Friday, November 13, 2020


As coronavirus rages around Europe, Slovakia launches a daring mission to test every adult

A little blue form can change the way you live in Slovakia. The COVID-19 certificates are being issued to everyone who participates in an enormous testing program — designed to reach every Slovakian over the age of 10. That's roughly 3.8 million people.

Those who test negative can avoid a lockdown, but those who refuse to be swabbed are required to stay at home.

For economics student Viktor Fr├╝hwald, the decision to get tested was an easy one. "I can go wherever I want because I'm safe," he told the ABC.

Staff at shops, bars and restaurants can ask to see patrons' blue certificates before granting them entry.

"It's an experiment for sure," he said. "[But] it's better for everyone to know if they're infected or not."

Another student, Dorota Bartkova, said she hoped the mass testing program would help her country control the virus. "I think it's a good time for us, for our country to do the screening of the population," she said. "I want to do my part.

"And, of course, I want to be involved in normal life, again, to do shopping and go to work and school."

At a testing centre in the town of Zvolen, Maria Zvalova closes her eyes and winces slightly as a swab is inserted into her nose.

Fifteen minutes later, she is given her blue certificate to prove she tested negative. She said she hoped it would provide some extra freedom and peace of mind. "We are grandparents and our family contact is limited," she said. "Now, it's about my health and the health of my partner."

The Slovakian Government hopes to lead the world in mass testing.

Luxembourg previously announced a similar strategy, although its population is just 600,000 people.

Two rounds of testing were held over the last two weekends with 3.6 million people – two thirds of the population – taking part on the first weekend in November and just over 2 million tested last weekend.

Participants are swabbed through their nose and their sample is analysed using an antigen test, which looks for specific proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Unlike a PCR test, it does not need laboratory analysis.

However, what Slovakia's antigen test gains in speed, it loses in accuracy. "The test can detect maybe half the real infectious people," said Marek Plesko, a doctor swabbing patients in the central city of Banska Bystrica.

"So, if someone receives a negative test he or she cannot be satisfied they are not a virus spreader."

Slovakia recorded just a handful of daily cases over the European summer, but late last month they surged to more than 3,000 a day. In the latest round of rapid testing, 13,509 samples (0.66 per cent) returned a positive result.

Mask are compulsory in public and social interactions are limited to six people.

Dr Plesko said the mass testing program risked undermining the public health guidance if people put too much faith in the accuracy of the tests and assume they've not infected. "They have to be careful and still comply with regulations."

Dorota Bartkova agreed. "Psychologically, it can affect people and they will not accept the rules," she said. "So I think it would it would be good to present [to] people that it's only screening and the sensitivity of this is not 100 per cent."

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The economics of plague

Boris Johnson’s decision to lock down England again until December 2, is economically and scientifically bizarre. It is based on advice from the faulty mathematicians at Imperial College, who proved to be hopelessly in error when the COVID-19 pandemic first arrived in March. It will damage the British economy, and probably kill more people than it saves. We seem to have completely lost the calm efficiency with which we faced plague outbreaks in 1665.

The Imperial College forecast of COVID-19 mortality in March, prepared by Neil Ferguson, who had a track record of erroneous forecasts, predicted COVID-19 would take 500,000 lives in Britain in 2020 –ten times the actual number – and resulted in a nationwide lockdown. An initial short lockdown was defensible; we did not know either the mortality or the transmittability of the new disease. However, after an achingly slow and partial reopening, another Imperial College forecast of 4,000 deaths per day has caused Boris Johnson to lock the country down again. This will do untold economic damage; it will also cost lives, as necessary medical tests will not be carried out and fragile personalities left in isolation will succumb.

In March, it was defensible to get the forecast wrong; it is not defensible now. At that time, we did not know the mortality rate from Covid-19; the World Health Organization, another bunch of bunglers, was claiming it to be around 4% and implying the case fatality rate (measuring known cases) in the early outbreak was equivalent to the infection fatality rate (measuring all cases). Now we do know the infection mortality rate, at least to a moderate degree of accuracy; it is between 0.4% and 0.6%, depending on what you assume about the medical treatment available to the patient. The very old suffer higher mortality, but in the cold mathematical calculation, they have fewer years of life to lose, and hence their premature death is less important than that of a younger person. (I speak as one of the vulnerable ones, being old, fat and diabetic.)

The central error in both the Imperial College forecast, apart from the mortality rate, is the mathematical curve that an epidemic follows. Contrary to popular delusions in the mass media, its spread is not exponential. Instead, as the Nobel prize winning Professor Michael Levitt of Stanford University School of Medicine explained, epidemics follow a Gompertz curve, a function identified by Benjamin Gompertz (1779-1865), under which the rate of spread falls exponentially with the current size of the infected population. Hence, instead of spiraling out of control and producing 4,000 deaths per day in Britain’s 70 million population, it naturally slows when the infected population is large, reducing the new infections rate and the death rate.

The most unpleasant feature of the epidemic, however, is that, after the spread has slowed and infections have declined for a few weeks, it can speed up again, because the number of people who are then infectious is much lower. This gives rise to the “waves” of infection seen in all countries since COVID-19 first appeared; while each new “wave” can produce more cases than the previous one (because testing is better), its mortality is less – partly because of improved medical knowledge and partly because the population as a whole has acquired a partial immunity to the infection.

“Experts” will always produce forecasts that require you to up-end the economy and devote your entire attention to their nonsense. In epidemiology as in global warming, they should be ignored, or preferably de-funded.

COVID-19 is not especially lethal, nowhere near as lethal as Ebola or even SARS, the Chinese coronavirus that spread earlier this century. However, it is especially infectious; it spreads more rapidly than most other known viruses and is infectious for up to two weeks before symptoms appear (if they ever do; there are many asymptomatic patients). Since it also appears not to bring its victims long-term immunity, it is likely to recur in large waves for the foreseeable future. Eventually, we will discover a vaccine that is fully effective against it, or effective enough to prevent it spreading rapidly through the populace. However, it appears likely that the first vaccines will not have a high level of efficacy, and hence while dampening the worst epidemics will not eliminate the disease from the population – any more than flu vaccines, even if universally administered, would completely eliminate flu from the population.

One problem that has caused Boris Johnson to lock down Britain is the inadequate capacity of the National Health Service. Since 1948, British health care has been run on a Soviet style central planning model, with market forces playing no role (not that U.S. health care is a perfect free market model, far from it). As a result, Britain has only 6.6 intensive care unit beds per 100,000 population, compared to 34.7 ICU beds per 100,000 in the U.S. and 29.2 per 1200,000 in Germany, a well-run hybrid system that has coped well with COVID-19. Naturally, as in all centrally planned economies, this has produced a severe shortage of beds when the healthcare system is put under the strain of a novel virus. The normal NHS approach, of lining all the patients up in a lengthy queue of several months and ignoring those who die before treatment can be received, works poorly in this case; too many patients die for lack of ICU facilities.

The system has had eight months to prepare for a recurrence of Covid-19. For a fraction of the cost of the idiotic economic bailouts that are now being brought again into action, additional temporary ICU facilities could have been prepared, as they were in New York in April under the magnificent leadership of President Trump (who the world is going to miss badly after January 20). In 1665, the British political system knew that flexibility was required, moving the entire seat of government to Oxford when plague struck. Under the socialist dead weight of the NHS, no such flexibility appears to be possible.

While the world has been spared a pandemic of this nature since 1918’s Spanish influenza, it should be prepared for future recurrences. There remain large parts of the world where living conditions are overcrowded and sanitary conditions poor, and in those areas, diseases can always mutate and spread themselves into the general population. One behavioral change that would mitigate this is a drastic reduction in international air travel – COVID 19 spread throughout the world within weeks because of the ubiquity of mindless international travelers, especially among the student population. While domestic quarantines can do little to limit the spread of a disease once it has entered the population, international ones can certainly slow its initial transmission. The fact that Italy, for example, was full of Chinese workers from Wuhan on temporary visas is a pathological side-effect of excessive globalization that we should prevent.

There is a blessed Darwinian rule of thumb relating to naturally-generated pandemics: either their mortality rate is high, or their infection rate is high but not both. If the disease has a high mortality rate, it is unlikely to be especially infectious, or to have a latency period as long as COVID-19, because it would quickly create a local desert and run out of victims. Thus, lockdowns are almost always futile; a disease like COVID-19 can beat them, and the economic and medical damage done by the lockdown is far greater than its benefit.

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IN BRIEF

The Fight for Georgia: Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock slammed police, honored Jeremiah "God D—n America" Wright (Daily Wire)

Leftists invite voters to exploit the Peach State's weak residency rules to stuff ballot boxes (Tennessee Star)

Pennsylvania received 10,000 mail-in ballots after polls closed on Election Day thanks to court-sanctioned "grace period" (Washington Examiner)

The Pennsylvania lawsuit explained (Power Line) | A user's guide to the PA challenge (Washington Examiner)

In 353 U.S. counties, 1.8 million more voters registered than eligible citizens (Daily Wire)

Trump legal assault exposes election shenanigans — but faces high hurdles (Washington Times)

Biden in September: I will not declare victory until the election is independently certified (Breitbart)

Lincoln Project backstabbers face backlash for urging people to harass Trump's legal team (Sara Carter)

GOP Senate would leave Biden to pursue tax agenda through administrative action (Washington Examiner)

Biden coronavirus adviser wants U.S. to distribute vaccine globally before it's available to all Americans (Fox)

Black Lives Matter pens letter to Biden and Harris: "We want something for our vote" (Daily Wire)

Mitch McConnell unanimously reelected GOP leader — hopefully long term (NY Post)

California voters reject revamp to property tax system (Fox Business) and expanded "rent control" (NR)

Vatican's Theodore McCarrick report says Pope John Paul II knew of misconduct allegations nearly two decades before cardinal's removal (Washington Post)

Authors retract study showing efficacy of mask mandates — as Biden pushes nationwide requirement (FEE) | On the flip side, CDC report says masks protect wearers and everyone else (NBC)

U.S. gets scolded by tone-deaf China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran on human rights at UN (Examiner)

Japanese town deploys "monster wolf" robots to deter wild bears (OAN)

Policy: Trump's greatest achievement: The president has exposed the rot and corruption of our ruling class (American Mind)

Policy: Why a Biden presidency would be a gift to Iran (FrontPage Mag)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, November 12, 2020



Trump was a valuable aberration, never a long-term option

One opinion

Veni, vidi, vici. Donald Trump came, he saw, he conquered. Not for long. But long enough to leave a substantial legacy. Like a case study in Joseph Schumpeter’s creative destruction, the deal-making entrepreneur came, he saw and he disrupted many of the political and policy baselines that had been the received wisdom.

But the chaos candidate asked too much of voters at the 2020 election. Most people can hold their noses for only so long to avoid his badmouthed, bad-mannered, boorish, bullying and often deranged behaviour. Another four years was beyond the pale.

Trump was always going to claim, with scant evidence to date, that dark forces stole high office from him. Mr Fake News warned us that he is a bad loser. His behaviour confirms why a blustering, self-obsessed and insecure man who tweets in capital letters like a madman is an aberration, not a long-term option for Republicans.

That said, his legacy is undeniable. Before his arrival, the Republican Party was dangerously uninterested in the dislocation felt by millions of Americans, economically and culturally. It isn’t any more. Voters who were forgotten by the Republican establishment were out-and-out despised by the other side. Demo­crats, and Hillary Clinton, learned the hard way that dissing possible Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” was not a path to victory.

Trump’s legacy is that the Democrats chose Joe Biden, a working-class kid from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who was able to reconstruct the blue wall of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that Trump, the disrupter, breached in 2016.

On policy, the disrupter-in-chief challenged a cosy consensus that China’s economic growth — the communist country is now the second largest economy — would bring it closer to the West. Trump confronted China’s gaming of its “developing country” status, where countries self-declare their status to the World Trade Organisation to attract “special and differential treatment”. It is obscene that some of the wealthiest WTO members — including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Israel, Kuwait, Brunei and Qatar — self-declare as developing members to avail themselves of special treatment that applies to sub-Saharan Africa.

Trump has reminded Europe and NATO to fund more of their own security. Europe is learning from Trump that every country needs to secure its own borders.

He shook-up the media, too, even if that didn’t last long. After his 2016 win, The New York Times and Washington Post delivered grovelling apologies for not under­standing or caring about large swathes of the country who voted for Trump. If they do not glean anything from the fact Trumpism was not trounced at the ballot box last week, Trump’s case to voters will remain powerful: the country is at risk of being stolen from mainstream voters by big bus­iness, big media and cultural elites.

It is Trump’s legacy, too, that Americans voted in record numbers. Just as Trump was a necessary jolt to the system, Biden’s win is a sensible shift in this political cycle, signalled by him securing not only the electoral college votes but also the largest popular vote in US history. Even so, Democrats should be wary of gloating. After all, Trump won the second largest popular vote recorded.

Just as Democrats regrouped around Biden after Trump’s win in 2016, Republicans now can search for a longer-term alternative to Trump. Sound economic policies, tackling PC culture and identity politics, and a nation’s security cannot rely on a foul-mouthed bully who lacked grace and decency in the highest job. His vulgar contempt for the country, not yet conceding defeat, confirms why Americans voted strategically: on personality, they categorically fired Trump. But Biden was not handed a resounding policy win.

No Republican standing for re-election in the House of Represen­tatives lost their seat. With Dem­ocrats losing at least seven, their majority is reduced to the thin­nest margin in decades. No wonder centrist Democrats are coming for house Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republicans look set to maintain their Senate majority, too. There are more GOP governors than Democrat ones and Republicans control most state legislatures.

In other words, Americans do not want to veer wildly to the left. The results are an invitation to moderates on both sides to take steps to lead the country out of a period of profound polarisation.

Doubt there is a constituency for a depolarisation project? Notice that woke folk didn’t get a blank cheque from voters even in California. A state measure, Proposition 16, would have introduced race-based preferences into state education, hiring and contracts. Supported by most of California’s political and business elites, it was rejected at the same ballot box that swung Biden’s way.

Writing in Politico Magazine, Michael Grunwald summed up the election this way: “Trump called Biden ‘the most boring human being I’ve ever seen’, and a majority of the country seemed OK with that. Normal is underrated in politics, and norms are underappreciated until they’re gone,” he wrote. “While Trump’s great-again message evoked a certain kind of nostalgia for an America before diversity workshops and gender-neutral bathrooms, Biden evokes a different kind of nostalgia for an older brand of politics.”

Biden delivered a pitch-perfect speech on Sunday, pointing out the need to start healing divisions in America. Not just in America, in fact. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric,” he said, “lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again and to make progress. We have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies.” It’s schmaltzy. And it’s true. Many of us are exhausted, disappointed and bewildered by the confected and downright crazy Armageddon arms race launched by the extremes of both side of politics, and not just in the US but in Australia too.

Just as Trump’s win in 2016 was not the end of the world for the left, neither is his defeat the end of Western civilisation for the right. Biden said he understood the disappointment of Trump voters: “I’ve lost a couple of elections myself. But now let’s give each other a chance.”

If he is serious about transforming the teleprompter stuff into action, he could start by reminding his party and the broader liberal-elite hegemony that if you deem certain views deplorable, don’t be surprised if another deplorable populist exploits genuine voter frustration. Can Trump supporters give Biden a chance? Many won’t, especially those in the media. They have invested too much, often their careers, in Trump and Trumpism to admit when he crossed countless lines of basic decency. They emboldened Trump to descend into the final Borat-style farce of claiming hundreds of thousands of votes were stolen from him. His blinkered boosters have ensured he is a laughing-stock, despite his legacy elsewhere.

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Wait Just a Minute! Some Very Good News May Be Coming

Like many, I spent the last few nights waking up at 2:03 A.M., no reason, then looking at my phone for news, any news, that might be positive for President Trump. I survived on Rush, Bongino, Mark Levin. When the news continued to be ugly, I even checked in on ridiculous bloggers promising that ballots were watermarked and D.J. (our household name for a president we love) was actually launching a sting on the Deep State.

Enough already. Stop the madness.

Hey, I have a degree in statistics, and I have some level of critical thought. If there is such pessimism in my tribe, I am not going along.

So today, I started to dig into the numbers, and as I did, I fought my confirmation bias at every step.

I realized that I, like millions of others, had been numbed into despondency by the overwhelming press, media, social media push to certify President-Elect Biden. (I put that in there so you can see how repellent it is.)

Hey guys, this thing is not only not over; it is scary for Biden. I mean really scary, and most of all, the media know it. Thus, the rush to get everyone in line with the narrative that a 78-year-old, early-dementia former V.P., who could not draw a crowd larger than a dozen, just beat D.J. in a fair election.

Process that for a moment.

Start with Pennsylvania. Biden, as of this writing, is at 290 electoral votes. Pennsylvania is 20.

I read the Justice Alito opinion, and it is pretty clear that he wants the after election night at 8:00 P.M. votes separated for a reason. Biden is going to lose at the Supreme Court, and they know it. Four justices already said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cannot adjust voting rules. A new arrival, Justice Barrett, says she is there to apply the rules in the Constitution. OK, wanna bet she does?

Remove the after 8:00 P.M. ballots, and Biden loses Pennsylvania. Biden 270.

Let's visit Nevada. I have lots of friends in California who have condos in Nevada to evade state taxes. There are not a couple of people doing this; there are tens of thousands. Everyone knows it, and California seeks them out.

Our old pal Harry Reid knows it as well, and he apparently has them voting in droves in this election. Probably not a big D.J. constituency. Within 72 hours of the election, the Trump team found, validated over 3,500 of them. I do not suspect that Trump's people stopped counting.

Every one of these is a ballot reduction for Biden

Nevada, as of now, is well within reach for DJ and the Trump team — particularly when the California crowd is reduced. And a few of them may testify since a false vote is a very bad thing, with jail time if convicted. Maybe a bigger story here.

Remember where we are, people. Biden is at 270 after a highly probable Supreme Court decision (read Alito and concurring opinions).

Lose Nevada, lose the election.

But wait: it gets better.

Let's visit Wisconsin. Right now, it is 20,000 votes in Uncle Joe's direction. Lots of stories out there, well below the Google fold, that there are way more Wisconsin votes than there are registered voters. OK, maybe the dead can vote up there — probably a Midwest thing.

Well, last night, we found that Wisconsin election clerks were told, and followed the direction, to modify mail-in ballots and fill in the blanks where witnesses left out critical info.

I am sure it was just a good customer service thing and they meant no harm. The problem is every such ballot is now toast.

There were "thousands" of such prima facie wrongful votes. Oops. Biden up 20,000 — now that number is in question. No more truckloads of votes coming in, so every ballot D.J.'s team eliminates gets President-Elect Biden one step closer to former V.P. Biden who lives in a basement. Not good here.

North Carolina. That one pretty much looks like as though it is over and D.J. won it. Fox News is rumored to call it for Trump around April 2021.

Remember where we are here. Biden is probably going to lose Pennsylvania, so if he loses even one state, even one Electoral College vote, ouch!

Either D.J. wins outright, or it goes to the House, which means that D.J. has four more years.

We're not done yet.

Michigan. Oh, yes, the land of the "glitches" in the voting machines. Six thousand votes for Trump given to Biden in one of 47 counties where that software is used. About 150,000 votes in Biden's favor right now.

Google the 130,000 Biden votes that showed up in the middle of the night, and you can see how the wonderful people at Google are fact-checking this "debunked" story. In fact, for fun, Google "Michigan voter fraud," and you get literally three pages of "this was fact checked and proven to be false." Why would Google be so assiduous?

They too see that if Amy votes with the four, Biden is one vote away from the basement.

Lawsuits in Michigan and the other states are being launched, and discovery will take place. Google will not be there.

Voter fraud is kind of like larceny. A little is OK. It is even kind of entertaining.

Dead people have been voting for a hundred years in Democratic cities. It is such a constant that one would think the Republican Party would consider a Dead Voter Outreach program to get their share.

But voter fraud on this scale is just not sustainable. It does not pass the common sense test.

We have bloggers with lots of time on their hands going through voter rolls and showing that person after person who voted in a swing state also fought in the Civil War or maybe the War of 1812. It was funny at first, but the overwhelming number now goes beyond humor and rubs our faces in it.

I think D.J. has to swing one state. Actually, one electoral vote. Not only is this thing not over, but the Biden team must be sweating bullets.

Voter fraud at scale seemed like a really cool idea until D.J. went to the mattresses. Now that he is fighting it out one voter at a time, with the Supreme Court likely to create the starting point at Biden 270, Biden has everything to lose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020


The coronavirus tradeoffs

“It’s precisely because COVID-19 has shown us that life is so fragile that we should make a priority to actually live it.” —New York Post columnist Karol Marcowicz

No doubt Marcowicz will be pilloried for her above sentiments, but she is only restating in far more personal terms an immutable reality expressed by Hoover Institution senior fellow Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions. There are only tradeoffs.”

Is a nation where fear has been relentlessly cultivated for almost a year ready to deal with that? In the long run, we’re all dead. But what about the interim between now and then? Should you attempt to maintain some semblance of normalcy, or submit to the demons of isolation, loneliness, and boredom, along with all the possible pathologies such misery engenders?

For many Americans, the answers are elusive for one overriding reason: The coronavirus has been the most politicized affliction in the history of the nation. And perhaps the most damning part of that politicization has been the twisted effort to raise the importance of death by coronavirus over death by anything and everything else. Thus, while America is bombarded with a steady diet of coronavirus death totals, deaths from suicide, drug overdoses, and, most especially, the thousands of Americans suffering from serious conditions who died as a result of delaying or not seeking care have been largely suppressed. This suppression has occurred despite the reality that the levels of excess deaths not related to the coronavirus — but directly related to what columnist Jeffery A. Tucker labels “disabled human freedom and social functioning” — are nothing short of astounding.

Nonetheless, they remain largely irrelevant, because in modern-day America, where there is politicization, Big Tech/Leftmedia censorship of “unreliable” viewpoints follows in short order. “Experts” and “outliers,” labeled as such insofar as they serve or don’t serve the interests of our Ruling Class corporate oligarchy, have been quickly identified as those to be revered or despised.

That many of the revered, such as the World Health Organization or Dr. Anthony Fauci, have blatantly lied or flip-flopped? That the effectiveness of certain drugs was promoted or dismissed based largely on political considerations? That social distancing has been measured not in terms of science but in terms of what more than 1,000 health professionals considered “legitimate” large gatherings against “racial injustice” versus “illegitimate” large gatherings such as church attendance or political rallies derided as “super-spreaders”? That the quest for a vaccine has already been reduced to political and racial considerations about its potential effectiveness?

While this orchestrated cacophony remains ongoing, one thing is appearing more certain than ever: The chief culprit behind the literal reordering of our entire society remains largely unaccountable. No matter how many Americans die, how hard our constitutional rights are trampled, and how much our economy has been shattered — to the point where some sectors may never recover — our elitist oligarchy and its useful idiot political allies in both parties remain “bullish” on China.

How grotesque is their capitulation? More than 5,400 Americans were killed in the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks combined. As of this writing, more than 230,000 American have died of coronavirus — as in more than 40 times the number killed in the two worst domestic attacks this nation ever endured.

How is this reality not part of the political equation going forward? Because when push comes to shove for the nation’s globalist elites, American lives are more expendable than Chinese market share.

Moreover, the most serious question surrounding the pandemic remains unanswered. What if an effective vaccine is never produced? Even now, according to CDC estimates for the 2018-19 season, the flu vaccine was only 29% effective. Even if a coronavirus vaccine doubled that level of effectiveness and everyone received it, more than two-fifths of Americans would remain vulnerable to the virus.

Have Americans faced the possibility that there’s no end to the pandemic for the foreseeable future? The antipathy directed at those who suggest herd immunity is the answer — as in the idea those who even broach the subject “don’t care how many people die” — is disingenuous. No matter how unpleasant, there may be no other choice available, other than societal suicide.

It has been less than a year, and “pandemic fatigue” is already an integral part of the national equation, especially among younger Americans who face the possibility of never going through the myriad of social rituals that transitioning to adulthood normally involves.

At what point does the seemingly quixotic and dubious effort to “flatten the curve” completely flatten all hope for the future?

It may very well be that, going forward, therapeutics mitigating the effects of the virus rather than eliminating it are the only answer. That most Americans don’t want to hear that is unsurprising, because it will require people to make choices they would dearly love to avoid. Thus, for every Karol Marcowicz who chooses to see those who matter on Thanksgiving, possibly for the last time, there’s a California Governor Gavin Newsom who decrees that gatherings (implicitly including Thanksgiving) must be celebrated outdoors, for a shortened period of time, and limited to three or fewer households, even if that means some family members can’t attend.

And that’s assuming Americans will be allowed to make any choices for themselves. The autocratic tendencies of several politicians cannot be denied, even to the point of advocating for the familiar police-state tactic of snitching on one’s fellow Americans for failing to follow their diktats.

What level of control — and surveillance — sold as concerns about health will Americans tolerate? It is already clear, despite no mention whatsoever in the document itself, that millions of Americans are willing to embrace the suspension of constitutional rights as a tradeoff for dealing with a “national emergency.”

National emergency as defined by whom, and based on what? There are strong indications that the coronavirus mortality rate will decline to flu-like levels. What then? And since widespread draconian lockdowns, better described as a “template for oppression,” are still being implemented — despite all the scientific evidence of their deleterious and often deadly effects — what else, even something wholly unrelated to disease or healthcare, can be declared a national emergency in order to implement the same kind of oppression? Oppression inevitably accompanied by economic and social catastrophe?

Will Americans ultimately allow government to define what “actually living” means?

“We all miss normal and long for its return,” Marcowicz writes. “Even all the side pleasures of COVID — the baking and the togetherness, the empty subways and the beautiful outdoor dining set-ups — only manage to somewhat mask that we yearn so badly for our lives, our real lives, the ones hopefully waiting for us on the other side of this.”

We’re already on the other side of this and our real lives have been irrevocably changed. And realistically speaking, anything resembling normalcy going forward will come down to one overriding choice: allowing our yearning to conquer our fear.

That’s the ultimate tradeoff — all the distractions and machinations in the world notwithstanding.

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GOP Adds at Least 11 Women to House

The strong performance of Republican congressional candidates may be one of the most unexpected and even shocking outcomes of the election, especially for House Democrats. Not only did the Democrat Party fail to expand its majority by “double digits,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been predicting, but they lost a net total of five seats with a real possibility of losing another five or six. So much for a blue wave. If anything, this wave was red.

Even worse for Democrats is that the ones leading this red wave were women. The number of female Republican representatives in the House has at least doubled with the addition of 11 members.

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who helped lead the effort to recruit more women candidates, called it “the night of Republican women.” She added, “Despite the media and the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] issuing demeaning comments and saying it wasn’t possible, look at the outcome. We are going to have incredible women who have earned this victory themselves in these districts in the next Congress.”

Stefanik argued that one of the biggest motivating factors that pushed more Republican women to run was the hubris of the Democrats’ identity politics. “One interesting theme in my early conversations with these women candidates on the Republican side is that [they said] the party of Nancy Pelosi does not represent the vast majority of women in America,” she explained. “The Democratic Party does not have a monopoly on women candidates or women voters.” Amen to that.

Also of significance, these wins serve to double the number of pro-life women in the House. “The surge of victorious pro-life women candidates in the U.S. House is a stunning blow to Nancy Pelosi and her pro-abortion agenda,” asserted Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. “So far, we have more than doubled the number of pro-life women in the House, with more races to be called. Seven pro-life women candidates flipped pro-abortion Democrat-held seats.”

Will mainstream media pundits celebrate this important increase in the number of women representatives as they did in in 2018? Given the mainstream media’s distain for Republicans, don’t bet on it. That said, while it appears there will be little celebrating for Republicans and conservatives when it comes to the presidential election results, there are some significant bright spots that shouldn’t be missed.

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The Left Threatens GOP: 'We Have a List' and You'll Never Work Again if You Helped Trump

Former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden used the power of the office to spy on the media and political enemies, including, of course, Donald Trump. Obama kept a disposition matrix, an assassination list. And now the D.C. Left is trotting out a new list. It goes something like this: If you complain about potential voter fraud in the 2020 election, you’ll never work in this town again and if you ever worked for Trump, you’re through.

The threat has been issued by Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who explicitly threatens to cancel any Republican “making baseless allegations of fraud,” among other things. Of course, as per usual, they’ll decide the meaning of “baseless,” thank-you-very-much. In fact, Jen will probably pull a Crazy Hirono and DM Merriam-Webster demanding they change the definition of the word “baseless” or “fraud” before the deadline. Or else.

The Lincoln Project, and their siren, Tokyo Rose Rubin, have held themselves out as principled conservatives. Their principle is pretense. The organization has been anything but principled, what with claiming that Trump’s a secret Russian agent, and worse disinformation, such as he won’t leave if he’s defeated, and will change the law to stay 12 years. We’re talking unhinged here. Their purpose in life is to troll the president and if the lo-fo crowd buys their agitprop, so be it.

Being the “principled conservative” that she is, Rubin is more than happy to pile on.

“Any R now promoting rejection of an election or calling to not to follow the will of voters or making baseless allegations of fraud should never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into “polite” society. We have a list.”

And she’s not alone in keeping a list. My colleague Stacey Lennox points me to this AOC tweet followed by a blue checkmark named Michael Simon, who’s starting an entire project to keep track of people who deigned to become Trump supporters. They’re finished.

Simon is a former Obama administration analytics guy who has started the “Trump Accountability Project” to keep a list of, as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez calls them, “Trump sycophants.”

He was right there to pick up what she was throwing down. “Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets [sic], writings, photos in the future,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Simon responded, in a now-deleted tweet:

Yes, we are. The Trump Accountability Project (@trumpaccproject) [sic] Every Administration staffer, campaign staffer, bundler, lawyer who represented them – everyone.

And what will they do with such information? As Tokyo Rose Rubin pointed out in her above tweet, anyone supporting Donald Trump should “never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into ‘polite’ society.”

We have a list.

Diversity of opinion will not be tolerated. Because of your views, you’ll never work in this town — or anyplace in the business world, universities, or board rooms.

We have a list. It is the disposition matrix of people with different political views. They won’t kill you, just your livelihood.

Like the good totalitarians they are.

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IN BRIEF

Biden to increase H-1B visa limit, remove country quota for green cards (Economic Times)

Campaign manager says the Left's puppet is "going to make good" on "incredibly progressive" agenda (The Hill)

Seven big items on the White House agenda (Daily Signal)

"Extremely hostile to anything that even smells progressive": AOC lashes out at Democrat Party (The Blaze)

Fox News wrongly called five Democrat pickups in House in addition to early Arizona call (Power Line)

Dr. Fauci said Trump "asking for trouble" with "super spreader" rallies — but silent on Biden celebrations (Fox News)

"Since this was developed under Trump & because of his leadership, will Kamala Harris & the other Dems who said they wouldn't take a 'Trump vaccine' still refuse, or are we just going to pretend none that happened?" —Allie Beth Stuckey

"You are about as smart as a clump of sand if you think the timing of this announcement is a coincidence. They waited until the media declared Biden the winner. Then we hear about the vaccine." —Matt Walsh

Tropical Storm Eta makes landfall in south Florida (Fox News)

Snippet: The reason our democratic republic has functioned as well as it has for the past 231 years is because of our trust in the electoral process. When confidence in the election process disappears, confidence in the legitimacy of government disappears with it. It is a very potent way to destabilize a democracy.

Policy: The constitutional way to defeat Cancel Culture (Heritage Foundation)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020


There is a way to Win back the stolen election

Quantitative analysis could help

Did America just hold a deeply fraudulent election? Many people believe so. Disturbingly few seem willing to vouch for its integrity; instead, they insist that “there is no evidence of fraud.”

Fair enough. It’s actually possible to split that difference. America just held an election featuring many anomalies that have not yet been proven fraudulent. It thus seems obvious that what America now needs is a fraud investigation.

Any inquiry into the integrity of Tuesday’s elections must consider the entire process. Taking things in order, ballots are produced (i.e., printed), distributed (to voters), completed (by voters), transported (via a chain of custody), delivered (to an Elections Board), handled (by a worker), tabulated (by computer or by hand), and reported (as part of the information revealed to the public).

In the 2020 election, nominally under the duress of “ballot access during COVID,” jurisdictions across the country introduced new and untested procedures pushing ballot integrity in precisely the wrong direction—on each and every step. As anyone with any experience in systems knows, new and untested procedures heading into a major event guarantee failure—even if the new procedures are objectively “better” than those they replace. Too many people need to retrain, coordinate their actions, and realign their expectations too quickly.

An electoral system with safeguards would introduce mechanisms designed to protect the integrity of each step. While some of these safeguards are complicated and technical, others are common sense. People who show up at a specific time and place offering an ID are less likely to be acting fraudulently than those who do not. Ballots mailed only to those who request them are less likely to fall into fraudulent hands than to those broadcast to a pre-existing list. Advanced registration using verifiable data reduces votes from ineligible voters.

The 2020 election walked away from each of these safeguards. In 2020, for the first time, many states mailed ballots to everyone on their voter rolls—without first cleaning those rolls. They encouraged people to vote by mail rather than in person. They legalized, popularized, or promoted insecure distribution networks like dropboxes and ballot harvesters. They dropped standard requirements for validating documents, like legible signatures and postmarks and a trusted chain of custody.

The resultant electoral system lacked safeguards capable of ensuring either that every tabulated ballot came from an eligible voter, or that every legal vote placed into the distribution system was tabulated. Because systems designed to ease fraud typically invite fraud, it was predictable and predicted that the tabulations would include most but not all properly cast votes, along with a sizable number of illegal ballots.

Common sense and logic, however, do not constitute “evidence.” They can’t identify which ballots were fraudulent or what effect the fraud had on the election. Yet sifting through millions of ballots looking for indicia of fraud on each one is a painstaking process. Given the sheer numbers and time constraints, it’s effectively undoable.

Fortunately, modern technology has developed advanced statistical techniques known as data mining and Artificial Intelligence. Data scientists have deployed these tools with great success to identify fraud in a variety of financial markets and elsewhere. They have been utilized for years to identify and track transactions linked to terrorist and other criminal activities. Without getting into technical specifics, these data tools develop a sense of “normal” behavior, then highlight only things that appear unusual.

Individual ballots voting for only one office or splitting parties are more interesting than those voting a straight party line.

Precincts that doubled their voter turnout, or shifted their partisan preferences significantly, are more interesting than those showing the same voting patterns as they did in recent elections.

Ballots delivered in a batch skewing far more favorably for one candidate than the balance of the jurisdiction that cast them are interesting; those that solidify a community’s leanings are not.

These sophisticated quantitative tools alone are still not enough to “prove” fraud. They are, however, a critical step along the way. They can eliminate the vast majority of ballots from consideration and focus the attention of fraud investigators on the anomalies most likely indicative of fraud. From there, the work remains challenging—but the task becomes achievable.

We already know that the 2020 electoral system was designed using new and untested procedures, many of which reduced safeguards capable of deterring fraud. Record numbers of ballots arrived from many new sources, delivered in many new ways. Many anecdotes of improprieties are circulating—at least some of which appear highly credible. Patterns of tabulation and reporting, particularly since election night, are statistically improbable.

America deserves to know—quickly—if it has been defrauded. Without that knowledge, America may send the election’s legitimate winner packing—and will certainly inaugurate a President operating beneath a permanent cloud. In other words, there’s only one way forward. In addition to the phalanx of lawyers already descending upon the most anomalous states, send in the quants!

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Trump campaigners claim hundreds of instances of 'voter irregularity'

Chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp has claimed to have found hundreds of examples of “voter irregularity” during Nevada’s electoral process.

Speaking today in Las Vegas, Mr Schlapp said an investigation would be launched into the matter – which he claimed involved many instances of votes being cast in the names of deceased residents of Clark County in support of now President-elect Joe Biden.

“It’s important for people to know that what happened in Vegas, the entire world needs to understand,” he said.

“In this election cycle, it is critical that the vast majority of Americans have confidence in the result of this election.

“We have seen political division like we haven’t seen in a number of years.

“The way we resolve division, even when you don’t get your way in an election, is to count every legal ballot … and make sure that illegal ballots do not reduce the civil rights and the votes of those who voted legally.”

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Why did so many people vote for Trump? Like it or not, he is a 'safe space' for millions

A Leftist view:

While the world watches and waits, the half of Americans who didn’t vote for Trump are trying to understand why the other half doubled down on their support of him, and why he was able to improve his vote by about seven million votes from 2016.

It was also confounding, not to mention saddening, to many progressives to learn Trump made incursions into voter bases the Democrats have traditionally owned - black men, Latino people, and Asian people.

Trump’s mass appeal remains incomprehensible to many, particularly to those of us outside the United States.

American philosopher and author Sam Harris addressed this very mystery in an episode of his podcast Making Sense, recorded just before the vote.

“I've been struggling for years to understand how it is possible that nearly half of American society admires or supports Trump,” he said.

Trump’s secret, Harris opined, is that no matter how boastful and narcissistic he is, “he is never actually communicating that he is better than you, more enlightened, more decent, because he’s not, and everyone knows it”.

“Because he is never really judging you ... he offers a truly safe space for human frailty and hypocrisy and self doubt,” said Harris. “His personal shamelessness is a spiritual balm.”

This appeal makes sense, Harris reckons, when you juxtapose it with the moral superiority, judgment and sanctimony that many of Trump’s supporters (and others) associate with the left.

There seem to be two divergent theories when it comes to explaining Trump’s appeal. One is economic - his supporters see him as strong on the economy, tough on economic “rivals” like China, and a booster for the blue collar workers whose socio-economic status is threatened by globalisation.

The other theory cleaves close to Harris’ - that Trumpism is an identity marker, a protest against the social forces of liberalism. It is about identity and feeling, having little to do with rational economic forces.

Trump has style. It is a style they enjoy watching – bombastic, iconoclastic, a f--k you to the morals and niceties of the liberal middle class. In Freudian terms, Trump is the ultimate id – all instinct and impulse, unchecked by any real controls.

It is mesmerising to watch, and perhaps many millions of people who are happy for him to be that way, because they feel they can’t be that way themselves. Research this year from the Cato Institute found 62 per cent of Americans felt the contemporary political climate prevented them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive. The fear was stronger in Republicans than others.

When you remember Trump’s route to the White House was via the yellow brick road of American celebrity, the passionate support of his followers makes even more sense. We need our celebrities to live large and be outrageous, and we forgive them everything if we like their style.

We don’t need them to be perfect, on the contrary, we actively want them to be kind-of terrible. When Mariah Carey demands a room-full of puppies on her show rider, it reinforces the essence of her Mariah-ness. If you accept who Trump is, and don’t take everything he says terribly seriously, you might find his blustering messages on the “Chinese flu” pleasing, and enjoy it when he denounces progressive elites.

It is performative, and perhaps you believe that, putting aside the showmanship, he gets the major calls right – the economy has done well (exit polls show 76 per cent of Trump voters think the economy is “excellent or good”, while 81 per cent of Biden voters think it’s “not so good or poor”). He has also “stood up to China”, and been “tough” on borders

The only upside of Trump's enormous personal celebrity appeal is it will be impossible to recapture when he goes. But his indelible mark on American democracy means plenty of others will try, both in the United States and abroad.

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IN BRIEF

Trump won highest share of non-white vote of any Republican since 1960 (National Review) | Trump performed historically well with Jewish voters (Free Beacon)

Pelosi silent on House losses in Biden victory memo to fellow Democrats (Washington Examiner)

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro — who stated "Trump is going to lose" — directed voters who need assistance to the Democrat help line (Not the Bee)

National Guard called into Portland amid widespread violence after election (NY Post)

Portland votes to create community-run police oversight board (The Hill)

Kim Foxx, Cook County's crooked State's Attorney, fends off Republican challenger (Chicago Tribune)

Illinois voters reject governor's push to hike taxes on rich (Fox Business)

French military kills 50 jihadist fighters, detains 4 in Mali strike (Disrn)

Why defending Taiwan is an American political consensus (AEI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, November 09, 2020


The surprising stock market

I follow only the Australian stock market but it generally mirrors Wall st. and I gather that it is still doing so at the moment

The surprise is how robust stock values are at the moment. The lockdowns knocked about 12% off the value of my portfolio but the election has substantially reversed that. My portfolio is now only about 6% down on where it was

There were a lot of pundits who said the market was in for a big fall. So what happened? It seems to be that investors now expect gridlock in American politics. And gridlock is something conservatives rather like. If there is no agreement in politics, no new laws will be passed and no new regulations will be issued. That means that businesses have to cope with market challenges only, not political changes. While the politicians are squabbling with one another, it gets them off the back of business

There was a good example of that during the British prime ministership of the unfortunate Theresa May. Her weak leadership plus a near balance in the House of Commons meant that very little got done politically. And British business boomed at that time.

So it seems that U.S. business is expecting something similar now. And that expectation will be well and truly fulfilled if, as expected, the GOP retains control of the Senate.

And over the last 4 years the GOP has very largely become the party of Trump. His attitudes and policies have not only won huge approval among the GOP rank and file but have also percolated into the thinking of most Senators, the contemptible Mitt Romney being the obvious exception. But even waverers like Romney, Collins and Murkowsky have generally gone along with the rest of their Senate colleagues anyhow. So a Senate dominated by Trump thinking will be a total roadblock to any of the insane new legislation that Biden has proposed.

And note that the GOP has also done well both in the House and in picking up State governorships. So even if sufficient new votes are "found" to deny the GOP complete control of the Senate, Congress as a whole will end up finely balanced and should as such fulfil its traditional role as a brake on change. Getting a majority for anything in either house is not easy. Only measures with a considerable degree of consensus behind them normally get up.

It took the first two years of his presidency for Obama and his supporters to get Obamacare through, during which little else got done

And I haven't even mentioned yet the now very conservative Supreme Court. The one big thing that conservatives wanted from Trump was to rebalance the Supreme Court and he achieved exactly that. And the Supreme court has a proven ability to knock on the head any adventurous legislation or regulations -- JR

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Brash and bold, Trump’s legacy will endure

Donald Trump has transformed America. The election is gone, Trump is still there. At time of writing, the odds favour Joe Biden getting across the line. Trump’s huge vote and Republican advances in congress could be seen as a moral victory. But Trump is not remotely interested in moral victories.

Everyone’s calculations got thrown out this election because people who voted on polling day voted Trump, while those who voted by mail-in ballot voted Biden. Therefore in some states Trump had leads of hundreds of thousands, which withered when the mail votes were counted.

The purpose of Trump’s allegations are twofold. One is to give some momentum to the legal challenges his campaign has launched against counting certain votes that they claim came in too late or were otherwise invalid. It is perfectly legitimate for Trump to pursue all legal avenues.

However, even if they have some modest success, these actions won’t get so many votes excluded that it changes the result.

Second, Trump sets up the narrative that the election was stolen. This enables him to stay the centre of attention and continue what he loves most, wage a campaign of grievance.

There is a theoretical, extreme scenario in which Republican state legislatures, say in Georgia, decide votes have been rigged and so choose only electoral college delegates who will support Trump as president. It’s technically possible but pretty much inconceivable if courts have ruled the votes valid.

One of the ironies of Trump’s likely defeat is it means the Republican Party is not rid of Trump. He can threaten to run for the presidency again for the next three years. If he had won the presidency, at least the Republicans could start to sort themselves out about who they can run next time, and on what basis.

But Trump’s legacy for the Republicans, for America and for the world is huge. It does not hinge on this one set of comments.

Let’s consider them one by one: Trump’s legacy for democracy, for America, for conservative politics and for the world.

First of all, consider Trump’s vote. Biden won the popular vote. He has about 74 million votes now and by the end of all states doing all their counting will have probably a couple of million more. He already has more votes than have ever been cast for any presidential candidate previously in US history. On any measure, that is a huge achievement for Biden. If as seems likely he inches ahead in the electoral college and becomes president there can be no doubting the legitimacy of his presidency, nor his singular place in the history of American presidential elections.

Guess who has the second highest popular vote in US presidential history? One Donald J. Trump. He has about 70 million votes now and he too should end up with a million or two more by the end. More people voted for Trump than ever voted for Barack Obama, the previous record holder, or for Hillary Clinton last time, or for any other president.

Not only that, Trump clearly held up the Republican vote. It’s still murky but it seems that the Republicans have held control of the Senate and have actually picked up a net gain of six seats in the US House of Representatives. It’s possible that two senators will have to go to run-off elections in Georgia on January 5. The Republicans would need to win one of them to retain control of the Senate.

This is because Georgia has a provision that if the winning candidate does not win 50 per cent, a run-off is held. Would Georgians vote to constrain a Biden presidency with a Republican senate? Would they vote to make it more likely a Biden presidency could get key legislation passed? What role will Trump himself play in such an election?

But let’s stick with Trump’s vote for a minute. According to the US liberal establishment, the nation was reeling under its moral revulsion at Trump and his Republican enablers. This is plainly just not true. Republicans picked up a state governorship in Montana and now control the governor’s mansion in 27 of 50 states.

Not all the seats in the House of Representatives are decided, but one projection suggests the Democrats will end up with 226 and the Republicans 209. It is rare for a president to sweep to power and his party lose seats in congress. That suggests Biden was more popular than the Democratic Party and its far-left platform.

It is also important because in two years there will be a mid-term congressional election. In these, the president’s party normally loses seats. This happened in huge bad results for Democrats in Bill Clinton’s first mid-term election in 1994 and similarly in Barack Obama’s first mid-term in 2010. Obama was personally popular yet Democrats lost 63 house seats in 2010. There is every chance that in two years Biden could be president, but the Senate, the house and a majority of state governors all Republicans, with the federal court system and the Supreme Court mainly peopled by judicial conservatives.

There are lots of reasons for conservatives to be deeply worried about the long-term effects of Trumpism. Electoral failure does not seem to be one of them. As one wag put it, the election was a contest between those who disliked or hated Trump’s personality, as opposed to those who disliked or hated the Democrats’ swing to the left. Democrats talking of socialism, defunding the police and ending fossil fuels is enough to make voters very wary. Commentators routinely decry gridlock. But Americans vote for gridlock quite deliberately. In Maine Biden trounced Trump in the presidential vote. But Republican senator Susan Collins trounced her Democratic challenger. Despite the heightened partisan divides of America, millions of Americans voted deliberately to put Biden in the White House and make sure he couldn’t do anything.

Even people who like Trump find him exhausting. The mood of America may have been quite well captured in these paradoxical results: we want a sleepy old guy who is kindly and snoozing in the White House, and a congress and judiciary that keeps him paralysed. In this time of ideological turmoil, we vote deliberately for do-nothing government. Elmer Fudd in the White House, Deputy Dawg in the Senate, Yogi Bear in the house and Dudley Do-Right in the judiciary. Put sports back on the front page (except when it’s taking a knee).

Trump also has changed the content of conservatism in some positive ways. Trump will get 47 or 48 per cent of the vote in the end. This actually understates his support. Because of the structure of the electoral college, he didn’t campaign at all in California or New York or even Illinois. If he had campaigned in those states he wouldn’t have won them, but he would have tightened the popular vote considerably.

America is just about a 50-50 nation and Trump was considered the best man by roughly half America. If polls tell you otherwise ignore them, for in this election the polls proved themselves worthless, systematically understating not only Trump’s vote but the conservative vote generally, and by appalling margins.

The old ideological construct of the pre-Trump Republican Party is dead. It won’t come back. Trump himself is much less an international outlier here than is often claimed. The old Tory dispensation is dead in Britain. Boris Johnson won his huge parliamentary majority on the back of Brexit and support from northern working-class England and in exchange his policies included a lot of big government and intervention for working-class people, including industry policy. Scott Morrison was returned to government by provincial Queensland seats and working-class Tasmanian seats and he has put all ideology in the bottom drawer if not altogether the dustbin of history. His government is taking direct measures to revive manufacturing.

Centre-right parties around the world are seeking and gaining the support of working-class people while centre-left parties are dominated by green, woke identity-politics, climate-change crusades, and draw their support from upper-income, service-industry, limousine liberals.

The poorest three states in mainland America are Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. They all voted overwhelmingly for Trump and now always vote Republican. The states at the other end of the income scale, the wealthiest states in America — Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut — now always vote for the Democrat in presidential elections. US citizens with average incomes and below overwhelmingly donated money to Trump. Those with above average incomes overwhelmingly donated money to Biden. Trump also got more non-white voters than any recent Republican. They’re not that woke either.

The old Republican program was free trade, low taxes, lower spending, cuts to welfare to reduce the deficit, globalisation, strong defence, global security leadership, border control. Trump is an outlier in his often gross rhetoric. But in his actual policies, he is fairly normal contemporary centre right. He junked the version of free trade that saw the US obey the rules but endure enormous trade deficits with China and other nations that don’t obey the rules. For Canada and Mexico Trump didn’t embrace protectionism but negotiated a better deal. He wants a much bigger manufacturing industry and lots of manufacturing jobs. He kept border control and low taxes and, pre COVID-19, his tax cuts produced a booming economy. But he won’t cut welfare because he now represents millions of people who are on welfare or might go on welfare one day.

Trump kept the commitment to strong defence and the military budget reflects that. But he doesn’t like providing security to allies who don’t bear their share of the burden. Some reaction like this was bound to come eventually. The failing here is not primarily Trump’s, but rather that of free-riding US allies.

But here is one Trump innovation. He utterly, straightforwardly, vigorously, contemptuously rejects the politically correct, woke culture. In my view he does this coarsely and crudely. But as one wag put it, Trump is the only middle finger ordinary Americans had available to raise at the preening left-liberal establishment which holds that they are all racists and their national sentiment contemptible.

Can a more mainstream Republican, who doesn’t have Trump’s genius for making himself the centre of attention, overcome the enormous financial advantage the Democrats now have? Big tech, social media and almost all mainstream media went all in for Biden. Social media crossed a dangerous Rubicon when it started censoring Trump and mainstream newspapers and conservatives if they weren’t backing Biden.

This is the most sinister, anti-democratic and genuinely disturbing development of this election. Trump was never an authoritarian leader. He doesn’t control the military, the media, the judiciary or a mass movement in the streets, and he has never disobeyed a court ruling against his administration. The real danger of US authoritarianism now comes from the alliance of political power in Biden and the Democrats, with financial power in Big Tech, media power in social and mainstream media, and cultural power in Hollywood. They share ugly, coercive conformism.

Which is why Republican control of the Senate and so many state governorships is so important, and so healthy.

In international affairs Trump damaged American soft power. But hard power is more important than soft power. Trump built new leverage against China, Iran, Mexico, NATO partners, even multilateral institutions which desperately want the Americans back. If Biden is smart he will use that leverage to achieve US policy aims, not just give it away in a silly desire to reverse everything Trump did.

Out of office, Trump has the potential to be wildly destructive, not least of Republicans. But so far, his legacy is mixed, by no means all bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, November 08, 2020



The battle might be over for Joe Biden but the war has only just begun – and it’s one the world can’t afford him to lose

The battle might be over for Joe Biden but the war has only just begun. Now the struggle to save the soul of America rests in the hands of a man who struggles to remember the name of the man he’s fighting against.

The good news is that this is no longer a fight against Donald Trump but a fight for the hearts and minds of the 70 million Americans who turned out to vote for him. The bad news is that unlike Trump they are not going anywhere.

There will be a lot of armchair quarterbacking after this stunning US election, the most electrifying presidential poll this century. It is therefore important to record in this first draft of history the facts as they stand, before they are rewritten by the victors.

The first is that virtually all the mainstream polls and pundits got it wrong again. And not only did they get it wrong after getting it wrong the first time and promising they’d learnt from their mistakes but they got it even more wrong.

Four years of constant commentary about Trump’s record unpopularity, his accidental and undemocratic somersault into the White House, his illegal and illegitimate presidency, his murderous incompetence and his projected electoral wipe-out once he sought a second term have all proved to be utterly, utterly wrong.

Yes, after days of nailbiting vote-counting where swing states have flickered red to blue on the slimmest of margins, it is impossible for Trump to win – assuming none of his conspiracies about voter fraud come true.

However that does not erase the fact that he turned out a record number of votes for any Republican candidate in US history and came within a bee’s bollocks of winning a second term – again in flagrant defiance of just about every public poll and prediction.

Democrats should thank their lucky stars that they preselected Biden as their candidate, a genial, familiar and moderate man who is as close to the embodiment of mainstream Middle America as the party has on its books. It is why I backed him in the primaries and why I nervously maintained he would win even as the electoral map turned into a sea of red.

Only Biden was able to straddle an incredibly broad spectrum of voters that stretched from young Trump-hating socialists to urbane Trump-hating Republicans and the bare minimum of working-class white men in the Midwest. The result was the highest vote for any presidential candidate in American history and it’s impossible to see how other contenders like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Harris could have done the same. Biden might not be lucid but at least he is likeable.

But the second highest vote for any presidential candidate goes to Donald J Trump and now those voters are looking for a home.

It is clear now, as it was four years ago, that the political, media and academic establishment simply does not understand them and dismisses their hopes and fears as illegitimate – even “deplorable” you might say. Whether by accident or design Trump tapped into these hopes and fears and a new American revolution was born.

And so there are more than 70 million souls sitting there waiting for the next messiah to take them to the promised land and unless the Democrats think they can pull together a bigger coalition of communists and corporates at every election in the future then they’d better start listening to them.

And the key word here is listen. The one thing that keeps coming up again and again is that these people are sick of being dictated to and told they have to squeeze into a preordained ideological template or be cast on the political scrap heap.

One example is the gobsmacking video voiced and distributed by Harris in which she used cartoon figures and comic book font to explain the difference between “equality” and “equity” to people who were apparently too stupid to understand it.

Maybe it was an attempt to scold voters for their privilege or maybe it was an attempt to provide a theoretical framework to explain how she was helping poor oppressed people who were apparently too ignorant to know they were oppressed. Either way I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more nauseatingly condescending piece of political propaganda.

And so it goes on. Working class people are told they have to sacrifice their jobs for the sake of climate change, that they have to sacrifice their religious views for the sake of progress and that they have to sacrifice their language for the sake of tolerance.

And, quite frankly, they’re f***ing over it.

Joe’s genial demeanour and big smile went a long way to reassuring those people that the party was listening again but it will have to do a lot more than that. Even as the penny drops among the so-called educated classes the belated evolution from bewilderment to enlightenment is itself a damning indictment.

As one US Professor of Economics observed of the result: “My takeaway is that a large number of people HATE the cultural left (not the econ left) and are willing to put up with almost anything, including incompetence, chaos, corruption and bad policy, to signal their views loud and clear.”

Well, yes. No shit.

Likewise a social science and psychology lecturer from New Zealand tweeted: “We social scientists failed to predict or even understand the appeal of Trump. We need to do better to understand why people chose to vote for him. A lot of people did, so there are probably some strong reasons. If we don’t understand we’ll miss the next one, too.”

Again, quite so. And yet how chilling that the academic class is so mystified by Trump’s appeal that they feel the need to study his supporters like lab rats.

And full credit to this brave lone columnist from the New York Times for his soul-turning mea culpa: “Our job in the media is to capture reality so that when reality voices itself, like last night, people aren’t surprised. Pretty massive failure. We still are not good at capturing the rightward half of the country.”

So true. Even after four long years of chaos and condemnation they were still not good. And they also still fail to realise that this “rightward half” includes vast numbers of working class people who thought they were the left until the left left them behind. In all the blue-collar swing states we still talk about today they voted for Obama and then they voted for Trump.

Democrats will rightly be breathing a massive sigh of relief after this election – an election that was a far more close-run thing than it should have been – but they should not for a minute think that the struggle is over.

Unless they win back the working class and win back Middle America, unless they start reflecting their values instead of dictating them, it might just be the last election they win for a very long time.

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Think a Trump defeat will be the end of Trumpism? Think again

Within a few days - or weeks if the result is disputed - we will know if Donald Trump is to remain US president or if his Democratic challenger Joe Biden will take over the White House.

But even if Republican Mr Trump loses on 3 November, his legacy and impact on American society are clear.

And according to some political experts, it’s one that will endure for years.

The beliefs of many of his supporters will remain, they say, as will the underlying factors that led to his victory. His impact on how future leaders choose to govern will also be significant.

'Trump’s legacy will endure'

Mr Trump appealed successfully to voters with his breed of conservative populist nationalism in 2016.

In office, those ideals were given credence with bans on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, trade wars with China and the removal of the US from global groups such as the World Health Organization.

He mixed it with his style of fiery populism, making an enemy of the press while branding himself an ‘outsider’ president, damaging governance institutions and making friends with dictators.

His response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by reassuring people it would just “disappear”, could be said to be populism 101; a simplistic response to a complex problem.

But his brand of nationalism and populism has been dangerous, says Brendon O'Connor, an associate professor in American politics at the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre.

“We've got two very broad brush and often simplistic ideas that can be dangerous without moderation or at least some degree of more sophistication,” he told SBS News.

“And that's what you've got with Trump. You know, these simple solutions, often targeting groups or scapegoating based on fear and opposition, and not much regard for negotiation or compromise.”

'Radical beliefs won’t change overnight'

There's no denying Mr Trump's popularity - 62 million voters threw their support behind him in 2016.

Even if some of those have since been put off by his leadership to change their votes, his die-hard fans will remain, as will their belief structures.

“You're still going to see a lot of white people vote for Donald Trump in this coming election no matter what his record is,” Associate Professor O’Connor said.

For those who felt left behind by globalisation, not much has changed economically. And a financial crisis fuelled by COVID-19 won’t have made things any easier for many.

“There’s clearly a lot of people in America who feel financially vulnerable. That's not going to change overnight and certainly not in a COVID-created sort of recession,” Associate Professor O’Connor said.

“There’ll be plenty of people who have a sense that politics and the economy haven’t served them particularly well.”

US Political Scientist Seth Masket, who is based in Denver, Colorado, says the sense of economic dislocation and the polarising issue of race will still be there.

“People have just become more polarised and there's a deeper strain of radicalism since [the Obama era] so I think we're still moving in that direction,” he said.

Trump supporters who are against immigration, believe minorities get better treatment, and that white people are losing their status, aren’t likely to change their mind soon either, Associate Professor O’Connor said.

“This kind of status entitlement is really the current thing being whipped up by Trump.”

“We've seen that people who see themselves as being the ‘real Americans’ because they’re white and have been in America for maybe a little longer than more recent immigrants - that element of politics has been really destructive.”

Mr Masket has a different view. He says like most other types of supporters, Trump backers rely on the man himself to fuel their beliefs.

“I think the main thing that was motivating them was their enthusiasm about Donald Trump. And they were willing to adopt a lot of the things that he believed, simply because they liked him,” he said.

“These supporters might adapt their views somewhat but they're going to be looking for someone new to sort of carry that mantle forward.”

'Conservative media will be emboldened'

Associate Professor O’Connor says the role of the conservative media is also significant; they’ve seen what rates and will sell that, regardless of its impact or validity.

“These people have been whipped up into a frenzy by the sort of media organisations supportive of Trump.

“Those people won't suddenly go, ‘Ahh, that was a bit over the top’. You know, the media stations keep them coming back for more by having this level of frenzied alarm.

“And that style of politics will be one of the big legacies of Donald Trump - that by saying ridiculous things, by using scare tactics, by kind of being abusive of your opponents and making all sorts of outlandish claims against them - gets a lot of attention.

“It will be hard to believe that another showboating sort of narcissist won’t want to replicate that.”

'Trump will keep tweeting'

Even if Mr Trump loses, he’s unlikely to disappear from the public sphere and will probably continue to rally his base behind him via his social media accounts, political experts say. And that’s likely to have an impact on public discourse and how future leaders after him govern.

“If Trump is alive and well, it’s hard to imagine him maintaining a low profile," Brandice Canes-Wrone, a professor of public and international affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey told The New York Times.

"And, even without Trump, there are likely GOP presidential candidates popular with this wing of the party [Trump insurgents].”

But, Mr Masket says, Mr Trump will lose a lot of the power he wields against elected Republicans if he loses.

“While he'll still be very vocal and they'll still be using Twitter a lot and giving speeches and everything, I think a lot of Republicans would feel a little more free to essentially ignore him.”

'We’ll probably have someone like Trump again'

Political experts say the next leaders, especially from the Republican base, may well follow aspects of Mr Trump's leadership style.

“He'll leave a long stain on the Republican Party for his racism and his xenophobia," Associate Professor O’Connor said - allegations Mr Trump has denied.

"So that will be a common legacy that the Republicans will need to reckon with.”

“And I think that it's pretty likely that there will be future candidates who campaign in the Trump mould. We probably can't see them because they may come from outside of elected politics.”

Mr Trump’s strategy in 2016 was so successful it’s already been replicated in some of the congressional races since, he added.

“A lot of people who've taken the Trump path and drawn on a similar voting base that Donald Trump got to get the Republican nomination in 2016, they've been pretty successful, becoming the party candidate.”

Mr Masket says the level of coarseness in politics that worsened in the Trump era might remain.

“We're seeing at least some evidence that Republicans have largely followed his lead on that and it's at least up until now, they haven't lost a whole lot of elections because of it. I don't know that they see that there's a major political price for following this path.

“Things could still grow coarser.”

And it might not be the end of Mr Trump trying to win the White House back.

“I think there's a good chance he will be trying to run for president yet again in four years,” Mr Masket said.

One thing is for sure, if Mr Trump wins, Trumpism certainly isn't going anywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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