7 thoughts on “News/Politics 8-17-20

  1. Covid Spread Can’t Only Be Explained by Who’s Being ‘Bad’


    “There are some weird things going on in the coronavirus data. It’s curious that cases dropped so fast, and have stayed pretty low, in the spring hot zones — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And why did cases remain so low in Idaho and Hawaii until recently?

    The mainstream narrative is that it’s all about good behavior when cases go down — mask wearing and giving up our social lives for the greater good. And conversely, bad behavior must be what makes them go up. We talk about certain regions having the virus “under control,” as if falling cases are purely a matter of will-power. A sort of moral reasoning is filling in for evidence.

    But why, then, have cases plummeted in Sweden, where mask wearing is a rarity?

    This is the time to use scientific methods to understand what’s happening. The pandemic has gone on long enough to reveal patterns in the way it spreads. If it’s all about behavior, that’s a testable hypothesis. If, as a few speculate, dramatic drops in some places have something to do with growing immunity in the population, we can also turn that into a testable hypothesis.

    “The issue with data is one can manipulate it to show anything you want if you have an agenda,” says YouYang Gu, an independent data scientist. Cherry picking is easy — prediction is much harder, and Gu is getting some attention for the fact that models he’s been creating since April actually forecast what’s happened with the spread of the disease in the U.S.

    He recently took to Twitter to urge public health officials to apply scientific thinking. He pointed to data on Louisiana, where cases were rising earlier in the summer and seemed to level off after various counties issued mask mandates.

    But breaking the data down by county, he says, revealed a different story. Mask mandates varied in their timing, but places that implemented them late saw no more cases or deaths than those that did so early. “I don’t think there’s currently enough evidence to support the fact that recent policy interventions (mask mandates, bar closures) were the main drivers behind the recent decrease in cases,” he wrote.

    That’s not to say that individual behavior doesn’t matter a lot — and the cancellation of big gatherings and other potential super-spreading events is more important than ever — but there may be more factors than we know driving the bigger picture.

    A few scientists are examining the possibility that previously hard-hit areas are now being affected by a buildup of immunity, even if it flies in the face of the widespread understanding that the disease has to run through at least 60% of the population to achieve so-called herd immunity. (So far, antibody tests show only some 10-20% of the U.S. population has had the disease.)

    The term herd immunity is a little vague in this context. It was created to characterize the impact of immunization. It refers to the percentage of the population that must get immunized in order for a pathogen to die out — a quantity that depends on the nature of the virus, the efficacy of the vaccine and the behavior of the hosts. If natural immunity is starting to help in some places, that would suggest herd immunity is a reasonable and worthy goal of an immunization program.

    But scientists have little experience applying herd immunity to a natural infection, and what understanding they have is changing. Scientists have started to investigate the possibility that there’s another critical factor here — heterogeneity in the way humans interact, and in our inherent, biological susceptibility to this disease.”


  2. What’s slowing Miami’s COVID spread? Partial ‘herd immunity’ may play a part


    “As a deadly summer wave of virus continues to recede, Miami-Dade County officials and scientists are trying to figure out what combination of factors may have contributed to slowing a surge of COVID cases that at one point threatened to topple South Florida’s healthcare infrastructure.

    Social distancing measures, face mask orders and curfews certainly helped, public health experts say, but so did other factors that they’re still working to understand — specifically, the seasonality of the virus and so-called herd immunity, which occurs when enough people in an area are infected with a virus to nearly eliminate transmission.

    In Miami-Dade, Florida’s hardest hit county, there have been more than 140,000 confirmed cases — more than twice the number of cases in the next highest county, Broward — and a number that is certainly an undercount, according to blood surveys by county and federal officials that estimate the true infection rate is at least five times higher.

    If those estimates are correct, that would mean Miami-Dade’s total infection rate could range from 10% to as high as 30% of the county’s population. That’s still far from reaching the threshold where herd immunity could reduce transmission to zero. The threshold for the novel coronavirus is still being debated, but is generally thought to require at least a 60% infection rate.

    Opponents of public health restrictions have argued that herd immunity alone can stop transmission in hard-hit places such as Miami and, earlier in the course of the pandemic, New York City.

    But if the coronavirus were allowed to spread and reach full herd immunity in the United States, the “death toll would be enormous,” White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.

    Scientists emphasize that partial herd immunity only contributes to a decline and is not enough on its own to end the pandemic.

    “What’s important to understand is that all of these things add up,” said Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “A modest amount of help from herd immunity combined with partially effective control measures, combined with the fact that it’s summer.”

    But he also cautioned that the slow, downward slope of new cases in South Florida isn’t a reason to abandon any safeguards at all. The safeguards are one of the main reasons for the declines.”


  3. This is today’s Democrat party. The choice is easy.

    I skipped the offensive, cuss filled tweet. You’ll have to click the link to see it.


    “Today’s Democratic Party is exemplified by John Thompson, who won a primary on Tuesday and is the DFL-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 67A. Earlier today he led a BLM harassment effort at the home of Bob Kroll, President of the Minneapolis Police Department’s union. As you can see, Thompson is a profane, violent lunatic:”


    “It is highly probable that John Thompson will be a member of the Minnesota legislature beginning in January. This is today’s Democratic Party. If these are not the people you want running our country, you had better not just vote Republican, but contribute to Republican candidates and volunteer for their campaigns.

    UPDATE: Commenter Roxy7 writes:

    I am old enough to remember when men including Black men would not use that type of profane language in the presence of women, children or the elderly. It was something decent men simply did not do in public. Yet here you have a democrat candidate using this language to address women and what appear to be teenage girls. This profane ignorant ill mannered bitter person is someone democrats think should command respect and be placed in a leadership position? The people who support a man who would speak like this in public will be stunned when Trump wins easily in Nov.

    Our commenter is right. We obviously are witnessing a decline in our civilization. What is not certain is that President Trump, who at this point represents the forces of sanity, will win in November. While most of us were not paying attention, the crazies have multiplied, in part because of our unbelievably bad educational system. Whether our civilization can be saved remains to be seen. Ask me on November 4.”


    They’re unhinged. This is a sitting member of Congress. She’s calling for the rioting mobs to target her political opponents.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Only a liberal could miss the irony here….

    So it’s OK to show up “In Person” to protest voting “In Person,” but not to vote “In Person.”

    Alrighty then…. 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The smart ones are leaving. 🙂


    “Empty apartments in Manhattan reach record high, topping 13,000”

    “The number of apartments for rent, or listing inventory, more than doubled over last year and set a record for the 14 years since data started being collected, according to a report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel.

    While hundreds of thousands of residents left the city in March and April in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, brokers and landlords hoped many would start returning in July and August.

    July’s weakness, and what brokers say is already a slow August, suggests that Manhattan’s real estate and economic troubles could extend well into the fall or beyond.”


  6. Of course Dems want it to stop, because they know where and who it all leads too.


    ““Gosh almighty.” Those words from former Vice President Joe Biden sum up plenty about the announced criminal plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Of course, Biden was not referring to the implications of the FBI lawyer who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for the efforts to continue the surveillance of an adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump. Nor was he referring to growing evidence that the Russia investigation was launched based on false and flawed evidence.

    Biden was referring to the federal investigation by United States Attorney John Durham that led to the criminal plea by Clinesmith. Like most other Democrats, Biden previously denounced the investigation and the effort to look into criminality. Now that criminality has been found, Democrats and commentators still insist there are no reasons to continue it.

    From the start, Democrats overwhelmingly condemned the investigation despite admitting Durham is a respected prosecutor. Leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff deemed the investigation “tainted” and “political.” Biden mocked the very idea of an “investigation of the investigators” and added, “Give me a break. Gosh almighty.”

    These are the same figures who repeatedly cited plea agreements in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller as proof that real crimes were waiting to be found. When the plea by former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was announced, it was cited as the critical development even though FBI agents said they did not believe Flynn had intentionally lied about his conversations with Russian diplomats.

    Many in the media cited the plea by Flynn to disprove the insistence by Trump that the Mueller investigation was a hoax. But they are not citing the plea by Clinesmith to disprove the statement by Biden. Indeed, they have barely covered it. It does not appear to matter that Clinesmith said “viva la resistance” after the 2016 election or that, after claiming he was devastated by the victory of Trump, he lamented that “my god damned name was all over those legal documents investigating his staff.”

    But several Democrats and commentators maintained there was never a targeting of the campaign before the special counsel appointment. That was untrue. Declassified documents show that an agent was used with a national security briefing of Trump and his aides during the campaign to gather information for the Russia investigation. Who did the agent report to? Clinesmith and Peter Strzok at the FBI, who infamously referred to his own “insurance” with the chance that Trump might be elected.

    This is a plea agreement so it is not known what information Clinesmith may have shared. Moreover, this is just the first public move by Durham, just as Flynn was the early salvo for Mueller. But the date of this criminal false statement is key. In September 2016, administration officials leaked the existence of the classified investigation in the midst of the campaign and suggested Trump adviser Carter Page was a Russian agent.

    This secret surveillance started the next month, based on that allegation against Page, when he was in fact an American asset. The FISA court was never told that information in the surveillance application was derived in part from the dossier, or that it was paid for by the opposition campaign. Nor was it told that at the time, FBI agents challenged both the bias and credibility for the dossier author and past British spy Christopher Steele, who was known to have given interviews for the media and claimed that he was trying to defeat Trump and assist the Clinton campaign.”


    And Crooked Comey knew he was a US asset, because he was told he was more than once. Yet he persisted with this gross miscarriage of justice.

    At 3:15 into the video….

    “Comey already knew Carter Page was an asset of the CIA. You know how I know this? Carter Page before the first FISA warrant application, he sent Comey a direct letter that said I work for the CIA. I’m not a Russian spy. How do I know that? Because he gave me a copy of the letter, it’s in both of my books. It’s also part of his Congressional testimony you’ll recall. So isn’t it true that James Comey concealed this information from the FISA Court and perpetrated a fraud when he signed the FISA warrants?”


    Yes, it’s true.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. VDH nails it again.

    “Between the abyss and what goes on in Portland and the Magnificent Mile, there is for the moment nothing else but Trump standing in the breach.”


    “Perhaps 70 percent of Trumpism remains a hodgepodge of Reaganism: strong defense, realist foreign policy, deregulation, smaller government, big deficits, tax cuts, energy growth, and stars-and-stripes traditionalism.

    But it is the other unorthodox 30 percent that excited his base, terrified conservative apostates, and won Trump the 2016 election by energizing between 4 million and 6 million voters in swing states who had either given up on Republicans, or on elections altogether. NeverTrumpers talk of Trump’s demise and their own resurrection as Phoenixes to rebirth the GOP. They have no idea that those who despise them had ensured their Beltway-preferred candidates could rarely win; nothing has changed since.

    Trumpist conservatism is usually defined as not free, but fair trade, strict enforcement of immigration laws, an end to optional interventions that will not likely, in a cost-to-benefit analysis, result in U.S. interests or strategic calm for a purported troubled region, and a belief that industry and manufacturing are not brick-and-mortar anachronisms, but the creators of what we cook on, sit on, live in, drive, and work in; our non-virtual world that everyone relies on and yet takes for granted as so passé.

    If Trump left his agenda at that, NeverTrumpers likely would be disgruntled but mostly quiet. The Left, as is its wont with Republican presidents, would have remained serially hysterical as in the Reagan and Bush years, but not completely unhinged as it has been since 2017.

    What distinguished Trump then was not just his substance, but also his style. Translated it could be envisioned as chemotherapy, toxic enough to kill the status-quo cancer, but not quite lethal enough to kill the host. Or maybe Trump derangement arose from class disdain over the orange skin, the combed over dyed hair, the mile-long ties, the Queens accent, the oddly agile bulkiness, the raucous Manhattan career—the antithesis to all that appears on the Sunday morning talk shows.

    Or maybe Trump’s don’t-tread-on-me brand could be defined as a remedy, a promise no longer to lose nobly rather than to win ugly (the last Republican to do so had been George H. W. Bush in 1988).

    Or maybe the rub was rather than being defensive about having neither prior military nor political experience, Trump was boastful and strutting about just such inoculation from Washington. Whereas his haters believed he was unscientific in not consulting with the beltway intelligentsia, he countered not only that they were overrated, but to most outside their bubble were themselves silly, self-important, and superfluous.

    Most hated Trump not because he hated or ridiculed them, but because he found them useless, as we saw from the fixations of John Brennan and James Clapper to the dazed pundits of NeverTrump to the wise men of the retired military.

    What created the hatred of Trump and his supporters, then, was not a rather heterodox political agenda (see below), but a style that took on the Left on its own terms, and shocked a Republican establishment—again not just by conjuring the specter of Lee Atwater, but by shrugging as irrelevant his ostracism by the traditional conservative beltway insider.

    We forget some Republicans could be crass and crude, albeit in their own polite way. I would prefer a supposed braggart cracking down on China, or a purported narcissist closing the border, or an alleged demagogue promising change in the Rust Belt than any more sermons from privileged gentlemen conservatives that tolerating illegal immigration “is an act of love,” or silent agreement that those manufacturing “jobs are not coming back” as Obama put it, or wonkishly boy wonder Paul Ryan being drilled in a debate by the vacuous smiling Joker Joe Biden or Mitt Romney oblivious that Candy Crowley had just hijacked his debate momentum—and with it the election.

    Crassness is not a requisite for needed change, but so often in a flawed world the two are shared, in the reverse fashion that gaseous pieties are frequently voiced by the sober and judicious.

    But all this is irrelevant when we consider what Trump did rather than what he said.

    I mean not just that action matters more than rhetoric, but rather to evaluate Trump by the general past standards of presidential comportment rather than through Platonic ideals. Trump is less randy and gross in office than were reckless and sexually cruel but now revered icons like John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton. He has not weaponized the federal government for political advantage in the manner of Barack Obama (who may go down soon as the most corrupt president since Warren G. Harding).

    Trump, of “Crooked Hillary,” “lock her up,” and “Sleepy Joe” infamy, was more likely to react concretely to the plight of the inner city and the economic aspirations of minorities and the white working-class, who were not just crushed by globalization but so often ignored by their supposed champions of both parties. “


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