Heavy hand of the law unhelpful to the cause

Heavy hand of the law unhelpful to the cause, by Innes Willox. In Victoria:

Another story came from a member who went to Bunnings and was stopped by the police. They had observed all social distancing rules and went to a store that was allowed to be open. They were fined $1900 because the police officer did not accept that going out to buy a garden pot for a home they hardly leave was a reasonable excuse. Would two garden pots be reasonable? A watering system perhaps OK? Where is the judgment here?

There are numerous other cases which show the enforcers clearly don’t know or understand what they are policing. This is not their fault — the rules are too broad in scope. However, as these incidents demonstrate, the idea of giving police powers that are unclear and widely open to interpretation is chilling.

We have seen police standing on state borders unilaterally turning around workers and trucks until industry was able to explain to state governments that people and freight movement are essential to keeping our national and their state economies moving. Again we were using police to determine what was economically essential with no guidelines and with disastrous short-term consequences.

If police were wise enough to know what is essential to running the economy and society and what is not, they wouldn’t be police, would they?

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Democratic students blame Trump more than Chinese government for global spread of coronavirus: poll

Democratic students blame Trump more than Chinese government for global spread of coronavirus: poll. By Jennifer Kabbany.

The online poll of 1,000 college students nationwide asked: “Who has played more of a role in the global spread of coronavirus?” The choices were “President Trump,” “the Chinese government,” “both equally” and “neither/something else.”

The results found that 27 percent of Democratic college students blame President Trump more versus 15 percent who blame the Chinese government more. In contrast, only 3 percent of Republican college students blame President Trump more versus 72 percent who blame the Chinese government more.

Initially Chinese propaganda and disinformation was responsible for the earlier nonsense about COVID — such as that it was just like the flu, that herd immunity was the way to go, or that closing borders was racist. No, watch what the Chinese do, not what their puppets say.

Now the COVID pandemic has become so politicized in the US that wildly stupid stories abound on both sides. Some are making up stories that most everyone secretly already has COVID, so herd immunity has been achieved. Others — like the lefty students in the survey — say they believe that Trump is somehow responsible for the worldwide pandemic. Crazy stuff. Only mildly less crazy than Trump’s claims of heroically defeating the virus.

The truth — sad and mundane — is that both sides of politics throughout the West failed in their duty of care, failed to see it coming, and were too complacent and too incompetent for far too long. So slow. And now we are harmed

New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says SORRY to Jews for ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in the party

New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says SORRY to Jews for ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in the party, by David Wilcock.

Sir Keir Starmer vowed to wipe out the ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism from the Labour Party today as he was unveiled as its new leader.

‘We have to face the future with honesty,’ the father-of-two said.

‘Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.

‘I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.’

A welcome return to normality and decency in one of the two main parties in the UK. Goodbye to the nasty fringe leftism of Corbyn.

Washington DC is unusual for the comfort and frequency with which people lie to one another

Washington DC is unusual for the comfort and frequency with which people lie to one another, by Neil Barofsky.

As a young US federal attorney and prosecutor, Neil Barofsky had sent crooked financiers to jail and brought Columbia drug dealers to justice. When overreaching and greedy bankers almost brought the American economy down a dozen years ago, President George W. Bush tapped Neil Barofsky to be the chief inspector general for the $750 billion bailout. He was its top cop, with a mandate to flush out waste, fraud and abuse.

He would soon be recognized “as one of the most impressive political officials in Washington.” This week Bill Moyers asked him to recollect his experience, and he had some interesting things to say about the “world capital”:

Bill Moyers: You wrote in your book Bailout that you found yourself in a duplicitous world. In what sense was it duplicitous?

Neil Barofsky: I think one of the interesting things of Washington for someone who had not previously been there was the comfort and frequency with which people lie to one another. It is not something that I had experienced. And I had spent eight years as a prosecutor prosecuting fraud cases and narcotics cases.

And the lies were almost like a currency in Washington. People would lie to you, and, I mean, people within the government would lie to you. And you would know they were lying. And they would know that you knew they were lying.

And they would lie nonetheless, as this is just the normal way people communicate with each other. And I guess it was a somewhat — I mean, I would hate to describe myself as being naïve. Because, you know, I’d spent eight years in the trenches with some truly horrific human beings, and fraudsters who committed billions of dollars of fraud.

But I’d not seen anything like it, where just the presumption level of dishonesty, that really permeated the town. And so it took me a little bit to realize it, and to realize that government officials who were presidentially appointed, and you ask them for information, and they give you information, where they tell you something, and they’re not telling you the truth.

And you almost have to, at least include in your calculus the possibility that somebody’s lying to you all the time. And it was early on when I think I suddenly realized it, when I was told that Elizabeth Warren, who as I mentioned before, was running another oversight agency.

It was before she was a senator, of course, the congressional oversight panel. I was told about all the terrible things that she was saying about me. And at first I was taken aback. And then I realized that there’s no way that could possibly be true. It made absolutely no sense. And I called Elizabeth.

And we started collaborating together. But it was a light-bulb moment when I realized that there’s just nothing people won’t say if they think they can gain advantage from it. And it’s a very strange way to operate when you’re not used to it.

That’s the modus operandi of the new left, right there. Lie for advantage. Convince others of a fantasy world, to achieve your goals. Fake news is a natural progression, as lying becomes more widespread and accepted:

Bill Moyers: Have you seen any evidence that Washington has changed in the last 10 years for the better?

Neil Barofsky: The currency of dishonesty has gotten, if anything, has gotten worse. I think that this whole concept of fake news, and having everyone being entitled to their own set of facts is not something that we experienced.

I mean, ultimately if we were lied to, and could prove that something was a lie, it was generally accepted that okay, this is the truth. And this is a lie. In this environment, people are caught lying, and they just insist they’re telling the truth. And one media outlet or another will confirm that something that’s demonstrably untrue is, in fact, the truth.

And everyone goes into their different tribes and their different areas. And they just battle. And  you know, as a lawyer and someone who spent some period of their career in the Department of Justice, which was always about the pursuit of truth, and then at my time at SIGTARP when I tried to do the exact same thing, it’s — that level of abandonment of the concept of the truth is different.

It is different. They lied then. They lied now. That hasn’t changed. But the way those lies are perceived, and how people have their alternate realities, I think that’s very different, and very scary as we go into this next crisis.

The scale of lying associated with political correctness is qualitatively different to the lying that went on before, because now even the concept of truth has been abandoned. I think I preferred the old ways, where people believed in truth and generally knew when they were lying.

Perhaps solve the other pandemic: Vitamin D deficiency — to help beat Coronavirus?

Perhaps solve the other pandemic: Vitamin D deficiency — to help beat Coronavirus? By Joanne Nova.

After masks and soap, the next bargain to reduce the impact of coronavirus is Vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency is so common it’s an epidemic affecting a billion people around the world. Ponder that half the population of many western nations are clinically deficient by the end of winter. Add that to a novel virus and consider that higher Vitamin D levels reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections like influenza by as much as 40%.

As Grant et al say:

“Low vitamin D status in winter permits viral epidemics.”

Vitamin D levels also correlate with lower rates of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, dental caries, preeclampsia, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Vitamin D influences over 200 genes.

It’s so crucial, it was likely the reason northern Europeans evolved whiter skin. The lack of sunlight and the introduction of grains in diets (as opposed to eating liver and whales) meant that Europeans weren’t getting enough D from either food or sun. The selective pressure was so strong that lighter skin rapidly took over all the northern communities. Eskimos didn’t need to go white — they were still getting D from offal and plenty of fish.

Unlike most vitamins, D is also correlated with “that holy grail” —  a reduction in all-cause mortality. So even if a D supplement doesn’t help against coronavirus, side effects include less cancer and fewer heart attacks. Not too shabby for a five cent supplement. …

Vitamin D … is probably one of the main reasons that coughs and colds and death itself, almost always peak in winter when people have lower vitamin D levels. Of course, winter is also a happy-hour for most viruses because temperatures are cooler and people crowd indoors more.

Researchers Grant et al, put out a call for people to supplement with D during this pandemic, pointing out that this will reduce the incidence of the co-morbidities that are hit hardest by Coronavirus. They also point out that D reduces respiratory tract infections, and is actively involved in our own anti-viral defences in at least three different ways. …

People with low levels of vitamin D are more than 2.5 times as much at risk of developing pneumonia than people with high vitamin D levels.

Temperature doesn’t affect the spread of virus. Flu is worse in winter because we get less sunshine and become deficient in vitamin D, which lowers our immunity.

Skin color, melatonin, and vitamin D. Source: Wenyue Zou, RMIT

This has racial implications, which the identity-politics demagogues are trying to exploit while maximizing confusion and denying some truths. White people evolved white skins in order to make more vitamin D in the weak sunshine of northern climes. Brown and black people living in areas of lower sunlight are often deficient in vitamin-D, which makes them more prone to a range of diseases, including COVID-19.

Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans

Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans, by AP.

As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through an already vulnerable population — black Americans. …

Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.

The political crew choose to only consider cultural differences. They won’t go to genetics even when it is strongly linked (via vitamin D) to something so obvious that they cannot deny — skin color. Let alone consider the effect of IQ on “culture.” Determined ignorance rules the day in political circles, especially on the left.

A history of systemic racism and inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity has made many African Americans far more vulnerable to the virus. Black adults suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, which make them more susceptible, and also are more likely to be uninsured. They also often report that medical professionals take their ailments less seriously when they seek treatment.

“The rate at which black people are dying, compared to whites, is really just astounding,” said Courtney Cogburn, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. “There are patterns at this intersection of race and socioeconomic status that make it very clear this is just not a story about poverty.”

Welcome to the Government’s Depression

Welcome to the Government’s Depression, by Philip Barton.

Even if businesses are allowed to re-open next week, is it already too late?

With few exceptions, small business has been operating on the margins for years in Australia. Why re-open when one can go on welfare and probably make as much money? That is literally true for many small businesses operators.

Join the queue at the Government’s welfare office?

Our restaurant was one of few still making modestly good profit when we were closed. If possible, we will re-open. I believe that some sort of ‘force majeure’ deal will emerge with regard to the rent.

But my belief is that an unknown, but significant percentage, will never re-open their doors. Ditto for shops; I think that even fewer shops will re-open than restaurants/cafes. …

The economy is a business momentum that builds up over generations. Beginning from scratch again will be like trying to push-start a heavy car that has broken down. Obtaining that first motion takes a lot of huff and puff, especially when there are rental and wage hills on the road. … What products will be needed and wanted, and what price will people be able to pay? No one can answer that.

I have been in business since 1958, I had never seen tougher conditions than at the point when we were closed. All we can know is that conditions are going to be considerably worse when, or if, businesses re-open.

UPDATE: The Smart Ones, by Philip Barton.

The only thing that has kept our business alive over the last few decades of ever-greater regulatory hardship has been an insistence on paying cash for what we have. We have stoically remained debt free. That we were not burdened by the need to service a debt is part of what saved us from the shuttered-up state of many others.

We are in the third week of a government enforced shut-down. Now they are asking that we take on debt in order to continue paying our staff. If we are willing to do that, then they will back-pay us for some of the money that we are spending — in five weeks — maybe. Or maybe not if the situation changes, as it has been doing every time they make an announcement — every 48 hours on average.

The problem is not Wuhan Virus. The problem is government and debt. Our business will not be taking on debt in order to bail out the government from its own bad decisions. …

The shut-down (hibernation!) is the result of electing people to parliament who have never opened and run a business. They don’t understand risk, they don’t understand debt, they don’t understand business and, they certainly do not understand an economy.

Read them all. Also his analysis of his costs, which is a revealing look at how — in normal times — some restaurant staff are retained but others let go because they cannot meet the efficiency thresholds implicitly imposed by regulation.

It cannot be that only the very best and brightest and most efficient are entitled to a job and that everyone else has to go on the dole. …

Award wages are elitist. Everyone has value, but under the Award Wage system, very few of them are employable.

We have heard very little if anything in the media that is first hand from small business. Instead, all the policy makers and nearly all the commentators are on salaries. (Btw, we’re not on salaries. Please consider hitting the Donate button.)

Bernie quits race, but in a sense he’s already won

Bernie quits race, but in a sense he’s already won, by Freddy Gray.

Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign, which in normal times would be major news. Amid the panic of the coronavirus crisis, however, most people won’t be that interested. The still incomplete Democratic primary already feels like ancient history, a relic of the BC (Before COVID-19) time.

Nevertheless, Sanders’s decision is significant. It means that one of the most consequential American politicians of the 21st century will never be president. Sanders has arguably as great an impact on American politics as Donald Trump. He didn’t ultimately succeed, but his revolution is unstoppable. …

In a roundabout way, though, the Bernie of 2020 lost because he’d already won. He’d already created the revolution that other Democrats now must pander to if they are to have a hope of winning. Before Sanders’s 2016 run, Medicare-for-All was a dangerously subversive idea. Now every Democratic candidate supports it, one way or the other.

It’s often said that Bernie has ‘dragged his party to the left’. That’s not exactly right. What Bernie did, like Trump, was expose the rift between the party’s voters and its leadership. This is in turn has forced the Democrats to come up with ever more inventive ways of speaking his language without fully committing to his agenda. …

On the Green New Deal, immigration and taxes, Joe and Bernie increasingly sing from the same statist hymn sheet. But moderate voters could support Biden, safe in the knowledge that, like any good politician, he doesn’t really mean what he is saying. Now that he has knocked back Sanders, he can pivot back to the center, and just hope the base still hates Trump enough to win him the election.

Bernie, however, meant it. He wasn’t a good politician. He was too authentic. He couldn’t or wouldn’t pretend to be different things to different constituencies.

The Left’s Ugly Reaction to Hydroxychloroquine

The Left’s Ugly Reaction to Hydroxychloroquine, by David Harsanyi.

The idea that he is promoting the drug to boost the price of a mutual fund in which he owns shares is perhaps the most ludicrous conspiracy theory yet.

A  widely shared, four-person-bylined, “wow”-provoking New York Times story today informs us that Donald Trump is personally benefiting from his “aggressive advocacy” of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine because he owns stock in one of the companies that manufacture the drug.

As far as we know, Trump probably owns less than $100 of Sanofi stock in one of his mutual funds. If things go well, say he triples his position, Trump will be taking in upwards of $300. Art of the Deal, indeed. …

So cunning is Trump’s scheme to spike his $1,000 mutual-fund position that he called India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, this week and convinced him to lift a ban and start exporting even more generic hydroxychloroquine to the United States. …

When Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine, reporters scoured the world to find overdose cases so they could claim the president had blood on his hands. When that effort came up short, they clutched pearls after some nitwit couple thought it wise to ingest fish-tank cleaning liquid. Now this. …

Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug, not a pill that Americans can buy in bulk at the local Walmart and hoard in their closest and pop prophylactically each day. Media keeps asserting that Trump is “ignoring the experts.” Well, the president didn’t induce South Korean doctors to use hydroxychloroquine. He didn’t induce Indian doctors to use it. I assume American doctors who are now “off-labeling” the drug to patients have some medical reasons behind their thinking.

The US left is afraid — very afraid — that hydroxychloroquine will turn out to be an effective treatment for COVID, and saves the day. Wouldn’t that make Trump look good? A real hero.

So the left prefer to demonize hydroxychloroquine and discourage its use, rather than finding out how effective it is. Obviously our best interest is not their interest. Charming.

The Politics of the Virus in the USA

The Politics of the Virus in the USA, by Victor Davis Hanson.

Once Biden decided he had to be against everything Trump was for, and once Trump was for most things that the so-called experts thought best, then Biden inevitably was in Pavlovian fashion against what was good for the country.

The truth is that Biden cannot find much to disagree with, given that most Democrats — Pelosi and DeBlasio, especially — were playing down the severity of the virus, as was Anthony Fauci himself in January.

Anytime Biden faulted Trump for belated responses, it was easy for Biden’s opponents to show that almost no one but Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in early January was alarmed about the impending danger (and smeared by the Left for his warnings), and even easier given that Trump’s travel ban met fierce opposition as not merely racist but unnecessary and exaggerated.

Biden earlier also had promised a diversity vice president and is now wedded to that commitment. But the only Democrat in the present crisis who is winning mainstream media acclaim is Governor Andrew Cuomo, despite the paradox that he was also once exaggerating his own readiness for the virus and bragging about the openness of New York to the world. So far, he governs a state with the greatest numbers of virus cases as well as deaths and per capita fatality rates — facts which according to the blame-game logic of the Left are political fodder.

Nonetheless, Cuomo is being touted both as the far more competitive candidate in a crisis than the fumbling Biden, and yet he will prove almost impossible to nominate given Biden’s long campaign and delegate lead. The best squaring of that circle in the eyes of Democrat politicos would be to have Cuomo as the vice-presidential nominee on the ticket. He could rectify some of Biden’s gaffing, and do most of the fall campaigning, while with a wink and nod reassuring voters that he would likely have to step in for a President Biden if the latter’s present disturbing lapses continue.

Now that option seems less likely given Biden’s earlier politically correct grandstanding of promising a diversity vice-presidential pick without a clue of who such a person might be.

For now, the media, Pelosi, and Biden, along with the Left in general, wish to perpetuate a sense of viral Armageddon to make it politically impossible for Trump to initiate a graduated plan of returning America to work. Their hope is for a summer and fall of continued lockdown, a near depression rather than a mere recession, and enough public furor to end Trump in November—while hoping that a sudden post-election end to the lockdown will allow the natural recovery of Trump’s booming economy on their watch in 2021.

How New York Governor Andrew Cuomo became the pin-up boy of COVID-19?

How New York Governor Andrew Cuomo became the pin-up boy of COVID-19? By Miranda Devine.

When the going gets tough, it turns out women want the patriarchy after all.

In the middle of New York’s devastating pandemic crisis, the famously macho governor Andrew Cuomo has become the new pin-up boy of quarantined females.

He has won plaudits from anxious New Yorkers across the board as a decisive leader telling the unvarnished truth in televised near-daily press briefings, peppered with death tolls and grim charts.

But his presence on TV has been a reassuring consolation for lonely women quarantined on their couches, for whom the “Luv Guv” may be the only male they encounter all day.

Denise Albert, a 45-year-old Manhattan divorcee told the New York Post last week she finds Cuomo irresistible. …

Before the pandemic, Cuomo, the ex-husband of JFK’s niece Kerry Kennedy, was regarded as a testosterone dinosaur.

His swaggering Italian-American machismo and gruff Queens demeanour was out of fashion in a Democratic party dominated by identity politics, in which straight white males had become public enemy number one.

But imminent peril has a way of reawakening primal imperatives and highlighting the attractions of uncompromising masculine strength and derring-do.

So much for soy boys.

Three questions for President Xi

Three questions for President Xi, by Niall Ferguson (the historian at Stanford, not the epidemiologist in Britain).

First, what exactly was going on in Wuhan that led to the initial emergence of Sars-CoV-2? If the virus originated from a bat at one of the disgusting “wet” markets (where wildlife intended for human consumption is sold alongside chicken and beef), which your regime inexplicably has not shut down, that is bad enough. But if it originated because of sloppy practices at the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, that is worse. It is insanity for research on potentially lethal zoonoses such as coronaviruses to be going on in the heart of a vast metropolis like Wuhan.

Second, how big a role did the central government play in the cover-up after it became clear in Wuhan that there was human-to-human transmission? We now know there were 104 cases of the new disease, including 15 deaths, between December 12 and the end of that month. Why was the official Chinese line on December 31 that there was “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmission? And why did that official line not change until January 20?

Third, after it became clear that there was a full-blown epidemic spreading from Wuhan to the rest of Hubei province, why did you cut off travel from Hubei to the rest of China – on January 23 – but not from Hubei to the rest of the world?

It’s almost as if China wanted the rest of the world to catch this virus.

Now, I don’t expect straight answers to these questions, any more than we got straight answers from the Soviet Communist Party after Chernobyl. …

China’s problem, like Russia’s before 1991, is the One Party Problem. And so long as a fifth of humanity are subject to the will of an unaccountable, corrupt and power-hungry organization with a long history of crimes against its own people, the rest of humanity will not be safe.

Italy gave China PPE to help with coronavirus — then China made them buy it back

Italy gave China PPE to help with coronavirus — then China made them buy it back, by Amber Athey.

China has tried to restore its image after lying to the world about the seriousness of its coronavirus outbreak, but its attempts at humanitarianism have turned out to be as slippery as its wet markets.

After COVID-19 made its way to Italy, decimating the country’s significant elderly population, China told the world it would donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help Italy stop its spread. Reports later indicated that China had actually sold, not donated, the PPE to Italy. A senior Trump administration official tells The Spectator that it is much worse than that: China forced Italy to buy back the PPE supply that it gave to China during the initial coronavirus outbreak.

According to the the US administration:

‘The disinformation that China has put out is crippling responses around the world. We were a month behind because the Chinese did not share information,’ according to the official. ‘It’s hard for the world to accept that even the information that they’re putting out now is accurate and acceptable from an epidemiological standpoint. We’re operating on some level with a hand tied behind our back.’

Gobsmacking. With friends like China…