Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gov. Noem Posts COVID-19 'Graphs the Media Won't Share with You'

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been criticized for her freedom-first approach to the coronavirus pandemic. While she always took the health and safety of residents in her state seriously, she pushed back on calls for a statewide lockdown early in the pandemic because the numbers did not justify it.

"I took an oath when I was in Congress, obviously, to uphold the constitution of the United States," she told Fox News in April. "I believe in our freedoms and liberties. What I've seen across the country is so many people give up their liberties for just a little bit of security, and they don't have to do that."

She has continued with that mindset ever since, refusing to lock down as a second surge of the virus sweeps the nation.

On Thursday, she posted graphs of New York and California’s coronavirus cases, which she said, "the media won't share with you."

"California and New York locked down, closed businesses, and mandated masks. They did the 'right' thing. And STILL cases are climbing," she said.

Earlier in the week, she said South Dakota was in good financial shape due to her administration's approach to COVID-19.

In comparison, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Wednesday that tax hikes are coming, and they could be significant.


The plague of White College Democrats

Eighty-five percent of counties with a Whole Foods store voted for Joe Biden. That factoid, relayed by The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, tells you something important about the election -- and about today's Democratic Party.

"The Democracy," as it was called in the 19th century, long thought of itself as the party of the people, the defender of the little guy, the side that stood up for the folks not able to stand up for themselves.

There was always something to this. From its formation to reelect Andrew Jackson in 1832, the Democratic Party has always been a coalition of groups not considered typical Americans but that together could form a national majority. Naturally, the precise composition of this coalition has changed over time.

Barack Obama's Democratic Party was a top-and-bottom coalition of those at both ends of the income, education and occupational scales. Obama, who, as an Illinois legislator, gerrymandered a top-and-bottom district for himself, provided substantive and psychological sustenance to both sides.

Joe Biden's Democratic Party has a different balance. The boy from working-class Scranton, as he is billed, ran best not in factory cities but in university towns.

His highest percentage in Michigan was in the county containing Ann Arbor, not Detroit. He ran stronger in Madison, Wisconsin's Dane County than in Milwaukee County; stronger in Iowa City than in Des Moines; stronger in Missoula, Montana, with its university than in Butte with its copper mines; just as strong in metro Columbus (Ohio State University) as in metro Cleveland.

Biden's strongest area in California was the San Francisco Bay (University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University). His strongest county in upstate New York was Tompkins (Cornell University). His strongest counties in North Carolina were Durham and Orange (Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

White college grads -- Joel Kotkin's "gentry liberals," Arnold Kling's "highly educated elites" -- have become the dominant constituency in the Democratic Party. Even as the descendants of the party's blue-collar constituents have become Donald Trump Republicans, Democratic percentages among white college graduates have ballooned.

Pew Research Center polling showed white college graduates 50% to 42% Republican in 1994 -- the breakthrough year when Republicans captured the House after 40 years of Democratic control -- and 57% to 37% Democratic in 2019. That's happened even as they've become a larger percentage of the electorate.

To which an old-time Democratic Party boss -- Tammany Hall's Charles F. Murphy or Chicago's Richard J. Daley -- would have asked, "What do these people want?"

In the 1990s, the answers very fairly obvious. Affluent voters wanted tax rates held down, and they wanted their verdant suburban and trendy central city neighborhoods protected from violent crime and welfare dependency.

Led by Wisconsin's Tommy Thompson and New York's Rudy Giuliani, local Republicans and some Democrats cut violent crime and welfare rolls by more than half. In Washington, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton assisted and encouraged this process and largely froze tax rates.

Today's college graduates, more numerous than their 1994 predecessors and schooled on increasingly "politically correct" campuses, don't have such concrete goals. They're unfazed by marginal Obama-era tax increases and untroubled -- so far, anyway -- by the vertiginous increases in homicides after the May 25 incident in Minneapolis.

What they want out of politics is not so much anything concrete as it is symbolic: assertions of opposition to what they regard as America's "systemic racism," and opposition to assertions of "America first," whether that means enforcement of immigration laws or "xenophobic" restrictions on travel from China, where COVID-19 originated.

In Democratic primaries, these voters, as I wrote in June, "flitted from one candidate to the next, tilting toward Sen. Kamala Harris after she whacked Joe Biden for opposing busing in the 1970s, then luxuriating in Sen. Elizabeth Warren's stentorian assurances that, on every issue, 'I have a plan for that,' then swooning for the assured articulateness of then-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg."

They seem chemically dependent on denunciations of Donald Trump, to the point that subscription- or ratings-hungry news media feel obliged to lard not just news accounts but even food pages and movie reviews with "Orange Man Bad" sneers. Trump is routinely described as a "racist" with no evidence cited.

White Democratic college graduates' central faith is that they oppose other Americans' systemic racism. Nearly a majority of them told pollsters they were bothered that Joe Biden is a white male in his 70s. Only about 30% of black and Hispanic Democrats feel the same, according to Pew. One group has more concern for ethnic origin and personal style than for real-life consequences for actual people.

White Democratic college graduates complain that Trump acts childishly; is impervious to criticism and fixated on symbolic trivia; and refuses to confess error or admit defeat. Fair criticism or self-description? Or both?


Lockdown Consequences Include Our Mental Health

Over the last several months, there’s been plenty of debate about whether a V-shaped economic recovery was possible, as “15 days to slow the spread” turned into months, and millions of Americans lost their jobs. The rebound was not quite a V, of course, especially for retail and restaurant workers. Moreover, the worry about finding or even keeping one’s job, combined with the unexpected additional tasks of homeschooling, wearing masks, and socially distancing, has taken its toll on our collective mental health.

It’s a subject we’ve touched on before, when our Thomas Gallatin observed the growing health consequences from the then-two-month-old pandemic lockdown. With the passage of time, more of the consequences are becoming evident. For example, we can now see that the expected baby boom from last spring’s shelter-in-place order isn’t happening everywhere.

But the coronavirus has sentenced the most vulnerable of us to a virtual house arrest for more than eight months now, and their despair has been on display in the form of increased suicide rates, higher alcoholism rates, and other self-destructive behaviors. Now we have more empirical evidence of this depression, as an annual Gallup Health and Healthcare poll taken in November shows the number of people who self-evaluated their mental well-being as “good” or “excellent” fell to its lowest level since the poll was instituted in 2001. In one year, that combined figure fell from 85% to 76%. And as the pollsters warned, “Previous research from Gallup’s ongoing COVID-19 tracking survey in April found that although majorities of Americans said they could continue following social distancing guidelines as long as necessary before their physical health and financial situation suffered, less than half said the same of their mental health.”

While we may joke about today’s date being March 286th, our lives and routines have genuinely been upended. Many kids no longer go to school, workers who can do so toil from home, and all the extra activities in a family’s life — sports, proms, graduations — have been postponed or canceled. In certain ways, people have adapted — witness the new phenomenon of the “fake commute.” It’s also worth noting that the lone subgroup that didn’t register a decline in mental health in the Gallup poll were those who regularly go to church. Out of all 19 groups measured, weekly church attendees had the highest percentage of those rating their mental health as “excellent” at 46%. (This, of course, assumes they can still go to church every week; it’s unclear whether virtual church counts in the category.)

But humans can only be isolated for so long before they lose out to despair — or rebel.

“While public officials are busy cracking down on freedom using a viral pandemic as their justification, another pandemic comes chopping and reaping, this one caused by the extreme measures that have produced no beneficial results,” note the editors of Issues & Insights. They add, “Both the elected and unelected who have brought this on need to be held accountable.”

And, as if to reiterate their point, they argue, “Thanks to power-mad, narcissistic, risk-averse, cowardly me-too public officials, America and other nations under lockdowns are suffering emotionally. … Shut-it-down officials are the worst among us, the last people who should be making decisions about others’ lives.”

It’s rare that our federalist system has shown the divide in America so clearly. In some states, restaurants are open, sports are being played, and — aside from the mandates to mask up — things are relatively close to the pre-pandemic normal. On the other side of the wire, people are being ordered to stay home for the holidays, and small businesses are being shuttered, many of them never to reopen.

Those grounded in faith know that there will be something on the other side of this pandemic, although we can’t be certain of how it will arrive or what form it will take. Perhaps we get all the way back to where we were before, although there are some pandemic-induced innovations we may not mind keeping around, such as working from home (faux commute or not).

More likely, though, there will be a little piece of our complacency lost, just like those who survived the Great Depression never forgot the financial lessons they learned the hard way. In this case, the lesson may need to be one of maintaining our freedom. But we have to get it back first.



Data analysts believe they've uncovered widespread illegal voting in Georgia (National Review)

House Republicans call for special counsel to investigate the 2020 election (National Review)

Facebook threatened to ban popular YouTube comedian JP Sears for "violating community standards," so he's moving to Parler (Not the Bee)

YouTube to remove videos claiming mass fraud changed election results (Politico)

Major media outlets mostly ignore story linking Eric Swalwell to Chinese spy (Washington Examiner)

Ric Grenell calls out CNN's Jake Tapper for belatedly covering Hunter Biden story (Fox News)

MSNBC lefty partisan Joy Reid to teach "journalism" at Howard University (Daily Caller)

FDA approves emergency use authorization for at-home test (Washington Examiner)

Court strikes another blow against California's absurd restrictions on religious services (Free Beacon)

Michigan Democrat removed from committees, facing "investigations" after making "threats" against Trump supporters (Daily Wire)

Johns Hopkins, long believed by university to be abolitionist, owned slaves (NBC News) Cancel him!

Xenophobic China restricts U.S. official travel to Hong Kong (AP)

Three studies that show lockdowns are ineffective (FEE)

There's rich, and there's Jeff Bezos rich: Meet the five members of the centibillionaire club (NPR)

Policy: Small business is just as important as small government (The Federalist)

New Yorkers Shocked by These Real Joe Biden Quotes — "The first mainstream African American who is bright, articulate, and clean."



Friday, December 11, 2020

All you need to know about government healthcare

In Britain, government hospitals even kill healthy people

Hundreds of babies died needlessly amid repeated failures at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, according to the first report from an independent review into its maternity services.

The review by Donna Ockenden, a healthcare expert, found a “lack of kindness and compassion” from staff — with women often blamed for the loss of their babies — and a failure to learn when things went wrong.

A review looked at 250 cases of stillbirths, brain damage, and deaths of babies and mothers at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust and says “urgent action” is needed to improve safety.

In all, 1,862 cases are being investigated, making it the largest review of its kind in NHS history.

A highly critical report found:

An “unacceptable” lack of kindness and compassion from some maternity staff

Families’ concerns about their care were dismissed or “not listened to at all”

Midwives failed to recognise when a pregnancy wasn’t progressing normally

Repeated failures to escalate problems to more senior staff

“Continuing errors” in monitoring babies’ heart beats

Inappropriate use of drugs, including oxytocin to speed up labour

A culture of reducing the number of caesarean births without considering if it was causing harm

The report found 13 mothers died between 2000 and 2019.


Don't Let COVID-19 Lockdowns Become a Permanent Power Grab

This week, as Los Angeles County announced it would lock down all outdoor dining, a video went viral. That video featured restaurant owner Angela Marsden, proprietor of the Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, decrying the lockdown policy while pointing to the erection of production catering set up for a Hollywood shoot just a few feet away. "Everything I own is being taken away from me, and they set up a movie company right next to my outdoor patio," Marsden said, adding that she has spent approximately $80,000 complying with the requirements of LA County, only to see it shut down her business completely.

There is no scientific policy justifying LA County's outdoor-dining shutdown. In fact, during a Board of Supervisors meeting, a community member quizzed LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis on the evidence to support such a ban. Muntu provided no such evidence, likely because there is none.

But those who want to run their businesses in a safe and secure fashion are being targeted nonetheless by a political class incentivized to pursue tyranny rather than rational policy. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti -- who told police to stand down as rioters tore through his city during a pandemic -- said that his "heart goes out to Ms. Marsden" and then added, "No one likes these restrictions, but I do support them as our hospital ICU beds fill to capacity." He explained, "We must stop this virus before it kills thousands of more Angelenos." He did not explain why, if outdoor dining was so dangerous, Hollywood is still allowed to engage in it.

That's no surprise. Throughout the pandemic, one set of rules has applied to America's most ardent lockdown advocates, and another set of rules has applied to everyone else. LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl voted to ban outdoor dining ... and then went to an outdoor restaurant later that evening. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is currently locking down some 33 million citizens but had no problem eating indoors with members of the California Medical Association at The French Laundry. Mayor London Breed of San Francisco ate at that same posh restaurant the next day. Austin Mayor Steve Adler told his constituents, "stay home if you can" in a Facebook video filmed from his vacation timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, where he'd just headed with seven others after a wedding in Austin. Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago got her hair cut and called it an "essential" business activity while promoting lockdown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told everybody to stay home for Thanksgiving and then announced he would be getting together with his daughters and his 89-year-old mother, only to then reverse himself.

The message is obvious: Our intellectual and moral betters in politics are free to make their own rational calculations on COVID-19 risk. The rest of us are to be locked in our homes until further notice. When these political actors suggest that we must act out of an abundance of caution, they mean that they ought to enjoy abundance while benefitting from our caution.

You and your family are capable of making the same decisions Cuomo, Garcetti, Newsom, Lightfoot and Adler do. You should be careful; you should engage in social distancing, mask up when in close proximity with others and generally avoid social gatherings involving those with preexisting conditions. But you can do all of these things and still live in a free society. Our politicians don't believe that, because our politicians have seen how easily so many Americans were willing to indefinitely suspend their freedoms out of trust in our authorities. Until the incentive structures change, our freedoms will continue to be throttled by people who have no problem exercising their own.

One need not be a COVID-19 skeptic in order to question whether the enthusiastic authoritarian streak revealed by those politicians can be curbed. The longer we tolerate it, the more our politicians will normalize their power grabs.



Michigan judge allows probe of Dominion voting machines (Fox News)

Joe Biden picks California AG Xavier Becerra as health secretary (Reuters)

"Your daily reminder that ... Xavier Becerra tried to FORCE pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in CA to advertise free abortions." —Liz Wheeler

Now who's contesting elections? The Democrat House could overturn results in Iowa and New York (WSJ)

"House Democrats are sweating, having lost at least 10 seats when they were supposed to gain that many. If Ms. Miller-Meeks and Ms. Tenney prevail, the House will likely be split 222-213, leaving the GOP five seats from a majority in 2022 and potentially narrowing Nancy Pelosi's path to be re-elected as Speaker in January. The Democratic pressure to do everything in their power to prevent these two losses will be immense."

DNI John Ratcliffe urges John Durham to release interim report in order to protect investigation (Daily Caller)

House passes bill to end federal marijuana prohibition (Yahoo Finance)

ABC's George Stephanopoulos directs viewers to Democrat fundraising page (The Federalist)

Trump announces lawyer Rudy Giuliani tests positive (Washington Examiner)

California residents under strict stay-at-home orders through Christmas (NPR)

Sweden's infection rate soars above Britain, Germany, and Spain (Daily Mail)

Trump orders withdrawal of troops from Somalia (NY Post)

Congress moves to block troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Germany (

Diplomats who became ill in Cuba and China may have been targeted with a type of radiation (Daily Wire)

NYC's shooting surge reaches "levels unseen in years" (Fox News)

LA restaurant owner's outdoor dining area shut down by mayor. Days later, film production company sets up outdoor dining area 15 feet away. (Not the Bee)

Ohio allows full-contact wrestling but bans post-match handshakes (Disrn)

Policy: The war on the Electoral College has only just begun (National Review)



Wednesday, December 09, 2020

The FDA is as paralytically slow as ever -- denying safe and effective healthcare to millions

On December 1, the UK pharmaceutical regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, the US will wait on the FDA bureaucracy to reach a decision.

The British will be able to start receiving the vaccine within days. Their focus will be on protecting the frontline workers and the elderly; those in the highest risk groups. Those in the highest risk groups in the US, on the other hand, will be forced to wait.

On November 9th, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine was over 90 percent effective. A press release is no substitute for the actual data from the study, and review of the data is necessary. They applied to the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on November 30th.  An EUA allows the FDA to streamline the approval process in the case of an emergency, or if running a clinic trial is impossible.

The FDA released a notice in the Federal Register on Nov. 27, giving the public information about the EUA approval meeting. This provided the public with the opportunity to comment on the proposals being discussed, which is the normal process for federal agencies issuing regulatory changes. Finally, on December 10th, the FDA advisory committee will meet to discuss the EUA request. Upon reaching a recommendation, the FDA will choose whether or not to act upon it, which the FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in an interview would likely be within a few days.

According to Dr. Hahn, the FDA has been and will continue to review data and generate reports to prepare for the meeting during this time. In his interviews, Dr. Hahn’s description of the process implies that he believes that slow equals safe. But this is a false dichotomy. Rather than setting an arbitrary deadline for how long approvals should take to be complete, approvals should last until a rigorous analysis can be completed. How much additional data will we be able to gather by waiting a week longer than the UK?  

The EUA means that this is an emergency. On average COVID-19 deaths amount to over 1,500 per day. For much of the year, excess deaths were even higher than COVID-19 deaths. Whether those deaths are undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths or deaths due to our response does not matter; they are a result of the virus and need to be considered when we are weighing the tradeoffs. We need to consider the risk of the vaccine and the risks of people contracting COVID-19 without the vaccine.

Unfortunately, the FDA has a long history of risk aversion when considering these tradeoffs. Former FDA Chair Scott Gottlieb detailed the culture of risk aversion at the FDA and its pitfalls. Vahid Montazerhodjat and Andrew Lo used Bayesian decision analysis to analyze the FDA approval stance. They also find that the FDA is too conservative, overweighing the risk of ineffective treatments and undervaluing the cost of rejecting effective treatments for severe diseases. This lengthens the process from discovery in the lab to use as treatment, which already sits at an average of over 15 years.

But this risk aversion and slow process is outdated in today’s rapidly advancing world. Technology is progressing at a rapid pace. It took researchers at Moderna just two days to design their vaccine in January, something unimaginable years ago. The rapid speed with which researchers are able to isolate a problem and design a solution tailored to it is only increasing as our technology improves. For example, just this week researchers released that they have solved the 50-year-old protein folding challenge, successfully cultured meat grown in a lab, and discovered a treatment to de-age and regenerate neurons.

Just 10 years ago it would have been impossible for so many people to seamlessly transition to working remotely. It should be no shock that science is seeing these improvements too.

Despite the rapid advances or science and technology, the FDA is still mired in an outdated regulatory process designed for the world of fax machines, not smartphones. The regulatory process is more suited for the pre-internet age, stifled by much slower data collection and the movement of information. We need nimble regulations that are able to keep up, rather than arcane and ritualized procedures.

Of course, you can’t shorten the time to conduct clinical safety and efficacy trials, but the UK allowed Pfizer to submit information on a rolling basis to shorten the approval process timeline. The FDA can do that to make it easier. The FDA could also end the requirement to fax or mail in hard copies of data.

The FDA also has a history of moving the goalposts, and requesting additional data from pharmaceutical developers, lengthening the approval process. After some time on the market, the Multiple Sclerosis drug Tysabri was found to increase the chance of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and was voluntarily withdrawn from the market. Despite the FDA advisory committee recommending only a warning accompanying the package, the FDA required they create a risk map and limited the availability of the drug, which they didn’t require for Rituxan, which was in a similar situation.

Similarly, the FDA added requirements during the EUA process. In October, they announced a 2-month post injection review for side effects for 50 percent of participants. This forced Pfizer to wait an additional month to apply in order to meet the requirement. Eric Topol worked to convince the FDA to add this requirement to lengthen the process. The FDA’s decision was called “bureaucratic jujitsu” by a supporter. I’d call it bureaucratic obstruction which cost the lives of thousands of people forced to wait for the vaccine. Meanwhile patients in the UK are able to receive that vaccine. 

The UK approval should inspire us to enact a reform that is far overdue and is a simple alternative that still keeps the protections of a regulatory agency but will allow for some speed. We should have reciprocity agreements with regulators in other countries. This would allow any drug approved for use in another country to be used by American patients. Some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, already take FDA approval into consideration during their approval process. 

The U.S. government can limit reciprocity to countries that have a proven track record of approving safe and effective drugs. This would include countries in the European Union, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. This reciprocity would reduce delay and limit wasting time and effort applying to multiple regulatory bodies. Comparing the approved drugs in the UK and the US, researchers have found no significant difference in the safety between the countries, suggesting that MHRA approval is no less safe than FDA approval.

Ensuring that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective is important, no one is arguing that. The question is how long a process is necessary, considering the continuing death toll. While the FDA abides by their bureaucratic process, the MHRA has acted quickly and approved the Pfizer vaccine, allowing people in the UK to begin to be vaccinated.

The FDA approval process, even in their Emergency Use Authorization, is a long process, taking time and costing us lives.

Texas Files Lawsuit With SCOTUS Challenging Election Procedures in 4 Swing States

Texas is suing Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the Supreme Court over "unconstitutional irregularities" in the election process, saying the states used the coronavirus pandemic to justify "ignoring state laws" with regard to absentee and mail-in voting.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging the four swing states violated state and federal law when they modified election procedures. The four battleground states listed in the suit were key to President Donald Trump's path to victory in 2016 and were vital to his reelection bid. Given the number of electoral votes at stake, the plaintiffs argued the states will "determine the outcome of the election."

"With all unlawful votes discounted, the election result is an open question that this Court must address," Paxton's brief to the Supreme Court said.

Without factoring the four states into the electoral vote totals, former Vice President Biden, who has 306 votes, would be down to 244, compared with Trump's 232. Therefore, the plaintiffs argue, those states are critical to the election. Trump won all four states in 2016 but lost them this year.

The suit charged executive and judicial officials in the four states with making "significant changes" to election rules, a move that the plaintiffs argue "did away" with security measures for absentee and mail-in ballots. Among the measures that the plaintiffs say were removed were signature verification, witness requirements, poll observers and authorized secure ballot drop-off locations.

Signature verification and the ability for people to observe the election process are two issues the Trump campaign and the president have stressed in their election fight. Poll observers being kept too far from where ballots were being opened was one of the first problems the campaign had with the election, and Trump has pushed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to demand signature verification in the election.

"The Republican Governor of Georgia refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win. What's wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?" Trump, who also called Kemp a RINO (Republican in name only), tweeted on Monday.

Without matching signatures, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said, a recount in Georgia means nothing because alleged "fraudulent" ballots would still be added to the total votes for each candidate.

On Election Night, Trump had the lead over Biden as in-person votes were being counted. However, that lead quickly dwindled as states counted mail-in ballots, a voting method the president dissuaded his supporters from using. In the suit, the plaintiffs argue that there was a "one in a quadrillion" probability of Biden winning the popular vote in the four key swing states, given Trump's lead early on Wednesday morning after the election.

"Invalid or fraudulent votes debase or dilute the weight of each validly cast vote," the plaintiffs wrote in the brief.

The four states targeted in the Supreme Court filing are all ones that the Trump campaign has gone after themselves, but so far they've been fighting a losing legal battle. In legal filings, they cited many of the same reasons as the Supreme Court brief, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the most recent development meant "huge."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called the lawsuit a "publicity stunt" and not a "serious legal pleading." She said that Paxton, not voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania, was to blame for the "erosion of confidence in our democratic system." Nessel added that the issues raised in the complaint have already been litigated and "roundly rejected."

Legal experts aren't confident the Supreme Court will take the case, though, and the plaintiffs are up against the clock. The plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the case because it isn't just a matter of state laws but a violation of the Constitution. They added that the Supreme Court is the only forum that can "delay" the December 14 deadline for states to appoint their electors and pushed for them to do so.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Patrick Basham Lays Out Why He Believes Biden's Election Win Is 'Statistically Implausible'

Pollster Patrick Basham explained during an interview with Fox News’s Mark Levin why he believes Joe Biden’s supposed election victory, while “not statistically impossible,” is “statistically implausible.”

Basham said during the interview that aired Sunday that he looked at numerous “non-polling metrics,” which have a “100 percent accuracy rate in terms of predicting the winner of the presidential election,” to come to his conclusion.

“Something very strange has happened because the numbers just don't add up,” he said referring to the election results.

Some of the “dozen or more” metrics include “party registration trends, how the candidates did in their respective presidential primaries, the number of individual donations, [and] how much enthusiasm each candidate generated in the opinion polls.”

He said these metrics pointed to a Trump victory in 2016 and “that was again the case in 2020.”

“So if we are to accept that Biden won against the trend of all these non-polling metrics, it not only means that one of these metrics was inaccurate ... for the first time ever, it means that each one of these metrics was wrong for the first time and at the same time as all of the others,” Basham explained.

The founding director of the Democracy Institute said if 100 observers were only shown the “vote breakdown by demographic group” on election night, 99 “would say, well, obviously, Trump.”

Basham also called into question the ballot rejection rate for absentee and mail-in ballots, which he said was “historically low.”

“Rejection rates, which in the primaries earlier this year were well into the double-digits and which historically have often been very, very high in these key swing states, or at least in the key swing counties, we're seeing rejection rates of less than 1 percent, often very close to to zero,” he noted. “Given the increase in absentee balloting and the lack of experience that most of the new voters and those doing the counting would have with those ballots, it is implausible, to put it politely, that that figure would be as low as it was.”


More Lockdowns Aren’t Answer to Stopping COVID-19

As infections increase during the “second wave” of the coronavirus, too many politicians are knee-jerking to reimpose harsh restrictions such as business shutdowns, curfews, and home confinements.

These types of sweeping and overly restrictive COVID-19 measures cause needless harm, especially for the majority of generally healthy Americans who will experience moderate to no symptoms if they catch the virus.

More effective approaches include doing more to protect vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions; getting newly approved rapid at-home tests into the hands of more Americans so those who are infected can be immediately identified and quarantined; and preparing for a potential vaccine by developing a plan for quick distribution and prioritizing who gets it first.

Shutting down entire states only worsens the economic devastation as well as the health and welfare of otherwise healthy Americans. The answer to defeating the coronavirus can’t be choosing between our health and our economy. The answer isn’t either-or, rather it’s both-and.

Our economic health has an incredible effect on our physical and mental health, and vice versa. The longer that healthier, lower-risk Americans are out of work, deprived of contact with family and friends, and sheltered at home, the more public health suffers, both physically and mentally.

Governors and local officials need to make shutdown decisions on a targeted, county-by-county basis, based on virus case numbers and infection rates. And such actions must be very temporary.

Research shows that areas where state and local officials have allowed places to safely reopen are well on their way to economic recovery. Meanwhile, in areas with excessive restrictions, including business and school closures, families and children are struggling.

We’ve also seen that strict lockdown orders in many European countries haven’t prevented a second wave of the virus.

A more effective approach to stopping the spread is widespread testing—figuring out who has the virus and temporarily quarantining them from others as they ride out the illness.

The Food and Drug Administration has just approved COVID-19 self-tests that can be easily conducted at home or work and don’t need to be sent off to a lab. Rapid manufacture and distribution of these kits is now key.

Quickly determining who is infected and who isn’t can go a long way toward mitigating the spread of the virus and makes going into businesses, schools, churches, and other facilities much safer.

Especially for nursing home and hospital staff who work around vulnerable people, being able to rapid-test each day before going into work will help prevent more breakouts and deaths.

States also must prepare an effective distribution strategy for a potentially soon-to-be-released vaccine. State public health agencies must prioritize who should receive the vaccine first.

The top of the list should include those with the highest degree of transmission risk and those who may experience the severest consequences of an infection. That means starting with front-line health care workers, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.

States also immediately should allow pharmacists to administer the vaccine, just as many already allow them to administer flu and pneumonia vaccines. Pharmacists are positioned to ensure fast and efficient mass immunization, and that kind of rapid response could prevent millions of additional infections and tens of thousands of additional deaths.

A complete road map to recovery (found here) has been created by the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission; it contains 265 specific, actionable recommendations, including those mentioned above. The road map was developed for governments, businesses, churches, educational institutions, and community organizations to navigate as safely as possible through the pandemic.

Instead of indiscriminate and ineffective statewide shutdowns, public health measures should be focused on continuing to inform Americans how to reduce their chances of catching and spreading COVID-19; doing more to protect the elderly and those with underlying conditions; distributing rapid at-home tests to determine who may be contagious; and preparing a strategy for rapid public vaccination once a vaccine is released.

Lockdowns and prohibiting families from visiting one another in their own homes this holiday season aren’t the answers, and there’s no reason they should be the go-to tool for our leaders.

It’s time that the same politicians who regularly lecture us about “following the science” actually look in the mirror and take their own advice.

Following the science and assessing everything that we’ve learned in the months since the pandemic first struck will help us to defeat this deadly disease more quickly; recover our jobs and our economy; and get us reunited with family and community and back to some sense of normality again.


Universal flu vaccine could be on the horizon after trials show experimental jab can protect humans 'from getting countless strains of the virus'

A universal flu vaccine could protect patients from countless strains of the virus for at least 18 months, scientists have found.

Those over 65, in care homes and frontline medics are told to get the jab every year because the virus constantly mutates to evade the body's defences.

The current jab is based on predictions of which strain of influenza may cause havoc in Britain and only offers protection against three or four.

But today scientists inched a step closer to a universal jab which can protect against countless flu strains, after human trials showed it triggered the production of antibodies that block the influenza virus' spike proteins - stopping it from invading cells and causing an infection.

Despite not being proof that it works, it offers a first glimpse of a possible new jab.

It works by triggering an immune response against the 'stalk' part of the virus' spike protein — which it uses to help it invade cells.

This part, unlike the 'head' of the spike, rarely differs between the hundreds of strains meaning a vaccine against it could provide wide-ranging and long-lasting immunity.

Coronavirus has killed three times as many people as influenza and pneumonia this year, official data has revealed.

Covid-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death in 48,168 fatalities recorded in England and Wales between January and August, according to a September report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Influenza caused just 394 deaths during the same time period and pneumonia — often caused by the flu — was behind 13,619 deaths.

But deaths from the two common respiratory illnesses have actually outnumbered Covid-19 fatalities since July, when the pandemic began to fade away, the data also revealed. For instance, flu and influenza killed 14 people on August 31 — the most recent day figures are available for, compared to five from the coronavirus.

The report also revealed flu or pneumonia were mentioned on more than 70,000 death certificates, which is more than the 52,327 linked to Covid-19. When a condition is mentioned on a death certificate it means doctors consider it to have contributed to someone's death but to have not been the main factor that lead to the end of their life.

Deaths from pneumonia and influenza were seven times below the average 100,000 deaths they cause each year, which experts said was due to social distancing restrictions hampering the transmission of the diseases.

This means that without lockdown restrictions Covid-19 could easily have caused more than a tenth of a million fatalities.

Millions of flu vaccines are rolled out by the NHS in the UK every winter to stop a major outbreak of influenza, which adds pressure to busy hospitals.

But the jabs often miss the mark because they don't protect against all strains and can only be 30 to 40 per cent effective.

Health chiefs called on people to get the flu vaccine this year to protect health services from a 'double-whammy' of Covid-19 and flu cases.

Influenza — considered the most likely to cause a pandemic — kills around 17,000 people every year in England and up to 62,000 in the US, according to statistics.

When Spanish flu struck in 1918/19, it spread through a third of the world's population and is estimated to have killed around 100million people.

Results of the study on the universal flu vaccine, published in the journal Nature Medicine, saw it administered to 65 US adults aged between 18 and 39.

Participants were given two injections of the trial vaccine — which focused on the 'stalk' of a spike protein — three months apart.

Ten blood samples were taken to see if the individuals still had any antibodies — disease-fighting proteins — against the hundreds of strains of the virus.

'Vaccination was found to be safe and induced a broad, strong, durable and (trigger) functional immune response targeting the conserved,' the team from the New York-based Mount Sinai School of Medicine wrote in the study.

'The results suggest that (the vaccine candidate) has the potential to be developed as universal vaccines that protect broadly against influenza viruses.'

Professor Florian Krammer, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine who led the study, said: 'An influenza virus vaccine that results in broad immunity would likely protect against any emerging influenza virus subtype or strain and would significantly enhance our pandemic preparedness, avoiding future problems with influenza pandemics as we see them now with Covid-19.'

Professor Krammer added: 'Our chimeric hemagglutinin vaccine is a major advance over conventional vaccines which are often mismatched to the circulating strains of virus, impacting their effectiveness. 'In addition, re-vaccinating individuals annually is a huge and expensive undertaking.'



Sunday, December 06, 2020


It seems that I am not dead yet.  Although my energies for blogging are much reduced, I have been able to keep posting to some extent.  I have mainly found material worth posting on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. I have had a bit of fun with postings about China on the latter.  So I think I will continue to be able to post a few worthwhile things


Examining the Evidence for Democrats' 'No Evidence of Voter Fraud' Claim

On November 14, the U.S. edition of The Guardian ran an article by Harvard Law professor Laurence H. Tribe headlined "Republicans are playing with fire. And we all risk getting burned." Tribe claimed that there is "no evidence" so far of systemic fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The next day on FNC's Fox News Sunday, Mr. Tribe and Judge Kenneth Starr discussed the president's legal challenges to the election. It's an interesting exchange, and one can watch it here and here. In this writer's opinion, Mr. Starr was the more persuasive, for Tribe again claimed "there is nothing in his [Trump's] arguments and no evidence to back them."

Immediately after Tribe's claim, FNC's moderator quoted a November 12 joint statement put out by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the DHS: "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised." The CISA's statement is quite short, and it should be read with a jaundiced eye. There are no links to web pages that explain its methodology and how it arrived at its conclusion that the 2020 election is "the most secure election in American history." But that's not saying much, given America's long history of election fraud.

By employing the same "no evidence" rhetoric, both Tribe and the CISA attempt to shut down the debate. The tacit implication is that they have examined all of the evidence and found none of it to hold water. Also, by employing "no evidence" rhetoric, they expect us to accept them as the experts on these matters.

But this article isn't about rhetoric; it's about evidence, and there is "no evidence" that the vote counts in the 2020 presidential election are correct. But then no one can produce evidence to demonstrate what the legitimate vote counts were in any presidential election, at least within any reasonable time constraints. The changes to our voting systems in the 2020 elections were expressly designed so that there cannot be any evidence. Professor Tribe should tell us what the evidence would consist of that would allow us to know what the correct vote counts are.

Larry Tribe may like to oraculate from on high as though he were some objective, disinterested analyst calling balls and strikes, but he's actually a highly partisan left-wing Democrat. In the Guardian article, he touches on the possibility of state legislatures going rogue and appointing electors who would vote against the candidate the people (supposedly) voted for. In disapproving of that, Tribe proves himself a hypocrite, for back in 2016, he was involved with Electors Trust and even wrote a letter "encouraging electors to vote against Trump." In other words, Tribe was urging that they go rogue and become faithless electors. Also, when President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, which was entirely within his purview, Tribe urged impeachment. Tribe seems little better than the worthies on MSNBC and CNN who were hired precisely because they're willing to say anything.

Only a small portion of Tribe's article in The Guardian deals with vote counts. It quickly gets past election issues and degenerates into yet another broadside against Republicans in general and Trump in particular, and it's wacky, repugnant stuff. However, it can be read for its sociological value and for entertainment.

For Tribe to pooh-pooh the considerable evidence that has been brought forward is evidence of Tribe's bad faith. Perhaps Larry Tribe is a fraud. What kind of election systems would Tribe propose that would give Americans confidence in the vote count?

It was after the 37-day post-election brouhaha in 2000 when I started thinking about how to mend our broken election systems. One of my aims was not only to make fraud detectable, which it currently isn't, but also to make fraud impossible to commit, or at least much more difficult. Have any of the changes made to our election systems since 2000 tried to do that? Of course not — the changes have all been geared to making registration and voting easier and easier. Election integrity hasn't been the aim.

Larry Tribe would benefit from watching the opening to Mark Levin's FNC show of November 22, "What is the civil litigation process of 2020 election suits?" He can find it here and here. Not only will Tribe discover that there are tons of evidence, but he might also learn how to litigate a case.

Why shouldn't the Tribes of this world be required to prove that no fraud occurred? For that matter, why shouldn't the boards of elections in the states be required to provide proof of the integrity of their elections? Voters are expected to just accept that the election officials in the several states are competent and honest and wouldn't dream of breaking the law to throw an election to their candidate.

Whenever some self-appointed "expert" makes a claim of there being "no evidence" for something, insist that he produce the evidence for his claims. Ask him: what evidence do you have that there is "no evidence"?

Because they haven't demanded that our election systems be fixed so that vote counts can be shown to be correct, the American people may deserve to have a frail, senile president and a braying, hebephrenic V.P. More's the pity.

As of November 30, we were still counting votes for U.S. representatives. If it weren't for the 20th Amendment, which moved Inauguration Day from March 4 to January 20, we'd have 43 more days to contest this election's fraud. The U.S. Supreme Court needs to vacate the presidential elections in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, and especially Pennsylvania and order that new elections be held with more security. The mountain of evidence of fraud demands a do-over.


Founding Fathers of Silicon Valley Give Up on California, Move to Texas

It’s got to be a public relations gut punch for California Governor Gavin Newsom, who’s done little to retain all the companies bailing out of Silicon Valley because it’s too expensive to conduct business there.

The headquarters for one of the Founding Fathers of the Silicon Valley is pulling up stakes and leaving the Golden State. Bill Packard and Dave Hewlett’s legacy company, Hewlett-Packard, is packing up “the garage” and moving to Texas.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, split off from the hardware portion of the company in 2015, is moving its HQ to Houston.

But HPE’s move is particularly notable because Hewlett-Packard was one of the original Silicon Valley success stories, founded by partners Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a garage in Palo Alto 1939. In 2015, that company split into HPE and hardware maker HP Inc., which is not moving. But even that company is reducing its footprint in California, consolidating its Bay Area sites to San Jose.

The company reported $7.21 billion in earnings in the fourth quarter, which now will not replenish California’s tax stockpiles. No one is being fired in this move.

The pandemic is giving companies a good reason to get out of the California gulag. CNBC reports that there are more virtual employees. Companies don’t want the expensive overhead.

The coronavirus pandemic has given a number of tech companies and prominent Silicon Valley figures an excuse to exit California. Without many needing to go into an office every day, many are questioning the high cost of living and the state’s hefty taxes amid a broader shift to remote work.

The pandemic also means that employees can live nearly anywhere. Affordable housing considerations for employees will become less of an issue.

The Left-leaning employees may vote out the conservatives in the next election, though, as Texas is being overrun with Silicon Valley ‘fugees.

Data analytics software company Palantir Technologies moved its headquarters to Denver, Colorado from Palo Alto, California, earlier this year. The company’s co-founder Joe Lonsdale followed suit, and announced last month he was moving the headquarters of 8VC, his venture firm, from San Francisco to Austin, Texas.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has also reportedly decided to move to Austin. Dropbox said in October it will stop asking employees to come into its offices and instead make remote work the standard practice. For employees who need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Dublin when it’s safe to do so.

Some companies are also allowing employees more flexibility with where they work, while retaining office space.

Twitter and Square are letting employees work from home “forever,” while Microsoft said workers will have more flexibility to work from home. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted in May that 50% of employees will be working remotely within the next decade.

In the last decade, well more than 13,000 companies have moved out of California. The South Star Communities newspaper reported that “1,800 relocation or “disinvestment events” occurred in 2016, the most recent year available, setting a record yearly high going back to 2008. About 13,000 companies left the state during that nine-year period. Of the 1,800 events, 299 of those departures landed in Texas.”

And the moves are understandable because California has utter “contempt for business,” according to Joseph Vranich, a corporate relocation expert. Vranich’s company Spectrum, a huge presence in Orange County, just moved it’s HQ out of California.

“Departures are understandable when year after year CEOs nationwide surveyed by Chief Executive Magazine have declared California the worst state in which to do business,” said Vranich, a corporate relocation expert who jokes that he loves California’s weather, but not its business climate. Until recently, Spectrum and Vranich were based in Irvine, Calif. …

Hostility toward businesses, high utility and labor costs, punitive regulations and worrisome housing affordability for employees are among California’s other negatives, Vranich said. …

“Signs are that California politicians’ contempt for business will persist,” he said.

A study of the companies moving out of the state found that according to numbers in 2016, 275,000 jobs and $76.7 billion in capital funds “were diverted” out of California.



Trump's legal team to submit evidence of over 40,000 people who voted twice in Nevada (Post Millennial)

Iowa Democrat Rita Hart asks House lawmakers to overturn her loss (Washington Times)

Rep. Mo Brooks plans to challenge Electoral College vote (Daily Wire)

Biden surge in red states won't help Democrats with looming redistricting fights (Washington Examiner)

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib headline anti-Israel hatefest (Free Beacon)

CNN anchors and Biden advisers attended major CCP conference with Xi Jinping (National Pulse)

Nancy Pelosi caves, backs bipartisan relief proposal as basis for new negotiations (Washington Times)

Prominent diversity consulting firm funded entirely by taxpayer dollars (Free Beacon)

Appeals court gives OK to North Carolina voter ID law (Washington Times)

"Time to cancel everything": Los Angeles residents are ordered to stay in their homes (Daily Mail)

CDC shortens recommended quarantine time from 14 days to as few as seven (Washington Examiner)

The three stooges: Obama, Bush, and Clinton willing to get vaccine on camera (NPR)

"I thought we weren't supposed to trust the Trump vaccine for the China virus? Now that the election is over, it seems safe." —Keith Koffler

House backs curbs on China stock listings, sends bill to Trump (Bloomberg)

Adult businesses, foreign operators target Parler social platform with pornography (Disrn)

November bankruptcies hit 14-year low with steep drop in personal filings (Fox Business)

Labor board claims evil Google illegally spied on and fired workers (Washington Examiner)

Kayleigh McEnany opens press conference with video of Dems breaking own lockdown rules (Daily Caller)

Austin mayor tells community to stay home while in Cabo after flying there in private jet (Fox News)

Jon Ossoff, whose father took $1M from relief fund, slams greedy businesses raiding PPP (Free Beacon)

Kentucky mayor falls asleep in fast-food drive-thru line, crashes into pole (Fox News)

KFC rolls out self-driving 5G "chicken trucks" in China (Interesting Engineering)

Father and son graduate Texas police academy together: "It gave us a bond" (People)

102-year-old World War II veteran has Columbia park named in her honor (Baltimore Sun)

Policy: If you smash capitalism, you can't "build back better" (Daily Signal)