis, domestic support for the public health agency has remained strong. And locals are acutely aware that their country’s back in the global spotlight for avoiding the fresh spikes seen in the UK and other parts of Scandinavia.

“We can’t know for sure but a lot of people are hoping we won’t get a second wave because we have kept more of society open instead of going in and out of lockdown,” said a Swedish gym friend, after my last socially-distanced evening exercise class. “I hope we can prove we did it right.”

Scientists have varied opinions on whether Swedes have developed greater immunity to the virus, are better at social distancing, or if other factors will turn out to be more relevant to the country’s downward curve. But many agree that the consistency of the measures in Sweden has contributed to a calmer public mood here than in the UK. That might prove another incentive for British tourists seeking a respite from the new rule-of-six, just in time to see Sweden’s forests burst into their autumn colour palette. Meanwhile, I’m stocking up on masks as I prepare to fly in the other direction, and crossing my fingers I don’t touch down to a local lockdown.


Ted Cruz Explains Perfectly Why RBG’s Seat Must Be Filled Before the Election

RINO Murkowski, prior to Ginsburg passing, said she ‘would not vote’ to confirm a nominee to Supreme Court before election

Republican Senator Ted Cruz says President Donald Trump needs to nominate a successor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg next week, and that the Senate should confirm that choice or the country risks a constitutional crisis.

“I believe that the president should, next week, nominate a successor to the court. I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Senator Cruz told Sean Hannity on Fox News.

“Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election. They intend to fight the legitimacy of the election. As you you know Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden ‘under no circumstances should you concede, you should challenge this election.’ and we cannot have election day come and go with a 4-4 court.”

Cruz continued, “A 4-4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of … a contested election.”

Cruz then shared his experience litigating Bush vs. Gore case and how the country didn’t know for 37 days who the president-elect was. “I think we have the responsibility to do our job. The president should nominate a principled constitutionalist with a proven record and the Senate … should do our job and protect the country from the constitutional crisis that could result otherwise.”


To mask or not to mask

I certainly cannot see any point in wearing a mask if you are not infected. A rule that all infected people should wear masks should be sufficient

Public trust in the word of “experts” and public health officials over the past few months has rapidly deteriorated.

It started in April when members of the White House Wuhan coronavirus task force told the public to start wearing face masks after two months of officials screaming at Americans not to wear them.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” Surgeon General Jerome Adams angrily tweeted on February 9.

“Whenever you leave home, be sure to put on your mask!” Adams said on August 7.

Then after months of life-altering economic sacrifices to help slow the spread of the disease and prepare hospitals for patients, on June 5, more than 1000 health officials signed a letter approving of mass protests in the name of social justice.

“We created the letter in response to emerging narratives that seemed to malign demonstrations as risky for the public health because of Covid-19,” the letter states. “We wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response. We believe that the way forward is not to suppress protests in the name of public health but to respond to protesters’ demands in the name of public health, thereby addressing multiple public health crises.”

Americans have been forbidden from going to church or other religious services, funerals for loved ones, major life events and more. For a period of time, crucial yet “non-essential” health issues and procedures were canceled or delayed for the sake of stopping the virus. A salon owner in Dallas was thrown in jail for defying shutdown orders so her employees could work to feed their families. And yet, these health officials threw their previous advice about large crowds out the window for a leftist movement. They did this, without shame, while continuing to advocate for devastating shutdowns on everyone else.

This trend continued in September when health “experts” published a study showing Sturgis, an annual gathering of motorcycle riders in North Dakota, was a “super spreader” event. The researchers magically did not find the same results for massive Black Lives Matter protests, where tens-of-thousands of people packed in close to one another and screamed loudly.

And now, CDC Director Robert Redfield has put another nail in the trust coffin.

During testimony this week in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Redfield claimed masks are more effective than a vaccine in protecting Americans from Wuhan coronavirus.

“Face masks, these face masks, are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”

For months we’ve been told masks don’t protect the person wearing them, but instead catch droplets from a sick person wearing one and prevent them from spreading to others. Redfield now appears to be arguing masks protect the person wearing them, which is the opposite of what we’ve been lectured about while officials demand Americans wear them — even to walk their dogs alone.

Further, Redfield’s current statement is the opposite of his testimony in February when he said “no” after being asked by lawmakers whether healthy people should be wearing masks.

If face masks were as protective as the CDC director claims, the entire country would be open. The experts, who also happen to be longtime Washington, D.C., bureaucrats, are either lying or they don’t know what they’re talking about. Either way, they’ve lost significant trust among the American public.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

20 September, 2020

Coronavirus is soaring again in the UK, but the number of deaths is low. Here are the main theories why

This article seems to miss the obvious. It is known that the virus kills very few people in general so once the virus has swept through a population and killed off those susceptible, there will be very few left for it to kill. Hence the reduced numbers of deaths at the current time

That explains the Swedish experience as well. Sweden had a lot of opportunities for the virus to spread so they had a relatively high death rate. But the death rate there is now down to almost nothing. All those susceptible to it are now dead so there are few new deaths. Sweden has now got the problem all over with

After suffering one of the world’s most brutal outbreaks of COVID-19 earlier this year, the United Kingdom is bracing itself for what could be a second wave of the disease.

The UK managed to flatten its curve slightly from late June, just in time to allow people to enjoy the northern hemisphere’s summer.

The loosening of restrictions across Europe, which allowed people to enjoy rounds at the pub and beach holidays, is widely blamed for the region’s second spike.

But while the number of infections has climbed steadily for two months, something strange is happening with the UK’s COVID-19 death toll.

The number of death certificates issued which mention COVID-19 has been falling for 20 straight weeks, according to UK Government statistics.

It’s a huge achievement for Britain, which was experiencing Europe’s worst surge in deaths in June.

While experts aren’t sure exactly what’s behind the fall in COVID-19 deaths, there are a few theories.

This spike is a young spike

The UK’s first wave of COVID-19 cases was predominantly driven by people in care homes and hospitals.

It’s estimated that about 20,000 British care residents died from COVID-19 as the virus ripped through facilities for the elderly and disabled across the kingdom.

But it appears that younger Britons are behind this renewed surge of the disease.

Pubs in the UK are still open, and the city of Leeds says it’s started issuing fines after an increase in music events, house parties and illegal raves.

In the first week of September, a third of all cases in England were people aged between 20 and 29.(Reuters: Simon Dawson)
People aged 20 to 29 have the highest infection rate in England, with 46 cases per 100,000 people. That’s followed by people in their 30s, with nearly 30 cases per 100,000.

“What we think is happening is that it’s mostly infecting younger people in particular parts of the country, and it’s not so much yet moving into the older and more vulnerable population,” Peter Openshaw, who is a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and scientific advisor to the UK Government, told the ABC.

“So many of the people who would be very severely affected are keeping themselves in isolation still and are not behaving in a way that might put them at risk of catching it, so it hasn’t moved up the generations in the way that it would need to in order to cause deaths.”

But the UK Government fears the disease could soon spread to older generations. “Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on,” UK Health Minister Matt Hancock warned.

While younger people can die from COVID-19 complications, older patients still have a much higher risk of death from the disease.

Doctors are getting better at treating the virus

While the UK’s second surge of infections could still spread to older people, the doctors on the front lines of the crisis appear to be better equipped to cope.

At the beginning of the pandemic, health workers around the world were grappling with a novel virus.

They had never encountered COVID-19 before, and so every symptom and complication was new, every treatment something of an experiment.

Now, doctors have approval from the National Health Service (NHS) to use two drugs on critically-ill COVID-19 patients: the Ebola treatment remdesivir, and the low-cost steroid dexamethasone.

The medications are not a cure, but may be helping patients recover quicker.

The UK is testing more people

At the beginning of the pandemic, it could be quite difficult to get a COVID-19 test in the UK.

Download the ABC News app and subscribe to our range of news alerts for the latest on how the pandemic is impacting the world
Tests were mostly limited to older people and those who had been checked into hospital with respiratory problems.

Anyone else with symptoms was urged to isolate at home for seven days, and call an NHS hotline if they took a turn for the worse.

Those restrictions meant that by early April, only 7,500 people in England had been tested for COVID-19. At the same point, Germany was already testing 5,000 people a day.

The rules have since been changed by the NHS so that anyone with symptoms can get a free swab.

That meant that in the first week of September, 436,884 people were tested in England, according to UK Government statistics.

“It’s a general trend, but it’s really important to understand a large part of the graph going up is more tests, and in particular more test in areas with a high rate,” Danny Dorling, the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, told the ABC.

The UK’s testing system is still being criticised. As demand for tests increases, the backlog of swabs at laboratories has reportedly grown to nearly 185,000.

Professor Dorling also pointed to a random sample survey by the Office of National Statistics, which tracks people who have first tested negative to coronavirus before repeatedly following up with tests to see how many people catch it.

“That ONS one shows the increase is only among young adults so far — that only comes out every couple of weeks but is such a higher quality (than NHS testing).

“If you want to know what is happening in the population you need to look at the ONS data, because it’s a proper random sample that is not affected by fewer or more people getting tested and so-on.

“And that one is a lot less worrying than the raw figures.”

There may simply be a lag in deaths

While deaths are not rising in lockstep with new coronavirus cases, it may only be a matter of time.

There is always a lag between a spike in cases and the number of people dying from the disease.

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients have hit their highest levels in two months, official UK data shows.

On September 13 alone, 153 people were admitted to English hospitals with COVID-19.

In a country of 56 million, that may not sound like much, but it’s a concern to UK actuary John Roberts, who analyses the UK’s infection rate for the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group.

If hospital admissions continue on this current trajectory, the UK could have as many people needing treatment for COVID-19 as they did in June.

“The last couple of weeks there’s been a bit of a spike, the number of deaths has gone up but it’s not a huge jump and it may be that we’re going to have to wait a bit to see the trends in infection, particularly in the vulnerable age groups, go up,” Professor Openshaw said.

“Then after a lag of two or three weeks we’ll expect to see the upwards trend in terms of the number of deaths.

“So there is an built-in delay of about three weeks between it spreading into a particular population and those infections being translated into death.”


If you’ve got a runny nose you DON’T have Covid-19: Top expert says fatigue is most common symptom for children as Matt Hancock urges parents not to confuse colds with coronavirus

Children only suffering from a runny nose ‘absolutely’ do not have coronavirus, a top expert has warned amid calls for Britons to stop getting tested unnecessarily as the government’s ongoing swabbing fiasco continues.

Professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London, moved to reassure parents the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a ‘sure sign’ they have a cold and not Covid-19.

Matt Hancock has claimed parents seeking tests for children merely battling colds are contributing to the soaring demand on Britain’s creaking testing service, which has descended into chaos over the past week.

Fears are now high that schools and offices will have to shut because people with mild symptoms cannot prove they are negative. Officials say a quarter of Britons getting tested aren’t ‘eligible’.

It was claimed today that the testing fiasco has hit almost every school in the UK, with up to 25,000 teachers in England already forced to stay at home and self-isolate.

Professor Spector, who runs the Coronavirus Symptom Study app, is behind research showing the most common symptoms of Covid-19 for school-age children is fatigue (55 per cent), headaches (55 per cent) and a fever (49 per cent).

By comparison, the most common symptoms in adults are fatigue (87 per cent), headache (72 per cent) and a loss of smell (60 per cent). Neither children or adults frequently report a runny nose.



Up to nine additional nations could join peace deal with Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Trump says (The Daily Wire)

Clueless Joe refers to the “Harris-Biden administration” (Washington Examiner)

Biden votes in person, wrecks the Democrats’ mail-in voting narrative (PJ Media)

House GOP releases “Commitment to America” agenda (The Resurgent)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unpractically seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle (The Hill)

Senator Tom Cotton: The U.S. should eliminate China’s “most favored nation” trade status (The Washington Free Beacon)

Criminal probe opened into John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, which may contain classified information (Politico)

A former NRA insider paints an unflattering picture (National Review)

Three charged for harassing patrons at Pittsburgh restaurants during Labor Day BLM protest (National Review)

Judge throws the book at 13 alleged Lancaster rioters and sets $1 million bail for seven of them (Daily Mail)

Up to 95% riots are linked to Black Lives Matter (The Federalist)

Virginia police hunting for person who shot patrol car three times (Fox News)

“Evil is real”: North Carolina police officer pens heartfelt resignation letter to community amid “unprecedented” exodus from the force (The Daily Wire)

Breonna Taylor’s family reaches massive settlement with City of Louisville for $12 million (WAVE 3 News)

LA County sheriff calls out LeBron James, wants him to match reward for deputies’ shooter (The Truth About Guns)

Chinese organization with Communist Party ties funds Black Lives Matter ventures (The Federalist)

Chinese software firm that “provides intelligence to the government and military” collects data from 50,000 Americans (Daily Mail)

“Worst-case scenario”: Baltimore murder suspects protected by sanctuary laws (The Washington Times)

Trump says he favored plan to eliminate Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, but then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis opposed it (Disrn)

FTC prepares possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook (Bloomberg)

Oil demand has collapsed, and it won’t come back any time soon (NPR)

Alan Dershowitz files multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against CNN (Washington Examiner)

Policy: The U.S. dollar collapse is greatly exaggerated (Mises Institute)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

18 September, 2020

Eli Lilly’s coronavirus antibody drug cut hospitalization rates by THREE-FOLD for mild or moderately ill patients, early study data reveals

Eli Lilly and Co says interim results from its study of an antibody drug shows it may prevent mild to moderately ill coronavirus patients from being hospitalized.

The antibody, LY-CoV555, was developed by Indianapolis-based Lilly and the Canadian company AbCellera.

It recognizes the virus once a person is infected and attaches to it, preventing the pathogen from spreading throughout the body.

Hospitalization or ER visits were about three times less likely in COVID-19 patients given the drug than those given a placebo.

The company announced the results on Wednesday in a press release, but they have not been published or reviewed by independent scientists.

‘I’m strongly encouraged’ by the results, said Dr Myron Cohen, a virologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He had no role in the Lilly study but helps direct antibody studies for a public-private research group the federal government formed to speed testing of these drugs. ‘This seems to demonstrate what we thought’ – that such drugs would give a benefit, he said.

A total of 450 people with COVID-19 symptoms not severe enough to warrant hospitalization were recruited for the mid-stage study.

The drug is given once through an IV and was tested at three doses. Neither the patients nor their doctors knew which patients received the drug or placebo infusions.

Hospitalization or ER visits occurred in 1.7 percent of 302 patients given the drug and six percent of those given the placebo, a 72 percent risk reduction.

No serious side effects or deaths were reported among patients.

The drug missed the study’s main goal of reducing the amount of virus patients had after 11 days, except the middle of three doses being tested at 2,800 milligrams.

However, most study participants, even those given a placebo treatment, had cleared the virus by then, so that time point now seems too late to judge that potential benefit, the company said.

The company felt that giving the actual numbers ‘told the story in the most balanced way,’ said Dr Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer.

‘The results reinforce our conviction that neutralizing antibodies can help in the fight against COVID-19.’

The company said most hospitalizations occurred in patients who were among higher-risk groups, such as being elderly or underlying risk factors such as being elderly or obese, suggesting a more pronounced treatment effect for people in these higher-risk groups.

Lilly said it would talk with regulators about possible next steps but that it was too soon to speculate on whether these interim results might lead to any action to allow early use.

Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs. They attach to a virus and help it be eliminated.

The blood of survivors – convalescent plasma – is being tested as a treatment for COVID-19 patients because it contains such antibodies.

However, the strength and types of antibodies varies depending on each donor, and doing this on a large scale is impractical.

The drugs that Lilly and other companies are testing are concentrated versions of specific antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests, and can be made in large, standardized doses.

They are being tested to treat newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients in hope of preventing serious disease or death, and to try to prevent infection in people at high risk of these outcomes such as nursing home residents and health workers.

The difference seems large enough to suggest a true benefit and the result is ‘promising’ even though the study missed its main goal, said Dr Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York who was not involved in the study.

The trial, which has now enrolled 800 patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, is being test in combination with another Lilly antibody, LY-CoV016, which binds a different park of the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells.

Lilly has already started manufacturing its antibody drug, hoping to have hundreds of thousands of doses ready by fall if studies give positive results.

Another company that developed an antibody drug cocktail against Ebola – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc – now is testing a two-antibody drug for coronavirus.


Do eyeglasses lower COVID-19 risks? Study finds spectacle-wearers are FIVE TIMES less likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus than the general public

Wearing eyeglasses daily may reduce the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, a new study suggests.

Researchers from China found that COVID-19 patients were five times less likely to have frames than the general population.

The team, from The Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, says they believe this is because ACE-2 receptors, which the virus latches onto to enter and infect human cells, can be found in the eyes.

The findings also provide more evidence for why healthcare workers should wear eye protection and why more attention needs to be focused on preventive measures such as frequently wash their hands and avoid touching their face.

For the study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, the team looked at 276 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 27 and March 13.

Thirty patients wore eyeglasses (10.9 percent), including 16 cases of nearsightedness and 14 cases of farsightedness.

None of those diagnosed with the virus wore contact lenses or had undergone refractive surgery to correct their vision.

A total 16 patients, all nearsighted, were long-term wearers, defined as wearing glasses for more than eight hours a day, accounting for 5.8 percent.

For the general population, the researchers looked at study decades ago from students between ages seven to 22 years in Hubei province, of which 31.5 percent wore glasses for nearsightedness.

At the time of publication, those students would be between ages 42 and 57, close to the median age of 31 for the COVID-19 patients.

This means that the general population is 5.4 times more likely to wear eyeglasses daily than those diagnosed with coronavirus.

‘Our main finding was that patients with COVID-19 who wear eyeglasses for an extended period every day were relatively uncommon, which could be preliminary evidence that daily wearers of eyeglasses are less susceptible to COVID-19,’ the authors wrote.

The researchers hypothesize that frames ‘prevent or discourage wearers from touching their eyes, thus avoiding transferring the virus from the hands to the eyes.’

Studies have recently found that the eyes produce ACE-2, making the organs a prime target for the virus.

Coronavirus has not only been found on the surface of the eyes, but also within tears, which would transfer the pathogen.

This may explain why up to 12 percent of patients with COVID-19 have so-called ‘ocular manifestations,’ such as redness and swelling.

‘Therefore, the eyes are considered an important channel for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the human body,’ the authors wrote.

‘For daily wearers of eyeglasses, who usually wear eyeglasses on social occasions, wearing eyeglasses may become a protective factor, reducing the risk of virus transfer to the eyes and leading to long-term daily wearers of eyeglasses being rarely infected with COVID- 19.’

In an invited commentary, Dr Lisa Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said people should not wear glasses if they do not need them.

‘Although it is tempting to conclude from this study that everyone should wear eyeglasses, goggles, or a face shield in public to protect their eyes and themselves from COVID-19, from an epidemiological perspective, we must be careful to avoid inferring a causal relationship from a single observational study,’ she wrote.


Twitter suspends account of Chinese virologist who claims COVID-19 was developed in a Wuhan lab – as she releases report with ‘evidence’ that she says backs up her theory

Twitter has suspended the account of a Chinese virologist who has publicly claimed that COVID-19 was developed in a Wuhan laboratory.

Li-Meng Yan’s account was taken down on Tuesday after she accused China of intentionally manufacturing and releasing COVID-19.

The Twitter account remained down on Wednesday and a message on the page now reads: ‘Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules.’

Twitter has not commented on the suspension of Yan’s account.

The social media giant started putting warning messages on tweets in May that contained disputed coronavirus claims.

It is not clear if there was one specific tweet from Yan that violated Twitter’s policy.

In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, Yan claimed she was suspended because ‘they don’t want the people to know this truth’.

Yan, who is a former researcher at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, said COVID-19 was ‘man-made’ and ‘not from nature’.

‘I have evidence to show why they can do it, what they have done, how (they did it),’ she told Fox News.

‘The scientific world also keeps silent… works together with the Chinese Communist Party, they don’t want people to know his truth. That’s why I get suspended, I get suppressed, I am the target that Chinese Communist Party wants disappeared.’

After the segment aired, the Fox News show also accused Facebook of censorship after saying they had been blocked from sharing the interview segment on the social media platform.

A video of the interview segment posted on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show’s page now comes with a warning that reads: ‘False Information. This post repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact-checkers say is false.’

It comes as Yan published a report this week that she claims backs up her theory that China created the virus in a lab.

Some scientists have since said her report is ‘unsubstantiated’ and said it ‘cannot be given any credibility’.

Yan’s report has not been published in a scientific journal and has not been peer-reviewed – meaning it has not been checked and approved by fellow scientists.

Her report was posted on the website Zenodo.

The study was produced by the Rule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation, sister organizations that former Trump strategist Steve Bannon founded with 50-year-old Chinese fugitive Guo Wengui.

Yan, who claims she fled to the US in April, says she was working at the Hong Kong School of Public Health – a reference laboratory for the World Health Organisation – before she was cut off after trying to alert people to human-to-human transmission of the virus in December.

The lab has denied that Yan ever ‘conducted any research on human-to-human transmission’ and said her assertions have ‘no scientific basis’.

In her report released this week, Yan claims the virus was built by merging the genetic material of two bat coronaviruses.

She claims its spike protein – a structure on the surface of the virus which it uses to bind with cells – was edited to make it easier for the virus to latch on to human cells.

Other research papers have already determined the origin of the virus as bats, which has resulted in top experts dismissing suggestions the virus was created by humans.

Yan writes that her research discounts the theory that coronavirus evolved in the wild and was then transferred to humans, claiming it ‘lacks substantial support’.

‘SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring virus,’ she wrote.

President Donald Trump claims he has seen evidence the virus, which he solely blames China for, came from Wuhan Institute of Virology – but he is not allowed to reveal it.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

17 September, 2020

University of Pittsburgh scientists discover antibody that ‘neutralizes’ virus that causes COVID-19

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have isolated “the smallest biological molecule” that “completely and specifically neutralizes” SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, and has been used to create the drug Ab8, shared in the report published by the researchers in the journal Cell on Monday. The drug is seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2.

According to the report, the drug has been “highly effective in preventing and treating” the SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and hamsters during tests. The drug also reportedly does not bind to human cells, which suggests it will not have negative side effects in people.

“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.”

Researchers are “thinking outside the box” for how the drug could be administered, stating it may be able to be inhaled or through a superficial injection, instead of an IV

According to the report, the team at University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases and Galveston National Laboratory tested Ab8 and found it blocked the virus from entering cells. In mice trials, those treated with Ab8 had 10-fold less of the amount of infectious virus compared to those that were untreated.


It’s Far Too Late to Think Lockdowns Can Make Covid-19 Go Away

In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, the rationale given for lockdowns was that it was necessary to stay at home for “fifteen days to slow the spread.” The idea was that social distancing was necessary so that hospitals and other healthcare resources would not be overwhelmed.

However, by the summer of 2020, whether by design or not, it became common to hear media pundits, politicians, and even some scientists either imply or outright claim that social distancing could permanently flatten the curve or otherwise somehow cause a drastic reduction in overall covid-19 deaths.

For example, The Hill’s Reid Wilson claimed in July: “We know how to stop this virus, it requires social distancing, it requires wearing a mask, and constant hand sanitizers and staying home as much as possible.”

Yet this displays a woeful lack of understanding about the purpose and effectiveness of lockdowns. Lockdowns of the sort seen in April and May in this country do nothing at all to “stop this virus.” The lockdown strategy only works to completely stop a disease if certain conditions can be met. Specifically, the lockdown must be extremely strict, and it must be maintained indefinitely—perhaps for years—until a safe and effective vaccine is widely available.

Clearly, the US is nowhere near enforcing a lockdown like this, nor does it appear that a vaccine—certainly not a well-tested one—is imminent. Thus, given that we know lockdowns themselves cause deaths through suicides, drug overdoses, and more, trying to impose a strict lockdown until that day comes would be a high-stakes gamble few will be willing or able to endure.

Lockdowns Only Provide “Temporary Suppression”
For some insightful observers, this has been clear from the very beginning. Writing back in April of this year, Joseph Ladapo, a professor of medicine at UCLA, wrote:

There is no guarantee of a vaccine within the next 18 months. We have taken measures to slow the virus, but these can’t stop it. The only thing that can stop the virus at this advanced stage of community transmission is a complete lockdown, which can happen in authoritarian countries like China, but not in the U.S.

Are shutdowns enough? No. Despite the efforts, there is still enough human contact to ensure the virus will spread. Take a look at the long list of “essential” services and exemptions on California’s Covid-19 website, for example. Shutdowns will cause the virus to spread more slowly, but it will spread nonetheless.

When shutdowns end, the virus will spread and Covid-19 deaths will increase. Without a vaccine and community immunity—often called “herd immunity”—this outcome is all but guaranteed. The only thing that will temporarily quell it in the near term, short of a miracle treatment, is another shutdown. But states will get only one pass at this. Once lifted, the appetite for a repeat shutdown will be tepid at best, even in left-leaning states. The reality of the shutdown’s costs—the upheaval caused by school closures, economic hurt, social isolation and lost lives and livelihoods—will be fresh. Some argue that stopping Covid-19 and protecting the economy are one and the same. Although this is true, it is too late to do either.

Not even the most enthusiastic supporters of draconian lockdowns, including Neil Ferguson, author of the infamous (and very wrong) Imperial College model, thought it possible to eradicate the disease through lockdowns. The Imperial report refers to lockdowns simply as a method of “temporary suppression.”

As Ladapo notes, at this stage in the game, i too late to contain the disease without a total lockdown where so much as a trip to the grocery store is verboten. Moreover, international borders would have to be sealed shut to prevent infected populations from entering the country. Given the success with which governments have controlled the flow of migrants, we can guess about how successful that strategy would be.

When we add all this together, given current realities, social distancing and lockdowns cannot possibly serve any purpose other than to slow down the spread so as to lessen the burden on healthcare facilities. The only lives saved would be those who would otherwise have been denied medical care by an overwhelmed medical system. But this is a relatively small number, and in the developed world medical systems are now nowhere near running out of beds.

Thus, another round of stay-at-home orders or lockdowns certainly won’t make the disease go away. They’ll just delay the spread to a future date. Moreover, it’s debatable how effective lockdowns are at accomplishing even this. In a new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Andrew Atkeson, Karen Kopecky, and Tao Zha conclude that we may be even past the time when lockdowns make much of a difference to outcomes.

It appears countries and regions follow a similar pattern “everywhere.” Transmission rates are high at first, the study notes, but growth in the spread of the disease quickly declines after twenty to thirty days. After this, “the growth rate of daily deaths in all regions has hovered around zero or slightly below.” This is regardless of whether or not there are social distancing laws or mask mandates. In other words, it doesn’t look like lockdowns (which now vary widely in their extent and severity) are even changing the shape of the curve anymore.

Thus, a few months out from the initial surge, growth rates in all regions became more and more similar across jurisdictions. The authors therefore conclude:

given the observation that disease transmission rates have remained low with relatively low dispersion across locations worldwide for the past several months as NPIs [nonpharmaceutical interventions] have been lifted, we are concerned that estimates of the effectiveness of NPIs in reducing disease transmission from the earlier period may not be relevant for forecasting the impact of the relaxation of those NPIs in the current period, due to some unobserved switch in regime.

In other words, not only are we well past the time when lockdowns might have flattened the initial surge in transmissions, at this point in the pandemic it doesn’t look like lockdowns would even do much to flatten the curve to the point that we’re better off.

Dogmatic advocates for lockdowns are likely to continue pushing for open-ended mandates until a vaccine is widely available. But they’re gambling with people’s lives. How many children must be impoverished and how many jobless men and women must die by suicide or drug overdoses in the meantime? Every day of a lockdown puts more lives in danger.


‘One size fits all’ approach dangerous when it comes to personal protective equipment

Protective masks do not fit healthcare workers properly, particularly women and those of Asian descent, a new Australian study has found.

The debate around mask wearing has been a hot topic since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Now researchers claim masks don’t always fit our frontline workers properly, particularly women or those of Asian descent, putting them at risk of catching the potentially deadly disease.

Now academics are calling for more formal fit-testing procedures.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia and Perth Children’s Hospital argue hospitals lack the time and financial resources to ensure every worker has a mask that fits properly.

Co-author Professor Britta von Ungern-Sternberg said an ill-fitting mask could allow unfiltered air to be drawn inside.

The “fit-pass” rate for women is just 85 per cent compared with 95 per cent for men, while masks fit 90 per cent of caucasian workers properly, but that figure drops to 84 per cent for people of Asian descent and even lower at 60 per cent for Asian females.

The shape and size of the respirator in relation to the wearer’s facial anthropomorphic dimensions were major factors in terms of quality of fit, researchers said.

However, the study has its limits. Females and Asians were under-represented, academics confessed.

But they said the most important takeaway was triggering discussion about the difference between fit checking (when a wearer checks their own mask) and fit testing (a standardised testing measure).

The authors said fit testing should form part of official hospital occupational health and safety programs.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, filtering facepiece respirators require a fit test to ensure proper protection.

But despite international guidelines, fit testing is not adopted in many countries including in Australia.

Some companies do offer fit testing at a hefty price which authors said is similar to in-person mandatory training.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deficiencies of some healthcare facilities to protect their HCWs in line with national and international recommendations, and the requirement for formal fit-testing programs appears to be particularly important,” the study authors noted.



John Durham speculation reaching fever pitch after aide resignation, Lindsey Graham comments, and phone-wipe mystery (Fox News)

CDC is moving ahead with critical race theory trainings despite Trump order (National Review)

Justice Department internal watchdog is investigating Roger Stone’s sentencing (NBC News)

Attacks on Chicago officers are up “five times” over previous years (The Daily Wire)

Two Los Angeles County deputies in stable condition after being shot; search for assailant continues (ABC 7)

Wounded female LA deputy, shot through jaw and both arms, gave partner emergency medical treatment after ambush (Disrn)

Rochester mayor fires police chief over handling of Daniel Prude case (Washington Examiner)

Federal ruling: Florida can require eligible felons to pay fines and fees to vote (Washington Examiner)

Riots and looting hit Pennsylvania after cop shoots a minority man who was charging at the officer with a knife (The Daily Wire)

If the child porn in Netflix’s “Cuties” surprised you, you haven’t been paying attention (The Federalist)

NBC’s woke Sunday Night Football ratings plummet nearly 30% compared to 2019 (Disrn)

“They’re there to cover the game”: CBS tells announcers not to editorialize on NFL “social justice” (The Resurgent)

Maryland to add LGBTQ content to public schools’ history curricula (The Daily Caller)

University of Chicago’s English Department declares it will only accept applicants interested in working “in and with Black studies” for its next graduate admissions cycle (Daily Mail)

College Board reportedly became “key partner” with Chinese regime; the academic behemoth behind AP, SAT helped advance Chinese infiltration in K-12 schools (The Washington Free Beacon)

DHS cracks down on goods made with Chinese forced labor (The Washington Free Beacon)

DHS leaked email confirms antifa is an organized group (The Post Millennial)

Trump issues stark warning to Iran after reports country is considering plot to assassinate U.S. ambassador (Fox News)

U.S. halts ineffective symptom checks and screenings for high-risk countries (New York Post)

Policy: How urban governments have failed on housing, school outcomes, income segregation, and policing (American Enterprise Institute)

Policy: President Trump’s ban on critical race theory, explained (Foundation for Economic Education)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

16 September, 2020

9th Circus rules 400,000 immigrants can be forced to leave

Los Angeles: A federal appeals court has ruled the Trump administration acted within its authority in terminating legal protections that have allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to live and work legally in the United States, sometimes for decades, after fleeing conflict or natural disasters in their home countries.

The 2-1 ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals effectively strips legal immigration status from some 400,000 people, rendering them deportable if they do not voluntarily leave. The decision affects the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries of a program offering what is known as "temporary protected status", which has permitted them to remain in the US after being uprooted from their unstable homelands.

The Trump administration has argued that the emergency conditions that existed when people were invited to come to the US — earthquakes, hurricanes, civil war — had occurred long ago. The program, it said, had inadvertently conferred permanent immigration status for people from places like El Salvador, Haiti and Sudan, most of whom it said no longer needed safe haven.

The long-awaited decision does not immediately end the protections. The Trump administration has agreed to maintain them until at least March 5, 2021, for people from five of the affected countries and until November 2021 for people from El Salvador.

If President Donald Trump is not reelected, a new administration could choose to maintain the program.

The plaintiffs are almost certain to request that the decision be reconsidered by an 11-judge panel hearing the case. They could also ask the Supreme Court to take up the matter.

"It's a really devastating day for hundreds of thousands of people who have lived and worked in the country lawfully for decades," said Tom Jawetz, vice-president for immigration policy at the Centre for American Progress.

"But it's not the end of the line for them," Jawetz said. "There will be additional litigation, and ultimately the fate of these people may be decided by the outcome of the November election."

Proponents of limits on immigration hailed the decision.

"The 9th Circuit affirmed two clear aspects of TPS," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement. "The first is that the T in TPS stands for temporary and that it is not intended, nor should it be, a backdoor to permanent residency."

He said the decision also made it clear that the government had discretion to determine when it was safe for immigrants given temporary protections to return home. For countries such as El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, he said, "the crises that triggered the TPS designation have long since passed."

The court's ruling could force many people who have been in the country for years, if not decades, to contemplate leaving their jobs, homes and communities to return to impoverished countries that are ill-prepared to absorb them. It also could result in the separation of families because beneficiaries have about 200,000 US-born children.

Ten countries are currently part of the temporary protected status program, signed into law by President George HW Bush in 1990. Only four were officially included in Monday's decision — El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan — but nationals from two other countries, Honduras and Nepal, sued separately and a legal agreement calls for those countries to be covered by Monday's decision.

Nationals of El Salvador, the first to be offered temporary protected status, as a result of the country's civil war in the 1980s, represent about half of all recipients. Haitians received protection after the 2010 earthquake. Syria and Yemen were designated after civil wars erupted there.

Under the program, the secretary of Homeland Security decides when a country merits the designation and the status can be extended indefinitely. Bosnia and Herzegovina lost its temporary protected status after the end of its 1990s-era civil war, as did Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia after the Ebola crisis.

Determined to reduce immigration, Trump in 2017 began trying to scrap protection under the program for several other countries, meeting with lawsuits that temporarily blocked any cancellations.

The government extended protections under the program for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan, who account for more than 90 per cent of the total, as the courts considered the legal challenges.

The appeal that was before the 9th Circuit argued that the government's decision to eliminate the program was motivated by Trump's animosity towards immigrants from non-white, non-European countries. Lawyers had cited his statements that were disparaging of Mexicans, Haitians and others from developing countries.

The plaintiffs also argued that maintaining the program was in the national interest because more than 100,000 holders of temporary protected status work in industries deemed "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic, including more than 11,000 healthcare workers and more than 76,000 food-related workers, according to the Centre for American Progress.

The US Chamber of Commerce said that revoking the program would adversely affect several key industries where recipients make up a significant amount of the workforce. Roughly one-fifth of construction workers in Washington, DC, are immigrants with temporary protected status, most of them Salvadorans.

The judges said the argument that the Trump administration was motivated by animus toward certain races or countries was unlikely to succeed. "Plaintiffs fail in their burden of showing a likelihood of success, or even serious questions, on the merits of their claim that racial animus toward 'non-white, non-European' populations was a motivating factor in the TPS terminations," they said in their opinion.

The panel noted that the administration extended temporary protected status for immigrants from some countries, including Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, whose populations are also "non-European" and "non-white". Beneficiaries from those countries collectively represent less than 8000 people.

The majority opinion was written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of President George W Bush, with Judge Ryan Nelson, appointed by Trump, concurring. Judge Morgan Christen, named to the court by Barack Obama, dissented.

Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who led the legal challenge, said the plaintiffs would keep pressing their argument through the courts. "The president's vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus," he said. "The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism."

The Justice Department applauded the court's decision, which it said recognised that the government had the authority to make such decisions without judicial review. "We applaud the 9th Circuit's recognition of the plain language of the Immigration and Nationality Act and its rejection of the baseless accusations of animus behind the actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security," the Justice Department said in a statement.

The court vacated a 2018 preliminary injunction issued by Judge Edward M. Chen of the US District Court in San Francisco that had blocked the administration from terminating the program for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan.

As part of their finding that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits, the judges said federal courts generally lacked the authority to review such decisions by the secretary of Homeland Security.



No, Biden did not support Trump's early measures to reduce the China virus spread

For the record…

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are desperately endeavoring to distract voters from the polling backfire they are experiencing — the result of not condemning the urban riots plaguing Democrat-controlled cities. They have pivoted to a pre-election strategy of blaming Donald Trump for the CV19 pandemic death and economic destruction — as I predicted they would do last February.

That pivot hit another snag, meaning the disinformation and outright lies aren’t working.

Last week, our Douglas Andrews noted how Biden’s national press secretary, T.J. Ducklo, ducked a basic question: “Has Joe Biden ever used a teleprompter during local interviews or to answer Q&A with supporters?” He refused to answer — which was the answer.

But, given the Biden-Harris campaign shift to “the pandemic,” Ducklo had to answer the question of whether Biden supported President Trump’s early measures to contain the viral spread — specifically his restrictions on non-resident travel from China. Ducklo lied, claiming Biden did support the restrictions: “Joe Biden has been clear that he was not against that travel ban at the time.”

Actually, Biden was clear in his opposition to the restrictions. On 31 January, after the Trump administration declared the coronavirus a public health emergency and DHS announced the China travel restrictions, Biden declared Trump’s actions constituted “hysterical xenophobia.” According to Biden, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.” Of course, it was “science” and advice from his pandemic team that led to Trump’s actions.

A day later, Biden again condemned Trump for “adding more countries to his list of who’s not welcome in America.” Biden reiterated, “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.” Biden did not alter his opinion on the travel restrictions until 3 April.

Every time Ducklo goes on record, you may fairly assume it is disinformation and obfuscation.




Joe Biden pushes gun control less than 24 hours after attempted assassination on deputies (Fox News)

President Trump gets a second nomination for Nobel Peace Prize (Bongino.com)

Trump signs executive order to lower drug prices in fight against Big Pharma (Fox News)

Federal prosecutor resigns from John Durham probe over alleged pressure to wrap up ahead of election — even though the probe should have ended some time ago (National Review)

The Democrat narrative about "buying elections" notwithstanding, Michael Bloomberg to prop up Biden with $100 million in Florida (Reuters)

U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad steps down amid rapidly deteriorating relations over trade war, Hong Kong, and coronavirus (Daily Mail)

Netflix should face DOJ action over pedophilic "Cuties," some members of Congress say (Fox News)

Netflix CEO was not asked single question about "Cuties" controversy during 10-minute CNN interview (Disrn)

Slate calls people being offended by pedophilia "creepy" (Not the Bee)

Man arrested for arson, throwing Molotov cocktails at California Republican women's organization building (The Federalist)

St. Louis BLM protesters from McCloskey confrontation finally cited for trespassing (Fox News)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues streak of terrible decisions and orders athletes to wear masks during games (Washington Examiner)

On a related note, Whitmer expressed fears over Trump's Michigan rally but excused Biden's event (The Federalist)

Portland mayor bans police use of tear gas even after 100 days of rioting (The Daily Caller)

More than 20% of evangelicals wrongly embrace the concept of "gender fluidity" (Disrn)

Chick-fil-A to be offered lease in San Antonio airport following Rainbow Mafia moratorium (Fox News)

Iran weighs plot to kill U.S. ambassador to South Africa to avenge Qassem Soleimani (Politico)

San Francisco to vote on whether 16-year-olds should vote (The Daily Wire)

Epic fumble: Eleven NFL players charged in alleged coronavirus money scheme (Sharyl Attkisson)

Chinese virologist claims she has proof coronavirus came from Chinese lab (Disrn)


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 September, 2020

1,000 Georgia Voters Face Prosecution for Casting Multiple Ballots

During the state’s primary in June, 1,000 Georgia voters successfully voted twice, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday.

The 1,000 Georgia residents cast votes by absentee ballot and then went in person to polling places on June 9 and voted again, Raffensperger said, adding that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Of the 1,000 voters who voted twice, 58 percent requested Democratic ballots, according to Raffensperger’s office. Georgia does not offer the option to affiliate with a political party during voter registration, meaning voters who wish to vote in primary elections must request either a Republican or Democratic ballot.

“While the investigation is still ongoing, initial results show that of the partisan ballots at issue, approximately 58% were Democratic ballots,” a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State said in a statement to National Review.

The secretary of state said that Georgia’s attorney general and local prosecutors will weigh whether to bring charges against the voters on a case-by-case basis.

“A double voter knows exactly what they’re doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law,” Raffensperger said at a news conference. “Those that make the choice to game the system are breaking the law. And as secretary of state, I will not tolerate it.”

Voting twice is a felony in Georgia that carries a one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

About 150,000 Georgia residents who requested absentee ballots later appeared at polling places during the state’s primary to vote in person, many because they either never received their absentee ballot or changed their minds and opted to vote in person. However, 1,000 of those voters had already mailed in their absentee ballot and were allowed to vote again by poll workers, although the double votes did not alter the outcome of any primary election, Raffensperger said.

About 1.15 million Georgia voters voted by absentee ballot during the primary, and 900,000 residents have requested absentee ballots so far for the general election so far.

The announcement comes as lawmakers, pundits, and activists on both sides of the aisle warn the public about the potential for complications and lengthy delays in tallying the final results of November’s general election due to an expected massive increase in the use of mail-in ballots.

President Trump suggested earlier this month that voters should attempt to vote twice in order to test the mail-in voting system, which he has warned could be a breeding ground for election fraud if large numbers of people vote by mail.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” Trump said. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. And that’s what they should do.”



The boogaloo  phenomenon

Following is the first part of an article by the NYT  concerning a Right-wing movement I have never heard of.  There seems to be at least some truth in it but I do not know how much. I suspect that it is greatly exaggerated

At first glance, the We Are Washington rally might have looked like an early Fourth of July celebration, all bright stars-and-stripes Americana. It was a cool May morning in the state capital, Olympia, and low clouds were threatening to ruin the red, white and blue archway of balloons above the rally stage, the crepe paper behind it and the cut-out letters propped up in front that spelled ‘‘FREEDOM.’’ Few people wore masks. A man with a pistol on his hip meandered through the several-hundred-person crowd selling tiny yellow Gadsden flags — the ‘‘Don’t Tread on Me’’ rattlesnake — for $5 each to anyone who wasn’t already carrying something. A canopy of marker-drawn signs held above heads blared complaints about Covid-19 and the stay-at-home order declared by Gov. Jay Inslee, at this point in its 69th day. ‘‘0.2% Death Rate. No Muzzle’’; ‘‘Inslee Is the Real Virus’’; ‘‘Kim Jong Inslee.’’ Some took a more conspiratorial tone: ‘‘You Are Being Lied To.’’

Near the back of the crowd was a socialmedia-ready selfie backdrop: a large Q made of squares of cardboard, lying on the grass in front of the Capitol building. Below it, a hashtag: #WWG1WGA, ‘‘Where we go one, we go all.’’ It’s the rallying cry for QAnon, the conspiracy theory that at its most basic centers on a Democrat-run child-sex-trafficking ring and at its most elaborate involves figures like the pope and Joe Biden having been executed in secret and replaced with holograms. It might seem, in other words, like an odd theory to float at a rally that was ostensibly about the reopening of the local economy. But around the country, events like this one had become a beacon to fringe thinkers: anti-vaxxers, internet trolls, gun nuts, Proud Boys, hate groups, antigovernment militias and any other Americans who interpreted social-distancing and face-covering regulations as an infringement of their constitutional freedoms.

These reopening rallies had become more than just rallies, allowing everyday Americans — suspecting a liberal ploy in the shutdown of the economy and misled by right-wing politicians, up to and including President Trump, about the dangers of the coronavirus — to be exposed to the ideologies of a wide variety of extremists.

As the crowd grew in Olympia, a woman in a hooded sweatshirt got up onstage to give a speech and encourage the crowd to join something called People’s Rights Washington. They could be a part of it by texting the word RIGHTS to a five-digit number, which would then enlist them in a phone tree, allowing any member to report anything they deem a violation of personal freedom. ‘‘If there is an emergency, if a contact tracer shows up at your door, if C.P.S. shows up at your door, if the Health Department comes to your work and threatens to shut you down,’’ she explained, ‘‘we can send a text out that says, ‘Get to this address right now.’ ’’

Standing at the rear edge of the crowd, I took a few steps closer when I realized the voice coming from the stage sounded familiar. It was Kelli Stewart. She has been a live-streamer at several federal-court trials I’ve covered in the West — particularly of the Bundy family in both Nevada and Oregon. After Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan and several other defendants were acquitted in 2016 of charges related to occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, Stewart cheered and cried at the verdict, then paced in front of the courthouse reading from the Constitution. In the past two months, she has live-streamed from rallies and from the ‘‘underground church’’ she opened. For several years, she has referred to law enforcement as ‘‘Blue ISIS.’’

Now she explained to the crowd in Olympia that just a few years ago, she was just like all of them. She was a mother, a Sunday-school teacher raising goats on a small farm when the news of the refuge occupation broke. But it wasn’t until Robert LaVoy Finicum, a 54-year-old Arizona rancher who served as a spokesman for the occupation, was shot and killed by the police that she became an activist. It was her wake-up call, she said: the moment when the world she had always known was forever changed.

Stewart is now a fixture at right-wing rallies like this one, and as she spoke, she got at something undeniably true about these gatherings: This is where everyday people like her can be reborn, leaving their world behind and subscribing to a new collective truth. This is where they find fellowship with other people who are upset enough about the same things, who hold the same fears and frustrations. This is where isolation ends, where communion begins.

At the back of this crowd, which was mostly mothers and grandmothers and church leaders and business owners and the like, stood a clutch of men with long guns who didn’t seem to be listening much to the speeches. They clustered together in small groups, their eyes scanning the crowd behind sunglasses. One man carried a flag bearing the logo of the Three Percenters militia: the Roman numeral III in the center of a ring of stars. There was a cardboard sign propped up with the letters ‘‘NWO’’ — New World Order — crossed out. And in this mix were a couple of men wearing body armor decorated with American-flag patches. One wore a blue-and-white floral Hawaiian shirt under a desert-sand-colored vest, packed with as many as 90 extra rounds of ammunition. The other man had a different patch on his vest. It read: ‘‘Boogaloo.’’

Just what the word ‘‘Boogaloo’’ means depends on whom you ask. In simple terms, it’s the newest and youngest subset of the antigovernment movement, born in the full light of the internet age — with all the peculiarities that entails. The name comes from 4chan, the lamentably prolific message board where many memes are born, and involves the 1984 breakdancing movie ‘‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.’’ Though the movie was panned, the second half of its name had a long afterlife, eventually wending its way onto forums and social media, where it became slang for a fabled coming civil war — a sequel to the first. To some white supremacists, it means a race war. To others, it was all just a joke. But many others take it seriously, and to them it means a less well-defined cataclysm touched off, or sped up by, any number of groups who share antigovernment ideas and a deep love of firearms.

The Boogaloo is not just an event; it’s a movement of people, too. They call themselves ‘‘Boogalooers’’ or ‘‘Boogaloo bois.’’ Most seem to have extreme libertarian politics, with a heavy emphasis on Second Amendment rights. The Boogaloo is leaderless, and its goals differ depending on which Facebook or Telegram group you’re hanging out in. Some of these men claim to be antiracist, while others hold white-supremacist beliefs and warn of an impending white genocide. While some Boogaloo pages on Facebook feature periodic talk of racial justice and urgent needs to address climate change, many others are filled with memes featuring neo-Nazi black suns. If there is one thing that binds the Boogaloo together besides guns and Hawaiian shirts, it is a firm anti-authority, anti-law-enforcement stance — and a willingness, if not an outright desire, to bring about the collapse of American society.

When I spoke to Kris Hunter, a 39-year-old Boogaloo boi from Waco, Texas, he painted the movement as just wanting to help. Hunter told me he and his compatriots feel their hands have been forced. ‘‘A lot of the violence perpetrated by the government, police brutality, foreign wars, civilian casualties, no-knock raids — I guess the way we viewed it was: ‘How in the world are we supposed to stand up against this?’ ’’

I reached Hunter through Tree of Liberty, a website that seems to be acting as a public face for a movement that, by and large, congregates on private social-media pages. He says his group — the United States Boogalier Corps, by his estimate 80 percent military veterans — doesn’t take this self-appointed duty lightly. He pointed to the Boston Massacre of 1770, when five colonists were shot by British soldiers. ‘‘That was this moment when both the British and colonists realized we have run out of all peaceful options, and now they’re literally killing us out in the open,’’ he said. ‘‘We want the American people to understand that they have the constitutional authority to defend themselves against unconstitutional oppression.’’ But he insisted the movement does not want any actual confrontation with government forces.

This is not at all an uncommon stance among right-wing militias, which the Boogaloo both resembles and diverges from. And to truly understand the Boogaloo, you must first understand the militia movement that took root in the United States in the 1990s. The standoff between the white-supremacist Weaver family and the A.T.F. and the F.B.I. at Ruby Ridge in Idaho and the siege of the Branch Davidians’ compound at Waco led to a rapid expansion in their ranks, but broader societal dislocations were in the background, too. The United Nations and NAFTA, for example, figure prominently in militia ideology, often claimed to be signs of a so-called New World Order. ‘‘People get sucked into these movements for a bunch of different reasons,’’ says Travis McAdam, former executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, a progressive organization that does research on the state’s extremists. ‘‘For some people it’s guns or environmental regulations, or some people don’t like people of color. You have people brought into this wide opening of the funnel cloud for various reasons.’’

But Boogaloo bois ‘‘are making their way through the funnel cloud,’’ McAdam says. And like militias, they’re arming up for the future. But there’s a key difference. With militias, ‘‘there’s always that imminent war coming, there’s always that invasion by One World forces,’’ he says. ‘‘It never happened, but it was always going to happen. Whereas with the Boogaloo stuff, there is a piece of that that is like, ‘We want to make that happen.’ ’’

The Boogaloo has thrived in an environment rife with entry points to the militia funnel cloud — the nihilistic swamps of social media and 4chan. Each Boogaloo group takes a different form, but memes are their common language — some funny, others less so. ‘‘Victory or fire. I Will Not Burn Alone,’’ reads one. Posts routinely call for the shooting of pedophiles. ‘‘Save the Bees. Plant More Trees. Clean the Seas. Shoot Commies,’’ reads another. Fears of climate change figure into the groups’ apocalyptic worldview, but they often find themselves attaching to reactionary ideas. ‘‘It’s very simple,’’ one meme reads, ‘‘learn to hate or die silently.’’ Another: ‘‘Environmentalism and nationalism go hand in hand. It is pride in your people, pride in your nation and pride in the very soil of the land.’’ But one common theme undergirds all these messages, regardless of which Boogaloo subset they attract: Do something about it. And do it now.

Back in November 2019, Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, issued a warning about who was using the word ‘‘Boogaloo’’ and why, in the form of a blog post illustrated with bizarre memes pulled from their forums: Pepe the frog firing a bazooka, a laser-eyed storm trooper with a black-sun halo, a big igloo. Though some still use ‘‘Boogaloo’’ as a joke, Pitcavage wrote, ‘‘an increasing number of people employ it with serious intent.’’ Still, he finished with a note of caution: Some people use the word ‘‘Boogaloo’’ to ‘‘mock some of the more fanatical or gung-ho elements of their own movement.’’

‘‘By that time it had crystallized from more than just a concept or a term,’’ he told me in July. ‘‘The beginnings of a movement had already started.’’ He went on: ‘‘It also started manifesting in the real world, with people showing up at events, self-identifying as Boogaloo.’’ The spring of 2020 was like a coming-out party for the movement, as men in colorful floral shirts and body armor festooned with igloo-shaped patches, semiautomatic weapons in hand, showed up at reopening rallies against Covid19 restrictions across the country, from Lansing, Mich., to Denver, to Harrisburg, Pa. Some carried black-and-white American flags with a red stripe of floral print through the middle and an igloo in the place of stars.

In March, a Missouri white supremacist told an undercover F.B.I. agent he planned to detonate a car bomb outside a hospital treating Covid-19 patients. He called the plan ‘‘Operation Boogaloo.’’ When the F.B.I. tried to serve the man a probable-cause warrant, a firefight ensued, and he shot himself before he could be apprehended and succumbed to his wounds at the hospital. In April, a man in Texarkana, Texas, who identified with the movement streamed a live video on Facebook while dressed in body armor and a Hawaiian shirt, telling viewers he was ‘‘hunting the hunters’’: searching for police officers to ambush. He is accused of leading several officers on a high-speed chase, continuing even after his tires were deflated by a spike strip. He was later apprehended and pleaded not guilty to attempted-murder charges.

As the movement’s profile rose, catching the attention of the media, Boogaloo bois bent the word to shield it from the eyes of content moderators. ‘‘Boogaloo’’ became ‘‘big igloo,’’ then ‘‘big luau’’ — hence the Hawaiian shirts. Boogaloo bois became ‘‘boojahideen.’’ On the forums, they would joke about a ‘‘pig roast’’ — code for killing police officers. In June, Facebook claimed that it deleted hundreds of accounts and pages devoted to the movement; by mid-July, the Boogaloo bois were back on Facebook talking about a ‘‘spicy fiesta.’’

‘‘The problem with the Boogaloo bois is they’re not a cohesive movement,’’ J. J. MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, said during testimony to the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism in mid-July. ‘‘You could actually, in a really bizarre world, have two Boogaloo groups shooting at each other.’’ It is on the issue of law enforcement that the Boogaloo seems to greatly diverge from the militias that came before it, which in many cases collaborate with or even have members that are police officers. ‘‘They’re really anti-police,’’ Pitcavage says of the Boogaloo; they may say they want to find common cause with anyone protesting the police — but some want to act as agents provocateurs, accelerating street violence and furthering any conflict. For many of them, the protests following the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day looked like the perfect opportunity to create mayhem.



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 September, 2020

Why China could be poised to win the race for a coronavirus vaccine

Experts wonder whether nation's strategy of focusing on 'old school' vaccine technologies may lead it to a breakthrough

There are many ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the weakness of the West, and this week China moved up a gear in the pivotal area of vaccine diplomacy.

A string of positive announcements from Beijing contrasted sharply with the mood in the West, which was dominated by the news the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trial had been briefly paused following a suspected adverse reaction in a British volunteer.

Scientists are now, perhaps for the first time, seriously considering whether China might be first to develop an effective vaccine

Diplomats, meanwhile, are turning their attention to what that might mean for geopolitics in the difficult winter months ahead. It could make the flare-ups over China's exports of face masks and ventilators during the early stages of the pandemic look like minor spats.

In truth, China has been at or near the front of the Covid-19 vaccine race from the off. Of the nine candidates in Phase Three trials, four are Chinese.

And while the leading western candidates – Oxford-AstraZeneca, BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna – have all won plaudits for their use of state-of-the-art technology platforms, experts are starting to wonder whether China's strategy of focusing on "old school" vaccine technologies may eventually prove to be more prudent.

"Three of the four Chinese candidates use inactivated Sars-CoV-2 virus which ultimately may prove to be the best bet," said Dr Vipul Chowdhary, technical lead at leading biomedical think tank Policy Cures Research.

"All they have done is basically disable the virus at the same time as maintaining its antigen properties. It is the traditional method. So it should normally provide good defence and pose less potential for reactions compared to the others."

Dr Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, agreed.

"Instinctively I feel a little more comfortable with inactivated vaccines because we have a lot of experience with them," he said. "The other advantage is that you're making an immune response to all four of the coronavirus proteins, not just the spike protein."

A first claim of efficacy

This week, China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a state-run vaccine company, said early data from its Phase Three trials showed that its two leading immunisations were effective in preventing volunteers contracting Covid-19 – the first time a claim of efficacy has been made.

Zhou Song, the secretary for the commission for discipline inspection with CNBG, told China National Radio on Monday that "hundreds of thousands have taken the shot and no one has shown any obvious adverse effects or got infected". He added that the company's two vaccines were likely to protect people for up to three years.

Dr Chowdhary cautioned that such "unverified claims mean nothing – only an adequately designed Phase Three trial showing a clear and statistically significant benefit in the intervention arm compared to placebo can prove the effectiveness".

Nevertheless, China, like others, is getting into the vaccine diplomacy game. It is using its early success to amplify the country's political influence, restore frosty relationships and further promote an image of the nation as a global health leader.

Bangladesh, where vaccine manufacturer Sinovac Biotech is testing its jab, will receive roughly 110,000 free doses if the shot proves successful, while China is offering Latin American and Caribbean nations $1 billion in loans to buy its vaccines.

In south-east Asia, China has told countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam that they will gain priority access to any future vaccine.

And in Africa – where China, Europe and the United States are wrestling for influence – President Xi Jinping said during a summer summit that the continent "will be among the first to benefit" once its Covid-19 vaccines are completed.

Critics point out that such largesse will undoubtedly come with strings, explicit or otherwise. Remaining silent about Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its treatment of its minority ethnic and religious groups are almost certainly a prerequisite.

Others say China's bid to become a powerhouse in global health is being aided by US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in particular and the world stage more generally.

Mr Trump has flatly refused to join Covax – a WHO initiative to share vaccines globally – leaving the way clear for China to play a leading role if it joins before the final participants are expected to be announced on Friday.

Some commentators fear his "vaccine nationalism" may also see countries use a Chinese vaccine even if good data on safety and efficacy is lacking.

Dr Paul Offit added that if China or Russia are first to license a jab, political pressure may mount on regulators elsewhere to push through early approval.

But not all the cards are stacked in China's favour.

Quite apart from political suspicion, China, like others, has been rocked by vaccine safety scandals in the past, and its regulatory system is opaque and may not inspire confidence.

"I think scientists and the public don't trust China, just like they don't trust Russia," said Dr Offit. "They don't trust the vaccine data, just like they still don't trust the [coronavirus] case and death numbers."

The logistical problems that stand in the way

There are serious logistical issues, too. China's success in suppressing the epidemic early on means that, like others, it has had to look further afield to set up Phase Three trials, including in the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh (where this is little transmission of the virus) and some 9,000 health workers in Brazil.

Manufacturing and distribution could prove to be another sticking point. While traditional inactivated vaccines are less complex, said Dr Chowdhary, the manufacturing process is slowed by the need for high security labs to grow live virus at the start of the process.

Also, China does not have a large scale and globally established vaccine export business like India, for example.

Even its domestic manufacturing capability is unclear. CNBG says it has constructed a new factory, doubling its capacity to more than 200 million doses a year, while Sinovac has a new plant in Beijing capable of producing roughly 300 million doses annually – but neither is enough to cover the country's entire population.

There is one great leveller in the vaccine race.

Vaccine makers of all nationalities face one particular significant hurdle, the spectre of which was raised when the Oxford vaccine was suspended last week: there is a risk that the antibodies created by a vaccine interact with those naturally acquired to spark a potentially dangerous adverse reaction. This is known as antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).

The problem for vaccine makers is testing for it. In most, perhaps all, the trials run to date, volunteers are screened ahead of time to check they have not got existing SARs-CoV-2 antibodies before being given a jab. They are then monitored for adverse reactions if and when they come into contact with the natural virus.

But Dr Chowdhary said there was a theoretical risk ADE could happen the other way round if someone previously exposed to the virus was then inoculated with new antibodies.

"It is only a theoretical risk. But in science, unless we can prove it's not there, we don't say it's not there. And as far as I know, we haven't done that yet," he said.



AG Barr Rips National Media as a ‘Collection of Liars’ Over Riot Coverage

Wrapping up a three-day tour in Chicago, Phoenix and Cleveland Friday, Attorney General Bill Barr took on the media during an exclusive interview with Townhall.

"They're basically a collection of liars. Most of the mainstream media. They're a collection of liars and they know exactly what they're doing. A perfect example of that were the riots. Right on the street it was clear as day what was going on, anyone observing it, reporters observing it, it could not have escaped their attention that this was orchestrated violence by a hardened group of street fighting radicals and they kept on excluding from their coverage all the video of this and reporting otherwise and they were doing that for partisan reasons, and they were lying to the American people. It wasn't until they were caught red-handed after essentially weeks of this lie that they even started feeling less timid," Barr said on the flight back to Washington Friday afternoon.

"The press has dropped, in my view - and I'm talking about the national mainstream media - has dropped any pretense of professional objectivity and are political actors, highly partisan who try to shape what they're reporting to achieve a political purpose and support a political narrative that has nothing to do with the truth. They're very mendacious about it," he continued. "It's very destructive to our Republic; it's very destructive to the Democratic system to have that, especially being so monolithic. It's contributing to a lot of the intensity and partisanship."

For months major news networks have portrayed riots across the country as "peaceful protests." CNN ran a chyron of a reporter standing in front of a burning Kenosha business that read, "Fiery but mostly peaceful protest."

"It's funny that you had record numbers of police being injured during 'peaceful' protests," he said. "You know usually in protests, you have large numbers of injured rioters and a modest number of injured law enforcement. I'm talking about back in the 90s and 60s, 60s to the 90s, nowadays very few rioters get injured, very few and hundreds, even thousands of officers have been injured."

But while most of what Barr classifies as "national media" has failed to report the facts on the ground about recent unrest, he credits a small number of journalists who have worked to find and publish the real story.

"I think there are a handful of reporters in the mainstream media that still have journalistic integrity, and there are some, but the overwhelming majority don't have it anymore," Barr said. "The people who do cover the Department do understand some of the issues. But, on the other hand, some of them have essentially adopted the same methods and ploys as what I refer to more generally as the national media and that is they're not because, probably somewhat because, of their own orientation and but also what their editors say, they're not really interested so much in what really happened but in pursuing a preformed narrative that suits some kind of ideological agenda. That's what it's all become."

One of those people is Associated Press reporter Mike Balsamo, who embedded with the U.S. Marshals protecting the federal courthouse in Portland during endless nights of rioting and unrest. Townhall's Julio Rosas has been on the scene of riots in Seattle, Portland and Kenosha.

According to Barr, the organizing behind the rioting in cities across the country is under investigation and federal law enforcement agencies are working to identify the individuals behind the chaos.

"People are pouring through all of the video trying to identify people to hold people accountable," Barr said, adding that the funding of the riots is also under investigation. "I think Antifa and Antifa like groups are at the center of it."



Nobel peace prize for Trump?

Bahrain joins the UAE in recognising Israel

An old Arab orthodoxy is swiftly falling apart, but it may not change Israel’s oldest conflict

IT TOOK 72 years for the first Gulf state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The second needed just four weeks. On September 11th President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Bahrain would recognise Israel. Less than a month earlier, on August 13th, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached a similar agreement with the Jewish state. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Abdullah bin Zayed, the Emirati foreign minister, had been due at the White House on September 15th for an official ceremony. The foreign minister of Bahrain will now join them.

If the UAE’s decision came as a surprise, Bahrain’s was more predictable. Indeed, many observers had thought it would be the first Gulf state to recognise Israel. Their foreign ministers met publicly in Washington last year. Both countries regard Iran as a serious threat. Bahrain also sees ties with Israel as a way to boost its standing in Washington. The island kingdom relies on America for security (and hosts America’s Fifth Fleet).



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 September, 2020

How comeback kid Sweden got the last laugh on coronavirus: Infections and deaths fall to record lows and economy improves as Britain removes the country that shunned lock-down from the quarantine list

While coronavirus cases rebound across Europe, Sweden is enjoying record low numbers of infections and deaths despite months of scepticism about its lockdown-free strategy.

Sweden's infection rate - once the highest in Europe - is now lower than in Britain, Spain, France or Italy, as well as Norway and Denmark where leaders have long been alarmed by their neighbour's high death rate.

Sweden last week carried out a record number of tests but only 1.2 per cent of them came back positive, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

The Swedish comeback has now led Britain to remove the country from its quarantine list, opening the door to tourism in an economy which has already suffered a milder downturn than much of Europe.

Sweden has flattened the curve without ordering its people to stay inside - keeping shops, schools and restaurants open even at the height of the pandemic and trusting Swedes to combat the virus by washing their hands and abiding by social distancing rules.

The Nordic country's top epidemiologist has also played down the effectiveness of face masks and insisted that a full-scale lockdown would not have prevented care home deaths.

Sweden once had the worst infection rate in Europe measured by cases per million people - but while cases have surged in Spain and France and risen in Britain, Germany and Italy, Sweden's infection rate has fallen to an all-time low

In the spring and summer, Sweden's infection rate was far higher than that of its Nordic neighbours - but the numbers are now similar with Norway and Denmark both having more cases per million over the last seven days

Sweden's infection rate was the highest in Europe as recently as mid-June, when increased screening led to more than 1,000 people testing positive per day.

On June 15, Sweden had a 7-day average of 101 cases per million people per day, while the next-highest in Europe was Belarus with 79.

In Western Europe, the next-highest was Portugal on 30 cases per million, while Sweden's neighbours were far lower: Denmark six, Finland three, Norway two.

In addition, Sweden has piled up more deaths than Norway, Denmark and Finland put together, with 5,843 fatalities in total, despite its population being only twice as large as those countries.

The Swedish figures prompted concern and its strategy led to criticism at home and abroad, with many countries leaving Sweden off their lists of approved travel destinations when they resumed tourism.

Sweden was indignant when its Scandinavian neighbour Finland excluded it from an easing of travel restrictions in Baltic and Nordic countries.

Britain also left Sweden out of its 'travel corridor' list because its infection rate was still too high, while the Swedish prime minister announced an inquiry into the country's handling of the disease.

However, the situation has totally reversed in three months since then, with infections surging in much of Europe but reaching record low levels in Sweden.

Sweden announced only 7,131 new cases in the month of August, down from 11,971 in July and a far higher figure of 30,909 in June.

By contrast, cases quadrupled from July to August in Spain and France, and more than doubled in Germany and Italy, while Britain this week tightened restrictions after a rise in cases.

The highest infection rates in Western Europe are now in Spain (200 cases per million) and France (118), while Britain is on 37 with Sweden well below them on 17.

Sweden's current figure is lower than in Norway (19) and Denmark (38), with Finland the lowest of the four mainland Nordic countries on seven cases per million.

Schools re-opened in Sweden mid-August and health officials say they do not expect a large resurgence of the virus in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, Sweden announced that it had carried out a record number of tests last week with only 1.2 per cent coming back positive - the lowest rate since the crisis began.

At the peak of the crisis in the spring, 19 per cent of of tests - nearly one in five - were coming back positive in some weeks.

'The purpose of our approach is for people themselves to understand the need to follow the recommendations and guidelines that exist,' health agency chief Johan Carlson told a news conference.

'There are no other tricks before there are available medical measures, primarily vaccines. The Swedish population has taken this to heart,' he said. 

Deaths have also declined to their lowest levels since the earliest days of the pandemic, with only 11 new fatalities in the last week.

There were 681 deaths in the worst week of the pandemic from April 19-25, when Swedes were still going to shops while most of Europe was in lockdown.

In recent weeks, some days have passed without a single new patient going into intensive care - compared to the dozens going into ICU every day in April.

There were only six virus patients in Stockholm hospitals as of August 31 compared to 225 at the end of April, the local health authority Region Stockholm said.

Per Follin, department head at Stockholm's Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, said figures in the capital were at the 'lowest level in a very long time.'

'The reason we have relatively low transmission now is largely due to the fact that so many Stockholmers are following the recommendations to stay home when you're sick, wash hands and keep your distance,' Follin said.

Anders Tegnell, the Swedish state epidemiologist who has been the face of the country's virus strategy, has previously admitted that too many Swedes have died from the virus.

However, he has insisted that a lockdown would not have stopped the large number of deaths in care homes where visits were banned in any case.

In another sign of Swedish success, Britain announced yesterday that Sweden had been added to the list of approved 'travel corridor' countries - while Portugal was removed after a rise in cases.

The Swedish government has long cited a high level of trust in authorities as a reason why virus measures can be voluntary rather than enforced.

The strategy has been touted by the WHO as a sustainable model for tackling the virus, with Swedish officials saying that people will accept softer restrictions for longer.

Shops and restaurants remained open with social distancing rules, while most schools stayed open and the rate of infection among children was no higher than in Finland where classrooms closed, officials said.

As Europe edged out of lockdown, Sweden continued to forge its own path by playing down the use of face masks as other countries made them mandatory.

Tegnel has said that masks have little proven effect and could lead to a false sense of security among wearers, and they are not required on public transport.

By contrast, Finland now recommends wearing masks in public places, Norway advises it on Oslo public transport, while Denmark has made it mandatory on all public transport and in taxis.

Tegnell's standard response is that public health officials are 'keeping an eye on' the issue and could introduce the measure if deemed necessary.

'Our strategy has been consistent and sustainable,' says Jonas Ludvigsson, a professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet.

'We probably have a lower risk of spread here compared to other countries,' he said, adding that Sweden likely had a higher level of immunity than other countries.

'I think we benefit a lot from that now,' he said.

Sweden has never adopted 'herd immunity' as a strategy in itself but officials have voiced hopes that it would gradually help to limit the spread of the disease.  

However, scientists are not yet fully certain of exactly how much immunity is provided by recovering from Covid-19, or for how long it lasts.

A study by the UK's Royal Society of Medicine last month found that only 15 per cent of people in Stockholm had acquired antibodies by May 2020.

Meanwhile, Swedish economic activity has started to pick up and the effects of the downturn look less severe than previously feared.

'The economic situation is looking a little brighter compared to our assessment in June,' finance minister Magdalena Andersson said in late August.

Sweden's economy will contract around 4.6 per cent this year, Andersson said, compared to a projected 8.0 per cent slump in the EU and 11.0 per cent in Britain. 

The predicted drop is lower than an earlier projection of 6.0 per cent and similar to that seen during the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

The outcome for Sweden is also roughly in line with forecasts for its Nordic neighbours, despite the much tougher measures they took to fight the pandemic.

Andersson said the improvement would mean a deficit in public finances of around 5.6 per cent of GDP this year, compared with its June forecast of 7.8 per cent.

She said the economy would need further support next year and in 2022 and 2023, promising around $11.46 billion of spending in September's budget.

The Social Democrat-Green coalition government introduced a raft of policies to fight the pandemic, promising to spend about $34billion this year



Election Prediction Model That Has Been Correct 25 of the Last 27 Elections Says Trump Will Win in a Landslide

Stony Brook Political Scientist Helmut Norpoth has created a Presidential Election prediction model which has correctly predicted the winning candidate in 25 of the last 27 Presidential elections, going back to 1912, the first year presidential primaries in the states were used in each party’s nominating process.  The only two years the model was wrong were 1960, with Kennedy beating Nixon — although there are strong historical accounts that election fraud in Texas and Illinois delivered both states to Kennedy when, in fact, the voters of Texas and Illinois selected Nixon.  If those two states had been declared for Nixon, they would have given him exactly 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win the election.

The other year the model was incorrect was 2000, when Bush prevailed over Gore after a court challenge which declared Bush to be the winner in Florida by just a handful of votes, with Florida’s electoral votes needed by each candidate to declare victory.

Prof. Norpoth’s model predicts a 91% chance that Pres. Trump wins re-election, and gives him 362 electoral votes in the process.

In playing around with an interactive electoral map, the way I get Pres. Trump to 362 electoral votes would put only the following states in Biden’s column:

Washington, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and one vote from Maine.

That would mean that Trump would win the following states that are right now considered to be Democrat or toss-ups:

Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska (all), Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine (3), Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

That would be a wipeout of a historical nature given all the predictions about the election up to this point.

BUT that is how “wave” elections tend to happen.  Undecideds do not generally break in relatively even numbers. Undecideds generally shift in large numbers to one candidate.  States that are small leans become solid.  States that are true tossups become comfortable, and states that were leaning towards the other candidate suddenly become battlegrounds and can be lost.  Only truly safe states remain safe — but the margin of victory in those states declines.

That is what happened in 1980 to Jimmy Carter.  He faced a challenge from within his own party in the primaries which split the Democrats.  Carter was unpopular with a portion of the party, and even the portion that backed him was unenthusiastic.

Polling in October and November went back and forth between the candidates, with both in the low-to-mid 40s.  Reagan was not the overwhelmingly popular President he became later during his two terms.  As late as the end of October, he led Carter by only 2-3%.  But he won the nationwide vote by nearly 10% on election day.  In the summer of 1980, third party candidate John Anderson was polling around 20%.   He ended up drawing 6%.

By huge numbers, the late deciding voters, and a substantial number of Anderson voters, ended up casting ballots for Reagan.

Carter won only 7 states.

Models such as the one created by Professor Norpoth used objective variables amassed during the entirety of the campaign season, going back to the primaries, to factor into the qualitative analysis.  It is not based on polling — the variables are what they are, and the model then uses historical results using those same variables to make a prediction about the outcome.

As noted, Prof. Norpoth’s model has only been wrong twice in the last 27 electoral contests – and it might have been correct in 1960 only to have been undone by vote fraud.

Imagine what the commentary will be in the media if early evening election calls are made for Trump in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida?




James Mattis told then-DNI Dan Coats they may be forced to take "collective action" against "unfit" Trump, according to Bob Woodward (National Review)

Democrats exploit riots and emotions to outraise Trump by over $150 million in August (Politico)

William Barr: "There could be" [correction: there should be] more criminal charges in Durham investigation (Washington Examiner)

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler viewed negatively by two-thirds of city's voters (Fox News)

Salon owner Erica Kious is closing her shop after maskless visit by Nancy "Special Rules" Pelosi (New York Post)

Voter fraud cases emerge in the battleground states of North Carolina and Georgia (The Daily Signal)

Faux black professor Jessica Krug resigns from teaching position at George Washington University (NBC News)

University of Michigan apologizes for apparent segregation of student events (The Washington Free Beacon)

Whistleblower claims DHS leaders altered intelligence; complaint was released by coup co-conspirator Adam Schiff (The Washington Times)

U.S. cancels over 1,000 visas for Chinese nationals deemed security risks (CNBC)

Chicago murder rate cut "roughly in half" since before Operation Legend (Fox News)

As DC mayor seeks to remove statues, Hillsdale College puts up more (The Federalist)

Policy: Eight school choice reforms for the coronavirus era (American Enterprise Institute)

Policy: Why Trump's Hispanic support is growing (The Federalist)


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

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


11 September, 2020

A Tale of Two States: Who Handled Covid Better, New York or Florida?

With the initial Covid-19 surge in cases and mortality in the rearview mirror (thankfully) for both New York and Florida, we finally have a clearer picture of the outcomes in states that took very different policy approaches — especially when it came to nursing homes.

Overall, 32,585 have died in New York as of this writing, and 11,870 have died in Florida. In both states, deaths were highly concentrated among the elderly at about 80 percent of all deaths. But within that population, on a per capita basis, New York had almost four times the number of deaths compared to Florida. The mortality rate so far is 815 deaths per 100,000 seniors in New York versus 229 deaths per 100,000 seniors in Florida.

This is a figure that members of the mainstream media have not reported, most likely because it flies in the face of the false narrative they’ve been pushing for the past few months.

The Tallahassee Democrat’s Zac Anderson reports some have accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “of standing by and doing little to halt the march of the virus in his state.” Meanwhile the press widely praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As one New York news outlet wrote, “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic has shot him to a form of national stardom and popularity in New York.”

“This is journalistic malpractice,” said Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Members of the drive-by-media did a hit job on Governor DeSantis, meanwhile, they elevated Governor Cuomo to near sainthood. They need to circle back to this story and give us the truth.”

And as bad as New York’s numbers are, a new analysis by the Associated Press indicates they could be even worse. The official number of Covid deaths in New York nursing homes is 6,500. But the AP crunched the data and believes that deaths could be as high as 11,000. It’s a number President Trump tweeted.  “Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York has the worst record on death and China Virus. 11,000 people alone died in Nursing Homes because of his incompetence!”

According to the AP: “Another group of numbers also suggests an undercount. State health department surveys show 21,000 nursing home beds are lying empty this year, 13,000 more than expected — an increase of almost double the official state nursing home death tally. While some of that increase can be attributed to fewer new admissions and people pulling their loved ones out, it suggests that many others who aren’t there anymore died… For all 43 states that break out nursing home data, resident deaths make up 44 percent of total COVID deaths in their states, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Assuming the same proportion held in New York, that would translate to more than 11,000 nursing home deaths.”

Making matters worse, Cuomo has blocked efforts to investigate how many nursing home residents were transferred to hospitals and later died. Cuomo’s command-and-control approach to the virus was reckless and it killed far more people than did DeSantis’s measured, limited government approach in Florida.

Cuomo forced nursing homes in his state to accept COVID-19 patients, issuing an executive order on March 25, knowing those facilities could not treat them. His actions infected the most vulnerable populations in the state with the deadly virus and was in direct violation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance. The guidance directed nursing homes to only admit COVID patients if “the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions” and to keep only those COVID-infected patients for which they could safely care for.

In contrast, Florida did the opposite, not transferring infected patients to nursing homes, and even with the additional protections, still 4,800 seniors died from assisted living facilities there — underscoring just how important those precautions are.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma on May 21 noted, “In the guidance, CMS urged nursing homes to dedicate a specific wing to patients moving to, or arriving from, a hospital, where they could remain for 14 days with no symptoms.”

The bottom line is despite having 1.1 million more seniors in Florida, New York had nearly four times the number of senior deaths per capita from the virus.

“As America continues to struggle with how to open up our schools, and businesses, we would be well-served to learn from this tale of these two states,” concluded Manning. “One state responded to the pandemic by protecting vulnerable populations and allowing everyone else to make their own risk assessments. The other state imposed draconian lockdowns on everyone and ignored federal safety guidelines. The outcomes could not be any more clear. Florida’s approached saved lives, while New York’s approach was a death sentence for thousands.”



The Democrats, Not the Republicans, May Face Reconstruction After This Election

The recent and current practice of overturning, decapitating, and defacing statues of famous men and women, requiring their removal, is a dangerous symptom of nihilistic tendencies, and without putting on the airs of the psychiatrist, implies the presence of collective suicidal impulses.

Statues of famous figures of the past in every field not only honor the individuals celebrated and promote pride among the living for the distinction of their forebears, but convey a reassuring hint of immortality. People die but their reputations don’t, and in many cases, they flourish, are reinterpreted, and the attainments and aptitudes that prompted people to put up statues to such individuals in the first place, are debated and often magnified.

Albert Camus, in his famous book “The Plague,” which was a metaphor for the Nazi occupation of France, wrote, “Only the mute effigies of great figures of the past remind the present of what man had been.”

Such Paris statues as those of Georges Clemenceau, Napoleon, and George Washington must have given some heart to Parisians in the dark days of the occupation.

When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered politics in 1997, he answered the questions of some of his fellow journalists, “They don’t build statues to journalists, do they?” He couldn’t imagine that statues could be taken down more easily than they could be put up.

Even Hitler, when he removed Marshal Foch’s famous railway carriage in Compiegne, where the armistice ending World War I was signed, and blew up the statues around it celebrating the defeat of Germany, ordered that the statue honoring Foch, the supreme commander of the Allied armies, be left undisturbed.

The French, he said, are entitled to revere their heroes. Hitler’s one act of kindness to France was to order that the coffin of Napoleon’s son, the so-called King of Rome, be moved from Vienna and reinterred at Napoleon’s tomb in the Invalides. Even he had some respect for the memorials and remains of the honored dead.

Honored Soldiers

It is, in the abstract, especially barbarous for people to destroy and vent their contempt upon statues of symbolic or unknown soldiers of past wars.

When Gen. Grant, immediately following Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, halted a 100-gun salute of victory, he said that there can be no celebration of the defeat of “a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

The South fought for a society which they revered and romanticized (as in “Gone With the Wind”); unfortunately, slavery was at the heart of it, and as Britain and France and other advanced countries had already recognized, the whole concept of people owning other people as property is so repugnant that today, it’s practically unimaginable.

But as President Reagan said in his famous address at the German cemetery at Bitburg on May 6, 1985, young men drafted into the service of their country for which they gave their lives were also victims of Nazi oppression; and the sons of the South who died defending slavery were also, in some measure, its victims.

Their courage, though misplaced, shouldn’t be dishonored. The generals who commanded them have less excuse, but Lee, a former commandant of West Point, strongly recommended against secession.

It was then only 71 years since the former American colonies united “to form a more perfect Union” and it wasn’t uncommon for gentlemen from the older states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts still to put the interests of their states ahead of those of the country.

Lee agonized over the decision and the consequences of the decision. Morally as well as strategically, he was mistaken, but he was a great general and a conscientious man, and an immensely important figure in U.S. history. He and Stonewall Jackson and others weren’t regarded by Lincoln as traitors; Lee wasn’t treated as a traitor, and doesn’t deserve to be reviled as one now.

‘Negative Discrimination’

There’s no conceivable argument for attacking the statues of Grant, Christopher Columbus, Frederick Douglass, or Abraham Lincoln. The statue of Lincoln with an African American kneeling before him captures the moment when Lincoln went to take possession of the Confederate capital, from which Grant had chased Confederate leaders a few days before.

Lincoln’s security was provided by an African American battalion, and as he walked two miles into Richmond, Virginia, many newly emancipated slaves knelt to thank him and, in each case, he helped raise them to their feet and said they must no longer kneel to anyone except God.

It’s not only ignorance and malice that possessed radical members and sympathizers of Black Lives Matter (BLM) to seek to remove and destroy that statue of Lincoln in Washington.

What we are now dealing with isn’t any semblance of Martin Luther King Jr. and his collaborators and followers demanding the civil and human rights that had been withheld from the emancipated slaves for a century of segregation. We have anti-white racism, just as malignant, just as insolent, just as violent, as the evils of Jim Crow and the Klan, no less so when the perpetrators are themselves white.

There are now frequent anecdotal reports of what is now called “negative discrimination,” meaning, in the South, African Americans in stores, restaurants, and elsewhere declining to serve whites on racial grounds.

As Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told the Republican convention last week, in one lifetime, his family had gone from baling cotton as black tenant farmers to his membership in the U.S. Congress; the negative side of that is that some of the descendants of those African Americans who had to sit at the back of the bus and couldn’t get service in diners and cafeterias now withhold that service from descendants of those who denied it to their ancestors.

There is some vindictive logic in this, but it quickly comes up against the demographic reality that African Americans comprise only 12 percent of the entire U.S. population.

King learned from Gandhi that among a people steeped in Judeo-Christian tradition, gross mistreatment of ethnic minorities could only be conscientiously endured if the minorities resorted to force to take what they were owed.

In India, though the British could technically have clung to their possession and generated a terrible bloodbath among the population, they recognized that they had no ultimate right to govern there, and withdrew, powerless against mass nonviolent noncooperation.

In the United States, former segregationist President Lyndon Johnson saw that segregation was the evil legacy of the greater evil of slavery. He was sincere when he told the Congress in 1965, “It is not just blacks but all of us who are the victims of racial prejudice and bigotry … and we shall overcome.”

Figuring It Out

The country has now recognized that BLM isn’t principally an organization that mourns the fate of victims of mistreatment such as George Floyd; it’s more notably an anti-white racist and urban guerrilla movement that is going to have to be dealt with as a threat to the elemental rights of all citizens of every pigmentation and to public security.

Destroying statues is symbolic; burning down and trashing cities is a premeditated assault on American civilization, not hot-headed and aggrieved impetuosity. The Democrats, to judge from Joe Biden’s address in Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, seem to be having a poll-driven grace of hasty conversion, but if they don’t put some real and explicit distance between themselves and BLM, they will pay a heavy price at the polls for sitting at the back of the wrong bus.

Their two chief allies in this campaign, black radicals and the COVID hysteria that they and their media lackeys have generated, are becoming serious handicaps.

Every week, BLM is more clearly seen as the infestation of looters and arsonists and rioters that it chiefly is, and as COVID fatalities decline, the masked, self-distanced, virtual-school cowardice and silliness of the Democrats becomes more obvious. In racial as in public health matters, the country, including all ethnic components of the country, are figuring it out more quickly than the Biden-Sanders Democrats.




GOP proposes $500 billion in "targeted" virus aid, but Democrat spendthrifts — naturally — say it's not enough (AP)

Unlike his predecessor, President Trump is legitimately nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian official, citing Israel-UAE peace deal (Fox News)

Memo to Democrats: 1,000 Georgia voters face prosecution for casting multiple ballots in June primary (National Review)

On Labor Day, Joe Biden touted "pro-labor" bill that would kill millions of jobs (Washington Examiner)

Industry study: Biden drilling ban would cost one million jobs and cause $700 billion drop in GDP (Washington Examiner)

You know the thing: Biden walks back national mask mandate over "constitutional issue" (Fox News)

Kamala Harris told alleged sexual deviant Jacob Blake she's "proud" of him (The Daily Wire)

Biden and Harris preemptively sow doubt on Trump vaccine announcement (Washington Examiner)

The guy who stabbed an AutoZone worker two weeks ago because he wanted to kill a white person has now killed his white cellmate (Not the Bee)

Rochester police chief and entire command staff step down following death of Daniel Prude (NBC News)

Dallas police chief resigns after criticism of department's actions against protesters (Fox News)

Minneapolis City Council now unlikely to defund police after "momentum slows" on proposal (The Daily Wire)

Jamal Khashoggi killers have death sentences overturned in Saudi Arabia: Five men will now serve 20-year jail terms after journalist's sons "pardoned" them (Daily Mail)

U.S. records less than 25,000 daily coronavirus cases, lowest count since June (The Hill)

Trump to withdraw more U.S. troops from Iraq, where 5,000-plus soldiers are currently deployed (AP)

Policy: Trump is right to remove critical race theory from diversity programs (The Federalist)


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

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


10 September, 2020

First major post-coronavirus cruise sets sail with new safety rules

Cruise ships are coming back online after coronavirus outbreaks erupted on numerous vessels back in the spring, bringing the multi-billion dollar industry to a grinding halt.

Switzerland-based MSC became the first major cruise company to welcome customers in several months when the Grandiosa set sail from the port of Genoa in northern Italy for a seven-day trip around the Mediterranean on August 16.

MSC implemented a slew of safety precautions to prevent the ship, which was christened last year and can carry more than 8,000 passengers and crew members, from becoming a breeding ground for the virus.

As other companies prepare to re-enter the high seas, new rules on the Grandiosa offer a look at what customers can expect for post-coronavirus cruises - including pre-boarding COVID-19 testing, face masks and social distancing in common areas and strict restrictions for port excursions.

The ship managed to complete its journey without any reported coronavirus cases - providing hope that the cruise industry could safely return sooner than most people expected. 

'We've created sort of this bubble,' Ken Muskat, chief operating officer at MSC Cruises USA, told The Points Guy last month.

On its first post-coronavirus voyage, the Grandiosa welcomed 3,000 passengers who were each tested for COVID-19 via a primary antigen test and a secondary molecular test prior to boarding.

Anyone who tested positive, had a fever or exhibited other coronavirus symptoms on a mandatory health questionnaire was barred from the boat.

One embarking passenger tested positive at both screening stages, according to MSC Cruises representative Luca Biondolillo.

'In accordance with the protocol, the passenger, as well as his traveling party, were denied boarding,' Biondolillo told CNN.

'Additionally, other passengers who had reached the ship with the same van were denied boarding as they were close contacts of the one passenger who tested positive.'

Crew members were also tested prior to boarding and spent time in quarantine on the boat before passengers arrived.

Cleaning protocols on the ship were ramped up with the additions of hospital grade disinfectant and the use of UV-C light technology to detect the virus.

All on-board activities were limited to smaller groups and passengers were required to wear masks in areas where social distancing isn't possible.

Each guest and crew member was be given a wristband that 'facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing', MSC said.

The Grandiosa made stops at the Italian ports in Naples, Palermo and Sicily and at Malta's Valletta port - where passengers could disembark for the day, but were kept on a tight leash.

Each off-board sojourn was pre-planned and no one was allowed to stray from the group. Biondolillo said one family that broke the rules during a day trip was not permitted to re-board.

'The health and safety protocols are put in place for the benefit of every single person,' the MSC spokesman said.

'There can be no breaking of the rules. These people risked jeopardizing everybody else's holidays and health.'

Most passengers appeared to appreciate the precautions that made them feel safe throughout the journey.

'I think cruises could be the safest holiday right now,' Valeria Belardi, who was on the cruise and owns a travel company, told CNN.

The Italian government gave cruise companies the green light to resume service last month, but limited capacity to 70 percent.

Cruise ships and the business they bring to many Italian cities during port excursions make up an important segment of Italy's vital tourism industry. An estimated 12 million cruise ship passengers arrived or departed from Italian ports last year.

MSC chose to limit its guests to the residents of Europe's 26-nation Schengen visa free travel zone.



Don’t Run Away, Conservatives

In case one has not heard, there is a culture war going on outside from which no man, woman, or child is safe. Even seemingly innocuous facets of life—including one’s choice of razor, home improvement store, or canned beans—have been converted into active fronts where boycotts, hashtags, and innumerable opinion pieces are mercilessly deployed by the Left and Right.

Conservatives are happy to forgo Starbucks or stock up on black beans in a show of solidarity. But when it comes to the fights that actually matter, those over the cultural institutions upstream of politics, increasingly, the Right seems to have taken to strategic retreat—or at least that is how conservatives are selling it to themselves.

A little over a month ago, “controversial” New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss resigned. Her somewhat-acrimonious resignation letter depicted a hostile work environment and confirmed what many have suspected for a while: that there is tremendous pressure to conform to progressive doctrine from The New York Times staff and online readership, as well as that the Overton Window at the “paper of record” is rapidly shifting as a result.

Three days later, former New York magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan wrote his farewell column, describing a similar work environment. Unlike Weiss, Sullivan did not leave his post of his own accord, but he was quick to look on the bright side, announcing that he would be reincarnating his old blog, The Dish, as a weekly newsletter. As Sullivan noted, his decision to leave blue chip media and publish independently is part of a trend: “There is a growing federation of independent thinkers and writers not subject to mainstream media’s increasingly narrow range of acceptable thought.”

Because Weiss and Sullivan’s exit stories align with their suspicions of mainstream media, conservatives and others concerned about the growing ideological imbalance and rigidity of the industry have largely found their departures cause for celebration—or, at least, cause for a cathartic I-told-you-so.

I am not so sure the elation is warranted.

Weiss and Sullivan will be fine. Their lives may even improve—not least because they have removed themselves from unwelcoming work environments. Both have large followings and may gain some notoriety as high-visibility victims of cancel culture. Maybe their future success will even serve as a rebuke to The New York Times and New York. But it feels myopic to interpret this as a larger victory or cheer for more of the same, especially if the ultimate goal is to restore some sense of ideological pluralism to mainstream institutions. In reality, both reputable publications were further homogenized by Weiss and Sullivan’s departures.

It is a mistake to assume that just because legacy media and other institutions are losing currency with conservatives that their perceived legitimacy is in decline across the board. They still matter, and their status cannot be replicated by upstart outlets. These institutions do not simply relay information; they shape truth, to an extent. Withdrawing from them voluntarily—or encouraging the few heterodox thinkers who remain in their employ to do so—is an own-goal, a forfeiture of cultural influence that will leave the Right sequestered to niche or overtly ideological publications, while allowing progressive activists to inherit the mantle of presumed viewpoint neutrality unopposed (provided they are so interested).

Can retreat in the face of institutional adversity ever make sense? I think it can, provided a realistic goal to structurally reorient an institution and the possibility of support from beyond activist circles. Writing at the American Mind, Inez Feltscher Stepman outlines such a plan, advising parents to join what she believes will be a large exodus from public schools, which she characterizes as anti-American propaganda mills. But, crucially, she does not simply want conservative parents to opt out of the public school system: She wants to leverage their departure (and others’, for it must be said that dissatisfaction with public schools is not limited to conservatives) to pressure legislators to reallocate resources from school districts to parents. She writes:

“Conservatives should step directly into this opening. If parents are being asked to shoulder the duties of actually educating their children, the tax dollars allocated for that purpose should flow directly to them to use for learning pods, private school, homeschooling equipment and curricula, tutors, or any other educational purpose they see fit…

Providing families with a portion of the state funds that currently flow directly to districts, whether they’re serving families or not, would allow parents of all income levels to hire teachers for small-group, in-person learning, alleviating both fears about risk from the virus and some of the equity concerns now raised by unions and The New York Times.”

Whatever one thinks of this idea ideologically, it is strategically superior to a fit of quixotic martyrdom that results in a loss of power and influence over American institutions. If the cultural Right thinks it has something valuable to offer to America, it should make its case and try to exercise some influence over institutions. Or, at least, it should stop confusing retreat with victory.



Democrats And ‘The Big Lie’

If Democrats have the truth on their side, why do they need to lie so much? It’s a question for the ages. Every time you turn on the news or open a paper, some headline is blaring about how President Trump is a disaster. You name it – Coronavirus, trade, the economy, race relations, the military, schools – and there is a liberal Democrat with a press credential telling you how those things and more are bad, and have never been worse, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

Adolf Hitler called it the “Große Lüge,” or “Big Lie,” and the political left has embraced it once again, this time flooding the zone with it.

The idea of the big lie was once again laid out in a 2017 column by the detestable Charles Blow of the New York Times. Blow was using it to accuse Trump, ironically enough, of using the tactic (Democrats are always doing what they accuse Republicans of doing).

Quoting a more recent translation of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” Blow wrote, “It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.”

Blow’s conclusion, that the President’s strategy is, “Tell a lie bigger than people think a lie can be, thereby forcing their brains to seek truth in it, or vest some faith in it, even after no proof can be found,” is like a vampire staring into a mirror and convincing himself he has nothing in his teeth.

Democrats have lied to the American public for decades, all politicians do, to one degree or another. But lies, to the degree that they work, only work when mixed in with the truth – the pill mixed in some raw hamburger to get a dog to eat it. They’re the burnt chip that gets past quality control, not the whole bag. For the left, it’s all they offer now.

“There aren’t riots, they’re ‘mostly peaceful’ protests.” “Donald Trump wants people to die.” “Donald Trump hates the military.” “President Trump is a puppet of Vladimir Putin.” “The President is trying to start a race war.” You name the lie and there’s a Democrat telling it.

Big lies always come with delusions of grandeur and a martyr complex. “I’m the only one willing to tell you the truth, and I’m risking my life to do it,” is the trick used to garner credibility. “I said several weeks ago, the man would shoot us if he could,” Joe Scarborough told his audience last week. The implication being he and his current wife, Mika Brzezinski, are such heroes willing to “speak truth to power” that the powerful would like to take them out. (Why would anyone want to put Joe and Mika out of their misery? They deserve each other, at least for as long as they can make this marriage last.)

There is no lie too big or small to tell about the President, each serves the role of reinforcing the others. The echo chambers created by those telling the lies and those desperate to believe them is a testament to just how they hate the man’s existence.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York correctly pointed out the absurdity of a “study” trying to claim that 93 percent of protests were peaceful by highlighting there were 570 riots over the last 3 months. “Investigative reporter” David Kay Johnston replied it was “typical” of York’s “mendacity” to highlight the real number rather than a meaningless percentage. Attorney John Huber highlighted the absurdity of Johnston’s argument by pointing out, “4 flights out of 40,000 on 9/11 means 99% of flights were peaceful.”

Nothing the left claims stands up to even basic scrutiny, which is why the echo chamber is so important to them. Should anyone wander outside it they risk being exposed to reality, and reality is their kryptonite. Ever wonder why other outlets spend so much time attacking Fox News? This is why. They are desperate to convince anyone snared in the web that someone like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, or Laura Ingraham are racists so they won’t bother to see for themselves. “We watch so you don’t have to” is really “We show short, out of context clips and lie about them in the hope that you’ll never watch yourself.” They’re terrified their audiences will catch an unfiltered look at the world.

Dorothy and the gang truly believed in the Wizard, right up until they caught a glimpse of that man behind the curtain. Everything Democrats are doing now is in a frenzy to prevent anyone from being exposed to the reality they’ve so hysterically spent 4 years obscuring. The election is so close now they can taste it. But they’ve got a queen-sized blanket trying to cover a king-sized bed; too much of that reality is creeping through. Too many people are seeing the mob burning cities and beating people, liberal politicians preaching one thing and doing another, and the economic comeback. But it’s too late to change tactics now, they’ve already pushed all their chips into the center of the table. With 2 months to go, the big lies are only going to get bigger.



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

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


9 September, 2020

Here's How We Know The Atlantic's Hit Piece on Trump Is Pure Fiction

The Left are putting into Trump's mouth their own thinking

A report published Thursday by The Atlantic cited anonymous sources claiming that President Donald Trump didn’t want to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because the troops there who died in battle were “losers” and “suckers. The media has largely reported on this story as though it were true or at least likely to be true.

“The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!”

Even CNN’s Brian Stelter seemed to acknowledge that the claims of anonymous sources aren’t as convincing.

“But it is also incumbent on the sources, on the people that are talking to [Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey] Goldberg, on the people that are talking to other outlets — the president’s denying it explicitly, so it’s put up or shut up time,” Stelter said. “Why aren’t these people coming forward and putting their names to these quotes?”

Perhaps because it’s a lot easier to lie when your name and reputation aren’t on the line. But there are at least five witnesses who have gone on the record disputing the allegations made in The Atlantic.

Coincidence? Hours After The Atlantic’s Hit Piece on Trump Came a Pre-Produced Commercial
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary, called The Atlantic story B.S. on Twitter, “I was actually there and one of the people [who were] part of the discussion – this never happened. I have sat in the room when our President called family members after their sons were killed in action and it was heart-wrenching,” she said. “These were some of the moments I witnessed the President show his heart and demonstrate how much he respects the selfless and courageous men and women of our military. I am disgusted by this false attack.”

Dan Scavino, White House deputy chief of staff for communications was also with the president that day. “I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all. Complete lies by ‘anonymous sources’ that were ‘dropped’ just as he begins to campaign (and surge). A disgraceful attempt to smear POTUS, 60 days before the Presidential Election! Disgusting!!”

Jordan Karem, personal aide to President Trump, also denied the allegations made in The Atlantic story. “This is not even close to being factually accurate. Plain and simple, it just never happened.”

He tweeted about the allegations again, saying, “I was next to @POTUS the whole day! The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes.”

Also present during the event was Trump’s former deputy White House press secretary, Hogan Gidley, who called the allegations “disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies.”

“I was there in Paris and the President never said those things,” Gidley said. “In fact, he would never even think such vile thoughts because I know from firsthand knowledge that President Trump absolutely loves, respects, and reveres the brave men and women of the United States military. He always has and always will. These weak, pathetic, cowardly background ‘sources’ do not have the courage or decency to put their names to these false accusations because they know how completely ludicrous they are. It’s sickening that they would hide in the shadows to knowingly try and hurt the morale of our great military simply for an attack on a political opponent.”

White House Senior Advisor Steven Miller called the story a “despicable lie.”

“The president deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call,” Miller said in an interview with The Washingon Examiner. “The next day, he spoke at Suresnes American Cemetery in the pouring rain and refused an umbrella. No one has a bigger, more loving, or more loyal heart for American veterans and fallen heroes than our president.”

But perhaps the most convincing evidence that The Atlantic’s absurd story is completely false comes from a rather unlikely source: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton is someone who undeniably has had an axe to grind with Trump and he even wrote about the event at which Trump allegedly made those comments in his anti-Trump memoir, but made no mention of them.

While Trump’s supporters have countered many claims in Bolton’s memoir, it’s beyond dispute that, had Trump actually made the remarks alleged in The Atlantic‘s smear piece, Bolton would have had every incentive to include them in his description of the events.

Documents released as the result of a FOIA request also debunked the allegation that weather wasn’t the true reason behind his canceled visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

Despite the story being debunked, former Vice President Joe Biden pounced on the anonymous allegations. “When my son volunteered and joined the United States military as the attorney general and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he wasn’t a ‘sucker,'” Biden said Friday. “The servicemen and women he served with, particularly those who did not come home, were not losers.”

“Quite frankly, if what is written in The Atlantic is true, it is disgusting. It affirms what most of us believe to be true — that Donald Trump is not fit to be the commander in chief,” Biden added.

Rather than move on to address other issues, Biden pressed on as though the allegations were true. “President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself. If I am honored of being the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their backs.”

Joe Biden should apologize to President Trump for being so desperate as to rely on a debunked story based on anonymous sources to launch an attack.



What you need to know about "promising" convalescent plasma and COVID-19
President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is the fluid component of blood that is isolated from the donated blood of those who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

This fluid is rich with the antibodies that previous patients had produced to fight the virus and is transfused into current patients to aid their immune systems and help them to recover as well.

The announcement of the emergency use authorization came at the end of several months of convalescent plasma’s use in clinical trials and as part of an expanded access program, also known as “compassionate use.”

To date, more than 100,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients have been treated with convalescent plasma as part of the expanded access program at the Mayo Clinic. The data from the program “shows promising efficacy,” according to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and it helped to justify the emergency authorization.

The study of this data, available as a preprint, included 35,322 patients who received a transfusion of convalescent plasma between April and July.

Researchers measured the different mortality rates at seven and 30 days between groups. Although there was no control group that received either a placebo or standard of care, researchers divided the patients into either those who received transfusions before or after three days, or into three different groups that received transfusions with high, medium, or low levels of antibody. Those levels were not known at the time of transfusion.

Researchers found that mortality was lower among those who received the transfusions earlier and among those who received the highest antibody titers, or concentrations.

Comparing those who received transfusions before and after three days, mortality on Day Seven was 8.7% in the early group and 11.9% in the later group.

In other words, earlier transfusions were associated with a 27% lower risk of mortality than later transfusions.

On Day 30, the difference was smaller, but still associated with about a 21% mortality-risk reduction for those receiving transfusions earlier, compared with those receiving transfusions later.

Mortality was also found to be inversely proportional to levels of antibody (as measured by antibody titers). That is, the higher the antibody levels in the plasma, the lower the risk of mortality. Comparing the mortality from the high-titer group, which was 8.9%, to the low-titer group, which was 13.7%, there was 35% relative risk reduction in mortality.

These are all extremely promising numbers, but do not yet prove definitively that convalescent plasma is an effective treatment.

With more than 35,000 patients involved, there is a tremendous amount of data that showed statistically significant improvements in those who received transfusions earlier with higher antibody titers.

This is certainly enough to justify an emergency use authorization—but still not that “gold standard” of medicine, which is the randomized, controlled trial.

As an example of potential confounding, those who were enrolled in the study later in its course were more likely to be treated concomitantly with remdesivir, which has been shown to decrease the time to recovery and may have affected the clinical outcome of patients in this study.

And getting to the bottom of that information might be difficult because more than 1,800 sites were involved in this study, each with different attending physicians treating their patients based on compassionate use, rather than on strict study protocols.

Still, the vast number of patients involved in this study helps to negate confounding factors and gave the FDA enough information to determine that convalescent plasma met the requirements to issue an emergency use authorization to it.

Prior to the emergency use authorization, patients could have access to convalescent plasma as part of a clinical trial or through the expanded access program.

An expanded access program treats the drug as an investigational drug and is intended to allow severely ill or near-dying patients to have access to the drug outside of a clinical trial setting.

In that setting, the focus is on the potential benefit of the drug, and safety may become a secondary concern. Using the drug as treatment requires approval by an institutional review board, which is a formal committee mostly concerned with biomedical research.

In contrast, now that convalescent plasma has an emergency use authorization, it can be used as part of the practice of medicine and outside of a research context. Normal consent is required, and there is no need for approval from an institutional review board. Furthermore, the emergency use authorization is only granted if the FDA thinks that a drug is safe relative to its potential benefits.

In short, as a result of this emergency use authorization, it will be much easier for more patients in more institutions to be treated with convalescent plasma, which is showing great promise.

But as always with COVID-19, optimism should be guarded. The trials are still underway that will show for certain whether convalescent plasma is effective or not.

While we wait for more information to come back from clinical trials, the large amount of existing data we have suggests that we may have another option in the fight against COVID-19.

This emergency use authorization now makes it easier for patients to have access to it




"President Trump has made it crystal clear that he has our backs": Trump receives endorsement from the the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest cop union (National Review)

Stars and Stripes funding won't be cut, Trump says (Military Times)

Shoring up a faux narrative: Russian interference could cost us the election, Harris claims (Washington Examiner)

Portland police declare riot on 100th straight night of protests (Washington Examiner)

Portland DA: Antifa shooter "appeared to be targeting" counterprotesters, allegedly stalked murder victim (The Daily Wire)

Iraq War veteran likens Portland to living in a war zone (The Daily Signal)

BLM protesters riot and vandalize in Rochester, New York (Sharyl Attkisson)

Thirty-nine photos capture America's summer of riots, arson, and looting (The Daily Signal)

Here are 31 times the media justified or explained away rioting and looting after George Floyd's death (The Daily Signal)

The sheriff of southern Indiana's largest county has switched to the Republican Party, accusing Democrats of endorsing flag burning, failing to acknowledge God and not supporting police (AP)

Seems legit: Kansas state Democratic candidate says abuse of ex-girlfriend could have been prevented by "Medicaid for All" (Washington Examiner)

Gender reveal party sparked wildfire now burning 7,000 acres in California (Fox News)

Policy: In order to defeat COVID-19, the federal government must modernize its public health data (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


8 September, 2020

Why Is the West So Powerful—And So Peculiar?

I don't find the Henrich theory (below) plausible at all.  I see the Catholic church as a conserving influence, not an innovative one, though I admit that the Dark Ages were not wholly dark. Some innovations did occur then.

I have expounded on my view of Western uniqueness elsewhere but, in brief, I see modernity as being ultimately due to two influences, Germanic traditions and the Reformation.

The Germans lived in the far North of the world so were never overtaken by the despotisms of the ancient world.  Tribal democracy appears to have been normal throughout Europe initially and perhaps even in Mesopotamia.  It was notably present in ancient Greece and Rome.  It could be argued that consultative government in some form is natural but tends to evolve with encroaching complexity, which in turn runs together with increasing prosperity

As is universally held, however, the opportunities and demands of irrigation in Mesopotamia soon led to the deveopment of kings, princes and emperors

And Europe was always in some touch with the despotisms to the east -- principally through trade -- so Eastern ideas were long well-known there.  And when the Roman warm period made Southern European agriculturalists prosperous, Eastern ideas and Eastern prosperity began to look like the new best thing.  So principally in the persons of Phillip of Macedon and Julius Caesr, despotisms arose in Southern Europe. But the Southern despots had little reach Northwards, as the Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald, when an alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions, firmly established

So ancient forms of tribal democracy persisted only in Northern  Europe and that underlay the Saxon strike for independence led by Martin Luther and his king.  Saxony was already a kingdom by that time but it had substantially consultative forms and Northern kingdoms were often elective rather than hereditary.  So the independence of mind that Protestantism embodied was simply a reassertion of underlying Germanic democratic values.

As the name implies, Protestantism is a rejection of centralized authority.  In some Christian churches, democratic government persists to this day -- principally among Presbyterians.  I grew up as a Presbyterian so my own extreme independence of mind could be partly cultural

But how do we get to the Industrial revolution from the Protestant reformation a couple of centuries later?  There have been various proposed answers for that but again the influence appears to be religious.  Gradually increasing properity in England, due in part to its "splendid" isolation from Europe's wars, eventually led to a coming of the Puritans and their extreme independence of mind -- and the Puritan role in early English industrialization of England was large.  Their disregard for how things had always been done in religion led to a previously unthinkable openness to innovation generally

And the development from that goes on to this day.  We are all extreme Protestants now.

I have written elsewhere about the political implications of the Henrich theory

Henrich, who directs Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, is a cultural evolutionary theorist, which means that he gives cultural inheritance the same weight that traditional biologists give to genetic inheritance. Parents bequeath their DNA to their offspring, but they—along with other influential role models—also transmit skills, knowledge, values, tools, habits. Our genius as a species is that we learn and accumulate culture over time. Genes alone don’t determine whether a group survives or disappears. So do practices and beliefs. Human beings are not “the genetically evolved hardware of a computational machine,” he writes. They are conduits of the spirit, habits, and psychological patterns of their civilization, “the ghosts of past institutions.”

One culture, however, is different from the others, and that’s modern WEIRD (“Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic”) culture. Dealing in the sweeping statistical generalizations that are the stock-in-trade of cultural evolutionary theorists—these are folks who say “people” but mean “populations”—Henrich draws the contrasts this way: Westerners are hyper-individualistic and hyper-mobile, whereas just about everyone else in the world was and still is enmeshed in family and more likely to stay put. Westerners obsess more about personal accomplishments and success than about meeting family obligations (which is not to say that other cultures don’t prize accomplishment, just that it comes with the package of family obligations). Westerners identify more as members of voluntary social groups—dentists, artists, Republicans, Democrats, supporters of a Green Party—than of extended clans.

In short, Henrich says, they’re weird. They are also, in the last four words of his acronym, “educated, industrialized, rich, democratic.” And that brings us to Henrich’s Big Question, which is really two linked questions. Starting around 1500 or so, the West became unusually dominant, because it advanced unusually quickly. What explains its extraordinary intellectual, technological, and political progress over the past five centuries? And how did its rise engender the peculiarity of the Western character?

Given the nature of the project, it may be a surprise that Henrich aspires to preach humility, not pride. WEIRD people have a bad habit of universalizing from their own particularities. They think everyone thinks the way they do, and some of them (not all, of course) reinforce that assumption by studying themselves. In the run-up to writing the book, Henrich and two colleagues did a literature review of experimental psychology and found that 96 percent of subjects enlisted in the research came from northern Europe, North America, or Australia. About 70 percent of those were American undergraduates. Blinded by this kind of myopia, many Westerners assume that what’s good or bad for them is good or bad for everyone else.

[Read: How a focus on rich educated people skews brain studies]

Henrich’s ambition is tricky: to account for Western distinctiveness while undercutting Western arrogance. He rests his grand theory of cultural difference on an inescapable fact of the human condition: kinship, one of our species’ “oldest and most fundamental institutions.” Though based on primal instincts— pair-bonding, kin altruism—kinship is a social construct, shaped by rules that dictate whom people can marry, how many spouses they can have, whether they define relatedness narrowly or broadly. Throughout most of human history, certain conditions prevailed: Marriage was generally family-adjacent—Henrich’s term is “cousin marriage”—which thickened the bonds among kin. Unilateral lineage (usually through the father) also solidified clans, facilitating the accumulation and intergenerational transfer of property. Higher-order institutions—governments and armies as well as religions—evolved from kin-based institutions. As families scaled up into tribes, chiefdoms, and kingdoms, they didn’t break from the past; they layered new, more complex societies on top of older forms of relatedness, marriage, and lineage. Long story short, in Henrich’s view, the distinctive flavor of each culture can be traced back to its earlier kinship institutions.

The Catholic Church changed all that. As of late antiquity, Europeans still lived in tribes, like most of the rest of the world. But the Church dismantled these kin-based societies with what Henrich calls its “Marriage and Family Program,” or MFP. The MFP was really an anti-marriage and anti-family program. Why did the Church adopt it? From a cultural evolutionary point of view, the why doesn’t matter. In a footnote, Henrich skates lightly over debates about the motivations of Church leaders. But his bottom line is that the “MFP evolved and spread because it ‘worked.’?” (Henrich’s indifference to individual and institutional intentions is guaranteed to drive historians nuts.)

Forced to find Christian partners, Christians left their communities. Christianity’s insistence on monogamy broke extended households into nuclear families. The Church uprooted horizontal, relational identity, replacing it with a vertical identity oriented toward the institution itself. The Church was stern about its marital policies. Violations were punished by withholding Communion, excommunicating, and denying inheritances to offspring who could now be deemed “illegitimate.” Formerly, property almost always went to family members. The idea now took hold that it could go elsewhere. At the same time, the Church urged the wealthy to ensure their place in heaven by bequeathing their money to the poor—that is, to the Church, benefactor to the needy. In so doing, “the Church’s MFP was both taking out its main rival for people’s loyalty and creating a revenue stream,” Henrich writes. The Church, thus enriched, spread across the globe.

Loosened from their roots, people gathered in cities. There they developed “impersonal prosociality”—that is, they bonded with other city folk. They wrote city charters and formed professional guilds. Sometimes they elected leaders, the first inklings of representative democracy. Merchants had to learn to trade with strangers. Success in this new kind of commerce required a good reputation, which entailed new norms, such as impartiality. You couldn’t cheat a stranger and favor relatives and expect to make a go of it.

By the time Protestantism came along, people had already internalized an individualist worldview. Henrich calls Protestantism “the WEIRDest religion,” and says it gave a “booster shot” to the process set in motion by the Catholic Church. Integral to the Reformation was the idea that faith entailed personal struggle rather than adherence to dogma. Vernacular translations of the Bible allowed people to interpret scripture more idiosyncratically. The mandate to read the Bible democratized literacy and education. After that came the inquiry into God-given natural (individual) rights and constitutional democracies. The effort to uncover the laws of political organization spurred interest in the laws of nature—in other words, science. The scientific method codified epistemic norms that broke the world down into categories and valorized abstract principles. All of these psychosocial changes fueled unprecedented innovation, the Industrial Revolution, and economic growth.

If Henrich’s history of Christianity and the West feels rushed and at times derivative—he acknowledges his debt to Max Weber—that’s because he’s in a hurry to explain Western psychology. The bulk of the book consists of data from many disciplines other than history, including anthropology and cross-cultural psychology, to which he and colleagues have made significant contributions. Their Kinship Intensity Index, for instance, helps them posit a dose-response relationship between the length of time a population was exposed to the Catholic Church’s Marriage and Family Program and the WEIRDness of its character. Henrich gets amusingly granular in his statistics here. “Each century of Western church exposure cuts the rate of cousin marriage by nearly 60 percent,” he writes. A millennium of the MFP also makes a person less likely to lie in court for a friend—30 percentile points less likely. Henrich anticipates a quibble about what he calls “the Italian enigma”: Why, if Italy has been Catholic for so long, did northern Italy become a prosperous banking center, while southern Italy stayed poor and was plagued by mafiosi? The answer, Henrich declares, is that southern Italy was never conquered by the Church-backed Carolingian empire. Sicily remained under Muslim rule and much of the rest of the south was controlled by the Orthodox Church until the papal hierarchy finally assimilated them both in the 11th century. This is why, according to Henrich, cousin marriage in the boot of Italy and Sicily is 10 times higher than in the north, and in most provinces in Sicily, hardly anyone donates blood (a measure of willingness to help strangers), while some northern provinces receive 105 donations of 16-ounce bags per 1,000 people per year.

To go further afield: While Europe was first compiling its legal codes, China was punishing crimes committed against relatives more harshly than those against nonrelatives; especially severe penalties were reserved for crimes against one’s elders. As recently as the early 20th century, Chinese fathers could murder sons and get off with a warning; punishments for patricide, by contrast, were strict. Asymmetries like these, Henrich writes, “can be justified on Confucian principles and by appealing to a deep respect for elders,” even if the WEIRD mind finds them disturbing.

Henrich’s most consequential—and startling—claim is that WEIRD and non-WEIRD people possess opposing cognitive styles. They think differently. Standing apart from the community, primed to break wholes into parts and classify them, Westerners are more analytical. People from kinship-intensive cultures, by comparison, tend to think more holistically. They focus on relationships rather than categories. Henrich defends this sweeping thesis with several studies, including a test known as the Triad Task. Subjects are shown three images—say, a rabbit, a carrot, and a cat. The goal is to match a “target object”—the rabbit—with a second object. A person who matches the rabbit with the cat classifies: The rabbit and the cat are animals. A person who matches the rabbit with the carrot looks for relationships between the objects: The rabbit eats the carrot.

You have to wonder whether the Triad Task really reflects fundamentally different cognitive bents or differences in subjects’ personal experience. Henrich cites a Mapuche, an indigenous Chilean, who matched a dog with a pig, an “analytic” choice, except the man then explained that he’d done so for a “holistic” reason: because the dog guards the pig. “This makes perfect sense,” Henrich muses. “Most farmers rely on dogs to protect their homes and livestock from rustlers.” Exactly! A Western undergraduate, probably not having grown up with dogs protecting her pigs, sees dogs and pigs as just animals.

Henrich is more persuasive when applying his theory of cumulative culture to the evolution of ideas. Democracy, the rule of law, and human rights “didn’t start with fancy intellectuals, philosophers, or theologians,” Henrich writes. “Instead, the ideas formed slowly, piece by piece, as regular Joes with more individualistic psychologies—be they monks, merchants, or artisans—began to form competing voluntary associations” and learned how to govern them. Toppling the accomplishments of Western civilization off their great-man platforms, he erases their claim to be monuments to rationality: Everything we think of as a cause of culture is really an effect of culture, including us.

Henrich’s macro-cultural relativism has its virtues. It widens our field of vision as we assess Western values—such as objectivity, free speech, democracy, and the scientific method—that have come under sharp attack. The big-picture approach soars above the reigning paradigms in the study of European history, which have a way of collapsing into narratives of villains and victims. (Henrich forestalls the obvious objections with this jarringly offhand remark: “I’m not highlighting the very real and pervasive horrors of slavery, racism, plunder, and genocide. There are plenty of books on those subjects.”) He refutes genetic theories of European superiority and makes a good case against economic determinism. His quarry are the “enlightened” Westerners—would-be democratizers, globalizers, well-intended purveyors of humanitarian aid—who impose impersonal institutions and abstract political principles on societies rooted in familial networks, and don’t seem to notice the trouble that follows.

It should be said, though, that Henrich can make a person feel pretty helpless, with his talk of populations being swept along by cultural riptides that move “outside conscious awareness.” Cultural evolutionary determinism may turn out to be as disempowering as all the other determinisms; a WEIRD reader may feel trapped inside her own prejudices. But perhaps some comfort lies in Henrich’s dazzling if not consistently plausible supply of unintended consequences. Who would have imagined that the Catholic Church would have spawned so many self-involved nonconformists? What else might our curious history yield? Henrich’s social-scientist stance of neutrality may also relieve Westerners of some (one hopes not all) of their burden of guilt. “By highlighting the peculiarities of WEIRD people, I’m not denigrating these populations or any others,” he writes. WEIRDos aren’t all bad; they’re provincial. Henrich offers a capacious new perspective that could facilitate the necessary work of sorting out what’s irredeemable and what’s invaluable in the singular, impressive, and wildly problematic legacy of Western domination.



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 September, 2020

An angry letter

The author below has good science behind her.  Locked down and non-locked down populations do not differ in the way expected. And in science that represents the falsification of  theory. For instance, I live in a lightly restricted Australian State -- Queensland -- which has very few cases of the virus.  The Southern State of Victoria, by contrast, is heavily restricted and has lots of infections.  We don't understand why as yet but the facts are there

It's similar to the well-known case of Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, where restrictions are very light in Sweden but the current death rate from the virus is similar to that in Denmark and Norway, which are heavily restricted.

I think the key to understanding is the very low death-rate from the virus.  Whatever we do, the virus gets through the population and kills off the tiny minority susceptible to it and deaths after that decline almost to nothing. The lockdowns simply lock people into places where the virus already exists -- such as nursing homes -- and ensures that everyone in those places gets it.

A test of that theory will be if Sweden gets no "second wave" of infections. Because the virus has had free rein there almost all of the Swedish population that the virus can kill off will already be dead

It's interesting that the lockdown idea seems to have originated in authoritarian China.  When Western politicians did not know what to do they simply copied that example, for want of other ideas.  But we know that authoritarian rule is generally pernicious so it is a pity that Western politicians suffered from such a failure of imagination

If 2020 wasn’t twisted enough, the current political imbroglio centers around a verboten visit to a California boutique for a routine blow-out. Americans are lining up either behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who claims she was “set up” to visit the San Francisco salon, or the salon’s owner, a woman struggling to keep her business alive amid cruel and unscientific edicts issued by her governor months ago.

The incident is the latest in a series of “rules for thee but not for me” gut punches from the ruling class; whether it’s mask-free trips to the park or crowded funerals for anointed heroes or casual meals munched indoors, the government-ordered shutdowns apply to everyone except the sadists running government who order said shutdowns.

But here’s the rub: No one should be talking about Pelosi’s coif controversy because it should not even be a story. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Erica Kious should never have been forced to close her business, fire her stylists, and sneak in customers like some 1940s underground operation hiding from the nation’s modern-day face covering and social distancing Gestapo. Pelosi should be able to get her hair done whenever and wherever she pleases without concocting a preposterous excuse that she was framed for fluffy follicles.

Almost a half a year ago, Americans were asked to suspend their personal freedoms, business pursuits, and schooling for 15 days to “flatten the curve” of rising cases of the novel coronavirus. Americans, fearful of the unknown and willing to do what they imagined was the right thing to protect themselves and their family, acquiesced.

That was 172 days ago. What has happened since will be studied and debated for decades with one likely conclusion: Global lockdowns, particularly in the United States, were one of the costliest man-made disasters of all time. The decision was rooted in unscientific hocus pocus that resulted in economic, educational, mental, physical, and emotional catastrophes on a scale that can never be fully quantified—not to mention the way stay-at-home orders fueled racial and civil unrest across America months before a national election.

A very small handful of us recognized this horrific mistake at the onset; we were shunned by both the Left and Right as heartless grandma-killers and “armchair epidemiologists” with no place in the debate. It was clear from the start, however, that the “experts” were winging it. The data was totally unreliable; the suggestion a virus could be stopped defied science and common sense. Initial models, based on untested inputs promoted by hucksters with an agenda, were prima facie garbage.

“This is a dangerous time and not just because of the threat of a treatable disease,” I wrote on March 19. “Americans are willingly surrendering to government their freedom, their livelihoods, their long-term economic security, and their mental well-being over unjustified panic about a virus that might have already spread and now is abating. If this is the new normal, where incomplete data and media-fueled panic rule the day, that is an even more frightening prospect than what’s happening right now.”

Now, nearly six months later, the oppression of the “new normal” is baked into daily life.

Kindergartners cry at computer screens instead of navigating those first wobbly days away from mommy, a rite of passage critical to human development. Remote learning strains the mental faculties and physical tolerance of teenagers now forced to stare for hours at virtual classrooms with no engagement or socialization. High school athletes who have suited up for football and soccer and cheerleading and cross country every season since grade school are sidelined; lifelong dreams of college scholarships, gone.

Millions of nursing home residents in some states remain neglected from the life-sustaining touch of a son or daughter. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis broke down during an emotional press conference September 1 when he announced the reopening of nursing homes to visitors. Loved ones would just “like to say goodbye or to hug somebody,” the first-term Republican explained. After composing himself, DeSantis wondered aloud whether the decision to shutter the eldery was the right one. “I think it’s difficult to think that some of our action may have . . . prevented that.”

Every age group is tortured by the inhumanity of quarantine. College dormitories, a place where new adults get the first glorious taste of grown-up liberation, resemble solitary confinement units. At a time when Democratic mayors are releasing criminals from prison, simpatico university deans are criminalizing young people for . . . acting like young people. Students were at first promised a few in-person classes and some semblance of a regular campus atmosphere—until tuition was paid.

Those of us parenting college students already know about the punishing rules and penalties imposed on our children; those who don’t should take a moment and read this collection of campus horror stories gathered by journalist Jordan Schachtel. The accounts are heartbreaking and infuriating.

“My son is a Freshman,” one parent wrote. “All his classes are online. In his giant dormitory, his room is only one with three guys. They have knocked on doors in their hall trying to meet people, and have been chastised and hassled by the RAs for being ‘radicals’ for simply reaching out to others.”

We now live in a “Black Mirror” dystopia—as evidence proves how nonthreatening this disease is to the overwhelming majority of Americans, threats to comply with punitive commands from above escalate. Remedies are dismissed while moneyed interests plug forced vaccinations so we can “get back to normal.” Other serious health issues go ignored or untreated as we fixate on a virus that already has burned out in most parts of the country.

The federal government just canceled contracts to buy more ventilators; nearly 120,000 machines are stockpiled and probably will go unused. Mandatory testing is rising at the same time studies show roughly 90 percent of positive results are meaningless.

Students and teachers are back to school in Wuhan, the source of the plague, while our kids prepare to remain secluded and chained to laptops for the rest of the calendar year.

Meanwhile, grown adults argue over a stupid freaking visit to a hair salon.

This must end. At a Pennsylvania rally Thursday night, President Trump detailed the negative outcomes of the shutdown. He reminded Americans that he once warned the cure couldn’t be worse than the disease and warned prolonged lockdowns in Democratic states are politically motivated.

The president is right—he should now declare the “war on coronavirus” is over. Yes, there are battle scars but the country won. Now, the reconstruction must begin. Take off the masks and remove the “social distancing” circles from the floors. Open the schools, liberate college campuses, fill the restaurants and the gyms and the churches and the hair salons.



7 September, 2020

Delaying Herd Immunity Is Costing Lives

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.



Vitamin D prevents COVID-19

A weakness in this study is that people with low vitamin D might have had other comorbidities

Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results

David O. Meltzer et al.


Importance:  Vitamin D treatment has been found to decrease the incidence of viral respiratory tract infection, especially in patients with vitamin D deficiency. Whether vitamin D is associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) incidence is unknown.

Objective:  To examine whether the last vitamin D status before COVID-19 testing is associated with COVID-19 test results.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This retrospective cohort study at an urban academic medical center included patients with a 25-hydroxycholecalciferol or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol level measured within 1 year before being tested for COVID-19 from March 3 to April 10, 2020.

Exposures:  Vitamin D deficiency was defined by the last measurement of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol less than 20 ng/mL or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol less than 18 pg/mL before COVID-19 testing. Treatment changes were defined by changes in vitamin D type and dose between the date of the last vitamin D level measurement and the date of COVID-19 testing. Vitamin D deficiency and treatment changes were combined to categorize the most recent vitamin D status before COVID-19 testing as likely deficient (last level deficient and treatment not increased), likely sufficient (last level not deficient and treatment not decreased), and 2 groups with uncertain deficiency (last level deficient and treatment increased, and last level not deficient and treatment decreased).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The outcome was a positive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test result. Multivariable analysis tested whether vitamin D status before COVID-19 testing was associated with testing positive for COVID-19, controlling for demographic and comorbidity indicators.

Results:  A total of 489 patients (mean [SD] age, 49.2 [18.4] years; 366 [75%] women; and 331 [68%] race other than White) had a vitamin D level measured in the year before COVID-19 testing. Vitamin D status before COVID-19 testing was categorized as likely deficient for 124 participants (25%), likely sufficient for 287 (59%), and uncertain for 78 (16%). Overall, 71 participants (15%) tested positive for COVID-19. In multivariate analysis, testing positive for COVID-19 was associated with increasing age up to age 50 years (relative risk, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01-1.09; P?=?.02); non-White race (relative risk, 2.54; 95% CI, 1.26-5.12; P?=?.009), and likely deficient vitamin D status (relative risk, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.12-2.81; P?=?.02) compared with likely sufficient vitamin D status. Predicted COVID-19 rates in the deficient group were 21.6% (95% CI, 14.0%-29.2%) vs 12.2%(95% CI, 8.9%-15.4%) in the sufficient group.

Conclusions and Relevance:  In this single-center, retrospective cohort study, likely deficient vitamin D status was associated with increased COVID-19 risk, a finding that suggests that randomized trials may be needed to determine whether vitamin D affects COVID-19 risk.



Just How Deep Is Your Coronavirus Religion?

“I wanted to stay put in Colombia to build a better future for my daughter, but we have to go back.” Those are the words of Nelson Torrelles to Wall Street Journal reporter John Otis. As Otis reported in the August 31 edition of the Journal, the “haggard and hungry” Torrelles along with his wife and 5-year old daughter are walking back to Venezuela on a Colombian highway.

They’d initially moved to Colombia to escape Venezuela’s socialist hellhole, only for Torrelles to get a job as a waiter at a barbecue restaurant in Bogota. But when Colombia joined much of the rest of the alarmed world in shutting down its economy in March in response to the coronavirus, Torrelles lost his job and soon enough the family apartment that he couldn’t make rent on. Hard as it may be to imagine for those of us lucky enough to live in the United States, the hungry Torrelles and his family are moving back to Venezuela.

Please stop and think about this for a minute. Please stop and imagine the pain Torrelles is in. It surely extends well beyond hunger. Imagine not being able to adequately provide for your family, including a daughter too young to understand that your failures are largely beyond your control. Words don’t begin to describe what Torrelles must be going through, nor can someone lucky enough to be in the United States understand just how awful things must be for Torrelles and his family.

About the coronavirus shutdowns, this column will stress yet again what it always has: the greater the presumed lethality of any virus, the less of any kind of need for shutdowns or government intervention. Practicality is behind this simple assertion.

For one, economic growth has long been the biggest enemy of virus and disease precisely because economic growth produces the surplus resources that can be mobilized in pursuit of cures for what ails us. If something threatens us with sickness or even death, no reasonable person would respond with forced economic contraction.

Second, the greater the presumed lethality of any virus, the more that any laws or rules meant to limit its spread are superfluous. Really, what about the high possibility of sickness or even death requires a law? People don’t need to be told to not hurt or kill themselves. No reasonable person would seek to expand government power over human action during the spread of a virus precisely because wise people would govern themselves.

To which some who absolutely revel in being told what to do will respond that not everyone is rational when it comes to protecting themselves. So true.

All of which speaks to the third reason any kind of governmental response to a virus is impractical. It is because accepted wisdom rarely ages well. Think back to AIDS in the 1980s, and the popular view that it could be spread by people merely existing in the same room.

Some people will most certainly throw caution to the wind about any virus, and it cannot be stressed enough that these people are crucial. Their indifference or their disagreement with accepted wisdom means essential information will be produced. Specifically, those who don’t share the alarmism of doctors like Anthony Fauci and Scott Gottlieb, two individuals who in no way face the risk of going without food, shelter or life’s comforts if it turns out they’re wrong, can tell us if those who aim to protect us are wrong or right. In particular, if some wholly ignore the Faucis and Gottliebs of the world only to experience no ill health effects for doing just that, the medical profession and society more broadly will be much smarter as a consequence.

Lest we forget, Fauci was the doctor who told us a husband could pass on AIDS to his wife just by being in the same room. This was 1983. He knew so little. So did everyone. The past raises an obvious question about the present: why would doctors and scientists eager to know the truth be so adamant as Fauci and Gottlieb are about ongoing governmental limits on human action? Those wholly interested in the truth would presumably cheer those not eager to follow official, or unofficial rules and accepted societal norms. They produce information as important, and arguably more important than the rule followers. Again, there’s so much we don’t know.

At the same time, what we know is that per the CDC, the hospitalization rate for those infected with the virus is .1 percent? As for deaths, the New York Times reported once again on August 18th that “More than 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have been tied to nursing homes.” “Once again” is operative mainly because the Times has long reported this fact, and it’s one that has long led the half-awake to a very simple conclusion: some, or maybe a lot of the U.S. coronavirus deaths have been a consequence of the elderly dying with the virus as opposed to having died directly because of it.

It turns out the CDC agrees with this blinding glimpse of the obvious. It recently released a report indicating that over 94 percent of the U.S. coronavirus deaths occurred among individuals with “underlying medical conditions” like diabetes, heart failure, respiratory failure, and other maladies. So while there’s so much so many don’t know, including doctors, what’s long been apparent is now being accepted even by the CDC; U.S. death counts related to the virus are overstated. Perhaps wildly so.

It’s a reminder that the answer to any illness or any other presumed problem must always begin with freedom. Not only does it produce crucial information that truth-focused doctors and scientists would plainly want to know, not only does it produce the growth that provides cures, it also helps those with the least avoid what Nelson Torrelles is enduring right now.

Again, please stop and imagine the many layers of his agony. Having done that, please ask yourself in your relative comfort just how deep your corona-religion is? Is it so deep that you’ll continue to turn a blind eye to the global suffering that’s taking place so that you can feel safe from a virus that thankfully kills so few? Please think deeply about this. The lives of hundreds of millions of innocent people with exponentially less than you hang on your level of alarmism, and the strange joy you derive from being told what to do. 



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 September, 2020

Going to school ‘does not increase risk of young children catching coronavirus’

Children going to primary school or preschool are at no greater risk of picking up Covid-19 than those staying at home, according to the first results of a national surveillance programme.

Public Health England (PHE) said they had detected only three positive cases — two staff and one pupil — out of more than 12,000 people tested in English primary and preschools in June and early July.

All three had only mild or no symptoms and when their households, class bubbles and wider schools were tested, the researchers did not find any additional cases.



Sweden has the last laugh

Lockdown-free Sweden's coronavirus case rate is now lower than Nordic neighbours Denmark and Norway with just 12 new infections per million people over the past week

In comparison, Norway saw 14 new infections per million people, and Denmark saw 18, meaning Sweden had an average case rate over seven days lower than its neighbours for the first time since March.

'Sweden has gone from being one of the countries with the most infection in Europe, to one of those with the least infection in Europe,' the country's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said at a press conference earlier this week.

Meanwhile, 'many other countries have seen a rather dramatic increase,' he added.

At the height of the pandemic, Sweden's infection rate dwarfed that of its neighbours, who did implement a lockdown.

At its peak on June 19, Sweden was seeing 108 new infections per million people, compared to Denmark and Norway's eight and three respectively.

The number of deaths in Sweden is now averaging at two to three per day, compared to a peak of over a hundred per-day it suffered in mid-April.

To add to positive signs in Sweden, a test last week of 2,500 randomly selected people found not one had coronavirus.

In comparison, in a similar test, 0.9 per cent were found to have the virus at the end of April and 0.3 per cent at the end of May.



New Zealand records first Covid-19 death in over three months

New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 death in more than three months on Friday when a man in his 50s succumbed to the virus.

Health officials said the man was part of a second-wave cluster of infections that emerged in Auckland last month, ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission in the South Pacific nation.

The death at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital on Friday afternoon takes New Zealand's death toll from the virus to 23, with the most recent previous fatality on May 24.

The man was reportedly the youngest to die from Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Health authorities did not say whether he had a pre-existing medical condition.

The Auckland cluster emerged in a family of four and has since grown to 152, including three new cases recorded on Friday.

While Aucklanders were allowed out of their homes this week, the government limited non-school social gatherings in the city of 1.5 million to 10 people and made masks compulsory on public transport nationwide.

Authorities said earlier on Friday, before the latest death was announced, that the restriction would remain in place until at least September 16.

The source of the Auckland cluster remains unknown but genome testing indicates it is not linked to the virus strain that New Zealand experienced earlier this year, which was largely eliminated in a seven-week lockdown that began in late March.

New Zealand, with its low death rate of 23 in a population of five million, has been hailed as one of the countries most successful in handling the virus.

Its response to the latest outbreak has included a blitz of around 600,000 tests in recent weeks, accompanied by extensive contact tracing and the pre-emptive quarantine of close contacts linked to confirmed cases.



Latest Data Proves COVID-19 Doesn’t Justify Postal Bailout

A stream of apocalyptic predictions and strained conspiracy theories have turned the once-sleepy world of U.S. Postal Service operations into front-page news.

Lawmakers focused on the topic are being confronted with an approaching deadline. By the end of 2021, the Postal Service is on pace to run out of funds needed to continue current operations.

Several proposed and potential pieces of legislation would provide a bailout worth tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to the Postal Service, supposedly justified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet there’s a big problem with this line of thinking: The pandemic has had a minimal effect on the Postal Service’s bottom line.

As a result, a COVID-19 bailout would be the equivalent of giving someone a blood transfusion while ignoring gaping wounds.

The financial status of the Postal Service burst into view in March, when leadership of the House Oversight and Reform Committee warned that bankruptcy was imminent due to COVID-19. Congress included a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service in the CARES Act based on these fears.

Just a few weeks later, it became apparent that warnings of an immediate collapse were unwarranted. While revenue from letter mail was down, demand for package deliveries increased strongly enough to compensate, meaning that the organization is not going belly-up in 2020.

This trend was confirmed in the latest quarterly report detailing the Postal Service’s performance from April through June. At first glance, the numbers appear grim: In just three months, the organization suffered a $2.21 billion loss.

However, placing that number in context tells a different story. The Postal Service lost $2.26 billion during the same period of 2019, and $4.52 billion for the first three months of 2020.

If COVID-19 were the reason for the Postal Service’s difficulties, we would expect the losses to be worse during the first months of the economic lockdown, not better.

The Postal Service has lost money every year since 2007, even during periods of strong economic growth. There are two big reasons for this troubling trend.

First, as communication increasingly moves online, the number of letters has plunged from its peak in 2001. That means less revenue to maintain postal facilities and pay employees.

Second, Congress has handcuffed the Postal Service when it comes to controlling costs. The largest expense, employees, can be reduced only through layoffs, rather than through lowering the generous compensation of $97,588 per worker.

Many potential operational changes, such as switching from six deliveries per week to five, also are barred by law.

Even when the Postal Service does have the ability to cut costs, it can result in a swift backlash from Capitol Hill. That was evident in recent weeks as lawmakers chastised Postmaster General Louis DeJoy regarding the removal of sorting machines, which was set in motion before he arrived and has been taking place for years.

Rather than drafting legislation to reform the Postal Service and make it financially sustainable, both chambers of Congress seem intent on the shortsighted approach of a taxpayer-funded bailout.

The House passed a $25 billion bailout that wrongly includes further restrictions on cost-cutting. A bipartisan Senate bill provides up to $25 billion to cover postal losses “resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” a definition that could potentially be used to cover any postal losses during the pandemic, regardless of the actual cause.

Senate leadership is considering whether to turn the $10 billion CARES Act loan into a grant. That would improve the Postal Service’s bottom line at the expense of adding to the national debt.

DeJoy has requested supplemental funds from Congress to cover additional expenses related to COVID-19, such as providing masks to employees and installing transparent dividers at retail locations. The amount needed to address those costs would not be $10 billion or $25 billion, but instead closer to $1 billion.

Another common justification for a bailout is the upcoming election, which is expected to feature record levels of mail-in voting. DeJoy has repeatedly explained that there’s no need for extra funding to cover mailed ballots.

Even if every vote this year were sent by mail within a few days, that would amount to about 5% of a typical week’s volume. Since mail-in ballots are sent over the course of months, and since letter-mail volume is down this year, the Postal Service will have no problem delivering ballots.

Tackling the Postal Service’s many problems will be no small task. However, this is precisely the sort of problem that we should expect our nation’s leaders to address in a responsible manner, rather than temporarily “fixing” it through pricey bailouts.



Trump economy adds another 3.7 million jobs in August with 13.8 million total jobs recovered since April as rapid recovery continues

The U.S. economy added another 3.7 million jobs in the month of August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey of Americans reporting they have jobs, bringing the total up to 13.8 million jobs that have been recovered since labor markets bottomed in April, something almost nobody but President Donald Trump was predicting.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases continue to stabilize nationwide, including in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona where cases saw a brief uptick this summer.

At the worst of the coronavirus recession, as many as 25 million jobs were lost by April, and now more thanhalf of those jobs have been regained, as a V-shaped recovery has clearly formed.

In just four short months, almost 14 million jobs have come back in the Trump-Pence economy — thanks to President Trump’s leadership to stabilize the pandemic and get the U.S. economy safely reopened for business.

For perspective, in the Obama-Biden economy, it took almost five years to recover the 8 million jobs that were lost in the financial crisis and Great Recession.

The reason is President Trump had the considerable foresight to work with Congress to implement necessary economic supports, including payroll protection for 5.2 million small businesses that Trump credited with the recovery in his acceptance speech stating, “Thanks to our Paycheck Protection Program, we have saved or supported more than 50 million American jobs. That’s one of the reasons that we’re advancing so rapidly with our economy.”

In addition, unemployment benefits were expanded, critical industries such as airlines were supported and state and local governments were reinforced. Foreclosures and evictions were postponed, and banks were encouraged to grant homeowners forbearance on their mortgages. All this in a bid to encourage Americans to temporarily stay home while an adequate pandemic response including testing and ventilator production was put into place.

Also of note, on the establishment survey which asks employers how many people are on the payroll, businesses report 10.6 million jobs recovered since April. The difference between the two surveys is the establishment survey doesn’t count everyone like those self-employed. For that reason in February before the pandemic closures, the household survey reported 158.75 million Americans having jobs, while the establishment survey reported 152.46 million Americans working. Those differences are well-known, and it might mean the household survey is more relevant to the American people.

With more good news, an additional 765,000 Americans left unemployment the week of Aug. 22, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor. Because that is occurring later in the month, it may not fully factor into the monthly data until the September jobs report out the first week of October.




Trump campaign bracing for legal battle over election, forming "coalition" of lawyers (Fox News)

Washington Post op-ed suggests Americans may need to prepare for war if Biden doesn't win in a landslide (The Daily Caller)

Protesters gather outside Nancy Antoinette's San Francisco home, hang blow-dryers and curlers in a tree (The Daily Caller)

Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin agree on plan to avoid government shutdown (Politico)

U.S. pulls $62 million in funding from the ChiCom-supporting World Health Organization (The Washington Free Beacon)

"A publicity stunt": Kenosha locals give lukewarm reception to Joe Biden (Washington Examiner)

Kenosha speech showed that the difference between Biden with a teleprompter and without a teleprompter is scary (The Federalist)

With the Supreme Court MIA on the subject, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit says "large"-capacity magazine bans are OK; last month, the 9th Circuit said the opposite (Reason)

NPR walks back pro-looting story (The Daily Wire)

CBS censors Andrew Cuomo threatening physical harm to Donald Trump (NewsBusters)

Federal task force kills Portland antifa murder suspect; man pulled gun on agents during arrest (AP)

Body camera footage shows Deon Kay was brandishing a gun when shot by DC police (The Post Millennial)

Cleveland police officer fatally shot; search underway for suspect (Fox News)

Colorado woman beats up child for carrying Trump sign (PJ Media)

Yet another white cultural appropriator: White George Washington University history professor admits she lied about being black (Fox News)

Discover blocks donations to site raising money for Kyle Rittenhouse defense (Fox Business)

In foreboding ruling, appeals court says transgender students may use restroom of choice (The Daily Signal)

Justice Department plans to file antitrust charges against Google in coming weeks (The New York Times)

Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after seven-year delay (Politico)

Seems legit: Hot temperatures in minority inner-city neighborhoods are caused by systemic racism, new study says (Campus Reform)


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

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


4 September, 2020

Good news: coronavirus-fighting antibodies last longer than scientists thought

Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly as some earlier reports suggested, scientists have found.

Tuesday's report, from tests on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system's response to the virus over time, and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines.

If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies as natural infection seems to do, it gives hope that "immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting", scientists from Harvard University and the US National Institutes of Health wrote in a commentary published with the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had coronavirus helps protect against future infection, and for how long. Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.

The new study was done by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the US biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland.

The country has tested 15 per cent of its population since late February, when its first Covid-19 cases were detected, giving a solid base for comparisons.

Scientists used two types of coronavirus testing: the kind from nose swabs or other samples that detect bits of the virus, indicating infection; and tests that measure antibodies in the blood, which can show whether someone was infected now or in the past.

Blood samples were analysed from 30,576 people using various methods, and someone was counted as a case if at least two of the antibody tests were positive. These included a range of people, from those without symptoms to people hospitalised with signs of Covid.

In a subgroup that tested positive, further testing found that antibodies rose for two months after their infection initially was diagnosed and then plateaued and remained stable for four months.

Previous studies suggesting that antibodies faded quickly may have been just looking at the first wave of antibodies the immune system makes in response to infection; those studies mostly looked 28 days after diagnosis. A second wave of antibodies forms after a month or two into infection, and this seems more stable and long-lasting, the researchers report.

The results do not necessarily mean that all countries' populations will be the same, or that every person has this sort of response. Other scientists recently documented at least two cases where people seem to have been reinfected with coronavirus months after their first bout.

The new study does not establish how much or which type of antibody confers immunity or protection - that remains unknown.

The study also found:

Testing through the bits-of-virus method that is commonly done in community settings missed nearly half of people who were found to have had the virus by blood antibody testing. That means the blood tests are far more reliable and better for tracking the spread of the disease in a region and for guiding decisions and returning to work or school, researchers say.
Nearly a third of infections were in people who reported no symptoms.

Nearly one per cent of Iceland's population was infected in this first wave of the pandemic, meaning the other 99 per cent are still vulnerable to the virus.

The infection fatality rate was 0.3 per cent. That is about three times the fatality rate of seasonal flu and in keeping with some other more recent estimates, said Dr Derek Angus, critical care chief at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.

Although many studies have been reporting death rates based on specific groups such as hospitalised patients, the rate of death among all infected with coronavirus has been unknown.

The news that natural antibodies do not quickly disappear "will be encouraging for people working on vaccines", Dr Angus said.



Cheap hydrocortisone drug reduces deaths in sickest COVID-19 patients, research finds

A cheap and widely available steroid has been found to reduce mortality in the sickest COVID-19 patients.

Hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, could save one in every 12 patients and will be recommended for use in NHS coronavirus patients.

It is the second drug found to be effective in reducing mortality in those with severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre found that patients receiving intensive care who were treated with hydrocortisone for seven days had a 93% chance of a better recovery compared to patients who were not treated with the steroid.

The benefits of hydrocortisone were announced alongside analysis from seven trials involving three different types of steroids - including dexamethasone, which has already been found to reduce mortality and is widely used.

The studies found that treatment with one of dexamethasone, hydrocortisone or methylprednisolone led to an estimated 20% reduction in the risk of death.

Professor Anthony Gordon, who led the research into hydrocortisone, said: "The studies published today show that we now have more than one choice of treatment for those who need it most.



Australians left to die instead of Trump’s coronavirus cure being used

Andrew Bolt:

Hundreds of Australians may be dying because of Donald Trump. See, the US President last May made a fatal mistake: He backed a drug that could cure the coronavirus.

Sorry, let me rephrase. Hundreds of Australians may be dying because many politicians, medico-bureaucrats and journalists hate Trump’s guts.

Many would apparently rather ignore the studies that now say hydroxychloroquine works than admit Trump may have been right.

Think of that, if you get sick. Or if you watch a loved relative die.

Are you — are they — being denied a cure that almost any chemist in Australia could hand over right now, just to stop Trump from looking good?

In May, Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine because he had “heard a lot of good stories”.

Why not try it, he suggested, when “you’re not going to get sick or die” from a drug that has been used by millions since 1955 to protect against malaria, and, later, to treat conditions such as lupus.

From that moment, the media left in the US and Australia demonised hydroxychloroquine to prove Trump’s a fool.

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook even censor posts by doctors saying they’ve successfully used it.

How the pharmaceutical giants must love it. Hydroxychloroquine is a generic drug that earns them peanuts, but a new vaccine, however imperfect, would earn them billions.

The height of this insanity was reached last week when Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, demanded federal parliament censure Liberal MP Craig Kelly for having said studies showed hydroxychloroquine, given early, saved lives.

For some reason, this news appalled Bowen. He said Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration “strongly discourages the use of hydroxychloroquine” for this coronavirus, and denounced Kelly for spreading “misinformation and conspiracy theories”.

Please stop Bowen becoming our health minister. We’re not safe if our health system is run by a man who hates being told of a cheap cure, and tries to silence any MP trying to show the evidence.

You see, in the week before Bowen tried to silence Kelly, no fewer than five new studies said hydroxychloroquine indeed saves people from dying, even without the zinc that apparently makes it more effective.

In the US, the Hackensack University Medical Center said people given hydroxychloroquine were a third less likely to later need hospitalisation.

In Italy, a study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine said patients needing hospital care, when hydroxychloroquine is less effective, still had “a 30 per cent lower risk of death” when given the drug.

In Belgium, a study in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents of 8000 hospitalised patients also said the death rate was cut by a third.

In Spain, a study of 9644 patients found “hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (an antibiotic) correlated with a lower mortality rate”.

In France, a study by Aix Marseilles University of 226 sick residents in an aged-care home said hydroxychloroquine halved the death rate.

That’s five studies all saying hydroxychloroquine works — all in the week before Labor called Kelly “the most dangerous man in parliament” for saying the same. How shameful.

Worse, states like Victoria still want to ban doctors from prescribing this drug.

This is sick. This is the cancel culture played for deadly keeps.

Yes, other studies insist hydroxychloroquine is useless. And Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dragged along Associate Professor Julian Elliott to a press conference last week to defend his state’s ban on it.

Elliott, head of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, obliged, attacking “a particular trend on social media”, and declaring “hydroxychloroquine should not be used” because “there’s now substantial information that it’s not effective, and it does have side-effects”.

But as I’ve noted before, Elliott’s taskforce cherrypicked wildly to dismiss hydroxychloroquine.

It checked only nine studies that showed it had little or no effect, but ignored any that showed it worked.

It relied most on an Oxford study that for some disastrous reason gave very sick patients potentially lethal overdoses — up to 12 times the recommended dose.

Crucially, none of the nine studies included zinc. Hydroxychloroqine is a zinc ionophore — it helps zinc get into cells and stop the virus replicating. The aged, most likely to die of the coronavirus, often have zinc deficiencies.

To repeat: I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works or not. But I do know it doesn’t kill, if used properly under medical advice, and some experts back it. So why ban doctors and patients from deciding for themselves? Or are hundreds of dead Australians a small price to pay for kicking Trump?




Nancy Pelosi visits hair salon, joins long list of hypocritical Democrats blowing off lockdowns (The Federalist)

Trump ignores warnings and tours Kenosha destruction (Washington Examiner)

Appeals court grants Trump delay in financial records case (Politico)

White House slams proposal to alter historical DC monuments, says mayor should be ashamed (Fox News)

Hunter Biden holds stake in Chinese company sanctioned for human rights abuses; Joe Biden has promised to go after companies with ties to China's repression (The Washington Free Beacon)

Kennedy dynasty suffers first loss ever in Massachusetts after Senator Ed Markey wins primary challenge (Fox News)

Hounded out by BLM: Portland's Democrat mayor is leaving his $840,000 condo after it was repeatedly targeted by anarchists (Daily Mail)

Tony Baltimore school buckles to anti-Semitic demands of Black Lives Matter activists (The Washington Free Beacon)

Elvis Presley's Graceland vandalized with graffiti messages including "Defund MPD," "Abolish ICE," and "BLM" (Fox News)

Chicago passes 500 homicides this year (National Review)

Chicago faces record $1.2 billion budget shortfall following "catastrophic" economic collapse, riots, and violence (The Daily Wire)

Divorce rate skyrockets 34% amid COVID-19 pandemic (Fox News)

White House moves to halt evictions through end of year as fears of coronavirus-fueled housing crisis grow (CNBC)

Trump payroll tax deferral finds few takers among businesses (The Hill)

ICE arrests 2,000+ illegal immigrants in sweep, 85% of whom had criminal convictions or charges (American Military News)

Teen Vogue pushes young people one step closer to socialism (Washington Examiner)

What are the Trump and Tim Scott "opportunity zones" that aim to largely help African American neighborhoods? (Sharyl Attkisson)


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 September, 2020

British Government scientist: ‘Lockdown was a monumental mistake’

A scientist advising the government on infectious diseases has said the lockdown was a ‘monumental mistake on a global scale’, in an explosive interview with the Daily Express.

According to Professor Mark Woolhouse, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, lockdown was a ‘panic measure’ and he ‘never want[s] to see national lockdown again’.

Woolhouse originally supported lockdown as a temporary measure, intended to buy time for scientists to come up with new methods for fighting Covid-19. However, he admitted it was done because ‘we couldn’t think of anything better to do’.

Woolhouse believes ‘the harm lockdown is doing… will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19’, if not greater. ‘The cure was worse than the disease’, he added.

He also took aim at the government’s policy of closing schools, saying this was ‘not an epidemiologically sensible thing to do’, and that we should have focused on care homes and not kids.

Woolhouse’s words make a mockery of the government’s claims to be following ‘The Science’ when shutting down society. This rash decision was taken seemingly with little regard to the extraordinary damage it would do to health, education, the economy and other public services.

What’s even more concerning is Woolhouse’s acknowledgement that the UK government still doesn’t have a strategy for balancing the Covid epidemic with a return to normal life. ‘I would not dignify waiting for a vaccine with the term “strategy”’, he said: ‘That’s a hope not a strategy. But we do need to get on with providing an alternative to lockdown.’

Rather than flail around in search of ideas, the government should end the lockdown for good and allow us to get on with our lives.



China emerging as winner in vaccine race as jabs reach phase-three trials

China is pulling ahead in what could be the final leg of the global coronavirus vaccine race, with four of seven possible candidates in last stage human trials – more than any other country.

However, some are concerned about the quality of the vaccines and that they are being used to gain political leverage.

Beijing is so confident in its homegrown inoculations that authorities have been administering vaccines for more than a month before clinical studies conclude, authorities revealed this week.

People deemed to be at higher risk of infection, such as border officials and state-owned enterprise employees working overseas, have received jabs after the government approved them for emergency use, according to state media. Soon, transport and service workers are also expected to be vaccinated.

“Giving untested vaccines means that there is no guarantee that they are going to work, so people could wrongly assume that they are inoculated when they are not,” said Nicholas Thomas, a health security expert and professor at the City University of Hong Kong. “In doing so, they could engage in behaviour that has a higher risk....[and] unwittingly put other people at risk.”

“The reason why vaccines go through phase 3 trials is to reduce the short and long-term risk to the individual,” he said. “Giving vaccine shots without this knowledge places individuals at significant personal risk.”

The Chinese government has provided sparse details on which vaccines are being given to people, and how many have been vaccinated, leading to concerns participation may be forced and not voluntary.

Last week, Papua New Guinea cancelled a flight from China filled with arriving passengers believed to have received a coronavirus vaccine over worries of the unknown health impact to the local population.

In general, “it’s better for a community if there’s more people vaccinated, so there’s less risk of an outbreak of Covid,” said Ben Cowling, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health. “At the same time, just having some vaccinated people wouldn’t be enough to mean that social distancing could be relaxed.”

Governments are under increasing pressure to find a lasting solution for the devastating pandemic that has swept the world, infecting nearly 25 million and killing more than 830,000. Authorities are also keen to get economies back on track as quarantine measures, though effective in containing the virus, are beginning to impact growth.

“Covid is causing economic damage every week, every month, so the sooner we can start using vaccines, the better,” said Mr Cowling.

For China, there are additional benefits. Coming up with a successful vaccine would help to deflect anger at home and abroad over its pandemic cover-up, while delivering a blow to US Donald Trump’s “warp-speed” plans for a vaccine. Competition is heating up as well with Russia.

The Chinese government “sees science and technology as tools of national greatness,” said Yangyang Cheng, a scientist and postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.

Winning the vaccine race would underscore government propaganda about how “it’s really a hostile world out there, and we, as in the Chinese people, have to rely on ourselves”.

It would also give China a new tool for diplomacy and potentially bring more allies into the fold. Indeed Beijing has already vowed “to give priority” to a number of Southeast Asian nations – the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – if it develops a vaccine.

Canada, engaged in a longstanding diplomatic spat with Beijing, had to halt plans to partner in late stage clinical trials as vaccine doses, stalled in Chinese customs, never even arrived.

China doesn’t have a great track record. Rushed exports of medical equipment and protective gear this year have turned out to be faulty. The country has also before been plagued with a number of health and food safety scandals, including expired vaccines and tainted baby formula that sickened 300,000 infants and killed at least six in 2008.

If early inoculations in China end up failing, experts say that could impact global public confidence in the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines in general.

While drug regulators have the power to decide whether or not to approve a Chinese vaccine for use in their own countries, they could come under pressure to fast-track a successful candidate on the market, regardless of who developed the treatment.

Countries, though, that China has agreed to conduct advanced tests with include Brazil, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Morocco, where regulatory hurdles for vaccines to become available may be less stringent than in Western countries like the US or UK.

Still, experts are optimistic with so many vaccine candidates in advanced testing, which could eventually yield a few options. Over time, it may also emerge that some vaccines are better suited for certain parts of the population; for instance, one type of vaccine could be more effective or suitable for children versus adults, said Mr Cowling.

While results of phase three trials won’t be available for another few months, early orders for vaccines are already coming in as nations seek to secure access for their citizens.

“The vaccine development process is like a marathon,” said Mr Cowling. “Some vaccines are nearing the end of the journey, but it’s unclear if they will finish. Some of these vaccines may not pan out; hopefully they will.”

While the coronavirus “does represent a significant threat to humanity,” infections can be controlled with social distancing and other preventative protocols, said Mr Thomas. “It is just that these have economic and political costs.”

“The urgency narrative being put out by Chinese, Russian and American officials is more about national prestige and avoiding such costs than about the comprehensive testing of a new vaccine.”



Fight for America—Voters Must Do This to Stop Socialism and Anarchy

For months, the forces of Marxism, socialism and anarchy have terrorized our streets and threatened the values that make America the greatest nation in the world.

The radical left’s ideas could destroy America for generations. The only bulwark that can stop them is an informed and energized citizenry.

If you are alarmed at the state of our nation and if you believe in America, this is the time to fight for America.

Rioting. Vandalism. Bullying opponents into silence. Calls to defund the police, abolish the Electoral College and remake America as a socialist country. It’s hard to believe what we’re now seeing.

For months, the forces of Marxism, socialism and anarchy have terrorized our streets and threatened the values that make America the greatest nation in the world. They have shown no signs of stopping, and many left-leaning politicians, members of the media and celebrities either tacitly accept their behavior or openly cheer it on.

Today, America has a choice of two paths. We can embrace the foundational principles that created this nation of limited government and individual liberty. Or we can veer down the path of those who trash those principles, who teach our children that America was illegitimate from the start, and who want to make the vast majority of Americans subservient to an all-powerful government.

The time has come to fight for America and against the poisonous ideology of the radical left.

But this is not the typical fight between liberals and conservatives over whose vision for America should prevail. This is a much bigger fight.

This is a fight over whether America as we know it continues to exist at all.

This is a fight over whether we have freedom, peace and prosperity, or speech codes, cancel culture and enforced ideological conformity.

This is a fight where conservatives, moderates and even more traditional liberals should be working together on one side to stop the radical Marxists on the other.

Vice President Mike Pence recently summed up this historic point in our history:

“We stand at a crossroads of freedom. Before us lie two paths: One based on the dignity and worth of every individual, and the other on the growing control of the state. One road leads to greater freedom and opportunity, and the other road leads to socialism and decline.”

Or even more succinctly, “The choice we face is whether America remains America.”

The radical left’s ideas could destroy America for generations. The only bulwark that can stop them is an informed and energized citizenry.

Amazingly, many citizens who are concerned about where they see the far left taking this country aren’t even registered to vote. If you are one of those people, your vote is one of the most effective ways you can stop the march toward Marxism.

Register to vote and make it your project to get 10 relatives and neighbors who aren’t registered to do the same. Then show up for your local, state and federal elections—and bring them with you. The best way to fight for America is to vote for America.

If there is a candidate in your area who shares your principles and isn’t afraid to actually fight for them, call the campaign office and offer a few hours of your time each week to hand out brochures, stuff envelopes or put up yard signs.

Additionally, you must arm yourself with facts so you can better understand the issues and you can also help inform your friends, relatives and social networks about them. Let those in your circles know what’s going on. So many of us are so busy in our lives that we can’t pay attention to everything, and the other side counts on that.

If you are alarmed at the state of our nation and if you believe in America, this is the time to fight for America. This is the time to support law enforcement officers, to call for accountability in an education system that indoctrinates rather than educates, and to go on offense against the extremism of the radical left.

This is the time to fight for a nation where freedom and prosperity flourish, where opportunity abounds and where civil society brings out the best in all of us. To fight for a nation of free enterprise, limited government and traditional American values.

These are the principles that have been fought for and preserved by the blood and sacrifice of generations before us. And they are the same principles we must defend and protect today. It’s time to stand up for them, because there is too much at stake to stand on the sidelines.




DC appeals court rejects Michael Flynn effort to force judge to immediately drop the scandalous case (Washington Examiner)

On a related note: Conservative takeover of appeals courts within reach with Trump reelection (The Washington Free Beacon)

A bumbling Joe Biden walks out after Pittsburgh speech without taking questions (Washington Examiner)

Biden praised for copying Mike Pence's RNC remarks on violent riots (The Federalist)

Riots rivaling coronavirus as top 2020 concern (Washington Examiner)

HarrisX-Hill poll suggests Trump's approval rating with black voters soared by 60% during RNC (The Washington Times)

On the other hand, a Military Times poll shows Trump's Armed Forces popularity slips — and more troops say they'll vote for Biden (Military Times)

Protests erupt in southern Los Angeles after an armed black man is killed by deputies (Fox News)

Stabbing suspect said he "felt the need to find a white male to kill" after watching cop videos (The Daily Wire)

DC mayor pleads with U.S. attorney to ramp up prosecutions of violent protesters (Fox News)

Portland has declared more than two dozen riots since George Floyd's death (The Daily Caller)

Mural to slain black police sergeant defaced in Philadelphia (The Federalist)

More fallout from the fall of Falwell: Liberty University announces independent investigation of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s tenure (National Review)

Almost five million first-time gun owners since January (CNS News)

Double standards: Philadelphia mayor seen dining indoors while city's restaurants can only serve outside (Fox News)

Feds "targeting and investigating" heads of BLM, antifa, and those who fund them (The Daily Wire)


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

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


2 September, 2020

Melbourne doctor slams coronavirus conspiracy spreading on Facebook

There are two extreme claims below and each is right in its own way.  The key statistic at issue is the number of people who have died with the virus in them but no other known problems.  Such people are very few but are they the only ones who have been killed by the virus?

The answer in that we do not know,  The truth is undoubtedly somewhere in between.  The incidence of comorbidities is high so it is unquestionable that the virus did not cause all the deaths attributed to it -- but even the most extensive autopsies would not always be able to sort out the cause of death in the patient.  Was it the virus or was it the comorbidity?

THe high percentage of those who have died with a comorbidity strongly suggests that it was mostly the comorbidity that caused death, not the virus -- but the exact percentage will never be known.

The important grain of truth that does emerge, however, is that the virus does not usually kill by itself.  So it is true that the official count of cases is greatly overstated.  But by exactly how much we cannot tell

Note that what is written on a death certificate is not always maximally well informed. It is therefore possible that NOBODY died of the virus alone

COVID-19 conspiracy theories are rife. While some people question its origins, others outright deny that it exists.
A top doctor has lashed out at a conspiracy theory spreading like wildfire on social media, picking apart the main arguments behind the theory.

Dr Sara Hassan from Melbourne shared a graphic being spread on Facebook by coronavirus deniers, which claimed that only 6 per cent of the COVID-19 related deaths reported in the US were actually caused by COVID-19.

The US has been ravaged by coronavirus, so far reporting more than 183,000 deaths out of over six million confirmed cases.

“I’m getting on this early because this type of misinformation and outright deliberate mischaracterisation of the facts is already making the rounds amongst conspiracy theorists hellbent on twisting facts to suit their agenda,” Dr Hassan said in a Facebook post.

“Those who spread these mistruths have one intention: To attempt to throw doubt about COVID deaths, minimise the seriousness of the pandemic, and ultimately encourage people to revolt against any mitigation put in place to prevent further deaths.”

Dr Hassan said the claims had come from a chiropractor in the US “who has obviously never completed a death certificate in her life”.

The claims are a screenshot from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing COVID-19 related deaths in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

“By focusing on the breakdown of deaths by comorbidity, this chiropractor has concluded that given only six per cent of COVID deaths had no other comorbidity listed on their death certificate (and) that this somehow means that ONLY six per cent of the COVID death tally is attributed to COVID, and the remaining 94 per cent of deaths are not,” Dr Hassan said.

“Such outrageous, ignorant and patently false claims are now spreading through social media by bored conspiracy theorists with a serious case of Stuckhome Syndrome,” she said.

“We know as a fact that people with underlying comorbidities are more susceptible to dying of COVID than those without pre-existing health issues.

“We know that COVID infection in those with underlying cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, immunosuppression and chronic neurological conditions results in worse disease outcomes.

“This is clearly evident in epidemiological data coming out of COVID-affected nations,” she said.

Australian data showed 67 per cent of pandemic-related deaths had at least one comorbidity, she said.

However, Dr Hassan said while conspiracy theorists are sharing the screenshot to validate their “false belief that COVID deaths are criminally over-inflated,” she said as a doctor able to interpret the statistics correctly, they show something more frightening.

“The fact that six per cent of COVID victims had absolutely no underlying pre-existing condition is terrifying,” she said.

“They were relatively healthy individuals and they still succumbed to this wildly infectious and unpredictable disease.”

Dr Hassan shared another post from Dr Sara Marzouk on how death certificates are written, saying she was concerned about laypeople misinterpreting information being shared on social media.

“For those whose only interest is to argue with indisputable fact, spread misinformation, encourage life-threatening complacency and erode confidence in our public health authorities/ health care workers/scientists, then please don’t bother commenting as you’ll be automatically blocked,” she wrote.

Dr Hassan’s post has gone viral, attracting more than 1200 reactions and being shared more than 1700 times.

“Thank you Dr! The more real information out there, the better it is for everyone,” one person commented with a heart emoji.

“Just thank you for taking the time to be a voice of reason when those, with a serious case of #stuckathome-itis who are no doubt afraid but horribly misinformed, seemed to be the loudest,” one woman commented on the post.

“This information merely confirms the warning the (World Health Organisation) stipulated at the start of the pandemic, that the elderly and those with comorbidities were at risk,” one man commented on the post. “Well hello! So they were right.”



Coronavirus vaccine could get emergency approval before critical testing is complete, FDA says

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that coronavirus vaccines may be given emergency approval before rigorous clinical trials are complete, according to recent news reports.

Only a couple of coronavirus vaccine candidates in the U.S. have advanced to phase 3 clinical trials, which are the most critical tests needed to prove, in tens of thousands of people, that a vaccine is both safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Typically, a vaccine must pass these advanced trials before given approval — but the pandemic has pushed vaccine development to unprecedented timescales.

"It is up to the sponsor [vaccine developer] to apply for authorization or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application," Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA Commissioner told The Financial Times. "If they do that before the end of phase three, we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination."

Hahn said a safe way to roll out the vaccine prior to results from phase 3 trials, is to issue an emergency use authorization for only a select group of people, according to the Financial Times. "Our emergency use authorization is not the same as a full approval," he told the Times.

Emergency use authorization is permission granted to unapproved products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening conditions, "when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives," according to the FDA. China and Russia have both given emergency approvals to coronavirus vaccines for a limited group of people prior to phase 3 results, according to the Times.

But approving vaccines too soon can be risky, public health officials have warned.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously told Reuters that a vaccine should not receive an emergency use authorization before it's shown to be effective. "One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial," he said.

"To me, it's absolutely paramount that you definitively show that a vaccine is safe and effective, both," Fauci told Reuters. "We would hope that nothing interferes with the full demonstration that a vaccine is safe and effective."

Last week, the FDA gave an emergency use authorization to plasma therapy, or antibody-rich plasma taken from recovered patients, to treat COVID-19, quickly reversing its announcement that the FDA wouldn't issue an EUA until there was more data that the therapy works, Live Science previously reported. The authorization followed on the tail of President Donald Trump's remarks that the FDA's decision to wait for more data before giving an EUA to plasma therapy could be political, according to the report.

Hahn told the Times that the decision to give an EUA on vaccines wouldn't be politically driven.

"We have a convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the political season, and we're just going to have to get through that and stick to our core principles," he told the Financial Times. "This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision. This is not going to be a political decision."

In the U.S., just two candidate vaccines are in phase 3 trials: one made by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and BioNTech, according to a Live Science roundup of coronavirus vaccine candidates in clinical trials. But there are several others that are expected to start phase 3 trials in the coming weeks.




Trump will visit Kenosha despite Wisconsin governor asking him to "reconsider" (National Review)

Kenosha police union says reporting on Jacob Blake shooting "wholly inaccurate" (Fox News)

Hidin' Biden to resume in-person campaigning as race with Trump kicks into gear (The Washington Post)

Kamala Harris promises unconstitutional national mask mandate if elected (New York Post)

Biden plan would upend traditional 401(k) plans (CQ-Roll Call)

Sarah Palin can sue The New York Times for defamation, court rules (Reuters)

Trump supporter murdered in Portland (Power Line)

Trump rails against "incompetent" Portland mayor (Fox News)

Portland protesters stage sit-in at mayor's home after he and Trump trade barbs (Fox News)

DC BLM anarchist: "Put police in graves." "Burn the White House down." "Take it to senators." (The National Pulse)

Democrat State Rep. Vernon Jones harassed by BLM activists after endorsing Trump (Law Enforcement Today)

Eight police officers have been shot since June 1 in St. Louis (KSDK)

Virginia Republicans sign "Police Pledge" to back the blue (The Daily Signal)

Iowa judge tosses 50,000 absentee ballot requests after Democrat commissioner fills out voter information (The Daily Wire)

California to ban stores from selling flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes (San Francisco Chronicle)

Death toll up to 16 for Hurricane Laura (ABC News)

U.S. to cut troop deployment in Iraq to 3,500, lowest number since rise of ISIS (The Daily Caller)

Another arrest at U.S. university for China connections (Sharyl Attkisson)

China tightens tech export controls, potentially jeopardizing TikTok deal (CNBC)

China has built 268 new reeducation camps, some large enough to hold 10,000 people (Hot Air)

India is becoming the world's new COVID epicenter (Bloomberg)

UAE officially ends boycott on Israel following peace deal (The Daily Caller)

Looming Middle East arms race sparks fear of unprecedented regional war (The Washington Free Beacon)

After decades of dividing America on race, leftists insists the Right is really to blame (The Federalist)

Corporate media didn't report what it's really like in Kenosha, Wisconsin, so I will (The Federalist)

Policy: Black communities around the United States want better interactions with law enforcement, not the abolition of police departments (City Journal)


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 September, 2020

Is Trump a conservative?

Below I put up a historically grounded reply to the WSJ article How Trump Has Changed the Republicans

At the outset, let us immediately set aside the absurd Leftist contention that conservatism is opposition to change.  The greatest change agents of recent decades were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, undoubted conservatives.  The only changes conservatives regularly oppose are destructive changes proposed by the Left  -- the most recent example of which is "defund the police".

Unlike Ronald Reagan, Mr Trump is clearly not a libertarian and most of the writers mentioned in How Trump Has Changed the Republicans   are also sure that he is not a conservative.  But none of the writers below make the point that he takes his policies from both libertarians AND conservatives. So is he simply a "hybrid" president or is there more to it than that?  There is.

It is well-known and obvious that the Left have no abiding philosophy and principles. The way they have embraced the rioters who are at the moment trashing many American cities is surely proof of that.

What is less recognized is that conservatives too have no fixed policies.  Both sides adopt ideologies from time to time but what they embrace changes over time.  So the real, basic, difference between Left and Right is psychological.

Broadly, Conservatives tend to be dominated by positive emotions: happiness, contentment and love of country in particular, while Leftists tend towards anger, dissatisfaction and hatred of the world around them, their own country in particular. Conservatives want to safeguard their country and its ways of doing things.  Leftists want to attack and undermine their country and its social system. Conservatives will embrace anything that seems good for their country and eschew anything that seems bad for it. Ideally, Leftists want a revolution.  Conservatives are loving, generous people.  The Left are haters and destroyers

Prominent English philosopher of conservatism Roger Scruton was particularly known for identifying patriotism with conservatism

And the torrent of hate that the Left have poured out at Mr Trump and his supporters clearly identifies hate as a major part of their makeup.

My contention that conservatives have no lasting principles will be cheered by Leftists but will seem contentious to many conservatives -- so let me take us through a brief history of conservative thought that will confirm my contention.

We find support for that contention in the conclusions drawn by some historians of the British Conservative party -- who find a certain realistic, practical and pragmatic outlook as the main enduring characteristics of Conservative thought (Feiling, 1953; Gilmour, 1978; Norton & Aughey, 1981; Standish, 1990) and theirs is clearly a theory about the wellsprings of conservatism rather than a description of what conservatives have tended to stand for. And it is not at all difficult to see why a realistic view of the ham-fisted and restrictive things that governments characteristically do has led to doubt about the benefits of extending such activities. So we again come to the view that there is a conservative psychology that explains and gives rise to conservative political positions.

But while the proposals of Feiling, Gilmour and others are perfectly reasonable, they do have a large philosophical problem: How do we define what is realistic, practical and pragmatic? So while I also think that realism is a large part of the psychology underlying a conservative stance and have advocated that view at some length in the past (in the introduction to my book Conservatism as Heresy), garnering evidence for its truth is a difficult task and certainly not one that I have found a way to investigate by the normal techniques of psychological research.

I do not think that this leads to any need for great vagueness about what conservatism is at the political (policy-preference) level, however, so would in part reject the view noted by Owen Harries when he says:

"In introducing his anthology The Conservative Tradition, R.J. White defensively (or perhaps smugly and archly) claims, "To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere or give an accurate description of the beliefs of a member of the Anglican Church. The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living."

One must obviously agree with White that the habits of mind and ways of feeling are prior and causative  but I do not agree with White that the political policy-preferences they lead to are hard to define.

Noted American conservative thinker Russell Kirk starts out from a premise very similar to White's but draws quite different conclusions. He finds LOTS of policy-preferences that a conservative outlook leads to. He says here:

"Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata.... Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word "conservative" as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.....

In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy "change is the means of our preservation.") A people's historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude."

What I think Kirk partially overlooks, however, is that conservatism is not limited to those "who find the permanent things more pleasing". Such people will of course be conservative but most people who adopt a cautious attitude to social change do so for a more practical reason -- because they see that as serving their basic aim of a better life for the individual. Almost all of the most influential conservatives (e.g. Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan) were in their earlier years Left-leaning, so their conservatism can hardly be attributed to an inborn preference for permanence or a dislike of change as such. They became conservative for a good reason -- to promote and conserve what they saw as best for their nations and their peoples -- and that included  respect for the individual and for individual liberties.

Another theory about the psychological origins of conservatism is related to the "realism" theory but is a lot less sweeping than it. It is one that is very often quoted and finds its principal exponents in Burke (1790), Hayek (1944) and Oakeshott (1975) -- though the two former thinkers in fact described themselves as "Whigs" rather than as conservatives. This theory also traces policy to a style of thought -- or a "habit of mind" as R.J. White put it (see above). The theory basically is that there is an underlying wariness and skepticism in conservatives (particularly about human nature) that makes them question ANY political policies whatever -- including policies that call for change. Conservatives need good evidence that something will work well and have the intended consequences before they will support it. And for this reason conservatives prefer "the devil they know" and want any change to be of a gradual and evolutionary kind -- progressing by small steps that can easily be reversed if the intended outcomes are not realized. And there has never been any doubt that conservatives do indeed think that way. Note the following comment on one of the enduring heroes of American conservatism:

"In Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking, William F. Buckley Jr. mobilized a group of writers to set forth certain ideas about the conservative movement for which he and they played such a decisive and animating role. It is telling that they did not seek to enumerate a list of issues on which conservatives must agree. If anything, Buckley, Meyer, Chambers, et al. argued that conservatism is neither an ideology nor an exercise in litmus tests. Buckley spent as much time reading fringe groups out of the conservative movement as he did defining what it was, precisely because he knew that conservatism is as much about temperament and tendencies than it is about a specific position on a given issue".

So the actual policies pursued by both conservatives and leftists can be much better predicted from their psychology than from any set of principles.  There is some consistency in the rhetoric on both sides but it flows from the psychology of the two sides.  Leftists have long preached about poverty and conservatives have long preached about liberty.  But The Left these days  prioritize environmentalism -- an immensely destructive gospel -- over the poor and the working man.  And conservatives have often preferred tariffs over free trade and see liberty as a non-consideration when it comes to abortions. Killing babies is a most hateful act and conservatives want no part of it. Leftists have no problem with it.

So I think it is clear that Trump is in fact a traditional conservative.  He is working not from any set of principles but from a pragmatic view of what he sees as good for his country.

So he pleases libertarians by de-regulating business and pleases ordinary Americans hard-hit by free trade by imposing tariffs.  And he displeases the Left by being a patriot, while patriots flock to him.

The polarization that Trump has brought to America in response to his slogan "Make America great again" is rather vivid evidence for Scruton's contention that patriotism -- love of one's country, its history and its characteristics  -- IS conservatism

But while patriotism may be the heart of conservatism, current conservative policies can be supported for other reasons.  Upper class people, for instance, do tend towards support for Leftism of various sorts.  It suits their authoritarian inclinations. But there was very little evidence of that during the Soviet confrontation.  The elites tended to support conservative policies at that time. Why?  Because a Communist takeover threatened them explicitly.  They would be the first to be shot or expropriated.

And conversely, many patriots voted Democrat because Democrat promises would put more money in their pockets.  So we need to distinguish people's basic attitudes from what they vote for. Lipset (1959) s well known for arguing that the working class is conservative even while they mostly voted Democrat

In the age of Trump, however, conservative feelings and conservative vote have largely come together. Trump is a vocal patriot and there are no strong reasons for patriots to vote against him.  While that is also every reason for the haters of the Left to vote against his successful defence of a praiseworthy American identity and socio-political system.  In the age of identity politics, Trump has a very attractive identity to promote, an American identity.


Burke, E. (1790) Reflections on the revolution in France. Any edition.

Feiling, K. (1953) Principles of conservatism. Political Quarterly, 24, 129-133.

Gilmour, I.H.J.L. (1978) Inside right. London: Quartet.

Hayek, F.A. (1944) The road to serfdom. London: Routledge

Lipset, S.M. (1959) Democracy and working class authoritarianism. American Sociological Review 24, 482-502.

Norton, P. & Aughey, A. (1981) Conservatives and conservatism.  London: Temple Smith

Oakeshott, M. (1975) On Human Conduct. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Standish, J.F. (1990) Whither conservatism?  Contemporary Review 256, 299-301.



"From cotton to Congress": Tim Scott caps GOP convention night of minority voter outreach (Washington Examiner)

Black congressional candidate speaks at RNC about what Dems don't want you to know (Fox News)

Nikki Haley paves the way for a post-Trump foreign policy (Washington Examiner)

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project fabricates Obama "monkey" quote (The Post Millennial)

GOP House members ask Jeff Bezos to explain Amazon's reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center (The Federalist)

DACA reboot to add restrictions to prevent backdoor path to U.S. citizenship (The Washington Times)

Deaths average less than 1,000 over seven days in the U.S. for the first time in almost a month as infections continue to decline (UK Daily Mail)

Is there any limit to what we'll do to "stop coronavirus"? (The Federalist)

Kenosha, Wisconsin, protesters and law enforcement clash in second night of unrest over what appears to be a justifiable police-involved shooting (Fox News)

Planned Parenthood staff admit to performing illegal partial-birth abortions for better tissue harvesting (The Federalist)

Americans react to Kamala Harris's call for post-20-week abortions with pictures of their 20-week-olds (The Federalist)

The U.S. has added five million new gun owners in 2020 (The Truth About Guns)

Jerry Falwell Jr. retracts resignation from Liberty University over allegations of sexual improprieties (National Review)


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

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



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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. And now a "Deplorable"

That Left and Right are so hostile to one-another is most unfortunate. Broadly, the world needs Leftists to highlight problems and conservatives to solve them. But the Left get angry with conservatives when conservatives point out that there are no good solutions to some problems

Social justice is injustice. What is just about taking money off people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not earned it? You can call it many things but justice it is not

But it is the aim of all Leftist governments to take money off people who have earned it and give it to people who have not earned it

Envy was once considered to be one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, 'social justice.’ - Thomas Sowell

At the most basic (psychological) level, conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the discontented people. Conservatives don't think the world is perfect but they can happily live with it. And both those attitudes are largely dispositional, inborn -- which is why they so rarely change

The Left Doesn't Like Christmas because Christmas is just too happy for them

As a good academic, I define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

So an essential feature of Leftism is that they think they have the right to tell other people what to do. They see things in the world that are not ideal and conclude therefore that they have the right to change those things by force. Conservative explanations of why things are not ideal -- and never can be -- fall on deaf ears

Who is this Leftist? Take his description of his political program: A "declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists". You could hardly get a more change-oriented or revolutionary programme than that. So whose programme was it? Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Trotsky? Mao? No. It was how Hitler described his programme towards the end of "Mein Kampf". And the Left pretend that Hitler was some sort of conservative! Perhaps it not labouring the point also to ask who it was that described his movement as having a 'revolutionary creative will' which had 'no fixed aim, _ no permanency, only eternal change'. It could very easily have been Trotsky or Mao but it was in fact Hitler (O'Sullivan, 1983. p. 138). Clearly, Nazism was nothing more nor less than a racist form of Leftism (rather extreme Leftism at that) and to label it as "Rightist" or anything else is to deny reality.

A rarely acknowledged aim of Leftist policy in a democracy is to deliver dismay and disruption into the lives other people -- whom they regard as "complacent" -- and they are good at achieving that.

As usual, however, it is actually they who are complacent, with a conviction of the rightness and virtue of their own beliefs that merges into arrogance. They regard anyone who disagrees with them with contempt.

Leftists are wolves in sheep's clothing

Liberals are people who don't believe in liberty

Leftist principles are as solid as foam rubber. When they say that there is no such thing as right and wrong they really mean it.

Leftists FEAR the future

There is no dealing with the Left. Their word is no good. You cannot make a deal with someone who thinks lying and stealing are mere tactics, which the Marxists actually brag about

Montesquieu knew Leftists well: "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."

Because they claim to have all the answers to society's ills, Communists often seem "cool" to young people

German has a word that describes most Leftists well: "Scheinheilig" - A person who appears to be very kind, soft natured, and filled with pure goodness but behind the facade, has a vile nature. He is seemingly holy but is an unscrupulous person on the inside.

The new faith is very oppressive: Leftist orthodoxy is the new dominant religion of the Western world and it is every bit as bigoted and oppressive as Christianity was at its worst

There are two varieties of authoritarian Leftism. Fascists are soft Leftists, preaching one big happy family -- "Better together" in other words. Communists are hard Leftists, preaching class war.

Equality: The nonsensical and incoherent claim that underlies so much Leftist discourse is "all men are equal". And that is the envier's gospel. It makes not a scrap of sense and shows no contact with reality but it is something that enviers resort to as a way of soothing their envious feelings. They deny the very differences that give them so much heartburn. "Denial" was long ago identified by Freud as a maladaptive psychological defence mechanism and "All men are equal" is a prize example of that. Whatever one thinks of his theories, Freud was undoubtedly an acute observer of people and very few psychologists today would doubt the maladaptive nature of denial as described by Freud.

Socialism is the most evil malady ever to afflict the human brain. The death toll in WWII alone tells you that

American conservatives have to struggle to hold their country together against Leftist attempts to destroy it. Maduro's Venezuela is a graphic example of how extremely destructive socialism in government can be

The standard response from Marxist apologists for Stalin and other Communist dictators is to say you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. To which Orwell retorted, ‘Where’s the omelette?’

You do still occasionally see some mention of the old idea that Leftist parties represent the worker. In the case of the U.S. Democrats that is long gone. Now they want to REFORM the worker. No wonder most working class Americans these days vote Republican. Democrats are the party of the minorities and the smug

"The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion — mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined." —T.S. Eliot

We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people -- Churchill

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others" -- Cicero. See here

The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them

Definition of a Socialist: Someone who wants everything you have...except your job.

ABOUT: Postings here from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. And now a "Deplorable"

When it comes to political incorrectness, I hit the trifecta. I talk about race, IQ and social class. I have an academic background in all three subjects but that wins me no forgiveness

Let's now have some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The current Leftist mantra

The difference in practice

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story

We conservatives have the facts on our side, which is why Leftists never want to debate us and do their best to shut us up. It's very revealing the way they go to great lengths to suppress conservative speech at universities. Universities should be where the best and brightest Leftists are to be found but even they cannot stand the intellectual challenge that conservatism poses for them. It is clearly a great threat to them. If what we say were ridiculous or wrong, they would grab every opportunity to let us know it

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

'Gay Pride' parades: You know you live in a great country when "oppressed" people have big, colorful parades.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out

Insight: "A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him." —Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

"Those who see hate everywhere think they're looking thru a window when actually they're looking at a mirror"

Hatred has long been a central pillar of leftist ideologies, premised as they are on trampling individual rights for the sake of a collectivist plan. Karl Marx boasted that he was “the greatest hater of the so-called positive.” In 1923, V.I. Lenin chillingly declared to the Soviet Commissars of Education, “We must teach our children to hate. Hatred is the basis of communism.” In his tract “Left-Wing Communism,” Lenin went so far as to assert that hatred was “the basis of every socialist and Communist movement.”

If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.

The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Leftists don't understand that -- which is a major factor behind their simplistic thinking. They just never see the trade-offs. But implementing any Leftist idea will hit us all with the trade-offs

Chesteron's fence -- good conservative thinking

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often their theories fail badly.

Mostly, luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.

Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

Seminal Leftist philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel said something that certainly applies to his fellow Leftists: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history". And he captured the Left in this saying too: "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself".

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals

Funny how to the Leftist intelligentsia poor blacks are 'oppressed' and poor whites are 'trash'. Racism, anyone?

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.

A Conservative manifesto from England -- The inimitable Jacob Rees-Mogg


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they (under the chairmanship of Ulric Neisser) have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

At the beginning of the North/South War, Confederate general Robert E. Lee did not own any slaves. Union General Ulysses L. Grant did.

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Revolutionary terrorists in Russia killed Tsar Alexander II in 1881 (after three prior assassination attempts). Alexander II was a great reformer who abolished serfdom one year before the US abolished slavery. If his democratic and economic reforms had continued, Russia may have been much less radical politically a couple of decades later, when Nicholas II was overthrown.

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Some rare Leftist realism: "God forbid if the rich leave" NY Governor Cuomo February 04, 2019

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research

The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.” ? Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

"Foreign aid is the process by which money is taken from poor people in rich countries and given to rich people in poor countries." -- Peter Bauer

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." --?Arthur Schopenhauer


The Bible is an Israeli book

There is a view on both Left and Right that Jews are "too" influential. And it is true that they are more influential than their numbers would indicate. But they are exactly as influential as their IQs would indicate

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

It’s a strange paradox when anti-Zionists argue that Jews should suffer and wander without a homeland while urging that Palestinians ought to have security and territory.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

Some personal background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

In my teenage years, however, I was fortunate to be immersed (literally) in a very fundamentalist Christian religion. And the heavy Bible study I did at that time left me with lessons for life that have stood me in good stead ever since

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.

As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

A real army story here

It's amusing that my army service gives me honour among conservatives but contempt from Leftists. I don't weep at all about the latter. I am still in touch with some of the fine people I served with over 50 years ago. The army is like that

This is just a bit of romanticism but I do have permanently located by the head of my bed a genuine century-old British army cavalry sword. It is still a real weapon. I was not in the cavalry but I see that sword as a symbol of many things. I want it to be beside my bed when I die

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

And something that was perceptive comes from the same chapter. Hitler said that the doctrines of the interwar Social Democrats (mainstream leftists) of Vienna were "comprised of egotism and hate". Not much has changed

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way


"Tongue Tied"
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"Education Watch International"
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"Marx & Engels in their own words"
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To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
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"Food & Health Skeptic"
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QANTAS -- A dying octopus
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Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
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Selected reading



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