What COVID and 'Climate Change' Have in Common

There’s a line in the original “Star Wars” movie where the Grand Moff Tarkin says, “Fear will keep the local systems in line.  Fear of this battle station."

Leftists use the same weapons  all totalitarians do when it comes to pushing their policies: lies and fear.  We’re used to the lies.  They happen all the time.  The past year has given the Left the greatest gift they could have ever desired: an excuse to push fear onto the population.

Less than a year ago, we could all walk around our cities normally.  Today, everything has changed. We see the same sorry sight everywhere: healthy people walking around outside wearing a mask.  They wear masks even when alone.  If they pass by someone who isn’t wearing a mask, they give them a wide berth.

Fear of Covid-19 has been seized by the Left and weaponized in a way we have never experienced before.   Fear is now celebrated, while being cloaked as merely “following the science.”  The Left has successfully brainwashed people into believing the restriction of their liberties, which they apparently didn’t value in the first place, isn’t actually fear but a rational response to the situation.

We know the fear surrounding climate change is unjustified because we know climate change is a lie.  Is the fear surrounding Covid at all justified or is there a larger lie behind it as well?

The first thing we must do is look at the latest data to make sure we are being ruthlessly honest with ourselves. The more information we have, the more we can determine our own individualized risk, and then adjust our behavior.

There is supposedly a “surge” in Covid-19 cases, yet this claim alone should tip us off that things aren’t quite right in the reporting.  All we get are case counts, yet we are never provided context for those counts.  For these numbers to be analyzed we must know all of the following:  Who is testing positive?  What are the precise demographics of those testing positive? What are their ages?  What are their ethnicities?  What exact locations, down to zip code, are they in? Do they have any co-morbidities and if so, which ones? Have they given information as to where they might have been exposed to the virus?  Just how many of these cases are asymptomatic?

We are offered none of that.  Perhaps it is sheer incompetence of the media that prevents us from getting that information.  Perhaps the reporters are intentionally obscuring it.  Or maybe both. Here is what we do know, and this is where we learn fear is not justified:

So, no, the fear isn’t justified.  That brings us to the question of why the fear is being perpetuated. I actually do not believe this is a mad power-grab by the Left.  That implies our Betters are actually intelligent.  I believe what’s generating the fear…. is fear itself.

It’s easy to forget that our vaunted elected officials are basically nobodies.  They are just crafty hacks with nothing better to do who've figured out how to work the political system instead of getting a real job.  Most don’t actually have much knowledge about anything, much less expertise in anything useful.  God knows, none of them have a lick of understanding concerning viruses.

The first rule of politics is that all politics is about getting power.  The second rule of politics is that all politics is about maintaining power.  There is no third rule.  Power is itself an end.  While ideology is driving climate policy, along with countless thousands of parasites gobbling up funding from offshore accounts to enrich themselves, Covid policy is driven entirely by the need to maintain power.

You'll take it, and like it.

Ideology does drive the desire to get and hold power, but power is the gateway to pushing policy forward, and more effort and attention is necessary to maintain power than to push policy.

So when it comes to such mediocrities as California governor Gavin “Lock It All Down” Newsom and his equally mindless counterpart, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, the lockdowns are all about their own fears of losing power.   Blowhards like them only see a binary choice: lock it all down or open it all up.

The latter is what they fear, because if lots of people die, they fear they will be blamed and be voted out of office.  So they reactively leap to the opposite end, and lock it all down, thinking that couldn't possibly result in a worse outcome.

The irony, of course, is that the data from Florida and other open states is nearly identical to California’s.  In fact, the data all over the world is virtually identical.  Yet because of the very fear they have instilled in the public, politicians generally cannot move off the lock-down position.

Nor do they have the vision to generate common-sense policies that quarantine and provide for those at high-risk, and let everyone else go about their business and make decisions about their own level of risk tolerance. So they rely on the “experts” who are equally fearful about being blamed, so they err on the side of insanely unnecessary caution. This is why you see Newsom and others breaking their own rules.  The rules aren’t actually based in science, but fear of losing a job.

This leaves us with a question.  How does it play out?  Sadly, it appears many Americans choose to go along with the fear-mongering and others aren’t fighting back as we’d expect.  That’s where the real danger lies.

This isn’t about a power grab.  But as more malevolent forces realize nobody is fighting back, it’s the next crisis that will become the power grab.

WHO Done It?

To say that the World Health Organization badly mishandled the Covid-19 outbreak right from the outset might be the understatement of the century. In the early months of the crisis, as the virus was spreading throughout Wuhan and then China, the WHO consistently downplayed what was happening, praised China for its effective response, declined (at Beijing's behest) to declare a health emergency, and generally repeated CCP talking points about what was actually going on.

This while their inspectors were being denied access to Wuhan itself, to the wet market where the virus apparently first infected humans, and then to patients who were suffering from the virus.

The global response to the virus has been hysterical, but had the WHO not bent over backwards to minimize what was happening in China -- the New York Times reports that every word of the WHO's initial report on the crisis had to be approved by the CCP -- perhaps Covid could have been contained.

The WHO doesn't want this to become the commonly accepted narrative. If it is, taxpayers around the world might begin asking their governments why they contribute to the organization's $4.4 billion annual budget when it clearly only has the interests of one particular country at heart. So, they obfuscate and misdirect.

For the latest example of this, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus -- who is not a doctor -- has released a video statement for this past weekend's International Day of Epidemic Preparedness saying that the present pandemic should remind us how important it is to get ahead of the next public health emergency. He was referring, of course, to climate change.

Here's what the Director-General said:

The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals, and planet... Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change, that is making our earth less habitable.... [T]his will not be the last pandemic... but with investments in public health, supported by an all-of-government, all-of-society, One Health approach, we can ensure that our children and their children inherit a safer, more resilient, and more sustainable world.

His point in favor of a collectivist approach to such problems is strange since it was his globalist organization working in concert with a communist country with imperial pretentions which caused the crisis in the first place. But the reference to climate change and a "more sustainable world" is meant to distract from the incoherence. This is an appeal to virtue signalers worldwide. How can they stay mad at a man who is so clearly on their side?

Not that the country for which the WHO consistently carries water is known for its environmentalist friendly policies, but liberals pride themselves on embodying F. Scott Fitzgerald's maxim that the mark of "a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time." By that measure, they're off the charts.

It’s Time to Stop Wearing Masks

I refuse to wear a mask. I believe, as many people do—but not enough to make a wrinkle in the vast bubble of mass delusion—that masks are largely ineffective. But the consequences of holding to this belief and appearing in public without a mask can be quite unpleasant.

My experience in the streets and shops of my city will be familiar to those who feel as I do. The masked give me a wide berth. Others stare balefully from the only exposed part of their faces. On occasion I find myself in confrontation with those who believe I am a “spreader” to be mocked, shamed, condemned and threatened.

COVID Rage is all the rage. And I am always astounded by the level of ignorance wedded to self-righteousness among the unvisaged, the tendency to follow the diktats of their political leaders and government appointed medical officers without question, and to accept implicitly the reports of a suborned media apparatus. The lack of common sense and the unwillingness to conduct independent research are truly staggering, if entirely predictable. Instead of herd immunity, we have herd mentality.

Masks are not only unsightly, even grotesque, but they obscure proper articulation—I rarely understand what these people are trying to say—and eliminate all signs of personality. One feels one is trapped inside a particularly lurid Zombie movie.

Become the lie.

More importantly, masks are generally useless. The weave and filter are not resistant to the miniscule COVID virion. Wearing masks has been compared to setting up a chain-link fence to keep out flies. Former naval surgeon Dr. Lee Merritt has done the research.

Viruses are passed by tiny micron particles, she explains, “that sneak out through the mask and around the mask.” As Merritt points out, the popular meme of “viral load,” which masks are said to reduce, is misleading; it takes only one COVID micron and a compromised immune system to trigger the infection. So much for director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monica Ghandi’s argument that masks significantly reduce ingestion of viral particles, and that masking can make you “less sick.” A mask is not a silver bullet, it is a blank cartridge.

We might note that the more sophisticated N-95 masks, which are used by medical personnel, provide insecure protection. Medical Life Sciences tells us that the diameter of a COVID particle ranges from 60 to 140 nanometers (nm) and that N-95 masks are non-functional under 100 nm, rendering them only 50 percent effective at best. As the founder of American Frontline Doctors .Simone Gold, states “The facts are not in dispute:  (cloth) masks are completely irrelevant in blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” N-95s bring their own problems, as noted below. (Naturally, she has been roundly attacked by “medical cancel culture”). 

Droplets are apparently another matter, being larger than aerosols and thus impeded by masks, whether on the receiving or emitting end. A little common sense tells us that droplets evaporate and the particles hitching a ride on them remain to be breathed in or out. Moreover, a CambridgeCore study concludes that “any mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal effect if it is not used in conjunction with other preventative measures, [including] regular hand hygiene.” Since wearers are frequently adjusting their masks, regular hand hygiene is by no means practical or possible. Aerosols or droplets, same difference.

But there is another side to the problem. ScienceDaily, citing a study conducted at the University of New South Wales, indicates that “cloth masks can be dangerous to your health.” This is also true for the much-hyped N-95. Prolonged wearing is likely to cause hypoxia (diminished oxygen supply). The masker breathes in his own CO2, leading in some cases to grogginess and even somnolence—the reason birds in winter conserve energy and warmth and sleep at night by tucking their heads under their wings.

People who drive masked are asking for trouble. People who wear masks for extended periods are at risk. Hypoxia can also lead to a condition of immune cell dysfunction. The immunologic consequences can be critical, causing neurological damage and rendering the individual susceptible to whatever pathogens are lurking in his own system or in the air around him. This alone is a reason not to wear masks—and certainly not for excessive periods. Even the more reliable surgical masks must be changed frequently. (Plastic face shields are no solution since the larger surface area acts a storehouse for the viral molecule.)

Obviously, the pro-and-con controversy over the efficacy of masks is particularly contentious. Political and professional reputations are at stake, especially in journals and institutions with a distinctive leftist bias. Politics will mostly trump science, and the common observer must be scrupulously careful in evaluating evidence.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that trusted data sources like the W.H.O., The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet are profoundly compromised and have been compelled to revise or retract some of their studies and surveys. But it is interesting to note that The Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) finds that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks… assuming 20% asymptomatics and a risk reduction of 40% for wearing masks, 200,000 people would need to wear one to prevent one new infection per week.” 

Timothy Taylor at Conversable Economist points to many random controlled trial studies that “do not find a reason to wear a mask.” Wired magazine is also ambivalent regarding data, stating: “the research literature on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive answers. There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results.” 

Such a “large scale clinical trial” has, in fact, just been conducted. A major Danish controlled study involving 6000 participants, the only study of its kind, has been predictably rejected by three medical journals. One of the researchers, Thomas Lars Benfield, states that publication will have to wait until “a journal is brave enough to accept the paper.” The Lancet, among others, won’t touch it, as is to be expected.

Reviewing the travesty, Conservative Review editor Daniel Horowitz wonders “how many other scientific and academic studies covering an array of very consequential policy questions rooted in scientific debate are being censored because they don’t fit the narrative of the political elites?” And indeed, why is NIAID Director Anthony Fauci disinclined to pursue a controlled study on the effectiveness of masks? Of course, like CNN journalist Chris Cuomo and Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, Fauci was spotted not wearing a mask in public. Do as I say, not as I do.

Masks work. Just ask Dr. Fauci.

By the same token, Bioengineer Yinon Weiss at The Federalist shows via data comparison and representative graphs of seven European countries and three American states that renewed mask compliance has led to an exponential spike in infection rates, in some case by as much as 1500 percent. Weiss cites major international studies, as well as the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control, revealing the ineffectiveness of commercial masks. Masks, lockdowns and quarantine protocols merely delay the development of herd immunity and are practically guaranteed to prolong the epidemic. Nevertheless, fear not only of the disease but also of punitive measures and of being conspicuous dissenters exposed to social opprobrium are operative factors.

Mask hysteria seems primed to continue. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark McDonald calls the standard response to the virus “a pandemic of hysteria… a delusional psychosis…It is killing us physically, mentally, socially, psychologically.” Masks dehumanize us and make us timid and afraid, vulnerable to the designs of our political masters seeking, as Weiss writes, “to twist the pandemic for political and electoral purposes.”

The situation has grown even more perverse. We seem to have reached a point where government propaganda and coercion are no longer necessary. People have become the servants and enablers of the state, having by and large internalized the official compulsion and are now their own stringent monitors and self-appointed mask police—the final ingredient in the time-tested recipe for totalitarian control. Swallow the lie. Become the lie. Enforce the lie.

Enforce the lie.

At best, mask wearing should be discretionary. If you wish to wear a mask no one can legally prevent you from doing so. But some things are clear. Masks should not be mandated by political authority since (1) the requirement to do so is an infringement of the Charter rights of free citizens living in a democratic state; (2) masks are largely, and perhaps in most cases wholly, ineffective; and (3) they can be demonstrably harmful to one’s health and the health of other people.

Ironically, mask wearing is the real risk, not only delaying or preventing the development of immunity while inducing a false sense of comfort, but also acting as a disease incubator, and a conceivable threat to non-maskers. A highly qualified friend who has diligently studied the virus for the last six months writes: “Mask wearers are becoming an additional potential source of environmental contamination, increasing not only their own but the risk to others.”

I do my best to avoid maskers, although it is difficult considering the numbers.

Voting in a W.A.S.P. nest

I rolled out of bed before six this morning, threw on some clothes, and hopped into the car to go and vote. I was hoping to beat the lines and then get home quickly for my first cup of coffee.

Well, no such luck. Despite the near freezing weather, the line in my small New England town was around the block by the time I got there, Baby Boomers as far as the eye could see. I guess I should have waited for that coffee.

I shouldn't be surprised, of course. I hang my hat in W.A.S.P. country these days, and while the prevailing wisdom (and social science data) holds that Mainline Protestant affiliation is in steep decline, the truth of the matter is that the theological character of those once prominent sects has actually just shifted in a worldly direction, such that woke virtue signaling now occupies the space once held by creeds and confessions.

Cancelling and shame storming modern reprobates has replaced more traditional W.A.S.P. practices, but in the age of Donald Trump, voting has become the biggest virtue signal of all -- provided, of course, that you're voting that Orange Man Bad. Consequently, this line -- full of people in designer jeans, with the slightest hint of the dear old Ivy League in their accents, and air of never having a single thought that isn't preapproved by the New York Times editorial board -- had the atmosphere of a religious rite. The earliest protestants reduced the number of sacraments from seven to three, but it seems that their distant progeny have reduced them even further, to one: voting.

Game Day.

And it was livelier than a June wedding. People were taking selfies, wearing sweaters that said "Vote!" One (gray-haired) woman greeted some friends and, referring to the number of people, exclaimed, "This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" This despite the fact that we don't live in a swing state, and the allocation of our seven electoral votes is a foregone conclusion.

As the line inched forward, I couldn't help but feel that this all reeked of privilege. Many conservatives, me included, guffawed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's recent claim that long lines were a sign of voter suppression, even when they're "happening in a blue state." AOC's New York is, of course, just terribly governed, as the pandemic and this election season should make plain to everyone.

But there is a concern here. Before me were a bunch of affluent people who probably had no real work to do until their afternoon Zoom meeting. It costs them nothing to stand in line for hours to vote for the Wall Street candidate, more COVID hysteria, and the destruction of blue collar jobs. Then they can head home, park their electric cars in their heated driveways, and futz around until its time to watch election returns on MSNBC.

But how many regular working people -- plumbers, electricians, construction workers, even cops and firemen -- who have good reason to fear the further empowerment of the left in this country, looked at those lines and said to themselves "I don't have time for this"?

Well, hopefully they make it through in the end. If not in my neck of the woods, at least in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and everywhere else where their votes really count and their livelihoods are under assault. It'd be nice to see the smug liberals I saw this morning mugged by reality, just like four years ago.

Fear The Walking D(r)ead

Richard Feynman wrote “science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” and nothing could demonstrate that point more readily than the public’s growing disaffection with the experts of the public health apparatus --  the WHO, the CDC, and Dr. Anthony Fauci. Their proscriptions (often conflicting) respecting the handling of Covid-19 were simply not “scientific.” They were, in fact, nothing more than guesses which did not work out. Not that that stopped them from silencing those whose experience, both medical and non-medical, contradicted their guesswork.

Ignoring cost-benefit analysis and utterly discounting the contradictory experience of thousands of medical doctors who were actually treating patients with the dreaded Covid, they’ve wreaked havoc and hardship throughout the world and doubtless contributed to many more deaths than necessary. Unfortunately, much of the media still insist that their actions were based on pure science, and many of our fellow citizens -- driven to neurosis by it all -- have been propagandized to thinking this is akin to the Black Death.

It’s hard to know where to even begin answering this.

What have I done?

Let’s start with masks -- virtue signalers and tyrants alike love them, since they broadcast submission and compliance to the world. Of course, the masked Karens of the world also enjoy hounding the noncompliant. In the beginning of the Covid spread here Dr. Fauci said masks weren’t needed. Later he said they were, and that his earlier statement was based on a fear there would be too few available to medical personnel. In fact, they are useless as presently designed and worn by the general public, as Dan Formosa explains:

A coronavirus virion (particle) is spherical, averaging around 125 nanometers in diameter. Compare that to bacteria’s 1,000-nm size. It’s a grape compared to a grapefruit. A surgical mask whose purpose is to block bacteria will do little to prevent passage of the smaller coronavirus particle. That’s why N95 masks, which block 95% of all airborne particles, are the gold standard in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. They have a much more selective filter.

But even N95 masks are flawed. Before coronavirus, my team and I investigated whether N95 masks could be a viable alternative to standard surgical masks. Interviews with doctors and nurses at several hospitals at the time revealed that N95 masks were rarely used or supplied. The overwhelming majority of healthcare workers I spoke with had never worn one. They are more expensive than surgical masks, they’re harder to breathe in, and medical workers deemed them unnecessary for most procedures. (Keep in mind that masks protect in both directions. They protect the wearer from airborne particles or splash, and protect the patient from contamination by the surgical staff—the latter is especially important in procedures that require deep incisions.)

I have some, purchased when it was feared after 9/11 we would be hit with an anthrax attack and we were encouraged to get them. Everyone else I see wears masks virtually useless for the purpose of preventing viral infections. Recently released evidence from CDC bears this out. 

A Centers for Disease Control report released in September shows that masks and face coverings are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, even for those people who consistently wear them. A study conducted in the United States in July found that when they compared 154 “case-patients,” who tested positive for COVID-19, to a control group of 160 participants from the same health care facility who were symptomatic but tested negative, over 70 percent of the case-patients were contaminated with the virus and fell ill despite “always” wearing a mask.

“In the 14 days before illness onset, 71% of case-patients and 74% of control participants reported always using cloth face coverings or other mask types when in public,” the report stated. In addition, over 14 percent of the case-patients said they “often” wore a face covering and were still infected with the virus. The study also demonstrates that under 4 percent of the case-patients became sick with the virus even though they “never” wore a mask or face covering.

With the mask requirements and much else Covid related, another Richard Feynman admonition comes to mind, "If you thought that science was certain -- well, that is just an error on your part."

We're sorry, too.

On to Lockdowns.

The most absurd move was to lock down states and countries in the belief that would stop the spread of Covid-19. 

President Trump never urged more than a temporary lockdown in order to manage scarce resources, such as ventilators, and protect health workers from an illness the experts warned would otherwise overwhelm existing health services. State governors and other countries, however, made these restrictions long term and only recently did the WHO advise against this -- long after irreparable economic was wreaked harm around the world.

WHO envoy Dr. David Nabarro said such restrictive measures should only be treated as a last resort, the British magazine the Spectator reported in a video interview. “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Nabarro said. “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Nabarro said tight restrictions cause significant harm, particularly on the global economy. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

Social Distancing.

Public health services are demanding we close non-essential businesses and keep six feet apart at all times. On what basis? None that I can see. Michael Thau cites some scientific studies that refute any basis for these commands, and maintain that there is no “solid basis for ANY social distancing measures.”

We have cases where the viruses traveled across oceans, infecting people in Antarctica while they were in their 17th week of isolation; and those aboard an Argentinian naval ship “after 35 days at sea which had been preceded by 14 days of isolation for everyone on board.” This make-believe perimeter was set at the same time most U.S. jurisdictions kept only megastores open which to my (and Thau's) mind only increased the possibility of viral transmission. In smaller neighborhood shops it would seem there would be fewer opportunities to come in contact with the virus.

And then to seal our belief that the CDC social distancing dictates were partisan-inspired bunk, they simply abandoned them for mass social protests. No social distancing there!

Not the Black Death.

Why are so little of these conflicting reports making it to public attention? Thau reminds us that Harvey Risch, a professor epidemiology at Yale University with a distinguished career in the field, has accused Dr. Fauci of lying about the effectiveness of hydroxychlorquine and influencing the suppression of its use because he, and others in the public health bureaucracy, are “in bed with other forces that are causing them to make decisions that are not based on the science and are killing Americans.”

I know you remember President Trump early on suggesting that this drug , long used safely to treat other ailments like Lupus, might be effective in combating Covid. Maybe you even remember the claim by Dr. Fauci that it was proven ineffective. Actually, it wasn't established to be so at all. Physicians (hundreds in the U.S. and thousands worldwide) were using it successfully when administered along with zinc and azithromycin. The public was led astray by Dr. Fauci who appeared to rely on trials where the HCL was not administered within the 5-7 days after symptoms first appeared (the effective window) or where it was administered alone without the rest of the drugs necessary for the cocktail.

Interesting that the media ignores not only the work of Dr. Risch and the hundreds of doctors with extensive hands-on experience, but also Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Michael Levitt. These people describe Fauci’s lockdown advice as a “mass casualty incident.”  There is now a large-scale pushback on Fauci’s policies known as The Great Barrington Declaration. It was authored and signed earlier this month by Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Oxford epidemiologist and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford Medical school. More than 13,000 medical professionals have also signed it, along with more than 176,000 members of the public by mid-September -- and the number keeps growing. They call for an end of the lockdowns; removing quarantines from all but the sick; isolation only of the vulnerable and allowing the young and healthy to proceed with caution.

Does the quackery at the top and the suppression of empirical evidence remind you of the global warming/climate change saga? It does me.

It all makes sense now.

Meanwhile, publications like the Washington Post have started to take a sick pleasure in highlighting the Covid neuroses which they themselves have inspired with their coverage.

Because the demographics of those terrorized by the virus and fearful of re-opening the country and returning to normal would appear at first glance to be the very same people who watch CNN, MSNBC and read the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times.

There are, however, signs that this Fauci-engendered nightmare may soon be over. New York Times science reporter, Donald G. McNeil Jr., reports that treatments are improving every day, and vaccine development is moving along much faster than was previously expected, both helped along by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. Moreover, economists are predicting a rapid recovery.

The press will have to find something else to keep the populace in a state of full-blown hysteria when that happens. In the meantime it is probably a good idea for healthy people to do some common sense stuff, such as avoiding crowds, washing your hands more frequently, and taking dietary supplements (especially zinc and Vitamins C and D). But don't pay attention to Dr. Fauci. Listen to the president instead, specifically the phrase which drove so many leftists insane: "Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life."

And for heaven's sake, calm down.

Antipodean Covid Craziness

I have heard and read suggestions that having sex with someone outside of one’s own household would be safer if both parties refrained from kissing or, to take it a step further, even wore masks throughout the encounter. I suppose it could be made to work. I simply don’t want to speculate on bizarre sexual practices. Instead I will stick to the more mundane matter of federalism in the age of Covid-19, with reference to the Australian experience. That’s bizarre enough for anyone.

All governments in Australia, the federal government and state and territory governments have responded to the pandemic in exactly the same way as have most governments around the world. Though I’d say, together with New Zealand, Australian governments take the cake for overreaction. I say that because the Covid death rate in Australia (and New Zealand’s is much lower still) is a figure to die for, so to speak, if you are European or North American.

When I last looked (19 September) the death rate in Australia was 33 per million population. Compare that with the UK’s 614, the USA’s 615, Sweden’s 580 and, even, Canada’s 244. Incidentally, this relatively benign outcome is due to geography and fortuitous circumstances; dumb luck not brilliant management.

Nonetheless, it was commonplace some months ago to be presented with a comparison of Australia’s death rate with that of Sweden, with an accompanying admonishment that there but for lockdowns goes Australia. That canard no longer plays, as Sweden’s daily death rate has since plummeted. But for a time, the Swedish model, once so admired by the Left back in the day, was held up in the Australian media as a blight on mankind.

In fact, as we now know, or should know, this virus runs a course of causing a significant number of deaths among the aged and sick before running out of steam as it comes up against those who are less susceptible. That pattern is evident across all northern hemisphere countries – even the United States once you adjust for a later ramping-up phase in some states. The degree and extent of lockdowns would not confound the null hypothesis that they make no difference.

I know, the null hypothesis way of approaching science is yet another example of white privilege having its a wicked way. But there it is. I probable suffer from unconscious bias in favouring the scientific method and, perforce, can’t do much about it because, well, its unconscious.

South Dakota is my favourite point of comparison. No lockdown. Death rate 226 per million. New York, locked down, death rate 1680 per million. Of course, these kinds of state-by-state comparisons, which take no account of circumstances, don’t mean much. And yet, on their face, they provide no comfort at all to those who favour the absurd strategy of locking-up healthy people, destroying their businesses and livelihoods, in a largely forlorn attempt (witness aged-care deaths) to prevent ailing people getting sicker. And, to boot, they provide a segue into the benefits and costs of federalism.

The benefits of federalism are that political decisions are more attuned to the needs of those they affect and, potentially, that competition between states to retain and attract businesses and workers tends to keep them honest. Covid has made one particularly large cost evident: state sovereignty can make it impossible to pursue a consistent national strategy to deal with pandemics.

Unlike America’s, Australia’s federalism doesn’t have the advantage of being competitive. In fact, it is anti-competitive. States ceded the power to levy income taxes many decades ago. Their general income comes largely via the federal government through GST collections. But these are distributed not on the basis of where they are collected but in accordance with the relative economic performances of the respective states. The more poorly a state performs, the more GST revenue it receives. Work that one out. California could only dream about it, I suppose.

Unfortunately, while there are no competitive benefits of federalism in Australia, the costs of handling the pandemic have been huge. Early in the piece, prime minister Scott Morrison set up a so-called ‘national cabinet’ of himself, the six state premiers and two territory leaders, with the laudable objective of coordinating national strategy. What a complete and utter fiasco it has been.

Basically, they have been able to agree that things should open up when it is “safe” to do so. Beyond that it is every man and woman for themselves. The federal government pays all the bills, or most of them, while being effectively powerless. To wit, it can't let people into the country if the states won't have them. Therefore, we have a North Korean policy of restricting citizens from leaving the country, because, usually, they will want to come back. It can't get cafes open and kids back to school if the states don't agree. It can't get state borders opened despite the Constitution guaranteeing (ostensibly?) free interstate movement. In all of this, there is a standout recalcitrant state.

Dan Andrews, the Covid King of Oceania.

The Labor premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has conducted himself and his state in exactly the way you would expect of a hard-left despot. Incompetence on the one hand; authoritarianism on the other. And, to emphasise, the Prime Minister can do nothing about it.

In Victoria, everyone is locked inside their homes for most of the day with a curfew from 8 p.m., now graciously moved to 9 p.m. as daylight saving time approaches Down Under. A curfew! Meanwhile, the federal government feeds money to the unemployed. As the world has seen, pregnant women and grannies are handcuffed and marched off for daring to breach any of the myriad confining rules. One heavily pregnant lady was harangued by two policemen and an accompanying soldier (who had the good grace to look shamefaced) for daring to rest on a park bench while engaging in ‘allowable’ exercise. Evidently some cops are getting in touch with their inner Stasi -- inevitable, when socialists are loosed from constitutional constraints. Hmm, didn’t I mention, c.10,000 BLM feeble-minded stooges went unpunished when ‘protesting’ back in June, while cops knelt.

Victorians attempting to escape Melbourne to regional areas within Victoria are fined $4,957. Why not $5,000? Well, I suppose they've picked up pricing tips from used-car salesmen. Police operate around-the-clock checkpoints (Checkpoint Charlie springs to mind). If mum and dad are in the car, each will be fined; apparently kids and dogs will get off scot-free. Did this new offence of daring to drive beyond 5 kilometers from home go through the Victorian parliament? Of course not. It is all done by diktat under an emergency powers law.

"Dear Leader" Dan, let me aptly call him, has recently succeeded in having these emergency powers extended by six months. And who gave him the casting vote in the upper state house? Samantha Ratnam, of the Greens Party, hurried back from maternity leave. Whenever villainy is afoot, spot complicit Greens.

And don’t think enough is enough. Legislation has been introduced that will, if passed, create thought crime. Under this legislation officers will be appointed (no qualifications required) to assess whether those ordered to isolate will really do so. If an authorised officer “reasonably believes that a person is likely to refuse or fail to comply with a direction made the by the Chief Health Officer,” then the culprits will be locked up tout de suite for what they intend to do. Shades of Minority Report in Dan’s socialist state of Victoria.

You should note that the onerous lockdown in Victoria follows an outbreak of cases in June stemming almost wholly from one hotel quarantine misadventure. Poorly controlled, the infection spread inside and outside the hotel. Among other failings, apparently some security guards, appointed for their claimed indigenous identity rather than their expertise, fraternised a little too intimately with hotel guests. It was not reported whether they wore masks. But I assume not.

The upshot has meant that deaths in Victoria (80 percent inside aged-care homes. What’s new?) have dwarfed those in other states. Nevertheless, the death toll per million in Victoria, at 113, is half the rate in South Dakota. The different approach to tackling the pandemic isn’t to do with the virulence or otherwise of the virus. It is to do with politics.

Speak to conservatives and almost to a man and woman they believe that the reaction to Covid-19 has been grossly overblown; that the costs of lockdowns have not nearly been properly taken into account. Yet almost all governments have overreacted. By implication, this sadly shows how little conservatism now influences public policy. And why should it. The latest Newspoll (16-19 September) shows 62 per cent of Victorians supporting their Dear Leader.

When I look across the Australian political landscape, I see governments whether of the left or ostensible centre-right buying into the global warming agenda. And differing only in their degree of panic in responding to Covid. Federalism makes it worse by allowing the nation state as a whole to be hijacked by its least enlightened constituent parts.

You Knew This Was Coming

As we've been saying from the jump, the "global warming" crew adores the Covid-19 manufactured "crisis," primarily because power-mad authorities were able to take an event with only slightly more reality than imminent beachfront property in Nevada and turn it into a full-fledged, economy- and social-trust-destroying assault on the world. If all it took was the flu, for crying out loud, they must be thinking, why didn't we think of something that simple?

The end of the world is already taken, but what about " scientists say it's the end of the world"? And that to appease the angry Climate Gods, we must take the advances the Wuhan virus has brought us and expand upon them?

If global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as recommended by the Paris Agreement, scientists say efforts to reverse economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic must include climate policy measures, according to a [recent]  study.

COVID-19 has killed several hundred thousand people and sickened millions more, but the lockdowns necessitated by the crisis have had a positive effect on air quality. Research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, however, suggests the pandemic's silver lining is unlikely to last should the world economy's return to business as usual.

Nothing like a "silver lining" to death and economic destruction, I guess. but at least the air quality is better! A small price to pay!

But wait -- the real treat is yet to come:

Even if global lockdowns were extended through the end of the year, without significant economic reforms, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achieved during the pandemic will amount to infinitesimal reduction in global warming.

And you know what that means...

"Our paper shows that the actual effect of lockdown on the climate is small," study co-author Harriet Forster said in a news release. "The important thing to recognize is that we've been given a massive opportunity to boost the economy by investing in green industries -- and this can make a huge difference to our future climate," said Forster, who recently graduated from the University of Leeds in Britain.

Because the behavioral shifts triggered by pandemic and resulting economic downturn are temporary, researchers suggest the momentary reduction in emissions will have a minimal impact on climate change. Still, the authors suggest the pandemic has provided global governments a unique opportunity to address climate change long-term.

Researchers suggest that while the pandemic's effects on the climate are temporary, they have offered a glimpse of the progress that could be made with permanent structural reforms.

And you really know what that means:

They never stop, they never sleep, and -- even after their entire economic and political system has collapsed -- they never quit trying to destroy ours as well.

The Green Blob Has Spoken!

The other day my wife texted me a New York Times article entitled "How Facebook Handles Climate Disinformation," which included a subheader claiming that the social media giant's policy of exempting opinion articles from fact-checking and warning labels "amounts to a huge loophole for climate change deniers."

She commented "Woo-hoo! You've got a loophole!" I thanked her, but pointed out that I don't think of myself as a climate change denier. As Chris Horner put it in a feature here back in February, "[T]he climate changes – it always has, it always will. Of course, saying 'climate changes makes one a 'climate change denier.' Go figure." I am, in fact, a climate change affirmer!

Read the NYT article if you like, though it'd likely be a waste of your time. The author complains that this supposed loophole allows "industry statements" to be given the same weight as "peer-reviewed science," though her article reads like an industry statement itself, specifically the green energy industry, perpetually annoyed, as they always are, that their economically productive competitors should ever be given a hearing.

But the Left's mounting pressure on our tech monopolies to censor opinions they disagree with really is worrisome. One article I do recommend you read is Jacob Siegel's latest, Google Censorship Is a Danger to Public Health, in which he examines the strange story surrounding the proposed COVID-19 treatment hydroxychloroquine. Siegel purposely doesn't take a side in the debate about whether that medication is effective for this purpose. What he does do, however, is look at Google's policy of suppressing data, and interpretations of data, which run counter to what he refers to as the "expert opinion of the moment."

He quotes the CEO of YouTube (which Google owns) explaining their new policy of removing "problematic" content, including “anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations." As Siegel points out, this is "a category which at various times during the pandemic would include wearing masks, travel bans, and asserting that the virus is highly contagious."

The fact that is especially chilling is that, on this shaky foundation, Google has gone as far as deleting a white paper which attempted to demonstrate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine directly from a doctor's Google Drive. Siegel asks, "Did you know that a Google doc you created can be deleted with no warning or explanation by Google?" I certainly didn't, but it is of a piece with the trend of woke capital demonetizing and de-platforming contrary voices (not to mention pressuring businesses to divest from disfavored industries, oil and gas most of all).

This is an unfortunate tendency, because critical and contrary voices have always been important for challenging consensuses for the purpose of uncovering truth. But for the nihilistic, fascist Left, the dominant variety in our day, the battle cries are "The science is settled!" and "The time for talk is over!"

Somewhere behind all that denial of freedom of speech they must know that their positions don't hold up to scrutiny.

'Climate Change' and Covid Both About Control

Inside every Leftist is a totalitarian screaming to get out.  And who's out to get us.

We see it over and over again, and the parallels between the hysteria of the “We’re All Gonna Die!” climate alarmists and the “We’re All Gonna Die!” COVID-19 mask fascists couldn’t be more telling.

Now, there’s a world of difference between finger-wagging, lecturing, and virtue signaling; and policy.  The former are just the usual Leftist busybodies telling us what to do, while the latter are Leftists directly assaulting our liberty.  We can live with the former, but must fight the latter.

The Climate Alarmists scream “we’re all gonna die” due to global warming, and that it will happen really really soon, probably even this generation.  Therefore, we should go through life as unhappy yet pious apostles of the Climate Cult, reducing our carbon footprint by returning to the Stone Age and internally retaining flatulence until we float to the moon.

Yet ask Cultists what they are doing to stave off the imminent apocalypse, and they invariably reply that they recycle and drive a Prius.  Maybe they even take public transportation.  What they don’t do is devote every waking moment to forestalling the End of Days which – remember – is going to happen in the next fifty years.  You’d think, given the expedited timeline and rather high stakes, that they’d be doing things with a bit more impact.

Instead they claim that they “do what they can,” which seems to run counter to the idea that we’re all gonna die in the next fifty years.  Confronted with this logical contradiction, and unable to reconcile their hypocrisy, that’s usually when they accuse us of being Climate Change Deniers and storm off to lecture some other unlucky soul.

Friendly persuasion works every time.

Even when provided with competing scientific data, they are unable to rebut it.  They wave their hands, claim “bias” on the part of the scientist (while their scientists are above reproach), and insist that all the other “experts” couldn’t possibly be wrong.

In other words, show them data and they ignore it, because they not only must live in fear, they must be certain that you live in fear.

The truth is that all they want to do is control other people.  

Some Leftists genuinely have a hatred of liberty.  Others have simply fallen sway to the unrelenting propaganda of how bad some intangible threat is and, lacking any feeling of control over their own lives, attempt to assert control over the uncontrollable by controlling other people.

After all, one cannot stop or reverse time, “global warming,” random gun violence, or just plain stupidity that results in death.  So the next best thing is to control people’s behavior in order to stop these things, which of course doesn’t stop anything at all. Which brings us to COVID-19.

The data is pretty clear at this point, after nearly five months of collection from almost every part of the globe.  Once the data settled in after about eight weeks, it hasn’t changed much.  Based on the latest data set from the CDC, here is what we know:

When we remove just these four places, the rest of the country experiences the following:

The aggregate rate of positive tests is 8.85 percent across the nation. 

The four states named above account for 15 percent of cases.

Rural states have positive rates of around 7 percent. States such as Delaware, Vermont, West Virginia, Alaska, and Hawaii are all under 3 percent.

The current trend for positive cases is down.

Finally, if one examines county-level and municipality-level data, one will find that the prevalence of the virus is highly dependent on locality. In other words, while one doesn’t want to experience symptoms of this virus, the risk of catching it is on par with seasonal flu (10 percent), and the risk of dying is extremely remote if you are not elderly.  Death is even more remote if you are also not obese or immuno-suppressed.

Yet governments at every level have shut down the entire economy, restricted movement and activity, and even threatened to cut off utilities to those who disobey their increasingly arbitrary edicts.  Government and its media enablers continue to terrify Americans, and are destroying our country in the process.

Par mon martin!

The repercussions of this tyranny will last for years, as those trapped under house arrest without work or income will turn to alcohol, drugs, and take their frustration out on their domestic partners and children.  This collateral damage was, and still is not, considered by those in power. 

The hypocrisy of those who willfully destroy American lives with their fear-mongering and tyranny runs in direct contrast to wanting to save humanity from the Climate Apocalypse.  That’s because what Leftists ultimately want is complete control over our behavior.  It has nothing to do with alleged climate change or a virus.

Indeed, those who object are told that forcible wearing of a muzzle is not an infringement on one’s “liberty.”  They put “liberty” in quotes, demonstrating their ignorance and contempt for it, until you mention that abortion should be banned. Then suddenly their liberty is being infringed upon. “My body, my choice” only extends to killing babies.  Maybe we should use the same phrase when told we must wear muzzles or keep restaurants closed.

When they claim that wearing masks is to protect others who don’t have a choice in what we do, demonstrate that the baby they are killing is exactly the same thing.  All that proves is that, again, they want to control our behavior while they do what they choose.

All of this is done under the guise of the nine worst words in the English language. With apologies to Ronald Reagan, those words are, “Do as we say.  It’s for your own good."

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Media

As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. There’s also a corollary: properly used, statistics don’t lie. But when selectively abused, statistics are meaningless.  The kerfuffle that followed President Trump’s interview with Jonathan Swan which aired on HBO earlier this week is yet another example of the phenomenon.

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was among those who weighed in on the interview. Dutifully following the “orange-man bad” narrative, a Dreyfuss Tweet seemed to imply a belief that Swan had a masterful command of meaningful pandemic statistics, while President Trump was basically clueless:

What made the president a fool and Swan a genius? Trump highlighted the statistical fact that the United States has been more effective in curing, aka reducing the death rate, among Americans who are diagnosed with COVID-19 than most of the rest of the world. This is clearly a testament to the effectiveness of our overall health care system in treating infectious and potentially fatal diseases.

Swan highlighted the statistical fact that more Americans have died of COVID-19 exposure per capita than have died as a percentage of population when compared to nations like Germany and South Korea. Though he didn’t directly say so, Swan clearly implied that this statistic was far more important than the statistic President Trump had mentioned.

Trump disagreed with Swan’s analysis: “You can’t do that,” he said.

“Why can’t I do that?” Swan responded, rudely.

At this point, neither party to this discussion displayed any sort of expertise about how to properly interpret statistics. Trump was stumbling, but so would every other President at this level of detail, going back to at least Eisenhower. American presidents are not masters of detail. Moreover, can anyone honestly believe that Joe Biden could get to that part of so nuanced of a discussion without his head exploding or threatening to punch somebody?

I believe the point Trump was attempting to make was that it is unsound scientifically to use the per capita death rate as the metric with which to judge the effectiveness of the administration’s response to the pandemic. If that is indeed the correct interpretation of “you can’t do that,” then the President’s point is valid.

If the death rate per person infected is relatively low, but the death rate per capita is higher, then the infection rate is the driver. Consider an example: Both Group A and Group B consist of one million individuals each, each demographically similar to the other. In Group A 100,000 get infected, while 20,000 of the infected sub-group die. The mortality rate per capita is 2%, while the mortality rate per infection is 20%. In Group B 50,000 people get infected, while 15,000 of the infected die. The mortality rate per capita is 1.5% and the mortality rate per infection is 30%. Infections are more prevalent in Group A, but treatment of the infection is much better in Group A than in Group B.

Or, let’s look at the following real-world analogy. In many developing countries the motor vehicle fatality rate per capita is far lower than it is in the United States. Does that mean it’s safer to drive in those nations? No, it means they have fewer cars. When you look at a meaningful statistic – deaths per motor vehicle – the fatality rate in most of the very same developing countries far exceeds that of the United States. As anyone who's ever driven in the Third World knows.

Per capita statistics are thus rarely useful analytical tools when considered in a vacuum. One must understand the underlying causes and how those causes may or may not be influenced before citing a per capita stat. In the case of COVID-19 there are at least two important underlying variables that should factor into any analysis: infection rate and treatment effectiveness.

Clearly, infection rates vary by state because the individual states have been driving different isolation and protection policies at varying speeds and implementing different “get back to normal” recovery programs as well. If Swan believes that the Administration could have and should have done something to implement a national isolation policy and national recovery policy, he should have said so.

Could the Trump administration have done something like that? I don’t see how. The states would scream bloody murder if he tried to interfere with them. The President can’t even get blue states to disperse riotous mobs occupying the streets of major American cities. Any attempt by this administration to impose rigid standards involving public gatherings and personal interactions would have been denounced as a violation of federalism and widely ignored.

It’s clear that stemming the spread of COVID-19 is about isolation and protective gear. The highest rate of new infections is now among the 20-29 year old demographic, many of whom ignore such restrictions. That’s understandable. They are at relatively low risk of dying even if they do catch it, and most of us who remember our twenties will recall that following rules – even rules meant to protect you – are not a high priority at that time of life. But this development emphasizes the simple fact that the infection rate part of the per capita mortality rate equation is about personal behavior, not national policy.

Among the parts of the equation that the administration could and did address was providing care for the sick and protection for health care workers. From getting Ford to produce ventilators, to ensuring there was an equitable distribution of face masks among the states in the early days of the pandemic, the Trump administration focused on those things it could do to facilitate research, to ensure that health care facilities were not overwhelmed, and to save as many lives of the infected as possible. Certainly the states and numerous organizations both public and private played a huge role in the success of that effort, but it’s petty partisanship at its worst to pretend that the president’s actions were unimportant or somehow misguided.

Sadly, Jonathan Swan’s abuse of statistics is business as usual for the legacy media these days. He focused on a statistic over which the Trump had no practical control, presumably because it made the president look bad, while ignoring the stat that demonstrated how effective the administration has been in helping to address those parts of the pandemic it actually could influence.