Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Fog of War
- Fog of War. We appear to be in the part of the current festivities where not only all data but cause and effect of adopted policies are being questioned across the board. In military terms, this is referred to as the Fog of War, where you can’t believe anything you see, but must do something about what you see or know is going on regardless. Otherwise, you lose. Today, everything is questioned – the data, medical treatments, impact of lockdowns (other than utter economic disaster) and what to do next. A few examples for your consideration:
- Effectiveness of drugs. The most recent Big Thing in treatment of a Wuhan infection is a drug used to treat Ebola patients called Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences. It has been in testing and appears to be well liked by the CDC and other government agencies. It also has the extra added attraction of being expensive at $1,000 a pop. Early test results indicate that it might cut the cure time by a day or two. Critics note that there is no change in overall death rate when used. Like I said first, fog of war.
- Second drug is hydroxychloroquine, which was pointed out as an early treatment. Well, it turns out that it is effective, but must be used as part of a triple meds treatment – HOQ + Azithromycin + zinc supplement. Timing here is also important, as it does not work all that well once you are a ventilator. This drug cocktail appears to be popular worldwide outside the US; not so popular in the US particularly with the CDC and whomever is advising President Trump. Media has been particularly critical of this treatment, likely because Trump suggested it might have some effectiveness a month ago. A week or so ago, a small study was released claiming that HOQ caused more deaths than cured. The media was ecstatic with this result, gleefully blaming Trump’s support of the drug for more deaths. PJ Media ran an analysis on the study that found multiple problems. These included the fact that the study was not a controlled clinical trial. Rather, it was an analysis of medical records afterwards. It has yet to be peer reviewed. Patients were not representative of the entire population. Median age was 70 and 59 – 68% of them were black. The most severe cases disproportionately got the drugs. Other studies and evidence suggest it works. The drug cocktail appears to be 91% successful overseas. Zinc, which appears to be the silver bullet in this (HOQ damages the virus, Azithromycin controls the pneumonia, and zinc gets thru the viral sheath and kills it). The study concluded that controlled trials are still needed. Pretty bloody bad when a drug is used worldwide but rejected by both the WHO and the CDC and American docs believe both the CDC and WHO rather than the experience of other docs. Final point: A question awaiting anyone to answer: What has been happening to the Lupus patients in all this? Are they dying of Wuhan or not? Note that HOQ is an integral part of Lupus treatments.
- Next story comes with ventilators. After much caterwauling out of NY and CA about the lack of ventilators, it appears they don’t help. Instead, once you are bad enough to get on one, it is really difficult to get off. Some combination of CPAP style pressure and supplementary oxygen appears to work much better. I predict that ventilators are going to end up much like iron lungs did 60 years ago – vital equipment before we knew how to treat the disease, useless door stops today. But at least we’ll have warehouses with tens of thousands of them.
- And how successful were the lockdowns? One the one hand, we have at least 7 states with either no or limited lockdowns / stay at home orders. The rest of the country ordered some variation of lockdowns. Did they work? Unknown at this point, as the Dakotas which didn’t lock down had similar disease rates to Alaska, which did lock down. And we have the case of Sweden, which didn’t have a lockdown at all. Observers are pointing to Sweden as a failed experiment. I think we will have to see where it ends up.
- Somewhere along the line, we are going to have to do something about the deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. I have come across numbers indicating that 40 – 50%+ of all deaths in individual states were in nursing homes / long term care facilities. One doc in such a facility in TX was on Laura Ingraham Monday night and claimed to have a 92% save rate with the 3-drug cocktail with HCQ, z-Pac and Zinc. This is similar to the survival rate reported from France, Taiwan and South Korea using the cocktail.
- Finally, how many lives are we actually saving? Initial estimate of deaths was 2.2 million, recently revised down to 100,000 – 200,000. Given the daily increase in deaths here in the US past 66,000 it appears we will be well into that range before it is all over. The media is really enjoying the rising numbers a lot, asking President Trump last week if a president who lost more Americans than died in Vietnam deserves reelection. I think we will be surprised at how the math was done to come up with the current counts. OTOH, Scott Adams over the weekend did some math, applying death rates in NY to the rest of the country. If Wuhan Flu was as deadly to the rest of the US as it has been in NY, there would be around 730,000 dead because of it. Clearly something is either going horribly wrong in NY or nicely right in the rest of the country. We are going to learn what that is.
- Reopening. Reopening wars continue in the blue states, as democrat governors and mayors do their level best to crash their state economies while angling for a federal bailout of their overextended pension systems. Their actions are uniformly high-handed and designed to further irritate an already irritated populace. Limbaugh has stated a few times over the last couple weeks that he believes democrat governor actions are being coordinated with Schumer and Pelosi. While that wouldn’t surprise me, there is sufficient variation in what they are ordering and not ordering between the states that it doesn’t look completely like the normal lockstep democrat response. Beaches on Cali continue to be a flashpoint, as beach goers continue to tell CA Governor Gavin Newsome to pound sand and hit the beaches anyway. Two weekends ago was particularly festive, prompting Newsome to close the beaches in Orange County, the most Republican county in the state as punishment. So far, Cali judges have supported Newsome. That might not last. Hospitals are starting to resume elective surgeries, which will help their cash flow a lot.
- Judges. Lawsuits over high-handed closure orders, particularly those aimed at religious gatherings are starting to hit the judiciary. For the most part, judges have ruled in support of the churchgoers and business owners. Attorney General Bill Barr has gotten the Justice Department involved strongly on the side of churches and their congregants. As the vast majority of lockdown orders are not connected to anything resembling the Rule of Law, the citizens are starting to decide that the mayors and governors aren’t the only ones who can make it up as they go. In Houston, the Harris County judge who wrote a 30-day mask wearing order for everyone over the age of 10 is getting pushback not only by the citizenry but by local law enforcement. Note that the order requires everyone out of doors to wear a mask and the disease is not successfully transmitted out of doors. The order comes with a fine up to $1,000 and 180 days in jail. Houston Police Union is strongly pushing back against the order, refusing to enforce it. While the judge will no doubt rule the guilty and sentence to the maximum extent of the law, good luck getting an arrest. Businesses without any option for continued closure are starting to reopen whether allowed to do so or not. These are generally barber shops, beauty shops and restaurants. They are getting cited with misdemeanor violations and will have to show up in court. But the owners are starting to open up regardless. In VA, a circuit judge overturned Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order designating indoor firearms ranges as places of amusement and ordering them closed. Grounds for the overturn was that Northam’s order was unconstitutional based on a provision in the VA constitution that training with firearms was integral to the freedom own them. Unfortunately, this opinion only currently applies to a single indoor range in Lynchburg. Final judicial opinion is not directly applicable to reopening, but is satisfying, nonetheless. A federal judge last week blocked a Cali law requiring background checks to purchase ammunition. It was tossed as “onerous and convoluted.”
- Legislation. One of the things we Americans do following a traumatic national event is generally to pass a few amendments that lock in what has been learned. We didn’t do it following the end of the Cold War, meaning we are a little late. What will be needed following this pandemic? I would suggest several things starting with a clear definition of what an essential business actually is and more importantly who have the right to shut down any business for any reason? Note that all the lockdowns were predicated on controlling the spread of the disease. The problem with this is that when any Mayor or Governor has the ability to shut down any business, he or she by definition controls that business in perpetuity. A LOT of democrats have gloried in that control, using it early and often. This decision ought to be fought out in legislatures over the upcoming months, clearly defining what is essential (my dime says they are ALL essential) and what is not. The legislation ought to also clearly define who gets to make the call and under what conditions. Second, there are at least 4 states that have laws on the books that do not allow at-home testing kits, recently approved by the CDC to be used. These states are NY, NJ, MD & RI, though MD appears to have modified theirs recently. Going to be difficult to roll out widespread testing if the usual speedbumps still exist in the usual blue states. Final example of a federal speedbump is the FDA’s blocking a feature on the Apple Watch that allows you to measure your blood oxygen levels, an important early indicator of a Wuhan Flu infestation. I expect this is not the only speedbump to progress the FDA has erected over the years.
- Ballots. Final story this week comes via Real Clear Politics, which finds that 28 million mail-in ballots went missing 2012 – 2018, the last four elections. State and local officials didn’t know where the ballots ended up. In come locales (Chicago, for instance – why does that not surprise me?), the number was even higher because some areas in the county did not respond to the federal survey. This figure does not include ballots that were spoiled, undeliverable or returned. The sheer number of missing ballots raise all sorts of questions about election and ballot security, which is why congressional democrats are furiously pushing by-mail voting for federal elections. A massive increase in by-mail voting will incentive ballot harvesting by which enterprising Cali democrats managed to turn the Orange County congressional delegation blue in 2018. For example, Hilly won the popular vote by 2.8 million (mostly in Cali and NY) with nearly 6 million unaccounted mail-in ballots never counted. A 2012 NYT report noted that voting fraud involving by-mail ballots was vastly more prevalent than in-person voting fraud. No wonder democrats are demanding it. Concerns about by-mail voting fraud have led to calls to significantly restrict or abolish on-demand absentee voting in favor of early in-person voting. In Oregon, the first state to adopt by-mail voting had over 12% of 7 million ballots the state sent out for the 2012 and 2016 national elections unaccounted for.
More later –