Friday, October 09, 2020

UK: Scientists tell us there IS a better way to tackle coronavirus. So why is it being ignored?

Lockdowns were originally a Chinese idea. Why are we copying them?

Fear stalks our country. It swirls around the Cabinet table, and has entered Boris Johnson’s soul.

One of his main terrors, according to colleagues, is Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister yesterday announced tougher measures aimed at controlling the rapid rise of the virus.

Mr Johnson is terrified that if the death rate in England should exceed that in Scotland, the pugnacious Ms Sturgeon will accuse him of being chaotic and unreliable.

Nicola Sturgeon announced tougher measures aimed at controlling the rapid rise of the virus on Wednesday

Her message to Scots would be that they are far safer with her than with reckless Tories down south. She would shore up her already solid support in the independence stand-off.

Boris is a passionate unionist, and doesn’t want to do anything to bolster her strong position. Much more than Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon is shaping the Government’s policy over the pandemic.

So where she goes first, the Prime Minister is likely to follow. It probably won’t be long before large parts of England adopt similar measures to those announced in Edinburgh yesterday.

All pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will close for 16 days. In other areas they will be allowed to remain open but only to serve outdoors. These new rules will inevitably inflict more economic hardship.

Will they succeed? They go further than measures tried out in northern England but will do little to control the virus among students, who will remain free to socialise. I should be surprised if Nicola Sturgeon’s package brought down infection rates to the levels of a few weeks ago.

We had better be honest with ourselves. None of the clampdowns applied in northern England have worked. Quite the opposite, as Sir Keir correctly pointed out at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said that when restrictions were introduced in Bury, the infection rate was around 20 per 100,000. Today it is 266. In Burnley the rate per 100,000 has risen from 21 to 434 since the start of the clampdown. In Bolton the rate has jumped 18 from to 255.

Hardly a triumph. Admittedly, it’s possible that without restrictions the rate would have gone up even more. But it’s clear that stricter rules have failed to rein in the virus.

Almost the only place where harsher measures have succeeded is Leicester. The reason is that restrictions there were more draconian. They approached in severity those experienced during national lockdown.

Two weeks ago, I predicted that, despite the Rule of Six and early closure of pubs, the number of daily cases of Covid-19 would keep rising. I added that ‘within weeks further coercive measures will therefore be announced’.

In truth, almost anyone could have foreseen what has happened, and almost anyone can predict what will happen now. The national daily infection rate will go on increasing, and more restrictions will be introduced.

Only measures similar to those of lockdown will work. They may not be applied nationally, but before long swathes of the United Kingdom will be forced to submit to daunting new regulations. Our stuttering economic recovery will suffer.

Unless or until there is a vaccine, this debilitating on-off pattern — shutting down the economy, then opening it up again, then shutting it down once more — will continue.

And yet there is an alternative way, if only Boris Johnson and his supporters in a divided Cabinet could open their minds and throw off their fear — and engage in a proper debate.

Thousands of doctors and scientists from across the world have signed a letter known as the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, named after the town in Massachusetts where it was conceived. It is the brainchild of three leading epidemiologists from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities.

It argues for a new tactic of ‘focused protection’. The elderly and vulnerable would be protected while the rest of society returned to normal life to build up herd immunity.

The letter points out that ‘vulnerability to death from Covid-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young’ and that ‘for children it is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza’.

It declares that current policies are ‘producing devastating effects on public health’. These include ‘lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health — leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden’.

In other words, the cure is worse than the disease. The Government and much of the media are so fixated on daily figures of new cases that they ignore the greater harm being done as a result of restrictions.

Meanwhile our national broadcaster, the BBC, isn’t good at putting Covid statistics in perspective. While dwelling on the growing number of cases, it seldom stresses that deaths are running at about five per cent of the rate at the height of the pandemic.

Nor is it seemingly very interested in debate. Many more exponents of tougher measures appear to be interviewed than distinguished scientific sceptics. ‘Professor Lockdown’, aka Neil Ferguson, remains a favourite of Auntie’s with his repressive toolkit. He was the scientist whose modelling helped trigger the lockdown — which he promptly broke with trysts with his married lover.

Shockingly, the BBC and much of the broadcast media yesterday morning largely ignored the explosive new letter. When I last looked, it had been signed by 3,621 medical and public health scientists and 5,919 medical practitioners.

It wasn’t mentioned on the news bulletins on Radio 4’s influential Today programme, although it was cited by presenter Nick Robinson during an interview with Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

She batted it away in an irritatingly smug way. While doing so, she asserted that ‘none of the critics are proposing alternative measures’. But that is precisely what they are doing!

Boris Johnson has said, more than once, that there is no alternative. So the Government persists with the present policy of restarting and stifling the economy. It’s not working.

According to the Government’s own modelling, 74,000 people will die from non-Covid causes as an indirect result of the lockdown imposed in March. How many more will die as a consequence of the regional lockdowns likely to be imposed in the next few weeks?

My suggestion is not that the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are right in every respect and the Government is entirely wrong. It is simply that there must be a better way than the one we are taking, and if the Government (and some of the media) weren’t so frightened of debate we might find it.

Why is Boris Johnson fearful? It’s partly because of the desire I’ve discussed not to give any advantage to Nicola Sturgeon. It’s partly because he had the stuffing knocked out of him by catching the disease, and so universalises his personal experience.

And it’s also because he is in thrall to scientists such as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty who are zealots in their conviction that the only way to deal with Covid-19 is to try to knock it repeatedly over the head, even if in so doing you bring the whole of society and civilised life to a halt.

The virus is back big-time, and will make further gains. And the Government’s only policy is to march us straight back towards another lockdown.


Dr. Scott Atlas Says Lockdowns ‘Are a Luxury of the Rich’ and ‘Children Need to Go to School’

Why hasn’t Dr. Scott Atlas taken over Dr. Doom’s (Fauci’s) job yet? He’s the only one standing up for American freedom and common sense. On The Ingraham Angle Tuesday night, Atlas dropped truth bombs about the “frenzy of fear” that was spread about the coronavirus, which led to serious medical repercussions for so many people. “More than half of breast cancers” didn’t get diagnosed, “650,000 people who were on chemotherapy, half didn’t get their chemo…25% of kids 18-24, one-fourth thought of or had suicidal ideation during the month of June,” he said.

Atlas went on to excoriate lockdowns, “This lockdown is what I would call a luxury of the rich. This is really a class problem here where the affluent elites don’t understand, that what the president understands, which is that people need to work. The working class need their jobs, children need to go to school, and it’s very harmful to do otherwise.”

Host Laura Ingraham pointed out that the places that are open—which are doing better economically and mentally—are all Republican states. “There is a complete fallacy that President Trump is not following the science,” continued Atlas. “These people actually agree very much with [Trump’s] strategy: protect the vulnerable as much as we can and open up because of the harms of that.”

Ingraham pointed out that the media will not report the massive drop in hospitalizations and deaths for political reasons and instead focus on the president taking off his mask while alone on a balcony for a photo. Atlas said, “We’re all thrilled how well he’s doing, it’s amazing. The guy is incredibly resilient,” but added that he’s not cavalier about it at all. “He’s wearing a mask when other people are around,” said the eyewitness who has been in the room with the president recently.

Ingraham showed the numbers for flu versus COVID for school-aged children that demonstrate it is less deadly than the flu. Atlas concurred, saying, “this is not really arguable…it’s scientifically factual.”


Poll: Voters Back Judge Barrett’s Confirmation by Double-Digit Margin

A new Morning Consult poll of voters shows that those surveyed favor the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by a double-digit margin. The poll shows support for Judge Barrett’s confirmation growing among Republicans, Democrats and Independents, despite the partisan hysteria coming from the Left in hopes of derailing the confirmation process.

Democrats are doing their best work to convince voters that Judge Barrett’s confirmation process is “illegitimate,” “unsafe,” and a “power grab” from Republicans, but this poll shows that voters know better.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) set Judge Barrett’s confirmation to begin on Monday, October 12. Though two Republican members of the committee have tested positive for coronavirus, Graham has equipped his committee with procedure to hold hybrid hearings to ensure safety.

Senate Democrats can do virtually nothing to stop her confirmation, but have already waged a full-fledged war on Judge Barrett’s character.



Texas grand jury indicts Netflix for “lewd visual material” after “Cuties” controversy (The Daily Wire)

Trump halts deadlocked COVID relief negotiations until after the election (National Review)

“Immediate action is needed”: Trump administration unveils sweeping changes to controversial H-1B guest worker program (Fox News)

House investigation faults Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google for engaging in anti-competitive monopoly tactics (The Washington Post)

Trump announces his intent to debate Biden October 15 (Disrn)

James Comey and Robert Mueller have massive Clinton Foundation problems (American Thinker)

NBC News’s “undecided” voters previously featured as Biden supporters on MSNBC (The Washington Free Beacon)

Facebook censors conservative host Mark Levin for “repeated distribution of false news” (Disrn)

Facebook bans QAnon — a nutty but harmless conspiracy theory — across its platforms (NBC News)

Triggered Democrat Party media guy pulls a knife on “Oregon Women for Trump” convoy (PJ Media)

Hate hoax? Police find no evidence after Madison, Wisconsin, woman claims she was set on fire by white supremacists (The Post Millennial)

World’s richest people are now $813 billion wealthier despite the pandemic (Time)

U.S. goods trade deficit in August hits record high of $83.9 billion (Politico)

Swiss city of Geneva votes for world-record $25 hourly minimum wage (Foundation for Economic Education)

Oregon State “women, gender and sexuality studies” professor blames devastating Western wildfires on white Christians (PJ Media)

California governor’s office tells diners to wear masks “in between bites” (CBS News)

Oklahoma detention officers charged with cruelty for torturing prisoners by cranking “Baby Shark” on repeat (Not the Bee)

A bike company offers black customers reparations in the form of a discount (Yahoo! Finance)

Oprah Winfrey says America’s racial “caste system” was “the template for Nazi Germany” (Disrn)

Georgia pastor raises $12,000 for Waffle House waitress after learning her unborn child has same name as his late son (Disrn)

Black-and-white film of a snowball fight in France in 1896 is colorized and speed-adjusted to look stunningly modern (Daily Mail)

Policy: Biden’s virtue signaling against Saudi Arabia will backfire (Washington Examiner)

Policy: Problems with theories on the black-white wealth gap (Mises Institute)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Most senior US military leaders go into COVID quarantine as Donald Trump is found to have ‘no symptoms’

An upbeat Donald Trump has declared he is “feeling great!” and raring to go in the final weeks of the election campaign after his medical team said he is doing “extremely well” after returning to the White House.

Mr Trump left hospital Monday evening US time after being treated in hospital for just three days.

After his first night back at home, physician to the president Dr Sean Conley said Mr Trump reported “no symptoms”.

“He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms,” Dr Conley said in a memo released by the White House.

“Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97 per cent. Overall he continues to do extremely well.”

The development came as news emerged that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other top US military leaders, have gone into quarantine after attending meetings at the Pentagon with a Coast Guard commander who tested positive for coronavirus, a Defence Department official said.

Coast Guard Admiral Charles Ray tested positive Monday after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Before testing positive, Ray had attended meetings with top commanders from each of the armed services.

After Admiral Ray’s positive test results, the Joint Chiefs were tested and their results came back negative but are quarantined at home out of an abundance of caution.

The Pentagon’s senior leadership attended a White House reception last week for “Gold Star” families of fallen troops.

Both President Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump attended the event.

The most senior member of the military, General Mark Milley, 62, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is among the top officials quarantining.


Restoring Civics and Patriotism to American Life

President Donald Trump’s rhetoric admittedly can be ambiguous at times and thus lead to different interpretations, but an objective reading of the record over the past four years that is free of animus would reveal that his administration has tried to renew a sense of national identity and common vision.

The administration began by rejecting a last-minute Obama-era recommendation to create, through the census, one more subnational ethnic group and list “Hispanics” among the racial categories rather than as an ethnicity.

Similarly, a Middle East and North Africa group would have brought under one umbrella Americans with ancestries between Morocco and Iran. Under this abstraction, Americans from New Hampshire’s John Sununu to Indiana’s Mitch Daniels and California’s Darrell Issa would have been considered members of a marginalized minority group.

Placing the Hispanic entity along the same category as biological races would have perpetuated the view that this heterogeneous group is another race. Currently, Americans of Hispanic descent can choose to identify as either Hispanic or non-Hispanic and can also choose a race. Research revealed that they would be less likely to do the latter under the proposed Obama changes.

The administration instead asked that a question on citizenship be included in the 2020 census. This places the onus correctly not on subnational identity, but on national belonging, which the Hidden Tribes study rightly identifies as a force that can overcome polarization.

Instead of supporting these decisions, the activist interest groups that claim to speak for ethnic and racial blocs met them with withering criticism. Several groups sued the Trump administration in courts around the country.

Using typically hyperbolic rhetoric, Make the Road New York, one of the activist groups that successfully sued the administration, denounced the citizenship question as a “racist attempt to intimidate, undercount immigrants.”

The Supreme Court took up one of the cases, deciding in June 2019 that although the citizenship question was constitutional, the justification the administration had provided did not suffice, leading the administration to walk away from the question.

Similar overstatements met the administration’s decision with respect to the Middle East and North Africa grouping. The Arab American Institute said it was “an egregious rejection of stakeholder interest that impedes the possibility of an accurate count.”

The reference to “stakeholder” was a useful reminder of the extent to which agency capture has built into activist groups’ high expectations of getting their way on policymaking.

The administration has shown equal vigilance in dealing with racial preferences in admissions to universities and K–12 programs.

Racial preferences detract from the goal of building a common national purpose, not only because they create resentment among groups, but also because they offer incentives to Americans to identify with subnational groups in exchange for benefits. Because they focus only on outcomes, they fail to address the practices and cultural reasons that explain why members of some groups may statistically lag behind others.

Under the current administration, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has thus looked at the legality of racial preferences in admissions from Harvard on the East Coast to Texas Tech in the Southwest.

In April 2019, after the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation, Texas Tech’s medical school agreed to end consideration of race in selecting candidates for admission.

The same Office for Civil Rights also launched a similar investigation into whether the Montgomery County, Maryland, public schools were discriminating against Asian American applicants for the magnet program at the county’s middle schools.

Finally, the administration sided with Asian American students suing Harvard University over its admissions practices, which plaintiffs said discriminate against them. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest opposing Harvard’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Trump administration also included an emphasis on “patriotic assimilation” in the immigration plan that it rolled out on May 16, 2019. Though it generally went in the right direction by making demonstration of an active interest in patriotic assimilation a requirement of the would-be immigrant, the plan left itself open to system-gaming and, worse, not advancing the agenda of Americanization.

Once prospective immigrants demonstrate such an interest and are admitted to citizenship, they can pursue whatever course they want—most likely by responding to the incentives to balkanize that our system continuously provides. What we need is a return to the old system of cultural instruction.


California’s Boardroom Quotas and Reparations

Two new laws reveal the utter moral bankruptcy of the Golden State’s rulers.

Just when one might think California couldn’t push its progressive agenda any further, a pair of bills proves one wrong. Last Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation bill mandating that California-based corporations must appoint directors from racial or sexual minorities to their boards. The same day, Newsom also signed a bill creating a specialized task force to analyze the option of providing state-funded reparations to black Californians.

The boardroom bill is similar to the one the state passed in 2018 requiring all corporate boards to have at least one female director by 2019. That bill is facing a legal challenge by conservative groups who view it not as a commitment to diversity, as California progressives insist, but rather as a government-mandated quota system that will prove to be constitutionally untenable.

Regardless, Newsom remains undeterred. “When we talk about racial justice, we talk about power and needing to have seats at the table,” the governor said. Democrat Assemblyman Chris Holden, one of the bill’s authors, agreed. “The new law represents a big step forward for racial equity,” Holden said. “While some corporations were already leading the way to combat implicit bias, now, all of California’s corporate boards will better reflect the diversity of our state.”

“Implicit bias,” defined as an unconscious association, belief, or attitude toward any social group, is yet another progressive effort to advance their assertion that Americans are inherently racist and sexist, and we can be cured only by government intervention on behalf of those oppressed (read: special interest) groups. Thus, as the measure states, at least one director from an “underrepresented community” must be placed on the respective boards of the more than 660 public corporations with headquarters in the Golden State by the end of 2021.

By the end of 2022, two directors must be placed on boards of four to nine members, and three on boards with more than nine members. Non-compliance would engender fines of $100,00 for the first violation and $300,000 for repeated violations.

The text of the bill cited statistics compiled by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. It noted that 233 of 662 publicly traded companies headquartered in California had all-white boards as of 2020. Nearly 90% had no Latino directors, although Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population, and only 16% had a black American board member.

It gets even more “cutting-edge” than that: “Underrepresented communities” are defined by the bill as Californians who identify as black, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, native Hawaiian, native Alaskan, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

“I am who I say I am” may give rise to some rather interesting dilemmas for corporations far more interested in doing business than kowtowing to political agendas that obliterate anything resembling merit. Perhaps some California women will attempt to game the system by identifying as black, like former George Washington University associate professor Jessica Krug or former NCAAP official Rachel Dolezal did.

In fact, the bill’s only official opponent, former California commissioner of corporations Keith Bishop, wondered if the current bill, coupled with the 2018 one, would make it more desirable for corporations to hire a woman from an underrepresented community who would meet both mandates simultaneously. In what was likely an inadvertent statement of truth, the SFGate website referred to that reality as meeting “both sets of quotas.”

The bigger picture? As this writer has stated on many occasions, government-enforced self-identification of reality itself is the foundation of totalitarian rule.

The ultimate endgame with regard to this legislation? Corporate attorney Keith Bishop testified against the bill, saying “it violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. and California Constitutions, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

Bishop is right, but if there’s one thing above all else the 2020 election will determine, it’s whether the Rule of Law — or the rule of “woke” — will prevail going forward.

The second bill is just as problematic. AB 3121 calls for a nine-member body to make recommendations on what kind of reparations should be awarded and who should be eligible. That body can also tell the state legislature how California can offer a formal apology “for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants’ and the elimination of state laws that disproportionately impact Black people,” Fox News reports.

That California was never a slave state is apparently irrelevant.

Moreover, according to whom and based on what criteria will the state eliminate laws that “disproportionately affect” blacks? For example, if greater numbers of black Americans than other groups are arrested for a particular type of crime, should that particular crime, even if it’s a felony, be erased from the books? Or once a threshold has been reached, should police stop making arrests? Since fewer black Californians graduate high school than their white, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander counterparts, should the state’s current high school graduation requirements be tossed as well?

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive,” Newsom insists. “Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions.”

This bill is not about opportunity. It is yet another race hustle perpetrated by white progressive bigots and their minority allies who have spent decades nurturing black American victimhood in pursuit of wealth and power. Wealth and power that requires the maintenance of an underclass whose “institutional victimhood” can never be overcome without the “benevolence” of their government overlords.

Critics? Only in terms of irony. William Darity Jr., a Duke University economics professor and reparations “expert,” eschewed the use of that term to describe the bill — because “people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” he stated. “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”

In other words, the monetary shakedown for “atonement” pales in comparison to the one for “reparations.”

All in a state that has requested a taxpayer-funded bailout from the federal government.

The ultimate result of these pernicious agendas? One suspects the state that ranked first in outbound migration from July 2018 to July 2019 will see even greater levels of the same, as more and more people see the folly of attempting to legislate “utopian” outcomes with ever-increasing government intrusion into ever more aspects of life.

Ironically, Californians will vote this year on a referendum deciding whether or not affirmative action will be reinstated in public hiring, contracting, and college admissions, 24 years after voters roundly rejected it by a margin of 54.55% to 45.45%.

Yet if it’s defeated again, what’s the difference? Democrats have mandated it in the corporate boardroom and are studying a taxpayer-funded scheme of economic “affirmative action” as well — utterly irrespective of voter preferences.

It’s what one-party governance is all about.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Trump’s COVID comeback, Democrat theatrics on ACB

I wouldn’t crow too soon. Trump may have to go back into hospital. That does happen

Perhaps Dr. James P. Phillips, the attending physician at Walter Reed Hospital, hasn’t yet noticed, but President Donald Trump is in the midst of a critical election battle.

Indeed, the president yesterday was behaving as if his COVID convalescence was less important than the task of saving the nation from Joe Biden and his hard-left handlers. Accordingly, he tweeted a MAGA message to his supporters, recorded a thank-you video to the medical staff at Walter Reed, and took a quick ride to thank his many well-wishers gathered outside the Beltway-based military medical center. And it was this last transgression that got the Trump-hating medicine man all worked up.

Phillips, whose Twitter image shows him clenching his fists on the CNN set with Ezekiel Emanuel and Wolf Blitzer, and whose followers number a fair bit fewer than the president’s 86.9 million, heaped scorn on Trump for what he characterized as a stunt rather than a show of presidential strength and resilience.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Phillips raged. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

They may die? C’mon, doc, your derangement is showing. The idea that a young, strong, peak-of-fitness Secret Service agent will soon succumb to COVID is just plain idiotic. Or maybe it’s just plain hyper-partisan. A quick spin through Phillips’s Twitter page, after all, shows that he follows the likes of Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, George Conway, Never-Trumpers Max Boot and Bill Kristol, Doctors for Biden, Republicans for Joe Biden, The Lincoln Project, and, well, you get the idea. Let’s just hope the president’s Secret Service detail doesn’t let this guy anywhere near our commander-in-chief.

Not content with a single rant, however, Phillips sent out a second salvo: “That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.”

One wonders whether those committed professionals in the president’s SUV were “forced to play,” as Phillips insists, or instead drew straws for the honor of accompanying their America First president on a brief trip around the grounds.

In any case, President Trump’s medical team said his health continues to improve, and he might even be discharged today. If that happens, it’ll mark the most remarkable curb-stomping of this coronavirus by any septuagenarian anywhere ever — especially given what we now know about the president’s condition just a couple of days ago.

“During a press conference late Sunday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital,” reports the Washington Examiner, “Dr. Sean Conley confirmed that Trump was given supplemental oxygen on Friday out of concern of ‘possible rapid progression of the illness,’ which the president was adamantly against. Conley said the president had a ‘high fever,’ and his oxygen saturation was dipping below 94%.”

“Today he feels well,” said Dr. Brian Garibaldi. “He’s been up and around. Our plan for today is to have him to eat and drink, be up out of bed as much as possible, to be mobile. And if he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as [Monday] to the White House where he can continue his treatment course.”

A word of caution, then, to Dr. James P. Phillips, his Trump-addled fellow travelers, and the fatalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times who’ve been tasked with updating the president’s obituary: Reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.


Coronavirus: Sweden defied zealots and never met its Waterloo

Comment from Australia, an exceptionally low death-rate jurisdiction

Sweden’s impressive legacy — ABBA, dynamite, Ikea, for instance — has expanded significantly in 2020, having provided the world with an example of a sane response to what’s turned out a relatively mild pandemic.

The Scandinavian nation deserves enduring credit from reasonable people everywhere for resisting the destructive authoritarian mindset that enveloped democratic nations this year. Sweden was viciously attacked by supposed experts and mainstream media all year that if it didn’t crush commerce by fiat and suspend civil liberties indefinitely, as has occurred in Europe, many US states, and of course Victoria, more than 90,000 Swedes would die.

The army of lockdown zealots will never be able to say lockdowns are essential to avert disaster, if that wasn’t already clear enough from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Historians will struggle to see a public policy disaster in Sweden. The number of deaths there from all causes so far this year, just less than 68,000, is fewer than over the same period in 2015, adjusted for population size. Far from an apocalypse, the total death rate from January 1 to September 20 is barely distinguishable from recent years, notwithstanding a jump from 2019, during which it was unusually low.

While its European neighbours, which bludgeoned their economies for months, now battle “second waves” (albeit with far lower death rates), Sweden has barely had any COVID-19 deaths since mid-July alongside a much milder uptick in so-called cases, which in any case often mean little.

The feared “exponential growth” never occurred (it never occurred anywhere). Swedish hospitals were never “overwhelmed”.

But Sweden’s GDP, which plunged 8.3 per cent in the second quarter, tanked anyway so should it have locked down too and “saved lives”? It’s a fatuous argument, faulty on its own terms, even assuming lockdowns do “save lives” overall.

For a start, its economy suffered in part because its larger neighbours, which themselves endured far bigger drops in GDP, locked down. Second, media fear-mongering left people unreasonably terrified, which, naturally, saw Swedes curtail economic activity.

In any case, looking at GDP over three months is hardly definitive. Sweden’s economy is expected to grow 4 per cent next year, twice as fast as ours, according to the Reserve Bank.

Having inflicted less economic chaos, Sweden’s gross government debt won’t rise beyond 40 per cent, according to its September budget papers, while Canberra’s debt ceiling will be lifted to the equivalent of 55 per cent of GDP along with far bigger budget deficits.

The bigger point is this: the short-term trajectory of GDP matters little. As I’ve argued for years in this column, it’s a flawed, dated measure of prosperity.

In Sweden, no one will be cowering in masks for years; Swedish police are not dragging people screaming from cars or invading homes to stop Facebook sharing. They aren’t shutting internal borders, stopping weddings, funerals or undermining children’s education. The Swedish parliament, unlike Victoria’s, isn’t using the pandemic as an excuse to increase police power. And the Swedish people never had to endure rambling, ridiculous daily press conferences for months about “cases” that belong in a scene from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

And the Swedish government hasn’t set a precedent, which will hang over business investment considerations here for a generation, that whenever a virus emerges, businesses and households will be shut down for months.

None of these factors is reflected in GDP.

There was never a health crisis in Sweden. And there hasn’t been one in Australia, either.

In the first six months of the year, there were 134 fewer deaths from respiratory diseases in Australia, which includes pneumonia and influenza, and 617 additional deaths from cancer compared with the average over 2015-19, according to the ABS’s provisional mortality statistics, released last week. Doctor-certified deaths are within the normal range.

Sweden hasn’t hitched its economic future — and the mobility of its people — to the prospect of a vaccine, either.

As our budget will make clear, forecasts of a return to normality will be contingent on an effective vaccine emerging, and one people will want to take. Given the survival rate for people under 70 is about 99.9 per cent — if they get the virus — it’s unclear how many will want to. Drug companies, under immense pressure to find a vaccine in months rather than the usual eight to 10 years, are understandably trying to wriggle out of liability if something goes wrong.

There are 243 candidate vaccines, of which nine are in stage-three trials, where the wider population testing takes place. There’s no guarantee of success. There’s been no vaccine developed for HIV, for instance.

“It is likely individuals will need two doses of a vaccine and this may need to be repeated every year,” says JP Morgan analyst David Mackie, who took stock of vaccination developments last month. “With a global population of 7.8 billion, this would require 4.7 billion individuals to be vaccinated with two doses each, separated by three to four weeks, and possibly repeated every year.”

Australia’s coronavirus elimination strategy leaves many questions unanswered. How long will we be prevented from leaving, if there’s no effective vaccine? Given the virus is contagious, is it realistic to keep it out forever (assuming it’s not prevalent here)? If not, why has Victoria imposed a 20-week lockdown on its biggest city?

Nations that don’t lock down their populations for months have been cast as immoral, but the truth is more complex. Leadership requires balancing competing objectives, governing for the long term, and being honest with people when new information emerges.

It will require a few more years of data to work out the optimal strategies to fight future pandemics. But what’s clear already — certainly to citizens of Victoria, New Zealand, Israel, the UK and Europe — is that one lockdown, as promised by proponents, does not eradicate the coronavirus.

And let’s drop the idea Swedes care less for their elderly than we do. Sweden spends the equivalent of 3.2 per cent of GDP on its aged-care facilities, compared to about 1 per cent here.


Polished man month

When I first heard of this, I thought: “How F…ing useless can you get?”. A professional reader of mine, however had some more sophisticated comments — which I reproduce below:

October is Polished Man month, when leftist men put on nail polish to end violence against children.

Painting a fingernail is supposed to start a conversation about violence against children. It also advertises that the male wearer of the nail polish is one of society’s very few good men.

And leftist men try very hard to be seen as among the few good men by leftist standards. Leftist groups/cultures cast out any man who is not continually performing to show that he is an enlightened caring feminist, and being cast out can mean losing his employment, his friends, and in some cases even his family.

So lots of men working in heavily leftist/feminist dominated fields will this month be under pressure to show their painted fingernail.

The implication of the Polished Man initiative is that men are the main perpetrators of violence against children, and it is men who must stop it.

Early in the counselling process when working as a forensic clinician, I would ask each prisoner about his childhood experiences, and many would tell me they were physically and emotionally abused by a parent. Not always but often that parent was a mother.

In fact, about 80% of prisoners did not even have a father or other male in the house, just a crazy abusive neglectful mother. “Crazy” was a common description.

Some stories of what some mothers do to little boys, and the number of such stories, cannot be believed or accepted by average decent people. Even my psychologist colleagues (who were all female) could not bring themselves to accept that such a number of women do such things.

The gender of abusers was seldom documented. Due to the pervasive leftist/feminist push that men are society’s abusers, so most people presume child abusers are mostly male.

Leftists/feminists are collective thinkers so psychologists, social workers and welfare workers generally, of whom nearly all are leftist-feminist, easily fall into reflexive mass collaboration. Some may call it conspiracy, which it is among the few most intelligent, conscious, and manipulative.

But most psychologists, social workers and welfare workers are emotional and peer centred people, and reflexively adopt the attitude, outlook and behaviour of the leftist-feminist culture in which they work.

One consequence of this is that a lot of falsities are put out about men and women and assumed by the general public to be true. One of those falsities is that women seldom abuse children. Here is some actual data on the horrible truth:

As the idea of painting a fingernail is to start a conversation about child abuse, then I propose that when the conversations start be sure to encourage people to do their own research into the subject, because truth is more fascinating than leftist-feminist propaganda.


Stats suggest that lockdowns may have had little effect on spread (National Review)

Biden campaign reportedly pulling negative ads against Trump after his COVID diagnoses (The Daily Wire)

“I hope they die”: Left-wingers react to positive coronavirus diagnosis for the Trumps (The Federalist)

“Our liberties … have been stampeded over by these dirty cops”: Republicans rage over unverified but potentially damning Russian report on Clinton, suggest shutting down intelligence agencies (Washington Examiner)

New Supreme Court term begins Monday, with major cases from ObamaCare to religious liberty on the docket (Washington Examiner)

“Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence”: Highly anticipated grand jury recordings of Breonna Taylor case have been released (Disrn)

New Home, Texas, becomes the 15th city in the nation to outlaw abortion (Disrn)

NBA viewership keeps sinking: Game 2 of NBA finals the least-watched game on record (Washington Examiner)

Hondurans in migrant caravan bused back after entering Guatemala (Fox News)

Policy: Could it happen here? The parallels between the Soviet Bloc and the modern U.S. (The Daily Signal)

Policy: The Fed and the housing bubble/bust (Mises Institute)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The Davos call for “Stakeholder” capitalism is pure Fascism — leading to a Loss of Liberty

Mussolini had a similar idea

What is called for is the “socialization” of private business away from being and viewed as an private enterprise formed and focusing upon the economic and financial betterment of its owners through the production, marketing, and sale of goods and services demanded by consumers in a competitive arena, with a market-generated price system facilitating the capacity for calculating profit and loss as a basis of determining the direction and use of the scarce means of production at the company’s disposal.

Instead, as the Davos Manifesto 2020 declares, in part:

“The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.

“A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes . . . A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth. It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility…

“A company that has a multinational scope of activities not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

For the members of the World Economic Forum, “‘Stakeholder capitalism,’ . . . positions private corporations as trustees of society, and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges . . .” They reject the “shareholder capitalism” advocated by the likes of economist Milton Friedman, and the Chicago School of Economics, who “had neglected the fact that a publicly listed corporation is not just a profit-seeking entity but also a social organism.” (See my article, “Milton Friedman and the New Attack on the Freedom to Choose”.)

Thanks to “the Greta Thunberg effect,” the world has been reminded “that adherence to the current economic system represents a betrayal of future generations, owing to its environmental unsustainability.” Stakeholder capitalism offers “a new measure of ‘shared value creation’ [that] should include ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) goals as a complement to standard financial metrics.”

Business Governance for Society and Saving the Planet

That is what the World Economic Forum-sponsored Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism report is all about. The report offers four principles: Governance, Planet, People, and Prosperity, with the order clearly implying the ranking of importance. Governance comes first because it lays out the fundamental idea that in the selection of those in positions of corporate responsibility and in their instituting the enterprise’s activities, the goal is the company’s obligation to stakeholderism. By accepting the “challenge” of seeing the corporation’s responsibility to be the fulfillment of the agenda and targets of stakeholderism, the company takes on not only the ethical obligation to follow this mission, but if added into as chosen legal responsibility as part of the institutional basis of the enterprise, it might be held accountable in a court of law, with possible penalties for not meeting the goals and purposes of “the plan.”

The corporation’s responsibility to “the Planet” is explained as acceptance of the premises of and the target goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with the participating corporations expected to report annually, along with all other aspects of Stakeholder Governance, on how much they have been moving in the direction of meeting the final 2050 goal of net-zero fossil fuel emissions, with a specific date when the company will have reached the target.

They must also demonstrate what they have done with the corporation’s financial resources and investments to create cleaner water and air, preserve the soil, and bring about a greater “harmony with nature” in general. Companies must report their reductions in annual land use and animal input consumption covered by “a sustainability certification standard or formalized sustainable management program.”

Stakeholder Capitalism Means “Living Wages” and Gender/Race Quotas

The responsibility of any participating private enterprise toward “People” goes far beyond such traditional notions as honesty and fulfillment of any and all contractual obligations concerning work conditions, wages, and the like concerning those they employ. No, Stakeholder Capitalism requires provision or support for all employee health costs, including “the mental, physical and social well-being of all people in their operations and value chains.” Companies would be obligated to have announced targets for employee skills training and reports on how much of the company’s payroll has been applied for this purpose. There must also be reports on the percentages of employees based on gender, race and age, and they would be expected to meet targets to assure “equity” in the hiring and retaining of workers in these gender, race, and age categories.

In addition, companies are required to report on wage ratios of difference in salaries between employees in general relative to corporate executives, including the CEO. And similar reported ratios of difference among wages paid to gender, racial and age groups working for the enterprise. There must be targets to reduce any unjustifiable divergences based on the idea of similar pay for similar work. Also, enterprises must enthusiastically support and foster worker collective bargaining; that is, to happily accept and work with established labor unions across the board.

Wages paid should not be based on supply and demand as competitively determined on the market. Instead, the benchmark and basis of employment salaries would be a “living wage,” or “a wage sufficient to meet the basic standards of living, which will vary by country, local living standards and need.” As the report argues, “Companies that offer a living wage to workers and employees can help lift households and communities out of poverty. A living wage provides a benchmark for responsible employers who respect human rights and who choose to pay their employees a rate that meets the basic cost of living in the region they operate in.”


No, the United States Is Not Systemically Racist

In the second half of the 20th century, from 1950 to 2000, Black people in the United States experienced much larger income gains than whites did. The group that had the largest income gains, by far, was Black women. Their incomes nearly doubled over that period (after inflation). The race gap persists, but it is much lower today than it was in 1950. Does this sound like the financial result from a systemically racist country?

We are told by Black Lives Matter, about 80 percent of the college professors and their pals in the media, that President Donald Trump is a racist. CNN says it almost every night. It’s always wise to judge a man by his deeds, not his words or promises. The Census Bureau report released earlier this month finds that, from 2016 to 2019, Black incomes rose more than in any three years in the history of the United States. The median household income for Blacks is now $45,438. I don’t have the latest data in front of me, but data from several years ago would indicate few, if any, other nations on Earth with a higher average Black income than the United States.

Black poverty rates fell to their lowest level ever recorded. Black poverty is still much higher than white poverty, but Black people’s economic advancement under Trump (precoronavirus) has been nearly miraculous. Does this sound like the result of a racist president?

One of the more fantastic claims by the BLM crowd is that America discriminates against all minorities, or “people of color.” By that, they mean people who are Black, Hispanic or any other race that is not white. But the latest census data on incomes squarely contradict this conclusion — at least when it comes to family finances and economic opportunity.

The highest-income group in America today is not white-skinned workers. It is Asians. Astonishingly, the median household income of Asian Americans reached just shy of $100,000 a year. (The number is $98,174 to be exact.) In other words, the average Asian family is upper-income. One of America’s wonders as a land of opportunity is that an immigrant can come to America dirt-poor from China or India and, within 20 years, move into the middle class or even become wealthy.

How did Asians, many of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants from Japan, Korea, India, China, Pakistan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc., race ahead of whites? Perhaps they have a stronger work ethic. Maybe they are more likely to go into occupations in the sciences, engineering or medicine, where salaries are high. Perhaps it is the “tiger moms” effect. Who knows? But what is indisputable from this evidence is this: This couldn’t have happened in America if this were a nation that hates ethnic minorities. It could not have occurred in a xenophobic country.

What about Hispanics? Trump has indeed said some very nasty things about Mexicans coming to the U.S. illegally and committing crimes. But Hispanics are doing very well in America. The average Hispanic household makes more than $56,000 a year today. That’s not rich — but it is a massive leap forward from what Hispanics earn in Mexico, El Salvador or Cuba. The gains of Latinos in just the last three years have been extraordinary. Hispanics have also been invaluable in keeping our hospitals, nursing homes, stores and delivery systems functioning during this pandemic thanks to their incredibly strong and admirable work ethic.

I would submit from all this that America isn’t the most but rather the least racist nation on Earth when it comes to upward economic mobility.


Donald Trump says he will overturn ‘ridiculous order’ of US Navy SEALs removing the words ‘brotherhood’ and ‘man’ from its ethos and replacing them with gender neutral terms

Donald Trump said Thursday he will overturn the ‘ridiculous order’ of US Navy SEALs removing the words ‘brotherhood’ and ‘man’ from its ethos.

In a tweet responding to the news, the president wrote: ‘I will be overturning this ridiculous order immediately!’

The Navy has removed gendered words from its official SEAL ethos, changing them to ‘citizen’ and ‘warrior’. Alterations have also been made in the Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) creed, American Military News reports.

One change in the first paragraph of the SEAL ethos now reads: ‘I am that warrior.’ It had read: ‘I am that man.’ Another states: ‘Common citizens with uncommon desire to succeed.’ That did say: ‘A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.’

In the ethos, ‘The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men’ has been changed to ‘the ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from others’.

And ‘brave men’ has been amended to read ‘brave SEALs.’

In the SWCC creed ‘brotherhood’ was switched to a ‘group of maritime warriors.’ In another sentence ‘brothers’ in changed to ‘them’.

The move sparked fury from disgraced ex SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who labeled it ‘a joke’. Gallagher was was acquitted of murdering the ISIS prisoner following a high-profile trial which saw Donald Trump wade into the debate.

Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Stroup said: ‘The previous versions of the SEAL Ethos and SWCC Creed were written prior to the law allowing women to serve as operators in Naval Special Warfare.’

Stroup added: ‘The changes do not in any way reflect lowering standards of entry, rather they ensure that all those who meet the requirements to train to become a SEAL or SWCC are represented in the ethos or creed they live out.

Former SEAL Gallagher appeared to share a picture of an August 3 memo sent by military officials on the pronoun changes. It shows Rear Adm. Collin Green approved the changes.

Green wrote: ‘The SEAL Ethos and SWCC Creed are our community’s bedrock guidance. In order to provide more inclusive language, we have revised them to better reflect our diverse ranks now and into the future.’

Gallagher was acquitted of indiscriminately firing at civilians and murdering an ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017. He was only convicted for posing for a photo with the teen’s body.

As a result of posing for a picture with the dead teen, Gallagher was de-ranked in July 2019. However Donald Trump later restored him to Chief Petty Officer. He is now retired.

Sharing a note on the pronoun changes Gallagher wrote: ‘What a joke. To be honest I thought the ethos was always BS. Now I know it is.

‘A creed or ethos is supposed to be written in stone, obviously ours is not and will sway to whatever political agenda is being put out.’

The SEAL program tests participants’ physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills.

It starts at the Naval station in Great Lakes, Illinois and typically ends 65 weeks later with graduation in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego.

Each graduate is awarded the special warfare insignia known as the Trident that denotes membership in the elite fighting force: The pin features a golden eagle wrapped around a U.S. Navy anchor, while clutching a three-prong trident, and a flintlock style pistol.

The program is so grueling that 75 per cent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month in phase one. That’s when trainees undergo what is known as Hell Week when recruits are pushed to the limit with little sleep.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement

Monday, October 05, 2020

Donald Trump says he feels ‘much better’ in COVID-19 fight

A reader comments: “I have always thought Trump is who America needs, but I have also thought he is not a very pleasant man. …. However, through the years of his first term, reading his tweets and following his accomplishments, and his dealings with others, I have come to more clearly see his humanity, humour, strength of character, leadership, intelligence, sincerity, his love for individual freedom,… and whether he wins or loses the November election, I think he will be remembered as one of the greatest US presidents.”

Donald Trump has spoken out from hospital in a lengthy address after being diagnosed with coronavirus on Friday.

Mr Trump started by thanking the medical staff at Walter Reed Medical Centre, before talking about “miracle” treatments of the future.

“I came here, I wasn’t feeling so well, I feel much better now, we’re working hard to get me all the way back,” the US President said on Saturday night, local time. It is not clear when the video was recorded.

“I have to be back because we still have to make America great again. “I’ll be back, I think I’ll be back soon,” he said.

“We’re going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it.”

Mr Trump also went on to say he “just didn’t want to stay in the White House” for quarantine. “Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. “Don’t see people, don’t talk to people and just be done with it, and I can’t do that,” he said.

“This is America, this is the United States, this is greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world and I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs completely safe and just say hey, ‘whatever happens happens’.”

Mr Trump thanked leaders from around the world for their well wishes, and that Melania is also doing well – making a joke about how because she is younger than him is not as ill.

The President’s doctor released an update on Mr Trump’s condition on Saturday night, local time. He is said to be “fever free and off supplemental oxygen”. The medical team remains cautiously optimistic, Mr Trump’s doctor Sean P. Conley said in the update.


The latest from Sweden: Cases up but no deaths

It’s been three months since Sweden recorded just over 800 new coronavirus cases.

But after months with no dramatic increases and low hospitalisation rates, cases of COVID-19 have surged again.

While the Scandinavian country was panned for its controversial approach to coronavirus, it has been recording fewer deaths per day than most other nations — including Australia.

Sweden chose to ignore calls for heavy lockdowns and has kept most schools, bars and restaurants open throughout the pandemic.

Even as cases surged with 752 people testing positive on Thursday – the highest daily rise since June 30 – there was not a single fatality.

Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the man behind Sweden’s controversial strategy, said the uptick was mostly in young people and workplace outbreaks. “It’s very unevenly spread across Sweden, hitting different parts of the country to varying degree,” he said. “Stockholm once again accounts for a very large part of the new cases in Sweden.”

Mr Tegnell recently pointed out while Sweden went from being one of the countries in Europe with the most virus spread, to one that had some of the fewest cases in Europe, the numbers could always go up.

Its per capita death rate is several times higher than other Scandavian countries, but lower than the likes of Spain, Italy and the UK despite their lockdowns.

It’s marked a turnaround for the country, which saw one of the highest death tolls in the world per capita during its spring, recording 5893 deaths.

Just days ago media outlets reported how Sweden seemed to have the virus scourge controlled with the country having one of Europe’s lowest rates of daily new cases. Experts were proclaiming the pandemic there was essentially over.

Kim Sneppen, from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said the country had beaten the virus with herd immunity.

“There is some evidence that the Swedes have built up a degree of immunity to the virus which, along with what else they are doing to stop the spread, is enough to control the disease,” he told the Politiken newspaper.

It’s an idea Mr Tegnell has repeatedly denied, although he had indicated immunity is being evidenced.

“We are happy that the number of cases is going down rapidly and we do believe immunity in the population has something to do with that,” he said. “And we hope that the immunity in the population will help us get thought this fall with cases at a low level.”

“Today, all of the European countries are more or less following the Swedish model, combined with the testing, tracing and quarantine procedures the Germans have introduced, but none will admit it,” Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health, told The New York Times. “Instead, they made a caricature out of the Swedish strategy. Almost everyone has called it inhumane and a failure.”

Mr Flahault warned there was a major flaw in the Swedish approach – not wearing masks. “That can be a big drawback in the Swedish strategy if masks prove effective and key in fighting the pandemic,” he said.

Allan Randrup Thomsen, professor of virology at Aarhus University, recently said it could not be ruled out that Sweden would have a flare up. Still, its voluntary social distancing is something it’s sticking to.

Because of it, Sweden’s economy shrank by 9 per cent in the first months of the pandemic, compared with 20 per cent in Britain.


‘No evidence’ Melbourne’s draconian curfew keeps coronavirus cases down – admits the senior bureaucrat who extended the policy

Melbourne’s night-time curfew was extended despite there being no evidence the measure would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own, according to the senior health official who renewed the draconian rule.

The city’s five million residents were on August 2 banned from leaving their homes between the hours of 8pm to 5am except for work, medical or care-giving reasons.

Health officials extended the curfew on September 14 but with shortened hours from 9pm to 5am.

The curfew – which was only removed on Monday evening amid a rapid decline in daily case totals – was one of a range of sweeping coronavirus restrictions brought in as part of Victoria’s state of emergency powers.

Department of Health and Human Services senior medical adviser Michelle Giles admitted at a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday there was no physical evidence the policy alone reduced transmission.

Bourke Street is pictured deserted after a citywide curfew was introduced in Melbourne on August 2. The bureaucrat who signed off on the measure has admitted there was no evidence it would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own +4
Bourke Street is pictured deserted after a citywide curfew was introduced in Melbourne on August 2. The bureaucrat who signed off on the measure has admitted there was no evidence it would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own

‘What I say is the curfew is part of a package of directions that aim at reducing movement and interactions between people and there is evidence that reduces transmissions,’ she said.

But Associate Professor Giles – who had final say on the extension while standing in as Victoria’s Deputy Public Health Commander – told the court there was no proof the policy by itself would be effective.

Professor Giles also said she disagreed with the premier’s assertion when the curfew was announced it would help Victoria Police enforce the lockdown.

‘I actually considered the curfew in relation to public health,’ she said, according to The Australian.

‘I don’t agree with those comments, particularly the law enforcement one.’

The Supreme Court case has been brought by Mornington Peninsula cafe owner Michelle Loielo – who is suing the government claiming COVID-19 restrictions have caused a 99 per cent drop in her revenue.

‘Every time I see the premier, Daniel Andrews, on the television and every time I hear the premier speak, I feel a sense of dread and anxiety,’ she said.

Last month, Mr Andrews said he decided to bring in the unprecedented 8pm curfew even though it was not recommended by scientists.

‘That’s a decision that I’ve made,’ he said on 10 September, adding governments are ‘free to go beyond’ advice given to them by doctors.

The previous day Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he did not recommend the curfew.

Ms Loielo, a Liberal Party supporter, claims the curfew violates her rights to freedom.

She says her business in Capel Sound used to bring in up to $20,000 a week in earnings.


So Much for Income Tax Privacy

How many times have we been told that the information we send to the Internal Revenue Service in our federal income tax returns is guaranteed to be kept confidential?

So much for that myth, as President Trump can now attest. The New York Times somehow secured a copy of Trump’s income tax returns and is excitedly telling the world what they contain.

One thing is for sure: If the president of the United States can’t keep his income tax returns private, no one else can either.

From the very start of Trump’s quest for the presidency, the mainstream press has been obsessed with getting its hands on his tax returns. And from the very start, Trump refused to disclose them, which he has every right to do.

Trump took the position that his tax returns were none of anyone’s business. And he was right. HIs tax returns fell within his right of personal privacy. If people chose not to vote for him because of his refusal to disclose his tax returns, so be it. That would be their right. But that possibility didn’t abrogate Trump’s right of privacy.

Obviously, Trump’s position did not prevent him from winning the presidency. HIs tax returns were just not that important to millions of people who voted for him.

The New York Times’ decision to disclose Trump’s income tax returns reminds us of what a horrific disaster the adoption of the federal income tax was. Just think: For more than 125 years, Americans lived without a federal income tax. Everyone was free to keep everything he earned and decide for himself what to do with it.

During that time, the editorial board and reporters for the New York Times and other mainstream papers were not having conniption fits over the refusal of presidential candidates to reveal their income tax returns because, well, there were no income tax returns, given that there was no federal income tax.

One of the big reasons the Framers favored indirect taxes over direct taxes was that indirect taxes didn’t have the enormous intrusiveness into privacy that comes with direct taxes. If the Framers had proposed a federal income tax in the Constitution, there is no possibility that our American ancestors would have approved the Constitution and the federal government. Don’t forget, after all, that under the Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, the federal government had not been given the power to tax at all.

The Times and other mainstream papers are making a big deal out of Trump’s use of tax deductions and other tax-avoidance provisions of the massively thick IRS Code to avoid paying taxes. They are implying that he’s unpatriotic for not helping fund the welfare-warfare state that the income tax funds.

That’s ridiculous. It might be hypocritical given Trump’s ardent support for the welfare-welfare state but it’s certainly not unpatriotic to employ every tax avoidance provision in the book. After all, I’ll bet that the members of the Times’ editorial board and its big team of reporters and columnists do the same thing. They are just upset that they don’t do it as well as Trump.

I must say that I do find it ironic that while the mainstream press is celebrating the disclosure of Trump’s private tax returns, it is also failing to come to the defense of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, the men who disclosed the truth about the U.S. national security state to the world. In today’s topsy turvy world, it’s considered okay to violate the privacy of American citizens by publicly disclosing their income tax returns to the world. At the same time, it’s considered a grave crime to disclose the truth about the dark and sordid activities of the national security state that the income tax funds.

The best thing the American people could ever do is restore America’s founding principle of an income-tax free society and to repeal the dark and sordid warfare-welfare things that it funds.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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 here. Home page supplement


Sunday, October 04, 2020

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas reacts to Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, says ‘zero reason to panic’

Dr. Scott Atlas, a special adviser on coronavirus to President Trump, said Friday he expects the president and first lady to make a “complete, full and rapid recovery” after the two tested positive for COVID-19, adding, “there is zero reason to panic.”

During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Atlas said the novel coronavirus is an infection “that is very difficult to avoid.”

“It is no surprise that people get the infection, even with precautions,” Atlas said. “I anticipate a complete and full and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period. I anticipate he’ll be back on the road and in full swing.”

Atlas called the president a “super vigorous man,” adding that he has “never seen anyone with more energy and more vigor, at any age, but particularly at his age.”

“He is a very, very healthy guy,” Atlas said. “And the overwhelming majority of people, even at his age, do fine with this. He is very healthy, and so I anticipate the same for him.”

When asked about the first lady, Atlas also maintained that “she is not a high-risk person at all and I anticipate she will do perfectly well.”

Atlas stressed that the president and first lady’s positive test results “change nothing” about what “should already be known.”

“This is a widespread, highly contagious infection, and this is going to be very mild or asymptomatic for the overwhelming majority of people, especially if you’re a healthy person,” he explained.


The Unscientific Attack on the Science of Dr. Scott Atlas

The news media until recently had rarely criticized the medical advice of experts — especially those who worked for federal bureaucracies, international organizations or elite universities.

Yet the much-praised Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, has demonstrably weakened the effort to fight COVID-19.

During the critical initial weeks of the virus’s spread, Tedros parroted Chinese propaganda. He falsely assured a complacent world that the virus was likely not transmissible between humans and did not warrant travel bans. That Tedros was the first WHO director not to have a medical degree was seldom cited by the media.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is known to the public for his past advocacy of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. Although he now advises 77-year-old presidential candidate Joe Biden, Emanuel once wrote an article for The Atlantic titled “Why I hope to die at 75,” contending that that life after age 75 is, and should be, mostly over — now an eerie idea in a time of a pandemic that targets the elderly.

Emanuel has often weighed in on the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes in overly pessimistic fashion by suggesting that some acquired collective immunity and a viable vaccine were not likely to come soon.

Yet Emanuel also has been largely exempt from media criticism. No reporters have questioned his epidemiological expertise despite his background as an oncologist specializing in breast cancer.

The esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has given conflicting advice on the use of masks, quarantining and the methods of viral transmission. Yet such inconsistency is either ignored or chalked up by the media to the usual learning curve of dealing with a new epidemic.

So why — other than politics — is there now a concerted media attack on Dr. Scott Atlas, an adviser to the Trump administration on COVID-19 policy?

Atlas has had a distinguished career as one of world’s top neuroradiologists. He has become a national expert on public health policy, especially in the cost-benefit analysis of government programs.

After COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., Atlas consistently warned that government must follow science, not politics, in doing the least amount of harm to its people. He has reminded us that those under 65 rarely die from COVID-19, and that those infected who are younger than 20 usually do not show any serious symptoms.

Accordingly, Atlas has urged the states to focus more resources on the most vulnerable — those over 65, who account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths — and allow younger Americans to re-enter schools and the workforce with appropriate caution.

Atlas has also warned that the available test data on COVID-19’s infectiousness, spread and morbidity must be handled with care, given that those who feel sick are more like to get tested. He argues that those with some natural protection from the virus, either through antibodies from an asymptotic past infection or through T-cells, may be a far larger group than previously thought.

But most importantly, Atlas has warned that government must be careful not to endanger Americans with draconian lockdowns that curtail needed medical examinations, procedures and treatments.

Just as dangerous as the disease may be quarantine-related spikes in mental illness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, and depression from lost livelihoods. Children may be suffering irreparable harm from being locked down and kept out of school.

Atlas has shown that these policy choices unfortunately entail bad options and even worse ones, rather than good choices and even better alternatives. He has not played down the dangers of COVID-19 but rather has reminded us to look at scientific data that often belies media sensationalism.

Many in the media, some of his former colleagues at Stanford Medical School and some other Stanford faculty members have claimed that Atlas — a colleague of mine at the Hoover Institution — has acted unprofessionally. They allege that he has downplayed the lethality of the virus, implying that he is aiding the administration’s efforts to ease out of the quarantine.

Yet few if any of these complainants have cited supporting evidence, either from what Atlas has written or said. Often the accusations turn puerile, suggesting that Atlas can’t be a public health expert because he was originally a neuroradiologist.

In fact, rarely reported is that many members of the Stanford community are honored by its medical school receiving global acclaim for its diversity of expert scientific opinion on the virus.

Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Michael Levitt of Stanford, along with several stellar Stanford epidemiologists, have been praised worldwide for their careful critiques of often media-generated misconceptions — especially on the overreliance on COVID-19 positive test data to calibrate viral prevalence and morbidly.

How ironic that some critics fault Atlas for not following science, but they do so in a fashion that is completely … well, unscientific.


The First Debate Eviscerated the Central Argument for Joe Biden’s Candidacy

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president last year, he said he chose to run after witnessing the white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. He condemned President Donald Trump for supposedly praising white nationalists (Trump didn’t) and then said he was running for president because “I want to restore the soul of this country.” His premise? Trump is an aberration, and Biden will restore America’s decency.

Contrary to the popular narrative on the Left, the first presidential debate on Tuesday did not prove that Trump is a white supremacist. It did, however, prove that Joe Biden cannot restore the soul of America.

The “decency” candidate constantly interrupted his opponent during the debate. The candidate who wants to “restore the soul of America” unleashed a torrent of insults against his opponent. The “moderate” Biden refused to say whether or not he would pack the Supreme Court. What kind of “soul,” exactly, would he restore?

Biden and Trump proved rather rude to one another, although Biden’s personal insults were arguably worse.

The Democrat told his Republican opponent to shut up, called him a “racist,” a “liar,” and a “clown,” and said, “You’re the worst president that America’s ever had!”

How, exactly, would language like this “restore the soul of America?”

Biden’s debate performance is not the only argument against his ability to restore America’s soul.

Joe Biden has himself embraced the radical left and openly socialist faction of his party. He has refused to condemn antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and agitators by name, instead blaming “right-wing militias” for the violence in American cities. Biden has bragged about the character defamation of Robert Bork, lied about the man who got into the tragic accident that killed his wife, and even compared Trump to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Trump Eviscerates the False Narrative About His Proud Boys Answer to White Supremacy Question
Even if Biden was a moderate and an entirely decent man, most Americans expect that if Biden wins the election in November, his vice president will take up the mantle sometime before his 4-year term comes to a close. In other words, the ostensibly moderate Joe Biden is really a kind of Trojan Horse for one Kamala “let’s lock up pro-life journalists” Harris.

Harris is prickly, slimy, extremely disingenuous, and quite radical. She smeared Brett Kavanaugh with outright lies. After her record as a tough-on-crime attorney general, she tried to get hip by lying about smoking pot in college. She demonized Roman Catholic judges for their faith. Oh, and during the primary, she was the most vocal candidate to condemn a certain Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. for — among other things — working with segregationists in his own party.

President Trump is far from perfect, but he is curbing the radical Left’s transformation of America. He is defending the Constitution from the Left’s unilateral redefinition by nominating originalist judges and justices. He is restraining the radical transgender dissolution of gender in the law. He is countering the Marxist critical race theory of the 1619 Project. He is defending religious freedom against a Democratic onslaught.

Biden launched his campaign on the premise that Trump has destroyed America’s moral compass, whatever his policy successes. Yet on Tuesday, the Democrat definitively proved that he would not restore America’s moral compass.

On November 3, Americans have a choice between a president who stands with the original public meaning of the Constitution and a Democrat who wants judges to rewrite the Constitution according to their policy preferences, specifically in favor of abortion, and who refuses to say whether he’ll pack the Supreme Court wink wink, nod nod.

Both candidates are aggressive and rude. Perhaps Trump is ruder — although he may only seem that way because he has to fight the legacy media’s outright leftist bias. Biden wasn’t exactly decent to Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in 2012.

The debate on Tuesday will not likely make a big difference in the polls, but it did undercut Joe Biden’s central argument for his candidacy. Americans who tire of Trump and want a “return to normalcy” should not pull the lever for Joe Biden. If they can’t stomach Trump, perhaps they should consider Libertarian Jo Jorgenson


Leader McConnell: ‘Full Steam Ahead’ on Judge Barrett’s Confirmation After POTUS Tests Positive for COVID-19/b>

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated that the confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, will proceed as planned after President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

Judge Barrett tested negative for coronavirus, has not been in contact with President Trump since her nomination ceremony, and is following CDC guidelines, the White House said.

McConnell tweeted that Judge Barrett’s confirmation will proceed “full steam ahead,” and Graham said that the president is “very engaged” in the hearings ahead:



Attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse to sue Joe Biden for libel after campaign video labels his client a white supremacist (Disrn)

Wife of Boston Marathon hero said Biden touched her in “an inappropriate and uncomfortable way” (Washington Examiner)

Pope Francis denies audience with Mike Pompeo; the ever-politicking Vatican warns against playing politics over China (Reuters)

California’s nanny-state governor signs corporate boardroom diversity law (Fox Business)

California task force will consider paying reparations for slavery (AP)

Disney lays off 28,000 employees (Disrn)

American and United to lay off 32,000 as airline aid talks drag on (Bloomberg)

Movie-industry group pleads for aid from Congress, warning “theaters may not survive” (MarketWatch)

Americans increasingly believe violence is justified if the other side wins (Politico)

Trump plans to slash refugee admissions to new low of 15,000 (Reuters)

Policy: How the administration is taking back the courts (The Daily Signal)

Policy: It’s beyond time to reform the UN Human Rights Council (The Dispatch)

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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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