Friday, September 04, 2020

Good news: coronavirus-fighting antibodies last longer than scientists thought

Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly as some earlier reports suggested, scientists have found.

Tuesday's report, from tests on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system's response to the virus over time, and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines.

If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies as natural infection seems to do, it gives hope that "immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting", scientists from Harvard University and the US National Institutes of Health wrote in a commentary published with the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had coronavirus helps protect against future infection, and for how long. Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.

The new study was done by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the US biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland.

The country has tested 15 per cent of its population since late February, when its first Covid-19 cases were detected, giving a solid base for comparisons.

Scientists used two types of coronavirus testing: the kind from nose swabs or other samples that detect bits of the virus, indicating infection; and tests that measure antibodies in the blood, which can show whether someone was infected now or in the past.

Blood samples were analysed from 30,576 people using various methods, and someone was counted as a case if at least two of the antibody tests were positive. These included a range of people, from those without symptoms to people hospitalised with signs of Covid.

In a subgroup that tested positive, further testing found that antibodies rose for two months after their infection initially was diagnosed and then plateaued and remained stable for four months.

Previous studies suggesting that antibodies faded quickly may have been just looking at the first wave of antibodies the immune system makes in response to infection; those studies mostly looked 28 days after diagnosis. A second wave of antibodies forms after a month or two into infection, and this seems more stable and long-lasting, the researchers report.

The results do not necessarily mean that all countries' populations will be the same, or that every person has this sort of response. Other scientists recently documented at least two cases where people seem to have been reinfected with coronavirus months after their first bout.

The new study does not establish how much or which type of antibody confers immunity or protection - that remains unknown.

The study also found:

Testing through the bits-of-virus method that is commonly done in community settings missed nearly half of people who were found to have had the virus by blood antibody testing. That means the blood tests are far more reliable and better for tracking the spread of the disease in a region and for guiding decisions and returning to work or school, researchers say.
Nearly a third of infections were in people who reported no symptoms.

Nearly one per cent of Iceland's population was infected in this first wave of the pandemic, meaning the other 99 per cent are still vulnerable to the virus.

The infection fatality rate was 0.3 per cent. That is about three times the fatality rate of seasonal flu and in keeping with some other more recent estimates, said Dr Derek Angus, critical care chief at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.

Although many studies have been reporting death rates based on specific groups such as hospitalised patients, the rate of death among all infected with coronavirus has been unknown.

The news that natural antibodies do not quickly disappear "will be encouraging for people working on vaccines", Dr Angus said.



Cheap hydrocortisone drug reduces deaths in sickest COVID-19 patients, research finds

A cheap and widely available steroid has been found to reduce mortality in the sickest COVID-19 patients.

Hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, could save one in every 12 patients and will be recommended for use in NHS coronavirus patients.

It is the second drug found to be effective in reducing mortality in those with severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre found that patients receiving intensive care who were treated with hydrocortisone for seven days had a 93% chance of a better recovery compared to patients who were not treated with the steroid.

The benefits of hydrocortisone were announced alongside analysis from seven trials involving three different types of steroids - including dexamethasone, which has already been found to reduce mortality and is widely used.

The studies found that treatment with one of dexamethasone, hydrocortisone or methylprednisolone led to an estimated 20% reduction in the risk of death.

Professor Anthony Gordon, who led the research into hydrocortisone, said: "The studies published today show that we now have more than one choice of treatment for those who need it most.



Australians left to die instead of Trump’s coronavirus cure being used

Andrew Bolt:

Hundreds of Australians may be dying because of Donald Trump. See, the US President last May made a fatal mistake: He backed a drug that could cure the coronavirus.

Sorry, let me rephrase. Hundreds of Australians may be dying because many politicians, medico-bureaucrats and journalists hate Trump’s guts.

Many would apparently rather ignore the studies that now say hydroxychloroquine works than admit Trump may have been right.

Think of that, if you get sick. Or if you watch a loved relative die.

Are you — are they — being denied a cure that almost any chemist in Australia could hand over right now, just to stop Trump from looking good?

In May, Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine because he had “heard a lot of good stories”.

Why not try it, he suggested, when “you’re not going to get sick or die” from a drug that has been used by millions since 1955 to protect against malaria, and, later, to treat conditions such as lupus.

From that moment, the media left in the US and Australia demonised hydroxychloroquine to prove Trump’s a fool.

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook even censor posts by doctors saying they’ve successfully used it.

How the pharmaceutical giants must love it. Hydroxychloroquine is a generic drug that earns them peanuts, but a new vaccine, however imperfect, would earn them billions.

The height of this insanity was reached last week when Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, demanded federal parliament censure Liberal MP Craig Kelly for having said studies showed hydroxychloroquine, given early, saved lives.

For some reason, this news appalled Bowen. He said Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration “strongly discourages the use of hydroxychloroquine” for this coronavirus, and denounced Kelly for spreading “misinformation and conspiracy theories”.

Please stop Bowen becoming our health minister. We’re not safe if our health system is run by a man who hates being told of a cheap cure, and tries to silence any MP trying to show the evidence.

You see, in the week before Bowen tried to silence Kelly, no fewer than five new studies said hydroxychloroquine indeed saves people from dying, even without the zinc that apparently makes it more effective.

In the US, the Hackensack University Medical Center said people given hydroxychloroquine were a third less likely to later need hospitalisation.

In Italy, a study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine said patients needing hospital care, when hydroxychloroquine is less effective, still had “a 30 per cent lower risk of death” when given the drug.

In Belgium, a study in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents of 8000 hospitalised patients also said the death rate was cut by a third.

In Spain, a study of 9644 patients found “hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (an antibiotic) correlated with a lower mortality rate”.

In France, a study by Aix Marseilles University of 226 sick residents in an aged-care home said hydroxychloroquine halved the death rate.

That’s five studies all saying hydroxychloroquine works — all in the week before Labor called Kelly “the most dangerous man in parliament” for saying the same. How shameful.

Worse, states like Victoria still want to ban doctors from prescribing this drug.

This is sick. This is the cancel culture played for deadly keeps.

Yes, other studies insist hydroxychloroquine is useless. And Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dragged along Associate Professor Julian Elliott to a press conference last week to defend his state’s ban on it.

Elliott, head of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, obliged, attacking “a particular trend on social media”, and declaring “hydroxychloroquine should not be used” because “there’s now substantial information that it’s not effective, and it does have side-effects”.

But as I’ve noted before, Elliott’s taskforce cherrypicked wildly to dismiss hydroxychloroquine.

It checked only nine studies that showed it had little or no effect, but ignored any that showed it worked.

It relied most on an Oxford study that for some disastrous reason gave very sick patients potentially lethal overdoses — up to 12 times the recommended dose.

Crucially, none of the nine studies included zinc. Hydroxychloroqine is a zinc ionophore — it helps zinc get into cells and stop the virus replicating. The aged, most likely to die of the coronavirus, often have zinc deficiencies.

To repeat: I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works or not. But I do know it doesn’t kill, if used properly under medical advice, and some experts back it. So why ban doctors and patients from deciding for themselves? Or are hundreds of dead Australians a small price to pay for kicking Trump?




Nancy Pelosi visits hair salon, joins long list of hypocritical Democrats blowing off lockdowns (The Federalist)

Trump ignores warnings and tours Kenosha destruction (Washington Examiner)

Appeals court grants Trump delay in financial records case (Politico)

White House slams proposal to alter historical DC monuments, says mayor should be ashamed (Fox News)

Hunter Biden holds stake in Chinese company sanctioned for human rights abuses; Joe Biden has promised to go after companies with ties to China's repression (The Washington Free Beacon)

Kennedy dynasty suffers first loss ever in Massachusetts after Senator Ed Markey wins primary challenge (Fox News)

Hounded out by BLM: Portland's Democrat mayor is leaving his $840,000 condo after it was repeatedly targeted by anarchists (Daily Mail)

Tony Baltimore school buckles to anti-Semitic demands of Black Lives Matter activists (The Washington Free Beacon)

Elvis Presley's Graceland vandalized with graffiti messages including "Defund MPD," "Abolish ICE," and "BLM" (Fox News)

Chicago passes 500 homicides this year (National Review)

Chicago faces record $1.2 billion budget shortfall following "catastrophic" economic collapse, riots, and violence (The Daily Wire)

Divorce rate skyrockets 34% amid COVID-19 pandemic (Fox News)

White House moves to halt evictions through end of year as fears of coronavirus-fueled housing crisis grow (CNBC)

Trump payroll tax deferral finds few takers among businesses (The Hill)

ICE arrests 2,000+ illegal immigrants in sweep, 85% of whom had criminal convictions or charges (American Military News)

Teen Vogue pushes young people one step closer to socialism (Washington Examiner)

What are the Trump and Tim Scott "opportunity zones" that aim to largely help African American neighborhoods? (Sharyl Attkisson)


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, September 03, 2020

British Government scientist: ‘Lockdown was a monumental mistake’

A scientist advising the government on infectious diseases has said the lockdown was a ‘monumental mistake on a global scale’, in an explosive interview with the Daily Express.

According to Professor Mark Woolhouse, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, lockdown was a ‘panic measure’ and he ‘never want[s] to see national lockdown again’.

Woolhouse originally supported lockdown as a temporary measure, intended to buy time for scientists to come up with new methods for fighting Covid-19. However, he admitted it was done because ‘we couldn’t think of anything better to do’.

Woolhouse believes ‘the harm lockdown is doing… will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19’, if not greater. ‘The cure was worse than the disease’, he added.

He also took aim at the government’s policy of closing schools, saying this was ‘not an epidemiologically sensible thing to do’, and that we should have focused on care homes and not kids.

Woolhouse’s words make a mockery of the government’s claims to be following ‘The Science’ when shutting down society. This rash decision was taken seemingly with little regard to the extraordinary damage it would do to health, education, the economy and other public services.

What’s even more concerning is Woolhouse’s acknowledgement that the UK government still doesn’t have a strategy for balancing the Covid epidemic with a return to normal life. ‘I would not dignify waiting for a vaccine with the term “strategy”’, he said: ‘That’s a hope not a strategy. But we do need to get on with providing an alternative to lockdown.’

Rather than flail around in search of ideas, the government should end the lockdown for good and allow us to get on with our lives.



China emerging as winner in vaccine race as jabs reach phase-three trials

China is pulling ahead in what could be the final leg of the global coronavirus vaccine race, with four of seven possible candidates in last stage human trials – more than any other country.

However, some are concerned about the quality of the vaccines and that they are being used to gain political leverage.

Beijing is so confident in its homegrown inoculations that authorities have been administering vaccines for more than a month before clinical studies conclude, authorities revealed this week.

People deemed to be at higher risk of infection, such as border officials and state-owned enterprise employees working overseas, have received jabs after the government approved them for emergency use, according to state media. Soon, transport and service workers are also expected to be vaccinated.

“Giving untested vaccines means that there is no guarantee that they are going to work, so people could wrongly assume that they are inoculated when they are not,” said Nicholas Thomas, a health security expert and professor at the City University of Hong Kong. “In doing so, they could engage in behaviour that has a higher risk....[and] unwittingly put other people at risk.”

“The reason why vaccines go through phase 3 trials is to reduce the short and long-term risk to the individual,” he said. “Giving vaccine shots without this knowledge places individuals at significant personal risk.”

The Chinese government has provided sparse details on which vaccines are being given to people, and how many have been vaccinated, leading to concerns participation may be forced and not voluntary.

Last week, Papua New Guinea cancelled a flight from China filled with arriving passengers believed to have received a coronavirus vaccine over worries of the unknown health impact to the local population.

In general, “it’s better for a community if there’s more people vaccinated, so there’s less risk of an outbreak of Covid,” said Ben Cowling, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health. “At the same time, just having some vaccinated people wouldn’t be enough to mean that social distancing could be relaxed.”

Governments are under increasing pressure to find a lasting solution for the devastating pandemic that has swept the world, infecting nearly 25 million and killing more than 830,000. Authorities are also keen to get economies back on track as quarantine measures, though effective in containing the virus, are beginning to impact growth.

“Covid is causing economic damage every week, every month, so the sooner we can start using vaccines, the better,” said Mr Cowling.

For China, there are additional benefits. Coming up with a successful vaccine would help to deflect anger at home and abroad over its pandemic cover-up, while delivering a blow to US Donald Trump’s “warp-speed” plans for a vaccine. Competition is heating up as well with Russia.

The Chinese government “sees science and technology as tools of national greatness,” said Yangyang Cheng, a scientist and postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.

Winning the vaccine race would underscore government propaganda about how “it’s really a hostile world out there, and we, as in the Chinese people, have to rely on ourselves”.

It would also give China a new tool for diplomacy and potentially bring more allies into the fold. Indeed Beijing has already vowed “to give priority” to a number of Southeast Asian nations – the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – if it develops a vaccine.

Canada, engaged in a longstanding diplomatic spat with Beijing, had to halt plans to partner in late stage clinical trials as vaccine doses, stalled in Chinese customs, never even arrived.

China doesn’t have a great track record. Rushed exports of medical equipment and protective gear this year have turned out to be faulty. The country has also before been plagued with a number of health and food safety scandals, including expired vaccines and tainted baby formula that sickened 300,000 infants and killed at least six in 2008.

If early inoculations in China end up failing, experts say that could impact global public confidence in the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines in general.

While drug regulators have the power to decide whether or not to approve a Chinese vaccine for use in their own countries, they could come under pressure to fast-track a successful candidate on the market, regardless of who developed the treatment.

Countries, though, that China has agreed to conduct advanced tests with include Brazil, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Morocco, where regulatory hurdles for vaccines to become available may be less stringent than in Western countries like the US or UK.

Still, experts are optimistic with so many vaccine candidates in advanced testing, which could eventually yield a few options. Over time, it may also emerge that some vaccines are better suited for certain parts of the population; for instance, one type of vaccine could be more effective or suitable for children versus adults, said Mr Cowling.

While results of phase three trials won’t be available for another few months, early orders for vaccines are already coming in as nations seek to secure access for their citizens.

“The vaccine development process is like a marathon,” said Mr Cowling. “Some vaccines are nearing the end of the journey, but it’s unclear if they will finish. Some of these vaccines may not pan out; hopefully they will.”

While the coronavirus “does represent a significant threat to humanity,” infections can be controlled with social distancing and other preventative protocols, said Mr Thomas. “It is just that these have economic and political costs.”

“The urgency narrative being put out by Chinese, Russian and American officials is more about national prestige and avoiding such costs than about the comprehensive testing of a new vaccine.”



Fight for America—Voters Must Do This to Stop Socialism and Anarchy

For months, the forces of Marxism, socialism and anarchy have terrorized our streets and threatened the values that make America the greatest nation in the world.

The radical left’s ideas could destroy America for generations. The only bulwark that can stop them is an informed and energized citizenry.

If you are alarmed at the state of our nation and if you believe in America, this is the time to fight for America.

Rioting. Vandalism. Bullying opponents into silence. Calls to defund the police, abolish the Electoral College and remake America as a socialist country. It’s hard to believe what we’re now seeing.

For months, the forces of Marxism, socialism and anarchy have terrorized our streets and threatened the values that make America the greatest nation in the world. They have shown no signs of stopping, and many left-leaning politicians, members of the media and celebrities either tacitly accept their behavior or openly cheer it on.

Today, America has a choice of two paths. We can embrace the foundational principles that created this nation of limited government and individual liberty. Or we can veer down the path of those who trash those principles, who teach our children that America was illegitimate from the start, and who want to make the vast majority of Americans subservient to an all-powerful government.

The time has come to fight for America and against the poisonous ideology of the radical left.

But this is not the typical fight between liberals and conservatives over whose vision for America should prevail. This is a much bigger fight.

This is a fight over whether America as we know it continues to exist at all.

This is a fight over whether we have freedom, peace and prosperity, or speech codes, cancel culture and enforced ideological conformity.

This is a fight where conservatives, moderates and even more traditional liberals should be working together on one side to stop the radical Marxists on the other.

Vice President Mike Pence recently summed up this historic point in our history:

“We stand at a crossroads of freedom. Before us lie two paths: One based on the dignity and worth of every individual, and the other on the growing control of the state. One road leads to greater freedom and opportunity, and the other road leads to socialism and decline.”

Or even more succinctly, “The choice we face is whether America remains America.”

The radical left’s ideas could destroy America for generations. The only bulwark that can stop them is an informed and energized citizenry.

Amazingly, many citizens who are concerned about where they see the far left taking this country aren’t even registered to vote. If you are one of those people, your vote is one of the most effective ways you can stop the march toward Marxism.

Register to vote and make it your project to get 10 relatives and neighbors who aren’t registered to do the same. Then show up for your local, state and federal elections—and bring them with you. The best way to fight for America is to vote for America.

If there is a candidate in your area who shares your principles and isn’t afraid to actually fight for them, call the campaign office and offer a few hours of your time each week to hand out brochures, stuff envelopes or put up yard signs.

Additionally, you must arm yourself with facts so you can better understand the issues and you can also help inform your friends, relatives and social networks about them. Let those in your circles know what’s going on. So many of us are so busy in our lives that we can’t pay attention to everything, and the other side counts on that.

If you are alarmed at the state of our nation and if you believe in America, this is the time to fight for America. This is the time to support law enforcement officers, to call for accountability in an education system that indoctrinates rather than educates, and to go on offense against the extremism of the radical left.

This is the time to fight for a nation where freedom and prosperity flourish, where opportunity abounds and where civil society brings out the best in all of us. To fight for a nation of free enterprise, limited government and traditional American values.

These are the principles that have been fought for and preserved by the blood and sacrifice of generations before us. And they are the same principles we must defend and protect today. It’s time to stand up for them, because there is too much at stake to stand on the sidelines.




DC appeals court rejects Michael Flynn effort to force judge to immediately drop the scandalous case (Washington Examiner)

On a related note: Conservative takeover of appeals courts within reach with Trump reelection (The Washington Free Beacon)

A bumbling Joe Biden walks out after Pittsburgh speech without taking questions (Washington Examiner)

Biden praised for copying Mike Pence's RNC remarks on violent riots (The Federalist)

Riots rivaling coronavirus as top 2020 concern (Washington Examiner)

HarrisX-Hill poll suggests Trump's approval rating with black voters soared by 60% during RNC (The Washington Times)

On the other hand, a Military Times poll shows Trump's Armed Forces popularity slips — and more troops say they'll vote for Biden (Military Times)

Protests erupt in southern Los Angeles after an armed black man is killed by deputies (Fox News)

Stabbing suspect said he "felt the need to find a white male to kill" after watching cop videos (The Daily Wire)

DC mayor pleads with U.S. attorney to ramp up prosecutions of violent protesters (Fox News)

Portland has declared more than two dozen riots since George Floyd's death (The Daily Caller)

Mural to slain black police sergeant defaced in Philadelphia (The Federalist)

More fallout from the fall of Falwell: Liberty University announces independent investigation of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s tenure (National Review)

Almost five million first-time gun owners since January (CNS News)

Double standards: Philadelphia mayor seen dining indoors while city's restaurants can only serve outside (Fox News)

Feds "targeting and investigating" heads of BLM, antifa, and those who fund them (The Daily Wire)


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, September 02, 2020

Melbourne doctor slams coronavirus conspiracy spreading on Facebook

There are two extreme claims below and each is right in its own way.  The key statistic at issue is the number of people who have died with the virus in them but no other known problems.  Such people are very few but are they the only ones who have been killed by the virus?

The answer in that we do not know,  The truth is undoubtedly somewhere in between.  The incidence of comorbidities is high so it is unquestionable that the virus did not cause all the deaths attributed to it -- but even the most extensive autopsies would not always be able to sort out the cause of death in the patient.  Was it the virus or was it the comorbidity? 

THe high percentage of those who have died with a comorbidity strongly suggests that it was mostly the comorbidity that caused death, not the virus -- but the exact percentage will never be known. 

The important grain of truth that does emerge, however, is that the virus does not usually kill by itself.  So it is true that the official count of cases is greatly overstated.  But by exactly how much we cannot tell

Note that what is written on a death certificate is not always maximally well informed. It is therefore possible that NOBODY died of the virus alone

COVID-19 conspiracy theories are rife. While some people question its origins, others outright deny that it exists.
A top doctor has lashed out at a conspiracy theory spreading like wildfire on social media, picking apart the main arguments behind the theory.

Dr Sara Hassan from Melbourne shared a graphic being spread on Facebook by coronavirus deniers, which claimed that only 6 per cent of the COVID-19 related deaths reported in the US were actually caused by COVID-19.

The US has been ravaged by coronavirus, so far reporting more than 183,000 deaths out of over six million confirmed cases.

“I’m getting on this early because this type of misinformation and outright deliberate mischaracterisation of the facts is already making the rounds amongst conspiracy theorists hellbent on twisting facts to suit their agenda,” Dr Hassan said in a Facebook post.

“Those who spread these mistruths have one intention: To attempt to throw doubt about COVID deaths, minimise the seriousness of the pandemic, and ultimately encourage people to revolt against any mitigation put in place to prevent further deaths.”

Dr Hassan said the claims had come from a chiropractor in the US “who has obviously never completed a death certificate in her life”.

The claims are a screenshot from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing COVID-19 related deaths in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

“By focusing on the breakdown of deaths by comorbidity, this chiropractor has concluded that given only six per cent of COVID deaths had no other comorbidity listed on their death certificate (and) that this somehow means that ONLY six per cent of the COVID death tally is attributed to COVID, and the remaining 94 per cent of deaths are not,” Dr Hassan said.

“Such outrageous, ignorant and patently false claims are now spreading through social media by bored conspiracy theorists with a serious case of Stuckhome Syndrome,” she said.

“We know as a fact that people with underlying comorbidities are more susceptible to dying of COVID than those without pre-existing health issues.

“We know that COVID infection in those with underlying cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, immunosuppression and chronic neurological conditions results in worse disease outcomes.

“This is clearly evident in epidemiological data coming out of COVID-affected nations,” she said.

Australian data showed 67 per cent of pandemic-related deaths had at least one comorbidity, she said.

However, Dr Hassan said while conspiracy theorists are sharing the screenshot to validate their “false belief that COVID deaths are criminally over-inflated,” she said as a doctor able to interpret the statistics correctly, they show something more frightening.

“The fact that six per cent of COVID victims had absolutely no underlying pre-existing condition is terrifying,” she said.

“They were relatively healthy individuals and they still succumbed to this wildly infectious and unpredictable disease.”

Dr Hassan shared another post from Dr Sara Marzouk on how death certificates are written, saying she was concerned about laypeople misinterpreting information being shared on social media.

“For those whose only interest is to argue with indisputable fact, spread misinformation, encourage life-threatening complacency and erode confidence in our public health authorities/ health care workers/scientists, then please don’t bother commenting as you’ll be automatically blocked,” she wrote.

Dr Hassan’s post has gone viral, attracting more than 1200 reactions and being shared more than 1700 times.

“Thank you Dr! The more real information out there, the better it is for everyone,” one person commented with a heart emoji.

“Just thank you for taking the time to be a voice of reason when those, with a serious case of #stuckathome-itis who are no doubt afraid but horribly misinformed, seemed to be the loudest,” one woman commented on the post.

“This information merely confirms the warning the (World Health Organisation) stipulated at the start of the pandemic, that the elderly and those with comorbidities were at risk,” one man commented on the post. “Well hello! So they were right.”



Coronavirus vaccine could get emergency approval before critical testing is complete, FDA says

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that coronavirus vaccines may be given emergency approval before rigorous clinical trials are complete, according to recent news reports.

Only a couple of coronavirus vaccine candidates in the U.S. have advanced to phase 3 clinical trials, which are the most critical tests needed to prove, in tens of thousands of people, that a vaccine is both safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Typically, a vaccine must pass these advanced trials before given approval — but the pandemic has pushed vaccine development to unprecedented timescales.

"It is up to the sponsor [vaccine developer] to apply for authorization or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application," Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA Commissioner told The Financial Times. "If they do that before the end of phase three, we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination."

Hahn said a safe way to roll out the vaccine prior to results from phase 3 trials, is to issue an emergency use authorization for only a select group of people, according to the Financial Times. "Our emergency use authorization is not the same as a full approval," he told the Times.

Emergency use authorization is permission granted to unapproved products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening conditions, "when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives," according to the FDA. China and Russia have both given emergency approvals to coronavirus vaccines for a limited group of people prior to phase 3 results, according to the Times.

But approving vaccines too soon can be risky, public health officials have warned.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously told Reuters that a vaccine should not receive an emergency use authorization before it's shown to be effective. "One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial," he said.

"To me, it's absolutely paramount that you definitively show that a vaccine is safe and effective, both," Fauci told Reuters. "We would hope that nothing interferes with the full demonstration that a vaccine is safe and effective."

Last week, the FDA gave an emergency use authorization to plasma therapy, or antibody-rich plasma taken from recovered patients, to treat COVID-19, quickly reversing its announcement that the FDA wouldn't issue an EUA until there was more data that the therapy works, Live Science previously reported. The authorization followed on the tail of President Donald Trump's remarks that the FDA's decision to wait for more data before giving an EUA to plasma therapy could be political, according to the report.

Hahn told the Times that the decision to give an EUA on vaccines wouldn't be politically driven.

"We have a convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the political season, and we're just going to have to get through that and stick to our core principles," he told the Financial Times. "This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision. This is not going to be a political decision."

In the U.S., just two candidate vaccines are in phase 3 trials: one made by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and BioNTech, according to a Live Science roundup of coronavirus vaccine candidates in clinical trials. But there are several others that are expected to start phase 3 trials in the coming weeks.




Trump will visit Kenosha despite Wisconsin governor asking him to "reconsider" (National Review)

Kenosha police union says reporting on Jacob Blake shooting "wholly inaccurate" (Fox News)

Hidin' Biden to resume in-person campaigning as race with Trump kicks into gear (The Washington Post)

Kamala Harris promises unconstitutional national mask mandate if elected (New York Post)

Biden plan would upend traditional 401(k) plans (CQ-Roll Call)

Sarah Palin can sue The New York Times for defamation, court rules (Reuters)

Trump supporter murdered in Portland (Power Line)

Trump rails against "incompetent" Portland mayor (Fox News)

Portland protesters stage sit-in at mayor's home after he and Trump trade barbs (Fox News)

DC BLM anarchist: "Put police in graves." "Burn the White House down." "Take it to senators." (The National Pulse)

Democrat State Rep. Vernon Jones harassed by BLM activists after endorsing Trump (Law Enforcement Today)

Eight police officers have been shot since June 1 in St. Louis (KSDK)

Virginia Republicans sign "Police Pledge" to back the blue (The Daily Signal)

Iowa judge tosses 50,000 absentee ballot requests after Democrat commissioner fills out voter information (The Daily Wire)

California to ban stores from selling flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes (San Francisco Chronicle)

Death toll up to 16 for Hurricane Laura (ABC News)

U.S. to cut troop deployment in Iraq to 3,500, lowest number since rise of ISIS (The Daily Caller)

Another arrest at U.S. university for China connections (Sharyl Attkisson)

China tightens tech export controls, potentially jeopardizing TikTok deal (CNBC)

China has built 268 new reeducation camps, some large enough to hold 10,000 people (Hot Air)

India is becoming the world's new COVID epicenter (Bloomberg)

UAE officially ends boycott on Israel following peace deal (The Daily Caller)

Looming Middle East arms race sparks fear of unprecedented regional war (The Washington Free Beacon)

After decades of dividing America on race, leftists insists the Right is really to blame (The Federalist)

Corporate media didn't report what it's really like in Kenosha, Wisconsin, so I will (The Federalist)

Policy: Black communities around the United States want better interactions with law enforcement, not the abolition of police departments (City Journal)


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


Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Is Trump a conservative?

Below I put up a historically grounded reply to the WSJ article How Trump Has Changed the Republicans

At the outset, let us immediately set aside the absurd Leftist contention that conservatism is opposition to change.  The greatest change agents of recent decades were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, undoubted conservatives.  The only changes conservatives regularly oppose are destructive changes proposed by the Left  -- the most recent example of which is "defund the police".

Unlike Ronald Reagan, Mr Trump is clearly not a libertarian and most of the writers mentioned in How Trump Has Changed the Republicans   are also sure that he is not a conservative.  But none of the writers below make the point that he takes his policies from both libertarians AND conservatives. So is he simply a "hybrid" president or is there more to it than that?  There is.

It is well-known and obvious that the Left have no abiding philosophy and principles. The way they have embraced the rioters who are at the moment trashing many American cities is surely proof of that. 

What is less recognized is that conservatives too have no fixed policies.  Both sides adopt ideologies from time to time but what they embrace changes over time.  So the real, basic, difference between Left and Right is psychological.

Broadly, Conservatives tend to be dominated by positive emotions: happiness, contentment and love of country in particular, while Leftists tend towards anger, dissatisfaction and hatred of the world around them, their own country in particular. Conservatives want to safeguard their country and its ways of doing things.  Leftists want to attack and undermine their country and its social system. Conservatives will embrace anything that seems good for their country and eschew anything that seems bad for it. Ideally, Leftists want a revolution.  Conservatives are loving, generous people.  The Left are haters and destroyers

Prominent English philosopher of conservatism Roger Scruton was particularly known for identifying patriotism with conservatism

And the torrent of hate that the Left have poured out at Mr Trump and his supporters clearly identifies hate as a major part of their makeup.

My contention that conservatives have no lasting principles will be cheered by Leftists but will seem contentious to many conservatives -- so let me take us through a brief history of conservative thought that will confirm my contention.

We find support for that contention in the conclusions drawn by some historians of the British Conservative party -- who find a certain realistic, practical and pragmatic outlook as the main enduring characteristics of Conservative thought (Feiling, 1953; Gilmour, 1978; Norton & Aughey, 1981; Standish, 1990) and theirs is clearly a theory about the wellsprings of conservatism rather than a description of what conservatives have tended to stand for. And it is not at all difficult to see why a realistic view of the ham-fisted and restrictive things that governments characteristically do has led to doubt about the benefits of extending such activities. So we again come to the view that there is a conservative psychology that explains and gives rise to conservative political positions.

But while the proposals of Feiling, Gilmour and others are perfectly reasonable, they do have a large philosophical problem: How do we define what is realistic, practical and pragmatic? So while I also think that realism is a large part of the psychology underlying a conservative stance and have advocated that view at some length in the past (in the introduction to my book Conservatism as Heresy), garnering evidence for its truth is a difficult task and certainly not one that I have found a way to investigate by the normal techniques of psychological research.

I do not think that this leads to any need for great vagueness about what conservatism is at the political (policy-preference) level, however, so would in part reject the view noted by Owen Harries when he says:

"In introducing his anthology The Conservative Tradition, R.J. White defensively (or perhaps smugly and archly) claims, "To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere or give an accurate description of the beliefs of a member of the Anglican Church. The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living."

One must obviously agree with White that the habits of mind and ways of feeling are prior and causative  but I do not agree with White that the political policy-preferences they lead to are hard to define.

Noted American conservative thinker Russell Kirk starts out from a premise very similar to White's but draws quite different conclusions. He finds LOTS of policy-preferences that a conservative outlook leads to. He says here:

"Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata.... Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word "conservative" as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.....

In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy "change is the means of our preservation.") A people's historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude."

What I think Kirk partially overlooks, however, is that conservatism is not limited to those "who find the permanent things more pleasing". Such people will of course be conservative but most people who adopt a cautious attitude to social change do so for a more practical reason -- because they see that as serving their basic aim of a better life for the individual. Almost all of the most influential conservatives (e.g. Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan) were in their earlier years Left-leaning, so their conservatism can hardly be attributed to an inborn preference for permanence or a dislike of change as such. They became conservative for a good reason -- to promote and conserve what they saw as best for their nations and their peoples -- and that included  respect for the individual and for individual liberties.

Another theory about the psychological origins of conservatism is related to the "realism" theory but is a lot less sweeping than it. It is one that is very often quoted and finds its principal exponents in Burke (1790), Hayek (1944) and Oakeshott (1975) -- though the two former thinkers in fact described themselves as "Whigs" rather than as conservatives. This theory also traces policy to a style of thought -- or a "habit of mind" as R.J. White put it (see above). The theory basically is that there is an underlying wariness and skepticism in conservatives (particularly about human nature) that makes them question ANY political policies whatever -- including policies that call for change. Conservatives need good evidence that something will work well and have the intended consequences before they will support it. And for this reason conservatives prefer "the devil they know" and want any change to be of a gradual and evolutionary kind -- progressing by small steps that can easily be reversed if the intended outcomes are not realized. And there has never been any doubt that conservatives do indeed think that way. Note the following comment on one of the enduring heroes of American conservatism:

"In Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking, William F. Buckley Jr. mobilized a group of writers to set forth certain ideas about the conservative movement for which he and they played such a decisive and animating role. It is telling that they did not seek to enumerate a list of issues on which conservatives must agree. If anything, Buckley, Meyer, Chambers, et al. argued that conservatism is neither an ideology nor an exercise in litmus tests. Buckley spent as much time reading fringe groups out of the conservative movement as he did defining what it was, precisely because he knew that conservatism is as much about temperament and tendencies than it is about a specific position on a given issue".

So the actual policies pursued by both conservatives and leftists can be much better predicted from their psychology than from any set of principles.  There is some consistency in the rhetoric on both sides but it flows from the psychology of the two sides.  Leftists have long preached about poverty and conservatives have long preached about liberty.  But The Left these days  prioritize environmentalism -- an immensely destructive gospel -- over the poor and the working man.  And conservatives have often preferred tariffs over free trade and see liberty as a non-consideration when it comes to abortions. Killing babies is a most hateful act and conservatives want no part of it. Leftists have no problem with it.

So I think it is clear that Trump is in fact a traditional conservative.  He is working not from any set of principles but from a pragmatic view of what he sees as good for his country.

So he pleases libertarians by de-regulating business and pleases ordinary Americans hard-hit by free trade by imposing tariffs.  And he displeases the Left by being a patriot, while patriots flock to him.

The polarization that Trump has brought to America in response to his slogan "Make America great again" is rather vivid evidence for Scruton's contention that patriotism -- love of one's country, its history and its characteristics  -- IS conservatism

But while patriotism may be the heart of conservatism, current conservative policies can be supported for other reasons.  Upper class people, for instance, do tend towards support for Leftism of various sorts.  It suits their authoritarian inclinations. But there was very little evidence of that during the Soviet confrontation.  The elites tended to support conservative policies at that time. Why?  Because a Communist takeover threatened them explicitly.  They would be the first to be shot or expropriated. 

And conversely, many patriots voted Democrat because Democrat promises would put more money in their pockets.  So we need to distinguish people's basic attitudes from what they vote for. Lipset (1959) s well known for arguing that the working class is conservative even while they mostly voted Democrat

In the age of Trump, however, conservative feelings and conservative vote have largely come together. Trump is a vocal patriot and there are no strong reasons for patriots to vote against him.  While that is also every reason for the haters of the Left to vote against his successful defence of a praiseworthy American identity and socio-political system.  In the age of identity politics, Trump has a very attractive identity to promote, an American identity.


Burke, E. (1790) Reflections on the revolution in France. Any edition.

Feiling, K. (1953) Principles of conservatism. Political Quarterly, 24, 129-133.

Gilmour, I.H.J.L. (1978) Inside right. London: Quartet.

Hayek, F.A. (1944) The road to serfdom. London: Routledge

Lipset, S.M. (1959) Democracy and working class authoritarianism. American Sociological Review 24, 482-502. 

Norton, P. & Aughey, A. (1981) Conservatives and conservatism.  London: Temple Smith

Oakeshott, M. (1975) On Human Conduct. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Standish, J.F. (1990) Whither conservatism?  Contemporary Review 256, 299-301.



"From cotton to Congress": Tim Scott caps GOP convention night of minority voter outreach (Washington Examiner)

Black congressional candidate speaks at RNC about what Dems don't want you to know (Fox News)

Nikki Haley paves the way for a post-Trump foreign policy (Washington Examiner)

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project fabricates Obama "monkey" quote (The Post Millennial)

GOP House members ask Jeff Bezos to explain Amazon's reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center (The Federalist)

DACA reboot to add restrictions to prevent backdoor path to U.S. citizenship (The Washington Times)

Deaths average less than 1,000 over seven days in the U.S. for the first time in almost a month as infections continue to decline (UK Daily Mail)

Is there any limit to what we'll do to "stop coronavirus"? (The Federalist)

Kenosha, Wisconsin, protesters and law enforcement clash in second night of unrest over what appears to be a justifiable police-involved shooting (Fox News)

Planned Parenthood staff admit to performing illegal partial-birth abortions for better tissue harvesting (The Federalist)

Americans react to Kamala Harris's call for post-20-week abortions with pictures of their 20-week-olds (The Federalist)

The U.S. has added five million new gun owners in 2020 (The Truth About Guns)

Jerry Falwell Jr. retracts resignation from Liberty University over allegations of sexual improprieties (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


Monday, August 31, 2020

How Trump Has Changed the Republicans

The article from the WSJ below is a useful summary of conservative thought in the last 4 years so is well worth looking at now that another election is almost upon us. It is a long article so I will leave it to tomorrow to post a critique of it that sets it in a broader historical context

The president has reshaped the GOP in his own image, and a new generation of conservatives is trying to learn and extend the lessons of his insurgent rise.

By Gerald F. Seib

For almost four decades, the conservative movement was defined by one man, Ronald Reagan, and his movement, the Reagan Revolution.

Reagan was an unlikely revolutionary figure, a modestly successful actor with a self-effacing style and no intellectual pretensions. Yet he personally made the Republican Party into a conservative party, and his legacy inspired the movement’s leaders, animated its policy debates and stirred its voters’ emotions long after he left the scene.

Then four years ago, it all changed.

Donald Trump ran in 2016 and swamped a sprawling Republican field of more conventional conservatives. In doing so, he didn’t merely win the nomination and embark on the road to the White House. He turned Republicans away from four decades of Reagan-style, national-greatness conservatism to a new gospel of populism and nationalism.

In truth, this shift had been building for a while: Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, the Tea Party, an increasingly bitter immigration debate— all were early signs that a new door was opening. Mr. Trump simply charged through it. He understood better than those whom he vanquished in the primaries that the Republican Party has undergone profound socioeconomic changes; it has been washed over by currents of cultural alienation and a feeling that the old conservative economic prescriptions haven’t worked for its new working- class foot soldiers.

Now, as Republicans prepare to nominate Mr. Trump for re-election at their truncated convention this week, there is simply no way to put Trumpism back into the bottle. If the president wins this fall (and even more so if he loses), the question that Republicans in general and conservatives in particular face is simple and stark: How to adapt their gospel so that it fits in the age of Trump?

Trump turned the GOP away from Reagan-style conservatism and toward populism and nationalism.

As it happens, a new and younger breed of conservatives has set out to do precisely that, often by stepping away from strict free-market philosophies. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is pushing for what he calls a “common-good capitalism,” in which government policies promote not just economic growth but also provide help for families, workers and communities. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a likely presidential aspirant, is calling for leaving the World Trade Organization and managing capital markets to control the inflow of foreign money into the U.S.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the lone Black Republican senator, has ushered into law a plan to use government incentives to lure investment dollars into underserved communities. Yuval Levin, a former George W. Bush White House aide, publishes a newwave conservative journal and advocates for government programs specifically crafted to help young parents. Oren Cass, a young conservative intellectual, recently launched a new think tank, American Compass, from which he advocates an “industrial policy” that gives specific government help to manufacturing firms—a concept long heretical in free-market circles.

Former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley—another likely futureWhite House hopeful— has her own think tank promoting a more conventional, Republican interventionist version of foreign policy. Meanwhile, the U.S.-educated Israeli philosopher YoramHazony is beating the drum for a Trumpian embrace of a nationalist foreign policy.

From many of these new-wave Republicans, the message is this: Conservatives faltered over time by becoming too enamored of their own ideology, too committed to globalization and free trade, and too indifferent to their effects on average working Americans. Looking past the Trump era, these conservatives argue, their movement needs to climb down from the ivory tower of handsoff economic theory and create a more practical conservatism that somehow embraces populism and nationalism, while seeking to retain core elements of free-market economics and Reagan’s “peace through strength” brand of internationalism.

Christopher DeMuth, a former president of the American Enterprise Institute who is now a fellow at the Hudson Institute, says that much of today’s ferment can be traced to conservatives growing insular and losing touch with voters, especially on trade and economic hardship. “‘Washington consensus’ conservatism was much too smug on these matters, and much too detached from a lot of pain and suffering that was going on in the country,” he says.

That realization, Mr. DeMuth says, has led many conservatives to rethink their adherence to small-government policies and open their minds to a bigger role for government in attacking economic problems. Increasingly, he says, some Republicans have a new attitude: “This thing about conservatives not wanting to use government power? We’ve got big problems out there, and damn it, we’re going to use government power to fix it.”

Mr. Trump certainly doesn’t cling to intellectual principles in his governing style. His approach is instinctual. When he briefly contemplated entering the 2012 presidential race, he talked periodically about the idea with the conservative political activist David Bossie. At one point, Mr. Bossie told his friend Steve Bannon, with whom he had worked on some controversial films, that the New York billionaire was considering running for president.

“Of what country?” Mr. Bannon recalls replying.

Still, Mr. Bannon agreed to accompany Mr. Bossie to a meeting with Mr. Trump in New York City to talk through the possibilities. Once there, Mr. Bossie provided an overview of the political message of his idol, Ronald Reagan. He then turned to Mr. Bannon, who argued that the times required a much more populist approach than Reagan’s, invoking such insurgent figures as Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Perot and even William Jennings Bryan in doing so. “That’s the populist message,” said Mr. Bannon, who was in the news again as he was indicted Thursday for alleged fraud involving a fund-raising campaign to help build the Trump-inspired border wall with Mexico.

Mr. Bannon recalls Mr. Trump responding enthusiastically, saying, “That’s what I am: a popularist.” Later, Mr. Bannon concluded that— mangled terminology aside—the mogul was right. Mr. Trump would set out to be a popular populist, and “the seed was planted.”

When that seed sprouted, it produced a kind of identity crisis for traditional conservatives. They have long preached the economic virtues of immigration; Mr. Trump doesn’t buy it. Conservatives seek to reduce government spending; Mr. Trump was overseeing a trillion-dollar federal budget deficit even before the coronavirus hit. Conservatives preach limited executive power, but Mr. Trump has embraced an expansive view of presidential reach. During the pandemic and this summer’s racial unrest, he has issued executive actions to send out government benefits that Congress failed to approve and simply declared that he has the power to override governors’ decisions and send federal forces into their states even if they don’t want them there—a far cry from Reagan’s frequent invocation of the Tenth Amendment, which grants states powers not specifically enumerated for the federal government.

As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says of Mr. Trump, “He’s not a conservative. He didn’t sit around reading National Review,” the traditional conservative magazine. Instead, Mr. Gingrich defines Mr. Trump more in cultural terms than ideological ones, calling the president “an anti-liberal…a commonsense, practical person who understands howmuch of modern political correctness is just total baloney.”

When asked whether Mr. Trump is a conservative, Corey Lewandowski, his campaign manager for a time in 2016, says, “He’s a pragmatist.”

Among other things, this means that Mr. Trump simply doesn’t have the same sympathy toward traditional bigbusiness positions in favor of open trade, which business leaders see as the best way for a mature economy such as America’s to continue growing. The shift became obvious during the 2016 campaign, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce— the traditional bastion of big-business sentiment and sensibility, and normally a reliable ally of Republicans—attacked candidate Trump and was, in turn, attacked by him.

At one point during the race, the chamber’s president, Thomas Donohue, called out Mr. Trump by name, saying he “has very little idea about what trade really is.” When candidate Trump became President Trump, he didn’t forget. Early on, aides sent out the word: No Chamber of Commerce officials would be hired for the administration (an edict that didn’t last). In hopes of smoothing over relations, a White House aide invited the chamber to send a representative to a meeting Mr. Trump was holding with business leaders to discuss his agenda. Mr. Trump had too much antipathy toward Mr. Donohue to invite him to represent the group, so Thomas Collamore, the group’s longtime executive vice president, drew the assignment instead.

Mr. Collamore knew that he might be heading into hostile territory, so he sought to make his presence lowkey. At the outset of the meeting, with a contingent of White House reporters and network cameras in the room to catch a few minutes of the session, the business representatives each, in turn, identified themselves. Mr. Collamore dutifully did so. Then the president shooed away the press and turned to Mr. Collamore. “Hey, chamber guy,” he said. “What’s the problem with you guys?”

Mr. Trump’s departure from the national-security precepts of the neoconservatives whom Mr. Reagan brought into the party is just as profound. Mr. Trump simply doesn’t share their hawkish worldview or their belief in the necessity of U.S. international engagement.

In the summer of 2018, for example, Mr. Trump came far closer than is publicly known to simply withdrawing the U.S. from the crown jewel of its military alliances, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At a summit meeting in Brussels, Mr. Trump was so critical of what he considered the alliance’s unfair reli ance on the American military, and even of the amount of money NATO had spent on a new headquarters building, that his fellow leaders convened a special, closed session to discuss his grievances.

National security adviser John Bolton accompanied Mr. Trump to the meeting, which turned tense and testy. At one point, Mr. Bolton called White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, who had intended to skip the meeting to tend to other business, and told him: You’d better get over here. We’re about to withdraw from NATO.

Mr. Kelly hustled to Mr. Trump’s side and found that the president was, in fact, considering simply declaring that the U.S. was out of the alliance. Mr. Kelly talked the president off that ledge, in part, by convincing him that he would be crucified by the political establishment and the press if he wrecked NATO. But some Trump aides remained worried that he still might pull the plug on NATO at some point. Those attitudes seem to represent instinct more than a governing philosophy, so some conservatives are trying to construct a philosophy around them.

Mr. Cass of American Compass is one of them. “I see myself as engaged in the project of post- Trumpism,” he says. In that post-Trump era, he argues, conservatives must move beyond their instinct that market forces and a light government hand automatically offer the best answers. “What we call conservative economic policy isn’t actually small-c conservative in its orientation,” he says. “It’s libertarian economic policy.”

Mr. Cass argues that free markets don’t allocate resources well across all sectors of an economy. Specifically, markets leave some important sectors—including manufacturing— without sufficient investment. “Manufacturing provides particularly well-paying, stable employment— especially for men with less formal education,” he said in remarks last year. “Manufacturing also tends to deliver faster productivity growth, because its processes are susceptible to technological advances that complement labor and increase output.”

Thus, Mr. Cass argues, government should have policies that actively favor the expansion of manufacturing, including funding more research that can help manufacturing companies; giving engineering majors in colleges more government aid than, say, English majors; putting a “bias” in the tax code to help manufacturers; reducing—to nearly zero if necessary—the number of visas given to Chinese citizens until China changes policies that harm American companies; and requiring U.S.-made components in key products. “In the real world as we find it, America has no choice but to adopt an industrial policy, and we will be better for it,” Mr. Cass said.

Trump is ‘not a conservative. He didn’t sit around reading National Review.’ NEWTGINGRICH Former speaker of the House

Similarly, Mr. Rubio has decried what he calls a misplaced conservative “obsession” with economic efficiency. Economics and culture “are strongly intertwined,” the Florida senator argued recently in a speech at Catholic University. What’s needed, he said, is a system that creates greater incentives for businesses to create “dignified work” that strengthens the families and the kind of culture so important to conservatives. “Our current government policies get this wrong,” he said. “We reward and incentivize certain business practices that promote economic growth—but it’s growth that often solely benefits shareholders at the expense of new jobs and better pay.”

For his part, Mr. Hawley has proposed having the government subsidize employers’ entire payrolls during the coronavirus crisis, paying 80% of workers’ wages up to the national median wage, on the theory that conservatives’ goal right now should be keeping workers above water during a crisis not of their own making.

Mr. Hazony makes a similar argument when it comes to foreign policy. He contends that cultural and religious values should be as important as globalization, which means that clear borders and a nation’s cultural identity must be seen as core values of a new conservative philosophy. He convened a conference inWashington last year to explore such ideas. “What we’re trying to do is unite the broad public and the elites as much as possible,” he says. “The broad conservative public is ready for nationalism. That’s the reason they voted for Donald Trump. That’s the reason they voted for Brexit.”

Ms. Haley, a likely 2024 presidential candidate, is also striking a nationalist tone, stressing the need for strong borders. But she appears to be betting on a return to a more traditional Reagan-esque posture, railing regularly against the Chinese Communist Party, arguing for an activist policy to counter Venezuela’s socialist government and lamenting Congress’ “irresponsible spending” on the coronavirus

Some religious conservatives are doing a different kind of rethinking, considering how to best preserve the culture they value—and whether they have been looking in the wrong place for answers. Author Rod Dreher, who writes for American Conservative magazine, says that he and other religious conservatives were “shocked” and “demoralized” when the Supreme Court, in a decision written by a Trump appointee, ruled recently that civil rights law protects gay people from workplace discrimination. “We on the religious right have wrongly prioritized law and politics as what are important to us,” he concludes. “What is important to us is the culture.”

Mr. Rubio tried to address the dissatisfaction with traditional conservative prescriptions in his own 2016 campaign—and, as the son of Cuban immigrants, did so without all of the Trumpian nativist overtones. But he found his message drowned out by Mr. Trump’s megaphone and maelstrom. Now he thinks that the anger at the economic status quo and the political establishment is a sign that America— not just the conservative movement— has reached a crossroads.

“If you look at human history, when these sentiments are not addressed, people throughout history always tend to go in one of two directions,” Mr. Rubio says. “Socialism— let the government take over everything and make things right— or ethnic nationalism, which is, ‘Bad things are happening to me, and it’s someone else’s fault. And they happen to be from another country or another skin color.’

“Neither one of those ends up in a good place. And both are actually a fundamental challenge to the very concept of America, what makes us unique and special.”



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, August 30, 2020

The Lessons from Italy That Turned Into a Containment Success Story

I am not so sure about the explanation below.  I think COVID roared through Italy's care homes and killed off most of the vulnerable people.  So there is now nobody left for it to kill

ROME - When the coronavirus erupted in the West, Italy was the nightmarish epicenter, a place to avoid at all costs and a shorthand in the United States and much of Europe for uncontrolled contagion.

“You look at what’s going on with Italy,” President Trump told reporters on March 17. “We don’t want to be in a position like that.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, used Italy’s overwhelmed hospitals as evidence for his opposition to Medicare for All at a presidential debate. “It is not working in Italy right now,” he said.

Fast forward a few months, and the United States has suffered tens of thousands more deaths than any country in the world. European states that once looked smugly at Italy are facing new flare-ups. Some are imposing fresh restrictions and weighing whether to lock down again.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Friday announced a delay to a planned easing of measures in England as the infection rate there rose. Even Germany, lauded for its efficient response and rigorous contact tracing, has warned that lax behavior is prompting a surge in cases.

And Italy? Its hospitals are basically empty of Covid-19 patients. Daily deaths attributed to the virus in Lombardy, the northern region that bore the brunt of the pandemic, hover around zero. The number of new daily cases has plummeted to “one of the lowest in Europe and the world,” said Giovanni Rezza, director of the infective illness department at the National Institute of Health. “We have been very prudent.”

And lucky. Today, despite a tiny uptick in cases this week, Italians are cautiously optimistic that they have the virus in check - even as Italy’s leading health experts warn that complacency remains the jet fuel of the pandemic. They are aware that the picture can change at any moment

How Italy has gone from being a global pariah to a model - however imperfect - of viral containment holds fresh lessons for the rest of the world, including the United States, where the virus, never under control, now rages across the country

After a stumbling start, Italy has consolidated, or at least maintained, the rewards of a tough nationwide lockdown through a mix of vigilance and painfully gained medical expertise.

Its government has been guided by scientific and technical committees. Local doctors, hospitals and health officials collect more than 20 indicators on the virus daily and send them to regional authorities, who then forward them to the National Institute of Health.

The result is a weekly X-ray of the country’s health upon which policy decisions are based. That is a long way from the state of panic, and near collapse, that hit Italy in March.

This week, Parliament voted to extend the government’s emergency powers through Oct. 15 after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte argued the nation could not let its guard down “because the virus is still circulating.

Those powers allow the government to keep restrictions in place and respond quickly - including with lockdowns - to any new clusters. The government has already imposed travel restrictions on more than a dozen countries to Italy, as the importation of the virus from countries is now the government’s greatest fear.

There are a lot of situations in France, Spain, the Balkans, which means that the virus is not off at all,” said Ranieri Guerra, assistant director general for strategic initiatives at the World Health Organization and an Italian doctor. “It can come back at any time.”

There is no doubt that the privations of the lockdown were economically costly. For three months, businesses and restaurants were ordered closed, movement was highly restricted - even between regions, towns and streets - and tourism ground to a halt. Italy is expected to lose about 10 percent of its gross domestic product this year.

But at a certain point, as the virus threatened to spread uncontrollably, Italian officials decided to put lives ahead of the economy. “The health of the Italian people comes and will always come first,” Mr. Conte said at the time.

Italian officials now hope that the worst of the cure came in one large dose - the painful lockdown - and that the country is now safe to resume normal life, albeit with limits. They argue that the only way to start up the economy is to keep tamping down the virus, even now.

The strategy of closing down completely invited criticism that the government’s excessive caution was paralyzing the economy. But it may prove to be more advantageous than trying to reopen the economy while the virus still rages, as is happening in countries like the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

That does not mean that calls for continued vigilance, as elsewhere in the world, have been immune to mockery, resistance and exasperation. In that, Italy is no different.

Masks often are missing or lowered in trains or buses, where they are mandatory. Young people are going out and doing the things young people do - and risk in that way spreading the virus to more susceptible parts of the population. Adults started gathering at the beach and for birthday barbecues. There is still no clear plan for a return to school in September.

There is also a burgeoning, and politically motivated, anti-mask contingent led by nationalist Matteo Salvini, who on July 27 declared that replacing handshakes and hugs with elbow bumps was “the end of the human species.”

At his rallies, Mr. Salvini, the leader of the populist League party, still shakes hands and wears his mask like a chin guard. In July, during a news conference, he accused the Italian government of “importing” infected immigrants to create new clusters and extend the state of emergency.

This week, Mr. Salvini joined other mask skeptics - nicknamed the “negationists” by critics - for a protest in the Senate library, along with special guests such as the Italian crooner Andrea Bocelli, who said he did not believe the pandemic was so serious because “I know a lot of people and I don’t know anyone who ended up in an I.C.U.”

But the country’s leading health experts say that the lack of severe cases is indicative of a decrease in the volume of infections, as only a small percentage of the infected get very sick. And so far, Italy’s malcontents have not been numerous or powerful enough to undermine what has been a hardwon trajectory of success in confronting the virus after a calamitous star

Italy’s initial isolation by European neighbors at the outset of the crisis, when masks and ventilators were hardly pouring in from across the borders, may actually have helped, Mr. Guerra, the W.H.O. expert, said

“There was competition initially, there was no collaboration,” Mr. Guerra said. “And everyone acknowledged Italy was left alone at that time.” As a result, he said, “what they had to do at that time because we were left alone turned out to be more effective than other countries.”

Italy first quarantined towns and then the Lombardy region in the north and then the entire peninsula and its islands, despite the near absence of the virus in much of central and southern Italy. That not only prevented workers in the industrial north from returning home in the much more vulnerable south, but it also fostered and forced a unified national response.

During the lockdown, movement was strictly limited, between regions and towns and even city blocks, and people had to fill in “auto-certification” forms to prove that they needed to go outside for work, health or “other necessities.” Masks and social distancing regulations were enforced by some regional authorities with steep fines. Generally, if grudgingly, the rules were followed.

As searing scenes of human suffering, empty streets and the heavy toll on an elderly generation of northern Italians spread, the transmission rate of the virus quickly decreased, and the curve flattened, as opposed to other European countries, such as Sweden, which pursued an alternative to locking down.

That the initial outbreak was localized in the overwhelmed hospitals created enormous stress, but it also enabled doctors and nurses to expedite contact tracing.

Then the country reopened, gradually, expanding liberties at two-week intervals to respond to the virus’s incubation period.

The lockdown eventually had a secondary effect of decreasing the volume of virus circulating in society, and thus reducing the probability of coming in contact with someone who had it. At the end of the lockdown, the virus circulation had steeply fallen off and in some central and southern regions, there were hardly any chains of transmission at all.

“It’s always a matter of probability with these pathogens,” said Mr. Guerra, adding that new early alarm systems such as the monitoring of wastewater for traces of virus had lowered the probability of infection even more.

As the government considers a new decree to reopen night clubs, festivals and cruise ship travel, many health experts have implored the country not to let down its guard.

“Even if the situation is better than in other countries, we should continue to be very prudent,” said Dr. Rezza of the National Institute of Health, adding that he thought the question of what Italy had done right was better posed “at the end of the epidemic.”



Patients deserve a 'right to try' drugs that are safe and might help with COVID-19

If a drug is proven to be safe, is Food and Drug Administration-approved, has been administered hundreds of millions of times, and your doctor believes that it might possibly help your health, would you want access to that drug?

Of course you would. You would want the right to try it, even if you weren’t sure it would be effective. Yet, the right to try a pharmaceutical that is safe and possibly effective is being denied throughout this country.

I led the fight that my predecessor in Congress, Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, a Republican, had started in order to gain access to potentially lifesaving drugs that had not been fully approved by the FDA. The “Right to Try” legislation allowed for the use of drugs that had cleared phase one of FDA trials — the trials that determine drug safety.

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence joined in supporting the effort, and the bill eventually passed both chambers of Congress in a bipartisan fashion. Trump signed the bill into law.

I did not anticipate that just a couple of years later, in the middle of a pandemic, that the medical establishment, primarily public health officials, would prevent the use of a medicine that has been proven safe and has been approved by the FDA. In fact, the drug has been used for almost 80 years and is safer than some over-the-counter pain relievers.

The drug I’m speaking about has been studied relentlessly. In fact, several months ago, the World Health Organization released a paper indicating that there were two identified drugs that showed promise as a prophylaxis and therapeutic: remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine. Oddly, when WHO officials issued a statement and announced their findings, they only mentioned remdesivir and were silent on hydroxychloroquine.

In numerous studies released since the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers have observed the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine when used early in the treatment process. Conversely, the studies most often cited against the use of hydroxychloroquine have been debunked (a paper from the prestigious medical journal Lancet was retracted within two weeks of publication), used dubious methods (researchers administered lethal rather than standard doses of hydroxychloroquine), or gave hydroxychloroquine exclusively to patients already hospitalized and near death.

Dozens of studies indicate that if a person with COVID-19 symptoms begins a regimen of hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin, they have a better chance of surviving the disease.

You may say, “Oh, you’re just a congressman. What do you know?” That’s fair. But I have seen indications that hydroxychloroquine may be effective, and I know that it is both safe and FDA-approved.

At the same time, public health officials are fighting against a patient’s right to try hydroxychloroquine. In some states, such as Arizona, edicts by public officials have effectively criminalized the opportunity for a doctor to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for anything other than rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or malaria prevention. In other states, doctors who have defied these officials and written prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine in cases of COVID-19 have been turned in by pharmacists and threatened with losing their licenses to practice medicine.

One must ask why we have to fight for the right to try yet again? With drugs that are safe and approved, doctors and patients must be allowed to make the decision about what is best. The choice should not be made by healthcare bureaucrats.

And if hydroxychloroquine is effective when used early, as so many studies indicate, then lives will be saved.

Once again, the people must fight the medical establishment so we can have the right to try.




David Dorn's widow eviscerates the Black Lives Matter narrative (PJ Media)

Alice Johnson praises Trump for First Step Act, urges compassion for "forgotten faces" (The Hill)

After watching three days of the RNC, Pelosi says Joe Biden should stay in his basement (The Federalist)

White supremacist who organized Charlottesville race riots endorses Biden (The Federalist)

New York Times sympathizes with adults who pursue sex with 13-year-old girls (The Federalist)

Boneheaded Virginia Senate approves bill to downgrade penalty for assaulting a police officer (National Review)

U.S. Marshals recover 39 missing children in Georgia operation (FOX 5 Atlanta)

After correction, study that claimed mutilating trans people helps them now finds the opposite (The Federalist)

Policy: Why does the Post Office forbid private competition? (Foundation for Economic Education)


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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