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30 October, 2020

Trump beats Biden or his predecessors

Says economic historian Martin Hutchinson

The Internet is currently full of so-called “conservatives” either promising to vote for Joe Biden or at best saying they would reluctantly vote for Trump even though in 2016 he was their least favorite of the Republican candidates. For me, the choice is easier. Trump was not my favorite candidate in 2016, but he was no worse than fourth or fifth of the 17 alternatives available. After four years, I have been favorably impressed by his presidency, except in the areas of fiscal and monetary policies. But then, look at the alternatives!

However, the other recent presidents also made both problems worse. George W. Bush appointed Ben Bernanke Fed chairman, despite his already-notorious “helicopter” monetary theories; Barack Obama reappointed him and then appointed the equally sloppy Janet Yellen. George W. Bush diverted the U.S. budget from the sound deficit-free position left by Bill Clinton, and Obama then made the deficit very much worse, also over-regulating the U.S. economy so that it never really recovered from the 2008-09 recession and budget deficits hovered near $1 trillion for a decade.

Today’s monetary and fiscal follies are the ultimate result of John Maynard Keynes. Fiscally, he advocated “stimulus” of more government spending every time the economy hit a hiccup. Monetarily, his fingerprints are less obvious, but his advocacy of a monetary system unlinked to the “barbarous relic” of gold and his belief that rentiers served no useful social purpose together led us to current monetary policy follies. In reality, Keynes said nothing new; there were politicians advocating “stimulus” and funny money opposing Lord Liverpool, 200 years ago (Henry Brougham and the 8th Earl of Lauderdale, to name two). Keynes merely codified the eternal urge of politicians to get something for nothing and pay for favorite boondoggles by looting savers.

We have established therefore that while Trump is in fiscal and monetary policy no better than the general unattractive run of today’s politicians, he is also no worse. We then come to a whole host of other policies, in which Trump is markedly better than other politicians, in some of which he has broken ground that had been thought impossible.

Perhaps of most consequence for the long-term, Trump has nominated three solidly conservative Justices to the Supreme Court. Ever since Dwight Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren in 1953, we have seen that Republican Presidents’ judgement of potential Supreme Court Justices is a very hit and miss affair.

Eisenhower’s two mistakes, Warren and William J. Brennan, ensured leftist control of the Supreme Court until at least 1986, with President Kennedy’s error in the opposite direction, Byron White, being insufficient to offset their effect (White is the only such error by a Democrat President since the New Deal era). Trump’s soundness on Justices would not have been shared by his alternatives; one need only think of George W. Bush’s attempt to nominate John Roberts and Harriet Miers, or his father’s nomination of David Souter, to see how error can easily creep in if a President does not have a sound grounding in principle.

In other areas also, Trump has been distinctly better than the alternatives. On immigration, he has not achieved enough to please Ann Coulter, but he has at least pointed the administration in the right direction, and largely ignored the siren songs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal. On foreign policy, he has been both more intelligent and more courageous than the alternatives. He has moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which numerous Presidents had promised but wimped out of, and has thereby secured two useful Middle East Treaties, very likely with more to come. He has also greatly reduced the U.S. footprint in that misbegotten region, which had cost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and the bulk of U.S. global credibility, for no significant economic or geopolitical gain.

Trump’s “Art of the Deal” approach to life leaves him over-optimistic, over-borrowed and over-leveraged in economic policy, but in foreign policy it works as well with the world’s thugs and dictators as it does with the shysters in New York real estate.

Two other areas where Trump beats his potential competitors are trade and de-regulation. On trade, Trump has for the first time identified the problems with the economists’ favorite model of globalization, and has taken steps to restore necessary grit to the machinery of the world trading system and thereby shut down the possibility of a totalitarian global state (both those struggles will outlive his time in office, needless to say). His deregulation has been notably more enthusiastic than that of any President since Ronald Reagan; in particular he has taken the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris agreement and ended several damaging “climate change” initiatives, for both of which we can be grateful. In both trade and regulation, the Bushes were far too prone to defer to leftist conventional wisdom perpetrated by the permanent bureaucracy.

“Never-Trumpers” complain that Trump is a man of bad character but compared to what? – these people are politicians! I find his tweets mostly funny and refreshing, and don’t object to his egomania, which is merely more visible than that of most leaders.



The Lockdown Left: socialists against society

As Britain staggers from lockdown to lockdown, the cruelty, destructiveness and wanton irrationality of the policy grows ever more obvious. Yet as spontaneous social and civic resistance to rolling lockdowns continues to grow, it will inevitably fail to cohere into organised opposition without meaningful political representation. Polls that indicate strong public support for lockdown are riddled with inconsistencies, suggesting that respondents are themselves confused and torn in their views on our collective response to the pandemic.

One of the reasons for the failure to translate this simmering discontent into organised opposition, and to resolve the contradictions of public opinion, is that most ‘oppositional’ forces in the country today support lockdown. This is the Lockdown Left, the core of which is the Labour Party with its allies and flanking supporters within the unions, the media and the liberal professions.

It is worth considering what the absence of meaningful political opposition means in today’s context. For a start, it is difficult to overstate the calamitous consequences of the government’s policies. Boris Johnson’s Tories have overseen an economic collapse worse than what they themselves predicted under a Corbyn government. Their policies have devastated swathes of the service industry, especially in those very same northern English constituencies that lent Johnson their support in the 2019 election, and that the Tories had themselves earlier destroyed with Thatcherite policies of deindustrialisation in the 1980s. The Tories have shredded the civil liberties they supposedly cherish with the draconian Coronavirus Act. They have even sought to organise the population as informants and police auxiliaries, with state snitch lines and ‘Covid marshals’. The policy of ‘Protecting the NHS’ has asked the population to sacrifice its health on behalf of the public-health bureaucracy – a sacrifice whose grim toll has been registered in care-home deaths and countless delayed tests and treatments, the consequences of which we will all be living with for years to come. This is to say nothing of climbing rates of suicide and domestic abuse. One of the reasons the Tories can get away with this gruesome trail of devastation is that they have the support of the Lockdown Left.

Leading figures on the left were demanding a stringent lockdown long before the Tory government lurched into it. Owen Jones broke the bounds of irony itself when he publicly stated that he welcomed the establishment of a Tory police state. As public weariness with lockdown sets in, the Lockdown Left has started to notice the effects it is having, all while remaining committed to the policy. The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, opposes the government’s punitive lockdown policies against the north, while at the same time demanding a national lockdown. Owen Jones laments the toll that lockdown has taken on our collective mental health, pathetically pleading for a ‘national conversation’ as a substitute for opposition – a conversation presumably for those who have the free time to pontificate online and don’t have to continue working as normal.

That those on the Lockdown Left continue to support the Tory lockdown exposes their deep callousness and misanthropy. For years they have criticised the Tories for the casual cruelty with which they have treated the vulnerable, for their vindictive and punitive economic policies. But when it came down to it, these leftists did nothing to counter the Tories’ grim view of society. The Lockdown Left has done its utmost to realise the old Thatcherite slogan, ‘There is no such thing as society’. While once upon a time Corbynistas would happily compose social-media rhapsodies to the virtues of collective solidarity, human warmth and compassion as the basis for social reorganisation in the wake of Tory rule, when the moment came precisely to maintain those values in opposition to a politics of fear led by a Tory government, they opted instead to collaborate with the Tories in destroying social and civic life and inflating state power.

How did so many self-avowed socialists end up being so hostile to society? If the pandemic has exposed the deep ineffectiveness of the British state, it has also exposed the absence of any genuine solidaristic politics on the left. That the majority of the left has supported lockdown speaks to the fact that many leftists’ politics are defined today not by any belief in our collective capacity to reshape social life, but rather in a vision of us all as fragile, isolated and vulnerable monads, who all threaten each other with our diseases, divergent opinions, toxic attitudes and unhealthy behaviours.

No social change will ever be achieved while we cower behind our laptops. But then again, a fully online society suits the middle-class base of the Lockdown Left very well: they don’t need to leave their home or present a public face to the world outside of the Zoom seminar, and they have a precarious, de-unionised workforce on hand to maintain their standard of living. The Conservative and coalition governments of the past decade must be held responsible for hollowing out public capacity, hobbling any effective response to the pandemic. But the Lockdown Left should also bear some responsibility for embracing the lockdown and the neoliberal, individuated attitude to society that underpins it.



Trump Executive Order Aims to Rein in Bureaucracy’s Role in Policymaking

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at making federal bureaucrats engaged in policymaking more accountable.

The order is intended to address what Trump administration officials say is a concern about the growth of the federal bureaucracy and about an increasing willingness by Congress to delegate policymaking authority to executive branch agencies.

Because of civil service protections, career federal employees essentially can make and design policy details and rules with little or no public accountability.

“President Trump is delivering on his promise to make Washington accountable again to the citizens it’s meant to serve,” Russ Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told The Daily Signal in a statement. “This much-needed reform will increase accountability in essential policymaking positions within the government.”

Trump’s executive order creates a new category of federal employees involved in policymaking—Schedule F—for the personnel in agencies that write federal rules and regulations.

The federal government has political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president or agency head as well as career employees who cannot be removed without a lengthy civil service process.

The executive order gives federal agencies more flexibility and oversight over career employees in critical positions that affect policy. The new Schedule F will apply to federal employees serving in confidential, policy-determining, policymaking, or policy-advocating positions that don’t change when a presidential transition occurs.

The goal is to ensure that federal employees responsible for making policy decisions are held accountable, administration officials say.

The executive order also will make it easier for agency heads to address poor performance by policymaking employees. That’s intended to address the long-standing complaint—even among federal employees—that poorly performing federal workers aren’t held accountable.

Accountability is a major concern. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found that only one-third of respondents said proper steps are taken to address poor performers who cannot or will not improve.

Under the executive order, Cabinet secretaries and federal agency chiefs would make a determination which employees have a role in writing policy. The agency heads then would submit the list to the Office of Personnel Management for review.

The reform is reasonable, said Rachel Greszler, a research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation.

“This commonsense change to insert some much-needed accountability could significantly improve the effectiveness of the federal government,” Greszler told The Daily Signal, adding:

Imagine if a CEO was prevented from disciplining or dismissing managers who refused to carry out her directives or who took actions to thwart her initiatives. That’s the case right now within the federal government, where it’s extremely difficult—sometimes seemingly impossible—to fire federal employees.

Federal workers who hold critical policy-related positions, with the power to significantly impact Americans’ lives, should not be immune from accountability. This change is long overdue. It will result in better stewardship of taxpayers’ money, and could improve morale as federal workers show high levels of dissatisfaction with a lack of accountability.

The president has sought to tame the bureaucracy since taking office in January 2017. Among the earliest bills he signed was one that made it easier to fire bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Just over a year ago, Trump signed an executive order to rein in actions of the administrative state.

Republican lawmakers, among them Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also have raised concerns about Congress ceding too much authority to the executive branch and offered proposals to reorganize the bureaucracy.

Under existing civil service law, federal agencies have greater flexibility to hire and fire employees in confidential positions that include determining, making, and advocating policy positions.

However, as Congress has delegated greater policy-related work to executive branch agencies, the interpretation of positions classified as “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making or policy-advocating” hasn’t been updated.

The executive order Trump signed Wednesday directs agencies to reclassify those employees.

The order primarily will apply to career employees with substantive involvement in creating government policy, such as employees who draft agency regulations and guidance. Line federal workers without policy-related duties will not be affected, officials said.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


29 October, 2020

Biden would finish what Obama started: the decline of US power

Within living memory, the coming US election is by far the world’s most important. It will determine whether we will continue to live in a world where the dominant power is so extraordinarily benevolent that at the end of World War II she made no territorial or financial demands but gave away a massive fortune to allow the defeated powers to restore their countries. Or a world where her predecessor was persuaded by small groups of Christians that slavery was so wrong that the institution was eventually abolished throughout her vast empire and that the task of the Royal Navy would be to end the trade on the high seas.

In their place will be a power which is unbelievably brutal even to its own citizens, forcing some into slave labour for no other reason than that they are Muslims, killing Falun Gong for a despicable on-call live organ trade, tearing down churches, suppressing the very rights she promised to keep in Hong Kong and flagrantly breaching international law to annex vast parts of the South China Sea.

This will be the result of the election of Joe Biden, who as vice-president for eight years was ­second-in-charge of an admin­istration dedicated to the man­aged decline of the US and whose foundation was declared not to be exceptional. This involved accepting and not fighting the transfer of manufacturing, declared never to come back, turning a blind eye to the theft of American IP as well as to currency manipulation and the breach of WTO rules, and going soft on annexations while running down the armed forces. In addition, the administration released massive funds to the world’s leading terrorist state on the basis it would develop a nuclear industry for peaceful purposes. Curious, then, that they would need ICBMs and resist inspections.

In addition, there is good reason to believe the Biden family has long been involved in the sale of access and influence to foreign oligarchs, including Communist China, at the very time they were being favoured by the administration. This was first revealed in two unchallenged books by Peter Schweizer, then by emails in a hard drive obtained by the New York Post. This was corroborated by emails in the possession of two former business partners of Biden’s son as well as his lawyer’s attempts to recover the hard drive. Apart from ludicrous attempts to claim this is a Russian smear, there has been no suggestion the emails are not genuine.

Worse, the Democratic Party is only the latest institution to be the subject of the long march by the left. It is no longer the party of JFK. And from segregation itself, Biden, a lifelong politician, has never demonstrated any strong and consistent belief. To obtain the nomination he agreed to a far-left manifesto with Bernie Sanders, an agenda so socialist it will only accelerate the very decline he and Obama began to preside over. His accession to the White House would soon lead to Beijing assuming world hegemony and woe betide any disobedient vassal. We can already see how we are to be punished for our insolence in thinking we can independently declare our foreign policy without suffering sanctions.

The alternative to Biden, Donald Trump, came to power with a superb agenda to make America great again. Unlike most politicians, he has fulfilled his agenda to an unprecedented degree. His foreign policy has been an extraordinary success with no new wars, peace breaking out in the Middle East and hitherto recalcitrant allies pulling their weight.

He is a law-abiding president, never using the taxation authorities or wire-tapping to undermine his enemies as others have. He is a federalist, which explains most of America’s failures in responding to COVID-19 — which occurred mainly in Democrat-run states. But little of the truth is reported in most of the mainstream media, which has become the propaganda arm of the Democrats. That’s why most of their polls should be ­ignored, not only because of their poor record but their agenda. The few reliable polls and the enthusiasm only Trump attracts indicate that, once again, he will prevail.



How deadly is covid-19?

September 2020 was the least deadly month in Swedish history, in terms of number of deaths per 100,000 population. Ever. And I don’t mean the least deadly September, I mean the least deadly month. Ever. To me, this is pretty clear evidence of two things. First, that covid is not a very deadly disease. And second, that Sweden has herd immunity.

When I posted this information on my twitter feed, the response from proponents of further lockdown was that the reason September was such an un-deadly month, was because everyone has already died earlier in the pandemic. To me, that seems like a pretty self-defeating argument. Why?

Because 6,000 people have died of covid in Sweden, a country with a population of 10,000,000 people. 6,000 people is 0,06% of the population. If it is enough for that tiny a fraction of a population to die of a pandemic for the pandemic to peter out so completely that a country can have its least deadly month ever, then the pandemic was never that deadly to begin with.

In August, I wrote an article where I proposed that the mortality for covid is only 0,12%, roughly the same as influenza. That number was based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation. I figured that, since the death rate had dropped continuously for months and was at very low levels, Sweden must have reached a point where it had herd immunity. And I figured that at least 50% of the population must have been infected for herd immunity to have been reached. 50% of Sweden’s population is five million people. 6,000 / 5,000,000 = 0,12%

At the beginning of October, one of the World Health Organisation’s executive directors, Mike Ryan, said that the WHO estimated that 750 million people had so far been infected with covid. At that point, one million people had died of the disease. That gives a death rate for covid of 0,13% . So the WHO said that the death rate is 0,13% . Not too far off my earlier back-of-envelope estimation. This of course begs the question why there are continued lockdowns for a disease that is no worse than the flu.

A short while later, the WHO released an analysis by professor John Ioannidis, with his estimate of the covid death rate. This analysis was based on seroprevalance data, i.e. data on how many people were shown to have antibodies to covid in their bloodstream at different times in different countries, which was correlated with the number of deaths in those countries. Through this analysis, professor Ioannidis reached the conclusion that covid has an overall mortality rate of around 0,23% (in other words, one in 434 infected people die of the disease). For people under the age of seventy, the mortality rate was estimated at 0,05% (in other words, one in 2,000 infected people under the age of 70 die of the disease).

As I’ve discussed before, I don’t think antibody data gives a very complete picture, since there are studies showing that a lot of people don’t produce measurable antibodies in their bloodstreams, but still have immunity, either thanks to a T-cell response, or thanks to local antibody production in the respiratory tract. So I think that the fatality rate is significantly lower than what the analysis by professory Ioannidis found, and more in line with what the WHO stated earlier in October.

But even if the antibody based number is the correct number, then covid still is not a very deadly disease. For comparison, the 1918 flu pandemic is thought to have had an infection fatality rate of 2,5%, i.e. one in forty infected people died. So the 1918 flu was 11 times more deadly than covid if you go by professor Ioannidis antibody based numbers, and 19 times more deadly than covid if you go by the fatality rate provided 12 days earlier by the WHO’s Mike Ryan.

And this is missing one big point about covid. The average person who dies from covid is over 80 years old and has multiple underlying health conditions. In other words, their life expectancy is very short. The average person who died in the 1918 pandemic was in their late 20’s. So each death in the 1918 pandemic actually meant around 50 years more of life lost per person than each death in the covid pandemic. Multiply that by the fact that it had a 19 times higher death rate, and the 1918 flu was in fact 950 times more deadly than covid, in terms its capacity to shorten people’s lives.

Ok, I’ve discussed the fatality rate of the 1918 flu pandemic, and compared that to covid. But what about the fatality rate of the common cold viruses that are constantly circulating in society? How does covid compare to them?

Many people think that the common cold viruses are harmless. But in fact, among elderly people with underlying health conditions, they are frequently deadly. A study carried out in 2017 found that, among frail elderly people, rhinovirus is actually more deadly than regular influenza. In that study, the 30 day mortality for frail elderly people admitted to hospital due to a rhinovirus infection was 10% . For frail elderly people admitted to hospital due to influenza, 30 day mortality was 7% .

What is my point? If you are old and frail, and have underlying health conditions, then even that most harmless of all infections, the so called “common cold”, can be deadly. In fact, it often is. Covid-19 is not a unique disease, and does not appear to have a noticeably higher mortality rate than the so called “common cold”.

There is one final aspect to all this that needs to be discussed. And that is the effect of covid on overall mortality. If it turns out that covid has no effect on overall mortality, then that really brings in to question why we are locking down, since we’re not actually preventing any deaths. So, what is the effect of covid on overall mortality?

Let’s look at Sweden, since that is perhaps the country that has taken the most relaxed approach of any to preventing spread, and which should therefore also reasonably be expected to have had the highest impact on its overall death rate. From January to September 2020, Sweden experienced 687 deaths per 100,000 population. The last time Sweden had a deadlier year was 2015. Personally, I don’t remember any big deadly pandemic happening in 2015.

In fact, 2020 is so far one of the least deadly years in Swedish history, and is largely in line with the average for the preceding five years. To be precise, it is 2,7% higher than the average for the preceding five years, which is well within the margin of error. In 2019, mortality was 6% lower than the average, so it should be expected that 2020 would have a slightly higher mortality than average, even without covid.

What does this mean? It means that covid, a supposedly deadly viral pandemic, has not killed enough Swedes to have any noticeable impact on overall mortality.

How can this be explained, when we know that 6,000 Swedes have died of covid?

As I see it, there are two possible explanations. The first is that most people who died “of” covid actually died with covid. In other words, they had a positive covid test and were therefore characterized as covid deaths, when the actual cause of death was something else. The second is that most people who died of covid were so old, and so frail, and had so many underlying health conditions, that even without covid, they would have died by now. There are no other reasonable explanations.

I am not saying that covid is nothing, or that it doesn’t exist. I am saying that it is a virus with a marginal effect on longevity. And yet, public policy in most countries has been driven by doomsday scenarios based on completely unrealistic numbers. To put it simply, we’ve acted like we’re dealing with a global ebola outbreak, when covid is much more like the common cold.

UPDATE (26th October 2020): After SCB updated their numbers it has become clear that September 2020 was in fact the second least deadly month in Swedish history, not the least deadly month. That award goes to June 2019.



SCOTUS Denies Wisconsin Request to Count Mail-in Ballots After Election Day

Mail-in votes that arrive in the hands of Wisconsin election officials after Election Day, regardless of when the ballots were postmarked, cannot be counted in the 2020 presidential election, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued on Monday.

Democrats in Wisconsin had requested a six-day extension to the mail-in deadline of November 3. In September, a federal judge granted the request. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned that decision leading to a Supreme Court petition from the Democratic National Committee. The Supreme Court voted along party lines with the five conservative justices voting to block the extension. The three liberal justices dissented.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted to deny the extension, used the example that voters who "show up at midnight after the polls close on election night do not have a right to demand that the State nonetheless count their votes. Voters who submit their absentee ballots after the State's deadline similarly do not have a right to demand that the State count their votes."

In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said that blocking the deadline extension deprived Wisconsin residents of their "constitutionally guaranteed right to vote." "As the COVID pandemic rages, the Court has failed to adequately protect the Nation's voters," Kagan wrote, adding that voters in Wisconsin "deserve a better choice."

Wisconsin is seen as a battleground state in the November election. Donald Trump defeated Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin during the 2016 election, marking the first time a Republican presidential candidate had won the state since 1984.

Some Wisconsin voters have taken advantage of mail-in voting because of the threat of spreading the coronavirus at crowded public polling places. As of Monday, positive cases of the coronavirus had risen within the state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 3,251 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday to bring the statewide total to 201,477 positive cases.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


28 October, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett confirmed on Supreme Court in big Trump win

The US Senate has officially voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as a new Supreme Court judge in a major victory for Donald Trump

Her appointment comes just a week before the Presidential election and is regarded as a major victory for Donald Trump as he celebrates his third conservative appointment to the court.

Despite the controversy over her nomination, polls show a majority of Americans support the Senate confirming her now. The Republican-dominated Senate voted 52-48 in favour of her appointment.

Amy Coney Barrett, 48 and mother of seven married to Jesse Barrett, was appointed to the federal court of appeals for the seventh circuit (Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois) by Donald Trump in 2017.

He nominated her to sit on the Supreme Court following the death in September if the iconic progressive Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She will become the 115th judge of the 9-person Supreme Court since it was first convened in 1789.

She will be the fifth female justice in the court’s history and the seventh Catholic.

Conservatives believe she will tilt the ideological balance of the bench for decades — infuriating Democrats.

Mr Trump boasted of the victory hours earlier during a rally in Pennsylvania calling Judge Barrett “one of our nation’s most brilliant legal minds”.

“She will defend our rights, our liberties and our God given freedoms,” Mr Trump said. “We were all watching in great amusement as she was so-called grilled by the opposition. That was easy.

“I’m glad she’s not running for president. I’d much rather go against sleepy Joe.”

Democrats were furious, one Senator saying “there will be consequences”.



The danger of scientific dogmatism

Science that challenges the Covid orthodoxy is being too easily dismissed.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been treated as a Year Zero phenomenon. We were told this was a novel (indeed, an unprecedented) deadly disease that threatened millions of lives. This was the Big One, which demanded an extraordinary response, from lockdowns to the now mandatory wearing of masks.

Given how little we first knew about this new virus, and the ways it attacked the human body, this initial fearful reaction was perhaps understandable. But is it still? After all, we know so much more about Covid-19 now. Yes, it certainly is novel and deadly, particularly for the elderly and those with comorbidities. But unprecedented? Unlikely, if the historical record of other epidemics is taken into account. Indeed, almost every influenza epidemic in the past was, like Covid, initially understood to have been novel, but was later proved, through serological studies, to have had previous eras of prevalence long before its emergence.

Yet this novel coronavirus has been treated as something completely different, as an almost singular pestilence of Biblical proportions. It has been met with the kind of doom-laden fatalism with which Medieval man would have been all too familiar.

But we are not in Medieval times. Mankind is not at the beginning of the scientific revolution. There is a vast amount of accumulated scientific knowledge about past epidemics that we can draw on. And, while it may not provide easy answers, it might at least raise important questions about the wisdom of our response to Covid-19.

Take, for example, the key concept of direct spread through human interaction, which underpins many of the social restrictions in place to combat Covid. This idea has also been used to explain the emergence and transmission of influenza for hundreds of years. But in the late 1970s, the concept of direct spread as the sole mode of influenza transmission was challenged by Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson, a British general practitioner most famous for showing that shingles was a reactivation of the chicken-pox virus.

His highly accessible, pioneering study, The Transmission of Epidemic Influenza, was published in 1992 after a lifetime of study that began with the great epidemic of 1932-33, the years in which he entered general practice.

Hope-Simpson raised several key questions about influenza transmission. How, for example, could direct spread account for the simultaneous appearance of influenza in places far apart – especially before global travel was ubiquitous? The universally observed abruptness of the onset of some influenza epidemics and their equally abrupt endings – without any lockdowns or social distancing – underlined the most puzzling aspect of influenza: how could its seasonal character be explained?

Hope-Simpson’s challenge to the idea of direct spread was first published in 1979 in the Journal of Hygiene, and he published further evidence in support of his case over the next seven years. His key argument was that influenza epidemics are caused by a previous ‘seeding’ of the virus in the community. Symptomless carriers spread the virus around, until seasonal variations in solar radiation reactivate the virus in its human carriers, which allows the virus to emerge among the non-immune. He suggested that the influenza virus is seldom transmitted by the human host because the influenza illness rapidly adopts a persistent non-infectious mode – the ex-patient carries this persistent influenza infection for a year or two before it may be reactivated by seasonal changes.

Hope-Simpson further suggested that the speed of movement of epidemics is therefore unaffected by the speed and complexity of human communications (an idea that, if applied to a coronavirus, would also challenge the conventional tale of Covid-19’s spread from Wuhan in China through human travel).

Influenza epidemics, he contended, must have travelled at the same speed in previous centuries because they are determined by the seasonal stimulus underpinning all natural phenomena, rather than by direct human-to-human spread. The impressive empirical data he gathered from across the globe showed that novel influenza strains appear in different parts of the globe, and that they always spread annually south and then north through the world population. His data showed that tropical regions have very different triggering mechanisms to northern temperate regions, which generate two different prevalence curves.

Hope-Simpson’s challenge to the idea of direct spread was based on the antigenic shift of the influenza A virus and the recycling of its major serotypes. Antigenic shift is the process by which two or more different strains of a virus, or strains of two or more different viruses, combine to form a new subtype. This is what is triggered by the seasonally mediated reactivation of influenza genomes. He hypothesised that an individual person would only harbour the particular influenza A virus genome from their first ever infection. This would explain why only some, rather than all, people become infected when an epidemic is reactivated.

Hope-Simpson was not dogmatic. He was a scientist who made no claim that this was ‘the science’. He was the first to warn that ‘the hypotheses advanced in the new concept are likely to be superseded in part or altogether as more information is gathered. This is the destiny of all hypotheses.’ But he cautioned that ‘it seems certain that the current concept of direct spread is impeding our understanding of influenza’.

What really needs explaining is why the theory of direct spread has remained an orthodoxy, despite both the empirical data that challenges it and its inability to explain many features of influenza epidemics. Hope-Simpson provides a possible answer. In a passing reference, he mentions the research of a Dr John Haygarth, a general practitioner who undertook a detailed study of the spread of the 1775 influenza epidemic in Chester, in north-west England. Haygarth’s subsequent experience during the 1782 epidemic convinced him of its contagious nature. His findings were eventually published more than 20 years later, as Of the manner in which the Influenza of 1775 and 1782 spread by Contagion in Chester and its Neighbourhood. Haygarth writes:

‘But a contrary and, as I think, a very pernicious opinion has lately been supported by physicians of great respectability, and authors of the highest reputation, not, indeed, in this, but in other enlightened nations, have ascribed not only this but many other epidemics, even the plague itself, to a morbid constitution of the atmosphere, independent of contagion. To determine whether this doctrine be true or false, is of the highest importance to mankind. Knowledge, in this instance, is power. So far as it can be proved, that a disease is produced by contagion, human wisdom can prevent the mischief. But the morbid constitution of the atmosphere cannot possibly be corrected or controlled by man.’

This shows that the concept of direct spread was important because it reinforced a sense of human agency. Knowledge was indeed power – the power of mankind to ‘prevent the mischief’. The idea that ‘the constitution of the atmosphere’, rather than human interaction, underpins the seasonal reactivations of influenza was unthinkable. It challenged humanity’s capacity and aspiration to control nature. The concept of direct spread sustained a sense of control even in the face of ignorance about what was causing these epidemics. (It was only in 1933 that the ultramicroscopic parasite that causes flu was discovered.)

Knowledge still is power. But, as with all science, it can ossify and become an orthodoxy that bars the way to further study. And in the battle against Covid-19, there are similar examples of just this process of orthodoxy and dogmatism, which could be holding back our attempts to understand the virus.

For example, on 17 September 2020, the British Medical Journal published an article that received little attention, titled ‘Covid-19: Do many people have pre-existing immunity?’. This questioned whether Covid was a novel pandemic virus and whether there was no pre-existing immunity to it. It highlighted at least six studies that reported T-cell reactivity against Covid in 20 per cent to 50 per cent of people with no known exposure to the virus. These reactivity results were shown to exist in the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. Evidence of Covid in human sewage was found to have existed in Brazil and in Spain in November 2019.

This is a remarkable finding that would throw much of the current approach to Covid-19 into a tailspin. Alessandro Sette, an immunologist from La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California, told the BMJ: ‘At this point there are a number of studies that are seeing this reactivity in different continents, different labs. As a scientist you know that is a hallmark of something that has a very strong footing.’

And he should know. In late 2009, months after the World Health Organisation declared the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ virus to be a global pandemic, he was part of a team working to explain why the so-called ‘novel’ virus did not seem to be causing more severe infections than seasonal flu. His answer was that pre-existing immunological responses in the adult population prevented its spread: B cells and, in particular, T cells were blunting the severity of the disease. This data forced the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change position. Having assumed that most people ‘will have no immunity to the pandemic virus’, they now argued that ‘the vulnerability of a population to a pandemic virus is related in part to the level of pre-existing immunity to the virus’.

In 2020 this lesson seems to have been entirely forgotten. The recent past, let alone the past brought to life by Hope-Simpson, is truly another country.

While it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions from a small set of studies, they are still hard to dismiss. They raise the question and perhaps the exciting possibility that pre-existing immunity could be more protective than future vaccines. This suggests there are many different ways to deal with and react to the emergence of a novel virus. But because of the unquestioning focus on suppressing viral transmission there is very little research now being conducted into pre-existing immunity.

The reason Hope-Simpson’s book is so disquieting is that it raises serious doubts about a still current scientific orthodoxy. He didn’t claim to have all the answers – he was posing questions. But that is how knowledge advances. If there is a wider truth in Hope-Simpson’s influenza thesis that might also apply to a coronavirus, and we have seen in the T-cell immunity studies that there could be, then it raises serious questions about the current social-distancing approach to the pandemic.

But here’s the real concern. For the first time in history, draconian measures to restrict the spread of a virus have been in place throughout the summer, the period when, historically, a virus can circulate with very little mortality impact. This is precisely the period when more immunity and protection could have been built up. This could mean that the impact of Covid this winter could be worse than it needs to be. The rise in cases and hospitalisations globally suggests this is precisely what is happening.

The tragedy here is that mankind’s intervention might not have prevented ‘the mischief’. It could well have become part of the ‘mischief’, amplifying the ‘morbid constitution of the atmosphere’.

This is testament to a deeper problem – namely, that those in control of society no longer see humanity as problem-solvers but as part of the pestilence. Without a belief in human agency, society is left with no option but to hold on to existing knowledge – knowledge that may well now stand in the way of scientific progress.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


27 October, 2020

What we can learn from Sweden

It may have made mistakes, but it has escaped our disastrous cycle of lockdowns.

No country has devised a perfect response to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite its growing list of admirers, Sweden is no exception.

Its state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has admitted that Swedish authorities at first failed to combine their light social-distancing regime with proper safeguards against the virus in care homes. Talk of a ‘Swedish miracle’ risks overlooking such mistakes.

That said, Swedes have good reason to be proud of their government’s handling of the pandemic. As we haggle over local lockdowns and new proposals for a ‘national circuit-breaker’, Sweden continues its outlier policy of permitting most Swedes to get on with their lives.

For one thing, Swedes should be grateful to live under leaders who speak candidly about their own policy failures. Public Health England presided over its own care-homes catastrophe, advising hospitals to discharge elderly patients into care homes without testing them beforehand. This was official PHE guidance to hospitals until as late as 15 April, leading to a devastating outbreak in care homes that, far from being eased by lockdown, actually wrought most damage after the lockdown was introduced. The self-criticism of Anders Tegnell’s team stands in stark contrast with the relative silence of our ministers on the Covid blitzkrieg in the UK’s care homes.

Anyhow, the Swedes would be the first to admit they do not emerge from this crisis as the world’s public-health superpower. Still, they comfortably avoided the doom-laden prophecies of Professor Neil Ferguson, whose Imperial College model, when applied to Sweden by researchers at Uppsala University, predicted a punishing 85,000 deaths as a result of its non-lockdown policy. So far, Sweden has had just under 6,000 deaths. This is despite Ferguson’s insistence, a full week after Sweden’s daily deaths actually peaked, that fatalities would continue to ‘increase day by day’.

Critics of Sweden point out that it still trails neighbours like Norway and Finland in terms of Covid deaths per million. However, we should not be lured into thinking that Sweden sacrificed lives while its Scandinavian neighbours saved them with prudent, humane lockdown measures. Peru and Belgium, both of which top the coronavirus death charts, also imposed some of the most stringent lockdowns in the world.

The significance of government policy is the natural starting point of journalists and politicians in Whitehall. But a global perspective forces us to reconsider the importance of state interventions in favour of more enlightening factors, like each country’s age profile, underlying state of health and population density. This is consistent with research conducted by Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government back in May. Following the peak of the first wave in Europe, it found no correlation between the stringency of government measures and deaths from the virus.

In the case of Sweden, biochemical engineer Ivor Cummins has highlighted its lower than typical mortality rate throughout 2019 compared to its neighbours. Otherwise an undoubted blessing, this presented a problem as soon as the pandemic struck in 2020. It meant Sweden was home to a larger proportion of seriously frail elderly citizens than Norway and Finland, which, experiencing higher rates of mortality among the vulnerable in 2019, had fewer to lose through Covid.

This goes some way to explaining why Sweden trails its neighbours. However, it cannot completely absolve the Swedish approach. In a perfect world, the Swedes would have recognised their duty to the untypically large number of elderly citizens who survived 2019 and ensured they also made it through the plague year of 2020 – either by focusing their resources around care homes or emulating the highly sophisticated, Asian-style ‘track and trace’ regimes. Admirers of the Swedish approach will say that we do not live in a perfect world. But then they should stop lauding Sweden as a model of unparalleled excellence.

Indeed, Sweden is not only paralleled – it has also been decisively outperformed by numerous countries on the measure of Covid-19 deaths. However, that does not change the fact that Sweden has outperformed Britain. Most importantly, it has set a unique if imperfect example that poses serious questions – questions that politicians appear to be in no mood to answer as they rush hastily towards a panicked choice between either localised or national shutdowns.

Sweden has suffered 584 Coronavirus deaths per million, compared to Britain’s 633, Spain’s 710 and Belgium’s 884. It also managed this relatively low death rate without destroying the economic and social lives of its citizens through despotic lockdowns, as all these other countries did.

Today, Sweden does not live in perpetual fear of a second national shutdown, because its leaders never opted for a first. Swedes may even have reached an ‘endemic equilibrium’ – the point at which a disease ceases to spread through a population exponentially and simply becomes one of the many background risks to which individuals adapt. Belgium, Spain and the UK, on the other hand, after lifting their enforced lockdowns, have subsequently seen a sharp rise in cases since late July (though increased testing played a role here), along with a slower but visible rise in deaths.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s infection rate is stable and its seven-day rolling death average has not climbed higher than three since late August. So while we ponder another lockdown, ostensibly to kill the endless cycle of restrictions and re-openings, Sweden gives every impression of having foreclosed that same vicious cycle by avoiding lockdown in the first place.

Moreover, the ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown, recommended by SAGE and now by Labour leader Keir Starmer, has no discernible benefit in the immediate or long-term. Even the March Imperial College paper, which frightened us into lockdown, made clear that suppression alone cannot stop pandemics. It merely pushes cases and any resulting deaths into the future.

Sneering know-it-alls like to respond that medical professionals are supposed to postpone deaths, and that there is therefore a public-health imperative to impose another national lockdown to postpone as many as we can. Guardian columnist George Monbiot smugly tweeted: ‘Hands up everyone who doesn’t want their death postponed… Thought not.’

But lockdowns do not ‘postpone’ deaths in the same way that, say, life-saving cancer treatments do, by extending a patient’s life in years and even decades. Lockdowns merely postpone deaths for as long as they are in force – which, under Starmer’s proposal, would apparently be just two to three weeks – while also imposing significant costs. Unless policymakers can point to a game-changing treatment or vaccine that will be made available within that time frame, they have an extremely weak case for wrecking yet more jobs and livelihoods and suspending our everyday freedoms.

Even assuming a longer lockdown, using the criminal law to destroy personal freedoms is despotic and cannot go on forever. Responsible adults can decide for themselves if they wish to ‘postpone’ their risk of death in a state of self-isolated misery, as some petty tyrants would have them do by force of law. Even vulnerable groups of people should be free to socialise and work as they deem appropriate, unmolested by health secretary Matt Hancock’s poisonous network of Covid marshals and informants. Individuals can make these judgements according to their own varied circumstances – something that no top-down legal dictate can fully assess.

In reality, Britain faces a choice between a Taiwanese ‘Whack-a-Mole’ strategy and a Swedish-style herd-immunity approach, combined with a well-funded ‘focused protection’ strategy for vulnerable people.

The prospect of the first option seems bleak: the government has already spent £12 billion attempting to create a Taiwanese-style track-and-trace system, only without Taiwan’s success. No matter how sophisticated the system, it makes little difference if we continue to have extremely low rates of compliance with quarantine orders. Forcing vast numbers of people to isolate for their own good on the suspicion that they may be infected might work okay elsewhere. But governments need to work with the citizens they have, rather than with the citizens they wish they had.

The truth is that loss of life from Covid is vanishingly unlikely for most people. Support should be made available to those with serious physical vulnerabilities who can isolate themselves voluntarily. The rest of us should then be left to get on with our lives and with the task of rebuilding our broken economy. Sweden may not be flawless. But it is important to learn from Sweden’s stability and its avoidance of a Fergusonian plague.

There are many measures that countries can take to shield the eldery – policies that both Sweden and Britain, along with others, failed to implement properly in the spring. But unlike national or even local shutdowns, this approach is proportionate to the threat and consistent with liberty, leaving us with a choice that did not exist when the virus was new and rightly engendered caution.

Do we want this pandemic to change us into a permanently wretched and fearful nation? Or are we ready to return, albeit cautiously, to the free and happy conditions under which we once prospered?



An Agenda Worth Voting For

While the Biden team studiously avoids talking about their real agenda, President Trump has made it abundantly clear what he intends to get done in the next four years. You don’t have to like his tweets or prickly persona. His accomplishments are reason enough to earn your vote. His plans for the future should convince all real Americans to storm the polls for this guy!

Consider his agenda for the next four years that will build upon the amazing accomplishments in his first term. All achieved in spite of entrenched forces that have fought him every step of the way.

On jobs and the economy, he expects 10 million new jobs in the next ten months and to see one million small businesses reopen or be created. He wants to lower taxes on working Americans. He really believes we can spend and invest that money smarter than Washington can on our behalf. Reducing taxes and regulations while insuring abundant, affordable energy actually works. He’s proven that.

He will battle the globalists, pressing for additional trade deals, leveling the playing field for Americans. He will nix the notion that Big Tech oligarchs can abuse the H1B Visa by replacing Americans with lower-paid imported labor. President Trump will enlarge Opportunity Zones, creating jobs and expanding horizons for minorities in our inner cities.

We should expect a major infrastructure effort to rebuild our bridges, roads and waterways. Upgrading our pipeline network alone will create thousands of good paying jobs.

President Trump will continue to press China and the multinationals who have sold us out. He will offer tax credits to return 1 million manufacturing jobs from China. Companies that offshore jobs will be banned from federal contracts. We will win the race to build out 5G networks without depending on Chinese equipment.

Critical industries like pharmaceuticals and electronics will get tax incentives for coming home.

Unlike China Joe, President Trump understands that nations that export raw materials and import finished goods aren’t really countries. They are colonies.

He will continue to hold China fully responsible for unleashing this terrible virus. We deserve to know why international experts were not allowed to investigate how this all got started in Wuhan.

His Operation Warp Speed is yielding amazing results. The president expects vaccines to be approved before the end of the year. He is putting in place a plan that will allow every American to be vaccinated early next year. Our long dark lockdown will end. Imagine what a return to normal will do for our economy.

Notwithstanding Democrat demagoguery, President Trump will press for market-based healthcare reform that protects the poor, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. He will attack spiraling healthcare costs with a special focus on regulations and runaway prescription drug prices. Starting with Medicare and Medicaid, drug prices will be referenced to prices charged in other industrialized nations. This alone will save us over $50 billion a year.

The president has made clear that he will continue to protect Social Security and Medicare. He will demand that the VA provide the world-class care that our veterans deserve.

On the international front, President Trump expects more Middle Eastern nations to join the movement toward a lasting peace. His efforts to end endless wars and bring our forces home will continue. Allies in Europe will be required to shoulder their share of defense costs. America First will make the world safer.

Our military is midway through a complete rebuild. The Space Force will be fully established. Amazing technology and a modernized military will keep our adversaries’ expansionist aspirations at bay.

With or without Congressional help, the building of the wall will continue. The flood of illegals and drugs will dry up. Legal immigrants will be required to prove that they will not become “wards of the state.” The president will end free benefits for those who broke our immigration laws. Criminals and gang members will be tracked down and deported. Does anyone seriously think any of this would happen in a Biden Administration?

Poor kids who desperately need access to a good education will see a dramatic expansion of school choice options. The anti-American cultural curriculums will be replaced with a return to American exceptionalism.

President Trump will appoint judges that abide by the Constitution and mete out justice impartially. Donald Trump will make our streets safe again. He will not defund our police. He will support them. Violent anarchists like ANTIFA will be treated as terrorists. He will defend the 2nd Amendment, allowing us to defend ourselves. Perhaps just as importantly, this president will insist that bad cops, including conspirators at the highest levels of our FBI and the CIA, be held fully accountable. We will finally learn the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane.

The choice is crystal clear. Only one candidate offers an agenda worth voting for.

Storm the polls!



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


26 October, 2020

If Trump loses, Trumpism will live on

Some excerpts below from a Leftist hate screed. In their own way they recognize that Trump has revived basic conservatism

He has lost some voters in the course of four years. He won 46 per cent of the popular vote in 2016 and today has about 43 per cent on the average of the polls.

But he is still President unimpeached. He is still supported overwhelmingly by the Republican Party. And he is still a real chance of winning re-election, with the betting markets giving him about a 40 per cent chance of victory. Another way of expressing this probability is that if the election were held under the same circumstances 100 times, Trump would win 40 times. In spite of everything.

"They say I have the most loyal people – did you ever see that?" He said that four years ago, and it remains true.

"That's the thing that's most distressing," Francis Fukuyama tells me. "He still has the support of more than 40 per cent of American voters and they love him – they love the fact that he's wrecking the US government," says the world's most famous political scientist.

Or, as the election analyst Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report puts it, "Voting for Trump is a cultural statement." It's not subject to events.

The pandemic has exposed the limits of Trump's nonsense populism. Fukuyama says Trump would be easily re-elected if not for the plague. But it also has revealed the power and persistence of his appeal.

Even if Trump loses, it's "scary because Trumpism survives Trump," says Fukuyama. The movement lives on even if he's voted out at the November 3 election.

"The core of Trump's support is still going to be there. He will be encouraging them. A lot of Republicans [in Congress] have thrown their lot in with him." He would become ex-officio leader of the opposition.



Oxford coronavirus vaccine 'works perfectly' and builds strong immunity to virus, researchers find

But only in the lab so far

The Covid-19 vaccine developed at Oxford University works perfectly and builds strong immunity to the virus, a study shows.

Great hopes rest on the vaccine, which is a global frontrunner and has been shown to safely trigger an immune response in volunteers given it in early trials.

But, unlike traditional vaccines which use a weakened virus, or small amounts of it, the innovative Oxford jab causes the body to make part of the virus itself.

Now researchers led by the University of Bristol have found this daring technology works for the coronavirus, just as it has for similar viruses in the past.

A study using cells in the laboratory found the vaccine effectively delivers the instructions for the Covid protein, which cells copy thousands of times to produce it in large amounts.

This means a person's immune system is then primed to recognise the disease and fight it off without them falling ill.

Dr David Matthews, from Bristol's School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM), who led the research, said: 'Until now, the technology hasn't been able to provide answers with such clarity, but we now know the vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness.'

While the world waits for the results of trials on whether the Oxford vaccine actually works, the new findings are the next step forward.



What the lockdown lobby gets wrong

There has been uproar over the past week or so over the Great Barrington Declaration, an initiative that puts the case for an alternative and less destructive approach to dealing with Covid-19 than the current cycle of lockdowns. In response, a group of academics, medics and policy wonks has put forward a response – the John Snow Memorandum. Though the memorandum claims the veneer of scientific authority, the arguments are dubious.

The memorandum begins with some relatively uncontroversial statements. ‘SARS-CoV-2 spreads through contact (via larger droplets and aerosols) and longer-range transmission via aerosols, especially in conditions where ventilation is poor. Its high infectivity, combined with the susceptibility of unexposed populations to a new virus, creates conditions for rapid community spread.’ Certainly, this is a serious and nasty disease that kills a significantly higher proportion of those infected than seasonal influenza. Unpleasant, even debilitating symptoms can continue for months after, even among the young and relatively healthy.

The authors argue that it is ‘unclear’ how long post-infection immunity lasts for and that there appear to be cases of reinfection, as with other coronaviruses. They say the spread of the virus is slowed down by measures of social distancing, face coverings, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, plus good hand and respiratory hygiene.

Ongoing debates about masks aside (I think they may be useful where distancing is difficult or for people with symptoms, as the World Health Organisation suggests), there would be few disagreements so far from those who want to take a different approach.

But one clear difference would be over the assumption that lockdowns were ‘essential to reduce mortality, prevent healthcare services from being overwhelmed and buy time to set up pandemic-response systems to suppress transmission following lockdown’.

We seem now to be at a point with cases rising again where we need to make policy choices that could have hugely damaging impacts if we get it wrong. One, suggested in the original Imperial College modelling report back in March, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, would be to have a cycle of lockdown and release to keep a lid on case numbers and to protect healthcare.

The authors of the John Snow Memorandum clearly believe that this cycle may not be necessary:

‘Continuing restrictions will probably be required in the short term to reduce transmission and fix ineffective pandemic-response systems in order to prevent future lockdowns. The purpose of these restrictions is to effectively suppress SARS-CoV-2 infections to low levels that allow rapid detection of localised outbreaks and rapid response through efficient and comprehensive find, test, trace, isolate and support systems so life can return to near-normal without the need for generalised restrictions.’

This all sounds very reasonable, apart from the fact that in many countries (including the UK), attempts to implement test, trace and isolate (TTI) systems have been a failure, despite enormous investment. Suggesting that continued generalised restrictions, or one more ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, could buy enough time to fix the problems with TTI seems very optimistic. Realistically, we will likely end up going back into lockdown and kicking the can down the road in the hope of a vaccine arriving sooner rather than later.

The alternative, epitomised in the Great Barrington Declaration, but a view that is by no means exclusive to its promoters, is to protect the most vulnerable members of society while allowing the virus to spread. There seems to be a fairly strong correlation between advancing age and the risk of severe illness. Children seem to get serious illness very rarely while the vast majority of deaths are in older people, with risks rising for every additional year of life.

By isolating only those sections of the population at greatest risk, the damage from Covid-19 could be greatly reduced even while allowing the majority of society to return to something like normality. At some point, when most of the less-vulnerable population has been infected, the spread of the virus will decline to a trickle. This is how epidemics throughout history have ended, even if infections continue at a much lower rate as populations change.

But the memorandum authors simply dismiss the idea. ‘Proponents suggest this would lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable. This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.’ This is a bizarre claim. This is exactly the approach suggested by the government’s scientific advisers until mid-March, when lockdown fever took over.

Their first argument is that there would be ‘widespread’ morbidity and mortality among younger people. These risks are real, but the memorandum exaggerates them. The vast majority of younger people suffer at most a mild illness.

As of 14 October, the UK government coronavirus dashboard states that 153,163 people have been hospitalised with Covid-19 – or 0.23 per cent of the population. One study examining the period up to 18 April, based on figures from 166 UK hospitals, suggested that the median age of hospital admission was 72. Of the 16,749 patients covered, over half had an existing comorbidity. The median age of death was 80. If we can protect both older people and those with existing chronic illness, the risks to the rest of the population are relatively small.

Another argument put forward in the memorandum is that ‘there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection, and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future’.

This is just silly. Naturally acquired immunity has always been the way that epidemics have ended. The idea of turning around a vaccine in just a year or so, on the other hand, is entirely new. Achieving durable herd immunity will probably require a vaccine, but we need to act now and we don’t have a vaccine that has been proven to be safe and effective as yet. Indeed, continuing to impose harsh restrictions only adds to the pressure to rush out a vaccine without going through the necessary trials.

Indeed, naturally acquired immunity could result in a lower herd-immunity threshold than could be achieved through a vaccine. The most connected people are also the ones most likely to get the disease earliest. They are the ones most likely to pass it on to a higher-than-average group of contacts. When these people achieve immunity, they break more potential chains of transmission than others who have fewer contacts. A vaccine programme, on the other hand, would (rightly) prioritise the most vulnerable people, with less impact on transmission. As for people being reinfected, this still seems to be very unusual. It is hardly cause to reject a herd-immunity approach.

The third argument in the memorandum is about practicalities and ethics:

‘Prolonged isolation of large swathes of the population is practically impossible and highly unethical. Empirical evidence from many countries shows that it is not feasible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to particular sections of society. Such an approach also risks further exacerbating the socioeconomic inequities and structural discriminations already laid bare by the pandemic. Special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential but must go hand-in-hand with multi-pronged population-level strategies.’

Threatening vulnerable people who do not abide by isolation rules would clearly be unethical. But that is exactly what ‘population-level’ strategies are doing to everyone. So narrowing those measures to specific sections of society would seem to be better.

Nonetheless, compulsion must be avoided. We must allow everyone to decide for themselves what measure of risk they are willing to accept, with ample support and advice for vulnerable groups to enable them to avoid social contact if they choose to do so. The memorandum authors are right to point out that there are practical difficulties. They are wrong to dismiss the possibility. We need to apply thought and resources to the issue, not simply wave it away.

In any event, how is it ethical to cause businesses to close, students to be imprisoned in halls of residence, free movement to be restricted and basic rights like free association and the freedom to protest to be junked? The authors’ understanding of ethics is very one-sided.

What about the ethics of the smear operation in progress against those who are putting forward a herd-immunity strategy? The fact that the Great Barrington Declaration was coordinated by an American libertarian think tank has been used to dismiss it with feeble ‘who funds you?’ arguments, claiming it is simply a callous attempt to put profit before lives. If we are to make progress, the first step must be a more sophisticated level of debate, conducted in good faith.

John Snow, whose early epidemiological work pointed to the true means by which cholera was spreading in Victorian London, contradicting the scientific consensus of his time, would surely have been appalled at this approach to scientific debate. The authors of the John Snow Memorandum are taking his name in vain.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


25 October, 2020

Alan Jones: COVID causes a global crisis of freedom

Comment from Australia: Sky News host Alan Jones says COVID-19 is not, and has never been, a pandemic:

I am forever an optimist. But there is certainly a crisis in this country and, indeed, in the Western world. It’s a crisis of trust, because we also face an economic crisis, a mental crisis, an unemployment crisis, business viability crisis, an aviation crisis, a crisis in the arts industry — the list is endless, all a derivative of strategies addressing a virus which are utterly out of all proportion to the nature of the problem.

As a result, we learn this week that Millennials in democracies throughout the world are more disillusioned with their system of government than any young generation in living memory. This is a survey of nearly five million people.

Roberto Foa, the study’s lead ­author from the Centre for the Future of Democracy at Cambridge Uni­versity, was quoted as saying: “This is the first generation in living memory to have a global majority who are ­dissatisfied with the way democracy works …”

David Kemp is a former federal Liberal MP, a colleague of mine in a Prime Ministerial office, and one of the most formidable defenders of liberal traditions. He wrote recently: “The corrupting effect of political power and self-interest has so clearly outed itself. The pandemic has highlighted some simple and sometimes harsh truths about ourselves, our leaders and our democracy … The most important truth is that, as individuals, we suffer, and some of us die, not from the virus, but from the lack of freedom to express and achieve our values and pursue our dreams.”

Rightly, argues David Kemp: “These disturbing occurrences underline how vital our civil liberties, democratic processes and constitutional constraints are to our wellbeing as a people and a nation.”

Well may we ask if we will ever get them back. Section 92 of the Constitution guarantees that intercourse among States should be “absolutely free”. No section of our Constitution was more rigorously debated leading up to Federation in 1901 than Section 92. Our Federal government refuses to go to the High Court to defend our Constitution. If our national government won’t, who will?

The “science” is thrown back at us to justify what is nothing more than totalitarian behaviour.

John Tierney, in City Journal, a publication of the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research, which is a leading free-market think tank, wrote recently of lockdowns and of Anthony Fauci, the White House adviser, whom Donald Trump has roundly criticised: “He and politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, profess to be following the science. But no ethical scientist would conduct such a risky experiment without carefully considering the dangers and monitoring the results …”

When a politician says that this is all because of “the science”, why you can only have 10 here and 20 there and 300 there, and you can’t stand, you can only sit and you can’t sing, and you can’t shake hands — never has a single piece of paper been presented that provides an epidemiological justification for what we are being told to do.

Yet, the World Bank estimates that the coronavirus recession could push 60 million people into extreme poverty, which inevitably means more disease and death.

President Trump argued this week: “People are tired of COVID. I have the biggest rallies I have ever seen ... ­people are saying “whatever, just leave us alone.”

As Henry Ergas wrote, clinically this month: “Every new case leads the evening news, reinforcing its image as the Grim Reaper. One might have hoped that the experts would set the picture straight.” Well, despite my protestations, no politician in this country has ever, and I repeat ever, quoted the World Health Org­anisation’s daily statistics — 99 per cent of cases are mild, 1 per cent serious or critical.

Indeed, as I write, in the whole of Australia, there are 17 people in hospital. But lockdowns persist. Everywhere. Not just Victoria.

No debate, no justification. Just do as you’re told or cop the consequences. Seriously, what country are we living in? Politicians should hang their arrogant heads in shame.

Mind Medicine Australia has put together a report, documenting the consequences of the response to this virus. And, among other things, it ­argues that, over the next five years, the additional cost to the Australian economy from those suffering from heightened psychological distress who remain employed, but at reduced productivity, is estimated at $114 billion; that modelling from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre suggests the COVID-19 pandemic will contribute to a major surge, 25 per cent in suicides with an increase of up to 30 per cent among young people aged 15 to 25.

The greatest metaphor of the alarmism, fear and hysteria that has overtaken our country and, indeed the world, is the use of the word “pandemic”. This is not a pandemic. It was never a pandemic.

It doesn’t matter which country you take — the US, with 328 million ­people, Sweden with 10 million people, or outfits like Italy, France, the UK, Spain and Australia in between — the statistics of people who are said to have died from coronavirus, (and remember, many of these people may have died with it not from it) nonetheless, the percentage of the population who have died is basically the same in all of these countries is 0.07 per cent.

Australia is an island continent with 25 million people. If we had not had Ruby Princess and international travellers, we could have easily ­escaped the whole show. But even so, deaths are 0.0035 per cent and look at the price we are now paying.

I have, for months, cited one international authority after another, who has argued the strategy is wrong.

Professor Joe Kettner, from Manitoba University, who said: “I have seen pandemics, one every year. It’s called influenza and other respiratory illness viruses. I have never seen this reaction and I’m trying to under­stand why.”

Professor John Ioannidis, the Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford University (and think of those mortality figures I have cited) has said: “If we had not known about a new virus out there and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year.

“At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average. The media coverage would have been less than for an NBA game between the two most indifferent teams.”

We are in a social, economic and moral sewer, because we have failed to listen to world authorities.

A fed-up and disillusioned Australia is cheering when Professor Kemp ­argues: “The authoritarianism of those whose philosophies are based on ­centralised power and imposed conformity has been unmistakeable … it’s time for the Prime Minister to recognise … that giving priority to his relations with those who abuse their power and disrespect their citizens is not consistent with the strong lead that the ­nation needs.”

Our collective plea is, get out of our way, leave us alone and give our country and our freedoms back to us.



The great Joe Biden cover-up as election heats up

No one is disputing the authenticity of the emails detailing potential corruption by the Biden family in China and Ukraine, but the press is doing their best to cover for Joe

As if the US election could get any more bizarre, now Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop is being ­accused of being an agent of Russian disinformation.

To sum up, last week the New York Post published a story about incriminating emails found on a MacBook of the troubled 46-year-old son of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

In the 20,000 emails, documents and photos on the laptop is new evidence that Biden’s family has been monetising his name from shady companies overseas, and that Joe participated in the cash-for-influence scheme when he was vice president.

Coming two weeks before the election, the Post’s stories demand ­answers, because Joe has spent years denying he knows anything about his son’s business dealings overseas.

You would think he would have called a press conference the day the bombshell appeared, either to declare his innocence or apologise for misleading the American people.

It wasn’t until Friday night at ­Detroit airport, that Joe briefly stopped for questions and CBS ­reporter Bo Erickson asked about the damning emails on Hunter’s laptop, which was left at a Mac repair shop in Delaware last April.

“I have no response,” snapped Joe. “Another smear campaign. Right up your alley.” A video of Joe’s vituperative ­remarks on Erickson’s Twitter ­account has been viewed more than six million times.

Joe has done his best to dodge ­reporters ever since. Yesterday he called a “lid” on his campaign for four days. That means no public appearances.

It’s extraordinary for a presidential campaign, especially when President Donald Trump has sprung back from COVID-19 and is crisscrossing the country doing speeches and rallies. The past two days he has been to Las Vegas, Nevada, Newport Beach, California, Carson City, Nevada, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

He plans to continue the frenetic activity up to November 3 while Joe seems to believe he can coast to the finish line without being accountable to the voters. He figures he can get away with it because the rest of the media will run cover for him. And he’s right.

He ventured out to get ice cream on Sunday and the big question was: “What flavour did you get?”

Neither Joe nor Hunter has disputed that the abandoned MacBook belongs to Hunter. Nor have they denied that the documents and photos we have published are genuine.

The signature on the work order authorising the repair shop to fix the laptop matches Hunter’s signature on court papers in a paternity suit.

Fox News has verified the provenance of at least one message with a third party included in the email chain.

The computer repair man, John Paul Isaac, has told Giuliani’s lawyer Bob Costello that Hunter’s lawyer, George Mesires, phoned him last Tuesday night, hours before the Post went to print, and asked for the return of his client’s laptop and hard drive.

I have seen Mesires’ follow up email to Isaac at 7.28pm confirming his identity.

In summary, the Post has published emails showing Hunter charged $10 million for “introductions alone” to a Chinese businessman while his dad was VP and that he reserved a 10 per cent stake in ­another lucrative Chinese deal for “the Big Guy”.

Fox News since has confirmed with a recipient of one of the emails that “the Big Guy” refers to Joe.

In Ukraine, an email shows Hunter arranged a meeting in 2015 ­between his VP father and Vadym Pozharskyi, one of his senior colleagues at the corrupt Ukrainian ­energy company Burisma, which was paying the chronic drug addict up to $83,000 a month.

A separate email, dated November 2, 2015, from Pozharskyi to Hunter, outlines what is required of him: to ­organise powerful US policymakers to pressure the Ukrainian government to “close down for [sic] any cases/pursuits” against Burisma.

That’s bad enough. But there is also evidence American foreign policy was distorted as a result.

In China, Joe went easy on President Xi’s aggressive militarisation of islands in the South China Sea.

In Ukraine, he threatened to withhold $1 billion aid in December 2015 unless the government fired Viktor Shokin, the top prosecutor investigating Burisma for corruption.

By February Shokin was gone. Smells like a quid pro quo.

But the Democratic party and Biden’s allies in the left-wing media are running protection for Joe. Hours after the Post story ­appeared, Facebook throttled its distribution pending “fact-checking”.

For the past six days Twitter has locked the @nypost account because it decided our story was based on “hacked” material. It’s not. Hunter abandoned his laptop and after 90 days, per the form he signed, the ­computer became the property of the repair shop.

Now the old Russiagate playbook deployed against Trump is being re-run against the Post’s evidence-based news stories by the same shady ­characters.

House chairman Adam Schiff ­declared on Monday that the stories were a smear “from the Kremlin”.

Last night 50 of the same former spooks who pushed Russiagate signed a letter saying they suspect a Russian disinformation campaign, although they admit they “do not have ­evidence of Russian involvement [and] don’t know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not”.

In other words, it’s a pathological fantasy.

Meanwhile, new material has emerged which bolsters our stories.

A business partner of Hunter’s named Bevan Cooney — in jail for fraud — has turned over 20,000 emails to Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer at Breitbart. One email published yesterday indicates a delegation of Chinese Communist Party officials secured a private, off-the-books meeting with then-VP Biden.

Trump is not letting the scandal go to waste, telling reporters yesterday: “Joe Biden is, and always has been, a corrupt politician. You know that, and a lot of people knew it for a long time. But now you have the laptop, it’s all over.”

We’ll see at the last presidential debate on Thursday night if Trump has any luck putting Joe on the spot, or if the former VP manages to play for sympathy for his wayward son.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


23 October, 2020

Fabulous news

Jordan Peterson is back! Looking and sounding good.

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There has been a great outpouring on love for him online which I am delighted to join


Conservatism Now Means Defeating the Establishment

Look around you at the smoldering ruins of American society, and it’s clear that you owe our garbage Establishment nothing.

Not loyalty.

Not respect.

Not obedience.


It has failed you. And now it is dead to you.

Tear it all down.

Rip out its rotten foundations.

Burn the poisonous debris.

Rebuild it on a foundation of the Constitution.

There was once a social contract out there that we all thought we all signed on to. You know the outlines of the implicit deal. We agreed to give up certain prerogatives and to provide prestige and prosperity to those people – who became the Establishment – who would run our institutions for us. For example, we outsourced our right to avenge ourselves to the justice system and (except for immediate self-defense) to keep order to the police. We would respect and trust the objective, neutral truthtellers, called “journalists,” who would gather and disseminate the news and information we needed to be active citizens. And, in a formal way under our Constitution, we agreed to give government officials enumerated powers and to be bound by the rules implemented via due process and limited by the Bill of Rights.

It was imperfect, as all human endeavors are, but on the whole it worked.

Until now.

Our institutions are old. Most date from just after World War II, or even further back. How about the example of academia? For the most part, in terms of practice, the only major difference between the typical college class today and one a century ago is that the person lecturing the hungover sophomores knows which bathroom to use. What is different is that it doesn’t work anymore – those mush-minded teens are not learning the info they need to be citizens, both because what they are being fed is rancid propaganda and because there are no standards anymore. Oh, and it costs more than the average American makes in a year to get young Kaden or Ashleigh that Collectivist Pottery bachelor’s degree.

And because the institutions are old, the geniuses and innovators who founded those institutions are long dead. Our institutions are run by people who didn’t build them. They inherited them, and like the vast majority of heirs, they are screw-ups. Take a look at the Kennedys if you’re unclear on how generations devolve over time. JFK captained PT 109, became president, and scored with Marilyn Monroe. This generation of Kennedys mostly scores dope. As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds says, we have the worst ruling class in American history.

Moreover, technology is disrupting the comfy university scam. I like to take long walks and listen to Audible. I like Roman history – which is super relevant right now and which has very much influenced my upcoming novel in the People's Republic series – and for about $14 I can listen to entire graduate-level courses on the subject by very best professors in the world. Who needs Harvard – except insecure people who can’t not let drop that they went to Harvard within 30 seconds of meeting you?

Other institutions have also been disrupted by technology. Newspapers still call themselves “newspapers,” but technology has eliminated the “papers” part, while their gross political partisanship has eliminated the “news” part. Hollywood used to be modeled on a few thousand big rooms showing moving, talking pictures, but technology has changed that to a few million small rooms showing moving, talking pictures. While the ability to make content has increased exponentially as the price of production has dropped, Hollywood still tries to maintain control by centralizing distribution via Netflix, Hulu and so on. This is true across the spectrum of institutions. They are trying to maintain the status quo despite their institutional obsolescence because the status quo means control. The institutions’ focus is no longer on doing the jobs those institutions were supposed to do. It is on preserving the institutions in their current, corrupt and inept form, and thereby the power of the corrupt, inept elite that runs those institutions.

What’s this mean? It means that we cannot count on the institutions to do their job – that is, to do those things we need them to do – because their real job is now perpetuating their operators’ grift.

Take the FBI, please – take it to wherever J. Edgar Hoover is buried, and even he’d be freaked out and spinning in his grave and getting all tangle in his burial gown. The FBI used to be the the gold standard, the crème de la crème of law enforcement. And, instead of being Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., rounding up mobsters, bank robbers, and commies, it’s a bunch of fugly geeks awkwardly boinking each other when they aren’t trying to frame the president. The FBI got the Hunter Biden computer about a year ago, a computer full of emails about the Democrat nominee’s crack-curious son’s adventures in influence peddling with Ukrainian robber barons and the Chi-Coms, and if some computer repair guy in New Jersey hadn’t thought to keep a copy of the contents the FBI would have deep-sixed the hard drive just like it did Weiner’s laptop in service of their Establishment masters. In fact, leakers are leaking that it’s the RUSSIANS at it again in order to actively and willfully cover up the biggest corruption story in American history. But hey, rest easy knowing the Eff Bee Eye is all over any garage door pull knots that freak out losing race car drivers.

Law enforcement is supposed to protect us by enforcing the law. Now it lets off rioters but will go gangbusters on you should you defend your family from leftist savages. We have seen that there are always cops who will choose their pension over their duty and bust your church or synagogue for illegal praying. The elite needs minions to do its dirty work and shamefully some doughnut-gobblers have proven themselves only too eager to obey. And even if you do manage to demonstrate that your prosecution is so corrupt that even our garbage DOJ wants to dismiss it, an Establishment judge won’t let you and an appeals court won’t make him even though the law says they must.

You cannot avail yourself of the law. The Establishment, which is supposed to uphold it, ignores it when it limits them and abuses it to restrict you. That seems problematic in the long term.

And then there's the media – well, we knew it was trash, but the last week has even boggled the minds of the most cynical critics. A few weeks ago, there was a collective spasm over the “losers and suckers” claims by four anonymous sources that were refuted by 25 on-the-record sources. This week, there was hard evidence of Biden business badness and the mainstream media swung into action to actively deny and excuse the evidence. The biggest corruption story of all time – a vice president running an influence peddling ring for foreigners – and the media’s response is to tell us there’s nothing to see. And then, when the tech fascists decided to suppress the news, the media actively supported this censorship.

The Establishment has failed. It failed to meet its most basic obligations. What’s this mean?

That means you’re free.

You owe it nothing, not respect, deference, or obedience.

So don’t give it any of these.

See, the Establishment succeeds in spite of its manifest incompetence and greed because of inertia. It perpetuates because we go along with it as if everything is normal. It counts on us thinking what we are witnessing are merely the occasional blips and problems inherent in any human endeavor instead of the systemic failure that it demonstrates. This rot is real and dramatic and, untreated, will be fatal to our country. Remember the Romans? You start changing the rules and sooner or later instead of a Republic you have an emperor who marries his horse.

Conservatism is no longer about conserving; it’s about ripping apart the whole corrupt system and overthrowing the garbage Establishment.



America Is Drowning in the Lies of the Left

There are conservatives who lie, and there are liberals who lie, but both conservatism and liberalism hold truth to be a supreme value.

This is not true for leftism. Truth is simply not a left-wing value.

Lying is to the left what breathing is to biological life. That is why the father of modern leftism, Vladimir Lenin, named the Soviet communist newspaper “Pravda,” the Russian word for “truth.” Truth is what a leftist says it is. It is not an objective reality.

The left has always relied on lies to gain and retain power. This is as true today in the United States as it was in the Soviet Union.

Here are examples of lies Americans are told they must hold lest they be removed from social media, shamed, ostracized and even fired from their jobs.

In no order of importance:

Men menstruate. ACLU tweet, Nov. 19, 2019: “Men who get their periods are men. Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.” If this is not a lie, the word has no meaning.

It is fair when males who identify as females compete in girls’ and women’s sports. In Connecticut, two biological men who are trans women have combined to win 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017. According to The Wall Street Journal, “19 state athletic conferences … allow athletes to compete based solely on their expressed gender identity.” No one with a passing acquaintance with truth could say this is fair.

To be colorblind is to be racist. This left-wing assertion is the opposite of the basic liberal ideal to end racism: to have everyone colorblind, meaning we are all to view and judge people solely as individuals irrespective of race. “Colorblind is racist” is not just a lie; it is an Orwellian lie. But it is actually normative on the left. See, for example, “Color-Blindness Is Counterproductive” (The Atlantic, Sept. 13, 2015) or the book “Colorblind Racism” by Meghan Burke, associate professor of sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Trump 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to win the election. This lie has permeated the American media for more than three years. There was never any truth to it. But those on the left — the Democratic Party and the mainstream media — found it a very useful claim, and they are doing so again in the 2020 campaign.

President Donald Trump said there were “very fine” Nazis. This is “the Charlottesville lie.” First, the media spread it, and now Joe Biden has run with it, claiming repeatedly that this was the reason he decided to run for president. Of course, what Biden said is a lie; he has wanted to run for president all his life. At Trump’s press conference on Aug. 15, 2017, right after the Charlottesville march and demonstrations, Trump made it clear he wasn’t referring to the neo-Nazis when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.” He told the press, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.” He was referring to the two sides at the protest over statues. See the video “The Charlottesville Lie” by former CNN reporter Steve Cortes at PragerU.com.

Donald Trump is a dictator. This lie has been told since before Trump was elected. It is repeated by virtually every left-wing commentator and politician. See, for example, “10 Ways Trump Is Becoming a Dictator, Election Edition” by Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt (Foreign Policy, Sept. 8, 2020) or “Donald Trump Wants To Be a Dictator” by Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian, July 5, 2019). It is a lie. The fact is no conservative American politician is a likely dictator because one of the fundamental goals of American conservatives is to shrink the power of the government. A dictatorship in America is far more likely to come from the left, which seeks to massively increase government power. For example, as reported in Politico on Aug. 21, 2020, Biden has already pledged, “I would shut it down,” referring to the American economy and Americans’ freedom of movement to combat the COVID-19 virus.

America is a racist society. This is the greatest national lie since the medieval blood libel, in which Christians accused Jews of slaughtering Christian children to use their blood to bake matzo for Passover. America is, in fact, the least racist country in history. That’s why, for example, there are so many race hoaxes; the real thing is so hard to find. Jews didn’t need to concoct anti-Jewish hoaxes to prove there was widespread anti-Semitism in Germany in the 1930s.

Ferguson was an example of racist police brutality. The Ferguson lie is frequently cited by the left as an example of police racism, including by figures as prominent as Barack Obama. Yet, a grand jury, which included black jurors, declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black man, because Brown had attacked the officer, sought to steal his gun and was in the process of a second attack when he was killed. The claim that Brown had said, “Hands up, don’t shoot” was also a left-wing lie. Brown never said it. See the PragerU video with Larry Elder.

America was founded in 1619, not 1776. This is the infamous New York Times lie for which the Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. This is the same prize awarded to the same newspaper in 1932 for its horrific lie that there was no famine in Ukraine when, in fact, Joseph Stalin was deliberately starving about 5 million Ukrainians to death. Leading liberal scholars of American history have condemned the Times’ rewriting of American history — that the American Revolution was fought in order to preserve slavery — as a lie.

These are just some of the left-wing lies increasing numbers of Americans believe. America’s survival depends on Americans — especially young Americans — recognizing them as such.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


22 October, 2020

Students who catch Covid may be saving lives

It is counterintuitive but the current spread of Covid may on balance be the least worst thing that could happen now. In the absence of a vaccine, and with no real prospect of eradicating the disease, the virus spreading among younger people, mostly without hitting the vulnerable, is creating immunity that will eventually slow the epidemic. The second wave is real, but it is not like the first. It would be a mistake to tackle it with compulsory lockdowns (even if called ‘circuit breakers’), whether national or local. The cure would be worse than the disease.

If you cannot extinguish an epidemic at the start, the best strategy is for the healthy to get infected first. Lockdowns ensure that the vulnerable and the healthy both get infected with similar probability. School closures, concluded a recent paper in the British Medical Journal, can paradoxically lead to more deaths by prioritising the protection of the least vulnerable.

In July the World Health Organisation said full lockdowns could be ‘the only option’ to prevent resurgence. But last week Dr David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Andrew Neil on Spectator TV that ‘We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus… We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method.’

Back in March when the pandemic first poleaxed the country, I argued in these pages that ‘there are no good outcomes from here. Many people will die prematurely. Many will lose their jobs. Many businesses will go under. Many people will suffer bereavement, loneliness and despair, even if they dodge the virus.’ That is still true. There is no course that involves zero suffering. It’s a question of minimising it.

This time, unlike in the spring, the virus has been mostly spreading among students. Places where more than 25 per cent of the population are university students have seven times the positive test rate of the rest of the country. Among students the infection is mostly asymptomatic or mild. As of last week, 70,000 students in the United States had tested positive with just three hospitalisations (one released) and no deaths.
By contrast, the effect of lockdowns on the mental health of young people is huge. Psychologists report that anxiety and depression have sky-rocketed, especially among the young, so that the highest mental impact is being felt among those least likely to die. It’s not Covid that is causing this, but lockdown and recession.

As Professor Karol Sikora puts it: ‘It’s clear that mass testing at universities has uncovered a huge amount of positive results that are largely behind some of the higher numbers. These are already on the way down in some areas. It’s not unreasonable to question whether this has been properly taken into account.’

Consider my home city of Newcastle. Roughly 50,000 students moved into Newcastle last month. On 3 October Northumbria University announced that there were 770 positive tests among its students, and just 78 of those showed any symptoms at all: that’s 90 per cent showing none. In the seven days up to 5 October, the Evening Chronicle reports, there were 609 positive tests (I refuse to call them cases) in the city centre, Shieldfield and Heaton Park — areas where students live. In Scotswood, a short distance away and where few students also live, there were 16.

It is the ability of this virus to be spread by those not showing symptoms, yet also sometimes to kill, that makes it so hard to control and so dangerous. Back in March the disease was spreading mostly within hospitals and care homes, among highly vulnerable people and their carers. Policy was based on the false assumption that most people would show symptoms, so carers could go from home to home without testing. That was a big mistake, as the medically trained entrepreneur Hugh Osmond kept telling me at the time: many fatal cases of Covid were caught after going into hospital for something else.

Locking down the whole country, schools, pubs, offices and all, did little to prevent that tragedy: health workers were not locked down. But it prevented the growth of natural immunity that happens to some extent with most viruses and thus probably made a second wave inevitable.

At the time I thought it was nonetheless necessary because of the dangerous nature of the virus. As I wrote here in March: ‘The government is now effectively admitting that even if drastic curfews lead to successive waves of the disease, that may be the least worst outcome. It is still a daunting prospect. Successive waves mean successive curfews and successive body blows to the economy. If we clamp down hard now and the infection rate drops, then we might be able, slowly and cautiously, to restart the economy in the summer but have to clamp down again when the virus resurges. Each time we do this, it will be more painful.’

Yet Sweden shows that the second wave could have been largely avoided. At the end of March, on the very weekend Derbyshire police tried to shame solitary hikers in the Peak District back indoors with drones and snide tweets, the Guardian described how ‘Malmo’s café terraces do a brisk trade. On the beach and surrounding parkland at Sibbarp there were picnics and barbecues this weekend; the adjoining skate park and playground were rammed.’ The New York Times called Sweden a ‘pariah state’. The Sun headline read: ‘Sweden’s refusal to enter coronavirus lockdown leaving schools and pubs open “will lead to catastrophe”, doctors warn.’

It did not. Sweden, a slightly more urbanised society than Britain, suffered almost as high a death rate in the first wave — it likewise failed to protect care homes — but is seeing almost no second wave. More to the point, its economy is in much better shape and therefore so are people’s lives. It ran a budget surplus in August and its economy is forecast to shrink 3.3 per cent this year compared with 5.8 per cent for the UK. Had we protected hospitals and care homes while keeping schools and pubs open, the chances are we too would be much better off.

Or look at London, where just 34 people died of Covid in the first week of October, compared with more than 1,000 a week in early April. There isn’t much of a second wave there, despite — or because of — demonstrations and crowded tube trains during the summer. This is probably because London’s first wave was already well advanced when lockdown started. Given widespread immune responses to the four kinds of corona-caused common colds, and the skewed pattern of viral infection, whereby a few super-spreaders cause most of the new cases, it looks increasingly as if the virus is already finding it harder to spread in the capital this time round.

The alternative to lockdown is not ‘letting the virus rip’, as Boris Johnson puts it. The Great Barrington Declaration, signed by over 20,000 doctors and medical scientists (but disgracefully censored by Google’s search engine), calls for focused protection: help the elderly and vulnerable stay at home, but let the young and invulnerable go out and achieve immunity for us all, while earning a living. The extraordinary truth is that a student catching Covid might be saving Granny’s life rather than threatening it.



Democrat Ballot Harvesting in California Backfiring

It is perfectly legal in the State of California for Democrats to send campaign workers and volunteers door-to-door to collect absentee ballots and bring them to the clerk’s office to be counted. Democrats have made an art form of ballot harvesting and credit their efforts with flipping 4 House seats in Orange County.

The individual harvesting the ballots doesn’t have to identify himself or sign his name on each ballot. Some workers have handed in hundreds of absentee ballots they collected. Republicans were at a distinct disadvantage.

But then the California GOP started their own ballot harvesting efforts. They put absentee ballot drop boxes at gun ranges, churches, and GOP offices.

This was not what the Democrats had in mind at all. They only want to make it easier for Democrats to vote. So the Democratic secretary of state and the Democratic attorney general sent cease-and-desist letters to several local GOP chairmen telling them to stop because the drop boxes weren’t “official.”

Republicans gleefully told the Democratic officials to go hang.

Wall Street Journal:

“We believe that temporarily holding [vote by mail] ballots in a locked box at a church or local Party headquarters is more secure than a Party volunteer or paid operative holding harvested ballots collected from voters at a senior center in the back seat of his or her car—though both are legal,” GOP leaders wrote.

They’re right. The GOP’s ballot depositories don’t threaten election security any more than Democrats’ door-to-door operations. Both entail voters entrusting their ballots to third parties. Why are Democratic and union canvassers more trustworthy than churches and gun shops? The GOP drop boxes also present less of a public-health risk.

Democrats can’t complain that the boxes aren’t “secure” (as if they care about how “secure” their own drop boxes are). The GOP boxes are locked and supervised just like “official” drop boxes. What’s really happening is a big dose of hypocrisy.

Republicans noted that Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda, who faces a tough re-election fight, has encouraged supporters to establish “neighborhood hubs” outside their homes to collect ballots. This didn’t stop Mr. Rouda from demanding an investigation into the GOP drop boxes and implying that Republicans may be discarding Democratic votes.

Meantime, Democrats are as usual accusing Republicans of voter suppression. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2022 re-election campaign blasted out a message declaring “the GOP is terrified of losing—so they’re willing to lie, cheat, and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power.” When Democrats harvest ballots, they are increasing voter access. When Republicans do it, it’s cheating. Glad we cleared that up.

Ballot harvesting seems like a good idea on the surface but there are six ways from Sunday to commit fraud. There has to be a balance between ballot security and ease of access so that everyone who wants to can vote safely and securely. Democrats don’t want balance and don’t believe that fraud is a problem. Using ballot harvesting, it wouldn’t take much organization or intelligence to alter the outcome of an election by committing fraud.




Supreme Court will hear Trump appeal to exclude illegal immigrants from census (CNBC)

Hypocritical obstructionist Nancy Pelosi gives Trump 48-hour deadline to compromise on COVID relief (The Daily Wire)

NBC debate moderator partisan cheat took father to Obama's Christmas party and family donated thousands to Democrats including Joe Biden (Washington Examiner) | Video surfaces of moderator "tipping off" Hillary Clinton campaign on interview questions in 2016 (The Daily Wire)

Biden town hall attendees identified as ex-Obama speechwriter, wife of prominent Democrat (Fox News)

Chris Coons says his "mind is open" to packing the Supreme Court (Washington Examiner)

Biden granddaughter "couldn't agree more" that Joe will implement "agenda of the far left" (The National Pulse)

Ten counties account for 22% of COVID-19 fatalities, 11% of population (The Daily Signal)

Study: 1/3 of excess COVID-19 deaths were not due to the coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

NYPD woes mount: Patrol chief's sudden retirement part of "troubling" exodus (Fox News)

Record number of Seattle cops leave force in September (The Washington Free Beacon)

Protesters fill casket outside nursing home with thousands of copies of Andrew Cuomo's new book (Washington Examiner)

Time to pay the piper: Chicago ranks "rattiest" city for sixth year in a row (actual rats, not politicians) (Washington Examiner)

Feds withheld $4 million from 9/11 health program over NYC debts (National Review)

After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S. (Reuters)

Midwest derecho in August was historically costly, with damage reaching $7.5B (Fox Business)

Mexico's corrupt former defense minister arrested in Los Angeles (The New York Times)

China threatens to detain Americans if U.S. prosecutes Chinese scholars (The New York Times)

Gretchen Whitmer caught with controversial sign after claiming "lock her up" is inciting "terrorism" (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Biden's economic policy will kill two million jobs (The Washington Free Beacon)

Policy: How not to respond to alarming social media censorship (Foundation for Economic Education)


My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


21 October, 2020

2020 US election: Big Tech pulls on censor’s jackboots for the left

The biggest, and long term the most consequential, story of the US election so far is the shocking decision by Twitter and Facebook to outright censor any story promoting the New York Post’s exclusive revelation of emails concerning Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.

This grotesque decision by Big Tech is the most shocking breach of democratic norms the US has seen in decades. Here is a looming threat of authoritarianism in America, but it doesn’t come from Donald Trump.

Trump is not an authoritarian. At worst, he’s an administratively incompetent populist very ragged around the edges. He does not have the support of most media, doesn’t control congress, the military, the intelligence agencies, the courts, state governments. He is constrained and hemmed in on all sides. Nor is he popular.

The threat of authoritarianism from the left liberal ideological establishment, however, is strong and growing. Big Tech political censorship is both a symptom, and an accelerant, of this.

If Biden wins the presidency, and the Democrats win the Senate and hold the House of Representatives, this will concentrate power massively. And it will validate ideological coercion.

It would mean the left liberal movement, with Democrats far left of where they were under Barack Obama, will hold executive government, the legislature, the administrative state, the political sympathies of the leadership of the intelligence agencies, the chief centres of cultural power in Hollywood and most of the media, and now the massive, coercive power of Big Tech companies.

All that power would be propelled by immense self righteousness and a determination that people who seriously disagree are not just wrong but commit a crime against human decency.

A few years ago, I was one of countless commentators worldwide calling on Big Tech companies to clean up social media. By this, almost everyone meant ending expressions of violent hatred, of incitements to violence, of foul abuse, of incitements to direct ­action against individuals.

No one envisaged direct partisan censorship of mainstream political debate.

Big Tech companies have long had a cultural left liberal bias and made it difficult for conservatives to have big success on social media. But I don’t think their political convictions run very deep, as their long history of co-operation with the Communist Party government in China suggests.

However, they are expert at sniffing the wind and avoiding efforts to reform their unaccountable power. They have taken a big bet on the Biden administration, and on the left generally.

Censoring the New York Post stories is truly outrageous. The Post revealed emails that it claims came from the hard drive of a laptop that it says Hunter Biden left at a repair shop and never picked up. The Post is a mainstream newspaper, bearing all the constraints of such an institution.

It can be sued, it can suffer meaningful reputational damage, readers can turn away from it. It should not be censored.

Twitter and Facebook banned the Post from promoting its story, and then banned anyone else from linking to it, unless of course they were condemning it (this is truly Big Tech learning from the Chinese state on social media policy) on grounds that the story was perhaps unreliable, or may come from hacked documents.

This is a double standard so grotesque as to be beyond parody.

A million stories about Trump have been printed in mainstream media and promoted all over ­social media which have come from sources later discredited. The stories often turned out to be untrue. Big Tech companies had no objection to any of those.

I am not concerned with the substance of the emails here, or even in a sense with the Biden-Trump contest. But citizens who value democracy in any Western society should object in the strongest way to Big Tech deciding it can censor politics and interfere to promote the fashionable ideological view and exclude the side of politics it doesn’t like.

Nothing is more likely to destroy faith in democracy and create eventually a huge anti-democratic backlash. This is the real outrage of 2020.



Sick Britons avoid hospitals, driving up deaths at home during the pandemic

London: People are dying at home from cancer, heart disease, dementia and other illnesses in unusually high numbers as the sick avoid hospitals and nursing homes despite assurances the health system has capacity to care for them.

New figures reveal some 116,282 people died in their own homes in England and Wales between January and early September - about 27,000 more than the five-year average.

However, COVID-19 accounted for just 2490 of those 27,000 "excess" deaths.

There was a significant spike in excess deaths in hospitals, care homes and private homes while the pandemic raged in March, April and May. In the months since, excess deaths in hospitals and nursing homes have actually fallen below the five-year average but fatalities at home have remained at levels well above normal.

Deaths in private homes for men suffering heart diseases are up 25.9 per cent in England while heart-related deaths in hospitals decreased by 22.4 per cent. There has also been a 53.5 per cent increase in deaths at home from prostate cancer.

Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's disease among women are 75.0 per cent above average in private homes in England but 40.6 per cent lower in hospitals.

The National Health Service was not overwhelmed during the first outbreak but there was a waiting time blowout for cancer treatment and other services such as elective surgery. The system has had plenty of capacity over summer and still does despite the UK's worsening second wave.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday warned the virus was again "on the offensive" in the United Kingdom and deaths were now doubling every 12 days.

"The best way to protect cancer treatment and all the other treatments in the NHS is to keep the prevalence of coronavirus down," he said. "We are doing everything in our power to suppress the virus, support the economy, support education and the NHS until a vaccine is available. That is the right strategy: charting a path that allows for the greatest economic and social freedom while protecting life."

The excess death data was released by the Office for National Statistics as Wales announced a strict-two week lockdown in a bid to curb a second wave of infections.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has responsibility for England's strategy, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland run their own health and education systems.

Restaurants, bars, cafes, non-essential shops, libraries and tourism attractions will close for a fortnight under a "fire break" strategy outlined by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Primary schools will stay open but students above year eight in secondary schools will have to stay home from this Friday.

"This fire break is the shortest we can make it, but that means that it will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus," Drakeford said.

The Wales strategy is among the strictest to be introduced in Europe during its second wave.

Ireland has also announced tough COVID-19 constraints, going to a "level five" lockdown and shutting non-essential retail, limiting restaurants and pubs to take away service and telling people not to travel more than five kilometres from their home.

Johnson has previously cited the need for people to continue their usual medical and hospital appointments as a reason for not ordering a new lockdown in England.

Doctors believe the government's pledge to 'protect the NHS' during Britain's first wave blocked or discouraged people from accessing life-saving diagnoses and treatments in public hospitals.

There are also concerns that major outbreaks in care homes earlier this year have caused families to keep their elderly relatives out of those homes for as long as the pandemic continues.

The ONS figures suggest people were reluctant to use these facilities even when the daily number of infections plummeted over summer. In July - when the spread of the virus was at its lowest in Britain - some 10,936 people died at home in England compared to the five-year average of 8358. Just 102 of those people died from COVID-19.

People aged 70 to 89 accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the overall excess deaths in England and Wales



Soros-Funded Prosecutors Put ‘Social Justice’ Above Law and Order, Analysts Say

Self-styled progressive political activists who win election as district attorneys with financial support from wealthy donors have made “social justice” initiatives more important than public safety, legal analysts say.

George Soros, the Hungarian American billionaire investor, stands out as the big donor behind a super PAC that helped elect district attorneys who have overseen a dramatic increase in crime.

The Justice and Public Safety super PAC feeds into a larger network of local political action committees. Some of the district attorneys elected with its support have attracted media attention for their antipathy toward law enforcement.

“I refuse to call them progressives,” Charles “Cully” Stimson, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding: “There’s nothing progressive about what they’re doing.”

In July, Fox News reported on St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who benefited during her 2016 campaign from advertising funded through Justice and Public Safety in her 2016 campaign.

Conservatives criticized Gardner for announcing her intention to pursue felony charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who stood outside their St. Louis home with firearms in June as Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched past after breaking through a gate.

A grand jury indicted the McCloskeys on weapons and evidence-tampering charges Oct. 6, USA Today and other outlets reported.

Gardner, a Democrat who previously was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, assumed office as circuit attorney in January 2017. She reportedly benefited from more than $190,000 in contributions from the Missouri Justice and Public Safety PAC.

The Daily Signal left a voicemail seeking comment from Gardner’s office, but had not received a response by publication time.

‘Huge Contributions’
The Soros-backed effort to alter America’s established criminal justice system by investing in local district attorneys appears to have been in motion for at least five years, according to Capital Research Center, a Washington-based group that traces how foundations and charities spend their money.

Over those years, Soros has spent more than $17 million on district attorney races, among other local races, in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, California, and New York.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, Soros has helped to elect progressive prosecutors not only in major metropolitan areas, but also in the suburbs.

In contrast to conventional political action committees, Justice and Public Safety and other super PACs may absorb unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations, and individuals such as Soros and then spend the money to advocate or oppose political candidates. Unlike conventional political action committees, super PACs are not allowed to make direct donations to candidates.

But as Shane Devine, an investigator with Capital Research Center, explains in a recent article, the “huge contributions” put into circulation by Soros through his PAC “makes it almost impossible for other candidates to compete because district attorney elections are on such a small scale.”

And, Devine wrote, the campaigns that get such PAC money typically “do not need to raise millions to run local ads and mobilize voters.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, benefited from about $1.7 million spent by the Soros-backed Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC during the 2017 campaign.

Since Krasner took office in January 2018, aggravated assault with a firearm increased by 18%, and, in one year, violent crime overall rose 5% and robberies climbed by 7%, according to a report in June from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund compiled figures for its report, titled “Prosecutorial Malpractice: Progressive Prosecutors, Public Safety, and Felony Outcomes,” that the organization says show “dozens of experienced frontline prosecutors have been fired or resigned under Krasner’s watch.”

What is the result of Krasner’s follow-through on his campaign commitments to alter criminal justice practices?

“Violent crime in Philadelphia is out of control,” Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told The Daily Signal



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


20 October, 2020

UK: A lockdown on dissent

The attempt to shut down debate on Covid infantilises the public.

It’s not just pubs, restaurants and gyms that are being shut down in response to an increasing number of people testing positive for coronavirus. Debate is being curtailed, too. When the government’s chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer held a press conference last month to show off graphs with exponentially rising red lines, they left without taking a single question. Science had spoken: there was nothing more to discuss.

Yet, from the time news first broke of the Covid-19 pandemic, the science has been anything but settled. There have been protracted public disputes about the role of children in spreading the virus, the efficacy of face masks, the benefits of ventilators, how long people have immunity post-infection, and even the nature of coronavirus symptoms. There is still no real consensus on how best to respond to this new threat.

Back in April and May, despite knowing that much of the science was uncertain, the overwhelming majority of people kept to the strict lockdown rules. But now, as some parts of the UK face a return to full lockdown, it seems government ministers and their advisers, as well as many journalists, have decided that the public can no longer be trusted with uncertainty and we must be protected from any disputes over ‘the science’.

Last month, following the Whitty and Vallance fear-fest, a group of 32 scientists – led by Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan from Oxford University and Professor Karol Sikora, former chief of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme – penned an open letter calling on the government to reconsider its approach to suppressing the virus. They warned that lockdowns led to ‘significant harm across all age groups’ and asked the government to focus instead on more targeted measures. In response, they were accused of ‘spoiling for a fight with the establishment’. Sections of the media were criticised for giving their views a platform and for having ‘a tendency to amplify minority positions, particularly if they appear to confirm the right-libertarian worldview’. Challenging the apparent consensus was a ‘dangerous distraction’, which would do ‘damage to public discourse’.

In other words, talk of disagreement may lead people to question and challenge the restrictions they are asked to endure – and that cannot be permitted. So now, with the publication of the Great Barrington Declaration, written and signed by infectious-disease epidemiologists and public-health scientists who are concerned about the physical and mental-health effects of lockdown, the gloves are off.

Of course, anti-lockdown scientists should be subjected to the same rigorous criticism as pro-lockdown scientists. But this is not what is happening. As Fraser Myers has pointed out on spiked, the Great Barrington Declaration has prompted a barrage of censorship and smears. It has been ‘signed by fake experts!’, shrieks the Guardian, which finds much hilarity in ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’ and ‘Prof Cominic Dummings’. Another yawn-inducing piece points out that the think-tank backing the declaration, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), is ‘part-funded by right-wing American billionaire Charles Koch’. The Observer, meanwhile, points to the AIER’s libertarian leanings, complaining that science has been ‘co-opted by shady ideological interests’. This is not advancing a scientific critique – it is simply an attempt to discredit by association. The aim is to present any dissent from lockdown as coming from a ‘fringe group of scientists’ who are out of sync with ‘most of the public-health experts in the world’.

We have been here before. Prior to coronavirus dominating every headline, we were told that the ‘scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99 per cent’. Questioning this ‘consensus’ was – and still is – heresy. When it came to Brexit, if you challenged the experts you found yourself labelled mad, thick and low-information. The exact same urge to label Brexiteers as stupid plays out four years later in the bid to discredit the Great Barrington Declaration. All the same assumptions are there. The little people can’t be trusted with ambiguity and uncertainty. They need stark and simplistic messages. They need to be told not to kill their granny. Any hint of dissent must be removed from public discourse or the idiots will ‘let the virus rip’.

There are real problems with this approach to public debate. Scientific progress, like all knowledge, advances through challenge. Besmirching the reputations of those who don’t fall into line, or implying they have spurious motivations, chills debate. Important questions will go unasked. And rather than promoting trust in experts, squashing dissent in favour of one consistent message has exactly the opposite effect: it promotes conspiratorial thinking. For a time over the weekend, the Great Barrington Declaration was removed from the first pages of Google in a number of countries. This plays into people’s fears that facts are being withheld and they are being manipulated. Yet when a safe vaccine against Covid-19 is developed, people will be expected to trust scientists.

Not even the most watertight scientific conclusions can tell us how to deal with coronavirus. Our response is shaped by a host of ethical, economic and political considerations. The people whose lives are impacted most by lockdown restrictions need to be allowed to participate in these debates. This means trusting us all to cope with ambiguity and scientific uncertainty.



Conservatives Must Fight Big Tech or Lose

Facebook and Twitter’s desperate attempts to block a damaging story about Joe and Hunter Biden is the culmination of four years of work to transform social media into the media. Under the guise of false claims about disinformation, foreign election interference, bots, networks, deepfakes, public health risks, and assorted tech paranoia, free speech died on the internet.

The moment when the White House Press Secretary had her account locked for tweeting a damaging news story about Joe Biden brought home the Big Tech reality to most Republicans.

Just like the media, Big Tech is the Democrat Party, and the Democrat Party is Big Tech. But, unlike the media, Big Tech controls the marketplace of ideas to an unprecedented degree.

Facebook controls 80% of social media and Google controls 80% of internet search traffic.

And that’s bad news because Democrats see the internet in the same terms as Xi, Putin, or your average dictator just about anywhere in the world, as a dangerous system spouting disinformation, damaging social ideas, and disruptive political rhetoric that must be controlled using a combination of economic and social pressures, along with government regulation.

Republicans and Democrats are both unhappy with the internet. Republicans are upset because there’s too much censorship and Democrats are upset because there isn’t enough censorship.

That Democrats, who once championed a free internet, now view it the same way all totalitarians do, speaks volumes not only about the death of liberalism but also about the transformation of the internet from a vox populi to a walled garden controlled by a handful of Big Tech monopolies whose cultural views and politics closely align with those of the Democrats.

‘Bigness’ has its own political and economic gravity. Big cities are more likely to have big governments and their inhabitants are more likely to vote for big government policies. They’re also more likely to use and generate the core companies and cultures that make up Big Tech.

The old political alignments based on questions of philosophy are being tossed aside and replaced with a new alignment based on the primevally simple questions of size and power.

The struggle is less defined by abstractions, than by the question of how much power you have.

In the Trump era, the more proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Democrat, and the less proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Republican.

The most striking thing about the Never Trumpers and the Rust Belt and Southern Democrats voting for Trump is how much power the former have and how little power the latter do.

Politics is being reduced to naked power.

Democrats shifted their stance on the internet because they gained control of core national institutions, in no small part through the growing fortunes pouring out of Silicon Valley which have tilted elections, financed political movements, and transformed public perspectives on social issues. And they are using their newfound power to do what the powerful always do, dismantle the safeguards of an open society so that there are no more threats to their power.

They’re doing this under the guise of fighting for equality and justice, and of waging a revolution for the oppressed, but so did most modern tyrants from Stalin to Hitler to Mao.

The Democrats are no longer interested in a free internet, for the same reason that they’ve tossed away free speech, the filibuster, or any institution or procedure that isn’t serving their interests this very minute. This isn’t due to a new progressive enlightenment, Republican obstinacy, grave new threats to democracy, or any of the other talking points they serve up.

The simple answer is that they won.

The Democrats of the 90s who welcomed an open internet were waging an uphill struggle against the open institutions of a generally conservative country. The country is now much less conservative, the institutions are much less open, and every major institutional force, from the biggest companies to the media, is unreservedly and uncritically backing them every step of the way, while suppressing any suggestion that they shouldn’t rule unopposed for all eternity.

All that’s left is collecting their winnings by shutting down the opposition.

Support for free speech is a matter of principle and practical politics. America was built on principle, but the Founding Fathers had a common-sense assessment of human nature. Free societies may be built on principles, but they survive through a balance of power. Every major faction must go on believing that it is in its interest to maintain free speech, checks and balances, and other protections against tyranny because it might end up needing them.

The Democrats have accumulated enough power that they no longer think that they need firewalls because if they play their cards right, the future, the right side of history, is their own.

That’s the fundamental development that explains the current crisis, not only of free speech, but of free elections, and a free country. The internet, like any society’s marketplace of ideas, is a symptom. Free countries have a robust marketplace of ideas. Unfree ones are obsessed with censoring speech and monitoring their citizens, all the while spinning paranoid fantasies about foreign interference, the threat of dangerous ideas, and the risk to political stability from speech.

Anyone who came out of a coma and spent an afternoon listening to CNN (owned by AT&T), reading the Washington Post (owned by the CEO of Amazon), and perusing the latest round of Democrat complaints about election interference and disinformation would know what we are.

The problem isn’t simply radicalism. It’s power.

Democrat radicalism isn’t being driven by the powerless, but by the powerful. That’s why Democrats with PhDs are more radical than those with a high school diploma. The problem of Big Tech can’t be separated from the problem of a political movement with too much power.

The culture of political censorship isn’t merely radical, it’s powerful. Cancel culture by college students or Big Tech censorship aren’t disparate phenomena, they’re the same phenomenon, often practiced on the same platforms by members of the same inbred ruling class.

America has been reconstructed to favor some classes at the expense of others. This new machine combining political institutions, activist groups, and corporations controls public life.

Conservatives can combat it or, like Soviet citizens, make jokes, and wait for it to collapse.

Big Tech is at the nexus of the political, economic, and cultural power of this new machine. That’s why breaking its power must be the objective of any winning conservative movement.

The massive monopolies control political discourse and as they tighten the noose around conservatives, political speech on the internet will consist of media narratives, a few tame conservatives, and little else. Imagine the high point of media dominance with no talk radio or cable conservative news. That’s the future. And it’s not going to arrive a year from now, it may already be here by Election Day. And if not, certainly when the next presidential election arrives.

But Big Tech also holds the key to the radical money machine. AOC and the Squad wouldn’t exist without a founding engineer from Stripe. The founder of eBay is responsible for everything from The Intercept to The Bulwark, the former is the media arm of the Sanders campaign and the latter of the Never Trumpers. The Washington Post was transformed from a fussy government paper into a den of furious radicals by the CEO of Amazon. Google money financed the Bernie Sanders campaign. Big Tech has poured a massive fortune into Black Lives Matter, from Steve Jobs’ widow, to Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, to Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg considering Facebook’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.

The cultural power of Big Tech is even vaster. Google and Facebook determine what most people see on the internet. Amazon and Netflix are swallowing the entertainment industry. In a decade, a handful of vast, mostly, tech companies, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Disney, Google, Netflix, and Verizon will control the culture far more than the old entertainment industry ever did.

By then it will be much too late to do anything except huddle in a few dark web outposts and mutter hate speech like the controversial words of the First Amendment.

If conservatives don’t fight Big Tech now, they will lose. And they will lose everything.

Big Tech’s power is growing exponentially, but it’s still vulnerable. The companies that will become immovable oligarchies in a decade can still be brought down and broken up. The internet and the marketplace of ideas can rise again from the ruins of those monopolies.

Now is the time. If we don’t fight Big Tech now, America has no future.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


19 October, 2020

Uniquely Bad—But Not Uniquely American

For much of history, slavery was as fundamental to society as agriculture.

The 1619 Project has not been having an easy time of it. Ever since the Pulitzer Prize-winning essays first appeared in the New York Times in August 2019, historians have been chipping away at some of the central claims. No, they’ve shown, protecting slavery was not the primary motive of the American revolutionaries when they broke away from Britain in 1776. No, the arrival of 20 African slaves at Jamestown was not when the country “began.”

The project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was at first boldly dismissive of the attacks, but she has more recently been going through contortions to insist that she didn’t say what she demonstrably said; she has even erased her Twitter feed. The New York Times has likewise done some stealth editing of its own, altering some of the more controversial assertions in the online edition. A few weeks ago, President Trump himself went on the attack.

I’d like to propose adding another reason to close the book on the 1619 Project: it is based on a twisted notion of American exceptionalism. America’s “brutal system of slavery [was] unlike anything that had existed in the world before,” Hannah-Jones writes. “Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.” Brutal? Yes. Unlike anything that existed in the world before? Seeing how far this is from the truth is the only way to make sense of the contradictions and perplexing compromises of the American Founding that trouble us so much today.

In fact, slavery was a mundane fact in most human civilizations, neither questioned nor much thought about. It appeared in the earliest settlements of Sumer, Babylonia, China, and Egypt, and it continues in many parts of the world to this day. Far from grappling with whether slavery should be legal, the code of Hammurabi, civilization’s first known legal text, simply defines appropriate punishments for recalcitrant slaves (cutting off their ears) or those who help them escape (death). Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament take for granted the existence of slaves. Slavery was so firmly established in ancient Greece that Plato could not imagine his ideal Republic without them, though he rejected the idea of individual ownership in favor of state control. As for Rome, well, Spartacus, anyone?

In the ancient world, slaves were almost always captives from the era’s endless wars of conquest. They were forced to do all the heavy labor required for building and sustaining cities and towns: clearing forests; building roads, temples, and palaces; digging and transporting stone; hoeing fields; rowing galley ships; and marching to almost-certain death in the front line of battle. Women (and often enough boy) slaves had the task of servicing the sexual appetites of their masters. None of that changed with the arrival of a new millennium. Gaelic tribes took advantage of the fall of the Roman Empire to raid the west coast of England and Wales for strong bodies; one belonged to a 16-year-old later anointed St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. “In the slavery business, no tribe was fiercer or more feared than the Irish,” writes Thomas Cahill in How the Irish Saved Civilization.

Today, of course, the immorality of slave-owning is as clear as day. But in the premodern world, no neat division existed between evil slaveowners and their innocent victims. Once the Vikings arrived in their longboats in the 700s, the Irish enslavers found themselves the enslaved. Slavery became the commanding height of the Viking economy; Norsemen raided coastal villages across Europe and brought their captives to Dublin, which became one of the largest slave markets of the time. The Vikings thought of their slaves as more like cattle than people; the unlucky victims had to sleep alongside the domestic animals, according to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. Norsemen rounded up captured Irish men and women to settle the desolate landscape of Iceland; scientists have found Irish DNA in present-day Icelanders, a legacy of that time. The Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe were an especially fertile supplier for Viking slave traders as well as for Muslim dealers from Spain: their Latin name gave us the word slave. Slavs were evidently not deterred by the misery they must have suffered; when Viking power waned by the twelfth century, the Slavs turned around and enslaved Vikings as well as Greeks.

Slavery was a normal state of affairs well beyond the territory we now call Europe. The Mayans had slaves; the Aztecs harnessed the labor of captives to build their temples and then serve as human sacrifices at the altars they had helped construct. The ancient Near East and Asia Minor were chockfull of slaves, mostly from East Africa. According to eminent slavery scholar Orlando Patterson, East Africa was plundered for human chattel as far back as 1580 BC. Muhammad called for compassion for the enslaved, but that didn’t stop his followers from expanding their search for chattel beyond the east coast into the interior of Africa, where the trade flourished for many centuries before those first West Africans arrived in Jamestown. Throughout that time, African kings and merchants grew rich from capturing and selling the millions of African slaves sent through the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean to Persians and Ottomans.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the North African Barbary coast was a hub for “white slavery.” This episode was relatively short-lived in the global history of slavery, but one with overlooked impact on Western culture. Around 1619, just as the first Africans were being sailed from the African coast to Jamestown, Algerian and Tunisian pirates, or “corsairs” as they were known, were using their boats to raid seaside villages on the Mediterranean and Atlantic for slaves who happened in this case to be white. In 1631, Ottoman pirates sacked Baltimore on the southern coast of Ireland, capturing and enslaving the villagers. Around the same time, Iceland was raided by Barbary corsairs who took hundreds of prisoners, selling them into lifetime bondage.

Large stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were emptied as those inhabitants who hadn’t been sent to slave markets fled to safety. Miguel Cervantes was one of those captured; enslaved by Algerians for five years, he returned repeatedly to the trauma in his writings, including his masterpiece Don Quixote. In Robinson Crusoe, the fictional hero is captured by pirates and enslaved in Morocco for two years, before escaping and, with no apparent hesitation, deciding to become a slave trader himself. One 1640 investigation estimated that more than 5,000 English citizens were being held as slaves in North Africa. Amazingly, ten American ships were seized and their passengers enslaved after the nation was founded. The American abolitionist senator Charles Sumner wrote a remarkable short treatise about the white Christians enslaved along the Barbary coast, speculating that outrage over the practice inspired some Americans to notice the evil that they were perpetrating on Africans in their own country.

Some of the few who have noticed this history protest that American slavery was more vicious than other forms. It’s true that some of the ancients and the Barbary Coast masters had a kind of slavery lite for a fortunate few: house slaves could sometimes marry freeborn women and work as skilled artisans or tutors for the children of their owners. Manumission was fairly common among the Greeks and Romans, though that was a minor decision for them; there was always more territory to seize for their empires, and they could quickly repopulate their slave quarters.

Make no mistake, though: slaves were always considered property to be traded, bought, and sold. For millennia, wherever people were buying and selling things, slave markets existed. “Slaves were the closest thing to a universal currency in trading centers,” observes Steven Johnson in his recent book about piracy, The Enemy of All Mankind. Joseph Pitts, an English boy seized by Barbary pirates in the seventeenth century, wrote of a Cairo market: “The slaves are examined much like animals; buyers are allowed to check their teeth, muscles, and stature to get an idea of the overall health of a slave.” David Brion Davis explains: “While African slaves did grueling labor on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas, European Christian slaves were often worked just as hard and as lethally—in quarries, in heavy construction, and above all rowing the corsair galleys themselves.”

Slavery’s long, cosmopolitan history is ignored by the architects of the 1619 Project. That oversight matters, but not because it would ameliorate the horror of the practice in the United States. No one can erase slavery’s lasting impact on our politics and identity or ease contemporary racial inequalities, entwined, however distantly, with the country’s slave past.

But slavery’s history does suggest two facts that can bring more clarity to how America, the land of the free, tolerated bondage: first, slavery, brutal and repulsive as we rightly believe it to be, was as much a part of ancient and early modern history as farming. And second: widespread revulsion against slavery came relatively late in the human story.

When the first African slaves were stepping off the boat onto American soil in 1619, and as Europeans were being steered into the slave markets of Algiers, there had been only scattered, regional, and temporary gestures toward abolishing the global practice of human bondage: a Greek philosopher here, an Indian emperor there; prohibition against trading in one area, edicts against owning a co-religionist in another. Slavery had been gradually disappearing from France and England by the twelfth century, but less because those civilizations were developing a modern conception of universal human rights than because tribes were coalescing into cities and nations that were finding less appalling ways to harness cheap labor. The spread of Christianity may have played a role in some areas. Urged on by his archbishop, the otherwise ruthless William the Conqueror freed Saxon and Welsh slaves. Still, the early Church’s record on slavery was erratic at best. And centuries later, the English and French, like other Europeans, had little compunction about putting West Africans in chains and transporting them to their colonies in the Americas.

It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that anti-slavery sentiment became enough of a moral force to exorcise the practice on a large scale in the West. Historians generally trace the origins of this revolution to two forces: first, secular, Enlightenment notions about the natural rights of man; and second, religious fervor among Quakers and later on, evangelical Christians. Quakers, the earliest abolitionists in both England and the American colonies, introduced the “Gradual Abolition Act of 1780,” the first such legislation in the West. Though it took more than a century and a horrific civil war to emancipate slaves in the United States, the abolitionist movement was a white Western invention. Other parts of the world remained wedded to slavery well into the twentieth century: slavery was legal in Ethiopia until 1942, in Saudi Arabia until 1963, and Mauritania until 1980. Today, one reads reports of slavery in Mauritania, Sudan, and in Islamist quasi-states in Iraq and Nigeria. As much as 15 percent of the population of Mauritania may be enslaved, according to the BBC. Estimates of those in bondage today run as high as 1 million people, mostly women and children.

What set America apart from other slaveholding societies, and what continues to curse the country to this day, was not slavery per se but its racialization. Slaves had always been inferior “others” in some way meaningful to each society: Greeks only used foreigners, or “barbarians,” as slaves; Christians justified enslaving pagans; Muslims did the same with infidels, even as they spared fellow Muslims; the Chinese enslaved Koreans, Turks, Persians, and Indonesians—and now the Uyghurs—but not ethnic Chinese. But after a brief, unsuccessful attempt to use smallpox-prone Indians as slave labor, Americans turned to a different “other”: Africans, who, thanks to the growing transatlantic slave trade, would now be available in huge numbers.

The advantage for slaveowners—but the affliction for both blacks and the country as a whole—is that race is a highly visible and tenacious dividing line between peoples. Escaped and freed slaves could not simply blend into the local population as they could in other parts of the world. Only 4 percent of the Africans who suffered through the middle passage across the Atlantic ended up in what would become the United States. The rest were sold in the Caribbean and Latin America, where, with the area’s large indigenous and Mestizo population, race was less binary than in the U.S. and the divisions between groups more flexible. Hereditary slavery was not unique to the U.S.—children were born slaves in the Roman empire and early on in the Caribbean and Latin America—but once color became the defining distinction between bonded and free, hereditary slavery made a certain awful sense.

So what should be our stance toward the immorality of our past? After a trip to Dublin in 2007, Danish culture minister Brian Mikkelsen scoffed at the idea of apologizing to the Irish people for the Vikings’ savagery in the Dark Ages, saying “we don’t apologize for what the Vikings did 1,000 years ago. That was the way you acted back then.” That position may make sense for an older civilization whose founding sins are hidden in the mists of ancient tribal history. In the relatively young, racially divided United States, it is inadequate.

But the minister hints at the reality that history presents us with a numbing array of opportunities for indignant judgement: wars of conquest, tortures, massacres, infanticide, beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, coercive and brutalizing labor, gulags, death camps, and so on. While we can and should condemn it all, that judgment has to be tempered by a certain knowing detachment, even humility, especially when we think about the more distant past. Consider that as the American Founders pondered the design of their new country in the 1770s, they were caught between two worlds—a past where human servitude was an unremarkable fact and a future, just taking shape, that condemned the idea as grossly immoral. James Madison grasped the contradictions of the moment: “We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man,” he wrote. Deeply in debt, Madison couldn’t see his way to freeing his own slaves upon his death. It’s a decision deserving our censure. But it is hubris for any person today to assume that they themselves would have had the foresight, the freedom of mind and heart, or even the moral vocabulary, to side with the angels. Remember: even freed black slaves were known to purchase and own slaves.

In an excerpt in The Atlantic from his new book Breaking Bread with the Dead, Alan Jacobs describes Frederick Douglass’s struggle to come to grips with the achievement of the American Founding. No one knew better than this former slave the boundaries of that achievement. No one better understood the limits of the virtue of these men. But the self-taught Douglass understood the omnipresence of human cruelty and the rarity of freedom. Painful as it must have been for him to do so, he conceded about the men who had compromised away his freedom, that they “were great in their day and generation.”

To understand the truth of that qualified praise is to understand the complexities of our history—and of any history. And it is another level on which the 1619 Project fails utterly.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


18 October, 2020

US election 2020: Why Christians will vote for Donald Trump

The vast majority of churchgoing Christians, Protestant and Catholic, and the overwhelming ­majority of Orthodox Jews, will vote for Donald Trump on ­November 3, just as they did four years ago.

This is surely a paradox. Trump is thrice married and was a self-proclaimed libertine in the past. He sometimes tells lies and is frequently boorish in his personal behaviour, mocking and insulting opponents. And he praises some dictators.

He has been shabby about keeping his presidency and the ­financial interests of his business empire separate, as well as keeping presidential diplomacy and his domestic political interests separate.

The ethical case against Trump is substantial, yet the most religiously conscientious and morally scrupulous people will vote for him overwhelmingly. What explains this paradox? And are they right to do so?

According to exit polls, in 2016 Trump won a majority of those who identify as Protestants and a majority of those who identify as Catholics.

Within each category, there were big differences. Trump’s religious support, according to Pew Research Centre, has declined a very little. Its polls now show Trump winning 78 per cent of white Evangelical Protestants, 53 per cent of white non-Evangelical Protestants, but only 9 per cent of black Protestants.

Trump will again win white Catholics, with 52 per cent supporting him, but because he only secures 26 per cent of Hispanic Catholics he is likely to narrowly lose the Catholic vote overall — to his opponent Joe Biden, who is himself a Catholic.

Most surveys suggest Trump will win the votes of nearly 90 per cent of Orthodox Jews, though he will lose among Jews overall.

However, Trump will win the majority of churchgoing Catholics. Among Christians who attend church weekly, Trump will win 60 per cent or more. That is a striking figure.

It suggests an underlying collision of philosophies, of civic and life philosophies, which is tearing America apart.

The qualified support for Trump by Christians is not irrational, illogical or unjustified.

Part of what voting Christians hope to get from Trump is on display in the Senate confirmation hearings for Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Barrett is surely admirable. She is a conservative Catholic and has been a longtime member of a charismatic Catholic group.

Charismatic Catholics pay special attention to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To simplify things pretty spectacularly, they are the Catholic cousins of Pentecostals (although there are some theological differences between charismatic and Pentecostal). Just as Scott Morrison is the first Pentecostal leader of an OECD nation, so Barrett will be the first charismatic justice on the bench of the US Supreme Court.

Barrett, now 48, has been married since young to the one husband, and has five biological children with him. The youngest has Downs syndrome. When informed of this, the Barrett parents decided to proceed with the birth. They have also adopted two children from Haiti. There is no suggestion the Barretts are other than a happy family. This is her private business and doesn’t make her better or worse as a judge.

It does, however, suggest that she lives the values she espouses. Barrett is also an immensely distinguished legal academic, becoming at a young age a professor of law at Notre Dame University. Notre Dame is not Ivy League, but is a very prestigious university.

She is a legal conservative. That doesn’t mean she will rule for the right-wing option in any contested case. It means her approach is to interpret the constitution, and the law, as it is written. This does have a profound conservative consequence. Judges with this philosophy are much less likely to discover secret, hidden, implied new rights in the Constitution which accord with contemporary left-liberal ideology and compel people and institutions to abide by that ideology.

American Christians are concerned by assaults on religious freedom. Thus a court could ­decide that traditional Christian views of marriage or morality or the meaning of human life threaten or contradict some element of contemporary identity politics and then penalise institutions — schools, universities or hospitals — that teach traditional Christian views.

Barrett, in her confirmation hearings, declined to express a view on contentious legal cases because it would be wrong for a judge to do so outside a courtroom. However, she said she personally abhors discrimination and would never discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sex or sexual orientation. But the left-liberal political and legal movements have argued that merely to teach traditional Christian doctrine, at school or university, that marriage is between a man and a woman, is to discriminate against gay students. It is a concern for rulings of this kind that motivates Christians to be obsessed with judges.

In the US, countless ­issues that should be up to legislatures are determined by judges. Trump has appointed hundreds of ­legally conservative judges. That was a huge issue in the serious, conscientious debate so many Christian journals and groups conducted about whether to support Trump four years ago.

Way back in the 2000 campaign, it was revealed at the last moment that George W Bush as a young man had been convicted of drink driving. More than a million Evangelicals were so unhappy about this that they stayed away from the polls. Yet now they support Trump, who makes Bush look like Abraham Lincoln.

Some American Christians do indeed enjoy Trump’s crudity and combativeness and seeing voting for him as a gesture of cultural defiance against the dominant left-liberal ideology. But from reading bits and pieces of many American Christian journals, I think tens of millions of Christians vote for Trump despite his bad character, not remotely because of it.

The choice in an election is ­binary. Hillary Clinton was herself guilty of misconduct in office, and she and her husband grew personally very rich off the back of notionally philanthropic activities. The same is true of Joe Biden and his family.

Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, made huge money in Ukraine and China in large part because his dad was vice-president.

That is not a joyful reflection, but it diminishes the moral choice between Trump and Biden. More important, there is not a single contentious issue on which Biden sticks with the teachings of his own Catholic Church against the dominant zeitgeist.

Thus Biden says that he believes that human life begins at conception and abortion is wrong, but he would not seek to impose this view on society. That’s fair enough. But he then goes on to support, with Kamala Harris, legal abortion at every stage of pregnancy.

These are complex and difficult issues and it is wrong to assume bad faith by anyone. But while many people would reject the idea that one second after a conception there exists a human being with human rights, most are very reluctant to accept abortion up to the point of birth — the idea that an unborn baby is not a human being one minute before he or she is born.

Extreme late-term abortions are very rare. But that doesn’t mean that they are not an ethical issue. Peter Singer is an extremely useful atheist philosopher because he thinks through honestly the logical end point of atheist moral assumptions.

In Rethinking Life and Death, he argues: “Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons.” He has argued that if they are born handicapped and their parents don’t want to keep them, they should be allowed to die.

When this position aroused controversy, he replied with compelling logic that if it was OK to kill a baby 10 minutes before it is born, why is it so wrong to kill a baby 10 minutes after birth?

Trump has issued a presidential executive order entitled Born Alive. It requires that if a baby survives a botched abortion attempt, doctors and nurses must render lifesaving assistance, which is not the practice now.

Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics alike regard such babies as human beings, and terminating them as taking innocent human lives. They may be wrong to hold those views, although they were the consensus Western view over most of the past 2000 years. But if they do hold such views, it is certainly not unreasonable to vote for a President who will try to give some limited effect to them.

As Barrett commented during her academic career, it is vanishingly unlikely that abortion will ever again be generally illegal in the US. But there are live questions over restrictions at the margin. It is not hypocritical, nor irrational, for Christians to choose to cast their vote on the basis of such considerations.

American Christians are nothing like the Obama stereotype of them as hillbillies bitterly clinging to guns. The most generous givers to charity among all US demographics are Evangelicals. Domestic violence is much rarer among churchgoing Christian families than in general society. Religious practice in the home is a strong indicator of both spouses feeling that family decision-­making is mutual and consensual.

The sociological evidence is overwhelming that religious belief, combined with regular church attendance, predicts human happiness.

There is a split in Christianity, of course. Christians whose chief theological rhetoric is social justice generally oppose Trump. But liberal Christianity has consistently shown itself to be a self-­destroying movement. Theo­logically orthodox Christians believe their faith impels them to acts of charity — often sustained and heroic acts of charity. But if your sole purpose in life is social action, then you don’t need God.

Historically, liberal Christ­ianity first marginalises God, then finds it doesn’t need him at all. In a very short time, this moves from theologically anaemic to no theology at all.

There are other issues that lead Christians to support Trump. His administration has made a big issue internationally of freedom of religion. This includes defending persecuted Christians. The Pew Centre reports that Christianity is the most persecuted ­religion in the world today.

Conscientious Christians could vote for Trump or Biden or not vote at all. Neither candidate is so bad as to make them unconscionable, as it would be for a Christian to vote, say, for a communist or a Nazi.

But when you examine the ­issues that motivate American Christians, it is not irrational that so many vote Trump. A paradox, yes. A contradiction, no.



SCOTUS Ends Left's Attempt to Delay Census

Leftists have milked the coronavirus excuse for all their worth, including taking advantage of a novel event to further tilt the electoral map in Democrats’ favor. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court has at least slowed the effort to drag out the 2020 Census until a Joe Biden administration takes power.

On Tuesday, the justices ruled that the Census Bureau had the authority to end its data collection on October 31. The Court’s ruling overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of leftist groups that have dubiously contended the Census Bureau’s ending date would jeopardize producing an accurate population count. As noted above, the real goal for Democrats and the Left was to push back the census completion date in order to secure greater redistricting power.

However, as noted by Ninth Circuit dissenting Judge Patrick Bumatay — with whom the justices agreed — the constitutional mandate for administration of the census does not mention “accuracy” in the count. The Census Bureau must “balance the need for accuracy against the statute’s hard deadline,” Bumatay observed. “Determining what level of accuracy is sufficient is simply not something that the judicial branch is equipped to do.”

Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Supreme Court’s unsigned order Tuesday stays the lower-court injunction and allows the bureau to immediately wrap up its data collection. The stay might not have a large practical effect since the bureau has already enumerated 99.9% of the population in 47 states with the exceptions of Louisiana (98.3%), Mississippi (99.4%) and South Dakota (99.8%).”

In short, SCOTUS stepped in to prevent another instance of the judicial branch acting as the legislative. And it stepped in to stop just one more avenue leftists are using to stack the deck in their favor. Whether it be the Census, the Electoral College, adding DC and Puerto Rico as states (to pack the Senate), or packing the Supreme Court, today’s Democrat Party is all about “fundamentally transforming” American institutions with the end result of giving Democrats unassailable power.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


16 October, 2020

NYT: Experts Confident Pandemic To Be Over ‘Far Sooner’ Than Expected, Trump Efforts ‘Working With Remarkable Efficiency’

A new report from The New York Times indicates that experts have “genuine confidence” that the coronavirus pandemic will end “far sooner” than originally expected and that President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed — the administration’s efforts to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics — has been “working with remarkable efficiency.”

The report, published on Monday, comes with just over three weeks left in the presidential race between Trump and Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Events have moved faster than I thought possible. I have become cautiously optimistic,” New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil Jr. wrote. “Experts are saying, with genuine confidence, that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected, possibly by the middle of next year.”

The report noted that the U.S. was “faring much better than it did during the Spanish influenza,” which cost 675,000 Americans their lives, adding, “the country’s population at the time was 103 million, so that toll is equivalent to 2 million dead today.”

The report noted numerous positive developments that have come along the way as the U.S. battles the pandemic, ranging from the average age of those being infected being significantly younger now than at the start of the pandemic to nursing homes becoming better at protecting their patients.

“Sometime in the next three months, health experts say, the F.D.A. is likely to begin granting approval to vaccines now in the works,” the report said. “Despite the chaos in day-to-day politics and the fighting over issues like masks and lockdowns, Operation Warp Speed — the government’s agreement to subsidize vaccine companies’ clinical trials and manufacturing costs — appears to have been working with remarkable efficiency. It has put more than $11 billion into seven vaccine candidates, and the F.D.A. has said it will approve any one that is at least 50 percent effective at preventing infection or reducing its severity.”

The report notes that Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientific adviser, Moncef Slaoui, believes that some of the early vaccine candidates will be 75 to 90 percent effective and that at least two will have won approval by sometime in January.

“By then, Dr. Slaoui has estimated, the factories under contract will have produced enough vaccine for 30 to 40 million people, and then another 80 to 90 million people every month after that,” the report added. “Assuming nothing goes wrong, he said, there will be enough doses for all 330 million Americans to be vaccinated by next June.”

The report noted that the military is standing by to assist in the rapid distribution of any vaccines that become available and that skepticism and hesitation to taking a vaccine may quickly fade as people begin to weigh the relatively minuscule risks of a vaccine against the potential effects of contracting the virus, including “the prospect of being unable to return to work, having to home-school one’s children for years and not eating in a restaurant, flying on an airplane or watching a movie in a theater without the specter of anxiety.”



FACT CHECK: More People Delaying Health Care Over Costs Now Than Pre-Obamacare

A common myth being presented during the Amy Coney Barrett hearings is the notion that many Americans who couldn’t afford healthcare before the Affordable Care Act was passed and implemented suddenly could.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, the data suggests otherwise. According to a Gallup survey from December 2019, 33 percent of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a health condition because of the costs.

This number has remained virtually unchanged since Obamacare was passed. In fact, the number has averaged about 30 percent since 2006, which is significantly higher than it was back in 2001, when only 19 percent of Americans said they or a family member put off treatment for a health condition because of the cost.

Worse yet, Obamacare hasn’t improved the situation for those with pre-existing conditions. “Reports of delaying care for a serious condition due to costs are also up 13 points compared with last year among Americans who report they or another household member has a ‘pre-existing condition,'” Gallup reported. “At the same time, there has been virtually no change in the percentage of adults without pre-existing conditions in the household who delayed care for a serious health issue in the past year, currently 12% versus 11% in 2018.”

Gallup does urge some caution with regard to the four-point jump in those reporting delaying care over the previous survey. “Most of the recent increase in reports that family members are delaying treatment for serious conditions has occurred among self-identified Democrats,” explains Gallup. “This is up 12 points since 2018 among Democrats, compared with three- and five-point increases among Republicans and independents, respectively.”

The partisan gap in the responses to these questions is the largest in two decades. The reason for this, Gallup can’t say for sure. But seeing as Gallup reported there’s been no major change in health coverage, the sharp spike of self-identifying Democrats reporting delaying healthcare over costs is likely done for partisan reasons, as the survey occurred in the heat of a Democratic presidential primary.

But one thing that is clear: fewer people were delaying medical care over costs back in 2001, and Obamacare has done nothing to reduce the number of people delaying health care over costs. Nothing at all.



Handmaids of Bigotry

Well, they dusted off those colorful “Handmaid’s Tale” outfits that were so visible at Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2018.

Even before Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrats were being cheered on by permanently angry women (and maybe some men) dressed in red cloaks with white duckbills extending from their hoods.

This is the uniform of the oppressed women in Hulu’s serialization of Margaret Atwood’s dystopic, anti-Christian novel. If you thought atheist crusader Philip Pullman’s thinly disguised depiction of church authorities as evil in “The Golden Compass” book and movie were bad, Ms. Atwood runs circles around him. In her 1985 book and TV series, the polygamous men cite Bible verses and treat the women as sex slaves.

Braving the rain on Monday, the demonstrators held signs festooned with messages such as a giant NO! in rainbow colors over “Trump/Pence Must Go!”

This time around in the Senate star chamber, the Democrats who pretend to honor religious liberty while assailing nominees’ faith think they have a smoking gun. The word “handmaid.”

Mrs. Barrett and her husband have long been members of an ecumenical charismatic Christian group begun in 1971 called People of Praise, based in South Bend, Indiana, home to Notre Dame University and its law school, from which she graduated summa cum laude and taught constitutional law.

Women leaders in the group, including Mrs. Barrett, previously held the title of “handmaid,” which is derived from Jesus’s mother Mary’s own description of herself in Luke 1:38 as “the handmaid of the Lord.”

The group dropped that title in favor of “women’s leader” because “the meaning of this title has shifted dramatically in our culture in recent years,” a spokesman said.

Mrs. Barrett, 48, now serves on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, to which she was nominated by President Trump in 2017. At that time, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said at a hearing that Mrs. Barrett’s religious beliefs worried her because “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

Wow. Talk about open religious bigotry. But it’s OK because the senator is a Democrat, and they get to do this sort of thing. It’s not as if the media would have a problem with it.

Here’s a front-page headline from last Wednesday’s Washington Post: “Barrett long active with insular Christian group: Community preached subservience for women, former members say.”

Ah, those “former members.” You can always dig up a dissident or two to make the point you want, unless you’re reporting on Black Lives Matter or the Democratic National Committee, which are pretty much the same thing.

As for People of Praise, here’s more from their own media statement provided to Heavy.com:

“A majority of People of Praise members are Catholic, and yet the People of Praise is not a Catholic group. We aim to be a witness to the unity Jesus desires for all his followers. Our membership includes not only Catholics but Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Christians. What we share is a common baptism, a commitment to love one another and our teachings, which we hold in common.

“Freedom of conscience is a key to our diversity. People of Praise members are always free to follow their consciences, as formed by the light of reason, experience and the teachings of their churches.”

As the Apostle Paul instructs, and many biblically sound churches teach, men are to be the spiritual leaders in the church and in their own households and they are to love their wives as they love themselves. This is considered scandalous by our cultural commissars.

In Ephesians 5:25, Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her.” That means laying down your life if necessary. It’s why when things go bump in the night, the guy should be the one who goes downstairs with the baseball bat or the Sig Sauer.

Democrats are terrified of the attractive and articulate Mrs. Barrett, a mother of seven, just as they were threatened by Clarence Thomas, who destroyed their narrative that blacks belong on the leftist plantation.



Barrett Nomination Shows Trump Is Giving Power to Everyday Americans, Not Ivy League 'Elites'

President Trump was elected on a simple premise. For too long, the American and global elites had ignored the plight of the average American. Trump’s 2016 electoral victory was echoed in other nations with the Brexit vote and the “yellow jacket” protests in France. The president’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court shows that he continues to be committed to returning power to the forgotten people.

In her opening statement before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Barrett observed that she would be the only justice on the current court that did not attend Harvard or Yale. She defended the honor of her Alma Mater, Notre Dame Law School, and quipped that she might be able to teach the other justices something about football.

There is no question that Atlantic Coast Conference football, where Notre Dame now plays, is far superior to Ivy League football. The same cannot be said about the quality of legal education at Harvard or Yale compared to the many other fine law schools we have across the country. Excellent legal thought and scholarship are not restricted to Boston, Massachusetts or New Haven, Connecticut.

It is interesting to note, that the last four presidents before Donald Trump were all graduates from Yale or Harvard at some level. George W. Bush actually attended both, Yale undergraduate and Harvard Business school. The last two unsuccessful Democratic nominees for president, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, were also Yale products. The last president before Trump who did not go to Harvard or Yale? Ronald Reagan.

Judge Barrett attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee for her undergraduate work and Notre Dame Law School in Indiana. It speaks volumes about Judge Barrett’s talent, abilities, and character that she was able to secure a spot as a clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court, under Justice Scalia, without a Yale or Harvard pedigree. It says even more about her that after the lofty heights of Washington, D.C. and the Supreme Court she decided to return to the heartland to continue her career and raise her family. In a time period where diversity is touted as a virtue, a Justice Barrett would bring diversity of thought and life experience to the Court.

This is not to say that Harvard and Yale are bad schools but thinking that they are the only excellent law schools is based more on snobbery than fact. The people who voted to place President Trump in office had grown tired of the bicoastal elites, who have more in common with the global elites than people in the heartland or as they call it “fly over country.” The elites promised that they knew better than the rest of us, and Americans watched as we lost our sovereignty and our jobs to countries overseas. The elites told us that America is not “exceptional.” The elites did not appear to put the interests of their fellow citizens above their own or those of the rest of the world.

That is why the nomination of Judge Barrett is so refreshing. She is an authentic wife, mother, and brilliant legal mind, straight from the heartland. By putting her forward, President Trump continues to demonstrate his affection for the forgotten people of our country and his disdain for the condescending elites.



My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


15 October, 2020

The One Metric That Has Decided Every Presidential Winner Since 1988...And Trump Has a Lock on It

Again, David Chapman and PollWatch are two good accounts that have been tracking the polling this cycle and cutting through the nonsense from the liberal media. There’s been a lot of funny business with the polling folks. Firms conducting polls around the same time but getting different results. We have shy Trump voters. We have youth vote interest tanking in this election cycle to levels not seen since 2000. Some polls have one million fewer young people voting this year. But somehow Biden is going to win by like 12 points. It’s unreliable to the nth degree. So, what Chapman did was compile a thread that cuts through a lot of the liberal media silliness out there. For starters, he nixes the idea that bad economies kill incumbents. Yes, that was the case for Bush 41, but historically the incumbent party is 12-11 when facing re-election during an economic downturn.

And speaking of incumbents, Chapman added, “no incumbent who has received at least 75% of the primary vote has lost re-election. Donald Trump received 94% of the primary vote, which is the 4th highest all-time. Higher than Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, and Obama.”

Oh, and it gets better.

“Three times in history America has faced a pandemic, recession, and civil unrest during an election year. The incumbent party is 3-0 in those elections,” wrote Chapman “What about polls? Well, polls are predicting Trump's win. The ABC poll shows Trump with a 19-point enthusiasm advantage.”

He noted that every candidate who held the edge in voter enthusiasm since 1988 has won the election.

During Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination hearing, we heard a lot about history and how it’s against the GOP in filling this SCOTUS vacancy left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Well, here’s some bad news for Biden. No one who served more than 15 years in the Senate has been elected president. Joe Biden has been there for nearly four decades.

It’s why Chapman added that by every historic metric and trend, Trump is the one on the path to winning this election.



No, Joe, There Was No Economic Boom Under Obama

There was no economic "boom" as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are misremembering. This was an economy that skidded into a financial ditch and seemingly never pulled out of it and got back on the prosperity hot lanes until Donald Trump won the election in November 2016.

You can mark the real recovery -- an economic inflection point almost the day after that surprise election outcome.

Every liberal forecaster and most academic economists had guaranteed America that, if Trump were elected, the stock market would crash; workers would be flattened; and, as New York Times economist Paul Krugman famously predicted, the economy would "never" recover.

Instead, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared by 257 points the morning after the election (that's some crash), and it rose for the next three years, as it has again over the last several months. A few days after that election, small-business optimism surged by its most considerable amount ever measured, going back many decades. Family incomes surged to record-high levels in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as deregulation and tax cuts fueled a powerful engine. In three years, ordinary people had made more income gains than in eight years under the Obama-Biden administration.

But now we are being told a fairy tale that the Obama economy was booming and Biden miraculously fixed it and Trump "blew it."

Here's the reality check. Under Barack Obama, the economy barely grew 2% -- rather pathetic for a "recovery." The people who made the preposterous bullish claims that Obama saved the economy are the ones who now say the Biden economic plan will gain millions of jobs.

In the last year of Obama's presidency, growth shrunk to 1.6%, and the concern was the possibility of another recession. That's some boom.

If the Obama recovery had been as rapid as the average recovery, we would have had at least $1 trillion more GDP by 2016. If we had experienced a Ronald Reagan-style recovery, the GDP would have been $2.5 trillion larger when Obama left office. It is almost equivalent to the size of the entire output of the state of California gone missing.

The first four years of the Obama presidency were abysmal. The Obama-Biden $800 billion stimulus plan left unemployment higher every year than their economists had predicted if we did nothing. What bailed out Obama, ironically enough, was the shale oil and gas revolution that added millions of jobs despite the Obama-Biden hatred of fossil fuels. Most of the employment growth came in Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Meanwhile, most of the green energy subsidies went into failed and now-bankrupt companies such as Solyndra. And now Biden promises another $2 trillion for "clean energy" corporate welfare subsidies.

Throughout nearly all of the Biden-Obama presidency, roughly 1 out of 3 people in the United States rated the economy as "good" or "excellent." Most of the rest rated the economy "fair" or "poor." That number surged to about 65% rating the economy as "good" or "excellent" within a year of Trump's presidency.

People can debate Trump's handling of the virus and the mistakes that have been made. It now looks like under any scenario, except an airtight sequestering of those over the age of 75, smokers, diabetics and severely overweight people, we would have seen the same or worse results.

Now the question is which game plan gets the economy and employment back to normal as quickly as possible. Biden promises a $4 trillion tax hike on almost all U.S. businesses and investors. That's roughly 5% of everything we produce that gets snatched away in higher taxes. If you believe that this will get America back on the fast track, you probably believe Obama caused an economic boom.



Democide and the 2020 Election

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s trusted Minister of Propaganda and certainly no friend to democracy, stated, “It will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy, that it gives its deadly enemies the means by which to destroy it.” What Goebbels was pointing out was that a democracy, by its very nature, must give voice to its critics, whose real agendas may be cleverly disguised or not revealed at all, as well as to its proponents. John Keane in the Griffith Review reminds us of the often overlooked truth that democracies contain within themselves the very seeds needed to destroy them. Citizens of a democratic nation, by electing through democratic means individuals who clandestinely seek to institute other forms of government once in office, can actually become unwitting accessories in the murder of the democracy they love. Keane believes this thinking is confirmed by democracy's historical decline and the view that democracy may well be its own campfire on ice. When voting in the coming 2020 election, Americans should understand this. They must be wary of candidates who promise almost everything, before completing their ballots and voting for the democracy-destroying Harris-Biden ticket with among other prescriptions, killing the Senate filibuster and packing the Supreme Court.

Fears for the world's democracies are well founded. When Goebbels began mocking democracy as a form of government, he had just played a major role in bringing down the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic had been a noble attempt at creating a true democracy in Europe in the second decade of the 20th century. Attempts to create such a democratic form of government following World War I came during an especially challenging time for the defeated German nation. War reparations, massive national debt, and economic controls on targeted areas of production caused frequent civil unrest. Nonetheless, with financial assistance from the United States under the Dawes Plan, this fledgling attempt at democracy in Europe experienced some noticeable success from 1923-1929. The Great Depression, however, would soon spell doom to the new Republic. Hitler and Goebbels used the very democratic institutions and laws of the Republic to destroy it. In the midst of ubiquitous poverty, unemployment and social unrest during the Great Depression, Hitler and Goebbels discovered that the core tenets of a democracy would allow a path for them to legally come to power. The freedom given to a nation's citizens, when combined with certain extrinsic conditions, could quickly provide the tools to create revolution and wholesale government change.

As with the Weimar Republic, we are now facing the potential death of our American democracy. This, the oldest and most successful democracy in the world, has brought the highest standard of living and individual freedom to its citizens that the world has ever known.

With the election of Barack Obama in 2008, an unforeseen cancer to democracy in America, marginalized since WWII, began to reemerge and metastasize. The education domain and the Democrat Party took hard turns to the left and began supporting socialism and neo-Marxist causes. The mainstream media in the U.S. also aligned itself squarely with the liberal and left-leaning movement of the Democrat Party. No longer was the press free and objective; it became the propaganda arm of the Left, adopting a role similar to Goebbels’ propaganda machine in Germany.

Democrats and the MSM found a ready scapegoat in the non-politician president, Donald J. Trump, an easy target to vilify. Because of his strong opposition to the left, the Democrats were obsessed with removing him from office and moving the nation in a more socialistic direction.

Never before in the history of the United States has a president been attacked so viciously and resolutely by the opposing party in confederation with the MSM. Then came the big lie, in fact, two big lies. The first lie was that “Trump colluded with the Russians” to gain the presidency. After three years of unceasing attacks by the Democrat/MSM confederation, that lie was invalidated. Lee Smith now details how President Obama despotically used FBI and CIA executives to overthrow the Trump administration. Both dollar and opportunity costs to this nation are significant.

This was followed by the Chinese world pandemic and along with it, the opportunity for the second big lie—"it was all President Trump’s fault.” The pandemic offered a new opening for the left to push allegations of systematic racism with corresponding rioting and protests. Democrat and MSM hatred for President Trump blinds them to their position’s tyranny.

Again, Democrats/MSM pointed fingers at Trump, using the 2020 election to make their end run to replace this noble experiment in governance with the shiny new object of socialism masked by social justice recriminations and an occasional dose of neo-Marxism. The democratic processes that made this country so unique and its citizens so endowed, are now being used to kill it. As Mark Chou explains, "when incapable of redressing the political crises they have manufactured themselves, whether because of individual freedom, bureaucratic morass, or the sluggishness of democratic politics, the claim is, democracies can die by their own hand." We see an example of the democratic process being used against itself in the Portland Mayoral race. Sarah Innarone, a leader in the Portland Antifa movement and candidate for mayor, acknowledged: “Peaceful protests, in my opinion, might not necessarily be moving the conversation forward."

Democracy may quickly become only a faint echo in America just as it was in the Weimar Republic—the result of internal democide. What is democide you may ask? Chu concludes: “Democracy is a precarious thing. It’s precarity, more to the point, emanates from itself. Democracy is the very thing, if we take Goebbels seriously, that can bring democracy to its knees." Or as the Australian historian Robert Moss wrote in The Collapse of Democracy, “where else but in a democracy can the system be destroyed through its own institutions?” Although his book was written in 1977, it beckons poignantly from the past to America’s political situation today. The Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker identifies such MSM threats as, “a media ever more eager to peddle unsubstantiated information of the most negative sort in pursuit of an ideological agenda, and a political class feeding dishonesty to its own partisans—is the larger allegory of modern [and fragile] democracy on display.”




Biden questions "memory" of voters in poll who say they're better off now than four years ago (Fox News)

Biden forgets Mitt Romney's name (The Washington Free Beacon)

Biden talked of attending black church as a teen, but members don't recall it (The Washington Free Beacon)

Some Public Gatherings Are Better Than Others: Twenty-one arrested at DC protest on first day of Amy Coney Barrett hearings (Washington Examiner)

"Back the Blue" Blexit event in DC ends on mall with national anthem (The Daily Wire)

Patriot Post contributors Willie Richardson, Patrick Hampton, and Anthony Brian Logan attend DC Blexit rally (ABC 9 Chattanooga)

Columbus fans defy culture, coronavirus with holiday celebrations (The Washington Times)

Social Justice Warrior LeBron's Lakers win title — thousands of fans ignore virus restrictions, some violently target police (The Daily Wire)

Pelosi faces backlash after rejecting Trump's latest stimulus offer (Fox Business)

Gina Haspel blows off senators' demands to quit stonewalling Congress on Russiagate oversight (The Federalist)

The median household will pay more under Biden-Harris tax plan (National Review)

A farmer made a giant Biden-Harris sign out of hay bales, but it was set on fire the next day (The Washington Post)

Johnson & Johnson pauses coronavirus vaccine trials due to unexplained illness (Reuters)

Nevada man's COVID-19 reinfection, the first in the U.S., is "yellow caution light" about risk of coronavirus (USA Today)

U.S. forces conduct "targeted strikes" to slow Taliban advance (The Washington Times)

Meth bust at U.S.-Mexico border is second largest in history (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Beyond court packing: Here's how Dems plan to create a one-party state (Issues & Insights)

Policy: Why Americans Can't Just 'Listen to the Experts' (Real Clear Policy)


My other blogs: Main ones below

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


14 October, 2020

If We Don’t Fight Back Against Corona Fascism, It Will Never End

Scott Morefield

Unicoi County, Tennessee, is a dark-red county in a dark-red state. It’s a beautiful, mountainous place with low population density and an even lower probability of spotting a liberal. The place is as ‘conservative’ as anywhere in the country, yet its feckless mayor just extended a countywide face-covering mandate for yet another month. Though you could count the daily coronavirus cases throughout the entire county on one hand, if not a finger or two, reasons cited were - wait for it - ‘schools fully opening’ and ‘flu season.’

I’m only picking on Unicoi because I live nearby and nearly lost my cool when I heard those ‘reasons’ for the extension calmly cited by the radio news guy while I was driving last week. Their cases are so low they can’t even pretend it’s about the ‘rona anymore, so might as well ‘save some lives’ from the flu, right? In other words, there’s a growing set of people in this country who are so in love with their slave gags that they’re willing to mandate them literally forever because hey, ‘it could save a life!’ And this is a RED county, so it’s obviously going to be infinitely worse in Democratic-controlled areas where they’re often required outdoors anywhere outside the home.

Even if masks worked to stop the spread of a highly contagious respiratory virus and had zero negative effects either medically or psychologically, wearing them forever would be a ridiculous stretch. And yet, here we are, in a place where a 5-foot-tall 100-pound woman can literally get arrested for daring to remove her face burqa while sitting outside in the stands with her family at a high school football game in red-state Ohio. You’ve all seen the video by now and yes, I know the whole story. Still, it’s hard to stomach the optics of a giant police officer tasing and handcuffing a woman a third his size for such a ridiculous “offense.” I’m normally very pro-police, but I also think any law enforcement officer who enforces ANY coronavirus restrictions should seriously rethink their purpose. And what of the people sitting there calmly allowing it to happen? From what the woman shouted as she was being let away, she seemed to have had some sort of understanding that several attendees would commit their civil disobedience together, only to be left twisting in the wind, literally alone.

Indeed, what SHOULD happen in a situation like this? How long will people blindly follow these ridiculous, useless, and unconstitutional mandates? How long should we? What would have happened if everyone in that section of the stands had stood up, Spartacus-style, removed their masks and said “you’re going to have to take us too”? Here’s what happened in Spain last month when police tried to arrest a woman on the street, outside, for not wearing a mask. People chanted in support. Others tossed their COVID diapers off and pulled her away from their grasp. They didn’t attack police, but they didn’t allow them to enforce a tyrannical edict either. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

If this virus had a death rate most people should be seriously concerned about (it doesn’t), if temporary mask usage was really proven to permanently stop the spread of COVID-19 in a serious way (it’s not), if places like California, Peru, Columbia, Spain, and countless others that strictly implemented it immediately saw a serious, lasting decline in cases (they haven’t), then maybe the Mask Nazis would have a case. If masks worked, after all, their usage would only be TEMPORARY, right? So why are we now in month eight of this insanity? Why are places like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and even South Dakota NOT rolling in bodies now that they aren’t embracing universal, forced masking? The mask-cult never even attempts to answer those questions, of course. Their ‘answer’ is always some version of “mask up,” “masks work,” “masks have been proven to stop the spread of COVID-19,” and/or “it’s science!” Just simple Orwellian phrases for frightened, impressionable minds.

So, what does successful pushback against corona fascism actually look like? Obviously, getting and staying informed, then informing other people is critical (yes, this “Team Reality” Twitter list is a great place to start!). The more people who know the truth, the better chance we’ll have of beating this in the long-run. But on the ground, in our day-to-day lives, what should those of us who ‘know the deal’ on this actually do to push back? It depends on your own mindset, personality, and local and state government, of course, but personally, I think it’s time for a little bit of healthy civil disobedience.

No, I’m not talking about verbally harassing anyone or being overly confrontational, but I am talking about being a bit more brazen about walking into places while daring to breathe free air. Not all the time, and not in every situation (especially not on an airplane!), but when you do have a reasonable choice between muzzled and free, go with free if at all possible.

From a strategic perspective, where should this be done? Well, federalism and a few reasonably informed governors thankfully give us some opportunities to push on some lower-hanging fruit. If it’s possible to be noncompliant and still bear only social consequences (as opposed to fines or worse), then we should definitely do so, then keep pointing to the fact that the virus isn’t killing more people per capita in the low-compliance areas than the high-compliance ones.

To be completely transparent, I’m fortunate to live in a state without a statewide mandate and only a toothless local one. Still, indoor compliance is probably close to 75 percent. When I go maskless into a store or basically any indoor area, it’s always a little uncomfortable at first. I know I can be pretty bombastic here at Townhall, but in real life, I’m super easy to get along with and generally don’t like negative confrontation. Even knowing what I know, I still have to fight back against the innate desire to conform and simply go-along-to-get-along. But I know it’s important, so I make myself do it when I can. But it’s nice when we can lean on each other. When I see even one other person’s maskless face in a store, I’m always encouraged. In the same way that others are an encouragement to us, we can be an encouragement to them. If I feel this way, it’s likely others do as well when they see me.

Tougher, of course, are the states and places where mask-mandates are enforced with fines and/or compliance is pretty much 100 percent. Sadly, most places are like this, and while that belies the mask-cult’s contention that if “everyone just complied we’d beat the virus” (LOL), it also presents a problem for those of us bent on a little civil disobedience. If you are in this situation, you do what feels right for you. No judging! Maybe going maskless outside is a strong statement that’s reasonably low-risk. Maybe posting on social media, speaking facts to everyone you know, writing a letter to your local editor, or even writing and/or speaking to your local officials is the way to go. Keep pointing to comparisons between more-mask and less-mask areas because obvious truth is our best tool.

Indeed, we are living in an age where simply exposing your face is a revolutionary act. However, to take a cue from Gandhi, it’s time for us to BE the change we want to see. It’s time to simply refuse to comply with their nonsense. Yes, it will mean some uncomfortable moments. If things get worse, it could mean some financial and even legal ramifications for many. However, much worse are the consequences of living in a totalitarian, never-ending corona-fascist state and wearing a face diaper literally forever in a futile attempt to stop a highly transmissable respiratory virus with a .13 percent infection fatality rate.



The U.S. Economy Is Roaring Back

Over the last few months, we have witnessed the sharpest economic snapback in US history. While many are still out of work, the future looks increasingly promising for those seeking employment. One would think that we were still mired in the deepest throes of April’s COVID-19 crisis if you take heed of the media’s narrative in recent weeks. It is clear the Democrats and Joe Biden are making the pandemic their closing argument for the 2020 election. But why? The economy is a losing argument for the Left.

As of early this October, a majority of voters believe that Trump is best equipped to handle the economy. If the Gallup poll showing 56% of voters believing that they are better off today than they were four years ago is accurate, the Biden campaign is in big trouble. With the political circus dictating the daily narrative, it’s easy to lose track of just how much progress has been made on the economic revival since 2016, and more specifically, since this past spring’s pandemic-induced lows. When assessing the strength of the economy, it’s very useful to look at some of the raw data that gives insight into the global supply and demand dynamic.

The commodity market is a clear window into the cost of goods and the level of demand that exists. As the Coronavirus shut down economies all over the world, global goods demand collapsed. Most notably was the oil market, as energy fuels the economy as a whole. Supply was steady, but a massive collapse in activity that forms demand left producers with a supply glut. The supply/demand gap was so large that oil futures (commodities trade primarily in the futures market) actually went negative, a historic event.

Just 7 months later the market has not only stabilized, but also has rebounded significantly. Oil, itself, is up over 100% from levels seen this Spring. This is a sound indicator of the resumption of robust economic activity. We are now escaping from economic contraction and are closing in on expansion. As consumers travel more and demand comes back for finished goods, the oil market will continue to flourish. This is one of many reasons why the Third Quarter GDP measure, to be released at the end of October only days before the election, will show the most significant rise in US history. The commodities market isn’t limited to oil. There are other very useful economic gauges within the basic goods market.

One of the most important, in terms of assessing global activity, is copper. Copper is a basic material used throughout manufacturing. The copper market collapsed this Spring along with all other raw goods during the crisis. At its low, copper was trading down roughly 35%. As activity has roared back to life, copper has been on an absolute tear. As of this writing, copper is up over 50% above its COVID lows, and is, in fact, higher than the market was trading pre-COVID. That’s a very promising signal emanating from the commodity market.

Here in the United States, we have many indicators painting a picture of a resurgent economy that may already be in a boom despite a high unemployment rate. We have very good cause to remain optimistic. Most recently, the PMI services index, a measure of economic activity in the services sector(and ~70% of the US economy), registered at ~56. A PMI reading 50 represents flat activity, while any figure above 50 indicates growth. 56 is a reassuring figure and represents a substantial increase in the level of activity in a significant portion of our economy.

If there is one metric that reigns supreme over all other data points, it’s the level of employment. On this front, we have seen a surprising rate of recovery. Many suggested this past spring we wouldn’t see a recovery in employment for years and years. Some even suggested we were at the beginning of a decade-long depression. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At the nadir of the Coronavirus recession, the unemployment rate in the United States was a staggering 14.7%. The Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) undoubtedly saved the US labor market from total collapse. Now, unemployment has contracted to 7.9%. This is a remarkable rebound, considering the shape we were in just 6 months ago. This growth is the highest on record for the United States.

Across metrics and hard data, it’s clear the economy is surging its way back to prosperity. It was during Obama’s administration that our leaders suggested we were in a “new normal” in which unemployment was steady at 5% and that we would see sub-3% growth indefinitely. The Trump economy blew that assumption up, capped with the most prosperous year on record in 2019. It is on the strength of that growth that we have been able to power our way through a total economic shutdown.

Despite this gratifying recovery, it remains fragile. A Biden-Harris administration would usher in regulatory and tax policies that would cripple the economy‘s growth and send us backward in ways we can’t imagine. Having come so far in the face of a devastating pandemic, it would be tragic to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Should such a political reversal of fortune transpire, those dire predictions of a long depression just may come true.




Barrett to praise Scalia in opening hearing statement, say court should not make policy (Fox News)

Democrats collude to accuse GOP of "court packing" ahead of Barrett hearings (Washington Examiner)

Hillary Clinton maintains 2016 election "was not on the level," and "we still don't know what really happened" (National Review)

Trump preparing new $1.8T coronavirus relief package, urges Congress to "go big" (Fox Business)

Dem group spends millions on Fake News Facebook stories in key districts (National Review)

One dead after leftist BLM-antifa groups clash with Patriot rally in Denver (The Federalist)

Planned Parenthood audit shows accusations of multiple incidents of racism (The Daily Wire)

Washington Post blames "systemic racism" for George Floyd robbing a Latino woman at gunpoint (Front Page Mag)

Security guard hired by local NBC News station charged with murder of right-wing protester (The Daily Wire)

Trump is no longer a COVID-19 "transmission risk," says the White House doctor (National Review)

Policy: How China is overtaking the U.S. with the world's No. 1 navy (The Daily Signal)

Policy: Nationalizing 5G is the wrong way for the U.S. to compete with China (The Daily Signal)


My other blogs:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


13 October, 2020

Coronavirus: WHO backflips on virus stance by condemning lockdowns

Trump vindicated

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of lockdowns involved the global impact, explaining how poorer economies that had been indirectly affected.

“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said.

“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary.

Instead, Dr Nabarro is advocating for a new approach to containing the virus.

“And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other.”

His message is timely. In a world first, a number of health experts from all over the world came together calling for an end to coronavirus lockdowns earlier this week.

They created a petition, called the Great Barrington Declaration, which said that lockdowns were doing “irreparable damage.”

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection,” read the petition. “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”

The petition has had 12,000 signatures so far.

It was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

When asked about the petition, Dr Nabarro had only good things to say. “Really important point by Professor Gupta,” he said.



The Election in Black and White

A response to Michelle Obama’s racist attack.

America is heading towards the abyss – whatever the outcome of the coming election. If Trump wins, we have a fighting chance to save our democracy as we know it. If he loses, the racial totalitarians will be in power and our fight will be a rearguard action based on the hope that when the American people get a full dose of governance by the party of hate they will gather their forces to defeat them.

Michelle Obama – to pick one among a myriad of examples to hand – has declared the coming election to be an election about racism. According to Michelle, Trump and his supporters are racists, and their helpless victims are people of color like her. In this delusional vision – typical of the racial messages coming from every benighted American who considers themselves “progressive” – Trump supporters are white nationalists who oppress people of color. Thus, in a recent message, Michelle Obama has urged undecided voters to, “’Think about all those folks like me and my ancestors,’” and then vote Democrat, “like your life depended on it.” Like her arrogant supporters she thinks that a reflection on the state of benighted black people provides a self-evident reason to condemn the half of America who would vote Republican. The Democrat electoral cause is a crusade against a racist president and the white supremacists and racists, who support him and are determined to attack the most vulnerable citizens among us and make their lives hellish.

Okay, Michelle, since you asked for it, here’s what I think about folks like you. You are worth $100 million, a lot more than most of the people who inhabit this country. In short, you are incredibly privileged. I won’t insult you the way you insult white people by calling this black skin privilege, though many Republicans voted for your husband because they wanted a black American to be president even though he was a Democrat.

Not only are you privileged and rich, but despite your cavalier contempt for our country and its achievements – you are one of the most admired women in America, however implausible and tragic that may be. As for your ancestors, black Africans enslaved every one of the unfortunate men and women who were sold at slave auctions to Europeans and shipped to the New World. There, the English had indeed established a slave system. But in 1776, the creators of this great country founded the first nation in human history – black or white – dedicated to the proposition that all human beings – black as well as white – are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with a right to liberty that no government can take away.

Immediately on the creation of their new nation, they began ending slavery first in what rapidly became the Free States of the North, then in the vast territory incorporated under the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Seventy-six years later – not the 400 your devious and malicious friends reflexively attribute to “American slavery” - the Emancipation Proclamation sounded the death knell of a hateful system. The costs of this world-shaking effort were 350,000 mainly white Union lives, and that of the noblest president with which this country has been blessed.

I won’t deal with the specifics of your paranoid view that only black people experience the frustrations of modern life, and only because they are black. But I will dredge up this unpleasant fact: Ninety-percent of interracial crimes in the United States – more than half a million in all - are committed by blacks against whites. Yet, this has not led to a wave of anti-black racism on the part of whites. On the contrary, there has never been a time when white Americans have more generously and openly and virtually unanimously embraced the idea that black lives matter, and proceeded to do what they could to help that minority of the black community that has fallen behind. Indeed, the president you slander as racist has done more for black people in his four years in office than your husband did in eight. It is time for a little humility Michelle and color-blindness, and for putting away the racist rhetoric you are hoping your party will use to get back in power.



President’s Coronavirus Spikes the Left's Trump Derangement Syndrome

"My heart goes out to Covid."

Last week, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. Democrats quickly deployed their bullhorns.

“If President Trump can’t be out there on the campaign trail for the next two weeks, then he is going to rely on his surrogates and unfortunately, one of his surrogates is Vladimir Putin,” Sen. Chris Murphy told CNN. “So, unfortunately, you are likely going to see this campaign ramped up by Russia over the next few weeks to try to substitute for the president’s absence on the campaign trail.”

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer said the plan to hold hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was unfeasible. Schumer also demanded isolation for Barrett and “anyone she was in contact with.”

Over in the House, Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib proclaimed that the president “only cares about himself and his life, NOT those around him or the people he took an oath to protect. Too many lives lost because of his deadly lies.” Last year, it might be recalled, Tlaib crowed, “We are going to impeach this motherfucker!”

Donald Trump “knows better than anyone he shouldn’t be president,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in 2016, and last year she derided “his own insecurity as an imposter.” After the president tested positive for the virus, Pelosi told reporters, “I have concerns about the test because obviously the tests that are happening at the White House are not as accurate as they should be.”

Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC told the Speaker she was “second in line for the presidency” and asked whether the White House had contacted “contacted you about the continuity of government?” Pelosi responded “that is an ongoing- not with the White House but with the military, quite frankly, in terms of some officials in the government.”

Joy Reid of MSNBC, a former press aide for the Obama campaign, wondered if Trump, who “lies so much,” is faking his test “to get out of the debates?” Over on CNN, Don Lemon proclaimed the president’s “own dereliction” was to blame for his condition.

“So President Trump and the First Lady have COVID. Man, anyone else just in a really, inexplicably good mood this morning?” That was Emily Cassel, editor of City Pages, owned by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I think I speak for everyone when I say that it would be insanely funny if he died of the coronavirus,” wrote Cassel, who found company in professional entertainers such as comedian Paul Tompkins.

“Wishing harm, sickness or death on someone, even a bad person, is petty & small,” Tompkins wrote, “BUT: it is genuinely & extremely funny that Trump got COVID. It’s objectively funny. He downplayed it & mishandled it & thousands of people died. Now he has it. It’s funny!”

Filmmaker Michael Moore (Sicko) was in a more reflective mood. “My thoughts and prayers, too, are with Covid-19,” Moore tweeted. Comedian Chris Rock took up the theme on Saturday Night Live.

“President Trump’s in the hospital from COVID and I just want to say my heart goes out to Covid,” said Rock, adding, “I think Joe Biden should be the last president ever. I mean, do we even need a president president?” Jim Carrey played Biden, who pauses Trump with a remote and says “Let’s bask in the Trumplessness,” which is not a new idea.

Back in 2017, comedian Kathy Griffin thought it was funny to posed with a mock severed head of Donald Trump. Last week, after Melania Trump’s positive test, Griffin wrote, “You may want to quarantine until after Christmas, sweetheart.” Comedian David Cross was “Sending thoughts and prayers out to Melania’s trainer,” and comic Whitney Cummings added, “I don’t get how Melania got it, she’s been social distancing from Trump since they got married.”

Actor Cary Elwes wondered “How fake is it now?” and Rob Reiner chimed in with “That damn hoax.” For Bette Midler, “Timing’s so interesting. I guess Trump’s quarantining will mean no rallies, and no more debates. Convenient.” And so on.

“Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan found it “interesting to see those who’ve spent the last few years screaming that Trump’s an uncaring, heartless empathy-devoid b*stard now spewing their gleeful joy that he & his wife have a deadly virus. They’re no better than the man they loathe.” In reality, the responses confirm Trump’s judgment that these are horrible people and sick people.

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), spreading worldwide since 2016, has now spiked to a tertiary stage. Festering ignorance and malice produce cognitive dissonance and uncontrollable hatred, with no cure in sight. On the other hand, Dr. Qanta Ahmed expects President Trump’s “full and complete recovery” for three reasons.

“His disease was detected very early due to the frequent testing he receives,” Dr. Ahmed explained, “he has access to extraordinary medical care and experimental treatments as announced, including receiving the drug Regeneron; and apart from COVID-19, he has been reported to be in good overall health.”



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


12 October, 2020

Covid-19 facts now clear – let’s shout them out

Comment from Australia

Recent polls that show a majority of Australians support tough restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 may well reflect public perceptions of the risks associated with the disease.

Those perceptions were formed when the disease first emerged, with the dramatic scenes in Wuhan and the agony of the passengers stranded on cruise ships giving them tangible form. As hospital systems struggled to cope, terrifying images of overrun intensive-care units made the estimates of devastating death rates all too salient.

The strong — indeed, unprecedented — reaction of governments, in Australia and overseas, can only have confirmed the public’s fears, transforming vague impressions into deeply held convictions.

It has, however, become increasingly clear that while COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that can be extremely dangerous for the elderly and for patients with extensive comorbidities, it can be effectively managed. And it is also clear that as the management of the disease has improved, infection fatality rates — that is, the proportion of cases resulting in death — have fallen steeply.

So have the best estimates of the IFR, with Stanford University professor John Ioannidis, in a paper soon to be published by the World Health Organisation, pointing out that the initial studies focused mainly on the epicentres of the pandemic with the highest death tolls, rather than looking at the full range of countries the disease had affected.

Correcting for that bias, Ioannidis concludes that the global IFR from COVID-19 is 0.24 per cent, while that in countries such as Australia is as low as 0.1 per cent.

The contrast with the IFRs used in the modelling that informed our successive lockdowns could not be starker: those IFRs were at least three times Ioannidis’s global estimate, and exceeded his estimate for Australian conditions six times over, as did that used in the modelling Premier Daniel Andrews relied on to justify the most recent Victorian lockdown.

But although it is widely recognised that fatality rates are far lower than initially thought, public perceptions have remained frozen in time. That is, in some respects, unsurprising. Ever since systematic studies of public attitudes to risk began in the 1950s, researchers have found that new threats are judged to be far more menacing than those that are longstanding, regardless of underlying differences in probabilities of occurrence.

Moreover, the greater the extent to which risks are viewed as being incurred involuntarily, and as affecting large groups rather than single individuals, the more likely they will be considered more dangerous than they are.

All those biases have been compounded by today’s media environment. Already in the mid-1980s, Roger Kasperson and his colleagues stressed the “social amplification” of risk that occurs through the media’s focus on catastrophic outcomes at the expense of those instances of a phenomenon that are managed successfully. Now, as the media competes frantically for attention, that process magnifies perceived risks more surely and swiftly than ever.

It is, for instance, a fact that 92,000 Australians have died since the virus first hit our shores; but although COVID-19 accounts for only some 890 of those deaths, and for an even lower share of the total years of life lost, every new case leads the evening news, reinforcing its image as the grim reaper. One might have hoped that the experts would set the picture straight. Perhaps because they see their goal as being to frighten the public into compliance, they have, more often than not, done the opposite.

Never was that clearer than when Jeannette Young, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, grievously misinterpreting a simulation undertaken at the University of Glasgow, claimed that “on average, people who died from COVID-19 lost 10 years of life”.

Since the average age of the disease’s victims in Australia is more than 85, Young’s claim implies that those lost to COVID-19 would otherwise have survived into their mid-90s, despite multiple comorbidities. In other words, were it not for the virus, they would have died a decade after their cohort’s modal age at death — a claim that taxes the credulity of the credulous.

In reality, the best and most recent study — undertaken by France’s National Institute of Demography, drawing on the actual outcomes of France’s first wave — finds that the vast majority of the virus’s victims were already close to the end of life.

Overall, the disease reduced French life expectancy by one-tenth of a year for women and two-tenths of a year for men, which, while by no means trivial, is a smaller reduction than influenza caused in 2008, 2012 and 2015.

None of that means that COVID-19 should be viewed as no more serious than the flu. On the contrary, until a vaccine or a cure become available, the case for prudence remains compelling, as does the need for effective control measures. There is, however, a vast difference between prudence, which rationally weighs likelihoods, and panic.

Getting that balance right is no easy task, with plenty of scope for error either way. But if exaggerated perceptions of the dangers have dominated, it is not merely because of human fallibility; rather, it is also because they accord so readily with the catastrophic zeitgeist of the age.

Fuelled by an apocalypse industry that feeds off the fear it spreads, every threat — from bushfires and droughts to viruses such as Zika — portends the end of life as we know it. With nature unleashing its final revenge on mankind, the moment one drama recedes, another rushes in to sustain the sense of impending doom.

The result is a world view in which the chasms that yawn beneath us are invariably deeper and more menacing than the peaks that beckon us are high and inviting. Lost — or at least badly damaged — is the axiom of progress, the assumption, dynamic in its self-evidence, that although there are terrible setbacks, detours and blind alleys, humanity ultimately moves forward, with Australia advancing more than most.

But no society can live by dread alone. And a society that stands quaking in the antechamber of its own extinction is condemned to a stagnation that no amount of stimulus spending can cure. Eternally “keeping a-hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse”, it inevitably saps the ambition, aspiration and self-reliance on which sustained growth relies, replacing them with dependence and the desperate search for security. That, and not the staggering debt and unemployment the lockdowns have wreaked, is the greatest threat we face.

And that is why tackling the fearmongers is so important. The facts, as far as COVID-19 is concerned, are becoming clear; it’s time our governments and their advisers proclaimed them from the rooftops.



Another vindication of Sweden

It is forecast to have a much shallower recession than countries that went into full lockdown

Sweden, which refused to enforce a full lockdown, is constantly confounding its critics. Gloomy predictions of tens of thousands of deaths and overwhelmed hospitals due to Covid failed to materialise.

In recent weeks, Sweden has not experienced anything close to the rise in cases and hospitalisations that have befallen Britain, France and Spain. And now it’s clear the Swedish approach is also paying dividends economically.

A new forecast from Danske Bank expects Sweden to experience a much shallower recession than the major European economies and the US. It projects a fall in Swedish GDP of 3.3 per cent this year, compared to 4.3 per cent for the US, 5.8 per cent for the UK and a massive 8.3 per cent for the Eurozone. It also predicts higher growth in the Swedish economy next year compared to other Scandinavian countries.

This news makes difficult reading for the Sweden bashers, who argued that its less restrictive approach would prove just as economically damaging as full-on lockdown.

Back in July, an economist in the New York Times – a paper that has labelled Sweden a ‘pariah state’ over Covid – blasted Sweden’s approach as ‘a self-inflicted wound’ from which it had made ‘no economic gains’. ‘They literally gained nothing’, he gloated.

This analysis has not aged well. Sweden’s economy shrank at a lower rate between April and June than other countries, many of which adopted harsher Covid measures. And in August, it even achieved a budget surplus – something that is difficult in normal times, let alone during a global pandemic.

Sweden has managed to safeguard civil liberties and protect its economy more effectively than others, all while keeping Covid at manageable levels. It’s high time we took this lesson on board.



'Latinos for Trump' hold a massive anti-communist caravan in Miami

Thousands of Cubans, Venezuelans and other conservative Latinos convened in Miami to attend an 'Anti-Communist' caravan, flying flags of support for President Donald Trump.

The parade, called the 'Anti-Communist Caravan for Freedom and Democracy', convened at the Magic City Casino on Saturday morning.

Various reports estimate somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 cars in attendance for the caravan.

Demonstrators had flags for Trump's reelection, along with Cuban flags and other country flags.

Several people sported huge blowups of Trump's face, waving signs that slammed the supposed increase of communist ideology in the country.

'Say no to socialism and communism,' one sign read while a number of posters expressed similar sentiments in Spanish.

A number of cars had passengers holding 'Latinos for Trumps' signs as they sped along. Several cars also had 'Thin Blue Line' flags, in support of law enforcement.

In some cases, vehicles appeared packed with people inside who were excited to take part in the festivities.

Because of mounting concerns that Biden's standing is slipping, the campaign has embarked on an urgent effort to try to shore up support among older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to try to make up for losses elsewhere.

Hispanic voters in Florida tend to be somewhat more Republican-leaning than Hispanic voters nationwide because of the state's Cuban American population, which Trump has acknowledged several times in his remarks.



Liberal Reporter Brutally Gashes Kamala Harris' Disastrous Debate Performance

Well, he’ll probably piss off the Left again, but that’s what he's done so well over the past three or so years. Liberal reporter Michael Tracey absolutely ripped into Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and her debate performance Wednesday night. Tracey is no fan of Harris and said that she was an “awful” VP pick from the get-go. So are we shocked her debate performance was equally disastrous? It was a train wreck.

Harris came off unprepared on a host of issues, avoided the court-packing question, and seemed incapable of delivering a solid blow against Vice President Mike Pence, who was prepared and lethal. Vice President Pence did well mounting a defense of the Trump-Pence record, whereas Harris couldn’t land any of the zingers Pence quietly doled out like an assassin.

COVID was the highwater mark for Harris. She came off strong, but even that was torched when she peddled an anti-vaccine line regarding the coronavirus. These debates are about who we can trust should any situation arise when the president cannot perform their duties. Pence passed that test. Harris, not so much; you have to be more than just a machine that peddles talking points from MSNBC. That bubble landed her in trouble as there were a couple of points where she literally had nothing to say.

As Tracey noted, “Kamala was hyped as the ‘front-runner’ in the 2020 Dem primaries, flamed out in spectacular fashion partly due to her terrible debate performances, and only became VP nominee thanks to an extensive lobbying effort by the Dem professional and donor class.”

Indeed, the media did treat Harris as someone who was a solid candidate when Biden picked her as his running mate, despite her not lasting as long as Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, or Deval Patrick—and none of those guys had a shot at winning the nomination let alone this election. Her 2020 campaign was a mess. She had no message, no direction, and no plan. That was the rudderless circus act that was Kamala 2020. And let’s not forget that her presidential ambitions were shot out of the sky when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) highlighted her top cop record, where she went heavily after the Black community. Harris is trying to be social justice warrior and top cop at the same time. Maybe there’s a way to thread that needle regarding selling that message or neutralizing the fallout, but we know that Harris doesn’t have the goods. She doesn’t.

Tracey also delivered more blows, calling Harris's answer on China “embarrassing.” Oh, and the Russian bounties story that the Left tried to weaponize against Trump as evidence he was a bad commander-in-chief was tossed around. It’s not corroborated. And that story died eons ago because it’s straight trash. The same way The Atlantic story about Trump denigrating our war dead is fake news. No one went on the record. No one. And that story died as well.



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


11 October, 2020

Wildly, madly, the West is destroying itself

Suicidal Covid ‘public health’ policies and the Marxist Trojan horse of BLM zealotry are products of our perilous complacency. We may be tempting an implosion on a historical scale.


The widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and the increasingly venomous Black Lives Matter movement are both destabilising phenomena instigated by people suffering from a perilous complacency.

A surfeit of Western security, with no major wars and nearly uninterrupted prosperity for 75 years, has created an ahistorical under-appreciation for the fragility of order.

Perhaps the hyper-racialising of the West in the second half of this year will prove a temporary mania, at the end of which we’ll have fairer, more sensitive societies. But somehow I doubt it.

We don’t commonly characterise folks who want to altogether overturn the way a country works “systemically” as complacent. But I would argue that most of this year’s abundantly white, middle-class protesters embody the epitome of complacency. These are not people who expect to make any personal sacrifice to make the world a better place. To the contrary, by positioning themselves as “allies” on “the right side of history”, they expect to reap rewards, and to jettison older, purportedly prejudiced generations even more rapidly than younger generations do as a matter of course. BLM bandwagoners assume they can change everything while everything they fancy stays the same.

Weekend revolutionaries imagine they can bring an end to capitalism and still keep all the fruits of capitalism that they take for granted. They think they can install a neo-Marxist equality of outcome, boot out all the wicked old white guys like Tim Cook, and keep their iPhones, replete with regular OS updates. They imagine they can pack faculties and student bodies with minorities regardless of qualification and “decolonise” the curriculum to rid it of “white knowledge” and still have prospective employers regard their degrees from Harvard as meaningful commendations.

They want to undermine the means by which their parents earn a living yet still expect to crash back home when they’re low on cash, where they can always raid the refrigerator when feeling peckish.

Woke white activists want to demonise “whiteness” as the sole source of all evil, while mysteriously believing this does not entail demonising themselves. Apparently the joyful embrace of one’s own “fragility” grants the right to hector others while triggering a racial opt-out clause.

The same brand of white activist helped draft “open letters” to Princeton and Stanford, the Poetry Foundation, and a beleaguered liberal bookstore in Denver, to name a few. The signatories reliably demanded aggressive, instantaneous affirmative action, often well in excess of regional or national demographic proportions.

Yet if governments, schools and businesses embrace “anti-racism” as their sole prime directive, as opposed to producing a saleable product or performing a valuable service, competency is bound to decay at what was once these entities’ driving purpose: to provide for the common defence, to educate students for viable careers, to manufacture products that consumers want to buy.

Should most Western institutions and corporations devote their principal energies to “anti-racism”, China will clean up. As a result, “equality” zealots will level the playing field by making everybody poor. Forgive me for stating the self-evident, but advocates of wealth redistribution need wealth to redistribute.

Rioters are dependent on a functional society or they have nothing to disrupt. Hoodlums still assume that if they get thumped with a truncheon a well funded and skilfully staffed hospital will patch them up. Looters rely on a generous supply of operational businesses whose premises can be ransacked and which are chock-full of the fruits of capitalism like high-end trainers. Eager to acquire more free stuff, looters blithely expect these businesses to replace their windows and restock, the better to get ransacked again.

As with cake, this northern summer’s activists wanted to have their police and defund them, too.

We can take it as a given that none of these often well-off white protesters have any desire to live in truly lawless cities — where their phones are snatched on the street and their homes are repeatedly burgled. Where women are raped with impunity and petty grudges are settled with violent assault. Where everyone lives in fear of arbitrary injury or even death because this is a city without legal recourse.

By the time this summer’s failed utopian project nicknamed CHOP in Seattle had lived with no police presence for three weeks, four shootings had occurred within the zone’s mere six blocks, one of them fatal. With chastened, demoralised police forces embracing passivity as a means of self-protection, murders in Chicago, Minneapolis and New York have been soaring. Yet according to a core tenet of the BLM-inspired American medical students in White Coats for Black Lives, “Policing is incompatible with health.” You’ve got to be kidding me. Nothing is less healthy than being dead.

For all their demands for “systemic” transformation, 2020’s protesters don’t really want that much to change. They want to keep curating their playlists on Spotify and ordering oat milk from Amazon Fresh. They want Netflix to keep churning out new entertainment, through whatever nefarious corporate machinations, because they’ve already binged the fifth season of Ozark.

Thanks to horrible racist capitalism and centuries of oppression, their computers can communicate instantaneously with Minsk.

They not only have enough to eat but a range of dim sum in their local supermarket’s freezer, from shrimp to pork to vegan pumpkin. This past spring, you can be sure that these same young people got as consternated as everyone else when those supermarkets ran short of paper towels. Thanks to the police they detest, in many smaller cities these protesters still enjoy safe spaces — in the sense that safety used to mean, protection from physical harm.

Up to a point, dedication to racial equality — in countries that have never been less prejudiced — is laudable. But in a society that provides shelter, clean water and sustenance to the vast majority of its inhabitants, even in densely populated cities where otherwise we’d be slaughtering each other in packs, the opportunity to obsess fetishistically about microaggressions and unconscious bias is one more luxury born of the system they abhor. Even the right to demand curtailment of free speech requires the right to free speech.

In the US, I’m loath to histrionically predict a second civil war. Nevertheless, in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, DC, San Francisco, New York and Kenosha, arson­ists are literally and figuratively playing with fire. This northern summer has seen the most tumultuous civil unrest since the 1960s. Opposing sides in the culture war no longer seem to feel like citizens of the same country.

Few in the white majority feel any responsibility for slavery and many white Americans are themselves struggling to pay bills or unemployed; should the reparations movement be victorious, white resentment could be incendiary. And if a deadly confluence of logistical disarray and mutual distrust means there’s no clear winner after November’s presidential election, I foresee mayhem.

Centuries in the making, contemporary Western civilisation is so complex that it shouldn’t really work at all — but somehow, after a fashion, it does. In fact, on the whole we’ve never lived more comfortably, more peaceably or more justly. Yet shrill voices on the hard left preach that countries such as the US, the UK and Australia are a disgrace and should inspire only shame. Subjecting the fruits of one’s forebears’ toil to contempt signals not only complacency but ingratitude.

Nevertheless, I reserve my own contempt not primarily for callow protesters with no appreciation for how utterly dependent they are on social order to afford to dabble in disorder. Young people have always erred on the side of poorly thought through idealism and sanctimonious hot-headedness. In my own teens and 20s I wasn’t any different. Far more do I deplore the grown-ups: global leaders in 2020 who should know better.

With rare sane exceptions such as Sweden’s, Western governments have installed unprecedented lockdowns of their societies for month upon month, and continue to threaten the reimposition of economically catastrophic, near police-state condi­tions on their ostensibly “free” populations.

These governments are also guilty of an obscene complacency. Having done no cost-benefit analysis before pressing a giant pillow over the territories entrusted to their guidance, politicians have credulously assumed that civil liberties can always be magically restored (and that’s assuming these officials don’t come to rather fancy wielding unlimited power). There will always be more taxpayers. Treasuries can always “borrow” — meaning print — more money, and the currency will still retain its value.

The authorities’ capitulation to COVID hysteria — which set the emotional table for racial hysteria — has inflicted a scale of destruction that might, had anyone looked before they leapt, have been anticipated. Indeed, a 2006 paper by Thomas Inglesby, director of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, predicted nearly every disastrous consequence of a theoretical lockdown that we can now verify in practice. This expert on epidemics wrote: “The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme … that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.” Yet even poor countries have aped this clumsy protocol, which may kill millions from starvation.

Once lockdowns are finally eased, successfully terrified workforces refuse to venture out their front doors — especially in the UK, where two-thirds of employees are still working, or neglecting to work, from home. For some processes are far easier to set in train than to reverse. It’s not that difficult to frighten people. Un-frightening them is a bastard.

Small business has been ravaged by bankruptcy. Public transportation with minimal ridership is running unsustainable deficits and many systems will enter a death spiral of reduced services followed by even smaller riderships. Financial and commercial centres of great cities such as New York and London are hollowed out. Midtown Manhattan, Wall Street, the City of London, and Canary Wharf are ghost towns, as if commandeered by film crews for movies about the end of the world.

The West’s collective GDP looks like an apple that a St Bernard took a bite of. The performing arts, precious in and of themselves but also vital engines of tourist revenue, have been incinerated. Airlines are on their knees. Unem­ployment is headed to a scale not even seen in the Depression, and job losses are often as irreversible as fear. Swathes of restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs have closed for good. Tax bases have effectively been plunged into vats of acid as demand on the public purse has skyrocketed.

Widespread, simultaneous, long-lasting and often repeated international lockdowns may be unprecedented but COVID-19 is not. Asian flu in 1957 killed between one million and two million worldwide. Hong Kong flu in 1968 killed between one million and four million. During both pandemics, world leaders didn’t close so much as a newsagent. COVID deaths worldwide have killed just over one million — and owing to peculiar data collection whereby anyone with COVID necessarily died from COVID, Western coronavirus death counts may be inflated. The disproportionate re­sponse to one more disagreeable, albeit occasionally lethal, virus boggles the mind. There’s growing acknowledgment that lockdowns will cost many more lives than they saved, and that’s assuming they saved any lives, rather than simply dragging out inevitable fatalities over a longer period.

But my biggest worry isn’t the immediately devastating econom­ic losses and personal suffering that this copycat, kneejerk over-reaction has wrought. I’m worried about implosion on a more historic scale. Lockdowns have sped up the rate at which national debts are burgeoning. How tall can a house of cards rise before it topples? According to “Magic money tree” thinking, aka modern monetary theory, a government that controls its currency can print money to cover its expenses without limit. We can see why this theory is so popular: everything for nothing.

What’s wrong with this fairytale? It’s deeply counterintuitive, and never underestimate common sense. I can’t cite a single product that can be manufactured in infinite quantity and still retain its value. Flood the market with corn, and the price of corn plunges to below the cost of production. Our gut intelligence dictates that the logic of oversupply also pertains to money: the more you conjure from thin air, the less it will buy. As an ominous early warning, the US Federal Reserve announced last month that it would not be raising interest rates, even if inflation rose to above the Fed’s target. Stay tuned for more such cheerful news from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.

The international monetary system is held together with rubber bands, bits of string and appeals to divinity. Because it’s in everyone’s interest to have confidence in this fragile kludgeocracy, we all determinedly have confidence in it. But frankly, ever since all money became fiat money — backed by nothing and therefore generated ad infinitum at no apparent cost — countries have competed with each other over whose currency could be more worthless. The race to the bottom is well under way. Me, I’m astonished that any currency in the world right now is worth anything at all. I’m positively impressed that the pound and the dollar continue to be accepted in exchange for genuinely valuable tangibles such as wheat and oil. But we have succumbed to complacency.

The insouciant assumption runs that because we’ve been getting away with murder for all this time, and so much rides on our continuing to get away with murder, we will therefore be able to get away with murder forever more. We can thus pile up national debts of over 100 per cent of GDP, even over 200 per cent, so why not three or four hundred per cent? A thousand? Isn’t the sky the limit? Yet all Ponzi schemes collapse. The only uncertainty is when.

I dread ever having to watch the civilisation that has nurtured me, and that has provided me such an exhilarating cultural inheritance, fall apart. I could not bear a real-life dystopia in which the Statue of Liberty is toppled and Parliament burns to the ground. In which libraries and online search results are strictly policed to serve a single, narrow, fanatical dogma (a process Facebook and YouTube have already begun).

Today’s hard leftists are eager to bulldoze their “systemically racist” societies into landfill but have no constructive replacement for what they would gleefully destroy. Their blind rampages go hand-in-hand with our idiotic COVID lockdowns. Both the Marxist Trojan horse of BLM zealotry and these suicidal, shortsighted “public health” policies eat away at everything in Western life that I treasure, from reading artful, ideologically unorthodox books to being able to buy a chicken.

Yet in protesters and politicians alike, I detect that deadly complacency, as if you can rock a boat as wildly as you want — all because it has stayed afloat so far.




Mitch McConnell is full-steam ahead on the Amy Coney Barrett nomination, though Senate Democrats are now calling for a pause over COVID concerns.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is appalled regarding why violent illegal aliens wanted by ICE are roaming free in his state.

Joe Biden offered his weak sauce reasoning for not calling on Democratic mayors to get a hold on the mayhem engulfing their cities.

One of the few voices of reason among Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin (D-WV), came out against packing the courts.

A new ad from the NRSC highlighted the attacks on Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith from the Left.

The lawyers for Kyle Rittenhouse demand the Biden camp retract their awful smear of their client; Biden’s people said he was a white supremacist. He is not.

As California burns, their legislature is busy…drafting a bill on slave reparations.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) triggered CNN’s Chris Cuomo when he brought up how his brother, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pretty much killed a bunch of old people with his nursing home policy. Even CNN said that Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home policy was…problematic.

Joe Biden’s latest ad falls flat with religious voters.

A new poll shows much hasn’t changed regarding court-packing since FDR. The people are against it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks there shouldn’t be any more debates. Typical.

One liberal reporter noted white supremacy’s biggest ally, which should send the Left into a full froth tantrum.

We have Democrats rehash the ‘Trump didn’t denounce white supremacists’ lie again.

Biden said something disparaging about black women again.

And the vote-by-mail scheme got two more shots to the head when an NJ mail carrier was arrested for trashing ballots and mailboxes were broken into in Virginia.

October 12 marks the beginning of the hearings over the Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. It’s going to happen, even as Democrats become a bunch of cry babies over virtual hearings. It’s weak sauce.


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


9 October, 2020

UK: Scientists tell us there IS a better way to tackle coronavirus. So why is it being ignored?

Lockdowns were originally a Chinese idea. Why are we copying them?

Fear stalks our country. It swirls around the Cabinet table, and has entered Boris Johnson's soul.

One of his main terrors, according to colleagues, is Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister yesterday announced tougher measures aimed at controlling the rapid rise of the virus.

Mr Johnson is terrified that if the death rate in England should exceed that in Scotland, the pugnacious Ms Sturgeon will accuse him of being chaotic and unreliable.

Nicola Sturgeon announced tougher measures aimed at controlling the rapid rise of the virus on Wednesday

Her message to Scots would be that they are far safer with her than with reckless Tories down south. She would shore up her already solid support in the independence stand-off.

Boris is a passionate unionist, and doesn't want to do anything to bolster her strong position. Much more than Labour's Sir Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon is shaping the Government's policy over the pandemic.

So where she goes first, the Prime Minister is likely to follow. It probably won't be long before large parts of England adopt similar measures to those announced in Edinburgh yesterday.

All pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will close for 16 days. In other areas they will be allowed to remain open but only to serve outdoors. These new rules will inevitably inflict more economic hardship.

Will they succeed? They go further than measures tried out in northern England but will do little to control the virus among students, who will remain free to socialise. I should be surprised if Nicola Sturgeon's package brought down infection rates to the levels of a few weeks ago.

We had better be honest with ourselves. None of the clampdowns applied in northern England have worked. Quite the opposite, as Sir Keir correctly pointed out at yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions.

He said that when restrictions were introduced in Bury, the infection rate was around 20 per 100,000. Today it is 266. In Burnley the rate per 100,000 has risen from 21 to 434 since the start of the clampdown. In Bolton the rate has jumped 18 from to 255.

Hardly a triumph. Admittedly, it's possible that without restrictions the rate would have gone up even more. But it's clear that stricter rules have failed to rein in the virus.

Almost the only place where harsher measures have succeeded is Leicester. The reason is that restrictions there were more draconian. They approached in severity those experienced during national lockdown.

Two weeks ago, I predicted that, despite the Rule of Six and early closure of pubs, the number of daily cases of Covid-19 would keep rising. I added that 'within weeks further coercive measures will therefore be announced'.

In truth, almost anyone could have foreseen what has happened, and almost anyone can predict what will happen now. The national daily infection rate will go on increasing, and more restrictions will be introduced.

Only measures similar to those of lockdown will work. They may not be applied nationally, but before long swathes of the United Kingdom will be forced to submit to daunting new regulations. Our stuttering economic recovery will suffer.

Unless or until there is a vaccine, this debilitating on-off pattern — shutting down the economy, then opening it up again, then shutting it down once more — will continue.

And yet there is an alternative way, if only Boris Johnson and his supporters in a divided Cabinet could open their minds and throw off their fear — and engage in a proper debate.

Thousands of doctors and scientists from across the world have signed a letter known as the 'Great Barrington Declaration', named after the town in Massachusetts where it was conceived. It is the brainchild of three leading epidemiologists from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities.

It argues for a new tactic of 'focused protection'. The elderly and vulnerable would be protected while the rest of society returned to normal life to build up herd immunity.

The letter points out that 'vulnerability to death from Covid-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young' and that 'for children it is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza'.

It declares that current policies are 'producing devastating effects on public health'. These include 'lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health — leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden'.

In other words, the cure is worse than the disease. The Government and much of the media are so fixated on daily figures of new cases that they ignore the greater harm being done as a result of restrictions.

Meanwhile our national broadcaster, the BBC, isn't good at putting Covid statistics in perspective. While dwelling on the growing number of cases, it seldom stresses that deaths are running at about five per cent of the rate at the height of the pandemic.

Nor is it seemingly very interested in debate. Many more exponents of tougher measures appear to be interviewed than distinguished scientific sceptics. 'Professor Lockdown', aka Neil Ferguson, remains a favourite of Auntie's with his repressive toolkit. He was the scientist whose modelling helped trigger the lockdown — which he promptly broke with trysts with his married lover.

Shockingly, the BBC and much of the broadcast media yesterday morning largely ignored the explosive new letter. When I last looked, it had been signed by 3,621 medical and public health scientists and 5,919 medical practitioners.

It wasn't mentioned on the news bulletins on Radio 4's influential Today programme, although it was cited by presenter Nick Robinson during an interview with Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

She batted it away in an irritatingly smug way. While doing so, she asserted that 'none of the critics are proposing alternative measures'. But that is precisely what they are doing!

Boris Johnson has said, more than once, that there is no alternative. So the Government persists with the present policy of restarting and stifling the economy. It's not working.

According to the Government's own modelling, 74,000 people will die from non-Covid causes as an indirect result of the lockdown imposed in March. How many more will die as a consequence of the regional lockdowns likely to be imposed in the next few weeks?

My suggestion is not that the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are right in every respect and the Government is entirely wrong. It is simply that there must be a better way than the one we are taking, and if the Government (and some of the media) weren't so frightened of debate we might find it.

Why is Boris Johnson fearful? It's partly because of the desire I've discussed not to give any advantage to Nicola Sturgeon. It's partly because he had the stuffing knocked out of him by catching the disease, and so universalises his personal experience.

And it's also because he is in thrall to scientists such as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty who are zealots in their conviction that the only way to deal with Covid-19 is to try to knock it repeatedly over the head, even if in so doing you bring the whole of society and civilised life to a halt.

The virus is back big-time, and will make further gains. And the Government's only policy is to march us straight back towards another lockdown.



Dr. Scott Atlas Says Lockdowns 'Are a Luxury of the Rich' and 'Children Need to Go to School'

Why hasn’t Dr. Scott Atlas taken over Dr. Doom’s (Fauci’s) job yet? He’s the only one standing up for American freedom and common sense. On The Ingraham Angle Tuesday night, Atlas dropped truth bombs about the “frenzy of fear” that was spread about the coronavirus, which led to serious medical repercussions for so many people. “More than half of breast cancers” didn’t get diagnosed, “650,000 people who were on chemotherapy, half didn’t get their chemo…25% of kids 18-24, one-fourth thought of or had suicidal ideation during the month of June,” he said.

Atlas went on to excoriate lockdowns, “This lockdown is what I would call a luxury of the rich. This is really a class problem here where the affluent elites don’t understand, that what the president understands, which is that people need to work. The working class need their jobs, children need to go to school, and it’s very harmful to do otherwise.”

Host Laura Ingraham pointed out that the places that are open—which are doing better economically and mentally—are all Republican states. “There is a complete fallacy that President Trump is not following the science,” continued Atlas. “These people actually agree very much with [Trump’s] strategy: protect the vulnerable as much as we can and open up because of the harms of that.”

Ingraham pointed out that the media will not report the massive drop in hospitalizations and deaths for political reasons and instead focus on the president taking off his mask while alone on a balcony for a photo. Atlas said, “We’re all thrilled how well he’s doing, it’s amazing. The guy is incredibly resilient,” but added that he’s not cavalier about it at all. “He’s wearing a mask when other people are around,” said the eyewitness who has been in the room with the president recently.

Ingraham showed the numbers for flu versus COVID for school-aged children that demonstrate it is less deadly than the flu. Atlas concurred, saying, “this is not really arguable…it’s scientifically factual.”



Poll: Voters Back Judge Barrett's Confirmation by Double-Digit Margin

A new Morning Consult poll of voters shows that those surveyed favor the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by a double-digit margin. The poll shows support for Judge Barrett’s confirmation growing among Republicans, Democrats and Independents, despite the partisan hysteria coming from the Left in hopes of derailing the confirmation process.

Democrats are doing their best work to convince voters that Judge Barrett’s confirmation process is “illegitimate,” “unsafe,” and a “power grab” from Republicans, but this poll shows that voters know better.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) set Judge Barrett’s confirmation to begin on Monday, October 12. Though two Republican members of the committee have tested positive for coronavirus, Graham has equipped his committee with procedure to hold hybrid hearings to ensure safety.

Senate Democrats can do virtually nothing to stop her confirmation, but have already waged a full-fledged war on Judge Barrett’s character.




Texas grand jury indicts Netflix for "lewd visual material" after "Cuties" controversy (The Daily Wire)

Trump halts deadlocked COVID relief negotiations until after the election (National Review)

"Immediate action is needed": Trump administration unveils sweeping changes to controversial H-1B guest worker program (Fox News)

House investigation faults Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google for engaging in anti-competitive monopoly tactics (The Washington Post)

Trump announces his intent to debate Biden October 15 (Disrn)

James Comey and Robert Mueller have massive Clinton Foundation problems (American Thinker)

NBC News's "undecided" voters previously featured as Biden supporters on MSNBC (The Washington Free Beacon)

Facebook censors conservative host Mark Levin for "repeated distribution of false news" (Disrn)

Facebook bans QAnon — a nutty but harmless conspiracy theory — across its platforms (NBC News)

Triggered Democrat Party media guy pulls a knife on "Oregon Women for Trump" convoy (PJ Media)

Hate hoax? Police find no evidence after Madison, Wisconsin, woman claims she was set on fire by white supremacists (The Post Millennial)

World's richest people are now $813 billion wealthier despite the pandemic (Time)

U.S. goods trade deficit in August hits record high of $83.9 billion (Politico)

Swiss city of Geneva votes for world-record $25 hourly minimum wage (Foundation for Economic Education)

Oregon State "women, gender and sexuality studies" professor blames devastating Western wildfires on white Christians (PJ Media)

California governor's office tells diners to wear masks "in between bites" (CBS News)

Oklahoma detention officers charged with cruelty for torturing prisoners by cranking "Baby Shark" on repeat (Not the Bee)

A bike company offers black customers reparations in the form of a discount (Yahoo! Finance)

Oprah Winfrey says America's racial "caste system" was "the template for Nazi Germany" (Disrn)

Georgia pastor raises $12,000 for Waffle House waitress after learning her unborn child has same name as his late son (Disrn)

Black-and-white film of a snowball fight in France in 1896 is colorized and speed-adjusted to look stunningly modern (Daily Mail)

Policy: Biden's virtue signaling against Saudi Arabia will backfire (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Problems with theories on the black-white wealth gap (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


8 October, 2020

Most senior US military leaders go into COVID quarantine as Donald Trump is found to have ‘no symptoms’

An upbeat Donald Trump has declared he is “feeling great!” and raring to go in the final weeks of the election campaign after his medical team said he is doing “extremely well” after returning to the White House.

Mr Trump left hospital Monday evening US time after being treated in hospital for just three days.

After his first night back at home, physician to the president Dr Sean Conley said Mr Trump reported “no symptoms”.

“He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms,” Dr Conley said in a memo released by the White House.

“Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97 per cent. Overall he continues to do extremely well.”

The development came as news emerged that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other top US military leaders, have gone into quarantine after attending meetings at the Pentagon with a Coast Guard commander who tested positive for coronavirus, a Defence Department official said.

Coast Guard Admiral Charles Ray tested positive Monday after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Before testing positive, Ray had attended meetings with top commanders from each of the armed services.

After Admiral Ray’s positive test results, the Joint Chiefs were tested and their results came back negative but are quarantined at home out of an abundance of caution.

The Pentagon’s senior leadership attended a White House reception last week for “Gold Star” families of fallen troops.

Both President Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump attended the event.

The most senior member of the military, General Mark Milley, 62, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is among the top officials quarantining.



Restoring Civics and Patriotism to American Life

President Donald Trump’s rhetoric admittedly can be ambiguous at times and thus lead to different interpretations, but an objective reading of the record over the past four years that is free of animus would reveal that his administration has tried to renew a sense of national identity and common vision.

The administration began by rejecting a last-minute Obama-era recommendation to create, through the census, one more subnational ethnic group and list “Hispanics” among the racial categories rather than as an ethnicity.

Similarly, a Middle East and North Africa group would have brought under one umbrella Americans with ancestries between Morocco and Iran. Under this abstraction, Americans from New Hampshire’s John Sununu to Indiana’s Mitch Daniels and California’s Darrell Issa would have been considered members of a marginalized minority group.

Placing the Hispanic entity along the same category as biological races would have perpetuated the view that this heterogeneous group is another race. Currently, Americans of Hispanic descent can choose to identify as either Hispanic or non-Hispanic and can also choose a race. Research revealed that they would be less likely to do the latter under the proposed Obama changes.

The administration instead asked that a question on citizenship be included in the 2020 census. This places the onus correctly not on subnational identity, but on national belonging, which the Hidden Tribes study rightly identifies as a force that can overcome polarization.

Instead of supporting these decisions, the activist interest groups that claim to speak for ethnic and racial blocs met them with withering criticism. Several groups sued the Trump administration in courts around the country.

Using typically hyperbolic rhetoric, Make the Road New York, one of the activist groups that successfully sued the administration, denounced the citizenship question as a “racist attempt to intimidate, undercount immigrants.”

The Supreme Court took up one of the cases, deciding in June 2019 that although the citizenship question was constitutional, the justification the administration had provided did not suffice, leading the administration to walk away from the question.

Similar overstatements met the administration’s decision with respect to the Middle East and North Africa grouping. The Arab American Institute said it was “an egregious rejection of stakeholder interest that impedes the possibility of an accurate count.”

The reference to “stakeholder” was a useful reminder of the extent to which agency capture has built into activist groups’ high expectations of getting their way on policymaking.

The administration has shown equal vigilance in dealing with racial preferences in admissions to universities and K–12 programs.

Racial preferences detract from the goal of building a common national purpose, not only because they create resentment among groups, but also because they offer incentives to Americans to identify with subnational groups in exchange for benefits. Because they focus only on outcomes, they fail to address the practices and cultural reasons that explain why members of some groups may statistically lag behind others.

Under the current administration, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has thus looked at the legality of racial preferences in admissions from Harvard on the East Coast to Texas Tech in the Southwest.

In April 2019, after the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation, Texas Tech’s medical school agreed to end consideration of race in selecting candidates for admission.

The same Office for Civil Rights also launched a similar investigation into whether the Montgomery County, Maryland, public schools were discriminating against Asian American applicants for the magnet program at the county’s middle schools.

Finally, the administration sided with Asian American students suing Harvard University over its admissions practices, which plaintiffs said discriminate against them. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest opposing Harvard’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Trump administration also included an emphasis on “patriotic assimilation” in the immigration plan that it rolled out on May 16, 2019. Though it generally went in the right direction by making demonstration of an active interest in patriotic assimilation a requirement of the would-be immigrant, the plan left itself open to system-gaming and, worse, not advancing the agenda of Americanization.

Once prospective immigrants demonstrate such an interest and are admitted to citizenship, they can pursue whatever course they want—most likely by responding to the incentives to balkanize that our system continuously provides. What we need is a return to the old system of cultural instruction.



California's Boardroom Quotas and Reparations

Two new laws reveal the utter moral bankruptcy of the Golden State's rulers.

Just when one might think California couldn’t push its progressive agenda any further, a pair of bills proves one wrong. Last Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation bill mandating that California-based corporations must appoint directors from racial or sexual minorities to their boards. The same day, Newsom also signed a bill creating a specialized task force to analyze the option of providing state-funded reparations to black Californians.

The boardroom bill is similar to the one the state passed in 2018 requiring all corporate boards to have at least one female director by 2019. That bill is facing a legal challenge by conservative groups who view it not as a commitment to diversity, as California progressives insist, but rather as a government-mandated quota system that will prove to be constitutionally untenable.

Regardless, Newsom remains undeterred. “When we talk about racial justice, we talk about power and needing to have seats at the table,” the governor said. Democrat Assemblyman Chris Holden, one of the bill’s authors, agreed. “The new law represents a big step forward for racial equity,” Holden said. “While some corporations were already leading the way to combat implicit bias, now, all of California’s corporate boards will better reflect the diversity of our state.”

“Implicit bias,” defined as an unconscious association, belief, or attitude toward any social group, is yet another progressive effort to advance their assertion that Americans are inherently racist and sexist, and we can be cured only by government intervention on behalf of those oppressed (read: special interest) groups. Thus, as the measure states, at least one director from an “underrepresented community” must be placed on the respective boards of the more than 660 public corporations with headquarters in the Golden State by the end of 2021.

By the end of 2022, two directors must be placed on boards of four to nine members, and three on boards with more than nine members. Non-compliance would engender fines of $100,00 for the first violation and $300,000 for repeated violations.

The text of the bill cited statistics compiled by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. It noted that 233 of 662 publicly traded companies headquartered in California had all-white boards as of 2020. Nearly 90% had no Latino directors, although Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population, and only 16% had a black American board member.

It gets even more “cutting-edge” than that: “Underrepresented communities” are defined by the bill as Californians who identify as black, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, native Hawaiian, native Alaskan, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

“I am who I say I am” may give rise to some rather interesting dilemmas for corporations far more interested in doing business than kowtowing to political agendas that obliterate anything resembling merit. Perhaps some California women will attempt to game the system by identifying as black, like former George Washington University associate professor Jessica Krug or former NCAAP official Rachel Dolezal did.

In fact, the bill’s only official opponent, former California commissioner of corporations Keith Bishop, wondered if the current bill, coupled with the 2018 one, would make it more desirable for corporations to hire a woman from an underrepresented community who would meet both mandates simultaneously. In what was likely an inadvertent statement of truth, the SFGate website referred to that reality as meeting “both sets of quotas.”

The bigger picture? As this writer has stated on many occasions, government-enforced self-identification of reality itself is the foundation of totalitarian rule.

The ultimate endgame with regard to this legislation? Corporate attorney Keith Bishop testified against the bill, saying “it violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. and California Constitutions, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

Bishop is right, but if there’s one thing above all else the 2020 election will determine, it’s whether the Rule of Law — or the rule of “woke” — will prevail going forward.

The second bill is just as problematic. AB 3121 calls for a nine-member body to make recommendations on what kind of reparations should be awarded and who should be eligible. That body can also tell the state legislature how California can offer a formal apology “for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants’ and the elimination of state laws that disproportionately impact Black people,” Fox News reports.

That California was never a slave state is apparently irrelevant.

Moreover, according to whom and based on what criteria will the state eliminate laws that “disproportionately affect” blacks? For example, if greater numbers of black Americans than other groups are arrested for a particular type of crime, should that particular crime, even if it’s a felony, be erased from the books? Or once a threshold has been reached, should police stop making arrests? Since fewer black Californians graduate high school than their white, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander counterparts, should the state’s current high school graduation requirements be tossed as well?

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive,” Newsom insists. “Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions.”

This bill is not about opportunity. It is yet another race hustle perpetrated by white progressive bigots and their minority allies who have spent decades nurturing black American victimhood in pursuit of wealth and power. Wealth and power that requires the maintenance of an underclass whose “institutional victimhood” can never be overcome without the “benevolence” of their government overlords.

Critics? Only in terms of irony. William Darity Jr., a Duke University economics professor and reparations “expert,” eschewed the use of that term to describe the bill — because “people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” he stated. “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”

In other words, the monetary shakedown for “atonement” pales in comparison to the one for “reparations.”

All in a state that has requested a taxpayer-funded bailout from the federal government.

The ultimate result of these pernicious agendas? One suspects the state that ranked first in outbound migration from July 2018 to July 2019 will see even greater levels of the same, as more and more people see the folly of attempting to legislate “utopian” outcomes with ever-increasing government intrusion into ever more aspects of life.

Ironically, Californians will vote this year on a referendum deciding whether or not affirmative action will be reinstated in public hiring, contracting, and college admissions, 24 years after voters roundly rejected it by a margin of 54.55% to 45.45%.

Yet if it’s defeated again, what’s the difference? Democrats have mandated it in the corporate boardroom and are studying a taxpayer-funded scheme of economic “affirmative action” as well — utterly irrespective of voter preferences.

It’s what one-party governance is all about.



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


7 October, 2020

Trump’s COVID comeback, Democrat theatrics on ACB

I wouldn't crow too soon. Trump may have to go back into hospital. That does happen

Perhaps Dr. James P. Phillips, the attending physician at Walter Reed Hospital, hasn't yet noticed, but President Donald Trump is in the midst of a critical election battle.

Indeed, the president yesterday was behaving as if his COVID convalescence was less important than the task of saving the nation from Joe Biden and his hard-left handlers. Accordingly, he tweeted a MAGA message to his supporters, recorded a thank-you video to the medical staff at Walter Reed, and took a quick ride to thank his many well-wishers gathered outside the Beltway-based military medical center. And it was this last transgression that got the Trump-hating medicine man all worked up.

Phillips, whose Twitter image shows him clenching his fists on the CNN set with Ezekiel Emanuel and Wolf Blitzer, and whose followers number a fair bit fewer than the president's 86.9 million, heaped scorn on Trump for what he characterized as a stunt rather than a show of presidential strength and resilience.

"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days," Phillips raged. "They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."

They may die? C'mon, doc, your derangement is showing. The idea that a young, strong, peak-of-fitness Secret Service agent will soon succumb to COVID is just plain idiotic. Or maybe it's just plain hyper-partisan. A quick spin through Phillips's Twitter page, after all, shows that he follows the likes of Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, George Conway, Never-Trumpers Max Boot and Bill Kristol, Doctors for Biden, Republicans for Joe Biden, The Lincoln Project, and, well, you get the idea. Let's just hope the president's Secret Service detail doesn't let this guy anywhere near our commander-in-chief.

Not content with a single rant, however, Phillips sent out a second salvo: "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."

One wonders whether those committed professionals in the president's SUV were "forced to play," as Phillips insists, or instead drew straws for the honor of accompanying their America First president on a brief trip around the grounds.

In any case, President Trump's medical team said his health continues to improve, and he might even be discharged today. If that happens, it'll mark the most remarkable curb-stomping of this coronavirus by any septuagenarian anywhere ever — especially given what we now know about the president's condition just a couple of days ago.

"During a press conference late Sunday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital," reports the Washington Examiner, "Dr. Sean Conley confirmed that Trump was given supplemental oxygen on Friday out of concern of 'possible rapid progression of the illness,' which the president was adamantly against. Conley said the president had a 'high fever,' and his oxygen saturation was dipping below 94%."

"Today he feels well," said Dr. Brian Garibaldi. "He's been up and around. Our plan for today is to have him to eat and drink, be up out of bed as much as possible, to be mobile. And if he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as [Monday] to the White House where he can continue his treatment course."

A word of caution, then, to Dr. James P. Phillips, his Trump-addled fellow travelers, and the fatalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times who've been tasked with updating the president's obituary: Reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.



Coronavirus: Sweden defied zealots and never met its Waterloo

Comment from Australia, an exceptionally low death-rate jurisdiction

Sweden’s impressive legacy — ABBA, dynamite, Ikea, for instance — has expanded significantly in 2020, having provided the world with an example of a sane response to what’s turned out a relatively mild pandemic.

The Scandinavian nation deserves enduring credit from reasonable people everywhere for resisting the destructive authoritarian mindset that enveloped democratic nations this year. Sweden was viciously attacked by supposed experts and mainstream media all year that if it didn’t crush commerce by fiat and suspend civil liberties indefinitely, as has occurred in Europe, many US states, and of course Victoria, more than 90,000 Swedes would die.

The army of lockdown zealots will never be able to say lockdowns are essential to avert disaster, if that wasn’t already clear enough from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Historians will struggle to see a public policy disaster in Sweden. The number of deaths there from all causes so far this year, just less than 68,000, is fewer than over the same period in 2015, adjusted for population size. Far from an apocalypse, the total death rate from January 1 to September 20 is barely distinguishable from recent years, notwithstanding a jump from 2019, during which it was unusually low.

While its European neighbours, which bludgeoned their economies for months, now battle “second waves” (albeit with far lower death rates), Sweden has barely had any COVID-19 deaths since mid-July alongside a much milder uptick in so-called cases, which in any case often mean little.

The feared “exponential growth” never occurred (it never occurred anywhere). Swedish hospitals were never “overwhelmed”.

But Sweden’s GDP, which plunged 8.3 per cent in the second quarter, tanked anyway so should it have locked down too and “saved lives”? It’s a fatuous argument, faulty on its own terms, even assuming lockdowns do “save lives” overall.

For a start, its economy suffered in part because its larger neighbours, which themselves endured far bigger drops in GDP, locked down. Second, media fear-mongering left people unreasonably terrified, which, naturally, saw Swedes curtail economic activity.

In any case, looking at GDP over three months is hardly definitive. Sweden’s economy is expected to grow 4 per cent next year, twice as fast as ours, according to the Reserve Bank.

Having inflicted less economic chaos, Sweden’s gross government debt won’t rise beyond 40 per cent, according to its September budget papers, while Canberra’s debt ceiling will be lifted to the equivalent of 55 per cent of GDP along with far bigger budget deficits.

The bigger point is this: the short-term trajectory of GDP matters little. As I’ve argued for years in this column, it’s a flawed, dated measure of prosperity.

In Sweden, no one will be cowering in masks for years; Swedish police are not dragging people screaming from cars or invading homes to stop Facebook sharing. They aren’t shutting internal borders, stopping weddings, funerals or undermining children’s education. The Swedish parliament, unlike Victoria’s, isn’t using the pandemic as an excuse to increase police power. And the Swedish people never had to endure rambling, ridiculous daily press conferences for months about “cases” that belong in a scene from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

And the Swedish government hasn’t set a precedent, which will hang over business investment considerations here for a generation, that whenever a virus emerges, businesses and households will be shut down for months.

None of these factors is reflected in GDP.

There was never a health crisis in Sweden. And there hasn’t been one in Australia, either.

In the first six months of the year, there were 134 fewer deaths from respiratory diseases in Australia, which includes pneumonia and influenza, and 617 additional deaths from cancer compared with the average over 2015-19, according to the ABS’s provisional mortality statistics, released last week. Doctor-certified deaths are within the normal range.

Sweden hasn’t hitched its economic future — and the mobility of its people — to the prospect of a vaccine, either.

As our budget will make clear, forecasts of a return to normality will be contingent on an effective vaccine emerging, and one people will want to take. Given the survival rate for people under 70 is about 99.9 per cent — if they get the virus — it’s unclear how many will want to. Drug companies, under immense pressure to find a vaccine in months rather than the usual eight to 10 years, are understandably trying to wriggle out of liability if something goes wrong.

There are 243 candidate vaccines, of which nine are in stage-three trials, where the wider population testing takes place. There’s no guarantee of success. There’s been no vaccine developed for HIV, for instance.

“It is likely individuals will need two doses of a vaccine and this may need to be repeated every year,” says JP Morgan analyst David Mackie, who took stock of vaccination developments last month. “With a global population of 7.8 billion, this would require 4.7 billion individuals to be vaccinated with two doses each, separated by three to four weeks, and possibly repeated every year.”

Australia’s coronavirus elimination strategy leaves many questions unanswered. How long will we be prevented from leaving, if there’s no effective vaccine? Given the virus is contagious, is it realistic to keep it out forever (assuming it’s not prevalent here)? If not, why has Victoria imposed a 20-week lockdown on its biggest city?

Nations that don’t lock down their populations for months have been cast as immoral, but the truth is more complex. Leadership requires balancing competing objectives, governing for the long term, and being honest with people when new information emerges.

It will require a few more years of data to work out the optimal strategies to fight future pandemics. But what’s clear already — certainly to citizens of Victoria, New Zealand, Israel, the UK and Europe — is that one lockdown, as promised by proponents, does not eradicate the coronavirus.

And let’s drop the idea Swedes care less for their elderly than we do. Sweden spends the equivalent of 3.2 per cent of GDP on its aged-care facilities, compared to about 1 per cent here.



Polished man month

When I first heard of this, I thought: "How F...ing useless can you get?". A professional reader of mine, however had some more sophisticated comments -- which I reproduce below:

October is Polished Man month, when leftist men put on nail polish to end violence against children.

Painting a fingernail is supposed to start a conversation about violence against children. It also advertises that the male wearer of the nail polish is one of society's very few good men.

And leftist men try very hard to be seen as among the few good men by leftist standards. Leftist groups/cultures cast out any man who is not continually performing to show that he is an enlightened caring feminist, and being cast out can mean losing his employment, his friends, and in some cases even his family.

So lots of men working in heavily leftist/feminist dominated fields will this month be under pressure to show their painted fingernail.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs2PfzuYK4g https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMd58QwdnfQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQGQVh57Ejo

The implication of the Polished Man initiative is that men are the main perpetrators of violence against children, and it is men who must stop it.

Early in the counselling process when working as a forensic clinician, I would ask each prisoner about his childhood experiences, and many would tell me they were physically and emotionally abused by a parent. Not always but often that parent was a mother.

In fact, about 80% of prisoners did not even have a father or other male in the house, just a crazy abusive neglectful mother. "Crazy" was a common description.

Some stories of what some mothers do to little boys, and the number of such stories, cannot be believed or accepted by average decent people. Even my psychologist colleagues (who were all female) could not bring themselves to accept that such a number of women do such things.

The gender of abusers was seldom documented. Due to the pervasive leftist/feminist push that men are society's abusers, so most people presume child abusers are mostly male.

Leftists/feminists are collective thinkers so psychologists, social workers and welfare workers generally, of whom nearly all are leftist-feminist, easily fall into reflexive mass collaboration. Some may call it conspiracy, which it is among the few most intelligent, conscious, and manipulative.

But most psychologists, social workers and welfare workers are emotional and peer centred people, and reflexively adopt the attitude, outlook and behaviour of the leftist-feminist culture in which they work.

One consequence of this is that a lot of falsities are put out about men and women and assumed by the general public to be true. One of those falsities is that women seldom abuse children. Here is some actual data on the horrible truth:


As the idea of painting a fingernail is to start a conversation about child abuse, then I propose that when the conversations start be sure to encourage people to do their own research into the subject, because truth is more fascinating than leftist-feminist propaganda.



Stats suggest that lockdowns may have had little effect on spread (National Review)

Biden campaign reportedly pulling negative ads against Trump after his COVID diagnoses (The Daily Wire)

"I hope they die": Left-wingers react to positive coronavirus diagnosis for the Trumps (The Federalist)

"Our liberties ... have been stampeded over by these dirty cops": Republicans rage over unverified but potentially damning Russian report on Clinton, suggest shutting down intelligence agencies (Washington Examiner)

New Supreme Court term begins Monday, with major cases from ObamaCare to religious liberty on the docket (Washington Examiner)

"Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence": Highly anticipated grand jury recordings of Breonna Taylor case have been released (Disrn)

New Home, Texas, becomes the 15th city in the nation to outlaw abortion (Disrn)

NBA viewership keeps sinking: Game 2 of NBA finals the least-watched game on record (Washington Examiner)

Hondurans in migrant caravan bused back after entering Guatemala (Fox News)

Policy: Could it happen here? The parallels between the Soviet Bloc and the modern U.S. (The Daily Signal)

Policy: The Fed and the housing bubble/bust (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


6 October, 2020

The Davos call for "Stakeholder" capitalism is pure Fascism -- leading to a Loss of Liberty

Mussolini had a similar idea

What is called for is the “socialization” of private business away from being and viewed as an private enterprise formed and focusing upon the economic and financial betterment of its owners through the production, marketing, and sale of goods and services demanded by consumers in a competitive arena, with a market-generated price system facilitating the capacity for calculating profit and loss as a basis of determining the direction and use of the scarce means of production at the company’s disposal.

Instead, as the Davos Manifesto 2020 declares, in part:

“The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.

“A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes . . . A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth. It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility…

“A company that has a multinational scope of activities not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

For the members of the World Economic Forum, “‘Stakeholder capitalism,’ . . . positions private corporations as trustees of society, and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges . . .” They reject the “shareholder capitalism” advocated by the likes of economist Milton Friedman, and the Chicago School of Economics, who “had neglected the fact that a publicly listed corporation is not just a profit-seeking entity but also a social organism.” (See my article, “Milton Friedman and the New Attack on the Freedom to Choose”.)

Thanks to “the Greta Thunberg effect,” the world has been reminded “that adherence to the current economic system represents a betrayal of future generations, owing to its environmental unsustainability.” Stakeholder capitalism offers “a new measure of ‘shared value creation’ [that] should include ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) goals as a complement to standard financial metrics.”

Business Governance for Society and Saving the Planet

That is what the World Economic Forum-sponsored Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism report is all about. The report offers four principles: Governance, Planet, People, and Prosperity, with the order clearly implying the ranking of importance. Governance comes first because it lays out the fundamental idea that in the selection of those in positions of corporate responsibility and in their instituting the enterprise’s activities, the goal is the company’s obligation to stakeholderism. By accepting the “challenge” of seeing the corporation’s responsibility to be the fulfillment of the agenda and targets of stakeholderism, the company takes on not only the ethical obligation to follow this mission, but if added into as chosen legal responsibility as part of the institutional basis of the enterprise, it might be held accountable in a court of law, with possible penalties for not meeting the goals and purposes of “the plan.”

The corporation’s responsibility to “the Planet” is explained as acceptance of the premises of and the target goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with the participating corporations expected to report annually, along with all other aspects of Stakeholder Governance, on how much they have been moving in the direction of meeting the final 2050 goal of net-zero fossil fuel emissions, with a specific date when the company will have reached the target.

They must also demonstrate what they have done with the corporation’s financial resources and investments to create cleaner water and air, preserve the soil, and bring about a greater “harmony with nature” in general. Companies must report their reductions in annual land use and animal input consumption covered by “a sustainability certification standard or formalized sustainable management program.”

Stakeholder Capitalism Means “Living Wages” and Gender/Race Quotas

The responsibility of any participating private enterprise toward “People” goes far beyond such traditional notions as honesty and fulfillment of any and all contractual obligations concerning work conditions, wages, and the like concerning those they employ. No, Stakeholder Capitalism requires provision or support for all employee health costs, including “the mental, physical and social well-being of all people in their operations and value chains.” Companies would be obligated to have announced targets for employee skills training and reports on how much of the company’s payroll has been applied for this purpose. There must also be reports on the percentages of employees based on gender, race and age, and they would be expected to meet targets to assure “equity” in the hiring and retaining of workers in these gender, race, and age categories.

In addition, companies are required to report on wage ratios of difference in salaries between employees in general relative to corporate executives, including the CEO. And similar reported ratios of difference among wages paid to gender, racial and age groups working for the enterprise. There must be targets to reduce any unjustifiable divergences based on the idea of similar pay for similar work. Also, enterprises must enthusiastically support and foster worker collective bargaining; that is, to happily accept and work with established labor unions across the board.

Wages paid should not be based on supply and demand as competitively determined on the market. Instead, the benchmark and basis of employment salaries would be a “living wage,” or “a wage sufficient to meet the basic standards of living, which will vary by country, local living standards and need.” As the report argues, “Companies that offer a living wage to workers and employees can help lift households and communities out of poverty. A living wage provides a benchmark for responsible employers who respect human rights and who choose to pay their employees a rate that meets the basic cost of living in the region they operate in.”



No, the United States Is Not Systemically Racist

In the second half of the 20th century, from 1950 to 2000, Black people in the United States experienced much larger income gains than whites did. The group that had the largest income gains, by far, was Black women. Their incomes nearly doubled over that period (after inflation). The race gap persists, but it is much lower today than it was in 1950. Does this sound like the financial result from a systemically racist country?

We are told by Black Lives Matter, about 80 percent of the college professors and their pals in the media, that President Donald Trump is a racist. CNN says it almost every night. It's always wise to judge a man by his deeds, not his words or promises. The Census Bureau report released earlier this month finds that, from 2016 to 2019, Black incomes rose more than in any three years in the history of the United States. The median household income for Blacks is now $45,438. I don't have the latest data in front of me, but data from several years ago would indicate few, if any, other nations on Earth with a higher average Black income than the United States.

Black poverty rates fell to their lowest level ever recorded. Black poverty is still much higher than white poverty, but Black people's economic advancement under Trump (precoronavirus) has been nearly miraculous. Does this sound like the result of a racist president?

One of the more fantastic claims by the BLM crowd is that America discriminates against all minorities, or "people of color." By that, they mean people who are Black, Hispanic or any other race that is not white. But the latest census data on incomes squarely contradict this conclusion -- at least when it comes to family finances and economic opportunity.

The highest-income group in America today is not white-skinned workers. It is Asians. Astonishingly, the median household income of Asian Americans reached just shy of $100,000 a year. (The number is $98,174 to be exact.) In other words, the average Asian family is upper-income. One of America's wonders as a land of opportunity is that an immigrant can come to America dirt-poor from China or India and, within 20 years, move into the middle class or even become wealthy.

How did Asians, many of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants from Japan, Korea, India, China, Pakistan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc., race ahead of whites? Perhaps they have a stronger work ethic. Maybe they are more likely to go into occupations in the sciences, engineering or medicine, where salaries are high. Perhaps it is the "tiger moms" effect. Who knows? But what is indisputable from this evidence is this: This couldn't have happened in America if this were a nation that hates ethnic minorities. It could not have occurred in a xenophobic country.

What about Hispanics? Trump has indeed said some very nasty things about Mexicans coming to the U.S. illegally and committing crimes. But Hispanics are doing very well in America. The average Hispanic household makes more than $56,000 a year today. That's not rich -- but it is a massive leap forward from what Hispanics earn in Mexico, El Salvador or Cuba. The gains of Latinos in just the last three years have been extraordinary. Hispanics have also been invaluable in keeping our hospitals, nursing homes, stores and delivery systems functioning during this pandemic thanks to their incredibly strong and admirable work ethic.

I would submit from all this that America isn't the most but rather the least racist nation on Earth when it comes to upward economic mobility.



Donald Trump says he will overturn 'ridiculous order' of US Navy SEALs removing the words 'brotherhood' and 'man' from its ethos and replacing them with gender neutral terms

Donald Trump said Thursday he will overturn the 'ridiculous order' of US Navy SEALs removing the words 'brotherhood' and 'man' from its ethos.

In a tweet responding to the news, the president wrote: 'I will be overturning this ridiculous order immediately!'

The Navy has removed gendered words from its official SEAL ethos, changing them to 'citizen' and 'warrior'. Alterations have also been made in the Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) creed, American Military News reports.

One change in the first paragraph of the SEAL ethos now reads: 'I am that warrior.' It had read: 'I am that man.' Another states: 'Common citizens with uncommon desire to succeed.' That did say: 'A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.'

In the ethos, 'The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men' has been changed to 'the ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from others'.

And 'brave men' has been amended to read 'brave SEALs.'

In the SWCC creed 'brotherhood' was switched to a 'group of maritime warriors.' In another sentence 'brothers' in changed to 'them'.

The move sparked fury from disgraced ex SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who labeled it 'a joke'. Gallagher was was acquitted of murdering the ISIS prisoner following a high-profile trial which saw Donald Trump wade into the debate.

Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Stroup said: 'The previous versions of the SEAL Ethos and SWCC Creed were written prior to the law allowing women to serve as operators in Naval Special Warfare.'

Stroup added: 'The changes do not in any way reflect lowering standards of entry, rather they ensure that all those who meet the requirements to train to become a SEAL or SWCC are represented in the ethos or creed they live out.

Former SEAL Gallagher appeared to share a picture of an August 3 memo sent by military officials on the pronoun changes. It shows Rear Adm. Collin Green approved the changes.

Green wrote: 'The SEAL Ethos and SWCC Creed are our community's bedrock guidance. In order to provide more inclusive language, we have revised them to better reflect our diverse ranks now and into the future.'

Gallagher was acquitted of indiscriminately firing at civilians and murdering an ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017. He was only convicted for posing for a photo with the teen's body.

As a result of posing for a picture with the dead teen, Gallagher was de-ranked in July 2019. However Donald Trump later restored him to Chief Petty Officer. He is now retired.

Sharing a note on the pronoun changes Gallagher wrote: 'What a joke. To be honest I thought the ethos was always BS. Now I know it is.

'A creed or ethos is supposed to be written in stone, obviously ours is not and will sway to whatever political agenda is being put out.'

The SEAL program tests participants' physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills.

It starts at the Naval station in Great Lakes, Illinois and typically ends 65 weeks later with graduation in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego.

Each graduate is awarded the special warfare insignia known as the Trident that denotes membership in the elite fighting force: The pin features a golden eagle wrapped around a U.S. Navy anchor, while clutching a three-prong trident, and a flintlock style pistol.

The program is so grueling that 75 per cent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month in phase one. That's when trainees undergo what is known as Hell Week when recruits are pushed to the limit with little sleep.



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


5 October, 2020

Donald Trump says he feels 'much better' in COVID-19 fight

A reader comments: "I have always thought Trump is who America needs, but I have also thought he is not a very pleasant man. .... However, through the years of his first term, reading his tweets and following his accomplishments, and his dealings with others, I have come to more clearly see his humanity, humour, strength of character, leadership, intelligence, sincerity, his love for individual freedom,... and whether he wins or loses the November election, I think he will be remembered as one of the greatest US presidents."

Donald Trump has spoken out from hospital in a lengthy address after being diagnosed with coronavirus on Friday.

Mr Trump started by thanking the medical staff at Walter Reed Medical Centre, before talking about "miracle" treatments of the future.

"I came here, I wasn't feeling so well, I feel much better now, we're working hard to get me all the way back," the US President said on Saturday night, local time. It is not clear when the video was recorded.

"I have to be back because we still have to make America great again. "I'll be back, I think I'll be back soon," he said.

"We're going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it."

Mr Trump also went on to say he "just didn't want to stay in the White House" for quarantine. "Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don't ever leave, don't even go the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. "Don't see people, don't talk to people and just be done with it, and I can't do that," he said.

"This is America, this is the United States, this is greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world and I can't be locked up in a room upstairs completely safe and just say hey, 'whatever happens happens'."

Mr Trump thanked leaders from around the world for their well wishes, and that Melania is also doing well – making a joke about how because she is younger than him is not as ill.

The President's doctor released an update on Mr Trump's condition on Saturday night, local time. He is said to be "fever free and off supplemental oxygen". The medical team remains cautiously optimistic, Mr Trump's doctor Sean P. Conley said in the update.



The latest from Sweden: Cases up but no deaths

It’s been three months since Sweden recorded just over 800 new coronavirus cases.

But after months with no dramatic increases and low hospitalisation rates, cases of COVID-19 have surged again.

While the Scandinavian country was panned for its controversial approach to coronavirus, it has been recording fewer deaths per day than most other nations — including Australia.

Sweden chose to ignore calls for heavy lockdowns and has kept most schools, bars and restaurants open throughout the pandemic.

Even as cases surged with 752 people testing positive on Thursday – the highest daily rise since June 30 – there was not a single fatality.

Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the man behind Sweden’s controversial strategy, said the uptick was mostly in young people and workplace outbreaks. “It’s very unevenly spread across Sweden, hitting different parts of the country to varying degree,” he said. “Stockholm once again accounts for a very large part of the new cases in Sweden.”

Mr Tegnell recently pointed out while Sweden went from being one of the countries in Europe with the most virus spread, to one that had some of the fewest cases in Europe, the numbers could always go up.

Its per capita death rate is several times higher than other Scandavian countries, but lower than the likes of Spain, Italy and the UK despite their lockdowns.

It’s marked a turnaround for the country, which saw one of the highest death tolls in the world per capita during its spring, recording 5893 deaths.

Just days ago media outlets reported how Sweden seemed to have the virus scourge controlled with the country having one of Europe’s lowest rates of daily new cases. Experts were proclaiming the pandemic there was essentially over.

Kim Sneppen, from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said the country had beaten the virus with herd immunity.

“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,” he told the Politiken newspaper.

It’s an idea Mr Tegnell has repeatedly denied, although he had indicated immunity is being evidenced.

“We are happy that the number of cases is going down rapidly and we do believe immunity in the population has something to do with that,” he said. “And we hope that the immunity in the population will help us get thought this fall with cases at a low level.”

“Today, all of the European countries are more or less following the Swedish model, combined with the testing, tracing and quarantine procedures the Germans have introduced, but none will admit it,” Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health, told The New York Times. “Instead, they made a caricature out of the Swedish strategy. Almost everyone has called it inhumane and a failure.”

Mr Flahault warned there was a major flaw in the Swedish approach – not wearing masks. “That can be a big drawback in the Swedish strategy if masks prove effective and key in fighting the pandemic,” he said.

Allan Randrup Thomsen, professor of virology at Aarhus University, recently said it could not be ruled out that Sweden would have a flare up. Still, its voluntary social distancing is something it’s sticking to.

Because of it, Sweden’s economy shrank by 9 per cent in the first months of the pandemic, compared with 20 per cent in Britain.



'No evidence' Melbourne's draconian curfew keeps coronavirus cases down - admits the senior bureaucrat who extended the policy

Melbourne's night-time curfew was extended despite there being no evidence the measure would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own, according to the senior health official who renewed the draconian rule.

The city's five million residents were on August 2 banned from leaving their homes between the hours of 8pm to 5am except for work, medical or care-giving reasons.

Health officials extended the curfew on September 14 but with shortened hours from 9pm to 5am.

The curfew - which was only removed on Monday evening amid a rapid decline in daily case totals - was one of a range of sweeping coronavirus restrictions brought in as part of Victoria's state of emergency powers.

Department of Health and Human Services senior medical adviser Michelle Giles admitted at a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday there was no physical evidence the policy alone reduced transmission.

Bourke Street is pictured deserted after a citywide curfew was introduced in Melbourne on August 2. The bureaucrat who signed off on the measure has admitted there was no evidence it would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own +4
Bourke Street is pictured deserted after a citywide curfew was introduced in Melbourne on August 2. The bureaucrat who signed off on the measure has admitted there was no evidence it would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own

'What I say is the curfew is part of a package of directions that aim at reducing movement and interactions between people and there is evidence that reduces transmissions,' she said.

But Associate Professor Giles - who had final say on the extension while standing in as Victoria's Deputy Public Health Commander - told the court there was no proof the policy by itself would be effective.

Professor Giles also said she disagreed with the premier's assertion when the curfew was announced it would help Victoria Police enforce the lockdown.

'I actually considered the curfew in relation to public health,' she said, according to The Australian.

'I don't agree with those comments, particularly the law enforcement one.'

The Supreme Court case has been brought by Mornington Peninsula cafe owner Michelle Loielo - who is suing the government claiming COVID-19 restrictions have caused a 99 per cent drop in her revenue.

'Every time I see the premier, Daniel Andrews, on the television and every time I hear the premier speak, I feel a sense of dread and anxiety,' she said.

Last month, Mr Andrews said he decided to bring in the unprecedented 8pm curfew even though it was not recommended by scientists.

'That's a decision that I've made,' he said on 10 September, adding governments are 'free to go beyond' advice given to them by doctors.

The previous day Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said he did not recommend the curfew.

Ms Loielo, a Liberal Party supporter, claims the curfew violates her rights to freedom.

She says her business in Capel Sound used to bring in up to $20,000 a week in earnings.



So Much for Income Tax Privacy

How many times have we been told that the information we send to the Internal Revenue Service in our federal income tax returns is guaranteed to be kept confidential?

So much for that myth, as President Trump can now attest. The New York Times somehow secured a copy of Trump’s income tax returns and is excitedly telling the world what they contain.

One thing is for sure: If the president of the United States can’t keep his income tax returns private, no one else can either.

From the very start of Trump’s quest for the presidency, the mainstream press has been obsessed with getting its hands on his tax returns. And from the very start, Trump refused to disclose them, which he has every right to do.

Trump took the position that his tax returns were none of anyone’s business. And he was right. HIs tax returns fell within his right of personal privacy. If people chose not to vote for him because of his refusal to disclose his tax returns, so be it. That would be their right. But that possibility didn’t abrogate Trump’s right of privacy.

Obviously, Trump’s position did not prevent him from winning the presidency. HIs tax returns were just not that important to millions of people who voted for him.

The New York Times’ decision to disclose Trump’s income tax returns reminds us of what a horrific disaster the adoption of the federal income tax was. Just think: For more than 125 years, Americans lived without a federal income tax. Everyone was free to keep everything he earned and decide for himself what to do with it.

During that time, the editorial board and reporters for the New York Times and other mainstream papers were not having conniption fits over the refusal of presidential candidates to reveal their income tax returns because, well, there were no income tax returns, given that there was no federal income tax.

One of the big reasons the Framers favored indirect taxes over direct taxes was that indirect taxes didn’t have the enormous intrusiveness into privacy that comes with direct taxes. If the Framers had proposed a federal income tax in the Constitution, there is no possibility that our American ancestors would have approved the Constitution and the federal government. Don’t forget, after all, that under the Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, the federal government had not been given the power to tax at all.

The Times and other mainstream papers are making a big deal out of Trump’s use of tax deductions and other tax-avoidance provisions of the massively thick IRS Code to avoid paying taxes. They are implying that he’s unpatriotic for not helping fund the welfare-warfare state that the income tax funds.

That’s ridiculous. It might be hypocritical given Trump’s ardent support for the welfare-welfare state but it’s certainly not unpatriotic to employ every tax avoidance provision in the book. After all, I’ll bet that the members of the Times’ editorial board and its big team of reporters and columnists do the same thing. They are just upset that they don’t do it as well as Trump.

I must say that I do find it ironic that while the mainstream press is celebrating the disclosure of Trump’s private tax returns, it is also failing to come to the defense of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, the men who disclosed the truth about the U.S. national security state to the world. In today’s topsy turvy world, it’s considered okay to violate the privacy of American citizens by publicly disclosing their income tax returns to the world. At the same time, it’s considered a grave crime to disclose the truth about the dark and sordid activities of the national security state that the income tax funds.

The best thing the American people could ever do is restore America’s founding principle of an income-tax free society and to repeal the dark and sordid warfare-welfare things that it funds.



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


4 October, 2020

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas reacts to Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, says 'zero reason to panic'

Dr. Scott Atlas, a special adviser on coronavirus to President Trump, said Friday he expects the president and first lady to make a “complete, full and rapid recovery” after the two tested positive for COVID-19, adding, “there is zero reason to panic.”

During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Atlas said the novel coronavirus is an infection “that is very difficult to avoid.”

“It is no surprise that people get the infection, even with precautions,” Atlas said. “I anticipate a complete and full and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period. I anticipate he’ll be back on the road and in full swing.”

Atlas called the president a “super vigorous man,” adding that he has “never seen anyone with more energy and more vigor, at any age, but particularly at his age.”

“He is a very, very healthy guy,” Atlas said. “And the overwhelming majority of people, even at his age, do fine with this. He is very healthy, and so I anticipate the same for him.”

When asked about the first lady, Atlas also maintained that “she is not a high-risk person at all and I anticipate she will do perfectly well.”

Atlas stressed that the president and first lady’s positive test results “change nothing” about what “should already be known.”

“This is a widespread, highly contagious infection, and this is going to be very mild or asymptomatic for the overwhelming majority of people, especially if you’re a healthy person,” he explained.



The Unscientific Attack on the Science of Dr. Scott Atlas

The news media until recently had rarely criticized the medical advice of experts — especially those who worked for federal bureaucracies, international organizations or elite universities.

Yet the much-praised Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, has demonstrably weakened the effort to fight COVID-19.

During the critical initial weeks of the virus’s spread, Tedros parroted Chinese propaganda. He falsely assured a complacent world that the virus was likely not transmissible between humans and did not warrant travel bans. That Tedros was the first WHO director not to have a medical degree was seldom cited by the media.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is known to the public for his past advocacy of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. Although he now advises 77-year-old presidential candidate Joe Biden, Emanuel once wrote an article for The Atlantic titled “Why I hope to die at 75,” contending that that life after age 75 is, and should be, mostly over — now an eerie idea in a time of a pandemic that targets the elderly.

Emanuel has often weighed in on the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes in overly pessimistic fashion by suggesting that some acquired collective immunity and a viable vaccine were not likely to come soon.

Yet Emanuel also has been largely exempt from media criticism. No reporters have questioned his epidemiological expertise despite his background as an oncologist specializing in breast cancer.

The esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has given conflicting advice on the use of masks, quarantining and the methods of viral transmission. Yet such inconsistency is either ignored or chalked up by the media to the usual learning curve of dealing with a new epidemic.

So why — other than politics — is there now a concerted media attack on Dr. Scott Atlas, an adviser to the Trump administration on COVID-19 policy?

Atlas has had a distinguished career as one of world’s top neuroradiologists. He has become a national expert on public health policy, especially in the cost-benefit analysis of government programs.

After COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., Atlas consistently warned that government must follow science, not politics, in doing the least amount of harm to its people. He has reminded us that those under 65 rarely die from COVID-19, and that those infected who are younger than 20 usually do not show any serious symptoms.

Accordingly, Atlas has urged the states to focus more resources on the most vulnerable — those over 65, who account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths — and allow younger Americans to re-enter schools and the workforce with appropriate caution.

Atlas has also warned that the available test data on COVID-19’s infectiousness, spread and morbidity must be handled with care, given that those who feel sick are more like to get tested. He argues that those with some natural protection from the virus, either through antibodies from an asymptotic past infection or through T-cells, may be a far larger group than previously thought.

But most importantly, Atlas has warned that government must be careful not to endanger Americans with draconian lockdowns that curtail needed medical examinations, procedures and treatments.

Just as dangerous as the disease may be quarantine-related spikes in mental illness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, and depression from lost livelihoods. Children may be suffering irreparable harm from being locked down and kept out of school.

Atlas has shown that these policy choices unfortunately entail bad options and even worse ones, rather than good choices and even better alternatives. He has not played down the dangers of COVID-19 but rather has reminded us to look at scientific data that often belies media sensationalism.

Many in the media, some of his former colleagues at Stanford Medical School and some other Stanford faculty members have claimed that Atlas — a colleague of mine at the Hoover Institution — has acted unprofessionally. They allege that he has downplayed the lethality of the virus, implying that he is aiding the administration’s efforts to ease out of the quarantine.

Yet few if any of these complainants have cited supporting evidence, either from what Atlas has written or said. Often the accusations turn puerile, suggesting that Atlas can’t be a public health expert because he was originally a neuroradiologist.

In fact, rarely reported is that many members of the Stanford community are honored by its medical school receiving global acclaim for its diversity of expert scientific opinion on the virus.

Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Michael Levitt of Stanford, along with several stellar Stanford epidemiologists, have been praised worldwide for their careful critiques of often media-generated misconceptions — especially on the overreliance on COVID-19 positive test data to calibrate viral prevalence and morbidly.

How ironic that some critics fault Atlas for not following science, but they do so in a fashion that is completely … well, unscientific.



The First Debate Eviscerated the Central Argument for Joe Biden's Candidacy

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president last year, he said he chose to run after witnessing the white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. He condemned President Donald Trump for supposedly praising white nationalists (Trump didn’t) and then said he was running for president because “I want to restore the soul of this country.” His premise? Trump is an aberration, and Biden will restore America’s decency.

Contrary to the popular narrative on the Left, the first presidential debate on Tuesday did not prove that Trump is a white supremacist. It did, however, prove that Joe Biden cannot restore the soul of America.

The “decency” candidate constantly interrupted his opponent during the debate. The candidate who wants to “restore the soul of America” unleashed a torrent of insults against his opponent. The “moderate” Biden refused to say whether or not he would pack the Supreme Court. What kind of “soul,” exactly, would he restore?

Biden and Trump proved rather rude to one another, although Biden’s personal insults were arguably worse.

The Democrat told his Republican opponent to shut up, called him a “racist,” a “liar,” and a “clown,” and said, “You’re the worst president that America’s ever had!”

How, exactly, would language like this “restore the soul of America?”

Biden’s debate performance is not the only argument against his ability to restore America’s soul.

Joe Biden has himself embraced the radical left and openly socialist faction of his party. He has refused to condemn antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and agitators by name, instead blaming “right-wing militias” for the violence in American cities. Biden has bragged about the character defamation of Robert Bork, lied about the man who got into the tragic accident that killed his wife, and even compared Trump to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Trump Eviscerates the False Narrative About His Proud Boys Answer to White Supremacy Question
Even if Biden was a moderate and an entirely decent man, most Americans expect that if Biden wins the election in November, his vice president will take up the mantle sometime before his 4-year term comes to a close. In other words, the ostensibly moderate Joe Biden is really a kind of Trojan Horse for one Kamala “let’s lock up pro-life journalists” Harris.

Harris is prickly, slimy, extremely disingenuous, and quite radical. She smeared Brett Kavanaugh with outright lies. After her record as a tough-on-crime attorney general, she tried to get hip by lying about smoking pot in college. She demonized Roman Catholic judges for their faith. Oh, and during the primary, she was the most vocal candidate to condemn a certain Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. for — among other things — working with segregationists in his own party.

President Trump is far from perfect, but he is curbing the radical Left’s transformation of America. He is defending the Constitution from the Left’s unilateral redefinition by nominating originalist judges and justices. He is restraining the radical transgender dissolution of gender in the law. He is countering the Marxist critical race theory of the 1619 Project. He is defending religious freedom against a Democratic onslaught.

Biden launched his campaign on the premise that Trump has destroyed America’s moral compass, whatever his policy successes. Yet on Tuesday, the Democrat definitively proved that he would not restore America’s moral compass.

On November 3, Americans have a choice between a president who stands with the original public meaning of the Constitution and a Democrat who wants judges to rewrite the Constitution according to their policy preferences, specifically in favor of abortion, and who refuses to say whether he’ll pack the Supreme Court *wink wink, nod nod*.

Both candidates are aggressive and rude. Perhaps Trump is ruder — although he may only seem that way because he has to fight the legacy media’s outright leftist bias. Biden wasn’t exactly decent to Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in 2012.

The debate on Tuesday will not likely make a big difference in the polls, but it did undercut Joe Biden’s central argument for his candidacy. Americans who tire of Trump and want a “return to normalcy” should not pull the lever for Joe Biden. If they can’t stomach Trump, perhaps they should consider Libertarian Jo Jorgenson



Leader McConnell: 'Full Steam Ahead' on Judge Barrett's Confirmation After POTUS Tests Positive for COVID-19

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated that the confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, will proceed as planned after President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

Judge Barrett tested negative for coronavirus, has not been in contact with President Trump since her nomination ceremony, and is following CDC guidelines, the White House said.

McConnell tweeted that Judge Barrett’s confirmation will proceed “full steam ahead,” and Graham said that the president is “very engaged” in the hearings ahead:




Attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse to sue Joe Biden for libel after campaign video labels his client a white supremacist (Disrn)

Wife of Boston Marathon hero said Biden touched her in "an inappropriate and uncomfortable way" (Washington Examiner)

Pope Francis denies audience with Mike Pompeo; the ever-politicking Vatican warns against playing politics over China (Reuters)

California's nanny-state governor signs corporate boardroom diversity law (Fox Business)

California task force will consider paying reparations for slavery (AP)

Disney lays off 28,000 employees (Disrn)

American and United to lay off 32,000 as airline aid talks drag on (Bloomberg)

Movie-industry group pleads for aid from Congress, warning "theaters may not survive" (MarketWatch)

Americans increasingly believe violence is justified if the other side wins (Politico)

Trump plans to slash refugee admissions to new low of 15,000 (Reuters)

Policy: How the administration is taking back the courts (The Daily Signal)

Policy: It's beyond time to reform the UN Human Rights Council (The Dispatch)


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


2 October, 2020

Australian scientists insist hydroxychloroquine COULD prevent people catching COVID-19 after giving the controversial drug to hundreds of health care workers

Australian scientists have vowed to continue investigating whether taking hydroxychloroquine can stop people becoming infected with coronavirus.

Researchers from the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne believe the drug could prevent people catching SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes COVID-19.

Hundreds of health workers in NSW and Victoria have been given the drug in the Institute's COVID SHIELD trial in an effort to try and determine its effectiveness as a prophylactic.

Hydroxychloroquine was brought to public attention when US President Donald Trump said he was using the malaria drug to 'protect' himself from coronavirus.

Prescriptions for the drug subsequently skyrocketed, before it was removed from major testing trials as it proved to be ineffective in reducing the impact of COVID-19.

Scientific journal The Lancet published and later retracted a study based on false data that claimed coronavirus cases taking hydroxychloroquine had an increased death rate.

COVID SHIELD co-lead investigator Marc Pelligrini said researchers were not considering the drug as a treatment, but as a preventative.

'The evidence that shows that the drug doesn’t particularly help with treatment really never deterred us because we always thought that ... if the drug did have a role in preventing people from getting COVID-19, it has to be even before they were exposed to SARS-CoV-2,' he told The Australian.

Test tube studies have found hydroxychloroquine can work to impede the replication of COVID-19 and discourage proliferation.

Claire Lobb is an emergency care nurse at The Alfred Hospital and among about 230 frontline healthcare workers signed up for the four-month trial.

'Hydroxychloroquine is a drug that is cheap and readily available, with very few side effects. If there is a chance this drug could help prevent frontline healthcare workers from getting COVID-19, I think it is important that we do a proper clinical trial to test it,' she said.

Ms Lobb said she was keen to be involved and excited at the prospect of finding out whether the drug was useful as a prophylactic.

'To have a drug that is cheap and widely available to reduce transmission of the virus to frontline healthcare workers would be really helpful, especially while we are waiting for a vaccine,' she said.

While the Australian researchers remain hopeful hydroxychloroquine could prevent COVID-19, a U.S. study found on Thursday the drug offers no protection.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found about 6.3 per cent of hospital workers who took the drug regularly caught the virus, compared to 6.6 per cent of people who didn't.

The effect, they said, was 'negligible' and although a slightly higher proportion of people without the drug became sick, it was not a big enough difference to suggest hydroxychloroquine worked.

Whether or not the medicine could help treat people who already had Covid-19 was not studied.



New CDC Coronavirus Survival Rates Torches the Democrats’ Lockdown Regime

I know a lot has happened recently. The 2020 election is entering its final stages. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18 at the age of 87, adding a SCOTUS fight to this cycle. It’s insanity. And yet, COVID is still around. Well, like any pathogen, it’s still around, but the panic porn has somewhat subsided. You drift further from the doom and gloom once you turn off MSNBC and CNN who weaponized this virus in an effort to better Joe Biden’s chances of winning the election. At the very least, panic and mayhem almost always impact a sitting administration to its detriment. Donald Trump has been heavily slammed by the fake news press, despite enacting an agenda that Joe Biden said he would do if elected. The only exception being a national mask mandate, which he stepped away from on constitutional grounds, and a new lockdown regime…if recommended by the experts.

You mean, the experts who worried about protesters wanting to re-open their businesses to feed their families but endorsed the mass protesting done by Black Lives Matter activists. Oh, and most of these devolved into outright rioting, but whatever, right? You can riot but can’t feed your family. Being outside is risky…unless you’re protesting in support of liberal causes. The virus is not transmissible le in that situation. That’s our medical expert class, a bunch of ‘woke’ quasi-Democrat operatives that spread fear porn 24/7 on these liberal networks. Well, a new CDC study on COVID survival rates just wrecked the Democrats’ lockdown protocols—and Joe Biden’s plans for a new national lockdown. Why? Well, because the survivability rate for almost everyone, even the elderly is 90+ percent.

And let’s not forget that Democrats are responsible for a lot of the US-based deaths with their nursing home policy. Yes, forcing these locations in which house our most vulnerable can end with deadly consequences and it has, with almost half of the US death toll being traced to these facilities. No other party has done more to increase the death rate and suffering than the Democratic Party. Also, those with co-morbidities are also vulnerable, as they are regarding any virus. People fighting cancer, history of lung infections, organ transplants, etc., have always been vulnerable. COVID is no different.

I’ll concede that a brief lockdown at the outset of this thing when we knew next to nothing might have been necessary just to keep cases down. Now, that’s not to say I’m not saying we know a whole lot now because we still don’t, but the market was sinking faster than the Andrea Doria and some form of government action usually stabilizes things. And then, Democrats decided to arbitrarily extend these lockdowns and establish a power-grabbing regime. Typical. It’s as expected and a consequence in areas we already knew were to be anti-freedom: blue states.

Some of us overreacted, yes. I raise my hand, but now it’s time to end this nonsense. Florida and Indiana are now fully open. It’s time everyone else does the same. For the healthy, in all age groups, it seems almost everyone recovers. Should people remain vigilant and be safe? Sure. Wash your hands and the like, but this virus and the fear that comes with it is over. No one wants to get COVID obviously, but let’s stop treating this thing like it’s some new virus a la The Andromeda Strain.

End the lockdowns. Also, to all the medical experts, your time is up. We’re done. Go away and learn to not be idiots when offering advice because a lot of what was shoveled into the media was straight-up ‘woke’ nonsense. No, racism isn’t as deadly as COVID, which was offered as a justification for why no one went 'COVID Karen' over the mass protests. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, another idiot, delayed opening schools but was going to allow daycares to open. That makes no sense. If anything, we saw why Democrats can’t govern.



AG Barr Is Making America Safe Again. Will He Get Credit for It?

For years, Democrats have gone to great lengths to punish Americans for exercising their Second Amendment rights while ignoring career criminals breaking the law and carrying out violent crimes with firearms.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into states across the country, successfully limiting the ability of law-abiding citizens to fight back against those who want to do them harm. Through his gun control lobbying organization, Everytown, Bloomberg has made it harder for women to defend themselves against domestic abusers, stalkers and easier for criminals to prey on the innocent. Everytown and other anti-rights groups conveniently target law-abiding citizens because it's easier and cowardly while they refuse to do the hard, dangerous work of going after violent criminals illegally using or possessing firearms.

Under the leadership and tenure of Attorney General Bill Barr, the Department of Justice has done the hard work to go after the criminals wreaking havoc in the streets. Through Operation Legend, which was implemented earlier this year, federal law enforcement agencies have aggressively gone after those who Barr and federal prosecutors call "the trigger pullers" and have taken hundreds of illegal firearms off of the streets. They're also going after those who knowingly and illegally sell guns to criminals.

"We've dedicated hundreds of the federal government's best investigators, analysts, fugitive trackers and other experts to work with our state and local colleagues in law enforcement here in Chicago to help get violent criminals off the streets and I am pleased to report Operation Legend is working. Crime is down and order is being restored to this great American city," Barr said during a press conference earlier this month.

These efforts have led to a substantial decrease in violence carried out by criminals using guns. In Chicago, the murder rate has been cut in half since July thanks to federal efforts to take bad guys off the streets. In total, Operation Legend has resulted in the arrests of 2000 individuals for serious crimes, 592 of them have been charged federally. Nearly 600 illegal firearms have been seized.

This is a substantial change from the previous administration. Under Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, federal prosecutions against those using firearms to carry out crimes plummeted. The result was more innocent victims and increased crime in America's most vulnerable communities.

"While President Obama decries gun violence and presses for more laws to restrict ownership, his Justice Department has prosecuted 25 percent fewer cases referred by the main law enforcement agency charged with reducing firearms violence across the country, a computer analysis of U.S. prosecution data shows," the Washington Times reported in 2014. "Federal prosecutors brought a total of 5,082 gun violation cases in 2013 recommended by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, compared with 6,791 during the last year of George W. Bush's presidency in 2008, according to data obtained from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys. The 2013 totals represent a 42 percent decline from the record number of 8,752 prosecutions of ATF cases brought by the Justice Department in 2004 under Mr. Bush, according to the data."

Barr is reducing gun violence by upholding the law and putting bad people in prison. Will he get credit for it?



Telemundo's Poll Offered Some Very Bad News for Joe Biden

This could hand the crucial swing state of Florida to Trump

Is it because he quasi-endorsed or didn’t push back as hard as he should against the far-left’s agenda during the primaries? Do they know he’s a weak sauce candidate? Or is it because his Hispanic outreach operation has been all-in-all total garbage? On the latter point, it might not be the case of bad outreach operations because the difference in preference regarding who won the first presidential debate is so large. It’s as vast as the Pacific Ocean.

While many noted how the first debate went off the rails between President Trump and Joe Biden, Hispanic voters overwhelmingly picked Trump as the winner. In fact, Trump crushed Biden 66/34 regarding who they think won the first duel. It goes in keeping with the polling data that Trump has been doing well with Latinos. You see this in Miami-Dade County, Florida, a key Democratic bastion, where Trump has been doing mighty fine with this voter bloc, causing some Democrats to worry. Well, I’m sure Telemundo’s poll didn’t neutralize those fears:

That's quite a trouncing.



Florida’s Governor Has Taken GIANT STEP Towards Taking Care Of Rioting Thugs!

Governors actually hold a great deal of power, it’s why they are the one person that can stop an execution from taking place.

With all of the rioting going on these past few months, it is about time someone does something about it.

The state of Florida is going to get tough on people who engage in violence during protests, Florida’s Republican governor said Monday in announcing new legislation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said his proposed legislation will impose felony-level penalties on anyone who damages property, causes injury or destroys public property during a protest.

“Recently in our country we have seen attacks on law enforcement, we’ve seen disorder and tumult in many cities,” DeSantis said.

Florida’s legislature won’t begin its annual 60-day session until March, so it’s somewhat unusual for the governor to announce a legislative proposal so far in advance. But DeSantis has the support of incoming Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson and House Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls, along with local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Democratic leaders criticized the measures as a ploy to help President Donald Trump’s re-election bid. Florida’s 29 electoral votes are a key to Trump’s re-election and polls show a tight race with former Vice President Joe Biden.



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


1 October, 2020

Australia: State Government funds research into ‘game changer’ in fight against COVID-19

Aussie scientists are on the verge of a major breakthrough in the fight to track and control coronavirus that could see a return to normal life.

A leading coronavirus expert in the UK has pointed to research showing children display a different set of COVID-19 symptoms to adults.

Researchers at Xing Technologies are developing an ultra-rapid coronavirus test that can detect whether a person is infected and contagious within moments.

The State Government has already invested $1.5 million into the project and the company has also received $1 million from the US Government.

The Courier Mail reports that trials for the test are already underway in the US.

Brisbane-based Xing Technologies CEO Tom Esplin told the newspaper that a rapid test could pave the way for a return to normal pre-COVID activities, including travel.

“People are saying we need a rapid point-of-care test to let people get on aeroplanes,” Mr Esplin said.

“We’d like to be able to offer it. The highest viral loads occur in the three days before you develop symptoms. This test is perfectly suited for those who’ve got the highest risk of spreading it.”

The test has been designed to use a nasal swab that those who have taken COVID-19 tests are familiar with.

A solution would then be applied to the swab to produce a rapid result.

The Today show reports the test “could be used to test people before they go into high risk areas” like “aged care facilities, shopping centres, planes and hospitals”.

Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones told the Courier Mail that funding the project through the Palaszczuk Government’s Industry Tech Fund was an important step in moving forward with the lingering threat of COVID-19.

“It could be a real game changer in the fight against this pandemic,” Ms Jones said.

The test could cost as little as a cup of coffee, 9 News reports.

There are hopes that it could be used in a spray to be applied to personal protective equipment like face shields and face masks.



Trump Still Building the Border Wall

In spite of Covid-19, the Trump administration is on track to hit its goal of building 450 miles of border wall by the end of this year. Currently, crews have built 341 miles and are averaging more than a mile-a-day of new wall. To date, they have used 509,000 tons of steel and 732,000 cubic yards of concrete to construct the wall.

Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, issued the following statement in reaction to the update:

“President Donald Trump continues to keep promises as 341 miles of new border security wall have been put up with the past three months averaging more than a mile a day. In spite of constant fighting with Democrats who opposed this basic measure, the Trump administration is on pace to hit its goal of building 450 miles of wall by the end of the year.

“Protecting America from illegal immigration, the free flow of drugs across the border, and the national security threats of the open border has been a priority which President Trump has fought tooth and nail to achieve. The President knows that you cannot have a secure America without a secure border and has expended massive amounts of political capital to keep this promise. No one can doubt that this President has been resolute in his determination to stop the flow of illegal traffic across our border, the same cannot be said of Joe Biden.

“The Obama-Biden administration built the cages and put children in them along the southern border. The Obama-Biden administration oversaw and encouraged the flooding of our southern border with illegal immigrants. The Obama-Biden administration gave lip-service to southern border security while allowing the few barriers along the border to fall into disrepair. President Trump has not only been busy building the wall, but because Mexico has begun cooperating with us and is now turning back illegal entrants, there has been a significant drop in the numbers of illegal entrants into our country.”

“What’s more, President Trump has cracked down on those who have used the legal VISA provisions under law to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor, in many cases forcing the displaced Americans to train their replacements.”



New Project Veritas Video: Voter Fraud in Ilhan Omar’s District

A Somali whistleblower working in the sheriff’s office helped O’Keefe record evidence of a cash-for-votes scheme.

A“ballot broker” boasts about keeping hundreds of absentee ballots in his car trunk. He brags about them being filled in by people other than the voters. Often, money changes hands. Witnesses tie the rampant fraud to the campaign chairman of a prominent member of the radical “squad” in the U.S. House. Loose election laws allow people to come from out of state, vote, and then leave again.

This activity is really happening in America in 2020, and it’s been captured on video by guerrilla filmmaker James O’Keefe. Some of it could be coming to swing states near you if something isn’t done.

A concerted effort is being made to use the coronavirus as an excuse to transform how we vote in elections by shifting to mail-in or absentee ballots. We are told that democracy will be improved if we allow ballots to be handled outside the scrutiny of election officials — and that there is almost no voter fraud, so what’s to worry about?

Trump Calls on U.S. Attorney to Investigate Reports of Illegal Ballot Harvesting by Ilhan Omar Supporters
FBI Investigating Whether Ilhan Omar Married Her Brother
Common sense and election observers argue against any sudden shift. “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” concluded the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter. Allowing such ballots “increases the risks of fraud and of contested elections.”

In 2012, a grand jury in Miami-Dade County warned about the risks of absentee voting: “Once that ballot is out of the hands of the elector, we have no idea what happens to it. The possibilities are numerous and scary.”

Omar Escobar, the Democratic district attorney of Starr County, Texas, says that in his area the abuse of elderly citizens for their absentee ballots is such that “the time has come to consider an alternative to mail-in voting . . . something that can’t be hijacked.”

Guerilla filmmaker James O’Keefe is famous for having busted institutions ranging from the fraudulent voter-registration group ACORN to NPR to Google. His Project Veritas team has also piled up an impressive array of videos documenting voter fraud and how easy it is to commit it.

Veritas reporters found that it was easy to vote using the name of a dead person in New Hampshire. They filmed a Greenpeace activist in Colorado boasting about how he could find ballots in trash cans that could be fraudulently mailed in. In North Carolina, political operatives encouraged Veritas representatives to vote even if they were not citizens. In 2016, Veritas cameras caught Alan Schulkin, Manhattan’s Democratic election commissioner, saying, “It’s absurd. There is a lot of fraud. Not just voter fraud, all kinds of fraud.” He explained, “They put [people] in a bus and go from poll site to poll site.” Schulkin was promptly fired for his candor by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

Now O’Keefe has trained his cameras on “ballot harvesting,” in which third parties collect mail-in ballots and deliver them to election officials. While illegal in some states, it is legal in California and other states. The individual collecting the ballots can even be a paid campaign worker for someone who is on the ballot. So-called ballot brokers will target certain communities, apartment complexes, or nursing homes to collect votes for their political party.

O’Keefe has uncovered what appears to be a massive ongoing voter-fraud scheme in Minneapolis. It is linked to the political machine of Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman from Minnesota’s fifth district (Minneapolis) and a close ally of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the U.S. House.

Omar was first elected in 2018 and quickly became a controversial figure, rebuked for her anti-Semitic remarks and accused of shady campaign spending and having committed immigration fraud by marrying her brother. In 2020, she was challenged by Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who promised to pay less attention to national progressive politics and who ran on the campaign slogan “Focused on the Fifth.” He was endorsed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board and former Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Armstrong.

Many people believe that Omar’s complete domination of the district’s politics is rooted in her machine’s ability to fool, seduce, or bribe members of her Somali community into committing voter fraud.

Minnesota law forbids anyone from “ballot harvesting” more than three ballots in an election. So why does Liban Mohamed, a “ballot broker,” boast about having 300 ballots in his car from the August primary, many of them blank and some opened? “Money is everything,” he laughs on the video. Activists describe how people receive cash when they hand their absentee ballot over so it can be filled out.

A. J. Awed, a Somali who was a losing candidate for city council in Minneapolis’s Ward 6, is shocked at the “corruption” he sees. He calls Omar’s machine “an alliance between [her] clan and the progressive Left.” A Somali political activist says the state’s Democratic Party knows all about the schemes. She describes how Somalis have long moved in from out of state and temporarily established residence and then voted on Election Day, with local campaign workers “vouching” for them. They then disappear and go back to their real homes and their normal lives. Now, with the loosening of mail-in ballot laws, cheating is even easier.

O’Keefe’s guide and facilitator in making these undercover videos is Omar Jamal. A Somali American, Jamal works for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and also runs the Somali Watchdog Group, which fights corruption by some of the community’s leaders.

O’Keefe’s sources say the practices that O’Keefe describes are organized by Ali (Isse) Gainey, Ilhan Omar’s deputy district director. Isse has served critical roles in Omar’s two successful congressional campaigns as the field organizer for her Minnesota House race and the outreach director for her first congressional campaign. Jamal says that Omar is “victimizing her own community and undermining election integrity.”

Nor is the corruption new. Phyllis Kahn, a Democratic state representative in Minneapolis for 44 years until Omar defeated her in 2016, has long complained about voter fraud tied to Omar’s machine; she believes that fraud contributed to her sudden defeat.

Nor is Kahn the only Democrat concerned that voter fraud exists and is seriously undermining our elections. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii Democrat who made a mild splash as a presidential candidate this year, has become a lead co-sponsor of a bill to withdraw federal election assistance from states that allow ballot harvesting. Her Republican counterpart on the Election Fraud Prevention Act is Illinois Republican Rodney Davis.

“Banning ballot harvesting is not a partisan issue . . . and it is ripe for fraud,” she says in a video. “It poses a serious threat to the integrity of our elections.”

Omar Jamal is even more blunt. “If American people don’t pay attention to what’s happening, soon the country will collapse,” he warns. “The rules and regulations, if you ignore that, and you let corruption and fraud become a daily business, then tough luck. The country will not exist as they know it.”




The Democrats' $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill is still likely too rich for GOP (Washington Examiner)

Senate Republicans eye Amy Coney Barrett floor vote at end of October, just days before election (Fox News)

Rules are for the little people: Senator Dianne Feinstein walks through an airport without a mask — just three months after she demanded a nationwide mask mandate (Daily Mail)

Biden's Texas political director implicated in massive mail-in ballot harvesting scheme in Harris County (American Greatness)

Minneapolis police say they will look into allegations of ballot harvesting connected to Ilhan Omar (The Post Millennial)

Next time someone tells you noncitizens don't vote in U.S. elections, tell them about Canadian Christine Chernosky (PJ Media)

Minneapolis plan to defund the police collapses; city council members "regret" making pledge (The Daily Wire)

Arizona cop stops at 3 a.m. to pick up fallen American flag (Disrn)

A military first: Supercarrier is named after Doris Miller, a heroic black sailor at Pearl Harbor (NPR)

Policy: Why American exceptionalism is different from other countries' "nationalisms" (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.

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