Friday, June 05, 2020

Violent protests may help Trump at the ballot box

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman is heartbreaking and traumatic to watch. If I hadn’t seen it, I would scarcely have believed it.

Apart from the sheer terror and inhumanity of this encounter, two other things are striking. Chauvin is aware people are filming him. That displays either un­believable arrogance or stupidity, or perhaps both.

And finally, for almost the whole time, Chauvin keeps his hand in his pocket — a kind of ­ostentatious, theatrical touch.

This theatricality helps explain why the killing has had an effect similar to an act of terrorism. The act itself was intensely evil, but it is also perfectly designed to transfix public attention in this media, and internet-dominated age.

Notwithstanding the riots and the demonstrations, at one level the death has united America. I have not heard a single voice in any part of the American debate that hasn’t condemned Chauvin’s actions. No one thinks this is justifiable­ or comes anywhere near a grey zone.

US President Donald Trump, for all the criticism his words and actions have provoked, has been as forthright as anyone in condemning the killing. Among many statements of this kind, Trump said that all Americans had been “rightly sickened and appalled by the brutal­ death of George Floyd”.

Where Trump has been critic­ised, however, is in his denunciations of the protesters who had broken various city curfews and the riots, looting, assaults and ­destructiveness of some of the subsequent demonstrations.

The US has seen more deadly race riots than the ones of the past week. In 1992 a jury acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of using excessive force after they had savagely beaten Rodney King, which was also caught on camera. In the riots after that, 63 people were killed.

But probably not since the 1960s has the US seen such widespread rioting connected with ­racial issues as it is seeing today.

At this point, civilised opinion diverges. Everyone is rightly horrified by the killing of Floyd. But there is a legitimate debate about how much it represents deep structural racism in the US, even in the nation’s police forces, and how much it was just a terrible action by a shocking individual.

In 2017, also in Minneapolis, Justine Damond Ruszczyk, an Australian, was shot and killed by policeman Mohamed Noor. She had rung the police about what she thought was a sexual assault happening behind her house. When she approached the police car, she was shot by Noor. As it happens, Diamond was white and Noor was black. I don’t think that had any relevance at all, and neither did anyone else. Although it was a tragic incident, it didn’t really reveal­ any wider cultural pattern. It wasn’t given wider significance. This is only relevant to suggest that not everything is racial.

The outrage at Floyd’s death is so overwhelming that surely ­anyone who is seen as crass and unsympathetic, as Trump has been, would suffer politically.

This is by no means certain. In fact, based on all the history, Trump is more likely to benefit in November’s election from the tough stance he has taken against the looters and rioters.

Trump declared: “I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order and an ally of all peaceful demonstrators.”

And, of course, he used a lot of tough language against rioters and looters. The longer civil disorder goes on, the more likely it is that Trump will gain some advantage from it at the election.

The comparison everyone makes is the 1968 election. Huge demonstrations and race riots in the months before the election, ­especially after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April that year, contributed, paradoxically, to Richard Nixon’s victory on a law-and-order platform. Not only that, there were demonstrations against Nixon all through his presidency, but he won re-election in a landslide in 1972.

Barack Obama was notable not only for being the first African-American president, but for being the first northern liberal to win the presidency for the Democrats since John F. Kennedy in 1960. From 1960 to 2008, 48 years, is a long time for liberals not to win.

The Democrats who won the presidency in that time — Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — were all southerners, and in the case of Carter and Clinton­ ran as religious and social conservatives. As governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton made a point of breaking off his early presidential campaign to return to Arkansas and oversee the execution­ of a convicted killer, incidenta­lly a black man, just to underline his support for the death penalty. Conversely, Michael Dukakis lost in 1988 to George HW Bush partly because Dukakis was portrayed as soft on crime as governor of Massachusetts.

In Australia, there is almost an iron law that the bigger the demonstration you get in the streets in support of your cause, the more heavily you will lose at the ballot box. John Howard’s decision to send troops to Iraq provoked some of the largest demonstrations in Australian history in protest. Howard increased his majority at the next election.

But the US electorate is more liberal than it was. That the Floyd killing came amid the roiling unemploymen­t and the setback to impoverished African-American communities brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, reinforces the feeling that the system is rigged against blacks.

But civil disorder, violence and street protests generally help parties­ of the centre-right. Nor can meaningful economic and social progress for blacks proceed on the basis that whites have collective guilt for shocking actions of partic­ular individuals.

Trump is often unseemly, but in focusing on law and order he may be saying things that Americans will increasingly want to hear.



Hormesis: The Word COVID-Warriors Don't Want Us to Learn

On November 30, 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were among thirteen whites massacred by Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu Mission, near present-day Walla Walla, Washington. This came about because, as the expression goes, certain facts were somewhat misunderstood.

Various tensions had arisen between the Indians and settlers, only to be made much worse when a measles epidemic broke out. About two hundred natives died of a disease that was mostly a nuisance among settlers. The Whitmans died because they were thought to have poisoned the natives with the disease.

White settlers didn’t have the “foolproof vaccine” that Pennsylvania Governor Wolf demands before re-opening his state. What they did have was a very effective lifetime of casual exposure. Most people were exposed in their childhood. They got a minor illness, recovered and became immune.

Since most of the public believed illnesses were just part of life, little effort was made to avoid them. Many people got sick. Most recovered and became immune. But when an adult with a mild case passed through Waiilatpu, the result was “COVID-19.” White settlers had herd immunity that limited measles to a minor illness. Cochise Indians had none.

There’s another group with immunity. Some people get infected but don’t get sick. That’s right, there’s a big difference between getting infected and getting sick. Jeffrey Singer MD, describes how he chanced to be tested for SARS CoV-2. To his great surprise, he had antibodies, even though he hadn’t been sick for a single day since “COVID-19” entered the language. To make life more interesting, his wife was negative. He got infected, became immune, and probably didn’t pass the bug on to anyone.

Dr. Singer demonstrates how such immunity spreads. Most people don’t get enough exposure to get sick. But even at lower exposures, they develop immunity. And this brings us to the word of the day: Hormesis.

“In the fields of biology and medicine hormesis is defined as an adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate (usually intermittent) stress. Examples include ischemic preconditioning, exercise, dietary energy restriction and exposures to low doses of certain phytochemicals.”

On the street this might be expressed as, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Your body has a host of defense mechanisms. But if they aren’t exercised, they atrophy, just like your muscles. So at low levels of exposure, your defenses perk up. “There’s something bad here!” Defenses ramp up and repairs get going. Those low levels of carcinogens in your diet just improved your health. And that improvement continues until the biological insults become overwhelming. Then disease takes over.

As you might imagine, there are dozens of examples. Many people are afraid that diagnostic x-rays will increase their risk of cancer. But multiple studies show that the low level of radiation in diagnostic x-rays may actually reduce the risk of cancer. If radiation breaks a DNA strand, repair enzymes fix it, and the body makes more of the enzymes to get ready for a bigger challenge.

The same applies to infections. If you are exposed to low doses of virus, your body defends against it, making more antibodies to protect against a bigger threat. This is what happened to Dr. Singer. He was exposed and infected, but the infection simply wasn’t enough to make him sick. Instead, it made him stronger by turning his immune system on. As long as a person isn’t exposed to overwhelming numbers of virus particles, turning on their immune responses makes them healthier. They will make antibodies and increase their immunity. It’s only when the insult it massive that they head for the bottom side of the daisies.

Vaccination is alleged to be the way we will get herd immunity. But we haven’t been able to make vaccines for any coronaviruses. Not SARS, not MERS, and not the common cold. HIV has no vaccine, and neither does Ebola. Even our influenza vaccines are based on guesses. But we don’t die out because we develop herd immunity through casual exposure.

That’s right. It is essential to public health for large numbers of people to get exposed to low doses of SARS CoV-2. As immunity spreads, illness will stop spreading. It will become part of the background of disease risks we live with daily. But as long as we do paranoid social distancing, trying to “prevent the spread of the disease,” we can’t develop herd immunity. All those useless masks just make us look stupid and may even increase our risk. If you’re under 60 without bad diseases, you should be back in public. Your chance of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 is almost nil.

“Hormesis” needs to be understood as the answer to the pandemic. The incalculable financial and medical damage the lockdowns are causing have done us no good. They have kept us from taking advantage of the natural defense mechanisms our Creator built into us. The lockdown is making us worse. It’s time to stop committing mass suicide.




"Not stopping": Defiant New York City protesters march through curfew (AP)

Rioters lit house on fire that had child inside — then blocked firefighters (Law Enforcement Today)

South Philadelphia gun-shop owner shoots, kills looter (NBC Philadelphia)

Black retired police captain shot to death at St. Louis pawn shop in slaying caught on Facebook Live (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Sacramento Kings announcer Grant Napear out following "All Lives Matter" tweet (Fox News)

Elderly black woman slams looters for wrecking small business: "You needed money? Get a job!" (Fox News)

Minnesota Human Rights Department launches probe into Minneapolis police (StarTribune)

Minneapolis school board votes to end contract with police (Fox News)

George W. Bush — who was unfairly panned as a racist while president — calls out racial injustices and celebrates protesters who "march for a better future" (The Washington Post)

Political theater: Joe Biden to attend George Floyd funeral (The Hill)

Good riddance: Inflammatory Rep. Steve King ousted on historic primary night (Politico)

Coronavirus will cost the economy nearly $8 trillion, Congressional Budget Office says (CNBC)

Thanks, Caption Obvious: China delayed releasing coronavirus info, supposedly "frustrating" WHO (AP)

U.S. to send two million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil (UPI)

Wuhan doctor at whistleblower's hospital dies from coronavirus (AFP)

SpaceX to follow historic astronaut mission with yet another launch (CNET)

Economic destruction from riots and looting will hit minorities hardest (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Why abusive cops so often keep their jobs (Mises Institute)

Policy: Yes, Trump can use military to quell spreading riots — and he should if states and cities fail to do the job (Issues & Insights)


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

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