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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Not So Fast

For John, BLUFIt is like COVID-19.  One suspects we are a ways yet from knowing ground truth.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

From the Blog Site Watts Up With That, by Mr Charles Rotter, 28 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus three:

University of New South Wales

Those looking forward to a day when science’s Grand Unifying Theory of Everything could be worn on a t-shirt may have to wait a little longer as astrophysicists continue to find hints that one of the cosmological constants is not so constant after all.

In a paper published in prestigious journal Science Advances, scientists from UNSW Sydney reported that four new measurements of light emitted from a quasar 13 billion light years away reaffirm past studies that have measured tiny variations in the fine structure constant.

UNSW Science’s Professor John Webb says the fine structure constant is a measure of electromagnetism – one of the four fundamental forces in nature (the others are gravity, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force).

From the Party of Science I gEt the impression that they think science is all settled.  From the Party of Engineering I am not so sure they believe the science is settled.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Abolish Qualified Immunity

For John, BLUFThis coddling of Government Lawyers has gone on too long.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The CATO Institute, by Mr Jay Schweikert, 28 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

For the last several years, Cato has been leading the campaign to abolish qualified immunity -- an atextual, ahistorical judicial doctrine that shields state officials from liability, even when they violate people's constitutional rights.  The most immediate practical goal of this campaign has been to convince the Supreme Court to hear one of the many cases calling for qualified immunity to be either narrowed or reconsidered outright.  And over the last seven months, I've written several times about how the Court has indicated that it's preparing to consider several qualified immunity cases, given the manner in which it has repeatedly rescheduled several cert petitions that have been fully briefed and ready for resolution since October of last year.  My hypothesis at the time was that the Supreme Court was delaying resolution of these petitions so that it could consider them along with several other high-profile cases that also raised the same underlying question of whether qualified immunity should be reconsidered.

Now it would seem that prediction has been vindicated.  Just today, the Supreme Court distributed thirteen* different qualified immunity cert petitions for its conference of May 15, 2020.  This is obviously no coincidence, and it means that by the morning of Monday, May 18th, we will finally know whether the Justices are prepared to confront one of the most pernicious and legally baseless doctrines in the history of the Court.

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds says:  "It should abolish it.  It’s a judge-created doctrine with zero basis in the Constitution."

I am with the Law Professor.  Government Lawyers should not have immunity for their mistakes or their crimes.  Overturning this rule could be a step toward policing the kind of shenanigans that went on and are going on as part of Russiagate, and also in other disreputable activities.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Setting High Standards

For John, BLUFThese accusations against former Senator Joe Biden are old, but they are old and ignored.  This is an area where the Republicans need to tread carefully, but, so too do the Democrats.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The American Conservative, by Columnist Rod Dreher, 29 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus three:

Damon Linker says that there’s more confirmable substance to Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden than Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh — and that’s very bad news for the presumptive Democratic nominee.  Linker says that Biden can probably still have the nomination if he wants it, because even if these allegations are true, he’s still going to have the support of the party’s base.  But it will be a great gift to Team Trump.  Linker writes:
On substance, Trump will have zero moral ground to stand on.  But he won’t be taking a stand in the name of treating women with respect.  Neither will he be accusing Biden of being a sexual predator.  Instead, he and the entire Republican noise machine will constantly, relentlessly hammer Biden, leading Democrats, and the media for flagrant hypocrisy and double standards.  The moral content of the issue won’t matter one bit.  What will matter is that Biden has set himself up as a moral arbiter on issues of sexual harassment and violence, insisting we must “believe all women,” and that in the fall of 2018 he and many other members of his party sought to destroy the reputation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for allegations of sexual assault that were less convincingly corroborated than those Reade has lodged against Biden.

The Democratic nominee for president and his party are ruthless political operators who seek above all else to destroy their enemies and help themselves, all the while setting themselves up as impartial moral authorities.  This will be the message, driven home over and over again: that claims of purity and impartiality are pretense, transparent fakes.  Democrats might posture like they’re better than Republicans, including the president, but they aren’t.  They’re every bit as bad.  They’re just more dishonest about it.

Read the whole thing. Linker mentions Tara Reade’s mother calling Larry King, and he mentions her friend (a self-described “strong Democrat”) going public to say that Tara told her about Biden’s alleged sexual assault at the time.  I had heard about those, but until seeing Linker’s column, I had not heard about the 2008 Alexander Cockburn column in the left-wing web journal CounterPunch mentioning Biden’s reputation.
The Democrats have run up a box canyon with their mantra of "Believe all women" and with their condemnation of the antics of Candidate Trump.  They set a pretty high standard and now it appears they can't meet it themselves.

In defense of then Senator Joe Biden, in late 1980s by Cousin, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel stationed in the Pentagon, told me her female Air Force contacts on the Hill told her there were three Senators to not get into an Elevator with alone.  None of the three was Senator Biden.  That is not direct evidence, but it might be an escape.

On the other hand, there is more information than we got during the Kavanaugh hearings.  More believable information.

Here is how Columnist Dreher points his examination:

So, let me throw it to the room:  if Biden is persuaded to step down before the Democratic convention, who should replace him? Who will replace him?

From a strictly strategic point of view, I think Andrew Cuomo should replace him, and probably will, as long as he chooses Elizabeth Warren as his veep.

Pretty insightful.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Finishing the Paperwork

For John, BLUFOne wonders if Representative Adam Schiff is unwilling to let Russiagate play out, so that he can keep referring to it like it was alive, and not dead and in need of burial.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Examiner, by Reporter Daniel Chaitin, 28 2020.

Here is the lede plus five:

President Trump drew attention to reports that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is blocking the release of witness interview transcripts from the panel's investigation into Russian election interference.

He quote-tweeted on Monday evening a missive from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, that said, "Why won't Adam Schiff release declassified interviews from his Russian collusion witch hunt?  Because he knows the President did nothing wrong."

Trump added his own answer to Jordan's question.  "Because Shifty is a crooked politician!" he said.

Jordan's tweet shared a post from the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which, like the Washington Examiner, had sources who said Schiff is refusing to make public 43 transcripts that have been declassified and is preventing the declassification of 10 others.

Among the witnesses interviewed were top Obama administration officials, as well as associates of the president.

"Mr. Schiff spent years shouting cover-up only to be exposed for making things up. Now that the evidence is ready for public release, he’s defying the unanimous vote of a bipartisan committee to make them public.  What doesn’t Mr. Schiff want America to see?" the Wall Street Journal editorial board said.

This is not just self-serving and thus corrupt, but it is a disservice to history.

As the old saying goes, the job isn't finished until the paperwork is complete.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Welcome the Jews

For John, BLUFThe question of the Jews is several thousand years old.  I think we are called upon to show tolerance and to provide living space.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the tweet, linked above:
Seth Mandel
Great moments in Just Anti-Zionism
Quote Tweet
Jewish Journal
· Apr 21
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Hillel at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst was vandalized with the word “Palestine” written in Arabic.

Here is the website For the UMass Hillel at Amherst.

This act is both Anti-Semitic and un-American.

Further, it fails to address the question of what becomes of the Jews in Israel.  Can they remain as full fledged citizens in the new Palestine?  Or do the have to leave again, for a safer place?

If it is "leave again", then where?  I am thinking the places left, with the space and the tolerance, are Australia, Canada and the USA.

Think about it and get back to me.  In the mean time, avoid Anti-Semitic acts.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fathers Fostering Families

For John, BLUFThis suggests, to me, that there is a balance between going it alone (no Father) and an overlarge family like organization (too many Uncles and Aunts) in making families and communities work and advance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

More information:  Ingela Alger el al., "Paternal provisioning results from ecological change," PNAS (2020). … 1073/pnas.1917166117

From Science X, an uncredited article from Boston College, 27 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Humans differ from other primates in the types and amounts of care that males provide for their offspring.  The precise timing of the emergence of human "fatherhood" is unknown, but a new theory proposes that it emerged from a need for partnership in response to changing ecological conditions, U.S. and French researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new theory was developed using tools of economists and knowledge of the economic and reproductive behavior of human foragers.  The theory focuses on the benefits of a "fit" between exclusive partners that enabled the strengths of males and females to provide for one another and their offspring, according to researchers from Boston College, Chapman University, University of New Mexico, and the University of Toulouse in France.

Scientists have long tried to explain how human fatherhood emerged.  Paternal care—those investments in offspring made by a biological father—is rare among mammals but widespread across modern human subsistence societies.  Much of men's parental investment consists of provisioning relatively helpless children with food for prolonged periods of time—for as long as two decades among modern hunter-gatherers.  This is a sharp break with other great apes, whose observed mating systems do not encourage paternal provisioning.

That paternal provisioning arose in humans seems remarkable and puzzling and has revolved around a discussion about two groups of males dubbed "Dads" and "Cads".

With promiscuous mating, a would-be Dad who provides food for a mate and their joint offspring without seeking additional mates risks being outcompeted in terms of biological fitness by a Cad, who focuses only on promiscuous mating instead of investing in offspring.  Such a competitive disadvantage creates a formidable barrier for Dads to emerge when Cads abound.

The explanation is ecological change.  Ecological change requiring increased cooperation to maximize food production.

I see this as a good thing, since cooperation in society is more valuable than competition.  That said, there are limits to cooperation.  Family is that limit and at its outer fringes it works to destroy economic development, especially as a society moves onto having small shops and businesses.  At some point the boundary of family must shrink or the idea of the little shop keeper never takes off.  Instead the extended family sucks away the profits  Rather than paying or providing exchange labor, they expect a free ride.  That view crashes the family business.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Schiff the [Fill in the Blank]

For John, BLUFI am surprised that the Democrats haven't reined in Representative Adam Schiff.  Or maybe they can,t.  Or don't wish to since they need an over the top attack dog.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) claimed Friday evening that 50,000 Americans died because the Senate failed to remove President Donald Trump from office during the impeachment trial in February.

From Breitbart! by Reporter, Joel B Pollak, 26 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Schiff’s argument runs counter to those who have argued that the impeachment trial was a pointless distraction that prevented Congress from acting to help stop the pandemic.  A timeline of events reveals that President Trump took the first actions against the pandemic despite the trial, including forming the coronavirus task force, and banning travel with China.

Schiff told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:

There is one thing that, really, I have to say haunts me from the trial and it was before that snippet you showed where we knew we had to answer the question to the senators, okay, essentially, house managers, you’ve proved him guilty [sic], does he really need to be removed after all? we have an election in nine months. how much damage could he really do? and we posed that question to the Senate and we answered it by saying that he could do an awful lot of damage but frankly, chris, I don’t think we had any idea how much damage he would go on to do in the months ahead.  There are 50,000 Americans now who are dead, in significant part because of his incompetence, because of his inability to think beyond himself and put the country first.  I don’t think we would have ever anticipated that his brand of narcissism and his brand of incompetence would be so fatal to the American people.
Has there ever been a more self centered, a more unreflective, Member of Congress than Representative Adam Schiff, including his fellow Californian, Richard M Nixon?.

If he had simply said "Yes, we were distracting the President at a critical time, although we didn't realize it, but his incompetence demanded his removal, as subsequent events have proven," he would have been in the area of Speaker Nancy the Ripper or Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer; wrong, but not wacko.  No, he had to jump the shark, which is somehow fitting.

Hat tip to my Wife for noticing this.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Breaking Bad Cycles

For John, BLUFFor six decades we have been trying to fix poverty and discrimination by applying social spending.  This seems not to be working.  Thus, we need even more spending or a different approach.  I am for a new approach.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Free from The New York Times, by Opinion Writer David Brooks, 23 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Who is driving inequality in America? You are.  I am.  We are.

Did you read to your kids before bed when they were young?  If you did, you gave them an advantage over kids whose parents were working the evening shift at 7-Eleven. Did you spend extra on tutoring or music lessons?  Since 1996, affluent families have spent almost 300 percent more educating their young while everybody else’s spending has been mostly flat.

Did you marry before having kids and raise your kids in a two-parent home? The children of the well educated are now much more likely to grow up in stable families, and those differences in family structure explain 32 percent of the growth of family income inequality since 1979.

If you did these things, you did nothing wrong.  You invested in your children’s flourishing as any decent parent would.

But here’s the situation:  The information economy rains money on highly trained professionals — doctors, lawyers, corporate managers, engineers and so on.

Daniel Markovits, author of “The Meritocracy Trap,” estimates there are about one million of these workers in America today.  They work really hard, are really productive and earn a lot more.  In the mid-1960s, profits per partner at elite law firms were less than five times a secretary’s salary.  Now, Markovits notes, they are over 40 times.

These professionals invest heavily in their children’s education.  By eighth grade, students from affluent families are four grade levels ahead of students from poor families.  Seventy-two percent of students at the 150 most competitive colleges come from the richest quarter of families, and only 3 percent come from the poorest.

David Brooks has written a fine article, but you can only do so much in 800 words.

He doesn’t mention that Watts has been down for decades.  I remember, around Summer 1965, with my then girlfriend, arriving at my Father's house in Long Beach and being advised to spend the night, since there were riots in Watts.  We did.

Then there are the roles of LBJ (and RMN) and Jim Hayes in breaking up families.  The number one indicator of success in life—are your two natural parents still married to each other.

And, since David Brooks writes for the NYT there is the School Chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, who is looking to quash any “special” advantages for those kids who are doing well.  A theme emerging in NYC Schools is that it is wrong for parents to help kids with homework or give them special enrichment.  I needle our local Lowell School Superintendent, Dr Joel Boyd, about being a friend of Richard Carranza.  They aren’t, but he has met him.

All that said, Winnie the Flu may well result in a significant amount of flight from cities like New York.  For minorities who flee it might mean new opportunities to help their children grow, a la the article.  For others it could mean sifting out the “bright” kids, giving the others more of a chance.

This is where people like Doctor Boyd come into play.  Our School Superintendent is working hard to decentralize, for increased parental involvement, for getting all involved.  My fingers are crossed.  Better school mean better housing prices, which means more inheritance for our children.

Progress means, however, that people assume individual responsibility for their lives.  And better structured government welfare programs, ones with proper incentives, not disincentives.

Hat tip to my Brother Lance, who reads The Old Gray Lady.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am looking at you, Speaker Pelosi.

Speaking of Neutral

For John, BLUFThe Democratic Party Apparatchiks seem to be drinking their own bathwater.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Breitbart, by Reporter An Hanchett, 24 April 2020.

It is short.  Only four easy paragraphs, plus an MSNBC Clip.  Click the link, above.

I admit to distrusting Democratic Party House Member Adam Schiff.  And not just because he represents the Hollywood part of LA, although that adds to it.

Hat tip to Breitbart.

Regards  —  Cliff

Check and Recheck

For John, BLUFEach of us has to filter the news in the ways that work for us, but filter we must.  It is no longer the 1950s.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Author Sarah Hoyt, on InstaPundit, early this morning.  She lives in C-Springs.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 24, 2020

Campaign Chaos

For John, BLUFThe message from Candidate Joe Biden is mixed..  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From PJ Media, by Reporter Rick Moran, 23 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Donald Trump, who started a multi-billion trade war and has sent warships to the South China Sea to confront Beijing over their military buildup, was called "soft" on China in an ad by the Biden campaign.

Forget for a moment the silliness of it. The ad claims Trump failed to "confront" China over their coronavirus response, failed to get a CDC team "on the ground" in China, and it's Trump's fault we have more cases and more deaths of the coronavirus than any other nation.

Like I said; silly.

Most of the points made in the ad are easily rebutted, but Biden's real problem with the ad has been the reaction to it on the left.

Given the Vice President's condemnation, at the end of January, President Trump's China travel ban as xenophobic, this seems strange.  Then there is the question of Vice President Biden's familial economic ties to China.

However, the biggest problem is the VEEP's position on China that is much more hawkish than your average Democratic Apparatchik.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Boko Haram Kills in the Name of God

For John, BLUFNationhood requires a degree of unity, something Nigeria struggles with.  Boko Haram, a terrorist group, infamous for kidnapping school girls, is not willing to compromise for national unity.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

A Nigerian archbishop has decried the slaughter of Christians in his country and the media silence surrounding it, declaring that “Christians are being killed like chickens.”

This is from last year, but Boko Haram is still out there, enforcing its view of God by killing those who do not agree with them.

From 30 April 2019, in Breitbart, by Mr Thomas D Williams, PhD.

Here is the lede plus four:

Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso told LifeSiteNews said that in the Muslim-dominated northwest of the country people live in constant fear, especially in the state of Kaduna where he resides.

“It is one of the states where everybody walks around afraid.  There are kidnappers and bandits and they are killing people.  Villages are being burned down,” Archbishop Ndagoso said in an article published Monday.

“In other parts of the country if something happens, the president shows up. But here people are being killed and nothing is being done about it,” he said.

Ndagoso says there is “a systemic persecution of Christians in these states” but the nation’s leaders “do not have the political will to address the issues, to enforce the provisions of the constitution regarding the equality of religions and the equality of citizens before the law.”

Since last October, the archbishop says, “there have been serious attacks in villages especially in my archdiocese of Kaduna.  Hundreds and hundreds of villagers have been killed.”

The term Boko Harem is usually translated as "Western education is forbidden".

It is one thing to think that everyone else's vision of God a flawed.  It is another to slaughter such people for their supposed error.  This is the kind of ideology which should not be allowed to spread.  But, it must be treated as a criminal activity, as it is, what with depriving others of their lives (civil rights), without conviction in a court of law.  If their law, in territory they control, allows it, it is one thing.  It is another to use force of arms to expand that territory.

Cameroon is not the only African nation with persecution.

Hat tip to my wife, Martha, who found this article.

Regards  —  Cliff

Citizen Against Citizen

For John, BLUFHere is another sign that New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio should never have been considered for the Democrats Party nomination for President in 2020.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New York Post, by Reporters Tina Moore, Gabrielle Fonrouge and Bruce Golding, 21 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s critics let him know how they really felt about him ordering New Yorkers to snitch on each other for violating social-distancing rules — by flooding his new tip line with crank complaints including “dick pics” and people flipping the bird, The Post has learned.

Photos of extended middle fingers, the mayor dropping the Staten Island groundhog and news coverage of him going to the gym have all been texted to a special tip line that de Blasio announced Saturday, according to screenshots posted on Twitter.

One user sent the message “We will fight this tyrannical overreach!” to the service and got an automated message that in part said, “Hello, and thank you for texting NYC311.”

Of course New Yorkers are going to respond with snark, ugly snark.  It is New York City, after all.

Asking Americans to snitch on each other, like this was the late and unlamented Deutsche Demokratische Republik, and its dreaded Staatssicherheitsdienst or Stasi, is asking too much.

What the hapless Mayor DeBlasio misses is that this isn't social responsibility he asking for, but turning citizens into snitches against each other.  Turning citizens against each other is irresponsible.

Thank Heaven.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Education in the Face of COVID-19

For John, BLUFYes, some students will suffer from this period of no formal schooling, but at the same time others will flourish.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Pajama Media, by Writer Stephen Kruiser, 20 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus five:

The past couple of months have certainly been a time of many adjustments for a lot of Americans.  Some of us -- like myself -- haven’t really had our daily routines upset.  My child is finishing up college and heading into whatever the real world will look like after.

Parents with younger children who are in school, however, have had new reality thrust upon them.  Their kids are home, restless, and still need to learn.  Twentieth-century technology is making it easier to set up online learning, but that can still be a little glitchy.  There are a lot of teachers who aren’t very tech-savvy, which can bog down the process.

Either way, many parents are becoming more involved in their kids’ daily education than they’d perhaps ever planned to be.

Whether reluctant or enthusiastic new homeschooling parents, they’re going to be on the job for at least the rest of the school year.  Who knows what is going to happen in the fall? We’re all hoping for the best, but many experts predict a second wave of infections in the fall, which could further disrupt school schedules.

All of this time away from the public school indoctrination mills is making some modern educators nervous.  Mustn’t let the wee ones get too much exposure to mom and dad now, after all.

We were only a couple of weeks into the shut-down stuff when the Washington Post published an article written by a former teacher and education bureaucrat titled "Homeschooling during the coronavirus will set back a generation of children."

Yes, the article from The Wash Post was over the top.  There is no one answer on how children will be impacted by this enforced school shutdown.  My suspicion is some will strive.  As my friend, Ms Evelyn Thoren asked on City Life Show the other day, "Will they be smarter?" Some, for sure.  The ones for whom school is like a sea anchor on their learning.  Others will be less well off, being without a needed structured learning environment.  For me, the question is, will schools be able to differentiate and thus move each child along in a manner best for him or her?

My motto:  Never let school interfere with your eduction.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Accepting Help From All Sources

For John, BLUFthe "Trump is a science denier" theme has led some to misunderstand the role of faith and prayer in people battling the Coronavirus.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

In a word, God is not one more instance of the genus "being," one thing, however exalted, among others;  instead, he is the self-explaining source of existence as such, that great font of being in and through which all finite things subsist and act.

From The Pilot, by Bishop Robert Barron, 22 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Last week, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, made a rather interesting theological observation.  Commenting on the progress that his state has made in fighting the coronavirus and praising the concrete efforts of medical personnel and ordinary citizens, he said, "The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that.  Faith did not do that."  I won't waste a lot of time exploring the hubris of that remark, which should be obvious to anyone.  I might recommend, out of pastoral concern, that the governor read the first part of Genesis chapter eleven.

What I will do instead is explain the basic intellectual confusion that undergirds Cuomo's assertion, one that, I fear, is shared even by many believers. The condition for the possibility of the governor's declaration is the assumption that God is one competitive cause among many, one actor jostling for position and time upon the stage with a coterie of other actors.  On this reading, God does certain things -- usually of a rather spectacular nature -- and creaturely causes do other things, usually more mundane.  Thus, we can clearly parcel out responsibility and credit -- some to God and some to finite agents.  But this account is deeply unbiblical and alien to the Catholic theological tradition.

To understand the scriptural sense of the play between divine and human causality, it is helpful to consult the cycle of stories dealing with King David in first and second Samuel.  What strikes the attentive reader is that nothing obviously "supernatural" takes place in these accounts.  Practically everything that happens to David could be adequately accounted for on psychological, historical, military, or political grounds.  However, throughout the narrative, God's activity and involvement are assumed, for the author takes for granted the principle that the true God works not typically in an interruptive way but precisely through a congeries of secondary causes.  Mind you, it is not the case that some explanations of David's story are political or psychological and some properly theological; rather, everything is, at once, natural and supernatural -- precisely because God's causality is operating noncompetitively, on a qualitatively different level than creaturely causality.  If you want a one-liner summary of this distinctively biblical perspective, you could not do better than this, from the prophet Isaiah:  "O Lord, it is you who have accomplished all that we have done" (Isa. 26:12).

Since it is obvious that Governor Cuomo is a pretty smart person, I would like to think that he was talking as he was for political reasons.  However, to distort who God is, or to deny his existence is not a smart move, politically or theologically  I wish the Governor a speedy recovery from this solipsism.

While the Governor's move to reinforce one side of his constituency may be smart, he is alienating another part.  Worse, he has daily to appeal to one source of help that might be useful when science is not getting a grip on the problem.  Casually dismissing help is unhelpful.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Having Leverage

For John, BLUFThere is little doubt in my mind that the House Speaker, Nancy the Ripper, is leveraging whatever she can to drive the Progressive Democratic Party Agenda.  The question is, how much freedom do ordinary Americans lose in the progess?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From PJ Media, by Writer Tyler O'Neil, 21 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

In an interview with CNN on Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to flip the script on the Paycheck Protection Program.  After it became clear the program to help small businesses during the coronavirus crisis would run out of money quickly, Pelosi and her fellow Democrats stalled.  Well, on CNN on Monday, she suggested it was all the Republicans' fault.

"When the Secretary [Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin] came and asked me for $250 billion — a quarter of a trillion dollars in 24 hours — I said, 'Well we want to see the data on how that is spent but also we want to make sure — as long as we are going to the floor — that we do so in a way that makes sure that everyone can participate in the program," she told Anderson Cooper.

"They said, no, no, no.  Until about 100 hours ago, they said no.  And now they've said yes," Pelosi said.

Uh huh.  It was totally those dastardly Republicans who extended the House of Representatives vacation.  It was totally those dastardly Republicans who blocked the legislation to add $250 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, right?

Poor Nancy is struggling with a bad case of projection. See, while she was enjoying her fancy designer ice cream, millions of Americans were losing their livelihoods.

So why did Democrats delay?  Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) explained it rather succinctly in a virtual press conference.  "I think what you're hearing from all of us on the call is that we have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need," she said.

This is, in essence, extortion.  This is why President Trump and the Republicans need to win back the House and the Senate.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, April 20, 2020

That Was Then, This Is Now

For John, BLUFIt is like our State Rep.  Innocent until proven guilty, especially given some of DOJ's recent high profile cases.  Free to run again for his seat.  I am free to support Mr Martin Burke, but the incumbent is free to run.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Daily Wire, by Reporter Emily Zanotti, 16 April 2020.

I follow her on Twitter and so can you.

Here is the lede plus one:

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who wrote a book about sexual assault accusations made against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and defended Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the pages of her newspaper, now says the “#BelieveAllWomen” and “#MeToo” movement are “dumb” — because a similar, but credible sexual assault allegation has been leveled against the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a shocking editorial for The Washington Post, Marcus lashes out not just at Biden’s alleged accuser, Tara Reade — who has now filed a criminal complaint against Biden and who has a record of contemporaneous claims made against the then-federal legislator — but at the anti-sexual assault movement altogether.

The former Vice President, Candidate Joe Biden, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

And, I appreciate that a trial in a Court of Law is different from a Senatorial Advice and Consent hearing.  But, in the court of public opinion, shouldn't we the People, and our Press, strive to roughly apply the same rules?

Since we seem to be changing the rules, will this change be permanent, or will it flop back to the old rules if it could be applied to a Republican?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Trump the "Science Denier"

For John, BLUFWhile the President MAY be a "science denier", it appears, from his career, that he does believe in Engineering.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Trump’s response to the pandemic has been haunted by the science denialism of his ultraconservative religious allies.

From Told Old Gray Lasy, by Ms Katherine Stewart, 27 March 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise.  In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.

At least since the 19th century, when the proslavery theologian Robert Lewis Dabney attacked the physical sciences as “theories of unbelief,” hostility to science has characterized the more extreme forms of religious nationalism in the United States.  Today, the hard core of climate deniers is concentrated among people who identify as religiously conservative Republicans.  And some leaders of the Christian nationalist movement, like those allied with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has denounced environmental science as a “Cult of the Green Dragon,” cast environmentalism as an alternative — and false — theology.

This denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis.  On March 15, Guillermo Maldonado, who calls himself an “apostle” and hosted Mr. Trump earlier this year at a campaign event at his Miami megachurch, urged his congregants to show up for worship services in person.  “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” he said.

Throughout Ms Steward fails to mention the missteps of the other political side, the Democrats.  Unmentioned is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging fellow New Yorkers to get out and enjoy the Chinese New Year.  Unmentioned is how former Vice President Joe Biden called the President xenophobic for, early on, shutting down travel from China.  Unmentioned is Mexican fear of Americans fleeing south. This is a hit job.  It is a hit job by someone who wrote a book on the larger subject of the "Religious Right", the book The Power Worshippers:  Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.

I am not sure what the Anti-Vaxer Movement has to do with President Trump and with his fundamentalist Christian supporters.  In my mind the movement has always be centered among the Progressive California snowflakes.  Now, I grant you The Donald is a germ-a-phobe.  And, he is a skeptic by nature and experience.  But, in April of 2019 he came out strongly for the measles vaccination.

The author bashed the President over his desire to end the self-isolation by Easter (which was Sunday, 12 April this year):

Yet none of the benign uses of religion in this time of crisis have anything to do with Mr. Trump’s expressed hope that the country would be “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”  He could, of course, have said, “by mid-April.”  But Mr. Trump did not invoke Easter by accident, and many of his evangelical allies were pleased by his vision of “packed churches all over our country.”
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Justice in the US

For John, BLUFYes, for some of us there does seem to be two level justice in the Federal System.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

From Lid Blog, by Writer Jerry Newcombe, 16 Apr 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

There should not be two standards of justice in this nation—a slap on the wrist for the politically correct who do wrong, while Gen. Michael Flynn’s whole life has been upended for allegedly lying to the FBI.

Flynn has lost his house, livelihood, and reputation.  Meanwhile, in contrast, there is a high ranking FBI attorney who allegedly doctored an email to obtain a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant for raw political sabotage, who has yet to be punished.

Our last hope is the Durham Report.

And it is saddening to not see others speak out.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 17, 2020

Work is Hard to Find

For John, BLUFWhen we go for social distancing and isolation we wipe out vast swaths of sellers, and buyers and the folks who make the things being sold.  That is why key and essential are important designations.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The LA Times, by Staff Writer Jaclyn Cosgrove, 17 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus three:

Because of the colossal impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the U.S. economy, less than half of Los Angeles County residents — 45% compared with 61% in mid-March — still hold a job, a decline of 16 percentage points, or an estimated 1.3 million jobs, according to findings from a national survey released Friday.

The survey also suggests that 25.5 million jobs have been potentially lost across the U.S. since mid-March, and that people of color, especially black Americans, are more likely to have lost their jobs since mid-March.

Nationally, 15% of white people said they had lost their jobs, while 18% of Latinos and 21% of black people reported job losses.

But a significant majority of job losses, 67% nationally, were reported as temporary layoffs. Angelenos reported similar experiences.

And new jobs are near non-existent, for the same reason people lost their existing jobs in the first place.  At some point there is a crossover between Coronavirus death and deaths from causes related to an economic recession or depression.

Unfortunately, much as people may wish it, there is no expert to make this decision.  It is up to the politicians elected by us.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am not suggesting that certain House leaders have blood on their hands, because we just don't know where that crossover point is.  A little humility all round would be useful.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

It is Political Warfare Out There

For John, BLUFThis is the view from a month ago.  It loos like the President is currently trying to make up for lost time.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Beijing deploys soft power as Europe and US fall short on solidarity.

From Politico, by Mr Matthew Karnitschnig, 18 March 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Judging by the propaganda, this really is war.

And China is winning.

As Europe struggles to slow the spread of coronavirus and China begins to show signs that it has put the worst of the outbreak behind it, Beijing is engaging in a not-so-subtle PR campaign.

China’s main strategy is to show that the country that gave birth to the virus (and then covered it up for weeks, allowing it to spread across the globe unhindered) is on the front lines trying to save humanity, while the EU can’t get its act together and the world’s other superpower is busy pointing fingers.

Over the past few days, China has sent planeloads of masks, teams of doctors and even ventilators around the world to help battle the crisis.  Chinese billionaire Jack Ma donated one million masks and hundreds of thousands of testing kits to the U.S., with the first load arriving in Seattle on Monday.

China is engaged in political warfare.  There should be no doubt about it.  Here is an observation by an unknown commentator:
For Clausewitz, war is politics by other means.  For Sun-Tzu, politics is war by other means.
Clausewitz is, of course, Prussian War College Commandant Carl von Clausewitz, whose two hundred year old tome On War, based on his experiences fighting the French under Napoleon Bonaparte, has been studied for quite some time.  And, Sun-Tzu is the several thousand year old Chinese equivalent, but with a much shorter and more pithy book, The Art of War.

As someone said, there is a great deal to consider in this formulation, not least of which is the fundamentally divergent contexts that China and the West bring to this international competition.

We will survive the Coronavirus, but will we survive a Chinese effort against us.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Being an Immigrant

For John, BLUFWe all carry our past, as in a knapsack.  However, part of being an American is knowing when it is time to discard the knapsack and make yourself a new person.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

My parents, immigrants from China, depicted our pre-America lives as mere prologue. What I got was a mythology of the future.

From The New Yorker, by Writer C Pam Zhang, 7 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus three:

My dad died and I didn’t look at the body.  The decision made a kind of sense, considering the rules of my life up till then, and considering how my dad was found:  a few days after his death, decomposing on the couch of his office, in a squat gray building in Albany, California.  “A few days” was what they said when I showed up in the parking lot, having rushed from San Francisco in the middle of a workday.  As usual, the fog had lifted as I crossed the Bay Bridge from west to east.  Less than a mile from where my dad died, I had gone to high school, lived in a series of cheerless rentals, seen my parents get divorced.  The light in that part of California had always felt too clear, imparting a bleakness that lays every flaw bare.  There was no disguising the meanness of my father’s death:  the bare concrete, the ugly building with its smeared glass doors, and beyond them (I imagined) the stained couch that my dad used as a bed, the hot plate where he cooked desultory meals, the office furniture littered with receipts and takeout containers.

The light was clear, the day a blur.  I don’t remember which officials milled in the lot.  I don’t remember if the person who asked if I wanted to see the body was short or tall, gentle or stiff; I don’t remember the color of their shirt, the cut of their hair.  I remember only that they said “a few days,” suggesting that in that indefinite period my dad’s body had changed.  Did I want to look?

I hadn’t been afraid when I got the call, but now I was—a vague fear, by which I mean a fear of specificity, a fear of seeing too precisely and having that sight haunt me.  I answered automatically, by force of lifelong habit.  “No,” I said, and lost my chance to look.

Obfuscation is my inheritance.  My parents, like many immigrants, depicted their pre-America lives as mere prologue, quickly sketched. Once, we lived in China.  The winters were cold.  You were small.  Now we live here.

That unwillingness to plumb one’s past is unimaginable to me, but, then again, I’m American.  I grew up devouring cold cereal and sitcoms with plots that revolved around girls who preserved the details of their lives in pink satin diaries.  I owned such a diary, in America; in America, every life is an exception, every person worthy of a story.  “Oh!” someone exclaims at a party when I name some American city I’ve lived in.  They have a cousin or a friend from the area, and have I eaten the local food, and what do I feel about the local sports team?  In Lexington, Kentucky, circa 1994, very few questions followed when my parents answered, “China.”  That was the goal, to some extent.  The past became easy to overlook.

"Obfuscation" may be her "inheritance", but she is now an American.  Shouldn't that give her a certain sense of hope, hope for the future?  Her thinking makes me think of the People's Republic of China.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Clean Bill—Not Likely

For John, BLUFIt is a crisis and Ms Pelosi doesn't want to let it go to waste.  Thus, she is willing to let millions lose paychecks in a bid to impose her legislative will on the President and on the US Department of the Treasury.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Free Beacon, by Reporter Charles Fain Lehman, 15 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus four:

The federal program backstopping small businesses during the coronavirus crisis is set to run out of funds Wednesday evening, thanks in part to a Senate stalemate over refilling its coffers.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is expected to grind to a halt after approving loans to over 1.4 million small businesses.  That, Small Business Committee chairman Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) wrote Wednesday, will leave 700,000 small business applications in "limbo."

Senate Republicans attempted to refuel the PPP last Thursday, pushing for an additional $250 billion on top of the $350 billion initially allocated under the CARES Act.  But Democrats blocked their bill before introducing a version of their own, which would have added on another $250 billion for bailouts of hospitals and state and local government.

The ongoing standoff leaves hundreds of thousands of small business owners without the means to pay their employees, which will in turn hasten mass layoffs, driving up unemployment and further taxing the nation's already buckling unemployment insurance systems.

Since last Thursday's standoff, Republicans have called repeatedly for a "clean bill." Democrats, however, saw the rapidly depleting fund as an opportunity to wring further policy concessions out of their Republican colleagues.


CLEAN BILL—A piece of legislation that does not have extraneous riders added to get additional votes.

RIDER—In legislative procedure, a rider is an additional provision added to a bill or other measure under the consideration by a legislature, having little connection with the subject matter of the bill.  Riders are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision that would not pass as its own bill.  Occasionally, a controversial provision is attached to a bill not to be passed itself but to prevent the bill from being passed (in which case it is called a wrecking amendment or poison pill).

LOGROLLING—Logrolling is the trading of favors, or quid pro quo, such as vote trading by legislative members to obtain passage of actions of interest to each legislative member.

COOPERATION—This term is apparently unknown in the DC area.

At the time of this typing the Treasury Secretary, Mr Steve Mnuchin, is trying to cut a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; a deal that Republicans in the US Senate will accept.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Clueless in the Senate

For John, BLUFSenator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, has an ambiguous relationship with the truth.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Town Hall, by Reporter Reagan McCarthy, 15 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) followed the trend set by fellow Democrats of exonerating China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of any fault for the spread of COVID-19.  In an appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sen. Murphy deems China innocent:
Go to the Link for the quote.

Is this the Senator from Connecticut who lied about his service in Southeast Asia (DaNang in particular)?

This seems standard for Senator Murphy.  Don't you think the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, would be embarrassed by this kind of thing?.

How can we expect Senator Murphy to make informed decisions in others areas related to COVID-19?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Free Press Informing Us

For John, BLUFWithout various media outlets being willing to chase issues down various rabbit holes we, as voters, can not make informed choices.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

If there is one element in our society that has failed to live up to their responsibility in a free society, it’s the press.  Gone are the days where the public can rely on the ethical standards of journalism to hand us accurate facts from an objective standpoint.  Mainstream media’s latest attempt to conceal the allegations of Joe Biden’s sexual assault is just another example of today’s common practice of crooked journalism.

From PJ Media, by Reporter Rich Moran, 15 April, 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Before I start, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a piece about Joe Biden.  I will not be so bold as to verify or invalidate the accusations brought upon him by his accuser because, frankly, I’m not an investigative reporter with the economic resources of a massive media conglomerate behind me like The New York Times or The Washington Post.

As for my opinion on Joe Biden, all I can say is that I feel utter pity for the man.  The way I see it, the Democratic National Committee is engaged in blatant elder abuse in dragging him out to be their Presidential nominee.  This is a man who is older than the end of World War II.  He has done his tour of public service as Vice President for eight long years.  By now, he should be left alone to enjoy his retirement doing cute old man things, like George W. Bush painting pictures of puppies.

When I see Joe Biden, I see a feeble old man who can’t call it quits despite his age because he was never given the option of retirement.  The Democratic political establishment is adamant about dragging Biden out to work for their political interest, so he can’t stop until they can squeeze everything they can out of him – kinda like Boxer the Horse in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Well, except Biden is perhaps less lovable than Boxer, and is also an alleged rapist.

Further on in the story we have this key paragraph:
If a journalist or an investigative reporter dares to break a story that angers the status quo, that journalist will be shunned and denied access to the inner sanctum of power for going against the narrative these elites want the public to hear.  Hence, corporate and the higher-ups in the industry need their journalist minions to tow (sic) the party line and not ruffle any feathers, lest they risk losing access to the celebrities and elites.
And to add to our distrust of the press in this matter, from PJ Media we have Mr Rick Moran writing on 15 April 2020, 'New York Times' Allowed Biden Team to Edit Story on Sexual Assault Allegation.  This headline, which I have seen elsewhere, does not fill me with confidence in the working value of our free press.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Reporting on the President

For John, BLUFGiven how the Press is reporting on the President, maybe Reporter Acosta is properly matched up.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Acosta Only Cares About Making Himself Famous.

From The Lid Blog, by Mr Jeff Dunetz, 13 Apr 2020.

Here is the lede:

It’s unknown whether any White House reporter has been drop-kicked in the butt by as many different people in one administration as Jim Acosta of CNN.  There are very few people in the administration who likes or respects him.  He is considered by many observers as the most unprofessional member of the White House press corps.  Steve Krakauer, a CNN producer-turned media watchdog, used to work with Acosta.  In the latest edition of his media newsletter, Krakauer confirmed what we all knew, his former colleague Acosta, is a fame-seeking attention-getter who doesn’t care about the news as much as he cares about making himself famous.
The part of the story I liked was the suggestion that Reporter Jim Acosta is actually working in cooperation with the Trump team, to get President Trump reelected.  Nothing else makes sense.

I think this cartoon, from Monday, by Cartoonist Chris Muir captures some of it.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, April 13, 2020

Modes of Voting

For John, BLUFThe issue of using absentee voting to allow more to vote is a little more complicated than Speaker Pelosi or my Middle Brother would lead you to believe.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

‘Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.’

From The Wall Street Journal, by Professor John R. Lott Jr., 10 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus six:

“Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”  That quote isn’t from President Trump, who criticized mail-in voting this week after Wisconsin Democrats tried and failed to change an election at the last minute into an exclusively mail-in affair.  It’s the conclusion of the bipartisan 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III.

Concerns about vote-buying have a long history in the U.S. They helped drive the move to the secret ballot, which U.S. states adopted between 1888 and 1950.  Secret ballots made it harder for vote buyers to monitor which candidates sellers actually voted for.  Vote-buying had been pervasive; my research with Larry Kenny at the University of Florida has found that voter turnout fell by about 8% to 12% after states adopted the secret ballot.

You wouldn’t know any of this listening to the media outcry over Mr. Trump’s remarks.  “There is a lot of dishonesty going on with mail-in voting,” the president said Tuesday. In response, a CNN “fact check” declares that Mr. Trump “opened a new front in his campaign of lies about voter fraud.”  A New York Times headline asserts:  “Trump Is Pushing a False Argument on Vote-by-Mail Fraud.”  Both claim that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent. The Carter-Baker report found otherwise.

Intimidation and vote buying were key concerns of the commission:  “Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or to intimidation.  Vote buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.”  The report provides examples, such as the 1997 Miami mayoral election that resulted in 36 arrests for absentee-ballot fraud.  The election had to be rerun, and the result was reversed.

There are more recent cases, too. In 2017 an investigation of a Dallas City Council election found some 700 fraudulent mail-in ballots signed by the same witness using a fake name.  The discovery left two council races in limbo, and the fraud was much larger than the vote differential in one of those races.  The case resulted in a criminal conviction. . . .

It is often claimed that impossibly large numbers of people live at the same address.  In 2016, 83 registered voters in San Pedro, Calif., received absentee ballots at the same small two-bedroom apartment.  Prosecutors rarely pursue this type of case.

Mail-in voting is a throwback to the dark old days of vote-buying and fraud. Because of this, many countries don’t allow absentee ballots for citizens living in their country, including Norway and Mexico.  Americans deserve a more trustworthy system.

It speaks for itself.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Surviving and Moving On

For John, BLUFMany of us will suffer tragedy during this Flu Pandemic, but it is possible to work our way through it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

When something outside your control changes your life, it’s what you do with what you can control that really shapes your children.

From The Atlantic, by CNN commentator Mary Katherine Ham, 8 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus five:

What if you woke up one day, and had to be an entirely different parent from the one you were the day before?  For much of America, that day arrived last month.

With the spread of COVID-19, millions of moms and dads have started spending a lot more time with their kids, in new roles.  I’ve noticed a recurring semi-desperate refrain in memes as well as Facebook posts and Instagram Stories:  “But I’m not a stay-at-home mom”; “I’m not a homeschooling dad”; “I’m not a Pinterest mom.”  Along with the markets, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our mental health and parenting strategies.

What we’re all being called to do now is learn how to parent in a crisis.  This is familiar territory for me, and the good news is that the parent you are today is not the parent you have to be tomorrow.  Your parenting identity is not nearly as intransigent as your pantsless, potty-training toddler.

In September 2015, I was raising a 2-year-old with my husband, Jake, while I was 7 months pregnant with our second child.  My toddler was easy on me—she was laid-back, sociable, and slept through the night.  Aside from a Kate Middletonian amount of morning sickness, motherhood had been relatively smooth.  I had an established parenting identity: I was a chill mom who took her kid on morning runs and road trips, a working mom, a mom with a partner with whom I could share some duties.

And then one Saturday, I became something else.  My husband died in a cycling accident in a race to benefit cancer research.  I lost my partner, I lost his contribution to our household income, and I lost my idea of what kind of parent I was.

“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant,” Joan Didion wrote in The Year of Magical Thinking, her memoir about the loss of her husband and daughter.  “You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”  You’re probably feeling like you’re seated at that table now.  The coronavirus is serving up a rare and tragic mix of grief, drastic life changes, and economic stress to a huge swath of the country.

In the Air Force it is the dreaded Blue Staff Car pulling up to your house with a couple of officers in Class A Uniform, one of them a Chaplain.  You know why they are at your door.  Your Spouse has Bought-the-Farm.

I follow Ms Mary Katherine Ham on Twitter, because she is a very positive, chirpy kind of writer.  We need that kind of writing right now.  The survivors will get through this and move on to a better place, over time.

As a note, The Atlantic is offering for free their Coronavirus writings at this time.

Regards  —  Cliff

FBI Misled

For John, BLUFThe question is, was the FBI Misled, or did the FBI, knowing the facts, mislead the nation?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Rather than colluding with the Russians, which the Mueller Report conclusively rejected, Trump was the victim of a Russian disinformation campaign exploited and promoted by Democrats, the media, and the FBI.

From Legal Insurrection, by Blogger William A. Jacobson, 11 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus three:

In one of the least surprising, yet most important, developments in the years-long Russia-collusion hoax, a recently declassified portion of the DOJ Inspector General’s Report on the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign has revealed that Trump was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign.  And the FBI knew it.

So rather than colluding with the Russians, which the Mueller Report conclusively rejected, Trump was the victim of a Russian disinformation campaign exploited and promoted by Democrats, the media, and the FBI.

The revelation concerns the so-called Steele Dossier, a document commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaing and the Democratic National Committee.  The Dossier, containing allegations that Trump was compromised, turbo-charged the FBI investigation of the campaign and, after it was published by Buzzfeed, stoked anti-Trump derangement at MSNBC and elsewhere.

Yet it’s now revealed that the FBI knew at least no later than 2017 that much of the dossier was Russian disinformation.

For some people, Orange Man is so Bad that any action against him, true or false is justified.  In fact, I expect that for many suffering Trump Derangement Syndrome even things obviously false are, in their eyes, true.

This isn't the first time that the views of his opponents relative to a President were wildly off the mark, and won't be the last.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Narrative

For John, BLUFIn this time of Winnie the Flu there are likely few good answers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Althouse Blog, by Professor Althouse, 11 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

"... when both he and Vice President Joe Biden had just recently said that the voting could proceed?  It's really simple.  Republican areas in the state had turned in many more absentee ballots than Democratic areas.  This was shocking, because most people had assumed the race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would give Democrats a huge turnout edge.  That's when Evers panicked.  To cancel an election the day before the vote — after your state party realizes it might be getting outvoted in absentees — is a pretty cynical move...  If Evers had canceled the voting earlier, before seeing how many absentee ballots came in from Republican areas, this would not be an issue.  But he wanted to wait until the eleventh hour...."

Writes John Pudner in The Washington Examiner.  By posting this, I'm not saying I agree.  It's just a point of view that I would like to be seen.  I really don't know why Evers did what he did.

This puts a different spin on things.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

UPDATE:  To make the point that this was not just a Primary, but an election for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 11, 2020

California Gov Newsom Shoots From the Lip

For John, BLUFI am sure the Governor of California was speaking euphemistically.  At least I hope so.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Yahoo Finance, based on a Bloomberg article, by Reporter Francis Wilkinson, 9 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

California this week declared its independence from the federal government’s feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more.  The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive.  The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America’s budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California’s multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear.

Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide.  If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”

I am thinking that Governor Newsom was just speaking in an expansive and sloppy manner.  As much as many Americans may wish to jettison California, I don't think it is ready to go its separate way.  But, as they said back in WWII, the Big One, "Loose lips sink ships."  And political careers.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Way Forward

For John, BLUFThere seems to be a number of different views on at the way forward from here with regard to Winnie the Flu.  Fortunately, Heritage has stepped up to give us a first cut, one I like.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Pajama Media, by Opinion Writer Tyler O'Neil, 10 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation's National Coronavirus Recovery Commission met for the first time.  At the meeting, seventeen experts hammered out a general five-phase plan to "save lives and livelihoods" by defeating the coronavirus and jumpstarting the economy.  Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the commission's work.

In order to slow the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump has urged Americans to stay home, practice social distancing, and avoid going into the office if their work is not "essential."  State and local leaders have issued various orders, and businesses have moved to remote work or laying off employees.  Unemployment has skyrocketed, Americans are having trouble paying rent, and millions are hoping America can reopen sooner rather than later.  President Trump originally said he hoped to reopen the country by Easter, but that seems too ambitious.

"Good public health policy is good economic policy, and vice versa," Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, said in a statement.  "If the economy fails, there will be severe, long-term health consequences; and if the health care system fails, there will be severe, long-term economic consequences.  A nation decimated by the disease cannot have a functioning economy, and a catastrophic loss of jobs wreaks horrific damage on both mental and physical health."

Here are the five top level issues, per Heritage:

  1. Regional reopening
  2. Expand mitigation
  3. Build the science
  4. Launch an economic recovery
  5. Prepare for future pandemics
It may seem obvious to you, but in our Nation's Capitol, with its usual degree of logrolling, this is a good way of getting most everyone on the same sheet of music.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Overreacting to Winnie the Flu

For John, BLUFSomewhere Doctor Fauci said that if it feels like you are overreacting, you are probably where you need to be.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Anchorage Daily News, by Reporter Joseph O'Sullivan (of The Seattle Times), 9 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus one:

Even as some questions remain about the extent of the outbreak in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday announced he would return to the federal government the field hospital recently assembled in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center to help the health care system cope with the new coronavirus.

With the USNS Comfort still stationed in New York, and the USNS Mercy in Los Angeles, Inslee's decision could mark the first return of hospital beds to the federal government during the pandemic from anywhere in the nation.

The media meme was that the President wasn't reacting quickly enough, not doing enough.  And now it looks like the President overreacted.  Not only do we have this news flash.  Midweek Politico reported, the military hospital at the Javits Center and USNS Comfort, with a combined capacity of 2,500 beds, has 66 patients at the Javits Center and 44 patients aboard Comfort.

I don't actually think the President overreacted.  He did what made sense at the time, informed by the concerns of the various State Governors.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 9, 2020

China's Concerns Regarding Afghanistan

For John, BLUFThe current Administration is working on pulling US forces out of Afghanistan, where we have sunk billions of dollars, but seem unable to bring democracy and (classic) liberalism.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From War on the Rocks, by Academic Yun Sun, 8 April 2020.

Here is the lede plus five:

With the U.S. troop withdrawal in sight, Afghanistan's future seems less certain than ever.  As a neighboring state with significant interests at stake, how does China view and prepare for Afghanistan's future?

Since 9/11, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has presented a dilemma for China.  On the one hand, Beijing instinctively sees American troops in China's "backyard" as a serious strategic threat.  However, China believes that it has benefited from the security that the United States has provided there, especially in terms of curtailing the growth and spread of anti-China terrorist groups.  The implication of this dilemma is that China wants the United States to withdraw — but only when the withdrawal is responsible and does not leave a chaotic power vacuum that would destabilize the region.  The reality, however, is that the American decision regarding Afghanistan will be made in Washington — not Beijing — and that China must react to whatever moves the United States makes going forward.

The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha on Feb. 29, 2020.  The agreement has been met with official optimism in the United States.  China, however, is less sanguine about the agreement.  Beijing has little confidence in the internal Afghan peace process.  Instead, China expects that the U.S.-brokered agreement will lead to more instability, and that the region eventually will have to seek multilateral alternatives — including U.N. peacekeeping operations — to escape the abyss.

China's Historical Posture Toward Afghanistan

China's fundamental interest in Afghanistan is stability.  Chaos in Afghanistan, from Beijing's perspective, stokes Islamic fundamentalism that threatens domestic security in China, particularly in Xinjiang.  If anything, China is not a revisionist power in Afghanistan.  Given the choice, China would prefer to see an Afghanistan with internal stability and a functional government that is preferably but not necessarily neutral among great powers.  Having witnessed the quagmire in which Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States were each entrapped, China has always been convinced that Afghanistan is the "graveyard of empires."  Traditionally, Beijing believed that it should avoid serious entanglement in Afghan affairs at all costs.

China's overall view of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is a mixture of conflicting factors.  On the negative side, China saw the invasion as the United States establishing a foothold in the heart of the Eurasian continent that could then be used to contain China.  Beijing views the ongoing war with the Taliban as the United States "irresponsibly" destabilizing the country and rattling the region.  From the Chinese perspective, 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan fostered the radicalization of Muslims in the region and directly contributed to the unrest in China's northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.  But, on the positive side, the Chinese have viewed America's wars since 9/11 as the best thing that has happened to China since the end of the Cold War — a god-sent "window of strategic opportunity" that gave Beijing a decade to build its strength while Washington was distracted, bogged down, and spending trillions of dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  While the United States needed China's nominal support for its war on terror, China played up the terrorist threats in Xinjiang, using the global war on terror to justify its policy in the Uighur region.

On the one hand China is concerned about Muslim radicals meddling in China internal affairs, such as the Uighur community.  On the other hand, China is no encourager of freedom and democracy.  We can expect China to try and pull Afghanistan into its Belts and Roads initiative.  But, can they export their social credit system to the very decentralized "nation" of Afghanistan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yun Sun is the director of the China program and co-director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Holy Thursday Service

For John, BLUFAttendance at Mass is waived for an indefinite period due to Winnnie the Flu.  But, Father Nicholas Sannella, and the staff, including Pastoral Associate Claire Couillard, are working to provide us with liturgies on line.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Merrimack Valley Bishop Robert F Hennessey will be celebrating Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church on Thursday, at 11:00 AM.  It should be on the Immaculate Conception website and on Facebook.

See you on the Internet.

Regards  —  Cliff

Why Are There COVID-19 Hot Spots

For John, BLUFMy working theory is that culture is a factor in the spread of Winnie the Flue.  When I say cultural, I am talking about the social mores that are passed on from parents to children.  As in Europe, in the United States these generally acceptable ways of action vary from place to place, as does the rates of COVID-19 infection and death.  But, this is little examined, except perhaps by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she does not seem to get it in toto.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Zero Hedge, by Analyst Tyler Durden, 7 April 2020.  Do you think that is his real name?

Here is the lede plus three:

After New Orleans last month emerged as the United States' new southern epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic, threatening other states across the region, a review in Bloomberg Law of how the South as already "the sickest part of America" could be hit hardest before the crisis eventually wanes paints a very bleak picture.

Home to the highest rates of obesity, hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes, combined with expansive rural and impoverished areas that have poor health care access, the South is especially vulnerable for a "virus that is particularly lethal for people with underlying health conditions," according to the report.

“Covid-19 is going to be a disaster in the Southeast,” Aaron Milstone, a Tennessee pulmonologist, told Bloomberg Law.  “We’ll see higher morbidity, which is getting sick from the virus, and higher mortality, which is dying from the virus.”

Further, the report reads, "Four of the five states with the highest diabetes rates are in the South.  And eight didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving thousands of families without access to routine care, even as financially troubled rural hospitals wither away."

Here is how The Old Gray Lady describes the situation:
“This is a call-to-action moment for all of us,” said Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, who announced statistics of the outbreak in her city this week.  African-Americans account for more than half of those who have tested positive and 72 percent of virus-related fatalities in Chicago, even though they make up a little less than a third of the population.

“Those numbers take your breath away, they really do,” said Ms. Lightfoot, who is the city’s first black woman elected as mayor.  She added in an interview that the statistics were “among the most shocking things I think I’ve seen as mayor.”

In Illinois, 43 percent of people who have died from the disease and 28 percent of those who have tested positive are African-Americans, a group that makes up just 15 percent of the state’s population.  African-Americans, who account for a third of positive tests in Michigan, represent 40 percent of deaths in that state even though they make up 14 percent of the population.  In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died are black, though only a third of that state’s population is.

Even Boston's member of the House Squad, Representative Ayanna Pressley is raising the flag on this disproportionate impact on the Black and Hispanic communities.

Before we lock in on why there is this disparity, we need to understand the why.  It could be poorer overall health of minority groups.  But then why?  Lack of medical services or health habits over time?  Or is it something to do with other factors in how minority communities live, perhaps not assimilating with the larger Caucasian population?  One thing to keep in mind is that crying racism is not the same as adopting useful life styles, adopting them even if they are a little strange or uncomfortable.

As a stark example of how different actions can achieve different results, from Dr. Tara O and the East Asia Research Center we have "A Tale of Two Models: Taiwan and South Korea in the Handling of the Coronavirus Pandemic - East Asia Research Center".  Taiwan did two things differently from South Korea.  One was banning of travel between Mainland China and Taiwan.  The other was stopping the export of masks and distributing them to the population.  South Korea continued shipping of masks.  One wonders if mask wear was being avoided in US hot spots?

Regards  —  Cliff

  The founder of the Center is Dr. Tara O.  She has worked at the Pentagon and the Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command as a U.S. Air Force officer focusing on East Asia issues.  Her research areas include national security, alliance, human rights in North Korea, defectors, unification, and political and economic systems.