Category Archives: Republicans

I’m No Lockdown Fan, BUT Matt Labash Won The Day On The Science

COVID-19, Ethics, Iraq, Logic, Republicans, Science

All the points and math covered by Matt Labash, below, are discussed in my home, but never shared on larger platforms. There is no point. Rightists (check) are expected to follow the Republican party-line and say anything to back The Leader. Unsuited to obedience, this writer didn’t think like a Republican on Iraq, fatalities and invasion. And I won’t do it with COVID.

On March 5, I wrote “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks’”. This was a full month before the CDC and WHO (so-called experts) reversed their asinine illogic on so basic a prophylactic measure as a mask. This negligence cost thousands of lives.

Imagine if my column, predictive for 20 years, was in the WaPo, instead of the lick-spittle establishment piffle currently littering that and other op-ed pages.

As young men died like flies for nothing in Iraq, the Republican establishment celebrated “mission accomplished.” None of its followers in the media mentioned the obscene loss of life. Anyone who did, suffered a fate equivalent to being cancelled and de-platformed today.

Thus, Matt Labash, whom I appreciate, is wasting his time.

From “The big debate: is lockdown wrong? May 26, 2020“:

* “the US has lost 100,000 people in roughly two months. (That number will rise again as soon as I’m done typing this sentence.)”

* “‘no more deadly than a bad bout of the seasonal flu.’ Not in our parts. Our very worst flu season of the last decade was 2017-18, which resulted in 61,000 deaths. And it took an entire flu-year to kill that many people.”

“In April of this year alone, COVID was responsible for 58,705 deaths. So we essentially had the equivalent of the worst flu year in recent history, in just one month. So far this month, with just two-thirds of it passed, we’ve had 37,829 more deaths. And that’s just as of this writing, something I will likely say a lot, because the death knell keeps ringing. (Remember when I said 95,058 people had died several hours ago? Now we’re up to 96,354.) Ask any doctor who has treated it, and that’s the meanest sonofabitch ‘flu’ they’ve ever seen. And they’re not usually worried about dying themselves when treating the common flu. They’re scared to death of COVID-19.”

These aren’t my numbers. These are the numbers.

*”America’s leading killer, according to the CDC, is heart disease. Or at least it was heart disease. It’s responsible for one out of every four deaths. Good for around 647,000 deaths a year. In just one month, as previously stated, the coronavirus killed 58,705 people. Heart disease, on average, kills 53,916 people per month. So this virus that none of us knew existed six months ago, is now killing more people in our country per month than does our reigning champion killer, heart disease. And heart disease, unlike COVID-19, isn’t contagious. No matter how you slice it, no matter how bad the unemployment rate is, no matter how many other unintended consequences result from the lockdowns (all of which we can debate, but plenty of which I concede straightaway), that’s a lot of dead people.”

* “As for co-morbidities? Two of the three leading co-morbidities named in COVID-designated deaths are obesity and hypertension. That’s right: fat people with high blood pressure. Guess what? That describes half of America. Almost literally. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are considered clinically obese. And about 46 percent of adults have high blood pressure. Probably more, now that at least one out of every five adults are currently unemployed.

As for COVID being an old person’s disease, ask your own fine Prime Minister [Boris Johnson]  (who I’m actually a big fan of) about that. It nearly killed him. And he’s 55, not 85. With no known underlying conditions, unless randiness and dipsomania count.”

*”The Asian Flu pandemic of 1957-58 is thought to have killed 70,00-116,000 Americans. COVID-19 is already long past 70,000, and since it’s now at 98,750 deaths and counting — still dispatching well over 1,000 people a day on most days — it will likely surpass the Asian Flu’s upper estimate within about two weeks, probably sooner. And it’s made short work of that many people in roughly two months, keeping in mind that the US had only just reached its 1,000th death mark on March 25.”

* “Another big boner was the White House’s decision to scotch its own reopening guidelines, because Emperor Stable Genius preferred a rosier model than the gloomy predictions of epidemiologists. According to the Washington Post, he preferred a model hatched by adviser Kevin Hassett, an economist by trade, who predicted ‘deaths dropping precipitously in May, and essentially going to zero by May 15.’ Someone ought to point out to Kev that we’re running well behind schedule.

“As for free’n’easy Sweden, invoked nearly as often as DeSantis’s Florida for its miracle curative COVID powers (hate to be a turd in the punchbowl, but just a few days ago, Florida saw its highest number of new daily cases since April 17) , the mythology doesn’t hold up. While Sweden’s population is less than twice that of its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland and Norway, it has seen 13 times more deaths than Finland, and 17 times more than Norway. Perhaps Sweden was relying on Kev’s model, too.”

* Spain and Italy both test at a higher per capita rate than we do. Yet Spain’s death toll among diagnosed cases is 10.1 percent. Italy’s is 14.2 percent. And while I respect your skeptical (or sceptical) propensity to ask some tough questions, I wouldn’t rest easy if I were you, either. The UK’s current death rate among identified cases is a whopping 14.1 percent.

Again, any honest accounting of what has or hasn’t been worth doing should also factor in the unfortunate realities you highlight — from deaths of desperation to the financial ruin caused by businesses being required to shut down. These are not small concerns.

However, I’ve found it difficult, when sparring with skeptic combatants, to get an honest accounting out of them when clocking just how lethal the virus that precipitated the lockdowns is. There is some very hard denial going on in that camp.”

“Are all those in the let-‘er-rip school really OK with 14 out of 100 people who are diagnosed with COVID dying from it? Or would they pretend that’s not dangerously deadly? Seems a lot higher chance than getting struck by lightning.

If that’s the conclusion they’re coming to, they might have already developed something like emotional herd immunity.”

*For a little historical context, this not-very-deadly, slightly-more-robust-equivalent-of-the-flu, as many of you skeptics have it, has now come just 16,000 or so deaths shy of the entire American death toll in World War One. If the current clip holds, we’ll easily lap that by early to mid-June. At least World War One took a good year-and-a-half to wreak that kind of havoc (since America didn’t enter the war until 1917). But COVID-19 will have done it in a little over two months. Still…nothing to see here, folks! Don’t believe your lying eyes, believe the seroprevalence projections!”

*”Virology 101 tenets — which nine out of 10 or so epidemiologists seem to concur with — dictate that if you keep uninfected people away from infected people, there are fewer infections. This was widely practiced during Spanish Flu a century ago, it’s not a new concept. It is also known as ‘common sense.’ Fewer infections mean fewer deaths.”

From “The big debate: is lockdown wrong? May 26, 2020.”

* Lockdown Courtesy Spectator, USA

Nate Silver’s Pandemic Observations As ‘Sharp’ As His Prediction About Trump’s Election

Argument, COVID-19, Intelligence, Republicans, Science, THE ELITES

Nate Silver, a statistician, is a mediocre mind.

In this “glorious commonwealth of morons”—H. L. Mencken’s description, not mine—there are many minds even more mediocre than Silver’s, who hype and highlight his banal observations. In the context of the coronavirus, I imagine this is motivated by their own pandemic politics.

But first, to Mr. Silver’s political prognostications during Donald Trump’s election campaign. As  chronicled in my June 29 book, The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed:

… whether they’re missing the Trump phenom or the casus belli for war in Iraq—America’s deeply stupid, self-anointed cognoscenti recognize truth only once card-carrying members arrive at it independently, grasp and broadcast it, sometimes years too late. Not so the marginalized writers of America. Not in 2012, but in 2002 did we pinpoint the wrongness of the Iraq War. And not in 2016, but on July 19, 2015—when this chronicle began—did some of us, not fortuitously, finger Trump as “a candidate to ‘kick the crap out of all the politicians’” and “send the system’s sycophants scattering.” (August 14, 2015). His appeal, as this writer has contended since late in 2015, transcended left and right, at the time.

Conversely, vaunted statistician Nate Silver ‘calculated that Trump’s support was “about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.”

No wonder Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University properly downgraded wonder boy Silver’s intellectual prowess. His prose, ventured Cowen, was a sprawl that “evinces a greater affiliation to rigor with data analysis than to rigor with philosophy of science or, for that matter, rigor with rhetoric,” wrote the good teacher, adding that to him, the Silver columns are “tweener” pieces, “too superficial for smart and informed readers, yet on topics which are too abstruse for the more casual readers.”

(MORE in “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”.)

Now, Nate, that national treasure, is back. This time, he is constructing a straw argument on Fox News, to say nothing of wading into coronavirus politics. I thought he was an objective numbers man?

Nate states the obvious, saying that, “By focusing on coronavirus case counts, the media … makes the numbers look superficially worse … [since]… increases in testing [are what] have led to more cases being diagnosed.”

D’oh! And so obviously true. Does Nate really need to state the obvious? I guess so. (Meanwhile, Silver calls out others for their “boringly conventional positions in … political punditry.”)

The more fundamental point is this: Certainly in the U.S, the coronavirus case count is less significant than the death count: rates and absolute numbers. (Which is why, presumably, Ron Unz highlighted mortality in “The Government Employee Who May Have Saved a Million American Lives.“)

America’s case count, moreover, is scandalously inaccurate. According to the Economist:

Throughout April the number of daily tests has averaged around 150,000, with the share of positive tests staying around 20%. That suggests America is testing only people who are probably infected (in Taiwan, for instance, one in every 132 tests is positive), which in turn suggests that many mild or asymptomatic cases are going undetected. America may have 15 to 20 times more actual infected people than confirmed cases.

That more people are infected is a double-edged sword: More people infected means more people infecting other, but also, we hope, more population-level immunity.

A much more meaningful and reliable number is mortality, death rates and absolute numbers. Right now, the latter stands at 80,037. RIP.

@ The Unz Review.

UPDATED (5/9): Kayleigh McEnany And The TV Gig Economy

Conservatism, Donald Trump, Politics, Race, Racism, Republicans

“Kayleigh McEnany Says She Called Out Donald Trump’s Comments In 2015 As ‘Racist’ Because She ‘Naively’ Believed CNN Headlines.” So blared a news headline. At the time, McEnany had said this:

“To me a racist statement is a racist statement. I don’t like what Donald Trump said. I don’t like what Al Sharpton said,” McEnany said. She had been commenting on Trump’s remarks labelling some Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.

McEnany is a Republican, TV talking head. She said what she said about racism and Trump because, before she got this gig in the Trump administration, she believed it. In other words, it worked for her gig back then.

The deeper point is that Kayleigh McEnany was never party to the original, America First, Trump support group. There are none of those in the White House, Stephen Miller, senior advisor to Trump, excepted.

As America Firster Steve Bannon said, 2017/08/18: “The Trump Presidency That We Fought For, and Won, Is Over.”

McEnany is the Dana Perino of this administration. I’ll say no more. Unthinking partisanship being the rule in American politics, you’re not allowed to say anything about the sorry brain trust of the Republican Party.

UPDATE (5/9):  To guide or not to guide American companies and communities on how to open up safely? That’s the question. And the answer was: first silence, then, Nope, not quite yet, it can wait, maybe never, mañana:

Trust Republicans To Sabotage A Safe Return To Work

Business, COVID-19, Free Markets, Labor, Law, libertarianism, Private Property, Regulation, Republicans

“In the absence of clinical therapies or a vaccine for coronavirus, the successful return to work rests, very plainly, on the willingness of the citizenry to cover up, keep clean and keep a distance.” (“The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective.”)

If businesses want customers to resume consumption and workers to stay safe and productive on the job—they must, within reason, provide a safe working and shopping environment.

The market incentivizes business to protect customers and employees and thus to also reduce the spread of COVID. If business acts recklessly, customers will stay away. And if companies place workers in a precarious position, then the worker who gets sick on the job generally has recourse through litigation.

The free-market and the law—more so than government regulation—provide corrective mechanisms to ensure workers and customers are safe. Government regulations are generally agreements between industrial special interests and the state. Duly, they mostly benefit those interests alone.

By removing the incentives aforementioned,  so necessary in a society based on ordered liberty, the government sabotages a safe return to work, as it fails to allow corrective mechanisms to work.

Trust the Republicans, then, to strive to remove the incentives for business to fit the workplace for success in the age of coronavirus.

To hell with the desperate young worker, who toils in a crowded, unclean, meatpacking facility, currently a “serious vector for the pandemic.”

Or, the flight attendant who was told by the airline she’d be fired if she wore a mask. If they get sick on the job because their employers refused to set up and suit up for COVID—the worker will have no recourse, courtesy of the Republicans’ liability protection guarantees.

With half of all U.S. states forging ahead with strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, business groups have been pushing for protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits …The Trump administration is also pushing for liability safeguards … [Reuters]

GOP lawmakers have warned that without additional protections they believe business owners will be too fearful of litigation to reopen.

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, called the extra protections his “red line.”

“Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection. … What I’m saying is we have a red line on liability. It won’t pass the Senate without it,” he added.

Stripped of baffle-gab, this means that Republicans wish to shield business from the consequences of reckless disregards for the safety of shoppers and workers. For the courts will examine cases on their merit, and throw them out if they are frivolous.

Fail to allow corrective mechanisms like litigation to work—and you’ll increase illness, death and poverty and spread more devastation.

* Thanks, Scott Olson | Getty Images, for fair use.

@ Unz Review.