Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Who Can Save Us Now?

Sebastian Gorka

Long before the rampant violence of the past few weeks, wherever I traveled the country to speak publicly, I unfailingly would be asked the same question: “How did we get here?”

How has the freest nation in human history—the only one founded on the principle that all men are created equal because they are made in God’s image—arrive at the point where more than two-thirds of the millennial generation would prefer to live in a socialist or communist America?

Before the looting and the riots of recent days, my answer was the same and it hasn’t changed since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers.

How did we get here?

Sadly, we arrived at this deeply disturbing point because of a decadeslong campaign by the left and cultural elites to transform our country. They have indoctrinated generations of Americans into hating their own country through education, media, and institutions that once believed in the American ideal.

Unfortunately, despite noble efforts by a small number of conservative culture warriors, we have too often been stymied by the Republican political establishment. These political leaders have failed us, and they did so in multiple ways over multiple decades.

When and where did it begin? It began after the failure of the rioters the last time our streets were on fire and police stations were being razed to the ground.

In 1968 and ’69, the radical left went all in. From the University of Berkeley campus to the streets of Chicago, groups such as the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground were using violence to effect political change in the name of “justice” and “equality.” But they failed.

Despite the killings and the bombings, America didn’t turn into a Maoist utopia. Chicago’s “Days of Rage” fizzled out and their uprising resulted in a damp squib.

But what did the “revolutionaries” do? Did they surrender their radical dreams, did they fold up their Che T-shirts and donate them to the thrift store? No, they learned from the proponents of a subtler revolution, studied the method of the members of the Frankfurt School, and adopted the works of thinkers and activists such as Saul Alinsky, the grandfather of “community organizers.”

They realized that a culture and a society as robust in its classic traditional values as America can resist all forms of violent frontal assault and that the only what to dismantle it is from the inside. Thus, hardcore anti-American radicals such as the Weather Underground’s Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, previously wanted by the FBI as domestic terrorists, made their way into our culture and wound up as college professors.

Yes, those who wished to destroy our nation were entrusted with shaping the minds of future generations. And this was allowed by establishment Republicans.

Nor was it just the college campuses that became centers for America-bashing indoctrination. Those who had failed to set the country ablaze set to work sabotaging the minds of our children in far subtler ways. And when fellow radical Howard Zinn wrote his 1980 book “A People’s History of the United States,” they had all the ammunition they needed.

Zinn was an unrepentant socialist, a man who saw the world through the Marxist lens of class struggle, with the population of the globe divided between victim groups—usually people of color—and the oppressor, exclusively white. And the worst imperialist oppressor of all? America, of course.

That was Zinn’s message and it suffused his book, which would have been fine had it stayed in the “class struggle” section of bookstores in San Francisco. But it didn’t.

Zinn’s America-hating screed would, thanks to the assiduous work of fellow travelers on school boards and in teachers unions across the country, become the most popular textbook of American history in our schools.

Consequently, for two generations, our children were taught that whatever the ill—poverty in Africa, environmental degradation of the Amazon, international terrorism—it was an imperialist America built on slavery that was invariably the root cause.

Labor camps in the Soviet Union? America’s fault because of our desire to “encircle” and destroy Russia. Communist China oppressing ethnic and religious minorities? America’s fault because we weren’t opening up trade relations rapidly enough with the dictators of Beijing. Religious oppression of the great people of Persia by the blood-soaked murderers of Iran’s Islamist regime? America’s fault because we shouldn’t have helped Iraq after the fall of the shah.

And on and on and on.

What did most of the Republican establishment do? Nothing. Of course, some brave souls said enough is enough and took their children back to school them at home.

But what did the party do collectively to stop the indoctrination of more than two generations in America’s schools and universities? Nothing. In fact, most of us kept writing those checks to our alma maters because, well, didn’t I have a good time in college?

What did establishment Republicans do as Alinskyite tactics were deployed across the other key elements of our culture? From taxpayer-funded NPR’s becoming a literal mouthpiece for the Democrat Party, daily parroting left-wing talking points, to Hollywood’s shifting from being the maker of incredible pro-liberty and pro-America movies such as “Casablanca,” “Sergeant York,” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” to being a mill for conservative-bashing agitprop films by Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, and Michael Moore?

What did the establishment do as the subtly biased news media of the Cronkite years devolved into a rabid, festering pile of leftist propaganda that would side openly with rioters, call white men the greatest danger to America, and label the incumbent president a Kremlin asset for four years straight?

What did each of us do to take back our republic? Did we even really understand what the late great Andrew Breitbart taught us when he warned us that “politics is downstream from culture?”

Conservatives have the facts on our side; indeed, we have the truth on our side. But does that matter? Commentator and radio host Ben Shapiro has built a career on the commonsense motto: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” (Actually, facts don’t care about anything).

But so what? We live in an age when young Americans are so emotionally driven that they are actually proud to be called “snowflakes,” ready to melt if challenged.

Facts matter, but only so much if you can’t emotionally connect with the audience you wish to win over. Those who aren’t looting Saks Fifth Avenue or stores that sell Nike shoes but actually are marching for George Floyd believe America is systematically racist and feel that they are being virtuous by chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” and “Defund the Police!”

As conservatives, we have to win them over to our side with arguments that resonate as much as those empty yet radical slogans do. Our Founding Fathers knew how to do that, the men who pledged not only their possessions and their lives to justice and peace, but also their “sacred honor” to our nascent republic.

Is the conservative movement ready to do that? Do we have the tools necessary to win over the disaffected and the apolitical before the extremists win?

The window is short, my friends. We can do this, but we must get serious now.

The left has only division and anarchy to offer. Conservatives have answers that work.



Uruguay’s Freer Approach Has Severely Limited the Pandemic While Protecting the Economy

We are not talking enough about Uruguay. That small South American country boasts impressive results in its handling of the coronavirus. It is also signaling that it wants to prosper and that it understands more freedom might be the way to go about it.

Under president Luis Lacalle Pou, Uruguay has suffered a very low number of deaths from coronavirus (23 as of June 15) and the number of confirmed cases (848) is small. At no point did the government decree a national quarantine, preferring instead to let individual responsibility, guided by accurate and transparent information that originated from a team of scientists and experts, do the trick.

Rather than shut down the economy (80 percent of it kept going) and send the police or the military to arrest people, as was done in some other countries, the authorities, in coordination with civil society, put an emphasis on testing (proportionally, they are only behind South Korea in the number of tests as a percentage of confirmed cases) and briefly isolating those who had Covid-19. The external borders were shut, but the internal borders were kept open.

Uruguay’s government made it clear it would not fund its fiscal response to the trying circumstances through money-printing, large debts or higher taxation, but through reductions in public spending, particularly the money paid to politicians. There was pressure from within the governing coalition and the powerful left-wing opposition known as Frente Amplio (Broad Front) to engage in huge fiscal profligacy and make businesses pay for it, but President Lacalle explained that it was from private enterprise and capital that the economy would come back and that strangling businesses with regulations and more taxes would hinder that effort.

Wasting little time, Uruguay has announced a campaign to attract foreigners by making it much easier for them to become a fiscal resident of their country. Those who take up residence in Uruguay will not pay taxes for five years, after which time they will not have to pay a wealth tax on their foreign holdings and will only pay an income tax of 12 percent on the gains obtained from those assets. The fear in neighboring Argentina, where a demagogic government is destroying an economy that was already in dire straits, is that 44 million Argentines—the entire population—will settle across the border. (Uruguay has a population of only 3.4 million.)

When President Lacalle took office less than four months ago, the odds did not point in the best direction. He inherited a significant fiscal deficit and an economy that was barely growing. He governs with the help of a broad coalition that includes a range of ideas and interests, and whose backbone is made up of two traditional parties that have not shed all of their old ways. On top of that, the left, which held power for fifteen years before Lacalle defeated them, did much better than expected in the runoff election and continues to exert enormous pressure on the political system.

To top it all, only days after he took office, Lacalle had to deal, as had everyone else around the world, with the worst pandemic in generations. It is admirable that he was able to keep his cool throughout this crisis and, more importantly, that the crisis has only strengthened his resolve to put common sense back at the center of Uruguay’s politics and economy.

Uruguay was a highly developed country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no reason why it cannot become Latin America’s great success story in Latin America in the way Portugal has become Europe’s shining star in recent years. Having so many times been disappointed by promising governments, I will keep my fingers firmly crossed for them.



Racism: Symbolism vs. Substance

Which party is the party of racism today? Which party offers real solutions to real problems?  And which party offers symbolism over substance? “While Democrats have long postured as defenders of black Americans, a closer look at their actions shows there’s a lot of the symbolism but very little of the substance.”

When black entrepreneurs are having their businesses destroyed by rioters and looters, what do Democrats do?  They do their best to divert attention away from the fact that the problems faced by black Americans in our major cities have been caused by Democrat politicians who have run these cities for decades and decades. They don’t want to talk about that, and they make no attempt to solve the problems. Instead, like Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, they offer symbolism over substance.  They divert attention away from the problems they have caused.  They do this by talking about taking down statues, changing the names of streets, changing the names of military bases, or removing statues from the United States Capitol.  They do this knowing full well that not one of these things will in any way help the plight of black Americans struggling to escape poverty. But because they have the support of the news media, they are able to divert attention away from these calamities they have caused. 

They don’t want black Americans to ever know that it is Democrat politicians who pour millions of tax dollars into Planned Parenthood that targets black babies for abortion. They don’t want African Americans to realize that it is Democrats who stand in the school house door blocking high performance choice schools for black children. This is perhaps their most heinous sin of all, keeping a poor black child from the one thing that will help him escape poverty, a good education.

Democrats also don’t want you to know that they are the ones in these big cities that create beauty salon, barber shop, and taxi monopolies that exclude or set impossibly high barriers of entry for black entrepreneurs.

They don’t want black Americans to know that they are the ones who seek to drive up the cost of energy, thus making it extremely hard to escape poverty. Democrats fear that black Americans will learn it is Democrat policies in these big cities that deny law-abiding black Americans their constitutional right of self-defense. And they certainly don’t want black Americans to know that Democrats are responsible for flooding the job market with illegal aliens who take jobs from black Americans and drive down their wages.

Our question is: If the Democrats really, truly care about black Americans, why do they support Planned Parenthood, block good schools for black children, drive up the cost of energy through support for a pie-in-the-sky “Green New Deal”, deny Second Amendment rights, and allow illegal immigrants to take black jobs and drive down their wages?

Excuse us, but when the Democrats do these things and know the consequences, isn’t that racism?  How else can you define it?  And when you use the power of government to do these things, isn’t that systemic racism?  By any fair and honest measurement, today’s Democratic Party is the home of racism in America today. 

Little has been done by Democratic presidents to help black Americans.  For eight years President Obama talked about prison reform, but President Trump did it in his first term.  Not only did Donald Trump sign prison reform into law, he combined that with job training and jobs for newly released non-violent and non-sexual black felons. 

Additionally, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress dramatically cut taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, appointed judges who believe in the Constitution, slashed regulations, and reduced taxes making it possible for black entrepreneurship to grow by 400% between 2017 and 2018.

Even more significantly, Donald Trump implemented economic policies that created the lowest black unemployment in recorded history. He created enterprise zones that brought job opportunities closer to where black Americans live. He pushed hard against the Democrat opposition to putting top notch choice schools in black communities. And he dramatically expanded support for historic black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  As pastor Darrell Scott said of Trump, he is “the most pro-black president that we've had in our lifetime.”

From Ralph Northam and Nancy Pelosi, all black Americans get is symbolism.  From Donald Trump black Americans get results, real substance. In the election this fall, black Americans will have an opportunity to choose. What will it be? Symbolism or substance?



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


Monday, June 29, 2020

Masks Increase Co2 Levels - making you Dumber

I don't know the political breakdown, but top health and political authorities in various states are mandating that masks be worn, even when the number of COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Deaths are declining. Here in Democrat-controlled Illinois, wearing a facemask is required, through all 4 phases of reopening the state.

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden said yesterday that we will probably have to wear masks for at least another year, as a "new normal", in order to protect ourselves and others.

All the emphasis and mandates regarding wearing a face-mask, comes from the same "people" who shut down the country over a virus that kills only 1.4% of the people who contract it.

Sure enough, there has been quite a bit of research on the subject, due to so many complaints of mental and physiological problems from workers in careers where masks are worn a lot. (Medical, Painting, Construction, etc..)

Findings Summary from a Study on N-95 face masks:

The results show that above 60% of inspired air is respired air in case I (wearing a mask), compared to less than 1.2% in case II (not wearing a mask).

In conclusion, the N95 respirator trapped respired air within the respirator which increased the VOF of respired air during inspiration. This might be one of the major contributors to elevated carbon dioxide level while wearing N95 respirator.

Full Study here

MOST IMPORTANTLY...This study explains what happens to us after repeated stints of Carbon Dioxide(CO2)/less Oxygen(O2) Inhalation:

Participants were tested on their cognitive abilities each day at about 3 pm. They were given real life situations (an example of a situation: if you were to be the mayor of the town what changes would you bring to your town) and the answers were later analyzed using software. The nine parameters that the participants were tested were:

* The ability to make decisions at any given time
* The capability to make decisions that achieved the desired goal
* The capacity to pay attention to surroundings
* The capability of completing given tasks
* The capacity to respond to an emergency
* The ability to gather information
* The ability to use the gathered information for the given goals
* The capacity to make decisions using a variety of options along with multiple dimensions
* The capacity of complex thinking

The results of the study were amazing.

Participants experiencing the elevated CO2 levels were found to have significant difficulty with their decision making abilities and thinking capabilities.

So what is the reason behind the impairments of the cognitive ability?

Increased level of CO2 in the blood decreases the cerebral metabolism of oxygen. In simple words, the brain becomes oxygen deprived and has an impact on our thinking abilities.

Carbon dioxide dissolves in our blood and reacts with the water in our blood to create carbonic acid. This, in turn, dissolves into ions of hydrogen and bicarbonate. If there is an increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions in our blood the blood acidity level increases and creates electrolyte imbalance, causing decline in intellectual performance.

With increased CO2 levels, a decrease in the IQ by even 5 points will bring a lot more people into the ‘mentally handicapped’ range, unless corrective action is taken immediately.

Google does not let you see the above articles unless you filter out (not show) any search results after 12/31/2019. All the articles/studies this year describe how great face masks are for us! No ill effects whatsoever.

Word to the wise...If there are rules/laws mandating face masks where you live, only wear it when necessary. Save those brain cells. Keep your independent critical-thinking abilities in tip-top shape! (We will need them if our leaders push things too far.)



Initial COVID-19 infection rate may be 80 times greater than originally reported

Many epidemiologists believe that the initial COVID-19 infection rate was undercounted due to testing issues, asymptomatic and alternatively symptomatic individuals, and a failure to identify early cases.

Now, a new study from Penn State estimates that the number of early COVID-19 cases in the U.S. may have been more than 80 times greater and doubled nearly twice as fast as originally believed.

In a paper published today (June 22) in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers estimated the detection rate of symptomatic COVID-19 cases using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza-like illnesses (ILI) surveillance data over a three week period in March 2020.

“We analyzed each state’s ILI cases to estimate the number that could not be attributed to influenza and were in excess of seasonal baseline levels,” said Justin Silverman, assistant professor in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology and Department of Medicine. “When you subtract these out, you’re left with what we're calling excess ILI – cases that can't be explained by either influenza or the typical seasonal variation of respiratory pathogens.”

The researchers found that the excess ILI showed a nearly perfect correlation with the spread of COVID-19 around the country.

Said Silverman, “This suggests that ILI data is capturing COVID cases, and there appears to be a much greater undiagnosed population than originally thought.”

Remarkably, the size of the observed surge of excess ILI corresponds to more than 8.7 million new cases during the last three weeks of March, compared to the roughly 100,000 cases that were officially reported during the same time period.

“At first, I couldn’t believe our estimates were correct,” said Silverman. “But we realized that deaths across the U.S. had been doubling every three days and that our estimate of the infection rate was consistent with three-day doubling since the first observed case was reported in Washington state on Jan. 15.”

The researchers also used this process to estimate infection rates for each state, noting that states showing higher per capita rates of infection also had higher per capita rates of a surge in excess ILI. Their estimates showed rates much higher than initially reported but closer to those found once states began completing antibody testing.

In New York, for example, the researchers’ model suggested that at least 9% of the state’s entire population was infected by the end of March. After the state conducted antibody testing on 3,000 residents, they found a 13.9% infection rate, or 2.7 million New Yorkers.

Excess ILI appears to have peaked in mid-March as, the researchers suggest, fewer patients with mild symptoms sought care and states implemented interventions which led to lower transmission rates. Nearly half of the states in the country were under stay-at-home orders by March 28.

The findings suggest an alternative way of thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our results suggest that the overwhelming effects of COVID-19 may have less to do with the virus’ lethality and more to do with how quickly it was able to spread through communities initially,” Silverman explained. “A lower fatality rate coupled with a higher prevalence of disease and rapid growth of regional epidemics provides an alternative explanation to the large number of deaths and overcrowding of hospitals we have seen in certain areas of the world.”



Black businessman says 'black people laugh at white people' toppling statues

BET founder Robert Johnson during a Wednesday interview with Fox News described people toppling statues as "borderline anarchists" and pushed back against the idea that black people support such behavior, suggesting instead that they "laugh" at those who knock down the statues.

"You know black people, in my opinion, black people laugh at white people who do this, the same way we laugh at white people who say we got to take off the TV shows," he said mentioning the "Dukes of Hazard," a decades-old television program that has come under fire for featuring a car emblazoned with a Confederate flag graphic.

He pointed out that knocking over a statue will not "close the wealth gap," "give a kid whose parent's can't afford a college money to go to college," "close the labor gap between what white workers are paid and what black workers are paid" or "take people off welfare or food stamps."

Johnson said that whites who seek to "assuage guilt by doing things that make them feel good" would be much more reluctant to support payments for blacks.

Referring to actions such as "changing names, toppling statues, [and] firing professors because they said all lives matter," Johnson explained that "it just shows to me that white America is continually ... incapable of recognizing that black people have their own ideas and thought about what's in their best interests."

He suggested that black people should be consulted before people take actions like tearing down statues or firing someone for a comment they have made.

"Give us the belief that you respect our opinion. You go out and do something and destroy something, fire somebody because you think it hurts us. Why don't you ask us first if it hurts us before you go and say 'Oh, I gotta do something for the negroes to make them feel better.' Well ask us if we want you to do that to make us feel better," he said.

Johnson likened white people's actions attempting to make black people "feel good" to "rearranging the deck chairs on a racial Titanic. It absolutely means nothing," he said.

Johnson's comments come as debates rage across the country in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd—in some cases protestors have defaced and toppled statues. President Trump has come out against changing the names of military installations named after Confederate leaders




Trump administration urges end to ObamaCare, which the media inevitably links to a heartless view of pandemic sufferers (AP)

Joe Biden campaign to limit contact with foreign governments now that Hunter Biden's windfall from foreign governments is politically injurious (Washington Examiner)

Government watchdog finds over one million relief checks were sent to dead people (National Review)

At Mayor Bill de Blasio's behest, "Black Lives Matter" will be painted on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower (The New York Times)

CBP chief says 95% of illegal immigrants are being returned rather than detained (Fox News)

"Tide is turning against Huawei": Companies eschew Chinese telecom over espionage fears (Washington Examiner)

Russian criminal group finds new target: Americans working at home (The New York Times)

Governors of Texas, Florida, and New Mexico pause reopening amid surge in cases (Washington Examiner)

In Washington State, not wearing a face mask will be a misdemeanor (People)

Pregnant women are five times more likely to be hospitalized (USA Today)

Verizon joins list of companies pulling adds from Facebook over its failure to crack down on "hate speech" — which is ultimately about silencing conservatives (UK Daily Mail)

Americans rush to start businesses, stoking optimism for a rebound (Bloomberg)

Microsoft is permanently closing its retail stores (CNBC)

The Fed said in a release that big banks will be required to suspend share buybacks and cap dividend payments at their current level for the third quarter of this year (CNBC)

Oil and gas firms suffer "significant contraction" in second-quarter activity (Fox Business)

Colorado reexamines black man's 2019 death in police custody (AP)

"Police are a real risk," claims Washington school district severing ties with law enforcement (The Daily Wire)

Racism solved: The Dixie Chicks officially change their name to The Chicks (AP)

Racism ultra solved: John Lennon's "Imagine" tops list of woke national anthem alternatives (The Washington Free Beacon)

Four out of every five Americans reject spending "taxpayer money to pay damages to descendants of enslaved people in the United States" (Reuters)

Protesters plan to topple Emancipation Memorial Friday evening despite new protective fence (Washington Examiner)

It's estimated that 6% of adults have attended a protest in the last month (Pew Research Center)

China, Russia rank as worst offenders in human trafficking (The Washington Free Beacon)

Policy: Public education has gone "woke" (Newsweek)


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


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sweden turns on WHO for saying it had suffered 'very significant resurgence' of Covid-19

Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has hit back at the World Health Organization after it included Sweden in a group of countries facing "a very significance resurgence" of coronavirus infections.

Mr Tegnell, who has in recent months become one of the world's most high profile and divisive epidemiologists, said: "That is, unfortunately, a total misinterpretation of the data."

"It's very unfortunate that people lump Sweden together with countries that earlier have had no problem at all and are now apparently at the start of their epidemic," he told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT.

Hans Kluge, the WHO's Regional Director for Europe, on Thursday named Sweden in a list of eleven problem countries, the rest of which were all in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central Asia, which are facing "accelerated transmission" of infection.

More HERE 


Britons ignoring the rules


Even the meek and obedient Brits have their limits

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that the Government has powers to close public areas such as beaches if social distancing rules are not being observed

Mr Hancock's comments come after Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council declared a "major incident" after thousands of people defied advice to stay away and descended on beaches in Dorset on the hottest day of the year so far.

Services were described as having been left "completely overstretched" as visitors arrived in large volumes, and the council said there had been "a number of incidents reported which involved excessive alcohol and fights"

Asked if he would consider shutting some beaches in extreme cases after scenes in Bournemouth, Mr Hancock told TalkRadio: "Well, we do have that power. I am reluctant to use it because people have had a pretty tough lockdown.

"Everybody should be able to enjoy the sunshine. The key is to do it with respect. Stay with your households. Stay a good distance from other households. Outside is safer than inside. So, you have got to respect the rules. Respect the fact that social distancing is still important.

"We do have those powers - and if we see a spike in the number of cases, then we will take action."



Strange and debilitating coronavirus symptoms can last for months

WITHIN 24 hours of asking an online covid-19 support group if anyone had been experiencing prolonged or unusual symptoms, I had been messaged by 140 people. The list was mind-boggling and deeply upsetting. “I feel like I’m in the middle of a waking nightmare,” said Zoe Wall, who was previously fit and healthy. Two months after developing covid-19-like symptoms, she was still experiencing chest pains and “fatigue beyond description”.

Harry’s symptoms started with a terrible headache and itchy body, followed by shortness of breath. He was still experiencing breathing difficulties, chest pain, numbness in his arm and bloating 10 weeks later. Jenn had had no sense of smell or taste since testing positive for covid-19 on 31 March. Abbi had minimal respiratory symptoms, but very bad gastric ones and lost 19 kilograms in two months. Others reported fatigue, headaches, tingling fingertips and brain fog.

As the months tick by since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and we learn more about covid-19, it is becoming increasingly evident that even mild cases can have distressing and long-lasting effects. “There’s clearly something going on here. It is not their imagination or hypochondria. It doesn’t even seem to be linked to how severely they had the disease, as far as I can see,” says Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London. All this means we need to rethink how we diagnose and treat covid-19. The long list of symptoms also seems to suggest there might even be several subtypes of the disease, which could help us predict which cases will become serious.



Newborn triplets in Mexico infected with coronavirus

I think this shows how inaccurate testing is

Mexican health authorities are baffled by how a set of newborn triplets became infected with coronavirus even though neither of their parents tested positive for the virus. Health authorities called the case “unheard of”.

The triplets, a girl and two boys, were tested four hours after being born last week in the central state of San Luis Potosi, health authorities said.

Initially, health authorities said the mother was believed to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

But her tests later showed that neither she nor the father were infected.

“The parents’ results are negative, which catches our attention,” Health Secretary for the state Monica Rangel said during a news conference on Tuesday.

“We specifically requested since yesterday … that a group of experts investigates the case.” Two of the babies born on June 17 are in good health and show no symptoms of COVID-19, doctors treating the triplets said, while the third one has pneumonia but is in stable condition.

Ms Rangel said the triplets will remain hospitalised and under observation.

Mexico has reported more than 203,000 coronavirus cases and over 25,000 deaths – the seventh highest number of deaths globally.



Supreme Court Sides with Trump Administration on Expediting Deportations

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that asylum seekers do not have the right to a federal court hearing before being deported in *name.* The 7-2 decision is a decisive win for the Trump administration’s immigration policy, and allows for the fast-tracked removal of noncitizens. The majority opinion is backed by the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IRIRA) composed a system to deem asylum cases as meritless or fraudulent with limited judicial review.

The court ruled that the IRIRA, does not violate the Constitution’s Suspension Clause, which protects habeas corpus and gives the court jurisdiction to deem a person worthy of release from illegal detention.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Alito, held that the respondent did not seek release, but rather a reprieve from his removal order. The high court overturned an original ruling from the Ninth Circuit:

“[The] respondent did not ask to be released.13 Instead, he sought entirely different relief: vacatur of his “removal order” and “an order directing [the Department] to provide him with a new. . .opportunity to apply for asylum and other relief from removal,” the justices wrote. “the historic role of habeas is to secure release from custody, the Ninth Circuit did not suggest that release, at least in the traditional sense of the term,14 was required. Instead, what it found to be necessary was a “meaningful opportunity” for review of the procedures used in determining that [the] respondent did not have a credible fear of persecution.”



RNC Gets Win in Florida Elections Lawsuit

When the RNC saw that Democrats were trying to abolish a state law in Florida to allow ballots to be counted after Election Day and to prohibit the state’s ban on ballot harvesting, they had to intervene.

As it turns out, it was a President Bill Clinton-appointed judge who gave the Republicans the victory. In his ruling in Nielsen v. DeSantis, Judge Robert Hinkle noted that "the plaintiffs have not shown likely success on the merits" of their case. He explained why it's imperative for the state law to remain intact.

"This eliminates the problem of missing, unclear, or even altered postmarks, eliminates delay that can have adverse consequences, and eliminates the remote possibility that in an extremely close election—Florida has had some—a person who did not vote on or before election day can fill out and submit a ballot later," Hinkle said.




The nefarious UN Humans Rights Council will "prepare a report on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies" (Power Line)

Shootings, violence jump in Seattle, Minneapolis, New York City, and Chicago — cities where mayors have restrained the police (The Federalist)

"We do not want that history erased": Family of black woman who portrayed Aunt Jemima opposes move to change brand (KLTV)

In Portland, an American flag was used to set a George Washington statue ablaze (Power Line)

Ulysses S. Grant and Francis Scott Key Statues pulled down in San Francisco (The Daily Caller)

Vandals pull down and burn Washington, DC's sole statue of a Confederate general (AP)

Theodore Roosevelt statue to be removed from Museum of Natural History (The New York Times)

Hundreds test positive at Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas, most asymptomatic (National Review)

South Korea is fighting a second wave of infections, which it attributes to a holiday weekend in May (National Review)

Libyan refugee murders three and wounds several others in UK knifing rampage (The Telegraph)

International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is engaged in secret nuclear work (The Washington Free Beacon)

Nineteen black Americans explain why they're conservative (The Daily Signal)

"The results of the investigation justified the relief": Navy upholds firing of former USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier, who warned of coronavirus outbreak on ship (National Review)

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking more than 860 institutions' plans, two-thirds of colleges are planning to welcome back students in person, while only 7% are planning to hold classes only online (USA Today)

Biden campaign commits to three brutal debates (The Daily Caller)

Trump signs executive order suspending certain work visas through 2020 (The Hill)

Congressional Democrats sign letter demanding Education Department allow males in girls sports (National Review)

Ex-CNN "reporters" now work for the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda outfit, CGTN (The National Pulse)

New York Times taps Intercept alum and bona fide leftist to manage editorial page (The Washington Free Beacon)

Federal Communications Commission shuts down radio station run by Chinese propaganda outlet Phoenix TV (The Washington Free Beacon)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brands four Chinese state media outlets "foreign missions" (Washington Examiner)

Army soldier accused of planning attack on his own unit, giving classified info to Neo-Nazi group (Task & Purpose)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott says tougher anti-COVID restrictions might come back (Washington Examiner)

Coronavirus cases are increasing, but deaths aren't (Axios)

More evidence that lack of vitamin D is linked to COVID-19 severity (Relaxnews)

FDA warns nine hand sanitizers may contain a potentially fatal ingredient (USA Today)

Dutch doctor exonerated after euthanizing an unwilling patient (The Federalist)

Policy: Amid the pandemic and anti-racism protests, school choice can be so much more (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Americans want to own their retirement, not expand Social Security (American Enterprise Institute)


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


Friday, June 26, 2020

Sweden ‘followed classic pandemic model’ fighting COVID-19 pandemic

A Swedish expert says the world “went crazy” when they didn’t follow Sweden’s “classic pandemic model” to fight the coronavirus.

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, who is largely behind the approach of keeping large parts of the country open during the coronavirus pandemic, says he was surprised to see other European Union countries close their borders.

Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist for Sweden’s Public Health Agency, described his country’s strategy in a program by Swedish public radio channel Sveriges Radio P1 as a “classic pandemic model” that he had been discussing with international colleagues for 20 years.

Tegnell said “it was as if the world went crazy and everything we discussed seemed completely forgotten”.

Sweden, a country of 10 million people, has so far recorded 62,324 coronavirus cases and 5209 deaths.

Tegnell said the coronavirus was unpredictable and stressed it was difficult to know which methods had the best effect.

A recent survey in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, showed that support for Sweden’s Public Health Agency had dropped to 57 per cent in June from 69 per cent in April.

When most of Europe was in government-enforced lockdown, Sweden went against the grain.

The country’s unique strategy to deal with the deadly coronavirus without tanking the economy was to keep schools, cafes, restaurants and shops open, while encouraging people to voluntarily distance themselves and work from home. The idea was that the country would achieve “herd immunity” – a level of the disease where most of the population has been infected, and subsequently developed immunity, which would in turn stop the virus from spreading.

But a recent study has found the number of Swedes who have formed antibodies to the virus is smaller than expected, dashing hopes that herd immunity can be achieved.

The study, carried out by the country’s Public Health Agency and published last week, found that just 6.1 per cent of the country’s population had developed coronavirus antibodies by late May. This figure falls far short of the 40 per cent predicted by Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist.



The Confederate-Monument Controversy Is a Democrat-vs-Democrat Question

How should we think about those Confederate statues and those Confederate names on U.S. military bases?

If I were a Republican, I might be very strongly tempted to just sit this one out: If some Democrats want to pull down statues of other Democrats, then that’s a mess in the Democrats’ house. The Republicans might say, “You guys sort this one out. We’ll be over here with Honest Abe.” But, of course, they are not over there with Honest Abe — they’re down there with Dishonest Don, who cannot help but make everything about himself, even when doing so doesn’t serve his interests.

The Confederate controversy is a Democrat-vs.-Democrat question, but, fundamentally, so are the riots and arson and looting in Minneapolis and elsewhere. Those guys in the black uniforms setting fire to the police station are not, I think we can safely assume, for the most part registered Republicans. I haven’t seen a single pair of penny loafers or pleated khakis in the whole scene. We have default Democratic voters rioting in protest of the failure of Democratic policies cooked up by Democratic municipal governments and implemented, sometimes with lethal brutality, by Democrat-managed agencies. It takes a certain kind of perverse political genius for Republicans to get themselves on the wrong side of that, but there they are.

It is easy for a middle-aged white conservative to look at the fight over this statue or that base name and think of it as a silly exercise in cultural small ball, in that we could replace every statue of Jefferson Davis with a statue of Malcolm X and the schools would still stink in Philadelphia and St. Louis would still have an absurd murder rate.

The more cynical among us even suspect from time to time that these fights over monuments are provoked intentionally by the Democrats in order to distract from those Democratic governance failures in Democrat-run cities: “Well, yes, we Democrats have been running the police department in Minneapolis lo these many years, but what about Robert E. Lee?” But people have a right to their own priorities, even if those priorities mystify middle-aged white conservatives.

For some younger people on the right, this appears to be a straightforward issue. National Review recently published an excellent essay on the subject, arguing that the Southern rebellion against the duly constituted government put in place by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson was nothing like the rebellion of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson against the duly constituted government of their time. (The essay was written by Cameron Hilditch, our new William F. Buckley fellow, who hails from Belfast, where they are the world’s leading authorities on domestic tranquility and getting everybody on the same page behind the Union.)

The essay makes several excellent and true points: The Southern cause was not very much like the cause of 1776, as the Confederate leaders themselves attested, and there is no denying that the Southern cause was the cause of human bondage and white supremacy. Hilditch sums up: “Those who led a bloody rebellion against [the Union] flag to preserve an economy of human subjugation were traitors to the nation our military serves; they don’t deserve to be honored.”

That is an easy view to take in 2020. At the end of the Civil War and in its immediate aftermath, they took a different view. Surrendering Confederate troops were treated with military courtesy and offered courtesy in return, “honor answering honor” as General Joshua Chamberlain described the scene at Appomattox Court House. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for a short period of time and treated harshly at first, but ultimately he was released on bail — paid in part by Horace Greeley and Gerrit Smith, both abolitionists — and then given amnesty by President Andrew Johnson. When Greeley’s fellow Republicans criticized him for extending his hand to Davis, he dismissed them as “narrow-minded blockheads, who would like to be useful to a great and good cause, but don’t know how.” Robert E. Lee was President U. S. Grant’s guest in the White House and became the president of Washington College, known today as Washington and Lee University.

President Lincoln had offered amnesty to most of the Confederate soldiers and functionaries, with pointed exceptions: “all who are, or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been military or naval officers of said so-called confederate government, above the rank of Colonel in the Army, or of lieutenant in the Navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way, in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.”

Andrew Johnson was not a president to be very proud of. But President Grant as General Grant had actually fought the war, and he carried on President Lincoln’s legacy in important ways: appointing African Americans to federal office, prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan, and pursuing the cause of civil rights through constitutional reform and other measures. Was he wrong to honor Robert Lee with a White House visit and to treat other Confederate leaders with honor and charity? Are we so much wiser?

Maybe Grant was wrong — Lee remained an important force in Southern politics, an enemy of legal and civil equality for African Americans, insisting that black Americans had “neither the intelligence nor the other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power,” an opinion that long survived him and every other veteran of the Confederacy. The country probably would have been better off if the Radical Republicans had prevailed and imposed a more invasive model of Reconstruction than the one that was implemented.

Perhaps it was the case that Grant et al. were only being practical, doing what they felt they needed to do to keep the Union together and ensure the peace. Lee praised President Johnson as someone whose policy “has been doing much to strengthen the feeling in favor of the Union among us.” And, of course, he hated the Radical Republicans and had the audacity to blame them for feelings of disunion in the South:

They are working as though they wished to keep alive by their proposals in Congress the bad blood in the South against the North. If left alone the hostility which must be felt after such a war would rapidly decrease, but it may be continued by incessant provocation. The Southerners took up arms honestly: surely it is to be desired that the good-will of our people be encouraged, and that there should be no inciting them against the North. To the minds of the Southern men the idea of “Union” was ridiculous when the states that made the Union did not desire it to continue; but the North fought for the Union, and now, if what appears to be the most powerful party among them is to have its own way, they are doing their best to destroy all real union. If they succeed, “Union” can only be a mere name.

So if it is difficult to rehabilitate the name of Robert E. Lee, General Lee himself bears more than a little of the blame for that, though what this has to do with the behavior of police officers in Minneapolis in the second decade of the 21st century is something less than obvious. There is an argument that the police misbehavior in Minneapolis and the statues in Mississippi are part of the same vast edifice of white supremacy, which must be attacked on both the symbolic and the  practical fronts. And underneath the vandalism and hysteria and political opportunism, there is a reasonable argument for that point of view, not that the rioters and arsonists have any great interest in reasonable argument.

Conservatives should acknowledge that reasonable argument, but we should not permit its being used as political cover for a Democratic retreat from the failure of Democratic policies in Democratic cities into the safe abstraction of “white supremacy.” There are specific, urgent, and immediate questions that demand answers in Minneapolis, and those are questions mainly for its Democratic mayor, its Democratic city council, its progressive leadership and management class, for Democratic elected officials such as Representative Ilhan Omar, and a great many other people who are very comfortable talking about the ghastly moral failures of the Confederacy a century and a half ago but rather less eager to talk about the facts on the ground in Minneapolis in the here and now.

Of course the past matters. (It is incredible that some people who call themselves conservatives have to be reminded of that.) But the present matters, too, and surely it deserves more of our attention than some potential slight to the very mixed legacies of Braxton Bragg or John Bell Hood. Given current events, the Democrats are very eager to change the subject. They should not be accommodated.



Voice of America:  Overdue reform begins

As I observed in my Townhall column back in December 2016, the present day VOA—once the bastion of America’s Cold War efforts to battle Communism through broadcast arms Radio Free Europe and, more recently, Radio Marti—bears scant resemblance to the pro-USA agency taxpayers came to expect. For example, few taxpayers I know would approve of articles VOA distributed before the 2016 election in Russian, Urkranian and other languages calling Donald J. Trump “a dog,” “a pig,” and other derogatory terms. And lavish waste and mismanagement has continued to be of concern by those charged with Congressional oversight over the past three years with little—if any—actual corrective action.

As I personally learned from insiders at VOA, management offices at the “independent” agency throughout the 2016 campaign were often festooned with Hillary Clinton posters, photos of prominent Democrats, and those goofy lifesized cardboard cutouts of Barack Obama that tourists used to pick up at the souvenir shop at Reagan Airport in Washington.  That’s perfectly okay if you’re working at the teachers union or Planned Parenthood or any other wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DNC, though hardly kosher at a taxpayer-supported agency of the Federal government. But I digress.

The resignations of VOA director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara—per the Washington Post—was cloaked in mystery. “It wasn’t immediately clear,” Farhi darkly suggests, why the two submitted their letters of resignation. But he adds they came “amid concerns within the agency” that the Trump administration may “exert greater control” over VOA reporting.

Which is the equivalent of suggesting that there is concern amid the cockroach population that pesticides like Black Flag and Raid might “exert greater control” over their proliferation in your pantry.

Kicking Donald Trump one final time as she scurried out the door before the arrival of the new sheriff, Bennett whined about the Trump Administration’s efforts to limit access for VOA reporters…adding that might possibly“result in the kind of chilling effect on our journalism that we regularly see in the markets we broadcast to that have no free press.”  (You mean like the rest of us are saddled with in New York and Washington, Amanda?)

In an earlier hyperventilation, Bennett countered President Trump’s criticisms of her agency (which he referred to in private lunch with U.S. Senators as “the Voice of the Soviet Union”) with the lame suggestion that “even China” has branded VOA reports as propaganda and has at times “expelled” VOA journalists. I guess Ms. Bennett was asleep during the college history class when they taught how Nazis during World War II would shoot one of their own as “a spy” to cover their other anti-American activities.



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, June 25, 2020

Losing the wisdom of crowds

We’ve lived through the most bizarre experience of human folly in my lifetime, and perhaps in generations. Among the strangest aspects of this has been the near universal failure on the part of regular people, and even the appointed “experts” (the ones the government employs, in any case), to have internalized anything about the basics of viruses that my mother understands, thanks to her mother before who had a solid education in the subject after World War II.

Thus, for example, are all governments ready to impose new lockdowns should the infection data turn in the other direction. Under what theory, precisely, is this supposed to help matters? How does reimposing stay-home orders or mandating gym closures mysteriously manage to intimidate a virus into going away? “Run away and hide” seems to have replaced anything like a sophisticated understanding of viruses and immunities.

So I decided to download Molecular and Cell Biology for Dummies just to check if I’m crazy. I’m pleased to see that it clearly states that there are only two ways to defeat a virus: natural immunity and vaccines.

The book completely left out the option that almost the entire world embraced in March: destroy businesses, force everyone to hide in their homes, and make sure that no one gets close to anyone else. The reason that the text leaves that out is that the idea is essentially ridiculous, so much so that it was initially sold as a strategy to preserve hospital space and only later mutated into a general principle that the way to beat a virus is to avoid people and wear a mini-hazmat suit.

Here is the passage:

"For all of recorded history, humans have done a deadly dance with viruses. Measles, smallpox, polio, and influenza viruses changed the course of human history: Measles and smallpox killed hundreds of thousands of Native Americans; polio killed and crippled people, including US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and the 1918 influenza epidemic killed more people than were killed during all of World War I.

For most viruses that attack humans, your only defenses are prevention and your own immune systems. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, and scientists haven’t discovered many effective antiviral drugs.

Vaccines are little pieces of bacteria or viruses injected into the body to give the immune system an education. They work by ramping up your own defensive system so that you’re ready to fight the bacteria or virus upon first contact, without becoming sick first. However, for some viral diseases no vaccines exist, and the only option is to wait uncomfortably for your immune system to win the battle."

A virus is not a miasma, a cootie, or red goo like in the children’s book Cat in the Hat. There is no path toward waging much less winning a national war against a virus. It cares nothing about borders, executive orders, and titles. A virus is a thing to battle one immune system at a time, and our bodies have evolved to be suited to do just that. Vaccines can give advantage to the immune system through a clever hack. Even so, there will always be another virus and another battle, and so it’s been for hundreds of thousands of years.

If you read the above carefully, you now know more than you would know from watching 50 TED talks on viruses by Bill Gates. Though having thrown hundreds of millions of dollars into cobbling together some global plan to combat microbes, his own understanding seems not to have risen above a cooties theory of run away and hide.

There is another level of virus comprehension that came to be observed in the 1950s and then codified in the 70s. For many viruses, not everyone has to catch them to become immune and not everyone needs a vaccine if there is one. Immunity is achieved when a certain percentage of the population has contracted some form of virus, with symptoms or without, and then the virus effectively dies.

This has important implications because it means that vulnerable demographics can isolate for the active days of the virus, and return to normal life once “herd immunity” has been realized with infection within some portion of the non-vulnerable population. This is why every bit of medical advice for ederly people has been to avoid large crowds during the flu season and why getting and recovering for non-vulnerable groups is a good thing.

What you get from this virus advice is not fear but calm management. This wisdom – not ignorance but wisdom – was behind the do-no-harm approach to the polio epidemic of 1949-1952, the Asian flu of 1957-58, and the Hong Kong flu of 1968-69. Donald Henderson summed up this old wisdom beautifully: “Communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

And that’s what we did for the one hundred years following the catastrophic Spanish flu of 1918. We never again attempted widespread closures or lockdown precisely because they had failed so miserably in the few places they were attempted.

The cooties theory attempted a comeback with the Swine flu of 2009 (H1N1) but the world was too busy dealing with a financial crisis so the postwar strategy of virus control and mitigation prevailed once again, thankfully. But then the perfect storm hit in 2020 and a new generation of virus mitigators got their chance to conduct a grand social experiment based on computer modeling and forecasting.

Next thing you know, we had this new vocabulary shoved down our throats and we all had to obey strangely arbitrary exhortations. “Go inside! No, wait don’t go inside!” “Stay healthy but shut the gyms!” “Get away from the virus but don’t travel!” “Don’t wear a mask, wait, do wear a mask!” (Now we can add: “Only gather in groups if you are protesting Trump”)

People started believing crazy things, as if we are medieval peasants, such as that if there is a group of people or if you stand too close to someone, the bad virus will spontaneously appear and you will get infected. Or that you could be a secret superspreader even if you have no symptoms, and also you can get the virus by touching almost anything.

Good grief, the sheer amount of unscientific phony baloney unleashed in these terrible three months boggles the mind. But that’s what happens in any panic. Apparently.

Now, something has truly been bugging me these months as I’ve watched the incredible unravelling of most of the freedoms we’ve long taken for granted. People were locked out of the churches and schools, businesses were shuttered, markets were closed, governors shoved through shelter in place orders meant not for disease control but aerial bomb raids, and masks were mandatory, all while regular people who otherwise seem smart hopped around each other like grasshoppers.

My major shock is discovering how much sheer stupidity exists in the population, particularly among the political class.

Forgive a defense of my use of the term “stupid” but it is technically correct. I take it from Albert Camus and his brilliant book The Plague (1947). “When a war breaks out, people say: ‘It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.’ But though a war may well be ‘too stupid,’ that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.”

Indeed it is true.

It was only last February when we seemed smart. We had amazing technology, movies on demand, a smartphone in our pockets to communicate with everyone and reveal all the world’s knowledge. There was peace more or less. There was prosperity. There was progress. Our medical systems worked. It seemed that only a few months ago, we had it all together. We seemed smart. Until suddenly stupid took over, or so it seemed.

Actually we weren’t smart as individuals. Our politicians were as dumb as they ever have been, and massive ignorance pervaded the population, then as always. What was smart last February was society and the processes that made society work in the good old days.

“Please explain.”

I shall.

Consider the social analytics of F.A. Hayek. His major theme is that the workings of the social order require knowledge and intelligence, but none of this essential knowledge subsists within any individual mind much less any political leader. The knowledge and intelligence necessary for society to thrive is instead decentralized throughout society, and comes to be embedded or instantiated within institutions and processes that gradually evolve from the free actions and choices of individuals.

What are those institutions? Market prices, supply chains, observations we make from the successful or unsuccessful choices of others that inform our habits and movements, manners and mores that work as social signals, interest rates that carefully coordinate the flow of money with our time preferences and risk tolerances, and even morals that govern our treatment of each other. All these come together to create a form of social intelligence that resides not in individual minds but rather the process of social evolution itself.

The trouble is that a well functioning society can create an illusion that it all happens not because of the process but rather because we are so damn smart or maybe we have wise leaders with a good plan. It seems like it must be so, else how could we have become so good at what we do? Hayek’s main point is that it is a mistake to credit individual intelligence or knowledge, much less good governments with brainy leaders, with civilizational achievements; rather, the real credit belongs to institutions and processes that no one in particular controls.

“To understand our civilisation,” Hayek writes, “one must appreciate that the extended order resulted not from human design or intention but spontaneously: it arose from unintentionally conforming to certain traditional and largely moral practices, many of which men tend to dislike, whose significance they usually fail to understand, whose validity they cannot prove, and which have nonetheless fairly rapidly spread by means of an evolutionary selection — the comparative increase of population and wealth — of those groups that happened to follow them.”

The lockdowns took a sledgehammer to these practices, processes, and institutions. It replaced them nearly overnight with new bureaucratic and police-state mandates that herded us into our homes and arbitrarily assigned new categories: elective vs non-elective medical procedures, essential vs nonessential business, permissible vs. impermissible forms of association, even to the point of measuring the distance from which we must be separated one from another. And just like that, via executive order, many of the institutions and processes were crushed under the boot of the political class.

What emerged to take its place? It’s sad to say but the answer is widespread ignorance. Despite having access to all the world’s knowledge in our pockets, vast numbers of politicians and regular people defaulted back to a premodern cognition of disease. People did this out of fear, and were suddenly and strangely acquiescent to political commands. I’ve had friends tell me that they were guilty of this back in the day, believing that mass death was imminent so the only thing to do was to shelter in place and comply with the edicts.

The seeming intelligence that we had only in February suddenly seemed to turn to mush. A better way to understand this is all our smartest institutions and practices were crushed, leaving only raw stupidity in its place.

Truth is that we as individuals are probably not much smarter than our ancestors; the reason we’ve made so much progress is due to the increasing sophistication of Hayek’s extended orders of association, signalling, capital accumulation, and technological know how, none of which are due to wise leaders in government and industry but are rather attributable to the wisdom of the institutions we’ve gradually built over decades, centuries, and a millenia.

Take those away and you reveal what we don’t really want to see.

Looking back, I’m very impressed at the knowledge and awareness that the postwar generation had toward disease mitigation. It was taught in the schools, handed down to several generations, and practiced in journalism and public affairs. That was smart. Something happened in the 21st century to cause a kind of breakage in that medical knowledge chain, and thus did societies around the world become vulnerable in the presence of a new virus to rule by charlatans, hucksters, media howlers, and would-be dictators.

With lockdown finally easing, we will see the return of what seems to be smart societies, and the gradual loss of the influence of stupid. But let us not deceive ourselves. It could be that we’ve learned nothing from the fiasco that unfolded before our eyes. If economies come to be restored, eventually, to their former selves, it will not be because we or our leaders somehow beat a virus. The virus outsmarted everyone. What will fix what the political class has broken is the freedom once again to piece back together the institutions and processes that create the extended order that makes us all feel smarter than we really are.




Taxpayers still on the hook for stadium debts, even though coronavirus canceled sports; but then, those stadiums weren't likely to bring the growth the cities wanted in the first place (Reason)

Due to Seattle's unrest, a billion-dollar investment firm is moving to Phoenix (KTAR News)

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoes bill to reopen bars and gyms (Washington Examiner)

Audio emerges of Jimmy Kimmel, a social-justice fraudster and misogynist, using the N-word (The Daily Wire)

Friendly fire: Black Lives Matter forces LGBTQ organization to face its history of racial exclusion (NBC News)

Colorado passes landmark law against qualified immunity (Forbes)

New Jersey ranked least patriotic state in America (New York Post)

Andy Ngo: My terrifying five-day stay inside Seattle's cop-free CHAZ (New York Post)

Black Lives Matter founder is an "expert" at George Soros's Institute for New Economic Thinking who called for "opposing capitalism"; colleague admitted "We are trained Marxists" (The National Pulse)

South Korea says John Bolton's memoir on Trump-Kim summit is distorted (Reuters)

Policy: Coronavirus cases are climbing again. So what? (Issues & Insights)


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

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


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Forget Vaccines, Catch a Cold Instead

An interesting suggestion from  Jon N. Hall

The Wuhan pandemic has been compared to the devastating Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, but the two differ in their victims. The Spanish flu hit young adults aged 20-40, a group that the Wuhan virus mostly doesn’t prey on. The Spanish flu also hit children, which our virus virtually ignores. I’m not an epidemiologist, but when compared to the Spanish flu, COVID-19 seems almost “benign.”

The Spanish flu had a fatality rate of 2.5 percent, while the seasonal flu usually has a fatality rate of just 0.1 percent. Some research suggests that the fatality rate for Covid will ultimately turn out to be more in line with the seasonal flu than with the Spanish flu. And note that there’s a vaccine for the seasonal flu while scientists have yet to develop one for Covid.

So if the latest fatality numbers hold, then Covid will turn out to be much less lethal than the Spanish flu. But calculating the fatality rate is difficult, and can involve a lot of guesswork. To get a taste for the problem of putting a number on the fatality rate, read “Covid-19 Is Not the Spanish Flu” at Wired.

In his novel The Andromeda Strain (1969), Michael Crichton dreams up a pathogen which, in the small town it invades, spares no one except for two individuals. Perhaps the Wuhan virus, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that has been flown around the globe on commercial airliners to infect the entire planet, might be thought of as a “reverse Andromeda strain,” in that it spares just about everyone except for old folks. If that sounds wacky to you, then you haven’t kept abreast of recent research which suggests that Covid has already infected far more of the population than had been thought.

In Crichton’s fiction, the two survivors of his Andromeda bug aren’t saved by having superior immune systems, but rather by another biologic factor (which I’ll leave for those who haven’t read the novel to discover on their own). Because the Wuhan virus is new, one might think that Covid’s survivors are protected by the immune systems they were born with, i.e. their innate immune systems.

The exquisite defense system that we were born with is a general system. But when that general system of innate immunity neutralizes a pathogen, it creates a second line of defense, an antibody that targets that specific pathogen. Antibodies are part of the adaptive immune system, which is acquired. I know of a hair stylist who swears that the reason she never gets sick is because her clients continually cough and sneeze all over her. The gal may have developed adaptive immunity.

It’d be interesting to see what kinds of antibodies are present in people who work in close proximity to others, like our hair stylist. I’m not an immunologist, but because the Wuhan virus is new, what could account for the ease with which some throw it off, often not even knowing they’ve contracted anything? Is it innate immunity or something else?

On May 14, the website for the journal Science ran “T cells found in COVID-19 patients ‘bode well’ for long-term immunity” by Mitch Leslie. The article cites research suggesting that T cells which fight Covid could have been developed in response to other coronaviruses, like the common cold:

T cells, in contrast, thwart infections in two different ways. Helper T cells spur B cells and other immune defenders into action, whereas killer T cells target and destroy infected cells. The severity of disease can depend on the strength of these T cell responses. …

The researchers think these cells were likely triggered by past infection with one of the four human coronaviruses that cause colds; proteins in these viruses resemble those of SARS-CoV-2...

Before these studies, researchers didn’t know whether T cells played a role in eliminating SARS-CoV-2, or even whether they could provoke a dangerous immune system overreaction. [Link added.]

On May 21, The Federalist ran “Stop Fear-Mongering: Kids Are Safer From Covid-19 Than Everyone Else” by Phil Kerpen, who wrote that “recent papers suggest they [i.e. children] may either have innate immunity or effective partial immunity from recent exposure to common cold coronaviruses,” and he cites much foreign research to support that. But nowhere in his lengthy article does Mr. Kerpin mention T cells. However, on June 2 Kerpen tweeted “A lot of people beat SARS-CoV2 with just T cells.”

On June 3 at Business Insider, science reporter Aylin Woodward wrote:

Some people's immune systems may have a head start in fighting the coronavirus, recent research suggested.

A study published last month in the journal Cell showed that some people who have never been exposed to the coronavirus have helper T cells that are capable of recognizing and responding to it.

The likeliest explanation for the surprising finding, according to the researchers, is a phenomenon called cross-reactivity: when helper T cells developed in response to another virus react to a similar but previously unknown pathogen.

In this case, those T cells may be left over from people's previous exposure to a different coronavirus --- likely one of the four that cause common colds.

The Wuhan virus affects different groups in markedly different ways. Responses range from the asymptomatic to death. If you’re weathering the “cytokine storm” and a hospital puts you on a ventilator, you’d best have your “affairs in order.” To more completely understand this virus, we might study those in each group who respond differently than the group as a whole; that is, study the anomalies.

Are there any commonalities held by the anomalies in each group? The main group that Covid attacks is the elderly, but it also has a taste for males, the obese, and those with underlying conditions (comorbidities), such as diabetes. So, if Covid were to sweep through a nursing home and kill off every last patient except for an obese 70-year-old man with diabetes, we’d have ourselves an excellent anomaly to study, (which might even put one in mind of Crichton’s Andromeda strain.) Likewise, a grade schooler who succumbs to Covid while his classmates don’t even know they’ve contracted it, or a fit pro football player who is laid low by the virus, such as Mark Campbell, would also be an anomaly to investigate.

The “experts” tell us that we can’t get back to normal until we get a vaccine. But often the yearly flu shot is ineffective more than half the time. And there’s no guarantee that science will be able to come up with a vaccine. The experts weren’t able to develop vaccines for other coronaviruses, such as those responsible for SARS and MERS and the common cold.

Americans are being asked to wait for a vaccine which the vast majority of them don’t need due to their innate immunity, their antibodies from growing herd immunity due to having already contracted the virus, and their T cells. Also, this hoped-for vaccine might quickly become useless if the virus mutates, as viruses are wont to do. Are we just supposed to remain in lockdown while we wait until the so-called experts say it’s safe to go outside?

Think of how devastating the Wuhan virus would have been if it had hit the younger still-productive part of the population. Think of the heartache were it to have preyed on kids, wiping out classrooms in the way it wiped out nursing homes. If I were a virus, or a cannibal, I think I’d be more attracted to the young and succulent rather than to the old and stringy. So, as far as viruses go we’ve been lucky with Wuhan, given its choice of victims. Be that as it may, to boost your killer T cells: man up, leave your bunker, and go out and catch a cold.



UK: One steroid, and all Europe, says lockdown must end

The discovery in Britain that a £5 steroid, dexamethasone, can be effective in treating COVID-19 marks a potential breakthrough in our understanding of the virus.

Much remains to be learned about the wider potential of the drug but the claims made about its success are striking: that it reduces deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators and by a fifth in ­patients receiving oxygen only.

It has not been shown to benefit COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen, but this can still, in a global pandemic, mean thousands of lives saved.

There are two further points to be made. With COVID-19, there is a better chance of finding a treatment for the virus than of finding a vaccine. Second, the gathering and interrogation of this data can be of huge use in finding out what works and what does not. The British study looked at the role of old ­familiar generic drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies understandably focus on developing new products: that is their ­raison d’etre. There is no real money to be made in the discovery about the role of steroids.

It is understandable that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been so keen to tell the world about dexamethasone. Some 4000 COVID patients are dying each day across the world, and if even a small fraction of those lives can be saved with a widely available drug then every day counts.

But another mass experiment is going on, which is also worthy of the British government’s attention. In schools, too, every day counts. Lockdown is being eased all over the world, without much sign of the second wave that so many feared.

In hundreds of thousands of classrooms, children are being taught in the same way as they were pre-COVID, without any viral backlash. The 2m rule should now be abolished and lighter regulations put in place, with schools first in line for a return to normal.

The evidence of London, too, needs to be taken into account. For two weeks now, the number of new lab-confirmed COVID cases has been, on average, two dozen a day — in a city of nine million. Nor have mass protests in Britain over the past fortnight ­resulted in the faintest flicker of a resurgence in new cases. There has been no triggering of the early warning systems (specifically in calls to the 111 hotline that mention COVID-­related symptoms).

We know this because the government is better now at collecting data. And the data should embolden ministers to move faster in reopening society.

The new cases, when they ­arrive, are isolated. Last week, we had news of an outbreak in Beijing, which may lead to the city being locked down in the way that Wuhan was in January. Bizarrely, China has responded by halting the import of European salmon. But overall, it is remarkable how little resurgence there has been in countries that have gradually eased their way out of lockdown or other restrictions.

Weeks ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested the COVID-19 crisis might not be solved until a vaccine was found. No one knows when that will be, yet the announcement on dexa­methasone reminds us that therapeutic drugs can go a long way to make up for the lack of a vaccine.

Look at HIV/AIDS. In the 1980s, a vaccine was thought to be four or five years away. It still hasn’t been found, but in the meantime retroviral drugs have done a pretty good job of suppressing the virus within individuals, to the extent that new infections have fallen sharply.

Given the success other European countries have had in relaxing lockdowns without rekindling the virus, it is puzzling that the British government is proceeding so gingerly. The level of infection in the population is now so low that it does not qualify under the definition of an epidemic. That has been the case for several weeks, yet non-essential shops have only just reopened, and there is no firm date for reopening bars, restaurants, theatres, hotels — only a promise that it won’t happen before July 4.

Johnson began this crisis seemingly unaware of the medical havoc it might cause. Now he risks seeming to ignore the economic and social damage it has already caused — and the even greater havoc it will cause if lockdown is not lifted soon. Businesses can keep going for only so long without income. Should lockdown be imposed for much longer, we will begin to see a cascade of collapse.

Six months ago, Johnson won an election partly by promising to be the entrepreneurial candidate, who would lead us away from the EU’s precautionary principle towards faster growth. It is time he finds the resolve shown by European counterparts — and leads Britain out of lockdown so the recovery can begin.




Justice Department proposes rolling back protections for Big Tech (Reuters)

Trump signs bill protecting Chinese Uighurs on same day John Bolton claims he gave President Xi Jinping approval on detention camps (The Daily Caller)

Dick Durbin gives token apology to Tim Scott after "token" remark about police-reform bill (Washington Examiner)

Senate Democrats silent when asked if they condemn Dick Durbin's "token" comment (The Daily Caller)

Hypocrite Nancy Pelosi pours $180,000 into Facebook ads while calling for advertisers to boycott the site (The Washington Free Beacon)

Ex-Atlanta police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks charged with felony murder (CNN)

Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it was not consulted by the DA before charges were filed against officers in Brooks case (11alive.com)

"There are officers walking off": Atlanta cops vote with their feet on indictments (Power Line)

Dumb and dumber: Seattle adds concrete barricades to safeguard the militant group CHOP (Bearing Arms)

Cornell law professor censured by dean after criticizing Black Lives Matter movement (The College Fix)


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

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Coronavirus is weakening, could die out on its own without a vaccine and patients now survive infections that would have killed them at start of the pandemic

I suspect that what the good doctor is noticing is that all the very vulnerable to the virus are now dead.  So he is now seeing what is left, people who were less vulnerable to it in the first place

But it is certainly true that viruses evolve and it certainly true that a form of a virus that does not kill its host will itself survive better. So a non-lethal form could well become dominant

The coronavirus, once an 'aggressive tiger' of a disease, has weakened and become more like a wild cat, according to a top Italian doctor.

Professor Matteo Bassetti said he is convinced the virus is 'changing in severity' and patients are now surviving infections that would have killed them before.

And if the virus's weakening is true, Covid-19 could even disappear without a for a vaccine by becoming so weak it dies out on its own, he claimed.

He has said multiple times in recent months that patients with Covid-19 seem to be faring much better than they were at the start of the epidemic in Italy.

Professor Bassetti suggests this could be because of a genetic mutation in the virus making it less lethal, because of improved treatments, or because people are not getting infected with such large doses because of social distancing.

But other scientists have hit back at the claims in the past and said there is no scientific evidence that the virus has changed at all.

Professor Bassetti, the chief of infectious diseases at San Martino General Hospital in Genoa, Italy, told The Sunday Telegraph the virus could wither away on its own.

He said: 'It was like an aggressive tiger in March and April but now it's like a wild cat. Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up in bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before.'

Italy was one of the worst hit countries in the world during the pandemic's early stages, and has now recorded more than 238,000 positive cases and 34,000 deaths.

Scientists have said the elderly population there, the virus spreading in rural areas and the suddenness of the outbreak contributed to the country's high death toll.

Professor Bassetti suggests that one of the reasons the virus might be causing less serious illness is a genetic mutation which has made it less damaging to people's lungs.

Or, he said, people may simply be receiving smaller amounts when they get infected, because of social distancing and lockdown rules, making them less sick.

This theory depends on the severity of someone's illness being affected by their 'viral load' - the amount of virus that gets into someone's body when they're first struck by it.

Professor Bassetti said: 'The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity.

Viruses are known to change over time because they are subject to random genetic mutations in the same way that all living things are.

These mutations can have various effects and many will only happen briefly and not become a permanent change as newer generations of viruses replace the mutated ones.

However, some of the mutations might turn out to be advantageous to the virus, and get carried forward into future generations.

For example, if a virus becomes less dangerous to its host - that is, it causes fewer symptoms or less death - it may find that it is able to live longer and reproduce more.

As a result, more of these less dangerous viruses are produced and they may go on to spread more effectively than the more dangerous versions, which could be stamped out by medication because more people realise they are ill, for example.

The mutation may then be taken forward in the stronger generations and become the dominant version of the virus.

In an explanation of an scientific study about HIV, the NHS said in 2014: 'The optimal evolutionary strategy for a virus is to be infectious (so it creates more copies of itself) but non-lethal (so its host population doesn’t die out).

'The "poster boy" for successful long-living viruses is, arguably, the family of viruses that cause the common cold, which has existed for thousands of years.' 

'In March and early April the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult to manage illness and they needed oxygen and ventilation, some developed pneumonia.

'Now, in the past four weeks, the picture has completely changed in terms of of patterns.

'There could be a lower viral load in the respiratory tract, probably due to a genetic mutation in the virus which has not yet been demonstrated scientifically.'

But other scientists did not welcome the idea and said there was no evidence to back up Professor Bassetti's claims.

Dr Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, told MailOnline that the idea the virus has disappeared 'seems dubious'.

The epidemiologist warned Italy - which was the centre of Europe's coronavirus crisis in March - was still recording new Covid-19 cases and deaths, showing the virus was still a danger.

At the start of June, in response to Professor Bassetti's claim, Dr Angela Rasmussen, from Columbia University, tweeted: 'There is no evidence that the virus is losing potency anywhere.'

She added less transmission means fewer hospitalisations and deaths - but warned: 'That doesn't mean less virulence.'

The virulence of a virus is how dangerous the illness is but may not directly relate to how contagious it is.

Dr Oscar MacLean, of the University of Glasgow, added: 'These claims are not supported by anything in the scientific literature, and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.



It’s been more than three weeks since mass protests started in the US, sparking fears of a surge in infections. The data so far is surprising

No surprise.  The rioters were mostly young.  The coronavirus is almost always a disease of the elderly

On May 26, the day after George Floyd’s death, people started to stream onto America’s streets to protest against police brutality and racial discrimination.

Before long those streets were brimming with protesters. Day after day, tens of thousands of people were marching together in more than 100 cities across the country.

They were also jammed together like proverbial sardines – well inside the 1.8-metre distance dictated by their government’s coronavirus guidelines.

That created an obvious fear – that the protests would cause a huge surge in infections, just as the United States was trying to open up again.

Government officials allowed the demonstrations to continue; they were too big to shut down anyway. But several did express deep concerns.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned the protests could become “super spreader events”. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told protesters they should all get themselves tested for the virus. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she worried the mass gatherings could cause “spikes in coronavirus cases” later.

“Two weeks from now, across America, we’re going to find out whether this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said at the end of May.

Well, here we are, almost three weeks later. The US currently has 2.2 million confirmed cases of the virus, and its death toll stands at more than 120,000.

And yet, in news as welcome as it is baffling, so far there is little sign of the protests having the effect health experts feared.

According to America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, someone can carry the virus without symptoms appearing for as long as a fortnight.

So, let’s take the example of Minneapolis, which was the site of Mr Floyd’s death and the initial epicentre of the protests. It has been 26 days since the demonstrations started there.

So far more than 10,000 Minneapolis protesters have been tested for the virus, and fewer than 2 per cent of those people were infected.

“We’re delighted that we are not seeing a huge increase in cases,” Kris Ehresmann, director of the Minnesota Department of Health’s infectious disease division, told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, though she did say officials wanted to be “cautious” about drawing conclusions.

The statistics are similar in Philadelphia, Seattle and even New York.

Al Jazeera recently looked at a selection of cities where major protests took place. Its analysis is about a week old now, but still accounts for the virus’s expected incubation period. Again, there was little evidence of a protest-related spike.



Most Americans do not want to “defund” the police

But they support other reforms

“DEFUND THE POLICE”, a slogan that might once have appealed only to America’s left, has gone mainstream. Since George Floyd’s death on May 25th, protesters across the country have called for police departments to be “defunded”, or for a portion of funds to be diverted to social programmes. Others want departments abolished altogether. Some lawmakers appear to have listened. On June 7th Bill de Blasio, New York City's mayor, pledged to redirect some of the city’s $6bn police budget to youth and social services. The same day members of the city council in Minneapolis, where Mr Floyd was killed, vowed to dismantle the city’s police department entirely. The Los Angeles City Council is also researching how to cut its police department’s budget by $100m-150m.

But the proposal has yet to win over a majority of voters. A recent survey by YouGov, a pollster, found that only a quarter of American adults are in favour of cutting funding for police departments outright. (When respondents are alerted to arguments from opponents of defunding that it might lead to a rise in crime, the proportion drops even lower.) A larger share favour redirecting funds from police to alternative first responders, such as social workers, drug counsellors and mental-health experts. Nearly half of Americans approve of this approach, though support is split along party lines with 68% of Democrats in favour, and 55% of Republicans opposed.

Other police reforms enjoy broader support. Another survey, also by YouGov, found that large majorities of Americans favour training police officers to de-escalate conflicts (88%), equipping them with body cameras (87%), identifying troublesome officers sooner (80%) and banning restraint of suspects’ necks (67%; Mr Floyd was choked by an officer’s knee). Two bills introduced by the House and Senate, on June 8th and June 17th, respectively, include all of these ideas in one form or another. The Senate bill encourages de-escalation training; the House bill boosts funding for investigations of police misconduct; both encourage the use of body cameras. The House bill bans chokeholds and neck restraints outright, whereas the Senate one discourages chokeholds by blocking federal grants if used.

Yet when it comes to reforming the police, congressional powers are limited. Most of America’s 18,000 law-enforcement agencies are governed locally, so lawmakers in Washington can only regulate them in roundabout ways—for example by collecting data, prosecuting abuses of power or restricting access to federal grants. Some reforms passed in Congress could be ignored.

Things may not get that far. Democrats and Republicans in Congress struggle to pass controversial legislation even in amicable times, let alone during an election year. President Donald Trump, who recently signed an executive order creating a national database to track misbehaving police officers, could veto whatever legislators come up with. On the day the Democratic-led House unveiled its bill, Mr Trump tweeted his disapproval: “the Radical Left Democrats want to Defund and Abandon our Police. Sorry, I want LAW & ORDER!”




Nancy Pelosi orders removal of four portraits of Confederate House speakers — Democrats Robert Hunter, Howell Cobbs, James Orr, and Charles Crisp — from the Capitol (NBC News)

Only the beginning: Senate Democrats move to gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (National Review)

Europeans are working with the U.S. to restructure the World Health Organization (Reuters)

Fifty-five percent believe that Biden potentially has early stages of dementia (The Daily Wire)

Politico agrees that polls are underestimating Trump just like in 2016 (The Daily Wire)

Senator Marco Rubio introduces the Fairness in Collegiate Athletics Act to address name, image, and likeness in college sports (Rubio.senate.gov)

Olympia, Washington, Mayor Cheryl Selby, who supported Black Lives Matter, gets home vandalized during riots, calls it "domestic terrorism" (The Daily Wire)

Major fumble: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy foolishly apologizes for "pain, discomfort" caused by sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with One America News (ESPN)

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said she would issue an executive order that would take effect before the November election, ending Iowa's distinction as the last state to deprive all former felons of voting rights for life (The New York Times)

Notre Dame Law School establishes Religious Liberty Clinic (Notre Dame News)

Massive spying on users of Google's Chrome shows new security weakness (Reuters)

Border violence could spur India to help U.S. counter China (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Reform our cities, not just the police (National Review)


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

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