Saturday, April 11, 2020


Meet the former NYT reporter who is challenging the coronavirus narrative

As daily life across America is upended by the coronavirus crisis -- with mass business closures plunging the economy into freefall -- one former New York Times reporter is sounding the alarm about what he believes are flawed models dictating the aggressive strategy.

Alex Berenson has been analyzing the data on the crisis on a daily basis for weeks and has come to the conclusion that the strategy of shutting down entire sectors of the economy is based on modeling that doesn’t line up with the realities of the virus.

"The response we have taken has caused enormous societal devastation, I don't think that's too strong a word," he told Fox News in an interview Thursday.

Berenson is a former reporter who worked for the Times from 1999 to 2010 primarily covering the pharmaceutical industry. He recently came to prominence again with a book, “Tell Your Children The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence,” which challenged prevailing narratives on marijuana.

In the face of a broadening consensus on both the left and the libertarian right that sees marijuana as mostly healthy and even a positive in some circumstances, Berenson argued that the evidence instead shows a link between the drug and serious mental illness and an epidemic of violence.

Now he’s turned to challenging the narratives on the response to the coronavirus. What Berenson is promoting isn’t coronavirus denialism, or conspiracy theories about plots to curb liberties. Instead what Berenson is claiming is simple: the models guiding the response were wrong and that it is becoming clearer by the day.

"In February I was worried about the virus. By mid-March I was more scared about the economy. But now I’m starting to get genuinely nervous," he tweeted this week. "This isn’t complicated. The models don’t work. The hospitals are empty. WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT INDEFINITE LOCKDOWNS?"

Hospitals, of course, are not empty in places like hard-hit New York City, and tales are widespread of overburdened doctors and emergency rooms. Berenson acknowledged as much in the interview Thursday.

Concerns that this virus is significantly more contagious and deadly than any ordinary flu strain are what's driving the current government approach, in America and around the world. Perhaps due in part to more testing, America reports the highest number of cases in the world right now, with more than 430,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths. Symptoms vary widely, with some patients reporting only minor discomfort yet others dealing with crushing physical pain and struggling to breathe, forced to go on ventilators.

But Berenson is taking a broader look. He initially challenged the model put forward by the Imperial College in London, when one of the authors of the models appeared to significantly walk back projections that the U.K. would see 500,000 people killed by the disease to closer to 20,000 -- although the author later said that the 500,000 prediction was without social distancing measures, and 20,000 was with them in place. That model is being used to advise the U.K. government on its strategy for the virus.

“That was March 22 or 23, and ever since then I’ve been paying incredibly close attention to the modeling and trying to figure out whether it lines up with what we’re seeing in reality -- and the answer is it hasn’t lined up at all," he said.

Recently he’s been focusing on discrepancies within the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model. That model has come under renewed scrutiny as it has revised its metrics multiple times. It once predicted more than 90,000 deaths by August but recently issued a new estimate that has the figure closer to 60,000. Government officials say it's a model that's moving with what the country is doing.

"We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary," Dr. Deborah Birx said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday. "I know many of you are watching the Act Now model and the IHME model— and they have consistently decreased the number, the mortality from over almost 90,000 or 86,000, down to 81,000 and now down to 61,000. That is modeled on what America is doing. That’s what’s happening."

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the indicators are that social distancing efforts are working: "Because remember, what you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models, depending upon your data, and our data is telling us that mitigation is working."

But Berenson argues that those models have social distancing and other measures baked into them. As for further proof, he says that outside of places like New York there has not been a national health crisis that was predicted -- nor are there signs that the level of lockdown in various states has made a difference.

“Aside from New York, nationally there’s been no health system crisis. In fact, to be truly correct there has been a health system crisis, but the crisis is that the hospitals are empty,” he said. “This is true in Florida where the lockdown was late, this is true in southern California where the lockdown was early, it's true in Oklahoma where there is no statewide lockdown. There doesn't seem to be any correlation between the lockdown and whether or not the epidemic has spread wide and fast.”

He has also argued, in lengthy Twitter threads, that the drop in cases seen in various states has come before lockdowns would have had an impact -- since it takes a few weeks for social distancing measures to take effect due to the window between infection and symptoms.

Berenson blames the models for a response that has effectively shut down large sectors of the economy and is causing significant financial harm to Americans. On Thursday it was announced that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits swelled to 6.6 million last week, surging for the third consecutive week. Congress has sought to alleviate the pain by boosting those jobless benefits.

His is a view that has seen some sympathy from President Trump, who has spoken about the "cure being worse than the problem" and has indicated that he is keen to end the strict measures as soon as is possible -- saying Wednesday he wants to re-open the economy with a "big bang."

Berenson says the correct response in the initial days of the crisis would not have been to do nothing, but instead to adopt a more measured and targeted approach.

“There was incredible pressure to do something ... so these lockdowns all cascaded, every governor tried to outdo the next. And no one stopped and said ‘OK what about Japan, they don't seem to have a terrible epidemic, they wear masks, maybe we should wear masks,” he said.

He said other measures such as protecting individuals particularly at risk, and even things such as banning large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events could have been appropriate. But now he fears it may be too late for officials to say they overreacted.

“Now we’re in a bad spot because there’s clearly a dangerous political dynamic right now -- the economy is in freefall, a lot of people are hurting. If we acknowledge what is clearly happening ... the people who made these decisions, I think there’s going to be a lot of anger at them, so they don't want to acknowledge it, so they say 'oh it's the lockdown that saved us,'” he says.

Berenson is not a known partisan. His Twitter feed and other works contain few references to specific politicians, and there’s no indication that he’s in this to bash or defend Trump or either political party. But he noted that, like with his conclusions on marijuana, there has been a distinct lack of interest from the left.

“I went to Yale and I worked for the New York Times, the people on the left hold themselves out as being science-driven, as being smarter, they think they're smarter but they won’t look at facts that won’t meet their narratives,” he said.

He voiced frustration that these arguments have been ignored by a lot of mainstream outlets.

“That is frustrating for me ... but everyone needs to hear this counterargument, whether or not it's right, you need to hear it because the damage we are doing to ourselves right now is so enormous.”

SOURCE 

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Authoritarianism on full display amid the lockdowns

We are going to have to begin today’s Morning Briefing with a preemptive strike/disclaimer sort of thing. I have been writing a lot in the last month about being cautious and responsible while fighting the spread of the virus. I’ve been sticking to the rules and being more isolated than I usually am. Still, I’ve occasionally expressed my wish that we had a clearer endgame and I’ve also mentioned some worries about various petty tyrants using this crisis to turn the Constitution into the toilet paper so many people need right now.

My approach is prudent, my concerns valid.

Every time I attempt to explain that, however, somebody pipes up about me not understanding the gravity of the situation.

I write this from the bottom of my heart as an early response to the first person who wants to pipe up this morning: I’ve been out of my house a total of five times since March 7th, so shut it. I’m taking everything plenty seriously.

Glad we had that talk.

Now let us move on to my disdain for the overreaction of the petty tyrants, like the ones who arrested a man for playing in a park with his six-year-old daughter and wife while trying to comply with social distancing rules.

Sure, the bosses of the petty tyrants let the guy go, but he was still hauled away in handcuffs in front of his family by the local Idiot KGB.

In the more dystopian 21st-century department, a New Jersey city is sending out drones to get all up in the business of the local social distance scofflaws.

Do we all feel safer with our airborne overlords watching over us?

Reiterating: I'M GLAD WE'RE FIGHTING THIS.

A little less totalitarian glee wouldn't be a bad thing, however. That's all I'm saying.

But hey, on the bright side, some of the more heavy-handed municipalities are finding a way to profit off of all of the anxiety and fear:

Manhattan Beach is cracking down on those violating city's physical distancing guidelines. Since zero tolerance policy went into effect last week, officers have issued 129 citations. They say violators can face $1,000 fine

Don't worry kids, the police are assuring us that none of this is reminiscent of a police state.

One of the worst of the petty tyrants has been Eric Garcetti, the mayor of my longtime city of residence, Los Angeles. It's quite obvious that he's relishing his authoritarian turn in the spotlight. He gave everything a Soviet flare last week when he encouraged the citizens of the City of Angels to snitch on neighbors who aren't obeying lockdown rules.

Not creepy at all.

Here in Arizona, we've been told to both stay at home but get outside and breathe some fresh air, as long as we maintain proper social distancing. It seems to be working so far.

Granted, we are quite spread out here in the Southwest -- even in the cities -- so distancing is easier.

My point, however, is that we’re keeping our distance without the threat of arrest from the state. Sure, people from state-to-state are different, but I maintain that human nature tends to react badly to threats, especially when that human nature is also American nature.

We have already been told this week to expect death tolls here in the U.S. that are far lower than originally predicted because we’ve been heeding the social distancing suggestions. Most places haven’t gone full Eric Garcetti while exhorting citizens to remain at home and/or away from each other. We’re still making it work though.

There is a very real possibility that we could have pulled this off without the Eric Garcetti and Gavin Newsom types fetishizing their political authority.

Just sayin'.

SOURCE 

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IN BRIEF

CDC loosens guidelines for some exposed to virus to return to work (NBC News)

CDC releases early demographic snapshot of worst cases, which skew toward those with underlying conditions, men, and African Americans (The New York Times)

Over 300,000 people have recovered from coronavirus around the world (Newsweek)

Ninety percent of federal PPE stockpile depleted amid pandemic (National Review)

A cumulative 16 million and counting: Weekly unemployment claims swell another 6.6 million (Fox Business)

Americans could start receiving relief checks starting today (USA Today)

Regulatory state: Thirty regulations that stymied Trump's virus response (Washington Examiner)

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

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

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Coronavirus questions that the media slide over

ANN COULTER

It’s probably a coincidence, but I notice that as businesses go under, jobs are lost, careers are ended and trillions of dollars are drained from the economy, the people most avidly pushing the coronavirus panic are doing quite well.

No politician or government official has taken a salary cut. To the contrary, dusty bureaucrats now find the entire country transfixed by their every utterance. Cable news hosts still make millions of dollars -- and now they get to work from home!

Annoyingly, though, journalists can’t seem to relay the basic elements of a news story: who, what, where and why.

First, who’s dying? It appears to be mostly the old, people with specific medical conditions and vapers.

To be sure, that’s not as important as daily updates on Chris Cuomo’s personal battle with the coronavirus, but it might be kind of important to the 17 million Americans who’ve been thrown out of work, many of whom are not elderly, immunocompromised or vapers.

Second, the “what.” What exactly constitutes a “coronavirus death”?

It turns out a person with Stage 4 lung cancer and a bullet through the heart will be counted as a “coronavirus death” if he also tested positive for the disease, OR merely exhibited symptoms associated with it (symptoms that are coextensive with the flu and pneumonia).

We’re told that, if anything, coronavirus deaths are being undercounted because the numbers don’t include those who die of it at home.

If so, then the death count also excludes those who die at home of other things, like heart attacks and poisonings. Many of these people might have survived -- except they were too scared to go to a hospital or couldn't find an EMT to take them there, per current edicts.

The “where” is: Where did the virus originate, and where did it first land in this country?

Despite the media’s best efforts -- DON’T CALL IT THE “CHINESE VIRUS”! -- people know that the virus began at a wet market in China.

But where did it start in this country? Washington state was the site of our very first case. Washington state is also 9.3% Asian. Even now, it has eight times more coronavirus cases per capita than neighboring Oregon (4.8% Asian).

Could it be that Chinese-Americans have more contact with the epicenter of this plague than other Americans? As the left always lectures us, BELIEVE THE SCIENCE!

The virus next leapt to New York (9% Asian) and New Jersey (10% Asian). The worst-hit borough of Manhattan is Queens. Guess which borough has the most Asians? Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is the worst-hit hospital in the nation. Elmhurst neighborhood: 50% Asian.

Notice a pattern? While it’s true that “viruses don’t have nationalities!” -- and thank you very much for pointing that out, media! -- the carriers of viruses do have nationalities.

Arguably, Trump had a reason to shut down travel from China other than “hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering", as Joe Biden claimed in a tweet on Feb. 1.

Of course, once it’s here, it’s here and can spread all over. Still, compare New York and New Jersey to, say, Montana and West Virginia.

Chinese virus deaths, so far, by population:

-- New York (9% Asian): 29 per 100,000

-- New Jersey (10% Asian): 13 per 100,000

-- Montana (0.9% Asian): 0.6 per 100,000

-- West Virginia (0.8% Asian): 0.2 per 100,000

Then there’s California, which alone among the four states with the highest Asian populations has relatively few coronavirus cases, probably due to its warm climate and little public transportation, among other things. In those respects, California is a lot like Texas -- which has about a third as many Asians and also about half as many coronavirus deaths (1.1 per 100,000 in California, compared to 0.71 per 100,000 in Texas).

MEDIA: Oh, why does it matter?

OK, OK, you’re right. But isn’t the prevalence of the coronavirus in states with high Asian populations at least as interesting as this recent article in The New York Times magazine?

Story summary:

Man with severe asthma gets coronavirus, has low-grade fever for approximately 10 days with muscle pain, nausea and fatigue, develops walking pneumonia per X-ray (no clinical evidence) ...

Recovers.

The End.

Finally, why? Why do we have to deal with this virus at all?

The media would prefer if you would stop asking this question, but Americans who didn’t have to die are dead because of Wall Street’s decision to merge our economy with the Chinese, who have unusual eating habits.

The Chinese eat wolf pups. But eating dog wasn’t weird enough. It didn’t give them a frisson of freakishness. They also eat bats, snakes and chicken testicles.

Husband: Oh, honey, golden retriever again?

[Kids groan]

Mom: Not tonight! For a special treat, we're having chicken testicles!

Kids: Aw, you're the best mom ever!

Tigers and rhinos are the most endangered species on Earth because Chinese people think rhinoceros horns and tiger penises can cure impotence. The Caspian, Bali and Javan tigers are already extinct because of this charming folk remedy.

Recently added to the endangered species list is the cute, cartoonish pangolin, the most trafficked animal is the world. Unfortunately, the pangolin’s scales are believed to cure any number of ailments, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Where’s PETA?

The media are too busy covering for China. At least the Chinese aren’t white.

Although, it occurs to me that, despite America’s terrible toxic whiteness, one way our culture is superior to others is that we don’t believe lunatic nonsense that wipes out entire species or launches viral pandemics on the world.

Now back to Chris Cuomo’s riveting battle with the coronavirus.

SOURCE 
http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2020-04-08.html

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Curve Ball: The Worst-Case COVID-19 Scenario Was Just Dramatically Cut by Modelers

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle has just revised down its COVID-19 worst-case scenarios for the country.

One of the projected next hotspots, California, is projected to need only half the ICU beds, ventilators and critical hospital equipment than originally predicted because there will be many fewer COVID-19 cases, according to IMHE. All of the state's supplies are on hand, according to the survey.

IMHE has revised down the number of expected COVID-19 deaths from 6,100 to 1,783 in California.

The state's peak for the worst number of deaths originally was expected to be at the end of April; now it appears it will be mid-April.

While the modeling has been updated daily since being published, the latest numbers reveal a somewhat dramatic shift from just six days ago — the reflection of “a massive infusion of new data,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the institute’s director, said in a news release.

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said.

Across the U.S., there will also be less of a need for hospital and ICU beds to deal with the outbreak than earlier figures showed, according to the institute. But there will still be an estimated shortage of roughly 36,654 hospital beds, including 16,323 ICU beds.

The nation's peak of deaths from COVID-19 is expected on April 16th with a projected 3,130 deaths.

The effort everyone has made to socially distance to flatten the curve is working. We'll see if the economic devastation the country has suffered in service to this has been worth it or a historical curveball.

SOURCE 

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IN BRIEF

After 76 days in lockdown, the Chinese city at the heart of the global pandemic reopened Wednesday and tens of thousands immediately hopped on trains and planes to leave (AP)

New York virus deaths hit new high, but hospitalizations slow (The New York Times)

NYC data: Vast majority who have died from COVID-19 had serious underlying conditions (The Daily Wire)

On top of being a bureaucratic train wreck, $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program wasn't enough, Congress says, racing to send billions more to small businesses (Politico)

"We have a lot of IGs in from the Obama era": Trump removes inspector general who was to oversee $2 trillion relief spending (The Washington Post)

An awkward, experimental Democrat primary in Wisconsin (Washington Examiner)

Trump says U.S. may put a "very powerful hold" on funding to communist-supporting World Health Organization (Fox News)

Instead of helping workers on furlough, leftist groups spend more than $20 million attacking Trump, GOP on coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigns after suggesting ousted captain was "stupid" for writing letter (National Review)

How many more evaded inspectors? Border Patrol stopped a Chinese biologist carrying viable SARS, MERS viruses at Detroit airport in 2018 (National Review)

The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping border-wall construction (The Daily Caller)

For the record: China's long tentacles extend deep into American media (The American Conservative)

Enabling the lawbreakers: Chicago mayor signs executive order to ensure illegal immigrants can access relief funds (National Review)

Why weren't they replaced? Michael Bloomberg's emergency ventilator stockpile in New York City ended up on the auction block (ProPublica)

Larry Kudlow: We're looking to open economy in four to eight weeks (The Daily Wire)

Getting out of Dodge: New data shows U.S. companies are definitely leaving China (Forbes)

Observations: "There isn't much point in trying to talk rationally to a guy in an asylum who thinks he is Napoleon. Likewise, there probably isn't much point in trying to talk rationally to a Democratic politician or activist in 2020 America." —John Hinderaker

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

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

**************************


Thursday, April 09, 2020

Drug Is Safe and Sometimes Works, Let All COVID-19 Patients Take It

In mid-March a Palo Alto, California, woman’s COVID-19 worsened to pneumonia while being treated at Stanford Hospital. She had already suffered from asthma and diabetes.

In a trial, doctors decided to give her the drug remdesivir, which has been well established as safe and used to treat Ebola. It worked; she’s now home recovering wonderfully.

The outstanding question is: Is it helpful for COVID-19? The answer is: Yes, at least for some coronavirus victims.

So why not let the drug be given to all COVID-19 patients rather than just in trials, as was the case with the Palo Alto woman’s trial? They have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The drug sometimes cures pneumonia and possibly prevents it in the first place.

Governmental medical science, tragically, does not work this way. The Food and Drug Administration requires that, before a drug can be prescribed, it must clear three sets of clinical trials to prove that it is safe and effective; that usually takes a year.

COVID-19 patients usually have anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to live or die. Why can’t patients with the coronavirus take remdesivir to see if it helps?FDA approval for efficacy is largely pointless.

I learned of this sad FDA policy the hard way. I was on the board of the Abigail Alliance that sued the FDA when a terminal cancer patient was denied the right to experimental drugs even though the FDA had found the them clinically safe and promising.

Our argument was that if we have a constitutional right to defend ourselves against an attacker, why can’t we have that same right of self-defense when the attacker is cancer? I based this logic on my own wife’s experience: she had terminal lung cancer and was given an experimental drug that extended her life and eliminated her chronic pain.

Our case was heard in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on August 7, 2007. We lost and would likely lose today because the FDA still mandates three clinical trials to prove drugs safe and effective.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases cites frequently the necessity of this three-clinical-trial process referring to any other drug cure of the coronavirus as merely “anecdotal.”

Judge Judith Rogers supported our case and pointed out a cruel irony: In rejecting our appeal to extend cancer patients’ lives, said the judge, “the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life.”

Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg also supported our case. He argued: Do we have a constitutional “right to eat meat” when the Constitution is silent on the matter?

It is silent on drugs, which does not mean that we can’t take them. It is a right we are given by the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

It is tragic that a patient with COVID-19 and pneumonia or difficulty breathing cannot be given the remdesivir, which is safe and, in some cases, effective.

It sent the Palo Alto woman home rather than to the morgue.

SOURCE 

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Coronavirus Deaths Will Be 'Much, Much, Much Lower' Than Predicted Models, Says Head of CDC

In the ever-changing contradictory nature of information during the pandemic age, the head of the CDC, Robert Redfield, told listeners of Arizona's 1030 KVOI radio he believes there's good news ahead. Redfield said the death toll from the Chinese COVID-19 will be "much, much, much lower" than the models have predicted. “If we just social distance, we will see this virus and this outbreak basically decline, decline, decline. And I think that's what you're seeing,” he said.

The models the White House is using projected the deaths of between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. Redfield says models aren't the end of the story. "Models are only as good as their assumptions, obviously there are a lot of unknowns about the virus,” he said. “A model should never be used to assume that we have a number.”

He continued to praise the American people for taking the social distancing seriously, saying, "I think that's the direct consequence of why you're seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models."

Redfield has vociferously approved of the social distancing measures taken by the federal and local governments.

SOURCE 

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Dem Lawmaker in Detroit Says Hydroxychloroquine and Trump Helped Save Her Life

State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Detroit Democrat, tested positive for the coronavirus last month. Now, she's crediting hydroxychloroquine and Donald Trump with saving her life.

President Trump has been touting hydroxychloroquine as a potential game-changer since mid-March after small studies showed it potentially served as an effective treatment for coronavirus patients. “I feel good about it. Just a feeling. I am a smart guy, we’ll see soon enough and we have certainly big samples of people,” Trump said at the time. The media was quick to pounce on Dr. Anthony Fauci's reluctance to fully endorse the drug because there had not been a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus yet. Hydroxychloroquine has long been approved by the FDA as an antimalarial drug.

Whitsett was prescribed hydroxychloroquine, and she said she felt relief from her symptoms in less than two hours. She had experienced shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, and what felt like a sinus infection.

Boston Globe Editorial Board Claims Trump Has 'Blood on His Hands'
Whitsett had been aware of  "the wonders" of hydroxychloroquine after a previous Lyme disease affliction, but, the Detroit Free Press reports, "does not believe she would have thought to ask for it, or her doctor would have prescribed it, had Trump not been touting it as a possible treatment for COVID-19." Whitsett says she's been taking the drug in combination with antibiotics.

"It has a lot to do with the president ... bringing it up," Whitsett said. "He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority."

When asked by the Detroit Free Press whether she thinks Trump may have saved her life, she replied. "Yes, I do," and "I do thank him for that."

President Trump responded to the story on Monday, "Congratulations to State Representative Karen Whitsett of Michigan. So glad you are getting better!"

The media has desperately tried to undercut Trump's positive message about hydroxychloroquine's potential as a treatment for the coronavirus, calling it "unproven" and claiming there's "no proof" that it works. The New York Times even alleged that Trump's motivation for touting the drug was self-serving because he holds “a small personal financial interest” in Sanofi, the company that makes a brand name version of hydroxychloroquine, even though the drug's patent is expired and any pharmaceutical company can manufacture their own generic versions of it. Even New York governor Andrew Cuomo conceded that “There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising."

SOURCE 

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Setting a 'D-Day' to Restart the American Economy

 

Much is being said these days about how the two-week period of April 5-19 is expected to experience a peak in coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths. This prediction applies to the city of New York as well as certain other cities and areas of the United States.

Concurrent with the above time period and continuing thereafter, the nationwide supplies of essential face masks, protective clothing, ventilators, protective gloves, and other needed medical supplies to combat the virus are exponentially mushrooming. As of the last week in April, there should be little or no scarcity of the above items to treat dangerously infected Americans, no matter where they live. Furthermore, by the end of April, one or more therapies will most likely receive greater approval as effective treatments against COVID-19.

It is well known that the president and state governors have a delicate balancing challenge. On the one hand, they must consider COVID-19 death rates. On the other hand, they must consider the ongoing tremendous damage and harm being done to the mental and physical health of millions of Americans who have suddenly lost jobs, lost savings, become bankrupt, or otherwise are experiencing severe mental anxiety, hopelessness, and/or depression.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far rightfully have concentrated on the number of people infected, recoveries, and deaths. Largely overlooked, however, are predictions that the ultimate death toll from the pandemic could be higher due to job losses, bankruptcies, lost savings, and containment/mitigation efforts than from the actual virus itself.

It is well established that unemployed individuals often suffer from loss of self-esteem and a sense of shame, humiliation, or despair. They may suffer from hopelessness, depression, and social isolation, which are all serious risk factors for suicide.

Given the above, this article suggests that in order to establish a degree of certainty, and absent any further catastrophic event(s), President Trump and his administration should designate a day in May as the target day — D-Day, if you will — for America’s $22 trillion economy to be “back in business.” A possible date to consider is May 12, which happens to be the 75th anniversary celebration of the allied victory over Nazi Germany in Europe.

In taking this action, the president will, of course, need to defer actual implementation to the governors of the 50 states according to their own assessments of their containment, mitigation, and recovery efforts in their respective states. But the president can set an example by, among other things, authorizing the opening of federal buildings and other facilities and services under his control.

The president’s decision and recommendation for when people should return to their jobs is similar in at least one important aspect to the decision General Dwight Eisenhower had to make concerning the launching of the Normandy invasion in June 1944. Both decisions revolve around life-and-death issues. Eisenhower knew that the allied death rate could be very high (many tens of thousands) if the invasion was unsuccessful, whereas President Trump understands that the number of COVID-19 deaths could be in the many hundreds of thousands if he acts too early or, conversely, too late. As with Eisenhower, President Trump ultimately must make his decision for all Americans, not just those who unfortunately happen to be directly in harm’s way.

No doubt many will say that the president is “between a rock and a hard place.” He will be criticized no matter when he eventually recommends that people return to their jobs even with the understanding that critical mitigation actions need to be maintained for the foreseeable future such as frequently washing hands, not touching one’s face, and maintaining a safe distance from another person.

Thus, Mr. President, please work with the state governors and push for the American economy largely to be “back in business” during May 2020. This senior citizen is more than willing to take responsibility for my own personal COVID-19 mitigation actions, as I am sure many others like me will do the same. Get the economy rolling again — soon.

SOURCE 

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IN  BRIEF

The steep rise in coronavirus deaths appeared to be leveling off Monday in hard-hit New York (AP)

Austria and Denmark are first in Europe to announce easing of lockdowns (The Washington Post)

Researchers lower fatality projections in model used by White House (The Daily Caller)

Trump approves USNS Comfort to treat New York patients (UPI)

Communist sympathizers at WHO demand abortion be considered "essential" healthcare services during pandemic (The Daily Wire)

Trump nominates White House lawyer Brian Miller to serve as Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (The Daily Caller)

Pelosi says next stimulus boondoggle will be $1 trillion or more (Bloomberg)

"I appreciate his calling": Trump says he and Biden had a "warm conversation" about coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

Trump asks reporter if she's working for the Chinese government after pro-Beijing questions. Sure enough, her agency is a front for the CCP. (The Daily Caller)

Bring back Scott Walker: Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns governor's gamesmanship, orders Tuesday elections to proceed (Politico)

Hillary Clinton can't duck out of Benghazi testimony by citing official privilege, State Department says (PJ Media)

"He made a mistake": Trump urges Navy not to "destroy" captain who wrote coronavirus letter (Washington Examiner)

Rise in searches for "How to set fire" a sign insurance fraud beckons as economy crashes (Washington Examiner)

Auto insurers rightfully refunding millions due to stay-at-home policies (Fox News)

District court upholds closing of Los Angeles-area gun shops (The Volokh Conspiracy)

Policy: How the Left is trying to blame capitalism for COVID-19 deaths (Mises Institute)

Satire: The Bidens still don't know how many grandchildren they have (The Washington Free Beacon)

For the record: "More people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year." —U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams

Food for thought: "Our national media is ROOTING for hydroxycloroquine to not work as a treatment for #Covid_19. Think about that." —Matt Mackowiak

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

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

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Wednesday, April 08, 2020


The End of America?

BY PHILIP CARL SALZMAN.  "Salty" Phil is a Canadian anthroplogist so knows about how societies evolve

How do societies and cultures end? What causes the death of societies and cultures? It is not always the obvious threats.

Today we are struggling with the coronavirus which has unfortunately sickened many and killed some Americans. The deaths are tragic, but so are the many Americans who die annually from the flu, from cancer, and from auto and industrial accidents. The death rate from the coronavirus will be low, far below any existential threat to American demography.

In order to fight and contain the expansion of the virus, we have suspended much of the American economy. That has led to a major loss of jobs, a serious threat to business, and destructive pressure on individuals and families, leading in some cases to abuse, breakdowns, and suicides. But the economy has been put on hold, not destroyed, and financial support from the government will go some way toward preserving jobs and companies, as well as individual and family budgets. It seems likely that the economy will rebound, probably fairly quickly, even with some displacement. Our economy and our country will not be destroyed.

Here is the critical fact: the death of societies and cultures is usually suicide. Members of the society lose faith in its institutions, reject its cultural values, demonize their fellow citizens, enthusiastically entertain foreign ideologies, and open their doors to foreign adversaries. This is particularly devastating when elites turn against the society’s institutions and culture. The initial result is social conflict, loss of confidence, and eventually civil war and or foreign invasion.

The example of Sweden illustrates cultural self-hate well. In 2010, Mona Ingeborg Sahlin, the leader at that time of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, told a gathering of the Turkish youth organization Euroturk: "I cannot figure out what Swedish culture is. I think that's what makes many Swedes jealous of immigrant groups. You [immigrants] have a culture, an identity, a history, something that brings you together. And what do we have? We have Midsummer's Eve and such silly things."

In October 2015, Ingrid Lomfors, head of the Swedish governmental "Forum for Living History," later told a group officials, "There is no native Swedish culture."

In December 2015, Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, president of the European Council in 2009, gave an interview to TV4 ahead of his departure from the leadership of the Moderate Party, in which he asked rhetorically: "Is this a country that is owned by those who have lived here for three or four generations or is Sweden what people who come here in mid-life makes it to be?... For me it is obvious that it should be the latter and that it is a stronger and better society if it may be open... Swedes are uninteresting as an ethnic group."

So Swedish elites have opened the country’s borders to floods of “refugees” from across the Middle East and Africa. The refugees see Swedes as “infidels” and Swedish girls as existing for “the pleasure of Muslim men.” Sweden has thus experienced an explosion of crime: “honor” killings, forced marriages, violent gang swarming, bombing, gang rapes, antisemitic hate crimes, most perpetrated by immigrants and children of immigrants. Sweden’s elite have dealt with this crisis by refusing to identify perpetrators. The old Sweden is disappearing, and the Swedish elite appears pleased.

Not to be outdone, in November 2015, the newly sworn-in Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, gave an interview to the New York Times, and published a month later, in which he said: "There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. There are shared values -- openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.”

Trudeau followed up by opening the borders to illegal immigrants crossing from the United States, then sending the Canadian army to build shelters for the immigrants! Earlier, Trudeau had opened Canada to Syrian Muslim refugees, but not the Yazidi victims of Sunni Muslim ISIS. Under political and public pressure, Trudeau finally admitted some Yazidi refugees. Because of the American continental buffer to the south, but no thanks to multicultural Trudeau, Canada has escaped the great waves of illegal immigrant invasion.

Far more serious than opening Canada’s borders beyond the vast legal immigration that makes Canada the world’s per capita immigrant host, has been Trudeau’s determined effort to destroy Canada’s strongest industry, the energy industry, and to undermine Canada’s most prosperous province, Alberta, the province that for decades has transferred vast sums of money to Canada’s poorer provinces. Trudeau does not much like Canada or Canadians, wishing to transform Canada into a woke, multicultural paradise. Trudeau, like members of the Swedish elite, suffers from Oikophobia, hatred of one’s own culture. What he has succeeded in turning Canada into, for example by allowing environmental extremists to blockade highways and railroads, is a shambles.

The Swedes and Canadians are small players in a world largely dominated by the United States. In Oikophobia, as in much else, American Leftists lead the world. I would estimate that, in 2020, America is about 75% gone. American culture has been swept aside by “woke social justice” ideology, a neo-marxist framing of American society in terms of identity class conflict. Feminist, race, and sexuality activists have pushed a narrative that divides American society into white, male, heterosexual oppressors, on the one hand, and, on the other, the oppressors’ female, black, and LGBTQ++ victims. America is thus seen as inherently and entirely evil, and must be rejected and replaced. The preferred means is to provide special privileges and benefits for females, blacks, and LGBTQs.

“Woke social justice” is an anti-American, anti-capitalist, internationalist, and multicultural rejection of American culture and society. This ideology is now totally dominant in all colleges and universities, where social science and humanities disciplines have mostly abandoned their traditional fields of study in favor of “social justice” victimology. But it does not end there, for teachers are trained in radical faculties of education, and teach “social justice” ideology throughout the school system.

“Social justice” ideology is totally dominant in the mainstream and heritage media, notably in the Washington Post and the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC (and abroad as well, in the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the British Broadcasting Company). The New York Times has been hideously exemplary in its 1619 Project, which argues that America was not founded on the basic of Judeo-Christian human rights, on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but on the basis of slavery. Slavery is the indelible sin that progressives love to bludgeon America with, as if America invented slavery, rather than it being a characteristic of all civilizations and most societies, including African societies, up to the 19th century. Progressives today reject the American Constitution on the grounds that its authors were slave owners, and slavery thus becomes the tool to discredit everything about America.

What exactly about America has been rejected by progressive “woke social justice”?

First, national sovereignty is rejected in favor of international ties and supranational organizations, such as the corrupt and ineffectual United Nations, much beloved by the likes of American progressive politicians and foreign leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau.

Second, citizenship is rejected as an unearned privilege, to be corrected by open borders and floods of illegal immigrants, spun as “undocumented.” Joe Biden, presumptive nominee of the Democrat Party for Democrat candidate for the Presidency, announced that illegal immigrants are more American than American citizens. Furthermore, as progressives view whites as racist oppressors, “social justice” requires their replacement by black, brown, yellow, and red non-whites, until the whites are in the minority and no longer have any power.

Third, individuals no longer count as constituents of society. Individual achievement, merit, and potential are rejected by progressives as “white male supremacy.” Today, only identity categories count. What is important is statistical “representation” of different categories based on percentage in the general population. Under the guise of “diversity,” individual can no longer be considered as individuals, but must be considered only as members of identity categories, and treated accordingly. Males, whites, and heterosexuals must, in the name of “social justice,” be vilified, demeaned, and excluded. (Oddly, East Asians have become personae non grata because they are too successful, and thus honorary, or dishonorable whites.)

Fourth, capitalism is of course rejected because it is a cause of inequality. That capitalism is responsible for the prosperity within which the inequality exists, is no excuse for the radical levellers. The increasing popularity of socialism among progressives, no doubt because socialism has been so successful historically (not), expresses their rejection of capitalism.

Fifth, economic and political freedom are obstacles in progressives’ plans for “social justice.” Equality of opportunity and economic freedom are rejected by progressive advocates of “social justice” in favor of equality of results, that is, absolute equality, which requires government control of the economy. Progressives, like socialists and communists, also have never been that fond of political freedom, but prefer to control the results. We have seen the Democrat Party, and its media and identity allies, reject the results of the last presidential election because it was not the result they wanted, and launch a “resistance,” both inside of Congress and out in the streets, to the duly elected president. Rejecting the results of elections means the rejection of democracy.

Six, children are no longer wanted in America, which is currently unable to replace its population. Feminists have disdained motherhood as overemphasizing females’ biology and as obstructing economic independence and occupational mobility. The highest progressive value is killing babies in the womb, up to a million a year, ten million in a decade. Feminists and their progressive allies celebrate abortions and urge women to celebrate theirs. Killing babies has now been extended to infanticide, the newest progressive initiative. Likewise, families are regarded by feminists as the source of oppression for females, so say goodbye to families as well.

With the Democrat Party, all colleges and universities, the school system, and the mainstream media all devoted to anti-American progressive values and objectives, it is clear that America is 75% gone. Who is left to uphold American society and culture and the values of freedom, opportunity, prosperity, individual integrity, and family unity? We know that the half of the American population in “flyover country” maintains American values, even while the national elites on the coasts despise that population, infamously characterized by the Democrat Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton as “the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.” The Republican Party, faced with a pro-American candidate for president, retreated in part, while another part fought against, so it is unlikely to be the cavalry coming to save America. Do not bet against seeing the emergence of the United Progressive States of Socialism.

SOURCE 

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How About Some Good News on the Economy?

Appearing remotely on Sunday's Face the Nation, St Louis Federal Reserve Bank Chairman James Bullard indicated that the Fed has no idea, really, just how bad the Coronavirus Contraction is going to get. Asked by Margaret Brennan about his team's prediction that "47 million Americans could lose their jobs," bringing the unemployment rate up to 32%, Bullard said the "32 percent number is a compromise in the middle."

In the middle of what, you might ask. Bullard told Brennan that he and his economists at the St. Louis Fed estimate that the "unemployment rate could go anywhere between 10 percent and 42 percent."

So things could get Great Recession bad or blow past the 25% unemployment record set during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933. That's a bit like the doctor telling you that you either have a bad case of the flu or maybe caught a rare form of cancer that makes all your limbs slowly fall off.

I'm not picking on Bullard here. Not only does no one know what's going to happen to the economy, at this point nobody can know. The question is less "How bad is it going to get?" but "How quickly do we recover?"

The answer to that could be very nice, indeed.

An economy with plenty of liquidity and weeks of pent-up demand ought to bounce back almost as quickly as it sank -- like a big kid on a trampoline. Sharp economic downturns are usually followed by equally sharp recoveries. The 1981-82 and 1991 recessions come to mind.

What made the Great Depression and the Great Recession alike were anemic recoveries that took seemingly forever. As I noted back in March [VIP link]:

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into office pledging to end the Great Depression, he and Congress simmered up a party-size bowl of alphabet soup agencies to micromanage the business, wages, prices, and employment. The result? A couple of left-leaning UCLA economists were forced to conclude that FDR's New Deal actually lengthened the Great Depression by seven years.
Coming into office on the heels of the 2007-08 financial panic (caused in no small part by Washington meddling in the mortgage markets), President Barack Obama indulged in a flurry of lawmaking and micromanagement unseen since FDR. As a result, Obama's recovery was the slowest since FDR's. In some ways -- Washington's addictions to spending and debt are the worst examples -- we're still dealing with the hangover from Obama's reaction to the Great Recession.

Biden Switches to 'Front Porch' Campaign, Loses Porch
But back to Bullard on Face the Nation. Asked if there "will be somehow just a switch that flips on and the economy will come back roaring," Bullard said:

Well, I think it can be done. Whether it will be done depends on execution. I thought Congress did a great thing in passing their bill. I thought it was appropriately sized for this situation. The object is to keep everybody whole during the period when you're asking people to not go to their jobs and not go to the shops and - and basically not participate in the economy.
This is no bailout for big banks like we saw during the Great Recession. If anything, Congress is following the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth states that private property cannot "be taken for public use, without just compensation." If your labor isn't your property, then what is? If stopping a pandemic isn't public use, then what is? Relief checks aren't enough in my opinion, but they do represent at least some small amount of compensation for government orders to stay home and not work.

And as Bullard noted, "There's nothing wrong with the economy itself. The economy was actually doing quite well going into this health situation." If Washington can manage not to insert itself into the recovery, we ought to get right back to where we were before coronavirus in short order. The Democrat-controlled House is going to have a very strong itch to hobble the economy with a progressive wishlist of crap legislation, but the GOP-held Senate and White House ought to put the kibosh on any such nonsense.

There are some excellent indicators that the worst might soon be over. The White House noted on Sunday that there have been signs of stabilization in hospital rates, and New York enjoyed -- if that's the word -- its first daily decline in COVID-19-related deaths. Death rates are slowing in Europe, too, even in hard-hit Italy and Spain. Social distancing works, and as I reminded you three weeks ago [VIP link], "extreme measures at the start of a crisis can prevent extreme consequences later on."

For now we're stuck in the middle: We've taken the extreme measures, but the crisis persists. But it also looks like we'll avoid the extreme worst-case scenario, in no small part because of those extreme measures. Strangely enough, gridlocked Washington is kind of a best-case scenario for this particular crisis. The economy needs craploads of liquidity at a time when spending craploads of money is the one thing both parties can agree on. What the economy doesn't need is a bunch of new agencies and regulatory schemes hobbling the recovery -- and gridlock ought to prevent just that.

So hang in there. We're not off the bumpy road yet, but I think America and Americans are going to emerge from this thing stronger than ever.

SOURCE 

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

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

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Monday, April 06, 2020


Suddenly, Neither Liberty nor Civilization Is Assured

The two biggest uncertainties about the post-COVID-19 world are whether any privacy will survive and whether China or the United States will dominate. With regards to the first, the Guardian rhetorically asks whether you would  trade the total loss of your privacy for safety from the coronavirus, even if it meant entering a "cybergulag." That's what Russia is planning to do and China already did.  As the City Journal put it, perhaps the only way out of the lockdowns  is to voluntarily submit to 24x7 electronic tracking.

The responses adopted by governments around the world seem to fall into two main categories. Those countries able to leverage new and emerging technologies to fight the virus have done better in limiting the number of cases and fatalities, while managing to keep most of their economies and societies operational. The countries unable to use technology had to rely on lockdowns, quarantines, generalized closures, and other physical restrictions—the same methods used to fight the Spanish flu more than a century ago and, in many cases, with the same slow, painful results. In Singapore and South Korea, individuals are digitally monitored, but life is almost normal. In Spain, they are not monitored—but they cannot leave home.

Western publics seem willing to submit to previously unthinkable levels of government control in the name of public health. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is able to say with considerable support that "We do not have enough ventilators. Period. I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need. The National Guard will be mobilized to move ventilators to where they are urgently required to save lives."

Residents are now officially encouraged to inform on each other. "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week that 'snitches' in his city will get “rewards” if they tattle on neighbors who could be violating the stay-at-home order put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus," Fox News reported. "Google will help public health officials use its vast storage of data to track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, in what the company called an effort to assist in unprecedented times."

The effort is just a fraction of what Google has on tap for the global pandemic. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Alphabet Inc. unit is among companies that have cooperated with a White House task force looking at controversial technologies such as individual location tracking to enforce distancing guidelines. Such technologies that have been effective in some countries are out of bounds in many democracies because of privacy concerns.

Privacy concerns are likely to be swept aside by the understandable fear of disease. As a fictional CIA agent explained to an idealist, people in distress will let government do anything to make the problem go away. "Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em."

Although such measures might be sold as temporary expedients, power once obtained is rarely relinquished. After all, it's a chance to remake the world:

[California governor] Newsom said, “forgive me for being long-winded, but absolutely we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern. And that shouldn’t put shivers up the spines of you know one party or the other. I think it’s an opportunity a new for both parties to come together and meet this moment and really start to think more systemically, not situationally, not just about getting out of this moment, but more sustainably and systemically to consider where we can go together in this historic moment if we meet it at a national level, in a state, and sub-national level. So, the answer is yes.”

The City Journal writes:

"if you think that the measures being tested in China grant too much power to public authorities, different ideas can be found elsewhere. The uses of technology are, by definition, plural and creative. In Singapore, for example, the government has launched a new app for contact-tracing that both increases its effectiveness and keeps each individual in charge. The app works by exchanging Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating users in close proximity. Records of such encounters are stored on each user’s phone. If a user is interviewed by the medical authorities as part of the contact-tracing efforts, he can consent to share his data. The app does not collect or use location data and does not access a user’s phone contact list or address book. Importantly, no data are uploaded to a government server."

Privacy issues will become the centerpiece of Western domestic policy debates. The public can try and reclaim its privacy but they shouldn't get their hopes up.

Foreign affairs will be dominated by the rivalry between China and the United States as each country vies for which can most successfully recover and regroup from the disaster. Beijing is already claiming the title. "Beijing is bolstering its soft power and taking the lead in a global response to the coronavirus public health crisis. The moves come as China’s daily number of new infections decline while those in the U.S. rise."

On social and state media, China continues to promote its shipments of medical supplies to hard hit countries in Europe and Africa. China’s officials have also used Twitter — blocked in the country — to trumpet China’ssuccess in containing the outbreak domestically, even though the virus was first reported there and was met with missteps initially. Through the efforts, Beijing is touting the superiority of its governance model and tapping into patriotic sentiments at home.

The Chinese rivalry loomed, like the proverbial elephant in the living room, over the relief of the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly over a complaint sent to the newspapers about the coronavirus without consulting the chain of command.

When the Commanding Officer of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT decided to write his letter of 30 March 2020 that outlined his concerns for his crew in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of the Navy had already mobilized significant resources for days in response to his previous requests. On the same date marked on his letter, my Chief of Staff had called the CO directly, at my request, to ensure he had all the resources necessary for the health and safety of his crew. ...

But there is a larger strategic context, one full of national security imperatives, of which all our commanders must all be aware today. While we may not be at war in a traditional sense, neither are we truly at peace. Authoritarian regimes are on the rise. Many nations are reaching, in many ways, to reduce our capacity to accomplish our national goals. This is actively happening every day ...

The nation needs to know that the Big Stick is undaunted, unstoppable —and that you will stay that way as we as a Navy help you through this COVID-19 challenge. Our adversaries need to know this as well. They respect and fear the Big Stick, and they should. We will not allow anything to diminish that respect and fear as you, and the rest of our nation, fights through this virus. As I stated, we are not at war by traditional measures, but neither are we at peace. The nation you defend is in a fight right now for our economic, personal and political security, and you are on the front lines of this fight in many ways.

The most intriguing aspect of the naval press conference is the linkage of the virus to deterrence in the new cold war. The natural world is setting the agenda in domestic and international politics. As City Journal notes "the coronavirus proved that our natural environment continues to be as dangerous and hostile to human life as it has always been. ... climate change seemed to show that human activity was the problem ... Nature is once again the problem ... almost as if humanity is once again discovering the Neolithic."

Suddenly, neither liberty nor civilization is assured. Once again it is about survival. Survival of the fittest.

SOURCE 

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Modern society is 'so afraid of death' no one asks if lockdown measures to battle coronavirus are the right approach, says former Supreme Court judge

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathon Sumption believes that the public's 'irrational horror of death' has lead to unnecessarily 'costly' measures surrounding coronavirus.

Writing in The Sunday Times Lord Sumption, 71, a former judge turned author and medieval historian, stated that the strict governmental measures will bring 'even greater misfortunes of a different kind'.

He wrote: 'We have acquired an irrational horror of death. Today death is the great obscenity, inevitable but somehow unnatural. In the midst of life, our ancestors lived with death, an everpresent fact that they understood and accommodated.' 

Lord Sumption went on to list a number of historic epidemics such as Bubonic plague, smallpox, cholera, typhoid, meningitis and Spanish flu, reminding people that such outbreaks with higher mortality rates were met with less 'hysteria'.

Adding: 'Fear is dangerous. It is the enemy of reason. It suppresses balance and judgment. And it is infectious. (...) Is the coronavirus the latest and most damaging example?'

He stated that earlier generations would struggle to understand the current hysteria over Covid-19, due to it having 'milder symptoms' than previous outbreaks.   

The former judge believes it is the public's 'risk-adverse' attitude which has lead us to not accept 'the wheel of fortune'.

Lord Sumption said current government measures are inflicting suffering on other less obvious victims of the coronavirus, such as future generations who will be left to deal with 'high levels of public and private debt' and the one fifth of businesses being pushed into bankruptcy.

He believes it is fear which has prevented governments and the public from thinking about 'remote costs' of the measures brought in to avoid tragic coronavirus deaths, and adds that we do not know enough about the Covid-19 mortality rate, which he hints is lower than stated due to limited testing.

Making the comparison to cars, which he calls 'the most lethal weapons ever devised', as they kill and injure thousands every year, he states that society has accepted that fact as a 'Faustian bargin' in order to drive in comfort - suggesting we may have to take the same approach to coronavirus.

Meanwhile Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, warned that certain cancers which were until now thought survivable are to become 'inoperable' due to delays in the current crisis.

He told The Sunday Times: 'We know that if you operate in most early stage cancers, there is a high chance of a cure.

'If we wait too long before we operate the disease may spread beyond the primary site rendering cures less likely. Delays to surgery are of huge concern for many cancer charities.'

Currently 90 per cent of those with breast, bowel and ovarian cancers, survive when the disease is caught early.

This is due to early diagnosis and quickly scheduled surgeries.

Professor Swanton added: 'There is a risk that trusts may have to make a choice between ventilatory support for an acutely unwell patient with Covid-19 at the expense of an elective admission for primary surgery for a potentially curable tumour requiring a short post-operative stay in intensive care.'

A source close to The Department of Health told The Sunday Times that it was possible more people, including cancer patients, could die from delays to their treatment caused by the virus than from the coronavirus.

SOURCE 

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Leftmedia Trump Derangement

Media pundits are frustrated that his approval rating has risen during this national crisis.

A clear majority of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of the China Virus pandemic — 60% according to Gallup polling. That’s even better than his 49% overall approval rating, which matches the highest of his presidency. But one would think just the opposite is true given the mainstream media’s incessant negative coverage of the president’s handling of this national crisis.

One example that typifies the MSM anti-Trump coverage was the reporting on an Arizona couple who ingested fish-tank cleaner thinking it would prevent them from getting COVID-19. Sadly, that stupid decision led to the death of the husband and put his wife in the hospital. Yet the Leftmedia saw fit to blame Trump for “misleading” people into doing demented things, all because he mentioned a malaria drug that some medical professionals believe could be helpful in combating the virus. The only explanation for this level of journalistic malpractice is Trump Derangement Syndrome.

However, as mentioned above, even with the negative media coverage, Trump’s approval ratings have been rising. Why might that be? The most likely reason is due to Trump’s daily national briefing in which he speaks directly to the American people on what he and his administration are doing to combat the pandemic. Millions are tuning in to watch, due in large part to the fact that many Americans are quarantined and are looking to the president for information and leadership. And that is exactly what Trump has provided, much to the dismay of the Leftmedia.

The New York Times laments, “The numbers are continuing to rise, driven by intense concern about the virus and the housebound status of millions of Americans who are practicing social distancing. On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites.” But of course, after reporting the facts, the Times inserts its own anti-Trump spin: “The audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong.”

In response to Trump’s rising popularity, many MSM outlets have begun limiting their coverage of his daily briefings, cutting away to their own talkingheads while giving the ridiculous excuse that they must prevent the spread of misinformation. “I would stop putting those briefings on live TV,” pontificated MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation.”

Former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel perfectly expressed this MSM elitist mindset when he argued, “Training a camera on a live event, and just letting it play out, is technology, not journalism; journalism requires editing and context. I recognize that presidential utterances occupy a unique category. Within that category, however, President Trump has created a special compartment all his own. The question, clearly, is whether his status as president of the United States obliges us to broadcast his every briefing live. No. No more so than you at The Times should be obliged to provide your readers with a daily, verbatim account.” In truth, Koppel’s real beef is that he doesn’t like Trump being able to speak freely and directly to the American people unfiltered by Leftmedia spin.

Don’t miss another important reason why MSM outlets have begun cutting away from Trump’s briefing: ad revenue (or lack thereof). Trump’s evening briefings last an average of two hours during prime-time hours — all without commercial breaks. With millions tuning in to watch, media outlets are loathe to lose ad revenue, even during a national crisis when information is paramount.

SOURCE 

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

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

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Coronavirus and Elections — Changes Increase Risk of Voter Fraud

The recent coronavirus relief package will provide $400 million to states for the 2020 elections. Beware: If this pile of money isn’t spent wisely, the integrity of the elections will be at risk.

Residents of some states may not be able to vote in person and may be forced to vote using absentee or mail-in ballots as long as the current emergency continues, with social distancing being the norm and schools, businesses, offices and government facilities closed.

But no one should forget that absentee-ballot voting is vulnerable to intimidation, fraud and chaos as all-mail elections move behind closed doors beyond the oversight of election officials. Not to mention prolonged counting and potentially lengthy delays in certifying questionable results.

Election officials should start taking steps now& to ensure that if a mailed ballot system is ordered, the election itself can be protected from the dangers that will otherwise result.

Georgia, for example, has declared that its June 2020 primary will be conducted by mail. Election officials have taken steps to avoid some of these concerns. Only registered, active (not inactive) voters will be sent an absentee-ballot request form. This will cut down on fraudulent voting, as unauthorized persons won’t be able to send in unsolicited ballots that show up in states that simply mail absentee ballots to all registered voters without receiving a request.

As an added benefit, by sending the request forms first class, election officials will receive valuable information from the U.S. Postal Service, such as whether a voter has moved or died. This will help confirm the accuracy of the voter-registration list.

All states and localities contemplating voting-by-mail should require voters to respond with a request for an absentee ballot in a written form — with a signature. That accomplishes two objectives: active voters are notified of the change in the process, and the signature will allow election officials (and interested citizens) to compare and authenticate voter identity.

For further protection, officials should require a photocopy of an ID or, for example, if they have a state driver’s license or ID card, the serial number of that identification on the absentee-ballot request form.

State voter-registration lists around the country are notoriously inaccurate and out-of-date, with many jurisdictions having duplicate or triplicate registrations, registrants who have died, and registrations lacking full address data. Some counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens.

Not every new resident at an address will throw out a ballot automatically mailed to the old resident at that address, and where there are no safeguards, individuals may cast votes using ballots originally intended for other voters. It is further tempting to campaign workers and activists to canvas neighborhoods — often poor, minority neighborhoods — looking for those “extra” ballots.

Simply put, automatically mailing ballots to all registrants is an open invitation to fraud.

States should require voters to register prior to Election Day with sufficient time for election officials to validate and verify the information provided by voters of their identity, their residence, their citizenship status, and any other information relevant to their eligibility to vote. Same day or Election Day registration doesn’t allow for such verification.

States should only accept absentee ballots that are officially postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service on or before Election Day. This assures that ballots are not cast after Election Day and after preliminary election results are known, which would otherwise risk giving voters (or vote “harvesters”) the ability to manipulate close races after the polls have closed.

States should ban all ballot “harvesting” by third parties. Only the voter or close family members should be able to hand-deliver a completed absentee ballot. Candidates, political consultants, party activists and campaign guns-for-hire — all of whom have a stake in the outcome of the election — should not be allowed to collect absentee ballots from voters.

Anything else is a recipe for intimidation and fraud, as occurred in the 2018 election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, and in multiple other cases. Moreover, it is difficult to see how vote harvesting would comply with government orders requiring or recommending “social distancing.”

Election officials must also establish protocols and work with local U.S. postal authorities to ensure integrity in the mail system, to prevent the slow delivery of ballots.

When processing the returned absentee ballots from voters, states must have strong authentication standards. This includes allowing election officials and observers to compare signatures on the ballot envelopes to voter registration signatures.

If states insist on unwisely mailing out absentee ballots automatically, voter rolls must first be reviewed and cleaned. The Justice Department should swiftly file lawsuits under the Help America Vote Act against states with suspected inaccurate voter rolls.

Only accurate voter rolls should be used for mass mailings of absentee ballots, and proper voter-roll maintenance and clean-up ought to include comparisons with other databases. That includes state social service agencies, tax authorities, the DMV, and corrections departments, as well as federal databases at the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to confirm voter information and eligibility.

The Department of Homeland Security must end the roadblocks states currently face in verifying the citizenship of registrants. States and localities should also utilize the National Change of Address system available from the U.S. Postal Service to update addresses of registered voters and remove those registrants who have relocated out of state.

As the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a 1998 report, absentee ballots are the “tools of choice” of vote thieves. Switching to mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus outbreak should only be a temporary measure that is not used for future elections. In the meantime, adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of an all-mail election must be implemented.

The coronavirus has taught us a valuable lesson: election officials should be ever-mindful and actively engaged in ongoing voter list maintenance, year-in and year-out. They should be complying with federal law and ensuring that only eligible voters are on the voter rolls, and that voters who die or relocate are removed in a timely manner.

By engaging in zealous voter roll maintenance, election administrators will be prepared for any changes in the system that might result from emergencies that may interfere with the voting process. Hopefully, the emergencies from the coronavirus will be long since lifted by Nov. 3 and there will be no need for changes in the process for the general election.

The fallout from the disease is a stark reminder, however, that the integrity of our elections can only be protected by the ongoing actions of conscientious election officials committed to ensuring that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot, with the sure knowledge that it has not been diluted by error, fraud or mistakes that could have been corrected months or years beforehand.

SOURCE 

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How Would Free Market Health Care Respond To The Coronavirus?

John C. Goodman

Have you ever wondered how a free market for health care would handle the COVID-19 crisis?

Most patients would have a health kit in their home, with a temperature gauge, blood pressure cuffs and an oxygen sensor. Patients would have these because doctors, hospitals and health plans would encourage them. Patients with older models would call in the readings to their doctors. Newer models would send the doctor an automatic, electronic alert if there was reason to be concerned.

The initial doctor/patient contact would probably be by phone. If warranted, a virtual face-to-face examination by Skype or similar device would take place. If the services of a specialist were required, that connection would be made – again, remotely and electronically.

If the patient were suffering from a cold or a mild case of the flu (which would be the case more than 90% of the time), the doctor would order a prescription, which would be filled and delivered by a local pharmacy.

In the face of coronavirus indications, a doctor or nurse would arrive at the home (within an hour), take a swab sample and perform a COVID-19 test – with results in, say, 10 minutes.

In the serious cases, patients would go to the emergency room. But that would not be a scene of coronavirus roulette, as it is today. Hospitals would know in advance which patients had the virus. A special team would be there to greet these patients. They would be escorted to isolated rooms with appropriate equipment and safeguards to protect other patients and hospital personnel.

The demand for special masks (with better protection than the masks you see surgeons wearing on TV), ventilators and other equipment would rise dramatically. But it would be a targeted demand, informed by real data. You wouldn’t see hoarding and over-subscribing by providers who scramble to get more than they need “just in case.” The demand would be met by suppliers who would work nights and weekends to step up production because …. well …. because they would expect to get paid extra, just like in any other market.

So why aren’t these things being done now? They are being done. But not as often as they should. The reason: government.

Getting diagnosed in your own home. If you go to a doctor’s office or a hospital emergency room you risk infecting other patients or being infected yourself. So why not stay home? As I wrote last week, telemedicine is being used extensively in China to diagnose the coronavirus right now. Vice President Pence and major health insurance companies say it is “the first line of defense” against the virus. And more than 40 million Americans can currently get doctor consultations by phone, email or Skype. Yet federal and state laws have been major barriers.

Until recently, Congress outlawed telemedicine in Medicare, except for patients in rural areas, and even then they couldn’t be in their own homes. However, with President Trump’s approval, Seema Verma (who directs Medicare and Medicaid), began allowing all Medicare patients to have “virtual check-ins” from their homes to see if a doctor office visit is needed.

After the coronavirus struck, Verma used the president’s executive authority to give Medicare Advantage plans broad discretion with respect to remote diagnosis and treatment. Congress responded with legislation that now allows Medicare to pay for telemedicine in connection with coronavirus. But it imposed an onerous restriction: the doctor must have had a previous relationship with the patient within the past three years.

That requirement is a disastrous barrier to remote medical care. It would make every telemedicine company in the country ineligible. Fortunately, the administration is using its emergency powers to override the restriction in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Getting tested in your own home. The first known person with the COVID-19 virus was discovered in the United States and in South Korea at about the same time. Since then, South Korea has engaged in a massive testing campaign (including drive-through testing) to determine who has the virus and who doesn’t. Overall, that country has tested more than 5,000 people for every one million residents. By contrast, the number tested in our country is 125 for every million residents. In fact, the U.S. testing rate is about the lowest in the developed world!

US officials claim that the tests used in other countries are not as accurate as those approved by our government. Even so, the proof is in the pudding. As Alec Stapp writes in the Dispatch:

South Korea has effectively contained the coronavirus without shutting down its economy or quarantining tens of millions of people…. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan have also managed to contain the virus via a combination of travel restrictions, social distancing, and heightened hygiene.

Until early February of this year, all testing for COVID-19 had to be done at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Once the CDC recognized it was ill prepared to handle a pandemic, it sent out testing kits to about a hundred public health centers around the country. Unfortunately, about half of the kits were defective.

President Trump on numerous occasions has made clear his desire to wipe away regulatory obstacles. Along those lines, Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, declared a public-health emergency, on February 4. Since then any lab that wants to conduct its own tests for the new coronavirus can get authority under something called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the F.D.A.

But although this was supposed to usher in deregulation, the EUA process bought with it a new set of bureaucratic obstacles. The entire process, which is described in great detail by Robert Baird in the New Yorker, reads like an episode of the Keystone Kops.

Meanwhile, the private sector has been responding. Biomerica has developed a test that involves little more than a finger prick. It can be performed by trained professionals almost anywhere – airports, schools, offices, homes, etc. The test sells for $10 per patient.

Another company, Kinsa Health, has developed smart thermometers which are Internet-connected. It has given away or sold a million of them to households in which two million people reside. The company, which can track the flu across the country in real time, says it can do the same for COVID-19 at a time when U.S. health officials have been flying blind.

Exercising the right to try. Another reform championed by the president is allowing patients to try drugs that have not been approved by the FDA if the patient is terminally ill. He now says the same principle should apply even if the patient is not terminally ill. Chloroquine, for example, is an 85-year old drug that is safe for use to prevent malaria and it apparently can work on COVID-19. (It has worked for other SARS viruses.) The president asks, “What have you got to lose?”

Continuing to enjoy the benefits of deregulation. One reason the country is doing as well as it is in defending against COVID-19 is that President Trump began deregulating the health care market early in his presidency. Those efforts have laid the groundwork for further deregulation.

Donald Trump is the first president in over a century who has understood that in health care, government is not the solution; it is the problem.

SOURCE 

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

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

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Sunday, April 05, 2020


The coronavirus recession will shift British politics – but not to the Left

The economy’s collapse will prompt profound and unpredictable changes to people’s political priorities

It is hard, for us moderns, to grasp what is happening to our world. We are the children of the most technologically advanced civilisation of all time, and yet are plunged into a pre-modern health crisis, forced to revert to equally pre-modern tools as the death toll spirals horrifyingly. Quarantines, lockdowns, field hospitals: as we wait for tests, protective equipment, high-tech tracing and vaccines, we are stuck with the medieval techniques our forefathers used to control the bubonic plague. We use Zoom and Houseparty, but otherwise are following a 1919 Spanish flu playbook, shutting down society to save lives.

This is also the first pre-modern recession since the Second World War. Downturns since the industrial revolution have normally been about monetary policy errors or bubbles going pop. The coronavirus recession is like a war or a crop failure or a natural catastrophe, events that, together with pandemics, have caused the most savage depressions in history.

Drawing on the Bank of England’s Millenium of Macroeconomic Data, Deutsche Bank reminds us that the worst ever recessions were in 1624 (GDP down 25 per cent the year Parliament voted for war against Spain) and 1349 (down 23 per cent during the Black Death). The current downturn – GDP down 6 per cent this year – will only be slightly less severe than those of 1919 and 1921, both connected to war and flu. No “modern” recession has come close. It is also an exceptionally concentrated collapse: the second quarter will be the worst three month period for the economy since records began.

In 1919, those US cities that reopened too soon suffered a worse overall hit to the economy – after the flu returned with a vengeance in a second peak – than those that waited longer in lockdown, according to Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck and Emil Verner. While the lessons are obvious, if we test and trace on a massive scale, we ought to be able to lift the lockdown more quickly than a century ago. But so far it’s not looking good, implying that this recession will be severe, perhaps continue into the third quarter, many firms and jobs will be permanently destroyed and that the bounce-back, when it comes, won’t be great enough to catch up all the lost output.

It is a golden rule of political economy that downturns of this magnitude have huge political ramifications. But while much will be different AC (After Coronavirus), this doesn’t mean that British politics will automatically shift Left-wards. That would be a lazy assumption.

The NHS was already untouchable and unreformable, and Boris Johnson was already planning to shower it with cash: it will merely get even more. The railways were already being renationalised: the crisis has accelerated this. Other bailed-out entities will be reprivatised.

It will be self-evidently unaffordable for the Government to continue paying for half the jobs in the country when the crisis ends, and some of the abuse of furloughing that can even now be detected will remind the public of the dangers of generous welfare. Rishi Sunak’s superstructure will be dismantled: extremely elevated levels of benefits essential during total war can’t continue in peacetime without massive incentive problems.

The greatest change AC will be to our culture, and this won’t help the Left: we will rediscover the advantages of economic growth and have to relearn to live with unemployment. The BC (Before Coronavirus) obsession with frivolous “first world problems” will be gone: there will be no interest in identity politics, just in hard-headed policies that can boost growth and jobs and put money in people’s pockets. There will be a cost of living crisis, and reduced support for taxes or green policies that hurt the poor and middle class, just as there was in 2008-09. It may delay but won’t derail Brexit: national self-interest is back worldwide. The EU is facing severe strains, with fury at how member states aren’t helping each other and Hungary going fully undemocratic.

Taxes may not go up either, at least not conventionally, despite the massive budget deficit (though the self-employed will be hit). The national debt may be “repaid” without explicitly hammering taxpayers: we may see higher inflation in the years ahead, eroding the real value of IOUs. We could even see actual debt write-offs: a rich world Jubilee.

And why would a Tory government be stupid enough to cripple an economy on its knees with higher taxes? A million businesses could easily have gone bust by the end of this, unemployment will be through the roof and asset values – including house prices – could have dropped by 20-25 per cent. Hurting the rich for populist reasons is something that governments can afford to do in the good years, not when they are desperate to attract entrepreneurs, capital and talent. Taxing wealth will be impossible when the price of mansions has collapsed, and hitting the middle classes politically suicidal. The Tories will have to rediscover their supply-side instincts, and do what it takes to encourage growth.

Any higher inflation caused by the monetisation of the deficit will also infuriate Middle England. Only Left-wing economists believe that inflation is popular: it never is. It always leads to a shift to the Right, sometimes to the poujadiste variant.

Many private sector businesses will have their reputations enhanced by their crisis, including supermarkets and even tech firms. Almost everybody blamed profit-making firms for the financial crisis; nobody is blaming them for the virus. There are some caveats: banks can’t pay dividends or bonuses anymore, which will limit the backlash, but they will face reputational damage unless the cheap business loans promised by the Government can be accessed easily.

Most important of all, Johnson’s plans for a big government conservative spending spree are in tatters. With the national debt at 100-110 per cent of GDP, it will become imperative to keep the finances under control, and only spend more on projects to prevent another pandemic.

Nobody can know for certain how politics will change as a result of this humanitarian and economic catastrophe. But as our shell-shocked society, stunned that it isn’t as advanced as it thought it was, goes back to basics, I wouldn’t bet on a Left-wing renaissance.

SOURCE 

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South Korea's Successful Pandemic Strategy

It effectively limited the virus's spread without shutting the country's economy down.

South Korea only just now passed 9,000 total positive tests for the China Virus, and yet the East Asian nation was one of the earliest outside of China to report infections. Furthermore, South Korea did not engage in a nationwide shutdown to slow the virus’s spread, which has many wondering how it has been able to so successfully keep COVID-19 at bay.

The head of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Program, Mike Ryan, noted, “We’ve seen examples in places like Singapore and [South] Korea, where governments haven’t had to shut everything down. They’ve been able to make tactical decisions regarding schools, tactical decisions regarding movements, and been able to move forward without some of the draconian measures.”

The key, Ryan believes, has to do with widespread testing. South Korea quickly engaged in a vast testing regimen, which allowed it to essentially locate and then target those infected areas for isolation and quarantine, thereby slowing and limiting the spread of the virus to other areas of the country. Thus, those regions of the country free of the virus are able to operate more normally. As explained by South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, “Testing is central because that leads to early detection. It minimizes further spread.”

National Public Radio also reports, “Japan is another Asian country notable for its response. Although Japan has more than twice the population of South Korea and also has strong ties to China, it has recorded only a fraction of the cases that South Korea has. … Japan hasn’t been testing nearly as widely as South Korea, but appears to have fended off significant community transmission by quickly investigating any flare-ups of cases, identifying who exactly is infected and then monitoring their contacts.”

Finally, nothing helps like learning from past experiences. Back in 2015, South Korea was hit hard by a MERS outbreak that brought the nation to a near standstill. Lessons learned from dealing with that outbreak have proven pivotal in guiding its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://patriotpost.us/articles/69655-south-koreas-successful-pandemic-strategy-2020-04-02

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Removal of navy captain 'poor judgment'

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden says the Trump administration showed "poor judgment" in relieving the commander of an aircraft carrier who sought stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

"Donald Trump's Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger - a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic," Biden said in a statement to Reuters.

"And the Navy sent a chilling message to the rest of the fleet about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors."

The commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was removed from command after writing a scathing letter to Navy leadership about conditions on the nuclear-powered carrier. The letter leaked to the public.

But acting navy secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander "demonstrated extremely poor judgement" in the middle of a crisis.

On Thursday, Mr Modly told reporters that Capt Crozier was being fired for allegedly leaking the letter to the media.

He said the captain copied too many people into a memo, which was leaked to the California newspaper and then quickly spread to many news outlets.

He said Mr Crozier should have gone directly to his immediate commanders, who were already moving to help the ship.

Mr Moldy said the letter "created the impression the Navy was not responding to his questions".

He also said Mr Crozier created a panic by suggesting 50 sailors could die.

SOURCE 1 ; SOURCE 2 

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IN BRIEF

We need an exit strategy: Weekly jobless claims double to a whopping 6.6 million (CNBC)

So about those declining numbers... Chinese county goes into lockdown amid fear of second wave (South China Morning Post)

In typical communistic fashion, Chinese doctor disappears after blowing the whistle on threat (National Review)

Coast Guard tells cruise ships with cases to stay away from U.S. ports (TPR)

Dr. Anthony Fauci given security detail after receiving threats (Washington Examiner)

Environmentally "woke" San Francisco ironically joins Massachusetts in banning reusable bags from grocery stores (Fox News)

California engineer ran train "off the end of rail tracks" in attempted attack on USNS Mercy in Los Angeles (USA Today)

Trump, in preemptive maneuver, says Iran planning "sneak attack" on U.S. troops, assets in Iraq (Fox News)

"There is a growing threat that ... malign actors will try to exploit the situation": Trump launches massive military offensive on drug cartels (The Daily Wire)

Rep. Adam Schiff drafting legislation to set up 9/11-style commission so Democrats can exploit coronavirus response (The Hill)

Rep. Matt Gaetz proposes commonsense bill blocking funds from Congress to China-owned businesses (Washington Examiner)

America's civilian arsenal grows by some 2.5 million firearms after record-shattering gun sales in March (The Washington Free Beacon)

Massachusetts governor infringes on the Second Amendment by closing gun stores (NRA-ILA)

Florida issues statewide stay-at-home order (Fox News)

Pennsylvania placed under stay-at-home order (NBC Philadelphia)

Policy: We can fight pandemics without the communist-allied World Health Organization (The Federalist)

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

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

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