Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Social Distancing
- Social Distancing. Ran across a flurry of stories last week going directly after social distancing as a self-described science-based solution to viral spread. As usual, it turns out that the direction from the CDC is based on a lot more arm waving than actual data. Julie Kelly in a couple American Greatness articles, April 13 and a follow-up May 4 makes a powerful case that social distancing is little more than virtue signaling. Other writers make the case that it is downright dangerous at worst and will lead to increased deaths. Kelly’s research on the CDC recommendations find that the CDC doesn’t even link to supporting science documenting what the current 6’ recommendations are based upon. The recommendation first appeared in the Bush 43 administration. It was initially met with skepticism, though a 2006 high school science project by a NM 15-year old did agree with and was ultimately used the recommendations. The recommendations languished in the O’Bama administration for five solid years before being approved after the fact in April 2017. Convenient timing that, as the first Trump CDC Director was not approved until July 2017, which means the O’Bama guys held over did the deed. During its initial review, a group of scientists raised doubt on the effectiveness of school closures, travel restrictions, cancellation of large gatherings, use of face masks and individual social distancing to contain flu-like viruses. The Pittsburgh Medical Center at the time noted that efficacy of a 3’ separation is unknown. They also concluded that such restrictions were unworkable at most work environments and public transportation systems. Two of those authors have since changed their minds and became outspoken advocates of social distancing, though they have so far refused to respond to numerous requests from American Greatness to explain their change of heart. So, 3’ in 2006 becomes 6’ in 2017 and up to 10’ here in Alaska (and other locales) today. And none of these numbers are empirically based on doodly squat. Worse, the entire episode ends up being a huge social experiment, one that does not appear to be working, though your definition of “working” depends on your political persuasion (or team) these days. If the goal was to mitigate spread of the disease, it has been a miserable failure. Fully 66% of new hospitalizations in NY, the heart of the outbreak in the US, last week were from people who had practiced social distancing and stayed at home. Former FDA head Scott Gottlieb noted a couple weeks ago that “While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say it didn’t work as well as we expected.” William Sullivan in American Thinker last week was harsher, noting that Social Distancing is Snake Oil, not Science. In a blistering article, he reminds the reader that a Dr David Katz predicted this outcome on March 20. Sullivan goes to note the dichotomy between infections and cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt with a crew of 4,800, an infection rate of 23% and a single death, and NY nursing and rest homes, so far responsible for over 5,500 deaths of elderly residents with ages in the early 80s. Perhaps quarantining young and healthy is not the best response to all this. Perhaps a better use of energy and resources would be what Ron DeSantis did in Florida and focus on the most at-risk population. As a demonstration of how silly this has all gotten is a photo from a German outdoor restaurant where the patrons wear hats with Styrofoam pool noodles so as to maintain proper social distance. Like all humor, this works because it contains a not so small nugget of truth.
- Wuhan. As usual, much of the big news last week were in the Wuhan Flu wars. The following is offered for your consideration:
- Dr Birx took a well-deserved pot shot at the CDC last week noting that “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.” She made the statement to CDC Director and the story was reported in the Washington Post. The CDC death numbers may be inflated by as much as 25%. Some of those of us in the Black Helo world suspect those numbers, particularly out of the blue states may be inflated by a lot more than that.
- With that in mind, Colorado revised how they were counting Wuhan deaths last week, revising their total reported deaths down by around 20% to 878 deaths. Perhaps Birx is on to something.
- As of today, a full 50% of all Wuhan Flu deaths come out of 5 blue states. Worse, in 14 states, a full 50% of all deaths are in nursing homes and long-term health facilities. Two of those have over 80% of all deaths in those facilities. Half of all deaths in California took place in those sorts of facilities, making the locking up of beaches somewhat problematic.
- But the very worst story of all comes out of NY, where Governor Cuomo is going to tax volunteers who went to NY to help treat the expected tidal wave of Wuhan cases on their income during their time in the state. This is similar to the fight Limbaugh (and others) have had with NY since he left in 1997. Apparently, the tax kicks in if you’ve been in state for 14 days or longer. And it kicks in whether you were getting paid while in NY or not. Talk about a return to taxation without representation, which we Americans used not to appreciate a whole lot. There were 21,000 volunteers who are going to be targeted by Cuomo and his taxmen. Cuomo explained it based on the $13 billion debt he and his Assembly ran up over the years, and that he couldn’t afford to pay what he described as subsidies to guest workers unless of course congress printed $13 billion so he could. Hostage taking is alive and well in NY. They were advertising over local radio (national show) here in Anchorage for medial volunteers to help out. For some reason, they didn’t mention requirements to pay NY income taxes by volunteers. Perhaps the volunteers need to invoice the State of NY for their time, effort, expenses and benefits.
- The final story is anti-government bias against hydroxychloroquine. This appears to originate in the FDA which is in turn pushing various state pharmacy boards to block dispensing of the drug. Laura Ingraham had a Dallas doctor who has been in a rolling fist fight with local pharmacies over their refusal to dispense. I have also seen at least one story that the Ohio pharmacy board has tightly locked down dispensing due to fear of shortages. Final story is that recent prominent studies finding that HCQ does not work treating the Wuhan Flu have all managed to omit the simultaneous use of zinc in the cocktail. Apparently HCQ opens the door and the zinc destroys the virus. Still need to figure out why this is going on. More on this next week.
- Goal? The speculation continues to grow precisely what is the goal of the blue state governors and their never-ending lockdowns? The most obvious is that they want to damage Trump’s reelection chances in November, hang on to their House majority and if possible, flip the Senate. I get all of that, though am finding it difficult to see how they get from here to there by infuriating the entire working part of their state, people who don’t normally turn out for the political wars. Limbaugh last week opined that perhaps the goal was to force their states into bankruptcy and force the red states who have reopened and are on their way back to some sort of economic activity to help them out. That is an interesting thought, but perhaps not nuanced enough. If the blue states go into bankruptcy, they will have to restructure. Every single one of them have unaffordable, unsustainable union pensions they are responsible for paying. In a restructure, those pension obligations will be restructured too, completely screwing over their union supporters. Indeed, Pelosi’s latest $3 trillion wish list passed late last week has language in it that allows states to restructure existing pension obligations. Democrats have a lot of options here. They can screw over their pensioners and turn right around and blame the Senate majority and Trump. They can simply print another $3 trillion and dole it out to the blue states. My guess is that they will use it as a vehicle to flip the senate.
- Flies. One of the books I read in my teens was Lord of the Flies, a really ugly cautionary tale about young boys on a deserted island who quickly descended into savagery, making the point that children stranded outside civilization would quickly become feral and warlike because that is the true nature of mankind. The actual book was published in 1951, sold tens of millions of copies, and was translated into 30 languages. At the time, the story was pure fiction. But real life sometimes echoes fiction and did this time in 1965. A Guardian story on May 9 described a group of 6 students in a strict Catholic boarding school in Tonga decided to escape, hopefully to Fiji or better yet to New Zealand. Youngest was 13. The oldest 16. Problem was that both destinations were very far away, over 500 miles for Fiji. They didn’t own a boat, so they stole one from a local fisherman they disliked. They left in very nice weather which descended into a storm that first night that disabled the boat. After 8 days of drifting, they came upon an island, ‘Ata, an uninhabited island. Slavers had removed the actual inhabitants in the 19th Century. Unlike the book, the boys set up a commune, garden, gym, chicken pens and a permanently tended fire. They lasted 15 months with no deaths or other ugliness. The only major injury was a broken leg which was set and healed. They were written off as dead with funerals held. They were discovered and rescued in 1966. When they returned home, local police arrested them on the spot, as the fisherman was still furious and pressed charges. The guy who rescued the boys was his father’s corporate accountant. He negotiated and sold movie rights to a station in Sydney. Those rights paid the fisherman for his boat and the boys were released on condition they would cooperate with the movie. They were welcomed home as heroes and did well in the following years. So, we have two examples of shipwrecked boys – the 1951 book and an actual incident in 1965. Why the difference in outcome? A lot of it ends up being the worldview of the author of the book, William Golding, who was an unhappy alcoholic, prone to depression, who claimed to understand the Nazis because he was that sort of individual himself. The Lord of the Flies tells us a lot more about the human nature of its author than it does about greater humanity, and that is a positive and hopeful outcome. Maybe we are really making a bit of progress here.
- Soccer. This one is a couple weeks old, but worth mentioning as a cautionary tale about being careful of making demands, because sometimes you end up getting what you want. A federal judge threw out part of an equal pay lawsuit by the US women’s national soccer team that alleged wage discrimination on the part of the US Soccer Federation. The team was asking for $67 million in damages in lieu of a trial. The women claimed they had not been paid equally to the men’s national team, citing the Equal Pay Act and Civil Rights Act of 1964. The judge left in place the portion of the lawsuit claiming discrimination in terms of the use of charter flights, hotel accommodations, medical support and training services which will proceed to trial mid-June. So, what happened? Looks like the ladies not only got greedy but started believing their own feminist propaganda. Both the men and female team are paid under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The negotiation history between the players and US Soccer demonstrated that US Soccer offered the women an identical pay structure as the men. The women rejected it and negotiated less money in return for higher bonuses for benefits, greater base compensation, and the guarantee of a larger number of players under contract. After negotiating that agreement and winning the world championship, they got a bit greedy and decided they were not being paid equally based purely on their sex. Of course, this was all reported as sexual discrimination against women. The ladies got what they wanted, signed the agreement, and apparently don’t want that agreement anymore. Too bad for them. One of the basic lessons of life is to never, ever get in the business of believing your own propaganda.
More later –