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31 May, 2020  

The World Health Organization Was Against Quarantines Only Last Year

I recommend to you a document written in saner times, and published by the World Health Organization: “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza.” It came out in 2019. I’ve embedded it below.

When the document says influenza, it is referring to any influenza-like infection which is inclusive of COVID-19; that is, any pandemic virus that happens to come along. In the last 100 years, they give examples of four prior to the current virus.

The point of the report is to examine a series of what are called non-pharmaceutical interventions, which can cover the full range of strategies of disease control, from hand washing to surface cleaning to mask wearing to quarantines to travel restrictions. The document contains both good and regrettable material, both of which are covered below. But the standout points for us today are that the World Health Organization only last year solidly recommended against quarantines even if it is only limited to the exposed and sick.

It never even considered the notion of universally locking down an entire population. In that sense, it is an improvement over current practice, and evidence that governments around the world threw out long-standing law and tradition in a disease panic, shattering human relationships and the global economy.

That said, a major problem with the document is its overly formal approach that seeks to model disease severity and government response.

The pandemic influenza severity assessment (PISA) framework was introduced by WHO in 2017. The severity of an influenza epidemic or pandemic is evaluated and monitored through three specific indicators: transmissibility (referring to incidence), seriousness of disease, and impact on health care system and society. The severity is categorized into five levels: no activity or below seasonal threshold, low, moderate, high or extraordinary. The PISA framework is being tested and improved during seasonal influenza epidemics; the aim is to help public health authorities to monitor and assess the severity of influenza, and to inform appropriate decisions and recommendations on interventions.

Almost everything here rests on the ability to discern and model disease severity in real time. The trouble is that we have to make the judgement call in the midst of this pandemic. Dr. Fauci in late February wrote that “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza.” By WHO standards, that would qualify as “moderate.”

A few weeks later, fear of hospital bed shortages and a lack of ventilators caused that assessment to change. In a few short days, we moved from thinking this was a seasonal problem to treating it as the most severe pandemic since 1918, and it’s not really clear why. The more we know about the virus, the more we realize that Fauci’s original assessment was closer to the truth, especially when considering how it targets especially those with very low life expectancy, exactly as John Ioannidis predicted on March 7.

Deciding whether and to what extent non-pharmaceutical interventions might be necessary is easily modelled on paper but far more difficult to assess in real time. Everything is clear looking backwards. We can know what we need to know about managing the pandemics of 1968, 1957, 1948-51 (during which times government did almost nothing and left disease mitigation to the professionals), and 1918, when some governments used powers condemned by medical professionals later.

But planning backwards in time is not what the WHO proposed last year. They expected high-end health professionals to become central planners in real time, in the midst of enormous confusion over data. It’s just not possible to do that. Empowering governments with the responsibility to make such extra decisions over people’s lives and freedom might not be the wisest route to take.

Nonetheless, there is a fairly large gap between what the WHO recommended in 2019 and what governments actually did in 2020.

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Here's a Relief: Corpus Christi Jihad Attack Condemned by...Catholic Bishop

Few Americans even know that there was a jihad attack in Corpus Christi, Texas last week. But Michael Mulvey, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi, is well aware. Last Thursday, a 20-year-old Muslim migrant from Syria named Adam Salim Alsahli, according to CNN, “attempted to rush the security gate with a vehicle.” Then, after “security deployed a barrier to stop the vehicle,” Alsahli “exited the vehicle and opened fire…and naval security forces returned fire.”

Alsahli was “neutralized.” After his attack, officials “identified various social media accounts, which initial reports indicate are likely associated with the shooter….Online postings by these accounts expressed support for ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” But you can relax now: the Roman Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi has condemned the attack, so all is well.

As far as we know, Mulvey had nothing to do with the attack, but nonetheless, as Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported, he announced Thursday: “I condemned the act of terrorism that was perpetrated this morning at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. These acts of violence are heinous, but they will not undermine our resolve to work for peace in our hearts, and our society. Our prayer is with the sailor who was injured this morning.” CNA noted that Mulvey “pledged to be a force for peace in the face of evil.”

Well, that’s a relief. You know that concerned citizens all over the country were on the edge of their seats, wondering whether the Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi was going to applaud or condemn the attack. Now he has come down on the side of the angels, we can all relax and go about our business.

Mulvey’s statement was similar to dozens of condemnations of jihad terror attacks that politicians and other public figures have issued after jihad massacres all over the world in the last few years. It is unclear what moves them to make these statements. Did anyone really think that Michael Mulvey, a Catholic bishop, might be in favor of Adam Alsahli’s jihad attack?

Are there people out there who suspected that Michael Mulvey helped Adam Alsahli buy his gun or otherwise prepare for his jihad, and were such suspicions so persistent that the good bishop felt it necessary to clear the air? Does Michael Mulvey think that his condemnation will stop future jihadis from carrying out their attacks, for fear that the local Roman Catholic bishop will condemn them?

If Michael Mulvey is sane, which presumably he is, then he knows that the answer to all those questions is no, and so there was no reason whatsoever for him to issue his condemnation except to signal his virtue. Mission accomplished.

But the bitter irony here is that no matter how thunderous Mulvey’s condemnation was, and no matter how resoundingly it inspired pangs of conscience in jihadis everywhere, and no matter how hard Mulvey tries to be a “force for peace,” he will find himself unable to persuade jihadis to lay down their arms and stop waging war against unbelievers, because those jihadis consider that war a divine command (cf. Qur’an 9:29).

What’s more, the Roman Catholic Church in general is indefatigably committed to Pope Francis’ ridiculous claim that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” That is, the Catholic Church is institutionally committed to ignoring and denying the ideological wellsprings that give rise to attacks such as that of Adam Salim Alsahli.

Consequently, no matter how much Mulvey works to be a “force for peace,” he will find himself confronted with jihadis who, in his view, persistently misunderstand their own religion. But he can’t deal with that problem in any realistic manner; to do so would be to deny one of the modern-day Catholic Church’s most cherished newly-minted dogmas, that Islam is a religion of peace.

It is worth noting also that both Adam Alsahli and Mohammed Alshamrani, who attacked another naval air station in Florida in December, were foreign nationals; Alsahli came to the U.S. as a “refugee” and Alshamrani as a foreign student. The Catholic Church strenuously opposes any efforts to reform the programs by which they entered the country.

And so Michael Mulvey might as well go the whole way and have printed a whole pad full of his condemnations of jihad activity, so that all he has to do is fill in blanks for the place and date of the attack. He will find that he will go through such a pad with remarkable speed.

“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

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When the personal becomes political

By Scott Sumner

When I was young, the Democratic Party included African Americans, factory workers, nerdy intellectuals, and many other diverse groups. Democrats and Republicans were roughly equally likely to be pro-choice or pro-life. In many ways, that was a healthy state of affairs. Recently, however, we have increasingly sorted into blue and red tribes, in a number of dimensions.

At some point, even seemingly non-political lifestyle issues became political. President Trump recently announced that he was taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary step (and then later stopped doing so). A few days ago, he visited a Ford factory and did not wear a mask in the public part of the visit. (Later he did wear a mask when he was off camera.)  President Trump frequently describes himself as a germaphobe.  Thus I suspect that his reluctance to wear masks in public settings has a political dimension.

Inevitably, everything the president does is criticized by some and defended by others. But in this post I’m more interested in the way that lifestyle choices become increasingly seen through a political lens.

Consider the following two lifestyles: One person likes to eat lots of juicy steaks. They get high cholesterol and take a statin to control the problem. Another person likes to eat lots of sushi and kale salads, which they view as a healthy diet. Which person is more likely to vote for Trump?

In the 1950s, the question would have seemed absurd. What does diet preference have to do with political affiliation? Today I suspect that most people would see the steak eater who takes a statin as more likely to vote for Trump.

If I told you I had a somewhat “macho” friend who thought wearing a mask was effeminate, and who strongly believed in the effectiveness of taking hydroxychloroquine, who would you guess that he would vote for?   And is it a healthy state of affairs to be able to predict political affiliation based on lifestyle issues (or scientific judgments) with no obvious connection to politics?  Is it healthy for a country to increasingly sort into red and blue tribes?

I see libertarianism as the ideology that tries to make fewer things political.  Thus I’m not pleased to see us move toward an “everything’s political” world.  It’s not so much that there’s anything wrong with different points of view on wearing masks or taking particular drugs, it’s that I’d prefer those points of view not be linked to unrelated political ideologies.

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‘This virus doesn’t want to kill us’

This is the inside story of how Australian scientists in some ways got the jump on the world.  Australia has had great success in controlling the virus.  Was the early understanding of the virus among Australian scientists part of that?

“This virus doesn’t want to kill us. It has no brain, no will. It just wants to grow and reproduce, to obey the laws of evolution and natural selection.” So says Professor Peter Doherty, a man who knows a thing or two about unpicking a virus. If the virus that causes COVID-19 did have a brain it would probably avoid coming up against the 79-year-old, Brisbane-raised, Nobel prize-winning immunologist who in the mid-1990s unlocked the secret of how our body’s immune system gives viruses a good kicking.

His name has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight again as patron of the research and public health organisation that bears his name, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. No organisation in Australia has been more prominent in tackling COVID-19, not only in the lab but in shaping government policy through the findings of its public health scenario modellings. “I’d just written my retirement book,” Doherty laughs down the phone from his home in Melbourne, where his age means he’s under strict isolation. “I thought I was fading into the distance and now suddenly I’m back as a talking head.”

There’s a lot to talk about. If we are in an ­enviable position in this war against COVID-19, with the tantalising prospect of life returning to normal seeming closer every day, it’s in part due to the early work of scientists at the Doherty Institute.

It’s easy to forget those early days back in ­January, when bushfires preoccupied the country and no one suspected a mysterious virus in China would within two months result in unimaginable global upheaval. But in the age of globalisation, viruses can move faster than even the news cycle, and so can those who fight them. Within hours of Australia’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 landing on our shores, the Doherty Institute had grown the virus in culture and shared it with the world (the first lab outside China to do so), sequenced the entire genome of the virus, mapped the human body’s immune response to the infection and was supplying the modelling that informed the Federal Government’s response in imposing the lockdown restrictions. Now its ­scientists are collaborating on a vaccine and testing possible treatments. Things have happened so fast that you could almost swear they were waiting for this virus.

Actually, they were. Doherty director Sharon Lewin calls it “peacetime preparations”: all the work that goes on when you’re not in the grip of a pandemic, when you’re not sure what sort of infectious disease will hit next but you know it will and you’d better be ready for it. It was SARS that primed the institute for COVID-19, but its bread-and-butter work is annual outbreaks of influenza, tracking cases in the community and developing new vaccines and treatments. “SARS was very infectious but the difference was people would only spread the virus when they were unwell,” says Lewin, “so you knew who was spreading it because they were sick and usually in hospital. But nothing like this new coronavirus has ever affected us.”

A collaboration between The University of ­Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Doherty Institute was born out of another disaster – the Global Financial Crisis – as a recipient of the Rudd government’s 2009 stimulus splash in the tertiary sector. It was established to deal with the exact sort of crisis we’re in right now.

The first cases of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness emerged from the wet markets of Wuhan, China in late December. It was soon confirmed to be a new type of coronavirus, and on January 7 China revealed to the world its genetic sequence – like sharing a fingerprint from a crime scene. “That’s when people started getting nervous,” says Lewin. “It was different to SARS. It set alarms off around the world.” The impetus for countries outside China was then on designing a diagnostic molecular test (called a PCR assay), so they’d know if the virus washed up on their shores. But Australia was a step ahead. We already had the test.

“The tests were designed in the wake of SARS and MERS, predicting that this would happen again and we’d need a test capable of detecting an unknown coronavirus,” says Mike Catton, director of the Doherty Institute’s Victorian Infectious ­Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL).

Having the virus’s genetic sequence meant ­Catton and his team could quickly tailor their test to the new virus. From January 15 they started testing samples from anyone arriving from Wuhan displaying cold-like symptoms. Catton jokes that if anything urgent is going to happen, it’ll be on the Friday night before a long weekend. On Friday January 24, the lab got a call from Monash Hospital. Another return traveller from China had presented with corona­virus symptoms and a sample from the patient was taken back to the lab for testing. By 2am they had preliminary results, and by 4am had completed the entire genome sequencing, confirming the matter beyond all doubt that the fingerprints matched. COVID-19 was here.

Getting a positive ID was just the beginning. The next step was to try to grow the virus in cell culture. If growing a virus is an art form then Julian Druce is the artist. Druce is the senior scientist at VIDRL’s viral identification laboratory, where he tends to cultures in flasks with the tender touch of the finest orchid grower. Other labs had failed to get it to sprout, but Catton says if anyone in the world could grow it, Druce could. The practice of growing cultures was once de rigueur, but is now almost antiquated since the molecular test revolutionised virology in the late 1980s. While a molecular test will place your suspect at the crime scene, only by having a viable virus strain grown in culture can you fully interrogate the virus and learn its nature and characteristics, allowing you to potentially design antiviral drugs and vaccines.

Over the weekend Druce and Catton watched their virus grow, sometimes in the lab during the day, sometimes in the middle of the night. When unable to sleep, they would periodically open the laptop and hook into a webcam pointed at the flask back at the office. “It was really exciting,” says ­Catton, adding drolly: “if that’s your idea of excitement.” By the time Australians were back at work on the Tuesday, VIDRL had uploaded the genome sequence to an international database and were spreading the virus round the world, but in a good way, with the hope it could still be contained.

Sharing the virus before having it accepted into an academic journal was a bold and unusual move. Researchers will usually keep their discoveries closely guarded until the findings can be published. It’s possible that at least two other labs around the world had grown the virus before the Doherty Institute, but were sitting on it. Julian Druce says they didn’t have time for that. “We wanted to get the genie back in the bottle. It was clear to us here that public health came before publication.”

Collaboration would also come before commercialisation, with the COVID-19 crisis heralding an unprecedented flurry of global scientific ­co-operation through the sharing of information, materials, expertise and facilities. “I think it sent a message to the world about how we should be playing this thing,” says Catton.

Immediately after sharing the virus, VIDRL focused on helping public health labs, diagnosing samples sent in from New Zealand and states without local capacity. Throughout March the focus was on getting Victorian hospitals and ­community pathology labs set up with their own testing programs. Australia now has the highest per capita testing rate in the world.

Having a viable virus in the lab meant that labs around the world could start work designing antiviral drugs to treat patients, test vaccine candidates and begin serology testing to detect antibodies deployed by our immune system to fight the virus.

At the same time as VIDRL was growing the virus, the institute was claiming another world-first. An early patient had her immune response to the virus scrutinised, providing vital information on how the body fights COVID-19. The 47-year-old woman from Wuhan became the first person in Australia to be tested under a platform called ­Sentinel Travellers and Research Preparedness Platform for Emerging Infectious Disease (SETREP-ID). Doherty Institute infectious disease physician Irani Thevarajan helped set up SETREP-ID two years ago, around the time when the world was getting jumpy over new diseases such as ebola and zika. The platform – with pre-approved ethics – allows for testing and research of any travellers returning to the country with an emerging infectious disease. “We set it up knowing that new infections could walk through the door any day,” says Thevarajan. “So we wanted to be able to do immediate detection and research, to gain an understanding of it when it arrived.”

Thevarajan activated SETREP-ID on January 7, back when the world wasn’t even sure if human to human transmission was possible, and calibrated it to recruit data from any return travellers from China. When the woman arrived at hospital in late January and tested positive to COVID-19, a team led by Dr Oanh Nguyen and Dr Katherine Kedzierska immediately started taking blood samples and mapping her immune system response.

“We wanted to know right away what the immune system does when it sees this new coronavirus, because no one knew at that stage,” Thevarajan says. It was mild case of COVID-19 but the study revealed valuable information about the immune response. However, Thevarajan says a vital part of the puzzle is still missing. “What we don’t fully understand is what’s driving the really severe disease. We don’t yet fully understand why most people recover but some don’t.”

Nor do we fully understand what we stand to lose as collateral damage in the battle against COVID-19. On February 3, a collaboration of researchers led by the Doherty Institute convened a workshop with the Office of Health Protection and jurisdictional representatives in Canberra to discuss modelling the impact of COVID-19 on our health system.

Modelling was released to the public on April 7, two months after being provided to the Federal Government, which used it to inform its public health response. It’s this modelling and the delay in releasing it to the public that’s subsequently become the most controversial and debated element of the early initiatives, and the one that may prove to have the most serious long-term consequences. Doherty director of epidemiology Jodie McVernon led the team that built the model. She says at that early meeting the team proposed a “very broad brush set of initial scenarios based on influenza pandemic preparedness assumptions about severity, which was then highly uncertain”.

Back in 2009, McVernon had led a team of modellers responding to the H1N1 influenza ­pandemic that killed half a million people globally. So when COVID-19 came along and a preparedness model was needed in a hurry they brought out the influenza plan as a template, updating data specific for COVID-19 as it came in. “It’s our business to be surprised. That’s what emergencies are about,” says McVernon. “The reason this [modelling] could be done so fast was because the government had invested in preparedness for a very long time. So the toolkit, the thinking and the strategies were ready, but as the data came in it became clear this was beyond the influenza scenarios.”

The modelling, though, came in for criticism for basing its assumptions on overseas data, for not taking into account Australia’s case numbers, ­different demographics, geography and health care system. Australia never saw the widespread virus transmission of places like Italy, Spain and New York. Some say this is because of the strict social distancing measures the government put in place. Others say it’s because Australia never had the effective reproduction number (the number of people infected by each person carrying the virus) that Wuhan did, our population isn’t as elderly as ­Italy’s, our rate of smoking is relatively low, we don’t have high-density slums, and a thousand other differences that mean a one-size-fits-all model was never going to be an accurate representation.

McVernon says they had no choice but to use overseas data, as that’s where the epidemics were occurring. She says they simply didn’t have time to wait. “We’re acutely attuned to the fact we have to contextualise this to our local setting,” she says, “but you have to start with what you have. Yes, there were uncertainties, but the model is there to help you come to a consistent set of decisions. You ask yourself if any of those uncertainties would change your decisions.”

The modelling revealed that an unmitigated COVID-19 epidemic in Australia would have been a disaster, quickly overwhelming the health system. Suddenly “flattening the curve” became a phrase every Australian was familiar with. The curve was soon flattened, but at what cost? We won’t know until later the legacy of shutting down the economy, consigning so many Australians to the unemployment queue, or the other social impacts. One million Australians have become unemployed, and the Federal Government’s economic support packages are costing the country $320 billion.

McVernon admits she’s nervous about the ­collateral damage but stands by the measures. She says it was their job to avert a crisis. “It’s not a stretch to compare COVID-19 with the plague. ­People are saying that public health is being allowed to run the ­government. Well, I think there was definitely a need for public health to lead the charge to avert a catastrophe. That was our single task.”

The world waits for a vaccine. Doherty Institute virologist Dr Damian Purcell says more than 100 vaccine concepts are being worked on. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to produce a vaccine candidate,” he says, “what really takes time is the testing.” The institute’s collaboration with the University of Queensland to design a vaccine is one of those 100. Purcell says UQ started the work on ­January 20 and it’s now being tested on ferrets in the Netherlands prior to human trials. Elsewhere overseas, other vaccine candidates are already at the human trial stage.

In-house, the institute is working on its own vaccine candidates, thanks to a $3.2 million donation from the Jack Ma Foundation. Meanwhile, two ­international groups, one from Britain’s Oxford University and another from US group Inovio, are testing vaccine ­candidates at the CSIRO in Geelong. CSIRO has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), part of a global alliance aiming to speed up the development of vaccines, and in April was given $220 million by the Federal Government to upgrade its biosecurity research facilities and help expedite the quest for a vaccine.

Purcell says international collaboration and funding are the keys to unlocking a vaccine. “Funding is the thing that fires up the rocket sled. But things are highly accelerated now because people are sharing information in real time. A lot of the problems with vaccine development is it’s so expensive to manufacture at a high grade and going through the larger scale testing, so we’re speeding up the process of the early phase testing. As soon as things look remotely good and we get the safety signals, we pull the trigger and manufacture.”

If it sounds simple, don’t kid yourself. Developing a vaccine is one thing, but working out how to safely mass produce what is a very complex biological product for the consumption of millions, to fight a virus we still don’t know a lot about, and doing it by yesterday, requires navigating seemingly insurmountable problems. Purcell believes we will get a vaccine, but he’s just not sure if it will be the elixir the world is expecting. “It may be difficult to achieve effective vaccination of the elderly, we just don’t know. Therapeutic antibodies or anti-­viral drugs may turn out to be more important. That’s why we need to advance all fronts.”

Other fronts include a trial led by the institute involving 2500 people in more than 80 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand (called the ASCOT trial) to assess the effectiveness of two antiviral drugs, lopinavir/ritonavir (used to treat HIV) and hydroxy­chloroquine, the antimalarial drug touted by ­Donald Trump and Clive Palmer.

It’s also partnering with Monash University on a study of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin. Early experiments done at the Doherty Institute days after the virus was identified in Australia showed that Ivermectin killed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within 48 hours in cell culture. Dr Kylie Wagstaff from Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute says anecdotal evidence is good, but getting the dosing right is the key before human trials in Australia can start.

Peter Doherty, who still has a key research advisory role with the institute, remains relaxed and grounded, an endearing everyman infected with an incurable case of humility. On April 27 he tweeted what was meant to be a Google search: “Dan Murphy opening hours.” Even strict isolation comes with occasional caveats. Rather than delete the tweet, he let it stay and gather likes and laughs. “Only flawed humans can be loved,” he later tweeted. “And I certainly qualify.”

The real work is more sobering. Doherty says the worst virus he’s ever seen is smallpox. It killed about 300 million people in the 20th century, about 30 per cent of those it infected. Ironically, it’s also the only human infectious disease ever to be eradicated, the last case occurring in 1978. “We’re probably not going to eradicate COVID-19,” says Doherty. “So whatever people think of what’s being done, we need to build up the armamentarium against this thing. It’s lethal.”

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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29 May, 2020  

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Vows to Push Ahead With Annexing West Bank

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said annexation would violate international law and vowed to use “all our diplomatic capacities” to stop it.

Closer to home, the Palestinians last week cut off security ties — a valuable tool in a shared struggled against Islamic militants — with Israel to protest the annexation plan.

Saudi Arabia, an influential Arab country that maintains behind-the-scenes relations with Israel, announced its “rejection of the Israeli measures and plans to annex Palestinian lands.”

The Arab League has condemned it as a “war crime,” and both Jordan and Egypt — the only two Arab countries at peace with Israel — have harshly criticized it.

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Wikipedia Co-Founder: Site’s Neutrality No Longer Exists, Favors Leftism


Conservatives have long been blowing the whistle on Wikipedia’s leftist bias. The site’s co-founder Larry Sanger apparently agrees with them.

In a blog post last week, Sanger argued that Wikipedia has abandoned all neutrality in the name of avoiding what activist journalists call the “false balance” – the idea that not all opposing views of an argument should be given equal time. He goes through several pages to support his thesis, noting the rather charged language often employed.

When comparing the pages for former President Barack Obama and the current President Donald Trump, the differences are night and day, with the former receiving overwhelmingly positive treatment while the latter is frequently portrayed negatively.

“The Barack Obama article completely fails to mention many well-known scandals: Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the AP phone records scandal, and Fast and Furious, to say nothing of Solyndra or the Hillary Clinton email server scandal—or, of course, the developing ‘Obamagate’ story in which Obama was personally involved in surveilling Donald Trump,” argued Sanger.

“A fair article about a major political figure certainly must include the bad with the good,” he continued. “The only scandals that I could find that were mentioned were a few that the left finds at least a little scandalous, such as Snowden’s revelations about NSA activities under Obama. In short, the article is almost a total whitewash.”

Though some might claim the information is “objectively correct,” Sanger asserted that nobody can claim they are objectively neutral. In contrast to Barack Obama’s glowing treatment, Donald Trump is treated as if he does only wrong.

“The idea that the Donald Trump article is neutral is a joke,” he wrote. “Just for example, there are 5,224 none-too-flattering words in the ‘Presidency’ section. By contrast, the following ‘Public Profile’ (which the Obama article entirely lacks), ‘Investigations,’ and ‘Impeachment’ sections are unrelentingly negative, and together add up to some 4,545 words—in other words, the controversy sections are almost as long as the sections about his presidency.”

“Common words in the article are ‘false’ and ‘falsely’ (46 instances): Wikipedia frequently asserts, in its own voice, that many of Trump’s statements are ‘false.’ Well, perhaps they are. But even if they are, it is not exactly neutral for an encyclopedia article to say so, especially without attribution,” he continued. “You might approve of Wikipedia describing Trump’s incorrect statements as ‘false,’ very well; but then you must admit that you no longer support a policy of neutrality on Wikipedia.”

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The Lockdown, Evangelicals and the Afterlife: A Response to Steven Pinker

Dennis Prager

Harvard professor of psychology Steven Pinker tweeted last week:

"Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier. Exhibit A: What's really behind Republicans wanting a swift reopening? Evangelicals."

Before responding to Pinker's remarkably ignorant tweet, I want to praise him. He is one of the few professors in America to call out the left's destruction of our universities. Most human beings lack courage, but no group is more cowardly than academics. This has been true for 100 years. From the German universities to today, professors have almost never taken a position that required courage. Indeed, one might say that when you send your child to college, your child is taught to be a coward by the cowardly.

Two years ago, Pinker wrote:

"Universities are becoming laughing stocks of intolerance, with non-leftist speakers drowned out by jeering mobs, professors subjected to Stalinesque investigations for unorthodox opinions, risible guidelines on 'microaggressions' (such as saying 'I believe the most qualified person should get the job'), students mobbing and cursing a professor who invited them to discuss Halloween costumes, and much else. These incidents have drawn worldwide ridicule, and damage the credibility of university scientists and scholars when they weigh on critical matters, such as climate change."

It takes courage for a professor to write that our universities are "laughing stocks of intolerance," that they engage in "Stalinesque investigations" and draw "worldwide ridicule."

Having praised Pinker, let me now respond to his tweet.

First, "Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion ... "

I am not a Christian, evangelical or otherwise. I am a religious Jew who has written and lectured extensively on the afterlife. My belief in the afterlife is based entirely on a logical argument: If there is a just God, it is axiomatic there is an afterlife. There is little justice and fairness in this life, so if there is a just God, there has to be an afterlife. There is only one honest atheist response to this: "There is no God, so there is no afterlife. But if there is a God, you are right that there must be an afterlife."

So, belief in an afterlife is no more a "delusion" than belief in God. But it takes an unsophisticated arrogance to dismiss belief that the world has a designer and that intelligence must be created by intelligence as a "delusion." I was disappointed in Pinker, who I respect for his courageous comments and with whom I have dialogued on my radio show. His tweet reveals a truly shallow atheism.

In fact, I would argue that it is atheism that is a "malignant delusion."

Regarding the delusion part, I asked one of America's leading thinkers of the last half-century, the late Charles Krauthammer, a secular agnostic, what he thought of atheism. To my surprise, he responded:

"I believe atheism is the least plausible of all the theologies. It is clearly so contrary to what is possible. The idea that all this universe always existed, created itself? I mean, talk about the violation of human rationality."

And as regards the "malignant" charge, while there are, obviously, good individuals who are atheist, atheism is morally worthless. It makes no moral demands, whereas Judaism and Christianity posit a God who demands people obey, for example, the Ten Commandments. Atheism demands nothing; it only destroys the Judeo-Christian bases of morality in Western civilization, the civilization that gave the world democracy, liberty, women's equality and an end to slavery.

In fact, evangelical Christians are the greatest defenders of Western civilization, while Pinker's atheist colleagues at Harvard and elsewhere are the most active opponents of Western civilization. How does Pinker explain that? Which exactly is the "malignant delusion"?

Finally, evangelical Christians and other religious opponents of the continuing lockdown do not oppose continuation of the irrational, fear-driven, life-destroying lockdown -- projected to result in more deaths worldwide and even in parts of America than the coronavirus itself -- because of our belief in the afterlife. This is both stupid and a smear. It shows how even a Steven Pinker can be rendered foolish by atheism.

No one who actually knows evangelicals believes they oppose continuation of the lockdown because they value life less than secular proponents of continuing this lockdown.

Do evangelicals love their children and grandchildren less than atheists? Do evangelicals not do everything possible to save lives? There are evangelical hospitals and doctors serving in the poorest countries in the world. Where are the atheist hospitals?

Evangelicals oppose the continuing of the lockdown because they, more than any other large community in America, continue to believe in freedom. Without the evangelical community, we will no longer have liberty. From before the birth of America, liberty has been the cornerstone belief because it was a cornerstone Christian value. The founders engraved a liberty-affirming verse from the Bible (Leviticus 25:10) in the Liberty Bell. At the same time, from Lenin to Soros and today's Democratic Party, liberty has never been a left-wing value.


To Pinker and his colleagues, Patrick Henry's famous plea, "Give me liberty, or give me death," the foundational principle of our republic, must sound truly foolish. It must have been the product of a malignant delusion.

SOURCE 







A toxic feminist in Australia

Why this brouhaha over writer Clementine Ford and her tweeting “Honestly the coronavirus isn’t killing men fast enough” last week?  It was meant as a joke and I thought it was hilarious. If you think otherwise, chances are you should lighten up.

Just imagine all those men across the world inflicted with the disease: struggling to breathe, their lungs inflamed, their kidneys so badly damaged they cannot cleanse the blood, their vital organs gradually shutting down. Many are dying alone, their loved ones denied the chance to be at their side during their final moments. Yes Clementine, it makes you want to slap your thigh with delight, chortle loudly and sing a feminist empowerment song.

It should have been obvious to everyone that Ford does want not all men to die, particularly those who subsidise her lifestyle.

For example, if not for her Melbourne City Council artistic grant worth thousands of dollars which is partly funded by men, she would not be able to write her ironically titled book “How We Love”.

And only a philistine would deny she is a worthy recipient of this public largesse. As the ever-so-modest Ford herself pointed out to her detractors this week, the council was obviously inspired by the fact her books have collectively sold over 100,000 copies.

It does raise the question, though, of why a supposedly successful author has her hand out for public dosh. I hasten to add in asking this I am not casting aspersions on Ford, and that her applying for this should not be examined in the context of an entitlement mentality but rather her ongoing and noble struggle against patriarchy. Also, as the council’s art portfolio chair and Greens councillor Rohan Leppert confirmed, Ford’s application “met the criteria strongly”.

In response to Ford’s tweet, Lord Mayor Sally Capp requested a review into the funding program on Monday, saying she found her comments “deliberately divisive and incredibly unhelpful”.

Whatever the outcome, Leppert has already said this review will not overturn the original decision. “We have never sought to regulate the speech of grants recipients unrelated to the grant in question,” he stated, assuring artists the council was “not engaging in censorship”.

Translation: the council will not engage in censorship except when deciding which arts grants will be approved.

Despite his stressing the council must avoid “becoming the arbiter [of] taste and offence,” he as chair does exactly that. The funding guidelines for the grants expressly provide that “artists or arts organisations or applications that seek to exclude or offend parts of the community” are ineligible.

Incidentally, just over two years ago Leppert was demanding that Melbourne venues not host right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos during his speaking tour. Spare us his tosh about not wanting to constrain expression.

In fairness to Ford, she was hardly acting out of character. She has an extensive history of hurling vile abuse at conservative figures on social media, regardless of whether they are men or women. In 2017 the ABC was forced to apologise after Ford declared on live television that Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine was a “c**t”.

In 2015, she tweeted regarding Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi, who is of Iranian descent, “No matter how hard she tries, she’ll never be a white man.”

In 2013, when the Coalition assumed government, she sold “F. k Tony Abbott” T-shirts. Others she has called a “c**t” on Twitter include former senator Cory Bernardi, and former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop. In 2018 she tweeted “Eat shit Dutton,” referring to the Home Affairs Minister.

For most of that period she was employed as a columnist by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, yet seemingly she was still allowed to go the full Linda Blair on social media. In 2015, Ford applauded the sacking of a Sydney hotel supervisor who had called her a “slut” on Facebook after she alerted his employer to his comment. She also searched his Facebook page and took snapshots of racist and other offensive jokes.

“There are basically no consequences for men who behave like this, so we have to start making consequences for them,” she wrote.

If you need a wry laugh, just consider that Ford appeared on ABC that year to talk about “sexist double standards”.

It was only in September 2018 she was finally forced to curb her abuse of others following her suspension with pay after tweeting that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was a “f**king disgrace”. She terminated her arrangements with those newspapers in a Twitter huff in 2019, claiming the impetus was Nine’s takeover of the former Fairfax.

She remains unrepentant for all these vituperative tweets, yet uncharacteristically she apologised for her latest outburst, saying it was a case of misjudgment.

Given this immediately preceded mayoral intervention concerning her grant, it is not difficult to infer why she suddenly relented.

Now compare this with what she wrote for 10 Daily about 2GB presenter Alan Jones in 2019 and his comments about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, specifically, his calls to “shove a sock down her throat.

“Management at 2GB has a lot to answer for, prioritising profits at the expense of human dignity and protecting men who don’t deserve to be protected. In doing so, they’ve made it clear exactly where they stand – on the wrong side of history,” she wrote. “[Jones] has offered an apology to Ardern, but it seems to me that it was likely offered unwillingly and in a nod to damage control.”

But no doubt she would maintain her apology was both sincere and the act of a righteous woman.

As for Ford’s little solecisms, she need not worry too much about the media holding her to account.

Conduct a search of ABC’s online screen tool using her name and it will retrieve hundreds of entries relating to Ford, including shows promoting her books “Fight Like a Girl” and “Boys Will Be Boys”. Yet none of them mention this latest outburst. There is a reason for that and it has everything do with ABC’s championing of Ford and its contempt for conservatives.

For example, consider this excerpt from an interview Sunday Extra presenter Jonathan Green did with Ford in 2017. “You cop a lot of hate, especially online,” said a sympathetic Green. “I reckon this is the trademark of modern conservative argument: this is the logical inversion – the people who hate accuse you of doing the hating.”

Not only is that an inane generalisation; it falsely portrays Ford as an innocent victim of harassment and bullying.

As 3AW Drive host Tom Elliott said this week: “She put out this vitriol, this bile, to get a reaction”. He also labelled her a “man-hater”, saying: “Most women I know would have nothing to do with Clementine Ford”.

When interviewed on ABC’s One Plus One in 2018, Ford claimed she did not conflate the phrase “toxic masculinity” with masculinity.

“Some people make the mistake when they hear the phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ of thinking that what it means is that all masculinity is toxic,” she said. “Which is not the case. Toxic masculinity refers to the aspects and elements of masculinity that are weaponised by the patriarchy to cause harm to other people, sometimes to cause harm to men themselves.”

One might similarly observe that some people make the mistake when they hear the phrase “toxic feminism” of thinking what it means is that all feminism is toxic. That is not the case. Toxic feminism refers to the aspects and elements of feminism that are weaponised by misandrists to cause harm to other people, sometimes to cause harm to women themselves – especially those who publicly reject its parasitic and spiteful mantra of entitlement, victimhood and hatred of men.

Now there is a project worthy of a generous grant by a council – a course in detoxifying feminism.

Consider the composition. Day 1: “Misogyny is not the default position for every setback you experience”. Day 2: “Victimhood and self-respect, two mutually exclusive concepts”. Day 3: “How to debate without resorting to expletives or platitudes”. Day 4: “Should I write for Daily Life or get a life?” Day 5: “What do male and female chauvinists want in common? Answer: a meek and subservient spouse”.

It is an amusing thought, but the chances of Ford and her ilk even considering such notions are zilch.

After all, bores will be bores.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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28 May, 2020  

The media’s raison d’etre exists, not in the truth, but solely in opposition

The mainstream media have printed various misinformed or later-to-be-corrected statements about the impact of COVID-19, mainly because they (like most of America) were still learning about the spread of the virus and its potential public health implications.

The president was learning, too, in real time. The difference is that he is blamed by the media for every statement he makes. If it’s true, then it’s insensitive, and if it turns out to be inaccurate, then it was a blatant lie.

At this point, it seems that the mainstream media exists solely to refute and oppose anything the president says.

Of course, President Donald Trump is not perfect. He exaggerates. He makes blanket statements without caveat. And he is known to protect himself to the point of stretching reality.

Those who have come to know him and work with him on a daily basis understand his foibles. But they also understand that the president is merely human.

He breathes the same air and eats the same food we all do. He has hopes and dreams for his own life and for America that echo our own. Despite his many faults, he was duly elected to lead the country; he has our best interests at heart.

But the media’s raison d’etre exists, not in the truth, but solely in opposition. When the president goes left, whether right or wrong, the media go right. It is as if they have abdicated their roles as fact-finders and investigators and turned into repudiators.

This is laziness at its worst. It lacks credibility and betrays an emotional bias that goes to the heart of truth and falsehood. If the media is so readily able to embrace falsehoods merely to combat the president, are they not just as guilty of the betrayal of truth they accuse the president of committing?

Perhaps the most cynical media iconoclasm centers around the seeming glee some pundits take in the tanking economy. It is almost as if they embrace forced closings and their devastating economic effects as the welcome price of ridding the country of Trump.

Forget about the folks who are suffering. Forget about working mothers with children out of school and nowhere to go. All these pundits have to do is show up at their laptops and type away from the cushy surroundings of their high-end condos. But they aren’t forced to make the hard choices of laying off workers or letting crops rot in the field. For them, reopening the economy is synonymous with losing the political battle.

We all want a free press that is able to question the official line. As a media pundit and commentator, I often question the president’s approach. But it bears asking whether a press is truly “free” when it is bound by its preconceived notions of truth and falsehood.

Perhaps ideological constraints on fairness and objectivity devalue their roles as the investigators and revealers the Founders imagined when they enshrined the First Amendment.

SOURCE 





HANSON’S RULE OF OPPOSITES

In his American Greatness column “The doctrine of media untruth,” Victor Davis Hanson lays down a highly useful rule of opposites:

As a general rule, when the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN begin to parrot a narrative, the truth often is found in simply believing just the opposite.

Put another way, the media’s “truth” is a good guide to what is abjectly false. Perhaps we can call the lesson of this valuable service, the media’s inadvertent ability to convey truth by disguising it with transparent bias and falsehood, the “Doctrine of Media Untruth.”

Victor gives many pertinent examples. This one is my favorite and I quote it for the sheer pleasure of the truth blast:

The country once knew little of Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). But once the media sanctified his role after the 2018 election as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we knew what lay ahead. No sooner had the Renaissance Schiff assumed the chairmanship of the committee than we were lectured ad nauseam how he was a Harvard Law graduate, with a sly sense of humor, who had he not blessed the country with his stellar political career otherwise might well have been a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He ran his committee with flair and competence lacking under the former chairman, the supposedly plodding dairy farmer Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). In other words, we quickly discovered the truth through the Doctrine of Media Untruth.

Within about a year, the public knew that Schiff was a fraud. He had suppressed key testimonies that long ago revealed that the functionaries in the collusion hoax had admitted under oath they had no evidence for the accusations they made daily in the media, and that CrowdStrike, in fact, could not prove a Russian genesis for the hacking of DNC emails.

Schiff himself tapped into the communications records of his own colleague and the former chairman of his committee, Nunes. He lied habitually, most egregiously in denying that he or his staff had anything to do with the Ukrainian “whistleblower” when in fact his team had been in close communications with him.

Each time Schiff assured the media of “bombshells,” that the “walls were closing in,” or that there were all sorts of new top-secret, classified, rarified information known only to him, which would shortly “prove” Trump “collusion,” we understood that he was a con man and prevaricator who had no proof at all or any such evidence. Whatever report he issued (cf. the “Schiff memo”), would certainly be dishonest and not factual. And, of course, it was.

Incidentally, Hanson’s rule of opposites must be applied to understand Susan Rice’s incriminating memo of January 20, 2017. It is one key among many to the biggest scandal by far in American political history

SOURCE 






NYT Attacks Military 'Racism' Over Memorial Day Weekend

Poorly timed race-baiting revisionist history from the Times's editorial board. 

“Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?” That’s the headline of a New York Times editorial attacking the military for naming some bases in the South after Confederate officers. Why the Times editorial board’s armchair generals chose Memorial Day weekend to tread upon the memory of fallen Patriots with this race-baiting tripe can likely be explained by the new Pulitzer Prize sitting on the shelf for the Times’s race-baiting revisionist history in the 1619 Project. But perhaps it was also a distraction from Joe Biden’s revealing remarks on the black vote. In any case, when all you have is a race hammer, everything looks like a racist nail.

“It is time to rename bases for American heroes — not racist traitors,” declares the Times. Bafflingly, the editorial’s argument begins by recounting a racist’s attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, five years ago. Predictably, the Times also makes multiple Nazi references. Why either has anything to do with the name of Fort Benning in Georgia is left to the deranged imagination of leftists everywhere.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman offered this response: “On a solemn day for remembering those that have given their lives for our country fighting against tyranny and subjugation, the NYT has more than a million possible stories of the ultimate sacrifice by American patriots that they could tell. But they don’t.”

Likewise, retired Staff Sgt. Joey Jones slammed the paper, saying, “There are 365 days in a year. There has been 150 years since the Civil War. Why is the New York Times writing this on Memorial Day this year of all years?” He added, “To me that’s offensive. That’s as bad as saying that coronavirus was warranted because we had slavery 200 years ago. That’s not how we look at our country. … I find it offensive and repulsive.”

There’s a time and place for thoughtfully evaluating American history, but this was neither the time nor was it thoughtful. More to the point, where does the airbrushing stop?

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery Monday morning. He too used the word “race” in his remarks, though the meaning was entirely different. Praising the National Guard and others who’ve battled the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said, “Once more the men and women of the United States military have answered the call to duty and raced into danger.” Trump appealed for the kind of unity that the Times aimed to destroy. “Together, we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights,” he said. “As our brave warriors have shown us from the nation’s earliest days, in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” Indeed we are.

SOURCE 






Correctly counting the cost shows Australia's lockdown was a mistake

The future will now be worse because the flawed pandemic health projections didn't correctly calculate their effects on economic welfare.

Australia’s economic policies in response to the coronavirus threat have been driven in the main by projections of death and infection rates, produced by epidemiological modelling, that since have been proven to be orders of magnitude above what any country anywhere in the world, regardless of policy, has experienced.

Meanwhile, the welfare costs of our economic policy responses have been either overlooked entirely, gestured towards vaguely but not actually calculated, or calculated in ways strikingly out of alignment with international best practice when estimating the welfare costs of different policy alternatives – eg, using full value-of-a-statistical-life (VSL) numbers, rather than age-adjusted VSL or quality-adjusted life years, when valuing lives lost to COVID-19 (which are predominantly the lives of older people with a few years, not an entire life, left to live).

A leading reason for points 1 and 2 is that it’s a lot less work to count bodies and point to scary body-count projections than to think hard about the many and various costs – many invisible and requiring a reasonable counterfactual that is, again, mentally taxing to create; many manifesting only over time – that arise when we take the drastic economic policy actions we have taken.

The costs of what we have done are enormous. These costs will show up most obviously over the next few months in the body counts sacrificed to causes other than COVID-19 – like from famine, preventable diseases and violence in lower income countries; and deaths from despair, isolation, and non-COVID-19 health problems that have lost resourcing in better-off countries such as Australia – but will also stem from sources that don’t have actual deaths of presently living people attached to them.

Lower GDP now and going forward means lower levels of government services on education, healthcare, research and development, infrastructure, social services, and myriad other things that keep us happier, healthier and living longer.

Kids whose education has been disrupted due to our mandates that schools and universities move activities online, and young people who have lost their jobs or are entering the job market during the recession we have created, will carry the impact of these disruptions for years.

Discoveries of cures for diseases other than COVID-19 will be delayed; IVF babies won’t be born; our progress on lifting up the tens of thousands of Australian children who live in poverty will be set back.

The future we’ll now have is worse than the future we could have had without the policy responses we have seen.

That comparison of what-we-will-have to what-we-could-have-had can be expressed in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and wellbeing-adjusted life years (WELLBYs), and compared directly to estimates of the QALY and WELLBY costs of the COVID-19 deaths and suffering that our policies have averted.

When you make this comparison, correctly, the evidence is clear that Australia’s lockdown has been a mistake.

In hindsight, instead of reacting out of fear, our government could have understood its primary role early on to contain and reduce the population’s fear; it could have set proportionate and targeted policy, not blanket policy (eg, extreme lockdowns were not what drove the decline from peak infections in Australia: when many of the harshest measures were set, infections were already on the decline); and it could have been perennially mindful of the massive economic and hence human welfare costs implicit in any decision to stop trade, pull children out of school, or lock people away from their friends and family.

In normal times, we jump up and down and fill national airwaves about changes in GDP or unemployment rates that are an order of magnitude less than what we are seeing now. In normal times we don’t track single-digit daily death rates from any cause as a leading indicator of whether it’s safe to venture outside, knowing that hundreds of people in Australia die each day from myriad causes. In normal times we talk about striving for health not through sitting at home and avoiding other people, but by building our strength and supporting our immune systems. People today have lost their perspective on what is normal.

Travel bans and social distancing rules have drastically reduced footfalls at Australia's prime tourist destinations, and economists anticipate a telling effect of the drop in tourism on the economy.

As the costs of our decisions become more and more apparent, with time, our fear will stop controlling our minds. I hope the perspective of the public and policy-makers returns quickly, so we have a chance of handling things better if the next wave of the virus attacks again what is now one of the most immunologically unprepared high-income countries in the world: Australia.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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27 May, 2020  

Legal Actions Against Military Chaplains Pose Threat to Religious Freedom

The German submarine struck in the wee small hours, and despite all the precautions of its captain and crew, the USS Dorchester was hit hard and deep, and went down like a stone. The torpedo destroyed the ship’s electrical system, plunging those of the 900-plus soldiers aboard still alive into near total darkness, even before it took them down into the icy sea.

Only 230 would survive the sinking; many of them owed their lives at least in part to four chaplains who moved quickly amid the pitch-black corridors and general panic to herd them up on deck, then help them into life jackets and lifeboats. There weren’t enough of either.

When the life jackets ran out, all four of the chaplains instantly took off theirs. Though they represented four very different faiths, Methodist George Fox, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Catholic Priest John Washington, and Dutch Reformed Clark Poling made no effort to get their own last hope of survival into the hands of someone who shared their religious convictions; they just gave their jackets to the nearest outstretched hand.

None of the four tried to board one of the already overcrowded boats. They were last seen arm-in-arm, standing on the fast-tilting deck, singing hymns and praying together as the cold, dark waters of the North Atlantic rapidly rose to engulf them.

In the years after that February 1943 tragedy, the nation honored the chaplains’ sacrifice with medals and monuments, their memory paintings and books, even an official day of remembrance. But somehow, many today have lost their respect for a particularly crucial aspect of their heroism that dark night.

To Americans of the World War era, the importance of faith—and admiration for those who held to their faith even in the face of chaos, fear, and death—was a given. Not everyone was a churchgoer, of course, but most recognized the critical role people of faith and their love of religious freedom had played in the nation’s founding.

They also understood, almost intuitively, that religious liberty was the linchpin that held all other civil liberties in place. After all, if you can take away a man’s right to honor and follow his conscience, it’s short work to rob him of his freedom to speak, to gather, to bear arms.

Polls seem to indicate that Americans today don’t necessarily share that understanding with the “Greatest Generation.” And efforts outside the military to crush religious freedom indicate that faith—even in this most recent time of chaos, fear, and death—no longer enjoys the same respect … or protections.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, for example, has moved aggressively during the coronavirus quarantine to urge crackdowns on overt expressions of faith by chaplains—acting on and encouraging the complaints of servicemen and women who are undaunted by foreign adversaries but apparently deeply afraid that a military chaplain might actually share his or her faith in a military setting.

Since COVID-19 restrictions went into effect, MRFF has filed complaints against chaplains around the country who have shared video sermons on military installation webpages (a legally approved forum), persuaded Facebook to remove videos of chaplains ’prayers, and pushed for formal charges against a Korea-stationed chaplain who shared a religious book with his subordinates as a ministry tool (no chaplain was required to read, much less use, the book).

The group even demanded and received a public apology from a Christian who shared hymns and encouragement from the balcony of his military housing apartment.

Presumably, MRFF and the military personnel it represents would want members of the military and their families to find comfort, strength, and hope during these difficult days of world pandemic—they just don’t want those encouragements coming from God, or from those who take God seriously.

Clearly, these activists have little appreciation for the critical role chaplains have long played in ministering to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the men and women of our armed forces. One almost wonders if, offered a lifejacket that night when the Dorchester went down, they’d have felt duty-bound to reject it as some unseemly expression of those chaplains’ faith. Or held out until some worthy atheist was willing to part with his.

These anti-Christian accusations by the MRFF are not only unjust to today’s military chaplains—they present an unworthy response to the legacy of the many courageous and conscientious chaplains who have served our military across the centuries … and reveal a sad contempt for America’s rich heritage of religious freedom.

SOURCE 






Is this Really a Post-Liberal Era?

Even before the COVID-19 virus swept round the world, there was a growing chorus of voices declaring that the world was shifting from one political era to another and that in particular we were moving into a post-liberal era. The term ‘post-liberal’ began to spread as both a description and a self-identified label. These kinds of claims have become even more widespread as the pandemic and government responses to it have dominated the headlines.

There is a widespread, and understandable, feeling that an event of such magnitude marks some kind of dividing line or turning point.

What is interesting is the number of people who think that turn is from a liberal era of politics to a post-liberal one, in which, presumably, liberal ideas and policies are part of what is left behind. This doesn’t necessarily follow from the perception that the pandemic is some kind of watershed – why not a move to some other kind of future? It derives therefore from a feeling about the dominant features of the recent past and a growing perception of what the experience of the pandemic reveals.

In some sense the argument is correct but we need to understand how it is correct (because that sense is limited and specific). Liberals of all types should not despair and feel they are like Sir Edward Grey watching the lights of liberal civilisation go out all over Europe: if they understand better where we are then the new state of affairs could end up being an improvement over the way they have been for the last two to three decades.

What though does this glib phrase post-liberal actually mean? If we unwrap the term it has two implications or wider meanings. Firstly, the ‘post’ prefix implies that we have been in a liberal era, one in which liberal ideas and policies were dominant. This is a widespread view on the political left and also among a certain kind of conservative or right-wing thinker.

These very different people all believe that public debate and policy has been dominated by specifically liberal (or more narrowly ‘neoliberal’) ideas such as free markets, globalism and open borders, cultural and intellectual individualism, and limited government. One such person has gone so far as to claim that Ludwig von Mises has been the most influential economist of the last forty years.

Secondly, the term suggests that we have left this liberal dominated world behind us and are moving into a different one where non-liberal ideas will dominate public debate, without it necessarily being an anti-liberal world. The idea is that some of the legacy of the liberal period will survive. This kind of perspective is exactly the one that began to appear before that fateful Summer of 1914 and which became almost a commonplace in the years after the War.

The first of these meanings will provoke grim amusement among many classical liberals and individualists. In fact, the idea that we have been living through decades when public argument and policy were dominated by ideas of free markets, limited government, and individualism will provoke hysterical laughter from many. If only this were true, they will say.

However this is partly a matter of where one stands: a socialist or conservative will be more impressed by how far things have indeed moved in a liberal direction (or, more importantly, what they see as a liberal direction) whereas a liberal will be more struck by movement in the opposite direction or by how limited any movement that has taken place has been. In this context, as always, it helps to have historical perspective.

What this tells us is that the critics of liberalism have a point: over the longer term of several decades there has been a movement in a liberal direction, in several senses of that word. In particular there has been a decline in the coherence and influence of clearly non- or anti-liberal ways of thinking and acting. This is not merely or even primarily a matter of politics. In the more recent past, the last thirty years to be precise, that movement has taken a form that many liberals of all types are uncomfortable with, which is another reason why they do not recognise the picture painted by their critics.

In the longer term it makes sense to look back to the later 1940s. At that point liberalism of all kinds was at a low ebb and this remained the case for some time thereafter. Even though fascism (and indirectly, reactionary conservatism) had been defeated in World War II, anti-liberal ideas were still widespread and influential. In both the US and the UK there was a tense political and intellectual contest over whether to retain the extensive state controls that were put in place during the war and the outcome was in doubt for some time.

More obviously there was still a global threat from explicitly anti-liberal ideas, backed up by armed force. The big case was international communism, in the shape of the USSR and its foreign supporters but there was also the revolutionary nationalism that had captured many anti-colonial movements during the interwar years. There was also traditional despotism in places like Latin America and the Middle East, which the liberal West tolerated or even supported for geopolitical reasons. Even in the democratic nations liberals, both classical and revisionist, were very much a minority.

Democratic politics (which accepted and built on the achievements of nineteenth century liberalism) was dominated by traditions that had emerged during the crisis of classical liberalism at the end of the nineteenth century; democratic conservatism or Christian democracy on the right, social democracy on the left. At that point both of those traditions were non-liberal in their philosophy and much of their policy. Liberals had no choice but to make alliances of convenience with one or both of these traditions.

From the mid-1960s onwards these efforts, and the intellectual work of scholars, were partly successful. To simplify what was a complex process, classical or free market liberals persuaded democratic conservatives to move towards economic liberalism while both types of liberal succeeded in pushing social democrats towards social liberalism. (We often forget that before the 1960s or 1970s social democrats and labor movements were very socially conservative, as much if not more so than actual conservatives).

Later on, after 1990, there was some success in persuading a few conservatives of the good side of social liberalism and some social democrats of the benefits of economic liberty. In this sense the people mentioned earlier are correct; there was a movement towards liberalism in the years after 1970 and liberal ideas and policies did spread.

However, this does need to be heavily qualified. While the right became economically liberal and the left socially liberal, neither side bought into the entire liberal package or its underlying principles. Although liberal ideas and some of their policy applications had become more influential, liberalism as such had not. What emerged instead was a curious kind of hybrid.

In 1989-90 the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed. China, while remaining a despotic state ruled by a ruthless oligarchy, was already no longer communist in a meaningful sense. At this point it seemed that liberal ideas of various varieties were triumphant. They had taken over the main democratic ideologies and now the other great anti-liberal force of the twentieth century had perished. It is the thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that the critics are truly thinking of when they declare that we have lived through an era of liberalism (neo or otherwise) that we are now leaving behind us.

It seemed as though there was no other ideology left standing, as Francis Fukuyama famously declared. And yet, as already intimated, this supposed triumph was negative rather than positive. It was not that liberal ideas were now consciously and openly held and dominant. Rather it was that explicitly and openly anti-liberal ones had been discredited.

What happened therefore was the adoption of liberal policies in some areas but as a matter of technique or supposedly impartial expertise rather than as the consequence and expression of an actual philosophy. So far as the dominant politics of the last thirty years can be said to have a philosophy behind it, it is best described as technocratic managerialism, a belief in the ability of applied knowledge to devise the best way of organising economic and social life and, increasingly, private life as well.

This found expression in two kinds of public policy that the critics now deprecate. The first was a political economy that while apparently pro-market saw market relations as something that was created and sustained by a technocratic state and expert economists, instead of being something that emerged from what people did when they were left alone. In concrete terms this increasingly meant an economy that was organised and run to favour specific interests; in class terms those of a managerial class defined by professional certification, in institutional ones a network of large firms above all ones involved in finance.

A central part of this was an increasingly deranged monetary policy that, like an insidious drug, began to have cumulatively damaging effects on the economic fabric. The second was a social policy that promoted a kind of social and cultural individualism but one removed from concrete social relations and responsibilities. This went along with an expansion of state welfare and income transfers, for reasons that combined egalitarianism with individualism.

The central fact was that there were no more consistent and self-aware liberals, of either variety, than there had been in the early 1960s, even if their ideas had a wider hearing. Moreover, the core beliefs had lost something of their coherent identity and had become as much a matter of technique as principle. This kind of technocratic politics could not survive indefinitely, because it begged a whole series of foundational questions (in the correct sense of that expression).

Slowly, non-liberal or explicitly anti-liberal ideas and philosophies came back together and found new expression. On the right this has taken several forms; a revival of traditional reactionary conservatism (particularly in Europe but also in the Anglosphere), the appearance of an overtly anti-liberal form of religious thought; and the appearance in electoral politics of a politics that combines nationalism and economic dirigisme with hostility to cosmopolitanism and social liberalism.

On the left there are two tendencies that are increasingly in bitter conflict with each other as well as with both actual liberal ideas and the current style of politics. The first is a revival of classical socialism and even Marxism, as found in publications such as Jacobin magazine. The second is what is commonly described as the Social Justice Warrior left, a kind of politics that derives ultimately from post-modernism and combines a radically subjectivist idea of identity with a tribalistic notion of social life and a highly intolerant view of public discourse.

All of these are self-consciously opposed to the status quo, which they see as an expression of liberalism, and to liberal ideas in a more profound sense. They are also increasingly politically successful, even before the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it has triggered.

This looks like a bad situation and in some ways it is: but, it may well trigger a beneficial response. The situation and experience of liberals in the post-War world led to an attenuation of their ideas and identity, even as their influence increased in some ways. The present position means that liberals in general and classical liberals in particular have to rediscover their foundational principles (which should not be conflated with a particular kind of policy perspective) and to become more aware of their own distinctive philosophical and ideological identity.

When confronted by explicitly anti-liberal politics the only way forward is to give a comprehensively liberal response. This will mean three things: a rearticulation of core or essential liberal ideas and values, such as that of personal autonomy and a strictly limited sphere of politics (which is more than small government); a concern with and exploration of the whole range of liberal thought on a wide range of questions, rather than a narrow fixation on one area or discipline; and a coming together of the divided parts of the liberal tradition, that agree on the fundamentals but disagree on one area (such as economics).

Political identities and traditions are often formed in response to a challenge by their opposite. After 1945 that opposite for liberals came from one location, which led to a series of tactical alliances. Faced now with anti-liberal assaults from several directions we much hope that a coherent liberal identity re-emerges in response. If that happens then we have clearer and more definitely liberal thought and action in the supposedly post-liberal era than we actually had before.

SOURCE  





Israeli Annexation May Give Palestinians the Push They Need

Jeff Jacoby
  
Sometime this summer, Israel’s new government — a broad left-right unity coalition — may move ahead with plans to formally annex about 30 percent of the West Bank, applying Israeli civilian law to the Jordan Valley and to Jewish settlements established after 1967, when Israel seized the territory in the Six-Day War. It has formally been under military occupation ever since, while its permanent status has been up for negotiation.

While Israel will act only if it gets a green light from the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has signaled that the Trump administration will not object. “That’s an Israeli decision,” Pompeo said last month. “And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in [a] private setting.”

Within Israel’s government, there is a solid consensus in favor of annexation. But much of the world has reacted to the prospect with condemnation.

On Tuesday, the French government warned Israel that any move to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank would damage relations with the European Union. The German government and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement calling annexation a “clear violation of international law” that would “seriously undermine” the likelihood of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, angrily declared (not for the first time) that he would abrogate all agreements made with Israel and the United States. There were denunciations from Russian and Vatican diplomats. Jordan’s King Abdullah II predicted a “massive conflict” if Israel goes ahead with annexation.

In the United States, Democratic voices joined the chorus of opposition. “I do not support annexation,” former Vice President Joe Biden told participants in an online fundraiser. Three Democratic senators circulated a letter avowing that annexation “would fray our unique bonds, imperil Israel’s future, and place out of reach the prospect of a lasting peace.” More than 30 former Democratic foreign policy officials called for adding language criticizing Israel and supporting Palestinian rights in the 2020 Democratic Party platform.

Faced with such antagonism, wouldn’t Israel be better off shelving the whole annexation idea?

No.

For all the fulminating about the threat annexation poses to a “two-state solution,” the scenario being contemplated by Israel would not prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. None of the territory currently administered by the Palestinian Authority would be annexed, nor any Palestinian population center. The purpose of annexation is to extend Israeli sovereignty to existing Jewish communities that have long been seen as destined to remain part of Israel in any peace deal. That would still leave more than two-thirds of the West Bank, plus all of Gaza, for a sovereign Palestinian state.

But statehood has never been the goal of the Palestinian movement. Time and again, Palestinian leaders have been offered a “two-state solution.” Time and again they have said no. In 2000, Israel was willing to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state in virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, plus shared control of Jerusalem, only to be spurned by Yasser Arafat. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert repeated the offer to Abbas in 2008; he too was turned down. Not even Barack Obama, the most Palestinian-friendly president ever, could elicit a “yes” from the Palestinian Authority.

The root of the conflict has never been land; it has always been the refusal of Palestinians to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. That is why the “land for peace” strategy repeatedly failed. Unlike Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, who was prepared to accept Israel’s existence in exchange for the return of the Sinai Peninsula, Palestinian leaders have steadfastly insisted that the land “from the river to the sea” must be cleansed of Jews. Israel’s comprehensive withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 — when every settlement was dismantled and the entire territory turned over to Palestinian control — led not to peace, as so many expected, but to increased violence.

By contrast, the conflict tends to recede when Israel asserts its own sovereignty. There was international condemnation when Israel annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but the controversy faded without more bloodshed. There was outrage when the US embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem two years ago, but that storm abated too. Indeed, Biden has said that if he is elected, the embassy will stay where it is.

The most significant development in Israel’s relations with its neighbors in recent years has been the dramatic rise in cooperation with the Sunni Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates. Those warming ties, which stem from antipathy to Iran and its menacing “Shia Crescent,” have not been derailed by Israel’s unresolved friction with the Palestinians. There is no reason to expect annexation, if it happens, to change that. Almost as if to underscore the point, Etihad Airways on Tuesday flew its first direct commercial flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. There may be pro forma rebukes from the Arab League. But Israel’s Arab friends won’t go to the mat to support Palestinian intransigence.

Extending Israeli sovereignty to a small part of the West Bank not inhabited by Palestinians won’t change anything on the ground. But maybe, just maybe, it can jolt Abbas and the Palestinian Authority into recognizing that their adamant refusal to compromise is getting them nowhere.

“Annexation can be seen as a step towards ending the deadlock between the parties,” argues Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum, in The Hill. By demonstrating in concrete terms that rejectionism has consequences, annexation might persuade Palestinian leaders that time is not on their side. Granted, it’s a long shot. But Israel has little to lose by taking it. There will be a hullabaloo, but it will pass.

SOURCE 






Advertisements need more scutiny for false information

Misinformation, hoaxes, and fake cures have run rampant on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Will new measures be enough?
It is a rare moment in history when you can say with absolute certainty that tomorrow will be a great day.

But this tomorrow most certainly will be. The nation’s first and largest state – Australia’s birthplace of public education – is reopening all schools to all students.

It is a great day for society, for the economy and most importantly it is a great day for our kids. Education is the best antidote to poverty and disadvantage and the greatest gift we can give our children.

And so how did the most vital role of society – that of raising and educating its next generation – get arbitrarily shut down or suspended on the basis of no hard evidence nor top-level medical advice.

How is panic and fake information spreading so far and wide? How do we have supposedly educated people demanding the shutdown of educational institutions with no evidence to support it? And how do we have genuine concerns about the impact of such shutdowns likewise overtaken by lunatics who believe coronavirus is a myth altogether? Or caused by the 5G network? Or a conspiracy engineered by Bill Gates?

A clue to this lies in a cunning little experiment undertaken by a canny little think tank called Responsible Technology Australia (RTA), which was recently established out of concern that perhaps internet and social media giants aren’t quite as responsible and righteous as they pretend to be.

The test case was the online megalopolis Facebook, which despite its mission statement of “bringing the world closer together”, has been infamously exposed for peddling fake news stories deliberately designed to sow division.

After this came to light, a supposedly chastened Facebook claimed that it would move heaven and earth to stop the spread of false and dangerous information, just like a good global citizen should.

Only this week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the BBC “we don't want misinformation to be the content that is going viral” and that Facebook had and would remove any content likely to result in “immediate and imminent harm” when it came to COVID-19 conspiracies.

And that’s great to hear. The only problem is it hasn’t and it didn’t.

To prove this, the people at Responsible Technology Australia set up a Facebook page called “Ozzie News Network” and then set about posting the most dangerous misinformation they could think of.

These included:

*  COVID-19 pandemic “advice” ads urging users to turn off their 5G, drink more water and get 30 minutes of daily sunshine

*  Saying the Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement was just a front to allow mass migration from Jakarta

*  Telling 18-year-olds not to bother to enrol to vote

*  Saying that the new 5G network will allow the Australian police to spy on you through your phone

*  Telling people the AEC has assessed they live in a safe electorate and therefore shouldn’t bother voting

These posts perpetuated obvious lies and misinformation posing as official advice. At worst they encouraged people to risk their lives and break the law. And the kicker is that they were posted as ads that Facebook both reviewed and approved.

There is absolutely no way on earth they would ever have been allowed to run in a responsible mainstream media outlet. Not News Corp, not Nine; nor Ten nor Seven nor anywhere with a pair of human eyes.

But still, a global giant like Facebook with billions of users could hardly be expected to notice everything that was posted on its millions of pages. Surely once it was brought to their attention the ads would be removed, right?

Wrong. Even after the group reported their own ads to Facebook for fake and dangerous misinformation they were still not taken down.

“No traditional publisher or broadcaster would ever run ads like this,” RTA’s executive director Chris Cooper told news.com.au.

“But not only did Facebook review and approve them, even when we repeatedly reported them as misinformation they were never taken down.”

Yes, even after RTA did Facebook’s job for it and flagged the fake ads, still no action was taken – even though anyone following their advice could be putting themselves at risk. So much so that the group deliberately targeted the ads to an audience which had already been informed they were fake and consented to receiving them to ensure they did not inadvertently spread dangerous information themselves.

“Our fake ads deliberately play on people's fears in ways we know are typical,” Cooper says.

“This experiment proves just how easy it is to spread fake news on Facebook, and it would be easier still for an experienced malicious foreign actor.”

The posts were finally removed only after news.com.au approached Facebook for comment. The company confirmed they violated its policy.

“We’re aggressively going after misinformation about COVID-19 and have teams across the company dedicated to this effort,” a spokesperson said.

“We’ve applied warning labels to millions of pieces of misinformation and remove content that could lead to imminent harm.”

But the fact they were able to be posted in the first place, were spread for so long and were not removed even after being reported should send a chill down the spine of anyone who still believes in facts or whatever the world has left of reality.

We have social media giants policing opinions while publishing obviously false information for the sake of a few bucks. And all the while using the journalism of real news organisations to cannibalise the advertising revenue that allows real journalism to survive.

This is the perfect petri dish for fake news. An Essential poll this week found one in eight Australians believed Bill Gates was somehow responsible for the coronavirus and it was being spread by the 5G network.

The corona crisis has already shown that even argument among politicians and experts can produce catastrophic results for both lives and livelihoods. Adding endless idiotic opinions to the mix makes things far worse, yet for anyone who believes in free speech it is a necessary evil.

But peddling false facts for cash is another level of devilry altogether, especially when you are pretending to be on the side of the angels.

Facebook and other social media titans have already helped forge a wild new world where facts are determined by sentiment instead of science and reality is a matter of opinion. The result has been a decade riven by extremes: Crazed conspiracy theories, right-wing populism and left-wing socialist fantasies.

The chaos they have fuelled on global issues ranging from coronavirus to climate change is often quite literally a matter of life and death. Surely they have profited from it enough without pocketing every last cent from dangerous and dodgy propaganda – not to mention the pontification they serve up for free.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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26 May, 2020  

Liberals Don’t Believe They’re Capable Of Doing Anything Wrong

One thing you notice when having a conversation with a committed liberal is you’d have a more productive and honest discussion with a shoe. An old, worn-out shoe. Normally, this phenomenon could be chalked up to ignorance – stupid people are, well, stupid. But many of these people are not stupid, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s arrogance, a kind of arrogance that can only come from indifference to anything contrary to what they want.

You see this manifest itself in reaction to the reaction to the documents exposing how the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. You also see it in the glee from leftists whenever they have the opportunity to report bad news about Hydroxychloroquine. And we saw it again Friday when Joe Biden casually dropped a racist comment in a radio interview. None of these people honestly believe they are capable of doing anything wrong because progressives don’t believe anything can be wrong when they do it in the name of their agenda.

Lying isn’t wrong if it’s done in the cause of righteousness. Theft isn’t wrong if it’s done for altruistic purposes. Murder isn’t wrong if it’s a bad person killed. Taken to their logical extremes you get the horrors of fascism and communism, but these people refuse to see that. One person, or a few people, even a lot of people, harmed in the name of the “greater good” is not a tragedy. It’s a statistic.
CARTOONS | Tom Stiglich
View Cartoon

General Michael Flynn’s rights were trampled, his life destroyed, and he only agreed to plead guilty after financial ruin and the threat/promise of the same being brought upon his son, but so what? He worked for Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is bad. Anything done in opposition to “bad” is inherently good, or so the logic goes.

What do the civil rights of one man matter, or many people working on a campaign matter, when the campaign is for someone they view as the new Hitler?

Of course, using fascistic tactics to combat perceived fascism is the basis of ANTIFA, the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party. The concept behind those tactics are now the norm for the party as a whole.

Barack Obama is exposed as, at a minimum, completely aware of the spying. Obama was informed by the people who knew there was absolutely nothing to the collusion lie, but Obama justifies it because it’s Donald Trump. Donald Trump has to be bad. Trump supports positions opposite Democrats, and Democrats are all good. Anything is justified.

I’ve personally seen people gleefully greet unfavorable studies about Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 as something to be grateful for. Why? Do they want people to die? No. But that’s the result.

There are more studies and anecdotal stories of Hydroxychloroquine helping than hurting, but those don’t make the social media feeds or leave the lips of these people. Many may not even be aware of their ghoulish behavior and hypocrisy, too satisfied in the warmth of what they view as a political victory, but it is gross. Somewhere out there, people whose lives could be improved or saved by Hydroxychloroquine will refuse to take it because of the enthusiasm with which the “dangers” of the drug are reported. They don’t care.

Then there’s Joe Biden. The senile, presumptive Democratic nominee said Friday, “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.” Democrats went from feeling entitled to own black people to feeling entitled to own the votes of black people.

When Biden said out loud what Democrats whispered to each other for decades, people were rightly disgusted. But he’s their candidate, so the left scrambled to justify and explain away his words. New York Times “Journalist” and 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted, “There is a difference between being politically black and being racially black. I am not defending anyone, but we all know this and should stop pretending that we don’t.” She seems like she’d be a lot of fun at parties, doesn’t she?

At the Washington Post, two quick attempts to keep everyone from acknowledging the obvious were made. The first was by Jonathan Capehart, who cartwheeled his way through a piece insisting Biden’s racism “was clearly a joke.” He spends a lot of time picking out quotes and giving them new context, making him the only joke in the whole ordeal.

Then the Post’s Paul Waldman took his bite at the apple with, “How to think about Joe Biden’s gaffes.” Waldman absolves Joe by declaring he is “sometimes captured by problematic assumptions and ways of speaking that used to be much more acceptable among white people than they are now.” In 1992, Ross Perot was attacked as racist for saying “you people” to a crowd that happened to be black, but Biden’s long history of racist comments are simply his inability to adapt to acceptable speech he and his party have been leading the fight to create over 30 years?
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Their defense is “he’s not racist, he’s old and out of touch.” That shows just how bad it is when that’s their best option.

Joe refused to apologize – why should he, in Democratic Party politics, he wasn’t lying – but he did “walk back” the comment (which is decidedly NOT an apology), calling it “cavalier,” adding he “shouldn’t have been such a wise guy.” He honestly believes the only thing he did wrong was saying it out loud in public because I guarantee you it’s said regularly in liberal political circles in private while laughing. You can be that “cavalier” when you know the entirety of the left-wing media industrial complex will snap to attention and defend you, and he was right. By Monday, it will be as if he didn’t say it, just like right now it’s as if he wasn’t accused of sexual assault by a former staffer with a lot of contemporaneous supporting evidence to back her up.

It’s good to be a Democrat if you don’t mind being a hypocrite and having to live with yourself.

Deep down, none of these people think they really did anything wrong, or that they’re capable of doing anything wrong. There is no wrong that can be done in pursuit of what they view as right. That’s what allows them to ignore their truly awful history, and it’s what emboldens them now. You’d have a more honest conversation with an old shoe than a liberal; at least an old shoe doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. And in all cases, it smells a lot better than what liberals are shoveling.

SOURCE 






Why Jordan Peterson Is Worth Defending

Cultural upheavals have been known to swell and crash like waves. Although their popularity may rise and fall with the times, the underlying conditions that allowed them to flourish (and their ripple effects in society) run deeper than undulating political trends. Examining why certain ideas gain momentum at a given historical moment is crucial in mapping our present course; otherwise, the ocean of our collective unconscious remains an uncharted and treacherous mystery.

Jordan B. Peterson was a psychology professor at the University of Toronto when he skyrocketed to intellectual stardom after taking a widely publicized stance against the rise of politically correct culture and social justice ideology on campus. Although his original concern was propelled by the specter of Bill C-16, which added gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, his protest was part of a broadening resistance to the excesses of the cultural Left. These excesses of the cultural Left include an emphasis on privilege, structural bias, identity and historical oppression, which have increasingly seeped into our institutions and set the boundaries for polite discourse. Resistance to this narrative and the norms it has promulgated was building up for years, but the expansion of online progressive activism, precipitated by the widespread use of social media, unleashed a massive counter-reaction across the West.

As his notoriety catapulted online, Peterson became a spokesperson for the burgeoning anti-woke crowd known as the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW), a diverse medley of individuals with various political persuasions united in their disdain for identitarian extremism on both ends of the aisle. As such, Peterson used his platform to expound a message of personal responsibility and spiritual renewal for a world at a loss for meaning.

But with notoriety comes droves of untold pressure. His rise was met with a deluge of hard-hitting interviews and hit pieces from mainstream media outlets, some rendered in good faith but the vast majority resembling character assassinations meant to shame and discredit. It is not difficult to see why Peterson was considered a threat: He was challenging the very basis of received wisdom on major cultural issues, not just in terms of prevailing ideas and attitudes but with regards to the entire moral identity that underlied them. He was effectively saying to establishment journalists, academics, and pundits who otherwise imagine themselves as being on the right side of history, “You are not so innocent.”

The backlash to this indictment showed through in number of well-documented skirmishes, including the infamous Cathy Newman Channel 4 interview, a 2018 Munk Debate in which race writer Michael Eric Dyson called Peterson “a mean mad white man,” and a GQ interview with Atlantic writer Helen Lewis, which constituted nearly 2 hours of accusational “gotcha” questions. Of course, not all of the pushback was entirely unwarranted; controversial figures should be scrutinized by our cultural gatekeepers, if only to see what all the fuss is about. Yet, the sheer volume of scorn went beyond mere scrutiny. His ascendence was received as a menace.

But the initial zeal Peterson carried into the culture wars eventually began to wear thin. In his last few televised appearances, he looked visibly worn, with his arguments lacking the authentic spontaneity and charisma of his earlier debates. The highly anticipated clash with Slavoj Žižek was disappointing at best, with Peterson coming off rather anemic and polemically out of his depth. In a bizarre turn, it was revealed he had barely read any Marx at all, the thinker whose ideology he had been excoriating very publicly for years.

And then in February, it was reported by his daughter, Mikhaila, that Peterson had checked into a Russian hospital (of all places) to treat a benzodiazepine (an anti-anxiety medication) dependence and had nearly died from a severe case of pneumonia while spending four weeks in intensive care. After raising the dosage during his wife, Tammy’s, cancer scare, the effects of the medication backfired, resulting in heightened physiological distress and suicidal thoughts. Although Peterson’s condition is now stable enough for him to have recently left Russia for the United States, he has yet to do any public appearances, and much still hangs in the balance.

With Peterson’s waning magnetism and subsequent withdrawal from public discourse, the energy and momentum behind his rise has receded.

A number of scathing critiques have arisen of Peterson, most notably from the democratic socialist Left, who might otherwise be sympathetic to condemnations of elitist identity politics. Of course, criticism of Peterson is nothing out of the ordinary. But what’s significant is that—in contrast to the expected epithets hurled from the social justice crowd—these critiques directly address his actual arguments.

In this telling, Peterson had always been a receptacle for reactionary sentiment, taking advantage of the low-hanging fruit of campus overindulgence (epitomized by the archetypal image of screeching blue-haired feminists) to ultimately score partisan points for the Right. Moreover, the professed principles of self-determination expounded in his lecture series and best-selling book 12 Rules For Life are effectively a defense of the status quo in the form of unfettered capitalism, exposing his inability to recognize the socio-economic root causes of the human suffering he sought to ameliorate. More broadly, the incoherent anti-polarization message of Intellectual Dark Web members masked their own respective biases or, otherwise, reflected a glaring naïveté of how politics works and a misplaced self-congratulation for their faux dissent. The exhaustion of the Peterson phenomenon, according to this view, is a result of the embedded contradictions and fallacies in his positions rather than either the unrelenting attacks and pressure involved in becoming an international sensation virtually overnight.

These contradictions were sharply summarized in a recent essay for the socialist magazine Jacobin by former Quillette contributors Ben Burgis and Matt McManus, quaintly entitled “Why Jordan Peterson Is Always Wrong,” a preview of their recently released book in critique of Peterson. The piece makes three basic points:

Peterson’s preferred ideological boogeyman of “postmodern neo-Marxism,” a fusion of communist ideals and deconstructionism a la Jacques Derrida, which pursues equality of outcome above all and derides the West as a vast system of oppression, is a serious misreading of these doctrines’ historical context and draws a false equivalency between healthier expressions of the modern Left and outright Stalinism.

Peterson strawmans the Left in asserting that its purveyors want to eliminate any and all hierarchy rather than simply mitigate the overreach of traditional hierarchies in accordance with modern sensibilities of fairness, succumbing to an unrealistic bootstrapping absolutism and rugged individualism that would have effectively nullified any historical demand for greater equality such as with abolitionism or civil rights. 

Peterson fails to take into consideration the uprooting effects of capitalism in breaking down traditional moral values and civic engagement, choosing rather to excoriate young people for their lack of gratitude and blame esoteric philosophers for our present crisis in meaning.
These arguments form an appropriate launching pad for a response.

It is quite true that Peterson A) overstates his case in respect to the historical efficacy of “postmodern neo-Marxism” B) that he has the tendency to paint with a broad brush in his analysis of Left that might lead to sweeping and reflexive dismissals C) and that he downplays the role of capitalism in our cultural entropy.

There are quibbles to be made of each point, such as that A) extreme forms of progressive activism can mirror certain totalitarian features of statism in its all-encompassing pursuit of racial/gender parity B) the Left’s inability to restrain its radical fringe contributes to the stigma of Leftism itself being problematic and C) the net benefits of capitalism in terms of general life outcomes is not necessarily in contradiction with its propensity to upend traditional modes of meaning (it can be both/and). But there is a stronger case to be made as to why none of this particularly matters in relation to Peterson’s larger message and impact, despite whatever limitations he may have had as a messenger.

The energy behind a movement does not go away when its coherence dissolves. It may disperse or remain dormant, but it will eventually be redirected in more or less productive ways. The disciplines of individual self-determination and personal development Peterson articulated offered a path toward releasing interpersonal bitterness through building a culture of responsibility: a reaction to the widening chasm between emergent impulses arising bottom-up from experience and the moral properties enforced top-down by our institutions. Although it tends to escape the solely politically-minded among us, Peterson’s message was fundamentally moral, cultural, and psychological—a repudiation of progressive guilt and the entrenched need to create an identity as against historical sin. Recognizing one’s relative privileges and feeling responsible for spreading them to more people is one thing but ritualistically sermonizing on a society’s past errors and stigmatizing anyone who questions its utility is another thing entirely. A reasonable Left would reject the latter outright.

A distinction needs to be made here between economic Leftism and the cultural Left. The former involves ideas of wealth redistribution and broad-based social programs based on principles of equality, fairness, and universal dignity to mitigate suffering. The latter is about retribution for historical injustices and leveling inequalities between groups. Put bluntly, cultural Leftism is vastly less popular, with 80% of Americans reporting an aversion to political correctness in the Hidden Tribes, because it operates through repression and moralization. Economic Leftism, however one feels about it’s tenets and purveyors, is more pragmatic as it does not require mind-reading accusations and unfalsifiable theories to pursue its ends. The prospect that Peterson and the IDW did not draw a clear enough line between them does not justify their critics doing the same.

 Finally, the forces that laid the groundwork for Peterson’s rise have not vanished in his absence. The progressive bias in our cultural institutions remains stark and has been met with an increasingly reactive and reactionary Right. The ever-expanding definition of the racist/sexist epithets is occurring at the same moment that the demographic makeup of the country is rapidly changing and men, in particular, are falling behind on a number of important socio-economic metrics. This lends credence to far-right movements, which will only grow stronger with time and change. The decline of religion in the West and the explosion of digital technology has opened up a vacuum of purpose and identity that is not being filled by modern culture. And, in the midst of it all, a Canadian psychologist told people to clean their rooms before trying to change the world and has not ceased to be excoriated for his efforts years later. History will be kinder to him than his opponents.

On a more personal note, as a young man with a quite severe chronic illness I can say with full confidence that Peterson has positively influenced my life through his teachings. And contrary to what Peterson critics often think about his supporters, I somehow never managed to fall down a far-right rabbit hole online. For those unconvinced that Peterson’s appeal was anything other than political, consider some videos I spliced of Peterson on my YouTube channel which have racked up millions of views and decide for yourself.

SOURCE 






The real scandal about illegal immigration into Britain is the collusion of the French Navy

Nigel Farage

There is a scandal that has been known about for a long time among seaside communities but which, until now, has never been filmed or broadcast to the British public. I refer to the arrival of illegal immigrants in British waters with the active participation of the French Navy.

Over the last few weeks, I have been doing my best to expose the rapid rise in illegal immigrants entering Britain via small boats in the English Channel. Since lockdown began on 23 March, at least 1,085 people have been picked up, according to official figures. These are just the cases that are known about.

Having witnessed such a French Navy-assisted crossing myself this week, I feel qualified to predict that if this influx is not tackled, thousands more will come over the summer. It is important to be clear from the outset: the vast majority of the people choosing this route into our country are young men and economic migrants. They are not refugees. It is as if a sign has been hung on the White Cliffs of Dover that reads: “Everyone welcome.”...

SOURCE 







Australia: ‘Audiences are sick of being told they’re horrible’

When David Williamson was starting out as a playwright with his satirical dissections of the 1970s in Don’s Party and The ­Department, Australia’s cultural elites were the people he calls the “first-nighters”. They were from the wealthier suburbs, the silvertails and socialites, effectively being paid by the government to attend premieres at the opera and the ballet.

“We thought they were the real elitists because they were being subsidised about $150 a ticket,” Williamson says.

“The most affluent section of our society was being paid the most to see, to us, elitist art forms. The elitism wasn’t contemporary work. It was the opera and ballet, and I think it still is.”

Today’s culturally privileged are not only the rich but also the poorer citizens who work as ­actors, comedians, directors, ­authors, songwriters, filmmakers, painters and curators. They are members of the creative class who hold a mirror to contemporary Australia and tell us what they see. Williamson knows they can rub people the wrong way.

“I do think that some middle-class audiences at the theatre are finding it a little tiresome to get yet another play from yet another minority group, that tells them that they are unconscionable, and beats them about the head, and tells them that they have caused great problems for minority groups,” he says. “I’m sure there is a bit of that. Some sections of the audience are sick of being told they’re horrible.”

A study released this week by Canberra think tank A New ­Approach also highlights the divide in Australia’s cultural life. The authors wanted to hear what “middle Australians” had to say about the arts, and held focus groups with 56 men and women from the suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville. The groups comprised swinging ­voters who worked in offices, trades and other jobs.

In general, they have a very positive attitude about Australian culture, especially activities that inspire the imagination and involve them in their communities. But they showed little interest in the “high arts” that are too ­expensive, too hard to get to, and not to their taste.

“I am not a big fan of the ballet. I have seen it advertised a lot recently — yeah, not really my thing,” said a man from Brisbane. A Sydney woman told the focus group: “Opera, because of how expensive it is, I don’t think it is easily accessible for everyone. And if you haven’t been exposed to that sort of music you might not enjoy it.”

In recent months, the creative class has taken a great deal of interest in what the rest of Australia thinks. The coronavirus lockdown has devastated the arts and cultural sector, shutting down untold exhibitions and performances and locking thousands out of their livelihoods. Opera Australia, the nation’s biggest and busiest ­performing arts company, has cancelled 570 performances to date, costing $70m. Losses across the performing arts will likely ­exceed $540m, not counting screen production, galleries, museums, book publishers and other cultural businesses.

State and local governments have, to varying degrees, held out a lifeline to the arts and culture sector, which will take months if not years to recover. But support from the federal government has been but a blip in total stimulus spending: just $27m for especially ­vulnerable groups. While Arts Minister Paul Fletcher says “billions” of JobKeeper dollars will flow to those in the arts and creative industries, many are not eligible because they work for government organisations or are employed on short-term contracts. Appeals to broaden the JobKeeper eligibility criteria ­appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Just why the arts have been ignored is causing significant anguish and not a little soul-searching. Broadly, the problems can be identified as a failure to effectively communicate the value of the arts; a disconnect between the elite arts and the general community’s idea of culture; and a ­difference in values between the progressive creative class and the conservative government.

Arts and culture are big business in Australia when you include film and television drama, publishing, live and recorded music, galleries, museums, dance and drama teachers, the professional performing arts and other activities. The government’s Bureau of Communications and Arts Research puts the value of cultural and creative activity at $111.7bn a year, although that ­figure includes creative industries such as fashion, media and information technology.

Taken alone, the creative arts contribute $14.7bn to the economy and employ 193,000 people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As an employer, the arts is bigger than finance, accommodation and coalmining, but many people don’t recognise its significance. In a report released this week, the Australia Institute found that 68 per cent of people underestimate the size of the creative workforce compared with coalmining. It’s an indication, says research director Rod Campbell, that people don’t recognise art and culture as an economically dynamic industry and one that employs tens of thousands of Australians.

A second challenge for the arts is to shake off the elitist tag and connect meaningfully with people beyond a rusted-on audience. One approach has been to widen the frame of reference by giving a boost to artists from different cultural backgrounds.

This is the policy of the federal government’s arts agency, the Australia Council. Its corporate plan sets out strategies to increase the visibility of people from cultural minorities, with particular emphasis on celebrating indigenous artists.

The intention is to give fuller expression to the many different voices and perspectives that make up our nation. One of the findings of the New Approach study is that people value those diverse cultural experiences. But a constant emphasis on minorities or identity politics also risks alienating the mainstream, leading to those familiar accusations of cultural elitism and political correctness.

“Very good at preaching to the converted, not so good at talking to nonbelievers,” is theatre director Sam Strong’s diagnosis of the malaise in the arts sector. But he believes that art is also the way to reach across the cultural divide. Strong recently directed Williamson’s Emerald City — the season at Melbourne Theatre Company was cut short by the lockdown — and is due to direct the stage ­premiere of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, now scheduled for next year.

“That is a great example of a contemporary Australian story that has engaged vast numbers of people,” Strong says of Dalton’s novel. “I think that’s partly because there’s an immediacy to Trent’s writing and a lack of pretension. But ultimately there’s a capacity for people to recognise themselves and their own experience in those stories.”

The divide between the arts sector and the rest of society is perhaps more imagined than real, Strong says. But the question ­remains why the federal government has stayed silent on a substantive rescue package for the sector, and the implicit message is that “what we do isn’t valued”.

Strong is careful not to blame the lack of federal support on an ideological stand-off with the Coalition, believing the sector has to own its own failures. But others do. This month actress Noni Hazlehurst accused the government of “waging a culture war” against the arts by denying industry assistance. And Williamson says conservative governments have long regarded the contemporary arts with suspicion, seeing in a film’s or a play’s social critique an attack on their own kind.

“Conservative governments are quite happy with anything that was written 200 years ago — the opera and the ballet — that’s not threatening,” he says. “But I do think there is an element of conservative governments feeling threatened by contemporary work and, consciously or unconsciously, that’s part of the reason they don’t value and don’t fund the arts.”

Indeed, the Coalition’s relationship with the arts has been less than rosy in recent years. There are bitter memories of budget cuts in 2014 and of former arts minister George Brandis’s radical intervention in arts funding. Coalition funding for the Australia Council remains less than that of the last Labor government. And funding for the arts across all tiers of government is in decline. An earlier study by A New Approach reported a decrease of 4.9 per cent in Australian governments’ arts spending, in per capita terms, in the decade to 2018.

Esther Anatolitis, of advocacy group National Association for the Visual Arts, says what is apparent, more than any culture war, is simply a lack of interest from Canberra in a large part of Australia’s economic and cultural life.

“The fact that the government has failed to respond with a specific stimulus is the clearest demonstration that they just don’t want to,” she says. “The government talks about throwing out ideology … but in practice they are being driven by a set of values, and one of those values is not to support the arts.”

Leaders in the arts sector say they must continue to make the case for investment in an industry that brings economic and other pay-offs: that the arts assist schoolchildren in their learning and concentration, that a strong cultural life aids social cohesion and national identity, that creative activity can help ward off some effects of old age.

But there is also a need to master the politics of persuasion, to read the community’s mood, to break out of the arts bubble and to change the well-entrenched narrative that the arts are elitist or only for the rich.

At the time of coronavirus and the nation’s emergence from hibernation, the stakes have never been higher.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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25 May, 2020

Political Correctness Is the Real Chinese Virus

“Woke” thinking is the most dangerous part of the entire government response to the plague unleashed upon the world from Wuhan, China.

Political correctness usually just seems silly or at worst a little crazy, but in the case of the Chinese-originated virus, the worldwide virtue signaling has become worse than dangerous; it has become deadly.

Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence, Italy, made a bold and disastrous stand for “inclusion” on February 1, immediately following President Trump’s decision to stop all inbound flights from China. According to the Global Times, Nardella “initiated ‘hug a Chinese’ on Twitter on Feb 1, opposing anger toward China amid the #nCoV2019 outbreak, and calling for ‘Unity in this common battle!.”

The results were beyond tragic as Italy became synonymous with the spread of the virus, with health facilities in northern cities rapidly becoming overwhelmed. The politically correct embrace of Chinese travelers doomed the region. As a result, many of the cases that showed up in the United States were from people infected in Italy due to virus virtue-signaling.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ran with the politically correct, pro-China line with his absurd attempt to identify the Chinese virus as a “European virus.” This is akin to claiming that gunpowder or noodles originated in Italy rather than recognizing that Marco Polo brought them from China in the late 13th century. In Cuomo’s politically correct world, however, blaming Italy is far better than agreeing with President Trump who isolated China early, while Europe opened its borders to viral visitors.

Cuomo’s blame-shifting followed the tainted governor’s obscene decision on March 20 to issue a mandate that New York state nursing homes had to accept virus-infected patients. Everyone in America knew that keeping the virus out of our nation’s senior care system was critical as this population was most likely to die if infected with the virus. We watched in horror in February as deaths mounted in just one Washington state nursing home, and in early March, Cuomo insisted he was taking action in order to protect seniors by heeding the president’s call.

Instead, in what can only be called political correctness run wild, Cuomo signed death warrants for thousands of elderly New Yorkers by injecting the virus directly into where they lived.

In case you think this is hyperbole, the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that of the 14 states it has studied, fully half of all the COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes. One-half, and the media darling Cuomo forced officials in his state to let the virus loose in virtually every nursing home there.

Any questions why New York accounts for one-third of all the deaths from the virus in the United States?

Even more incredible, this insane policy is contained in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest stimulus bill, where the House Democrats now want to incentivize senior care facilities to accept virus-infected patients.

Given the spread of the politically correct idea to infuse COVID-19 patients into senior health facilities so as to not treat them as lepers, as well as the push to negate China’s culpability for the virus itself, it is clear that political correctness is the most dangerous part of the entire government response to the plague unleashed upon the world from Wuhan, China.

SOURCE 






Some Thoughts About Being Safe

Dennis Prager

In a recent "Fireside Chat," my weekly talk show on the PragerU platform, I commented on society's increasing fixation on being "safe." The following is a condensed version of what I said:

We have a meme up at PragerU: "'Until it's safe' means 'never.'"

The pursuit of "safe" over virtually all other considerations is life-suppressing. This is true for your own individual life, and it is true for the life of a society.

I always give the following example: I have been taking visitors to Israel for decades, and for all those decades, people have called my radio show to say, "Dennis, I would so love to visit Israel, but I'm just going to wait until it's safe." And I've always told these people, "Then you'll never go." And sure enough, I've gone there over 20 times, and they never went.

I have never led my life on the basis of "until it's safe." I do not take ridiculous risks. I wear a seatbelt whenever I'm in a car because the chances are overwhelming that in a bad accident, a seatbelt can save my life. But I get into the car, which is not 100% safe.

You are not on earth to be safe. You are on earth to lead a full life. I don't want my epitaph to be, "He led a safe life." It's like another epitaph I don't want: "He experienced as little pain as possible."

The nature of this world is such that if you aim for 100 percent safety and no pain, you don't live. I have visited 130 countries, some of which were not particularly safe. Safe, as in "no risk," doesn't exist. Accepting there are degrees of safety and balancing risk with reward are part of the reason I've led a rich life.

I'll give a personal example. I started teaching myself to conduct an orchestra when I was in my teens. I have conducted orchestras periodically for much of my adult life. As a guest conductor, I raise funds for orchestras, as I did two years ago at the Disney Concert Hall, where I conducted a Haydn symphony with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.

Now, I rarely get nervous. But the first time I conducted, I was so nervous I was actually dripping sweat onto the score -- and it was only a rehearsal.

What I did was not play it safe. Playing it safe would have meant I wouldn't have accepted the invitation to conduct.

All of life confronts you with this question: Are you going to take risks or play it safe? If you play it safe, you don't get married. If you play it safe, you don't have kids. There are real risks in getting married; there are real risks in having children.

Take the issue of the word "safe" on campuses. "Safe" is used to suppress freedom of thought: "If we have a conservative speaker on campus, we need a 'safe space' where we can avoid feeling discomfort from exposure to ideas we don't like." A conservative speaker comes to campus and some students go to a "safe space" where they're given Play-Doh, hot chocolate and stuffed animals. I'm not joking. That's what they do at some colleges -- for people who are 18 and older.

That's why Adam Carolla and I named our movie about free speech "No Safe Spaces" (which you can and should watch at NoSafeSpaces.com).

"Safe" has become a dirty word. I rarely use it in the context of living life. It's one of the reasons I'm a happy person and have led a full life. I'm thinking of a trivial example, but life is filled with trivial examples. Most of life is not major moments. If I am at a restaurant and my fork or knife falls, I pick it up and use it. They rush over to give me a new one, like I am flirting with death if I take the fork from the floor. My view is there's no reason to come over. The fork fell on the floor. What did it pick up -- diphtheria? Am I going to get pancreatic cancer from a fork that fell? I'm not troubled by these things.

"Safe" is going to suppress your joy of life.

When I was 21 years old, I was sent to the Soviet Union to smuggle in religious items for Soviet Jews and to smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union.

It wasn't safe. I was in a totalitarian state, smuggling things in and out. But it was one of the most important things I've done in my life. Not to mention a life-transforming experience.

Before I went, I told my father about my plans. We both knew it wasn't safe. I'll never forget what my father said: "Dennis, I spent two and a half years on a Navy ship in World War II, fighting in the Pacific. So, you can take risks for a month."

Yes, he was worried. But this was a man who, despite having a wife and child, enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. He was an officer on a troop transport ship, a prime target of the Japanese. He wasn't safe. The World War II generation has been dubbed "the greatest generation." Part of what made them great was the last thing they would ever ask was, "Is it safe?"

If you want to lead a good and full life, you cannot keep asking, "Is it safe?" Those at college promoting "safe spaces" are afraid of life, and they want to make you afraid of life.

We're going crazy on the safe issue. It is making police states. That's my worry: In the name of safety, many Americans are dropping all other considerations.

"Is it safe?" shouldn't be the overarching element in your life. Pick the fork up. Wipe it off. And use it.

Postscript: Some left-wing media cited the remarks about picking up a fork (transcribed above word-for-word) in order to smear me and the message. The Daily Beast led with this mendacious headline: "Dennis Prager Licks Dirty Forks To Show COVID Who's Boss." And the Daily Mail offered its attack with this headline: "Right-Wing Radio Host Dennis Prager Boasts About Using Dirty Forks From Restaurant Floors in His Latest Rambling Message Downplaying Dangers of Coronavirus That Has Now Killed 88,000 Americans." As is obvious, my talk was about "being safe," not the coronavirus. Please read my last column about truth and the left.

SOURCE 






Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement

Picture this: You’re driving home from the casino and you’ve absolutely cleaned up – to the tune of $50,000. You see a police car pull up behind you, but you can’t figure out why. Not only have you not broken any laws; you’re not even speeding. But the police officer doesn’t appear to be interested in charging you with a crime. Instead, he takes your gambling winnings, warns you not to say anything to anyone unless you want to be charged as a drug kingpin, then drives off into the sunset.

This actually happened to Tan Nguyen, and his story is far from unique. It’s called civil asset forfeiture and it’s a multi-billion dollar piggybank for state, local and federal police departments to fund all sorts of pet projects.

With its origins in the British fight against piracy on the open seas, civil asset forfeiture is nothing new. During Prohibition, police officers often seized goods, cash and equipment from bootleggers in a similar manner as today. However, contemporary civil asset forfeiture begins right where you’d think that it would: The War on Drugs.

In 1986, as First Lady Nancy Reagan encouraged America’s youth to “Just Say No,” the Justice Department started the Asset Forfeiture Fund. This sparked a boom in civil asset forfeiture that’s now become self-reinforcing, as the criminalization of American life and asset forfeiture have continued to feed each other.

In sum, asset forfeiture creates a motivation to draft more laws by the legislature, while more laws create greater opportunities for seizure by law enforcement. This perverse incentive structure is having devastating consequences: In 2014 alone, law enforcement took more stuff from American citizens than burglars did.

The current state of civil asset forfeiture in the United States is one of almost naked tyranny. Don’t believe us? Read on.

The Origins of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture has a deep history in maritime law. In many cases, it just wasn’t practical to bring owners of vessels carrying contraband in front of an American court. So customs enforcement would simply seize the contraband. But in practice, seizure of assets was rare and generally required a felony conviction in court. Often times these convictions were obtained in absentia, but the point is that there was a criminal proceeding and due process.

During the Civil War, as part of sweeping attacks on liberty that included Lincoln suspending habeas corpus and obtaining an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, supporters of the Confederacy had their property confiscated without due process. Civil asset forfeiture was used during the Prohibition Era to seize assets from bootleggers and suspected bootleggers. Even innocent owners had no defense during Prohibition if their property was used in violation of the Volstead Act.

In 1984, civil asset forfeiture entered a new phase. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act, championed by then-President Ronald Reagan, allowed for police agencies to keep the assets they seized. This highly incentivized the seizure of assets for the purpose of funding police departments rather than pursuing criminal charges. However, the game changed completely in 1996 – the year of the landmark Supreme Court decision Bennis v. Michigan (516 U.S. 442). This ruling held that the innocent owner defense was not sufficient to recover assets seized during civil asset forfeiture.

The plaintiff, Tina Bennis, was the joint owner of a vehicle with her husband John. The latter was arrested by Detroit police when caught with a prostitute on a street in Detroit, and the car was seized as a public nuisance. The court found that despite having no knowledge of the crime, there was no violation of either her property rights or her right to due process. Michigan’s law was specifically designed to deter people from using their assets in criminal activity, which the Supreme Court found to be Constitutional in a 5-4 decision. The Supreme Court likewise found that there was no right to compensation for Bennis.

Criminal Asset Forfeiture vs. Civil Asset Forfeiture

Before going any further, it’s important to delineate the differences between criminal asset forfeiture and civil asset forfeiture. The primary difference is that criminal asset forfeiture requires a conviction while civil asset forfeiture does not. However, there are other differences worth mentioning.

Civil asset forfeiture is a lawsuit against the seized object in question rather than a person. This leads to rather strange lawsuits like “Texas vs. One Gold Crucifix.” The legal burden of proof varies from one state to another, but the most common is preponderance of evidence, not reasonable doubt. What this means is juries decide if the state’s case is more likely to be true than not – not beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil asset forfeiture trial, courts can weigh the use of the Fifth Amendment. This is not true in criminal trials.

The ‘burden of proof’ question becomes crucial when it comes to retrieving property. In criminal cases, assets are returned if the prosecution fails to prove the guilt of the accused. In a civil asset forfeiture trial, the accused effectively has to prove their innocence to get their property back. Thus, civil asset forfeiture is a highly attractive option for police departments looking to scare up extra scratch in tight budgetary times. What’s more, the accused is not entitled to legal counsel. This is why, in most cases, it’s not economically advantageous to try and get one’s property back. The lawyer fees will quickly eclipse whatever value the seized assets have.

A 2015 study from FreedomWorks graded the states on their civil asset forfeiture laws. Only New Mexico received an “A,” after the state passed sweeping reforms with regard to its civil asset forfeiture processes. Over half the states received a “D” or less.

Sound paranoid? Keep reading.

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Big Business For Police

To say that police departments are funding themselves with civil asset forfeiture is more true than you might think. Civil asset forfeiture has exploded since 1986 when total seizures were at $93.7 million. By 2005, this had passed the $1 billion mark. That was double the 2004 amount, $567 million. By 2010, this figure jumped to $2.5 billion with more than 15,000 forfeiture cases – 11,000 of which were civil, not criminal.

By 2014, this figure climbed to $4.5 billion, with $29 billion seized between 2001 and 2014. Between 1985 and 1991, federal forfeitures increased by 1,500 percent, an increase of over 26 times. The Justice Department’s forfeiture fund (that does not include customs forfeitures) ballooned from $27 million in 1985 to $644 million in 1991. By 1996, this fund grew to over $1 billion for the first time. By 2008, it had tripled again to $3.1 billion.

Cash seizures in Tennessee have gotten so widespread that the state legislature has begun investigating it. Traffic stops have turned into shakedown operations. Interstate 40 was described as “a major profit center” by Phil Williams, a reporter for Channel 5 in Nashville. Much like extra-legal gangs, police gangs in Tennessee have started engaging in turf warfare over the spoils of civil asset forfeiture. The Dixon Interdiction Enforcement (DICE) and the 23rd Judicial District Drug Taskforce were caught on video trying to cut one another off in their vehicles to stop civilians and search for cash. Indeed, officers were in danger of losing their jobs if they didn’t seize enough cash. The head of DICE admitted that it was funded entirely by civil asset forfeiture cash.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Drives Bad Policing

Civil asset forfeiture isn’t just effectively a legalized form of theft. It also drives (and indeed, incentivizes) bad policing. There is ample evidence to suggest local smokies use civil asset forfeiture to pad their budgets. For example, a 1994 study found that police delay drug busts to increase the value of a forfeiture. A 2001 study of 1,400 police departments published in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that half of the departments surveyed agreed that civil asset forfeiture was “necessary as a budget supplement.” Far more disturbing is the 2004 report showing that police departments keep wish lists for items they wish to obtain via civil asset forfeiture.

To provide some context, in 2014, the total amount of civil asset forfeiture seizures in the United States was $4.5 billion. The total value of property stolen in burglaries was $3.9 billion. This means that police agencies in the United States are taking more from the American public than burglars. More to the point, all the time police agencies use seizing assets from citizens who are in no way a danger to their neighbors is time they don’t spend tracking down actual criminals. In some cases, it might be more “profitable” for a police department to harass a law-abiding citizen while entirely ignoring dangerous criminals.

Case in point: In Tennessee, officers set up a post to bust drug traffickers on a known highway used for muling drugs from Mexico into the United States. However, their post was not set up to stop the flow of drugs into the United States, which one would think would ostensibly be the goal of the “War on Drugs” – to protect American citizens from the inflow of drugs. Instead, the post was set up to bust cars bound for Mexico that might be carrying cash, a far more valuable commodity for the police departments.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Targets Regular People

Let’s assume that you’re against the War on Drugs and against civil asset forfeiture on principle. So what? Who cares about big-time drug kingpins getting their assets seized by the government? Well, as it turns out, the police aren’t generally taking things from drug lords operating in what are effectively domestic war zones. They’re taking them from average Americans.

First, it’s important to remember what the “civil” in “civil asset forfeiture” means. It means that no one has actually been convicted of a crime. Once property has been seized, it’s not only difficult to regain it, but it can also be dangerous for the person who has had their items effectively stolen by the police.

Additionally, it’s worth looking at the scope creep associated with civil asset forfeiture, for which there are currently over 400 federal statutes on the books. This amount has doubled since the 1990s. People who are victims of civil asset forfeiture are many times not even suspected of drug crimes or money laundering. Civil asset forfeiture is applied to crimes like DWI or violating the National Halibut Fishing Act. In 85 percent of all cases, no one is ever charged with a crime, though many people are pressured into signing away their right to a defense in exchange for a guarantee against criminal prosecution. In the case of seized vehicles, between 50 and 80 percent were being driven by someone other than the owner when seized.

In one particularly egregious example, a Philadelphia family had their home seized because their son did a $40 drug sale on the porch. In New York City, police seize money from people with as little as $100 in their pocket. A whopping 94 percent of California seizures in 2013 were for $5,000 or less, but the average DEA seizure in 1998 was $25,000 – precisely the cap on what attorneys advise against trying to reclaim due to legal fees and court costs. Indeed, 88 percent of Department of Justice seizures are “administrative,” meaning they were never challenged in court, likely due to the high cost and risk associated with challenging a seizure.

In addition to the legal fees being prohibitively high for most people, anything you say in the course of recovering your property can be used against you in criminal proceedings. This includes the nebulous charge of “lying to investigators” that is so often invoked against people once it has been determined that they committed no other crime.

It’s a rare moment when the American Civil Liberties Union and the Heritage Foundation come together, but when they do, it’s worth noting. Both oppose civil asset forfeiture.

SOURCE 






Child Social Workers Arrested in NC on Charges of Removing Children From Families Without Judicial Oversight

Three Cherokee County Department of Social Services social workers, including the DSS director, were indicted with more than three dozen felony and misdemeanor charges in North Carolina on Monday. Among the arrested are Cindy Palmer, DSS director and wife of County Sheriff Derrick Palmer, David Hughes, a supervisor at DSS, and Scott Lindsay, former DSS attorney. The three were booked and released on bond.


The charges included multiple felonies and misdemeanors related to a yearslong Cherokee County DSS practice that removed children from parents without judicial input. The Carolina Public Press has the story.

The indictments come after more than two years of investigations by state and potentially federal authorities. They also do not cover all of the allegations of misconduct, meaning more charges could surface in the future.

But they stand to shake up Cherokee County because of who was indicted and why, as well as who had backed them despite ongoing criminal investigations.

The indictments may also have important implications for the accountability of social services agencies across North Carolina, as well as the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which intervened in Cherokee County while the investigation was underway.

A judge had ruled in 2018 that the agreements were a violation of law but the indictment says Palmer and others continued to use them anyway. And parents who have had experience with child services all over the country knows what kind of power they wield. There is no one to go to when social workers violate your rights. One of the parents involved in the case, Tienda Rose Phillips told CPP, “But when you have someone who you think is over you and is threatening foster care, who you know can take your kid, you kind of do what they say. You kind of feel you have no choice.”

Social workers from Cherokee County DSS told parents and other caregivers that unless they signed the document, their children would be placed in a foster home far away, according to a federal lawsuit.

In fact, the documents were an illegal violation of parents’ constitutional rights, and “the product of both actual and constructive fraud on behalf of the Cherokee County Department of Social Services, its agents and employees and Attorney Scott Lindsay and Director Cindy Palmer,” District Court Judge Sellers ruled in 2018.

Social workers told malicious lies and defrauded parents
Palmer’s offenses include using child-custody agreements that circumvented judicial oversight.

The use of these agreements effectively avoided judicial oversight into the activities of Cherokee County DSS and subverted the statutory process for determining abuse and neglect of children, and determining custody and parental rights,” the indictment says.

“This offense was done in secrecy and with malice; with deceit and intent to defraud; was infamous; and was done in violation of the common law, and against the peace and dignity of the state.”

The government agencies charged with caring for neglected and abused children have historically been at the center of much controversy for removing children wrongly, abusing their authority, violating Constitutional rights, and ignoring abuse that led to the deaths of children nationwide. They have been caught conspiring to take newborns away from parents for disagreeing with medical decisions and have lost huge lawsuits against them for seizing children unlawfully without warrants or due process.

Social workers lied to a judge to take children away from parents

The indictment accuses Palmer of lying to a judge about when and how the agreements came to be used. Palmer claimed the first time she heard about the agreements was in December of 2017 which the indictment says is a lie and that she claimed it “knowing the statement, which is material, to be false.”

…the indictment holds Palmer responsible for CVAs as far back as the beginning of 2016. Palmer became interim director for Cherokee DSS in August 2015, a position that became permanent the following year.

In her defense, her attorney at Cheshire Parker Schneider in Raleigh said the agreements happened years before she became the director.

“Cindy relied on the department’s longtime lawyer, whom she believed was following the law with regard to these agreements,” wrote attorney Hart Miles, with the firm.

“She adamantly denies ever acting with any sort of criminal intent. And she is confident that those in the community that know her understand that she is a dedicated public servant who has been wrongfully targeted in this investigation.”

But the attorney representing the families, David Moore says that Palmer and others had no excuse not to know proper procedure because they were all trained in 2016.

David Moore told the board during that closed session “that training in 2016 had covered the appropriate department procedures that should have been followed regarding custody removals,” according to closed-session minutes. “The 2016 training was clear and direct and taught procedures and rules regarding maintaining parental rights.”

Asked by CPP last year whether this meant Palmer should have known better, David Moore said, “Everybody should have known better.”

Did social workers shred evidence?

In a very disturbing twist, it is reported that after the investigation into the wrongdoing was made public in 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services took over the child welfare offices and knew that Palmer was under investigation for crimes. Despite this, they allowed her to stay on in a position of authority. The Carolina Public Press investigated in 2019 and found evidence that a “massive number of documents at DSS were shredded at precisely the time she [Palmer] took on the new position. If material relevant to the State Bureau of Investigation probe of Palmer and others were destroyed, it could constitute a separate case of obstruction of justice.”

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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24 May, 2020

America’s Bureaucratic Response to The Wuhan Pandemic

The very last thing our nation needs in the midst of the Wuhan Covid-19 pandemic is bureaucratic- speak from government officials. For the past four months the nation has been barraged with mind-numbing hyperbole from the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Just to be clear, Dr, Fauci is an incredibly well-trained physician, academician, virologist, public health expert and scientist. However, he is not someone on the front lines treating patients, unlike so many primary care physicians dealing directly with sick patients in their offices, hospitals and emergency rooms. He certainly understands the coronavirus’s biological structure intricacies, replication and spread, and interprets data models being put forth. To our knowledge, he is not seeing or examining patients, taking histories, or formulating differential diagnoses and treatment plans for individual patients. As Yuval Levin in The Wall Street Journal states: “Then technical experts advise government officials, they aren’t just conveying neutral facts…That’s what makes them useful—and also limits their value.”

His skill set is as an academician and researcher and not a clinician. His perspective may be a bit conservative and based on cold data, rather than the interactive experience gleaned by actually caring for patients. We have long felt the need for a clinician to be at Dr. Fauci’s side, giving a balanced perspective of what is truly going on with the patient care landscape with Covid-19. We would be necessarily informed by a more practical, humanistic understanding, not just statistical, with a touch of hope to how patients respond and what America and the world truly face.

The statistical models produced by different organizations have proven time and again to be inaccurate. The medical infrastructure in the United States cannot be compared to Italy, China or anywhere else in the world. America truly ranks at the top in the world through our hospitals, nurses and physicians. Let’s not be cavalier by any means, but let’s accentuate the positives we face and eliminate some of the fear perpetuated by half-truths and innuendos accentuated by the media.

What we HAVE learned is our focus needs to be on people over 65 years of age and those with underlying medical conditions. A high percentage of the deaths have occurred with the elderly in nursing homes and special care facilities. Dr. Fauci needs to sound an alarm about how appalling it is that our elderly population has to suffer yet again!

Here are some recent examples of Fauci-speak which make our point:

“Infections and hospitalizations are declining in some areas while spiking in others. We don’t have it completely under control.”

Opening the country back up “is just not going to happen because it’s such a highly transmissible virus. Even if we get better control over the summer months, it is likely that there will be virus somewhere on this planet that will eventually get back to us.”

Not following the guidelines, presents a “real risk that you will trigger an outbreak.”

Opening the nation and economy too soon may produce “needless suffering and death.”

By reopening too soon “You can almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward…that is my main concern.”

“In this case, the idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far…even at top speed that we’re going, we don't see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school, this term. What they really want is to know if they are safe.”

What you don’t learn about the nay-saying Anthony Fauci is the fact that America has lived successfully through a number of viral epidemics over five decades. Certainly some people lost their lives, but medicine and the pharmaceutical industry have given us remarkable control over these scourges, and we have not sacrificed our nation’s economy in doing so. Even in years with minor influence outbreaks, tens of thousands of people die from pneumonia brought about by morbidity issues.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an example. The CDC estimates that more than 1 million people in the U.S. are still living well with the virus; as many as 50,000 people become newly infected every year. HIV was first diagnosed in a San Francisco female sex-worker in 1977, who then gave birth to three children who were later diagnosed with AIDS. The children's blood was tested after their deaths and revealed an HIV infection. The mother died of AIDS in May 1987. People still contract HIV today, but through safe sexual practices and pharmaceutical discoveries, its prevalence and mortality rate have been reduced significantly. Pro basketball player Magic Johnson, Olympic diver Greg Louganis, pro football player Roy Simmons, pro soccer player Job Komol, actors like Charlie Sheen and Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo are living successfully with the disease.

There are a host of other viruses that have killed Americans (SARS, the Spanish Flu, Polio, etc.). Below is a short list of flu types:

—Type A flu viruses cause pandemic flu. A pandemic is the worldwide spread, in humans, of a flu virus to which most people have no natural immunity.

—Type A flu viruses are subtyped according to proteins on their surfaces. There are 16 different H proteins and nine different N proteins. All H and N proteins occur in birds.

—Human disease has traditionally been caused by three H subtypes — H1, H2, and H3 and more recently by new H subtypes — H5, H7, and H9 — from birds. It is feared that one of these subtypes will emerge as the next flu pandemic — particularly the H5N1 virus causing an unprecedented global epidemic among domestic and wild birds. Bird flu viruses come in two varieties: Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) and High pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) — apparently limited to the H5 and H7 viruses.

We put this year’s flu pandemic into a hopefully more understandable perspective. In this year’s flu season, the CDC estimates between 39,000,000 to 56,000,000 cases and 6,180 deaths. It is interesting to note that in the past decade the CDC reports 3 worse flu seasons, 2017-19, 2014-15 and 2012-13. At this writing the CDC lists 62,515 total Covid-19 deaths. This is somewhat misleading since the agency lists any death where the patient tested positive for Covid-19, as a death from that virus whether it, or other morbidity issues were the cause.

Our COVID-19 statistics differ little from this year’s flu. Both Covid-19 and the flu hit smokers, the morbidly obese, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, hardest. By late this year or early next year we will probably have a vaccine, perhaps several. Right now, we need to open America, its full economic engine running with much less federal and media hyperbole.

SOURCE 






How Intensely Does the Leftwing Media Hate Trump?

Michael Brown

I cannot prove this, but the caller to my radio show seemed totally credible. If what he said is true, then the animosity towards Trump in leftwing circles is even more extreme than some of us would have believed. And that is saying a lot.

The caller, named Rob, from Tampa, Florida, said he had previously worked at an NBC News affiliate up north. (He didn’t want to give further details so as to be able to speak with total freedom.)

As a committed Christian, he claims he was not just in the minority. He was alone, with all the other newsroom staffers, totaling at least 30 people, identifying as either atheists or agnostics. And, he said, “Every single one of them was a hardcore leftist.”

Rob said his last year working at the station was the first year of Trump’s presidency, so, 2017. During that time, a story about Trump was run for a few days, a story that “everyone knew was a lie.”

So he reached out to the assignment editor and said, “What you’re putting on TV is a lie. Why are you doing it?”

According to Rob, “The guy looked at me stone cold and said, ‘It’s not my duty or my obligation to tell the truth. It’s my obligation to get Donald Trump out of the White House.’”

Again, I can’t verify this story, although, to repeat, Rob did seem credible and he was quite aware of Trump’s shortcomings.

But what I can say is this: there is no question that the TV media leans overwhelmingly to the left, and there is no question that the leftist media is overtly and unapologetically hostile to Trump.

Looking first at the media’s anti-Trump reporting, in October, 2017, Pew Research noted that, “The Pew Research Center, in a content analysis of the early days of the Trump presidency, found that 62 percent of the coverage was negative and only 5 percent was positive.

“In contrast, President Barack Obama's coverage in early 2009 was 42 percent positive and 20 percent negative, the study said.”

So, the coverage of Trump was more than 12 to 1 negative; the coverage of Obama was more than 2 to 1 positive.

One year later, in October, 2018, the Media Research Center stated that, “Over the summer, the broadcast networks have continued to pound Donald Trump and his team with the most hostile coverage of a president in TV news history — 92% negative, vs. just 8% positive.”

By January, 2020, the figure had risen to 93 percent negative.

Certainly, Trump’s provocation of the media plays into these numbers. But whatever the cause, the anti-Trump sentiments have only intensified, and in increasingly unvarnished fashion at that.

As for the political leanings of the media, Nate Silver wrote in 2017 that, “As of 2013, only 7 percent of [journalists] identified as Republicans.” (This was down from 25.7 percent in 1971; strikingly, as of 2013, half identified as independent.)

And, a 2017 article in Politico points out, “The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties” (their emphasis).

With good reason, the article, written by Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty, carried this title and subtitle: “The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think. We crunched the data on where journalists work and how fast it’s changing. The results should worry you.”

And then, this striking observation: “The people who report, edit, produce and publish news can’t help being affected—deeply affected—by the environment around them. Former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent got at this when he analyzed the decidedly liberal bent of his newspaper’s staff in a 2004 column that rewards rereading today. The ‘heart, mind, and habits’ of the Times, he wrote, cannot be divorced from the ethos of the cosmopolitan city where it is produced. On such subjects as abortion, gay rights, gun control and environmental regulation, the Times’ news reporting is a pretty good reflection of its region’s dominant predisposition.”

Okrent’s analysis was shockingly candid (and note that it was published by the Times itself). To the headline’s question, “Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?”, he responded, “Of course it is.” (Again, this was back in 2004.)

With regard to “the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others,” Okrent was equally blunt: “if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.”

As for “the editorial page,” he described it as “so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.”

Although I cannot get my hands on the research right now, more than one decade ago, I read with interest a survey indicating how news anchors across the nation held to radically leftist views on abortion and other social issues. I would imagine those numbers would look similar today.

It is true that an academic article published by Science Advances in April, 2020 argued that, “Although a dominant majority of journalists identify as liberals/Democrats and many Americans and public officials frequently decry supposedly high and increasing levels of media bias, little compelling evidence exists as to (i) the ideological or partisan leanings of the many journalists who fail to answer surveys and/or identify as independents and (ii) whether journalists’ political leanings bleed into the choice of which stories to cover that Americans ultimately consume.”

Rob, and a host of other observers, including me, would beg to differ.

SOURCE 





Coronavirus Australia: We can’t spend the rest of our lives avoiding risks

How good are Australians in a ­crisis? The number of active cases of COVID-19 has fallen steadily for more than six weeks. At the start of last month, there were almos­t 5000 known carriers. Today there is a tenth as many.

If you want to know what a health crisis really looks like, turn to Britain, where 2642 fatalities have been announced in the past week, pushing deaths per million to 521. In Australia there have been just four per million.

That suggests it is safe to let the experts stand down and put the politicians back in charge. The extraordinary powers given to medical officers and police chiefs should be withdrawn to allow the hard work to begin.

Last week’s unemployment figures are just a taste of the post-pandemic misery. JobKeeper payments have kept Australians employed for now, but not every job is salvageable. Hundreds of thousands more people are likely to be out of work when the payments are wound back.

By any reasonable measure, the health crisis has been averted. Yet the experts who were so swift to alert us to the danger in the first place are slow to admit it.

A second wave, however unwelcome, would almost certainly be smaller than the first. We are far better prepared for its arrival thanks to the investment in ­testing, tracing and additional hospital facilities.

Credit also belongs to the Aust­ralian people, who have sacrificed­ much to beat this virus. Those who still have jobs should be allowed to return to them.

As Scott Morrison was at pains to point out on May 1, opening up the economy involves risk. There will be further outbreaks. More people will be infected and some could die.

Yet we are beyond the point where the pain averted by keeping people at home is greater than the pain it causes. And we are well beyond­ the point when the damage­ to the economy ($4bn a week) can be seen as a necessary or proportionate response.

Let us recall the reason for taking these drastic measures. In late March the virus appeared to be spreading exponentially, such that demand for acute hospital beds might outstrip supply.

The lockdown, together with the work of federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, ensured that didn’t happen. The number of intensive care unit beds tripled to more than 7000. Fewer than 100 were occupied by COVID-19 patients at the height of the pandemic. Yesterday 11 were in use.

With our borders closed, the risk that another wave could be large enough to swamp our health services is extremely slight.

The risk is even lower in South Australia. A swift response from Premier Steven Marshall — the closing of state borders, enforced quarantine for South Australians returning home and the appointment of a state co-ordinator under the Emergency Management Act — allowed SA to contain the virus better than most.

Only one new case has been detected in the state over the past three weeks. Of the 439 cases identified, 435 have recovered. Sadly, the other four died.

Yet bars and pubs remain closed. Cafes and restaurants are limited to 10 patrons at a time, making reopening a loss-making option for most.

Police can issue a $5000 on-the-spot fine to anyone reckless enough to invite more than seven guests to a wedding or 20 mourners to an indoor funeral.

Under whose authority is this extraordinary power given to the police? The authority of the SA Police Commissioner himself, Grant Stevens, who was appointed state co-ordinator of emergency manageme­nt on March 22.

Now that SA is, as near as ­dammit, virus free, Stevens is ­entitled to pat himself on the back, drop in at Government House and relinquish his emergency power, which will otherwise not expire until the end of the month.

Don’t hold your breath. Like the health experts appointed to save us from becoming the Italy of the south, Stevens is in no hurry to return to his day job.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier put on a “Fri-yay” top to celebrate the “fantastic” news of the state’s clean bill of health, but seems less than eager to step out of the limelight. There was no room for complacency, she warned. There was always the threat of a second wave.

Expert as Spurrier and Stevens might be in their respective fields, health and public order is not the expertise we need at this moment.

Our challenge now is avoiding deep, damaging recession. We need experts in assessing the nationa­l interest, weighing risks and evaluating competing public policy goals. We need experts who can balance the need for a healthy population against the imperative of a healthy economy, particularly in SA, where unemployment is at 7.2 per cent, the highest in the country.

In other words, we need the expertis­e of parliamentarians whose jobs depend on recognising the public interest. The power to make decisions should be remove­d from unelected officials and returned to those with a popular mandate.

The hard road is still ahead. Extraordinary public health measures that impinge on indiv­idual liberty were popular six weeks ago, when the shops were out of toilet paper. Today, they are a burden.

Having controlled this virus better than almost anyone expec­ted, by normalising social ­distancing, reducing international arrivals to a trickle and restricting interstate travel to essential business, governments must act quickly to lift restrictions.

The speed of economic recovery will depend on the willingness of businesses to take risks by investin­g and hiring, despite the uncertainties that will bedevil us.

Governments must lead by exampl­e before the culture of risk-avoidance that takes hold in a pandemic becomes entrenched in public and commercial life.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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22 May, 2020  

White Vigilante vs. Black Victim

The tragic story of a white mail carrier murdered by a black assailant.

Willie Richardson
  
Have you ever noticed the difference in media messaging when certain crimes happen in America? One group of people is portrayed as the victim and the other as the vigilante. The usual media headline goes like this: “Unarmed [black] male fatally shot by white police officers.” Sometimes it includes words like “lyching,” “racial terror,” “slaying,” or “killing.” I mentioned the name Ahmaud Arbery in a previous article and many of you had heard about the case ad nauseum. However, have you heard the name Angela Summers?

She was unarmed. She was minding her own business. She was a 45-year-old mother. However, she was “white.” Yep, that’s the only difference in why her name isn’t being plastered across your 50-inch television screens. The ferocious media manipulation and bias that occurs daily in this nation is sickening.

Angela Summers was a mail carrier walking her Monday route when suddenly she met her demise. She bypassed a home due to the dangers of the residents’ dog. The U.S. Postal Service office had warned this family with three letters in the mail about their aggressive dog. They never took mitigating measures. So, Angela was instructed to not deliver the mail there until the family followed through on the warnings. The mail delivery had been suspended according to the criminal complaint, and the family had been instructed to pick up their mail from the local post office.

Enter Tony Cushingberry-Mays. He is a 21-year-old black male who allegedly confronted Summers on this fatal day. He harassed Summers at the neighbor’s front porch about the mail. Summers grabbed her mace and sprayed Cushingberry-Mays. He pulled out a gun and shot her in the chest.

If we reversed the roles and “color” of the individuals, this would have made international news. The headlines would read: “Unarmed black male carrier, father of 4, shot by vigilante white male.” Instead, in the headline, there was no mention of Ms. Summers’s skin color. No mention of her being unarmed. No mention about her daughter being left behind. The headlines read, “Postal Worker Angela Summers Killed, Allegedly Over Dispute Involving Coronavirus Stimulus Check.”

The saddest part about this whole tragedy is that the shooter’s family was upset about not receiving their relief checks from the Trump administration. Go figure. Talk about “don’t shoot the messenger.” Angela Summers was just the unarmed messenger doing her job. Who’s really the victim? Who’s really the vigilante? Where’s the media outrage?

SOURCE 

The black moron has been charged





The enemies of Prop 209

California's colorblind mandate was a noble landmark, but lawmakers want to tear it down.

by Jeff Jacoby

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IN 1996, Californians approved Proposition 209, the accurately named California Civil Rights Initiative. By a 55 percent majority, voters amended California's constitution to put an end to state-sponsored discrimination on the basis of race or sex. Proposition 209 required state government to get out of the business of quotas and preferences — to stop judging citizens by the color of their skin, and focus instead on the content of their character and the level of their ability.

I followed the story at the time, and was struck by the fact that the organizers of Proposition 209 were mostly political amateurs linked by a principled commitment to colorblindness. They shared the view of Thurgood Marshall, who argued, as the NAACP's chief litigator during the fight against Jim Crow, that "classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society."

The opponents of Proposition 209, on the other hand, included some of the savviest political operators in California, from then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to the National Organization for Women. Foes of the ballot initiative were often vicious in their opposition. A Los Angeles city councilor compared it to Mein Kampf. A state senator denounced Prop 209's chief sponsor, African-American businessman and University of California regent Ward Connerly, in nakedly racist terms: "He wants to be white. . . . He has no ethnic pride."

But the proposed amendment was written in language so straightforward that voters could judge it for themselves: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." Most Californians agreed with that principle — equal opportunity for all, quotas for none — and it was added to the state constitution.

Now some California legislators are pushing to repeal Prop 209. They have introduced legislation to restore racial and ethnic preferences to college admissions, government hiring, and public contracting.

The repeal bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA-5), contains a lengthy preamble that paints a doleful portrait of life under Proposition 209, especially on campus. The ban on racial preferences, it says, "reduces the graduation rates of students of color" and has had "a devastating impact on minority equal opportunity and access to California's publicly funded institutions of higher education." Because universities had to stop recruiting by race, claims ACA-5, "diversity within public educational institutions has been stymied."

But Gail Heriot, a University of San Diego law professor and a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, counters that Prop 209 "has been good for Californians — of all races," and that ACA-5's proponents are misstating the data. By eliminating racial preferences, Heriot wrote last week, the 1996 amendment did away with the pressure to admit minority students to competitive institutions their credentials hadn't prepared them for. As a result, the number of underrepresented minority students at Berkeley, the most demanding University of California campus, decreased. "But those students didn't just disappear," Heriot observed. "Most were accepted at other campuses of the prestigious UC system, based on their own academic records rather than their skin color. On several UC campuses, their numbers increased. More important, their performance improved dramatically."

The University of California at San Diego illustrates the effect.

In the year before Proposition 209 was adopted, only one black freshman at UC-San Diego was an honor student. But 20 percent of black freshmen became honor students the following year, noted Heriot, while the number of under-represented minority students in academic jeopardy fell dramatically.

Improved academic performance has been accompanied by steady improvement in enrollment and graduation rates, as Wenyuan Wu of the Asian American Coalition for Education recently documented in the Orange County Register:

"In the University of California system, four-year graduation rates of underrepresented racial minorities rose from 31.3 percent [before Proposition 209] ... to 43.3 percent during 2001-03. In 2014, underrepresented racial minorities' four-year graduation rate rose to a record high of 55.1 percent."

And what is true of graduation rates is equally true of enrollment. Both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of all admissions, there are more minority students on University of California campuses than ever before. The charge that Proposition 209 "stymied" diversity in California's public higher-education system, Wu says flatly, "is simply untrue."

Last summer, the University of California system admitted the largest and most diverse class of freshmen in its history — without resorting to racial quotas. Fully 40 percent of the new undergraduates, reported the Los Angeles Times, were African-American, Hispanic, or American Indian.

The enemies of Proposition 209 have tried several times to get it overturned through litigation, but the California Supreme Court has twice upheld the constitutional ban on racial preferences. In 2012, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals upheld the amendment as well.

California paved the way for the adoption of similar colorblind mandates in Michigan, Nebraska, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona. Truly, Proposition 209 was a landmark: In the nation's most multiracial, multiethnic state, voters 24 years ago directed their government to stop preferring some citizens over others because of their physical characteristics. ACA-5 would undo a noble achievement. Don't let that happen, California.

SOURCE 





Bowling Alone: How Washington Has Helped Destroy American Civil Society and Family Life

Church attendance in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released in April 2019. This decline has not been a steady one. Indeed, over the last 20 years, church attendance has fallen by 20 percent. This might not sound like cause for concern off the bat. And if you’re not a person of faith, you might rightly wonder why you would care about such a thing.

Church attendance is simply a measure of something deeper: social cohesion. It’s worth noting that the religions with the highest rate of attendance according to Pew Forum have almost notoriously high levels of social cohesion: Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons and historically black churches top the list.

There’s also the question of religious donations. Religious giving has declined by 50 percent since 1990, according to a 2016 article in the New York Times. This means people who previously used religious services to make ends meet now either have to go without or receive funding from the government. This, in turn, strengthens the central power of the state.

It is our position that civil society – those elements of society which exist independently of big government and big business – are essential to a functioning and free society. What’s more, these institutions are in rapid decline in the United States, and have been for over 50 years.

Such a breakdown is a prelude to tyranny, and has been facilitated in part (either wittingly or unwittingly) by government policies favoring deindustrialization, financialization and centralization of the economy as well as the welfare state.

Much more HERE 






Australia: ‘It is unconstitutional’: Pauline Hanson threatens to take ‘scaremongering, lawless’ Queensland premier to the High Court for refusing to open up the borders

Pauline is referring to Section 92 of the constitition, which reads "On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free." That "absolutly free" is hard to get around so Annastacia Palaszczuk is clearly breaking the law with her restrictions

Pauline Hanson is threatening to take the Queensland premier to court over the state's controversial decision to keep the borders shut, despite the coronavirus curve flattening nationwide.

With businesses crippled across the state, Annastacia Palaszczuk has insisted keeping the state borders closed is for the good of people's health.

There have been just 1,058 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Queensland, and only 12 known active cases.

It comes as restrictions were eased or lifted entirely across the country, with NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian even encouraging families to book holidays.

With Queensland refusing to do the same, Ms Hanson has vowed to 'take the premier on' over the 'unconstitutional' and 'political' border closures.

'I raised last week that I think it's unconstitutional what the premier of Queensland is doing keeping borders closed for trade and commerce under section 92 of the Australian constitution', Ms Hanson told Sky News.

'Speaking to other people, they totally agree with me.

'I'm calling on Queenslanders who've been affected by either their families being destroyed, or inconvenience or trade.

'Those tourist operators who rely on tourists coming there have had their businesses affected.

'It's unconstitutional to do what they're doing, it's important to hold her to account and I think it's a political move what she's doing.

'When I see my state in dire straights, you've got communities that are dying, we need the tourists from down south coming up through Queensland.

Labor's Ms Palaszczuk, who says she is putting the health of the people she leads first, is also facing pressure from other states to remove the border block.

'The very, very earliest, and only if everything went absolutely perfectly, we might be able to think about opening up our border in July,' Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said on Wednesday.

'If the tourism industry wants a more realistic scenario they should be preparing for September.'

Dr Young says she herself would like certainty over when the border will open, but cannot commit to any timeframe.

She said a September re-opening may not even be feasible if interstate cases are not brought under control.

Senator Hanson said she had engaged a pro bono constitutional lawyer to represent businesses affected by the border closure in a High Court challenge.

'It is unconstitutional for premier Palaszczuk to close Queensland's border and her actions are causing me a great deal of concern for the economic viability of our state,' Senator Hanson wrote on Facebook.

'There is no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, and until there is, all states and territories must learn to live with the virus. 

SOURCE  

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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21 May, 2020  

Truth, Not Politics, Is at the Root of the Left-Right Divide

Dennis Prager

The Worldwide Lockdown May Be the Greatest Mistake in History

Three years ago, I wrote a column explaining left-right differences on 35 different subjects. Any one or two of them would make for a major political/cultural divide. Thirty-five make the divide unbridgeable.

As the thesis itself is not really debatable, what is more difficult to explain are the roots of this divide.

I believe it is commitment to truth.

Since I began studying the left as a graduate student of communism at the Russian Institute of the Columbia School of International Affairs, of one thing I was certain: Truth is not a left-wing value. It is a liberal value, and it is a conservative value, but truth has never been a left-wing value. From Lenin to today's left, lying, especially about opponents, is morally acceptable as long as it serves the left's goals of defeating opponents and attaining more power.

Once you realize this, the divide becomes explicable.

Why has YouTube taken down the video of two emergency room physicians who argue that the lockdown may not be called for? Because the left does not argue with opponents; it shuts them down. And that is because it has no interest in truth. That's why the left is pressuring YouTube and Facebook to prohibit anything the left differs with from appearing on their platforms. Just as the Soviets labelled everything in the Western press "imperialist propaganda," the left labels everything with which it differs "misinformation."

That is also why virtually every university does whatever it can to prevent conservatives from speaking on their campuses.

And why has The New York Times just received a Pulitzer Prize for what leading liberal historians have labelled its "mendacious" rewriting of American history, known as "The 1619 Project"? Because to The New York Times and the Pulitzer Prize committee, truth is less important than smearing America.

When it cannot stifle opponents, it smears them. Every prominent conservative or liberal opponent of the left has been smeared -- which is just another way of saying "lied about" -- as being sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, white supremacist, transphobic, etc.

Allow me to use an example I know well: me.

In the span of just this past year, I have written about Newsweek's lie claiming I "mocked" Anne Frank. To Newsweek's credit, they revised the column and published a corrected headline. Then I wrote about Purdue University's "vice provost of diversity and inclusion," who told a Purdue newspaper that I said in a speech I gave at Purdue, "Slavery was not bad." I sent this person a recording of my speech proving I never said anything remotely like what he charged. After many of my listeners and readers protested to the vice provost and to Purdue's president, the vice provost wrote me a private letter saying he was sorry if he "misunderstood" me. His charge was public, but his apology was private.

This past week, as pure a lie as the previous two was manufactured by Media Matters -- a left-wing organization whose sole purpose is lying and smearing conservatives -- and then picked up by various media.

This is what I said -- word for word -- on my radio show:

"How many names have blacks gone through in my lifetime? 'Colored,' 'Negro,' 'African American,' 'black.' That's four different titles for the same human being. What was wrong with 'Negro'? What was wrong with 'colored'? There's no problem with any of them. Do you know that the NAACP is still the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And then 'African American' -- that changed, too. Does it have a dash or hyphen, or not? I don't remember what was connoted by having a hyphen or not."

Media Matters declared the comments "racist."

And the allegation was dutifully picked up by the New York Daily News, which headlined: "Conservative Talk-Radio Host Dennis Prager Bemoans Loss of Racial Slurs, Gets History Lesson."

And by the Daily Mail, which headlined: "Conservative Talk-Radio Host Dennis Prager, 71, Bemoans the Loss of Racial Slurs in Society to Describe Black People."

The article, by Daily Mail writer James Gordon, a Media Matters follower (he actually appended a link to Media Matters at the end of his column), claimed:

"Prager ... used his show to bemoan society no longer using racist language coined during eras of slavery and segregation."

Everything about these articles is a lie.

Not one of those titles for blacks is racist. Therefore, I could not possibly "bemoan" the fact that society no longer uses these words.

The term Martin Luther King Jr., every other black leader and every nonblack anti-racist through the 1960s used to described black people was "Negro." There is, to this day, a major black organization called the United Negro College Fund.

A variant of the term "colored" is regularly used by liberals to this day -- "people of color" -- to describe nonwhites.

"Black" is used by everyone, including most blacks -- except liberals afraid of not using "African American."

And "African American" is not only not a "racist slur," but it is also the contemporary left's preferred term for blacks.

Media Matters created a lie out of whole cloth about me. And those who rely on Media Matters -- such as James Gordon at the Daily Mail and Nancy Dillon at the Daily News -- repeated it, word for word. I invite both of them to come on my radio show to defend the accuracy of their articles.

Given how many people read or watch left-wing reports and study under left-wing teachers, the world would be a much finer place if the left valued truth.

For the record, my view on race is taken from Viktor Frankl. There are only two races: the decent and the indecent.

SOURCE 







The Rule of Law and the Targeting of Mike Flynn

Sebastian Gorka

The most frightening phrase my parents ever heard was: “the 2 a.m. knock on the door.”

That was because my parents lived under a communist dictatorship in Hungary, and the phrase referred to one group: the secret police, who invariably would come to your home in the middle of the night to make an arrest.

The arrest would not be predicated on the commission of a regular crime, for the secret police didn’t investigate bank robbers or kidnappers. Their mandate was political persecution, the use of law enforcement to target “enemies of the state,” citizens who had committed political crimes.

My father was one of those so persecuted.

He was a man who loved the land of his birth and hated the dictatorship imposed upon it after World War II. In college, he organized a secret Christian students’ resistance cell to spy on the communist regime and get information about its crimes out to the West.

After two years, my father and his group were betrayed by Kim Philby, the notorious British KGB asset. My father was arrested in the middle of the night, tortured, and sent to prison for life, only to be liberated six years later during the glorious, but short-lived Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

My parents escaped to the West and to true freedom. As a result, I grew up as a free man in the United Kingdom. Now I live in America, the greatest nation ever created, and I am thankful beyond measure to be a citizen of the only country ever founded on the principle of individual liberty as ordained by our creator. A nation that never had a political police force. Or so I thought.

The last four years have been a political roller coaster for our republic. It started when a nonpolitician announced his candidacy for president, to the amusement of the chattering classes and the “establishment.”

He was a man who never had run for office before, but who not only won the nomination of his party but went on to  win the general election to become the 45th president and commander in chief of the United States.

The enormity of this decision by the American people is underscored by one simple fact: Never before, since the birth of the nation in our Revolutionary War, had we chosen as president a man who wasn’t a politician or general. From George Washington to Barack Obama, all 44 prior chief executives previously had been senators, governors, congressmen, vice presidents, or senior military officers.

Yet Donald Trump, the man who would become the 45th president, was unsullied by membership in the so-called swamp.

That is in part why today we are witnessing the revelations of a political scandal the likes of which we have never seen before. It is a scandal that involved a concerted and conspiratorial effort to exploit the incredible power of federal law enforcement and the intelligence community for political purposes.

For the record, I must register my relationship to the person who is central to these dark revelations. I consider Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be a friend. Additionally, he was my colleague in the White House and, before that, my superior in the official presidential transition team.

Mike Flynn is a man wronged. He is an American patriot who was targeted by the last administration and, we now know, framed.

The Heritage Foundation’s legal experts have meticulously laid out the facts of the case. As succinctly as possible, here are the details:

Flynn was fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Barack Obama, ostensibly over a technical issue concerning drone strikes.

In fact, Flynn had revolutionized the practice of battlefield intelligence exploitation in Afghanistan, was reforming the moribund architecture at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and was speaking truthfully about the growing threat of global jihadism and new al-Qaeda franchises such as ISIS.

Most importantly, Flynn was dead set against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran that would release over $140 billion to the murderous mullahs in Iran without any truly meaningful concessions.

For all these reasons, after 33 years in uniform, a great American had to be removed from government service. But Flynn would become a true threat only to the vested interests that had removed him from his position as director of the DIA when, after his retirement, he became a vocal supporter of candidate Donald Trump and eventually his pick to become America’s next national security adviser.

Why? Because Flynn knew where the skeletons of the last administration’s policies were buried, policies such as the Iran deal, that did not serve American interests.

But, secondly, as former DIA director, he would be ideally positioned to uncover the true breadth and depth of what now has been described, even by Trump, as Obamagate, a systematic use of the FBI, National Security Agency, and CIA for political purposes.

Obamagate covers a multitude of nefarious and illegal actions by the last administration, including, as the Justice Department’s inspector general has uncovered, dozens and dozens of unconstitutional aspects of the secret court warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act used to spy on the Trump campaign and Trump administration.

Obamagate also includes the inordinate number of “unmaskings” of U.S. nationals in hundreds of communications intercepts, unmaskings that, thanks to the acting director for national intelligence, Richard Grenell, we now know, were requested by officials as high up as by Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden.

That’s why Mike Flynn, a retired three-star Army general and Trump’s new national security adviser, had to be targeted for removal, as the contemporaneous, now available FBI notes on the infamous January 2017 interview of Flynn at the White House prove.

The notes show that Obama administration holdovers saw several options: “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

It is not the job of the FBI, the National Security Agency, or any other part of the enormous apparatus of federal government to use intelligence intercepts to trawl for politically useful information that could be used during an election campaign.

And the Federal Bureau of Investigation is meant to catch bank robbers, terrorists, and spies. It’s not to get the national security adviser to a president chosen by 63 million voters fired, charged with a crime that didn’t happen, and put on a federal court docket. That is what secret police were invented for, the kind who knock on your door at 2 a.m.

It is now patently clear that many members of the last administration committed felonies. A former U.S. attorney and Justice Department special counsel has identified which former FBI and Justice Department officials are in the greatest legal jeopardy and what felonies they can be charged with.

Whether they are charged or not will be the ultimate test of whether we remain a republic with rule of law and justice for all.

SOURCE 






Texas Reopens. What's Really Happening With Its COVID-19 Numbers?

As Texas reopens, a kind of normal is returning. Last week I was able to make an appointment and obtain a haircut, all perfectly legal. I went to a nearby lake this weekend and saw what looked like a pretty normal number of people, out fishing and kayaking and biking in the sun that’s known to kill the virus with its blaring UV light. It was so nice I took the camera and could have snapped enough pics for a wildflower calendar. Texas really is beautiful before the sun turns the state into a brick oven.

Monday morning some gyms around the state opened so I went for a quick drive around the area to see which ones were and weren’t. Mine had emailed me over the weekend that it was opening, so I went in for a quick workout. Other than the masks on the staff and a few new procedures such as touchless check-in, all seemed fairly normal. Some other gyms in the area chose to remain closed a little longer. Overall things seem pretty calm and edging back to normal.

But if you listen to CNN, coronavirus cases are outta control and there’s just no end in sight.

“Texas sees the highest number of coronavirus cases in a day!” they declare. “Deaths too!”

Sure, sure, CNN. We are testing more. That means we will see more cases. You’re not likely to see fewer deaths because numbers don’t really work that way.

RealClearPolitics‘ Sean Trende had had enough after seeing the report above, and went on a Twitter tear.

So the overall positive test result outcome is trending down. This is a good thing. It’s not entirely expected. In a post a week or year ago, it’s hard to tell anymore, I wrote that once the state starts reopening we’re likely to see more positive test results because we’re testing more, and people are out and about more.

The purpose of the lockdown was never to eradicate the virus or wait on a vaccine (which may never come). The purpose of the lockdown was to give the healthcare system time to ramp up testing and be prepared to handle what the models predicted would be a deluge of deadly virus cases requiring long stays in emergency rooms. The healthcare system did get ready. Harris County built a whole temporary hospital — and never had to use it. That’s good news. Imagine if we would have needed it.

The models were wrong. They were garbage code and they were based on faulty assumptions. Some of that is China’s fault for not disclosing its experiences with the virus in those early critical days. We should never forget that. It’s easy to blast the models, and they deserve it. But behind all of this is a communist regime, unelected and unaccountable to its people, that engaged in a massive coverup and ruined the world for a while.

Returning to Texas’ COVID numbers, they seem to be trending down. You would never know that if you listened to media even here in Texas. With a few exceptions, headlines and stories and even reporters’ social media posts tend to instill doubt and panic as opposed to merely reporting the facts.

One thing they seldom do is really look at the numbers. Those numbers are available from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. They’ve been tracking and mapping cases from the beginning, right here.

The first thing you may notice is that the overall numbers just are not that large. Texas is a gigantic state of about 268,000 square miles and 29 million people. It includes three of the nation’s top ten cities by population — Houston (#4), San Antonio (#7), and Dallas (#9). Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso are also up in the top 25. And Texas has vast rural areas larger than many whole states.

You may also notice from the map that the COVID clusters tend to be in the bigger and denser cities, which happen to have international airports, and along I-35 and the other highways that connect the state’s cities and towns. None of that is terribly surprising, as in the early days this was very much a traveling disease.

We now know that New Yorkers flew and drove out to the other states including Texas and brought the bug with them, and it came in from Wuhan primarily on the West Coast and from Italy primarily on the East Coast (but, no, Gov. Cuomo, it’s not a European virus).

The Texas COVID-19 numbers are not large given the state’s size and population.

Total cases to date: 48,693

Total deaths to date: 1,347

Total active cases: 19,065

Total current hospitalizations: 1,551

These are just not that large given the state’s population size. There are more than 84,000 hospital beds in the state, for what it’s worth.

The number of deaths, while small, is misleading. Thus far 1,347 Texans have reportedly died of the disease. This number may include some who died of some other cause, but COVID-19 came to be listed as the cause of death. Hospitals have been incentivized nationwide to put COVID-19 on the death certificate to get more federal money to pay expenses. Just to be as clear as I can be, I don’t think we really have an accurate fatalities number yet and won’t for some time.

But let’s stipulate that 1,347 is the accurate number to date because it’s what the state is officially reporting.

How many of those occurred in nursing homes or long-term assisted living facilities? Those numbers are here, broken out by region and total for the state.

Total deaths in nursing homes: 515

Total deaths in assisted living facilities: 99

Total: 614

Subtracting nursing home/assisted living facility deaths from the state’s total of 1,347, we arrive at 733.

That’s 733 for the entire state, outside of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

This strongly suggests that COVID-19 is more likely to kill those who are older and have underlying conditions, as we have known about this virus for months now. The death rates in nursing homes are appalling.

Should Texas really remain locked up despite the a) low infection rate, and b) low fatality rate?

With 2.4 million of its workers unemployed?

This is not and never has been a simplistic debate between save grandma by staying home or go out to work and kill grandma. That has never been the question.

It’s a question of balancing the very real public health threat posed by the virus on the one hand, with the very real threat of destroying the economy and society along with it on the other hand.

The state and local governments need people to be working. Working people buy things, use things, eat things and pay taxes. They’re also happier and less likely to do negative and destructive things.

Without working people, there are far fewer taxes to collect. Governments run out of funds and cannot provide even basic services. Commerce and supply lines break down. Companies go bankrupt and never return.

And the whole system collapses, including the healthcare system. We really should do everything we can to avoid that.

We should also protect those who are most vulnerable, starting with nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Because that’s where they are, and we know it.

SOURCE 







Australia: How scrapping ‘free’ childcare will hurt providers, parents and children

In recent days both the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Education Minister Dan Tehan have indicated that the “free” childcare arrangement they initially promised for six months may be shelved as early as June 28.

To understand why this will be catastrophic for parents and centres you only have to look to the comments the PM himself made when announcing the rescue package.

“Child care and early childhood education is critical,” Prime Minister Morrison explained.

“Particularly for those Australians who rely on it so they can go to work every day, particularly those who are working in such critical areas. I don’t want a parent to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after, or having their education being provided.”

He continued: “This virus is going to take enough from Australians without putting Australian parents in that position of having to choose between the economic wellbeing of their family or the care and support and education of their children. I won’t cop a situation where a parent is put in that place with their kids.”

If the government proceeds with its reported plan to pull the rug out on free childcare and “snap back” to the old system on June 28 that is precisely the situation many parents will face.

And other children will no longer have access to the education and support their early learning currently provides – not necessarily because of their parent’s positions – but because up to 86 per cent of childcare centres will be at risk of closing if the old system is suddenly switched back on.

The government’s own review of its rescue package was reported yesterday and it indicates that 86 per cent of centres said the package had stopped them from closing its doors. All of those centres will be in jeopardy without the current relief in place.

According to the government review, attendance rates at centres across the board are currently just 63 per cent of ordinary times, which is well below break-even point, and not viable. Without the lure of free care, operators are expecting those numbers to drop further still.

Given more than 600,000 Australians lost work last month alone it’s highly unlikely parents will be able to afford the same level of care now that they could three months ago.

The government intervened in April because parents were fleeing from centres in droves, driven by either health concerns related to the pandemic, or drastically changed financial positions, or both.

The health risk of COVID-19 is certainly less now than it was in April, but the devastating economic damage this pandemic has unleashed remains alive and well – and is unlikely to be repaired any time soon.

Charging full fees again will place unsustainable economic pressure on parents who are already squeezed; many will no longer be able to afford access to the education and care their children deserve.

Without children enrolled close to pre-COVID-19 numbers this vital sector’s ability to survive will be compromised.

The Prime Minister has said free childcare is not sustainable. But withdrawing this relief early and attempting to snap back while we are still in the midst of the economic fall out of this health crisis is not sustainable either.

Providing “free childcare” is costly and not perfect. But it won’t cost Australia nearly as much as it will if the early childhood education sector falls over altogether. We cannot afford that collapse – not for our economy, our communities and least of all our children.

Instead of unwinding this reform we need to strive for better and spend the next few weeks and months ensuring the early childhood education and care sector is strong enough to emerge from COVID-19 not just intact, but better than ever. For children, educators and families.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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20 May, 2020

New Jersey father's outrage after a homeowner called the POLICE on him for taking his two children to an empty park to play

A New Jersey father has shared his outrage after being confronted by a police officer while in an empty park where he'd taken his two young children to play. 

Josh Duvall took his children, aged five and two, to the park to play in Cherry Hill on Sunday, but a homeowner nearby reported them to cops claiming they could make people sick.

He said they were the only ones there but were approached by a cop who told them that a homeowner nearby had called the police, claiming the family was putting lives at risk by going there.

In a video he posted on Facebook, Duvall fumed: 'Is there anybody here? No. I pay $8,000 a year in property taxes. My kids want to play in the park, they want to play on this hill.

'The police officer was super nice, he said he had to come out and do a report, but this is nonsense.

'This is Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and you've got people calling the police on a dad and two kids because they want to play outside?

'Who's going to get sick? There's nobody here!'

He later told NJ.com: 'You are telling me I can go down to Ocean City and go on to the boardwalk and go on the beach, or I can stand in line at Home Depot with 100 people around the building, which I had to do two weeks ago. That is fine.

'But to be in a park by yourself with literally nobody there - it is just madness.

New Jersey is partially reopening by allowing people to enjoy open spaces again, including parks.

SOURCE 






Unlock the young

All the worry about this pandemic has focused on older people. Understandably. They are most vulnerable to the virus.

What isn’t being talked about are the young.

An entire generation, at the most critical time in their lives – a time to discover who they are, what career they want, what lifestyle they want to lead – have had it all put on hold. At a time in our lives when we’re meant to experience, get out in the world, and grow, we can’t. Lockdown is stunting our growth. It has to end.

Now, of course, lockdown is easy for no one. No one enjoys isolation and not for one second do I think young people have it worst. I am no whining millennial – a stereotype I loathe and which has unfortunately become a stain on our generation.

Lockdown has put everything and everyone on pause. Businesses are on the brink of collapse, partners and families are separated indefinitely, and people have lost their jobs. It’s hard to be optimistic at the moment.

One silver lining for some people that are already on their way in life is that this makeshift curfew can act as a bit of a break. They can at least spend more time with the family in the living room and maybe have the odd sunbathe in the garden – a much-needed pause in an otherwise busy world.

But for the young, a pause is our worst nightmare. We were just getting started. With life just about to launch, the lockdown has thrown us into an indefinite delay.

A pause for us is a unique experience. Just as all those with limited means, we don’t have much money, meaning we are condemned to living in small, overpriced rented rooms, in flats with no living rooms, let alone gardens. But hey, we’re young. Extortionate rents for Harry Potter cupboard-under-the-stairs living conditions is what young people have to take on the chin – that’s fine.

The saving grace to that has always been our freedom and drive to get out of bed and spend our time away from all of that, either at work or, better yet, at the pub with our friends, doing what young people are supposed to do. But all of that’s now gone. Lockdown has us on house arrest… if only we had something the size of a house to be arrested in.

The young have been forgotten. At an age when we’re supposed to be the social extroverts we want to be, we’re instead forced to be social recluses.

So to save ourselves from completely losing it and starting to draw faces on footballs, we go for a walk in the park, and immediately get judged and tutted at by the people living in the big houses with the big gardens overlooking the big park.

Think of those at the beginning of their careers. Those who were on the verge of that first promotion, or those interviewing for their dream job. We’ve now found ourselves on the dreaded furlough, or our dream jobs have entirely disappeared.

Younger still, there are students accruing debts for lectures they’ll never be able to attend.

And going even younger, what about those sixth-formers suffering the injustice of having their life chances reduced to ‘predicted grades’? I’d have never got into university based on grades decided by what teachers thought of me. I, like most procrastinating last-minute exam-crammers, managed to pull an unexpected B out of the hat.

Our careers, education and lives have been delayed by a year, a year we will never get back. People say ‘well, lockdown will be over soon!’. Well, Karen, lockdown may be over soon, but our lives will never be the same again.

Even if we did lift lockdown now – which we must do, at least for the young – the legacy of lockdown will linger.

It’s not as if we can rush back to the cafés, bars and clubs straight away. So many of our favourite hangout spots are collapsing, which makes it even more important that lockdown is lifted – we might not be able to save everything, but if we don’t do something now I fear there may be little left to enjoy when this is all over.

Who knows what this new world will look like? Maybe the one good thing to come of all of this is the fact that companies who are stuck in the past will be forced to embrace new technology and new ways of working. Just last week I called my phone company and the automated machine told me ‘our call-centre staff are now working from home, so if you hear children or pets in the background please bear with us’.

Which is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. As if someone whose job is to answer a phone, use a computer and offer help, couldn’t have done that job from home before all this happened? If these companies have any sense, and an ounce of real care for the lives and fulfilment of their employees, they’ll keep this going long-term.

So maybe the world will become a better place after all this. Who knows? But one thing is for sure: this will have the biggest impact on the lives of young people.

Lockdown has stunted young people’s growth. So let’s end lockdown now.

SOURCE 






Washington Gov. Inslee retracts authoritarian order

Washington state has walked back its requirement that restaurants keep a “daily log” of customers when they reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, less than a week after Gov. Jay Inslee issued the controversial order.

Inslee’s office released a statement Friday “to clarify” that customers would no longer be required to provide restaurants with their contact information as part of the state’s Phase 2 plan for reopening.

Instead, customers may voluntarily give their information for the business’ log.

"We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of COVID-19 exposure,” Inslee said in a statement. “We only need information for one person per household. If we learn you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during your visit, the information will only be shared with public health officials."

“They will contact you to explain the risk, answer questions and provide resources,” he continued. “This information will not be used for any other purpose, including sales or marketing. If this list is not used within 30 days, it will be destroyed.”

While the initial guideline stated the requirement to log the name, contact information, and time of the visit of each guest who entered the business was to aid in contact tracing, the data collection method drew fierce criticism.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington called the method a risk “to people’s fundamental rights to privacy and association,” while some restaurant owners worried that customers may refuse to provide information and become belligerent if their data is logged, the Seattle Times reported.

Washington’s restaurant industry resumed service in a limited capacity last week as part of Phase 2 of the state’s “Safe Start” plan. Restrictions included no more than five guests per table, at least 6 feet of distance between tables, and 50 percent reduced occupancy indoors.

SOURCE 





Judge blocks North Carolina Gov. Cooper’s rule limiting indoor religious service amid coronavirus

A federal judge in North Carolina has blocked Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order that limits indoor religious services to just 10 people during the coronavirus outbreak, ruling that there is “no pandemic exception” to the U.S. Constitution.

Judge James C. Dever III’s ruling on Saturday highlighted that Cooper’s “stay-at-home” did not set the same standard for other entities such as businesses, which are limited to 50 percent capacity, and funeral services that are allowed to hold up to 50 people, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

“The record, at this admittedly early stage of the case, reveals that the governor appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors (such as shopping or working or selling merchandise) but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors,” the judge’s ruling states.

Dever ruled that Cooper’s order was unlikely to hold up in court due to First Amendment rights.

“There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” Dever said in court documents obtained by the paper.

Ford Porter, Cooper’s spokesman, said in a statement that while the governor’s office disagrees with the judge’s ruling, they will not appeal. Porter instead urged houses of worship to voluntarily follow public health guidance to keep their members safe.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
`
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19 May, 2020

CA Gov. Newsom Says Congress Has a 'Moral' and 'Ethical' Obligation to Bail Out States

This is absolute garbage.  But there is a case for the feds bailing out the States ON CONDITION that the States abandon the policies that are impoverishing the states  Abolishing the California Coastal Commission would be a good start


California Governor Gavin Newsom weighed in on the question of bailing out states whose budgets have been blown up by the coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom told CNN’s “State of the Union” that a state bailout was not “charity” and that Congress has a “moral and ethical obligation” to help Americans across the country.

The House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill last week which contained almost a trillion dollars to bail out states. It also contained goodies for all — another stimulus check, help for renters, college debt relief, and cash for illegal immigrants.

Fox News:

“Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “More in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”

Republicans mocked the bill as a bloated Democratic wish-list that was dead on arrival in the GOP-led Senate and, for good measure, faced a White House veto threat. Party leaders say they want to assess how $3 trillion approved earlier is working and see if some states’ partial business reopenings would spark an economic revival that would ease the need for more safety net programs.

I challenge any supporter of this bill to argue it’s the taxpayer’s “moral” and “ethical” obligation to bail out state pension plans that have been underfunded and mismanaged for years. Or bail out states who have borrowed against the future to buy the support of one constituency or another.

States that were experiencing serious budget problems before the pandemic hit have no moral right and Congress has no responsibility to bail them out of their troubles. Making up part of a budget shortfall is one thing. The crisis is so serious and the fall in tax revenue so precipitous that even most Republicans are eventually going to come around and vote for some kind of bailout for states.

But not this monstrosity of a bill. Most states experiencing the greatest crises have been controlled by Democrats for years. The House bill is, indeed, a political document and has nothing to do with the reality facing the country.

Just how “responsible” is that? Newsom laid it on thick in his plea for aid.

Newsom, who recently announced that California had gone from an almost $30 billion surplus earlier this year to a deficit of $54 billion because of the virus, painted a grim picture of what would happen if the federal government did not provide assistance to states.

“I hope they consider next time they want to celebrate heroes and first responders they will be the first ones laid off by cities and counties,” Newsom said of federal lawmakers. “I’m not looking to score cheap political points, but we have an obligation to support cities, states and counties.”

There is a lack of leadership in this crisis where governors could and should cut spending before going to their fellow countrymen and holding their hand out. Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio is looking for $775 million in budget cuts. And a decent leader would call on the people to sacrifice as well and accept a temporary tax hike.

Then, and only then, should a governor come hat in hand to Washington. But that way is too hard, too politically risky. So we’re going to add a trillion or two more to the national debt because of the cowardice of governors.

Trump reluctantly agrees that a “phase 4” bailout is necessary. But I’m willing to bet Democrats will balk at any proposals by Republicans so they can make the “irresponsible” GOP an issue in the November election.

SOURCE 





San Francisco Besieged by Homeless Demanding Free Hotel Rooms, Pot, and Booze

“People are showing up in San Francisco from other places and asking where their hotel room is,” Mayor Breed complained.

“People are coming from all over the place, Sacramento, Lake County, Bakersfield,” Jeanine Nicholson, the first lesbian head of the San Francisco Fire Department, grumbled. “People are getting released from jail in other counties and being told to go to San Francisco, where you will get a tent and then you will get housing.”

The people coming to the City by the Bay weren’t wearing flowers in their hair, they were homeless junkies who had heard that they were going to get free hotel rooms, along with pot and booze.

And it was all true. Every word of it.

San Francisco was spending $200 a night to house the homeless, or as the current politically correct euphemism insisted that they be called, the ‘unhoused’, in hotel rooms at a cost of over $100 million.

The hotel rooms were Plan B after an attempt to house the homeless (or the unhoused) in the Palace of Fine Arts. The degradation of the former imitation Roman bath built for the 1915 Exposition would have been a fitting symbol for the new San Francisco, but homeless advocates thought it wasn’t good enough.

Hotels weren’t exactly enthusiastic about having paranoid schizophrenics urinating in their lobbies. Also, under San Francisco law, staying there for 30 days might give the homeless tenancy rights.

And then good luck evicting them.

Meanwhile the homeless were willing to take the hotel rooms, but they weren’t following the rules.

The whole reason that San Francisco taxpayers were going to be out $200 a night for months was to save each crazed homeless junkie from spreading the coronavirus. But how do you do that when they won’t stop punching each other from less than 6 feet away, and won’t wash their hands before shooting up?

“It’s been very challenging to get even some of the residents who are part of the shelter system and our hotels to comply with the orders, to even wear masks," Mayor London Breed complained. "It’s been so much harder to really care for this population especially when they won’t comply with simple directions or the orders we’re implementing.” She described it as an, “incredible logistical challenge.”

The problem with homeless shelters has always been getting the homeless to stay in them. No matter how comfortable the facilities might be, the inhabitants go off searching for drugs and alcohol which they’re not allowed to have in the shelters, and there goes your whole shelter in place strategy.

But San Francisco is a uniquely creative place and the Health Department decided to convince the homeless to stay in their hotel rooms by delivering booze, pot, and cigarettes as part of room service.

Along with three meals a day.

In San Francisco, you can’t smoke in restaurants or bars (back when they were open), in public parks (when you could visit them), or near open doorways (back when people still left them open), and smoking in hotels was almost impossible, but now San Francisco has thousands of smoking hotel rooms.

All it took was a pandemic and a bunch of characters from a Tom Wolfe novel running the city.

And, best of all, the same Health Department waging a campaign against smoking is providing the tobacco, along with “medical cannabis”, and “medically appropriate amounts of alcohol”.

Don’t worry folks, it’s all medicinal.

The San Francisco Health Department claims that handing out drugs and booze to junkies with coronavirus is actually a "harm reduction practice" that has "significant individual and public health benefits".

That’s a hell of a public health benefit.

Next time someone tries to stop you from lighting up in San Fran, tell them that the Health Department said that it has "significant individual and public health benefits".

"Our behavioral health experts are offering services every day, medication assisted treatment including nicotine and opiate replacement, behavioral health counseling," Dr. Grant Colfax, Obama's former National AIDS Policy Director, gushed, "and in cases where people decide that they are going to continue to use, our focus is using the best evidence to help people manage their addictions."

Hey, if they’re going to get high, let’s help them “manage their addictions” by giving them the stuff.

Inexplicably, if you open up hotels for junkies and provide them with the stuff, they will come. They’ll come from Sacramento, Lake County, Bakersfield, Stockton, and anyplace that isn’t nice enough to offer drug and alcohol hotel rooms free of charge to anyone with open sores and delusions of grandeur.

"It is a mystery why the homeless are coming to San Francisco," the San Francisco Chronicle wondered.

What’s a mystery is how anyone associated with the paper figures out how to put their pants on, but this correspondent might speculate that it has something to do with the free hotel rooms and booze.

Homeless “structures” have increased 285% and San Francisco can’t figure out where to stick them. And the first lesbian head of the San Francisco Fire Department is stuck with the problem because in that wonderous utopia, the job of the fire department isn’t just putting out fires, but dealing with vagrants.

"Our folks are embedded in their communities and they know who is on the streets,” she said.

The homeless immigrating to San Francisco from less friendly parts of California are even dialing 911 to get a hotel room.

“These people are very honest when you talk with them,” a paramedic quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle said, “They come right out and ask, ‘How do I get a hotel room?’”

Then they start coughing and demand to be taken to their hotel suite.

Mayor Breed has tried telling foreign homeless vagrants to go home and leave San Francisco alone. But how do you keep them down in Stockton once they’ve seen the free hotel rooms and booze in SF?

“The reality is we’ve got to focus our limited resources on reaching the people who have been here on our streets for a long time,” she insisted.

First squat, first served.

The interim director of the homelessness department (presumably soon to be changed to the unhoused department or the ministry of poop walks) warned that free hotels rooms and pot will only be dispensed to those homeless who "have roots in San Francisco." The new arrivals will have to wait their turn.

You can’t just show up in San Francisco and demand free booze and a hotel room. They’re not suckers.

If you aren’t descended from the first hippies who came here with the first communes, go home. The free booze and hotel rooms are reserved for those with roots in the crackhead community.

But homeless advocates rightly argue that this sort of NIMBY attitude is cruel and selfish. Why shouldn’t the homeless of the coast, the country, the continent, and the planet all show up in San Francisco?

What’s with this homeless nativism that puts San Fran citizenship ahead of need?

Sadly, San Francisco responded parochially to the influx of homeless by sending police officers out to intimidate the new homeless and prevent them from displacing the old homeless. Sometimes you have to destroy the new makeshift homeless encampment to save the old homeless encampment.

And then, soon, you’re beating the undocumented and unhoused with nightsticks for social justice.

Mayor Breed might as well just start building a wall to keep the Stockton homeless out while vowing to Make Homelessness Great Again by giving away pot and booze only to the city’s own homeless.

SOURCE 







California City To Allow Reopenings, Declares Itself A ‘Sanctuary City’ For Business

The central California city of Atwater has declared itself a “sanctuary city” for businesses.

The Friday resolution passed by the Atwater City Council allows business owners to open, openly defying Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus-related stay-at-home order.

The resolution affirms “the city’s commitment” to “fundamental” human rights. Churches and other nonprofits are included in the resolution, according to ABC30’s Vanessa Vasconcelos.

“A resolution of the city council of the city of Atwater affirming the city’s commitment to fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property, and declaring the city of Atwater a sanctuary city for all businesses,” the resolution read. (RELATED: Los Angeles County Intends To Extend Stay-At-Home Order For 3 Months. What Does It Mean For Sports?)

A statewide shelter-in-place order has been in effect since March 19, with gradual easements happening this month. While some counties were reportedly approved to move to “Phase 2” of the state’s reopening plan, which would allow some non-essential lower-risk business to reopen, Atwater’s Merced County was not included.

Meanwhile, many Californians are flocking to other states to escape government-imposed lockdown measures.

SOURCE 






The Struggle for Science in Demented Times

A few years ago the University of Vienna mathematician Karl Sigmund published a book under the title Exact Thinking in Demented Times, and his focus was on the rise of the Vienna Circle and positivism as a response to the ideological delusions of the 1920s and 1930s. The book has much to recommend it, but a critical engagement is not my concern here. In my own book on Hayek, I also invoke this phrase, as I think it captures Hayek’s scientific and philosophical quest as well – to strive for exact thinking in demented times. Hayek’s answer is different from those of the Vienna Circle, but the desire is the same.

Science is motivated either by a sense of awe and wonder, or by a sense of urgency and necessity. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it is curiosity that fuels science. Basic scientific knowledge is perhaps the domain of the curious, while applied scientific knowledge and in particular the transformation of scientific knowledge into commercially valuable knowledge may be the domain of the courageous. And, scientific progress may, more often than not, follow more naturally from that sense of awe and wonder than urgency and necessity. This is because, I would argue, that science so pursued unleashes human curiosity and encourages creativity and the back and forth of critical engagement.

Awe and wonder imposes on us from the start of our inquiry a deep epistemic humility in the face of the amazing, the beautiful and the complexity of the object of our study. We are humbled by this mysterious phenomena that stimulates our thinking in a quest to understand and bring it into sharp relief. We question and we offer tentative answers, and we question some more as we ponder the mysteries of the universe. We are always willing to ask questions, which may not have answers, and we never accept answers that cannot be questioned. The scientific quest continues and progresses as we push back frontiers of knowledge, only to realize that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. This is how scientific knowledge grows.

Urgency and necessity, on the other hand, often begin with a confidence that any problem posed has a solution that science can provide. As a result, in response to a sense of urgency and necessity we often organize inquiry as if it is a military mission, with a central command, and a common purpose, and scientific energy is mobilized as opposed to being cultivated and unleashed. Not always, but more often than not, these efforts lead us down a dead end as opposed to what the popular caricatures of the Manhattan Project, or the Space Race, would have us believe.

In fact, one of the great defenders of science and the free society – Michael Polanyi – moved from a practicing physical chemist to a philosopher of science precisely because he witnessed his scientific colleagues and friends working in the communist countries of East and Central Europe and the Soviet Union suffer under the yoke of the command and control approach to scientific inquiry. At the same time, there are moments of urgency and necessity where the scientific discovery of new and vital knowledge will determine questions of life and death of people, nations, and civilization itself.

It would be a huge mistake to think this was just a problem for scientific inquiry found in the former totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Even in the Western democracies the scientistic attitude took hold after the Great Depression and WWII, and transformed the scientific and intellectual culture.

President Dwight Eisenhower, for example, in his farewell address famously warned about the “military industrial complex,” but he also warned about the dangers that the transformation of science and scholarship had undergone since WWII and its impact on science in a free and democratic society. As he wrote:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society. (emphasis added)

Obviously, awe and wonder do not need to ever be at odds with urgency and necessity, but the epistemic humility encouraged by the first runs into the epistemic confidence embodied in the second, and the institutions and organizational practices of inquiry balance the tension.

Science can bear fruit in the practical – just look around us at all the amazing accomplishments of applied science from engineering to technology to medical advances. Science is amazing. Human ingenuity is amazing. Remember AWE and WONDER, and the ultimate resource is the human imagination.

The concern that Eisenhower raised in that address is the “capturing” of science by a technocratic elite, and thus insulating themselves from the democratic process of collective decision-making, and maintaining a position of monopoly experts. In times of a crisis, when urgency and necessity trump awe and wonder in science, scientific inquiry gets organized and requires leaders like Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves.

During a crisis, fate appears to hang in the balance, and mental and material resources must be coordinated and that requires a commander who is in control of the process. But that will not work if curiosity is squashed in the effort to courageously command.

In economics, such moments confronted the community of scientists in the wake of the Great Depression, in the wake of the Collapse of Communism, in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, and it appears today in the wake of COVID-19. Our knowledge learned from our explorations motivated by awe and wonder must be applied to address what must be done due to urgency and necessity. At least, that is what I would argue science in real time should do if we hope to make progress on tackling the issue at hand.

But, in reality, science in real time always operates within the context of the brine of politics. Emotion, mood affiliation, and electoral concerns substitute for sound reason and careful empirical analysis. All of this makes perfectly rational sense. Politicians are not saintly creatures, nor are their appointed public officials. They may be perfectly scientifically competent, but they – like all of us – face incentives in the context within which they operate. And as analysts it is vital to always remember that context matters.

Knowledge is necessarily imperfect. As Einstein repeatedly stressed about research, if we knew the answer, then we wouldn’t call it research. And, the scientific process is one grounded in a culture of criticism. As Richard Feynman often stressed, the true scientific attitude is reflected when one understands that it is always preferred to ask questions that cannot be answered to offering answers that cannot be questioned. Science motivated by awe and wonder has this luxury, science motivated by urgency and necessity often does not. A fire is raging, and we must put that fire out.

The idea of mobilizing science to address pressing practical issues of an existential threat due to natural or man-made disaster, or economic crises or global public good, tends to favor command and control “task force” initiatives. The resources go to fund a process that has a single goal in mind – defeat the enemy, end poverty, whip inflation – and talent is focused on that single goal.

To invoke an image from cinema concerning space travel, remember the scene in Apollo 13, when it is realized that they have a CO2 problem with the air filters, and the lead engineer comes into the room and says we have to build a filter that fits into this hole with only these materials. The other engineers work feverishly to solve that problem before the air quality becomes so dangerous that the astronauts succumb to the situation.

That is a classic engineering problem. It is not a problem of scientific discovery, but of puzzle solving. Similarly, once was step back from immediate urgency, one must always remember that the resources involved in mobilizing scientific energy require resources, and those resources come from the public purse.

To invoke another scene in another space movie, The Right Stuff, the test pilots are bantering back and forth and a journalist reminds them that “without bucks, there is no Buck Rogers.” They need to get appropriations, and that requires political gladhanding. Back to Apollo 13, remember that James Lovell (played by Tom Hanks) is leading a tour of Congressmen through the NASA command center when he learns that he will be leading the next Apollo mission.

At the present moment our demented times are not defined by ideological delusions of communism or fascism, nor military aggression by a foreign enemy combatant, nor a hurricane or tsunami that has swept away a city, but a virus that has spread throughout the globe. The movie reference perhaps most applicable isn’t Planet of the Apes or World War Z, but And the Band Played On, a docudrama about the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s. One of the things I loved about this movie is the depictions of both the passion and sense of urgency that the scientists exhibit. The field scientists exist in that borderland between natural and social science. With respect to infectious disease, the natural science is molecular virology, but the social science is in the interaction of the virus with human populations that have choices with regard to how they behave when confronted with knowledge of the virus.

The natural scientists may be confronted with the troubling aspect of human strategy only with respect to their own behavior with regard to jockeying for prestige, position, and funding, but the epidemiologists and social network analysts must try to capture not only the natural science, but the strategic response of the populations impacted by the virus, and their own jockeying for prestige, position, and funding.

In the movie And the Band Played On, the science at the CDC is guided by the mantra of (1) what do I think, (2) what do I know, (3) what can I prove, but the everyday operation is guided by a concern for responsible communication that does not cause either panic or upset political interests so that funding can be secured. The entire point of the docudrama is to show the audience the role that politics – at a personal, organizational, and local, state and federal government level – played in the frustrating process of the discovery of scientific knowledge and the dissemination of useful scientific knowledge to address a policy issue of urgency and necessity.

If you think this is any different this time around with COVID-19, just look around. And, it isn’t just at the public bureaucracies at the federal level. The association of Governors issued a joint statement about a month ago saying that COCID-19 funds should not be restricted just to COVID-19 expenses. The CARES Act includes a 20% premium on top of normal Medicare payments to hospitals for patients classified as COVID-19. Mayor Muriel Bowser of DC recently announced that in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the city will allocate more than $300 million for construction of St Elizabeth’s East that will be operated by George Washington University, and also an expansion of 225 beds to Howard University Hospital. These projects are expected to open in 2025 and 2026.

Whatever the need for high quality health care in underserved parts of the city is, the pretext that these construction projects are to address the current COVID-19 situation must be looked upon with some suspicion. On the relevant margin, choices will be biased in one direction rather than another because of the simple economic calculus of marginal costs and marginal benefits of this or that choice. None of this relies on any claim that a conspiracy of corruption is underway. All that is being stressed is that incentives are at work on a multiplicity of margins that will direct attention away from the immediate problem at hand, and focus instead on the ordinary yet peculiar business of politics. It is just vital to our quest for exact thinking about current affairs to never forget that politics at the local, state and federal level are the one constant in a fluid and dynamic search for some knowledge and wisdom in public policy.

Recognizing the ever-present reality of politics involved does not take away either from the virology, or the epidemiology, but it may impact the theory choice of the decision-makers. The models that best serve the interest of public health officials, or the electoral chances for the politician, are going to be chosen. Again, nothing in that guarantees they will be the wrong choice of theory; it just means that a citizens one should always think critically not only with the information one is being asked to process but through the theoretical lens which information is being conveyed to you and which is guiding public policy decisions that impact your health and well-being.

This does put a burden on citizens, as they are being asked to critically verify information that may be extremely difficult for them to actually do. But that would be true no matter what I say. One of the primary goals of economics teachers is to convey to their students the tools required for them to become informed participants in the democratic process of collective decision-making. If we are failing in our task as educators, that is on us as educators at the high school, college and university level, but it doesn’t change the basic truth that epidemiology models must account for changes in human behavior and that another layer in all of this is not only the interaction with politics on human behavior within the populations we study, but that politics is involved in the choice of which models are chosen to guide public policy.

In our quest for exact thinking in these demented times, we are dealing with a situation of essential complexity. It is a dynamic and fluid reality we are trying to capture at multiple levels – the virus itself (natural science), the interaction of the virus with human populations (epidemiology), the adjustment and adaptations of human actors to the knowledge of the virus (social science), and the ever-present politics of policy response, and the choice of models attempting to capture all of what I just described.

Scientific understanding is always difficult to acquire; it takes training and diligence, but when our awe and wonder excite our imagination our creative powers are unleashed. Science in real time, on the other hand, relies on our sense of urgency and necessity, and in doing so is more prone to emotion, mood affiliation, and the ordinary business of politics.

To address a public health crisis, sound science must be deployed intelligently. What I am warning about is precisely about that. How can reason within democratic action on pressing issues be assured? The answer to that, I would argue turns not on the rejection of sound science, nor doubting the need for science in real time, but in effectively challenging the presumed monopoly status of experts and the command and control notion of mobilizing scientific energy to address a crisis.

It is not ‘Moon Shots’ that are needed, but nimble and diverse experimentation, and lots of it. Epistemic humility, not epistemic confidence in technocratic elites, should be how we enter the process, and diversity of viewpoints and contestation at different decision nodes must be built in. Not the mobilization of resources, but cultivation of curiosity and creativity should be the goal.

The Manhattan Project or NASA should not be the model we desperately turn to in our hour of need, but instead to examples of private and public sector ingenuity and gumption that leads to improved treatments and ultimately, hopefully, to a vaccine. That will require acts of entrepreneurship at each and every node of decision.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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18 May, 2020  

Oregon Gov Pulls Out All the Stops to Destroy Mother Who Reopened Her Salon

I know it's vastly incorrect of me but I suspect female jealousy is at work here.  Compare the appearance of the salon owner (first below) with the governor





Which would you rather date? In the long gone times of my Australian childhood, the governor would be referred to as an "old boiler"


Lindsey Graham opened her Salem salon last week, in defiance of state lockdown orders. In response, Democrat Governor Kate Brown arranged a $14,000 fine through Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) and sent Child Protective Services (CPS) to visit her kids at home while Graham was at work.

It’s obvious that Gov. Brown has decided to bully Graham and make an example of her and the contractors that work out of her salon.

Late Thursday, Oregon OSHA notified Graham they have been classifying the contractors working in her salon as employees. This is a frontal assault on independent contract work and has no basis in statute. OSHA further informed her that it will issue a $14,000 fine for workplace violations.

If allowed to stand, this action puts at risk every beauty salon in the state of Oregon that operates with contractors. OSHA then bullied Graham with the threat of notifying other state agencies and initiating additional investigations.

Kate Brown has decided to utilize the full weight of the state to target and destroy Lindsey Graham. Brown has even targeted her family and children.

Here is a timeline of the abuses Kate Brown and her state thugs have thrown at Lindsey and her family over the last 10 days.

On May 2, Lindsay let her clients know that she would open her salon on the 5th of May.
On May 4, OSHA threatened her with a $70,000 fine.
On May 5, she reopened her salon in Downtown Salem.
On May 6, Lindsay received a letter from the city of Salem informing her that she was in violation of the office lease contract. (the city of Salem owns the building her salon occupies)
On May 7, child protective services showed up at her home while she was at the office to initiate an investigation of her children’s environment.
On May 14, OSHA told Lindsey they will fine her $14,000 and they will notify other state agencies to initiate additional investigations.

In an interview with PJ Media, Graham said that there is no way OSHA even has jurisdiction over her salon, and her attorney concurs. Salon owners often lease out stations to stylists classified as independent contractors. Lindsey doesn’t actually have any employees, and does not operate a workspace. Therefore, OSHA should not have any involvement at all. They’ve appointed themselves arbiters in this case without any legal authorization.

Graham also told PJ Media the frightening details of the CPS visit, which occurred while she and her husband were both at work. “I’m not going to point the finger at Kate Brown and say she did it,” she said. “My attorney just says, there is nothing in my file or around my life or in my home to warrant a CPS call. What are the chances a state government official shows up at my home three days after I defy her orders on completely bogus grounds?”

“I don’t know how the [CPS worker] didn’t just close the case when he walked in the front door,” she added. “They had a report, and it was full of immaculately bogus material. Just random material as to why our home was unfit for children. My attorney said that the fact that the case is not closed is another interesting detail. It’s still pending.”

“He showed up when I was gone at work, and we had a babysitter watching the baby,” said Graham. “So I had to wait another day to speak with him. He did the whole thing. He sat me down and interviewed me separate from my husband. He interviewed my husband. He questioned my six-year-old child. He made me take him on a tour of my house. He made me lift the toilet seat. He checked my baby’s diaper. Never in my life would I ever have thought I’d experience something like that. That’s harassment at the highest level.”

Much like Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Kate Brown has decided that anyone who defies her orders will be targeted for personal destruction. It’s a wonder these thugs aren’t putting their victims’ heads on actual pikes.

SOURCE 




Gov. DeSantis Has a Few Choice Words for the North Eastern  Media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp are the two Republican governors that liberals love to hate. They are openly rooting for an increase in the coronavirus death toll in those two states because DeSantis and Kemp are reopening their states for business while blue-state governors are blaming Trump for all their problems.

But DeSantis is pushing back and giving as good as he’s getting.

Fox News:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a message on Thursday for other governors who have implemented “really draconian, arbitrary restrictions” during the coronavirus outbreak, saying, “You don’t have unlimited authority and people do have rights.”

DeSantis made the comments on “Fox & Friends” in response to a question from host Ainsley Earhardt, who asked if he thinks that “some of these governors that are just doing a one-size-fits-all for the entire state” are “being too strict and going too far.”

Exhibit A: Democratic New Jersey Governor Phill Murphy has banned swimming but will allow surfing on New Jersey beaches. What kind of a mind would concoct an idiotic order like that?

“I don’t think any governor has the authority to restrict anyone unless there’s a direct relationship to combating this virus,” DeSantis said in response, cautioning governors against acting like a “dictator.”

“If you look around the country, clearly there have been examples of really draconian, arbitrary restrictions that have nothing to do with public health, like you can’t plant a seed in your front yard in your garden, you can’t walk around the neighborhood with your daughter or something like that.”

DeSantis added, “Some of this stuff I think has devolved into social control.” That nails the primary issue right there.

From petty tyrant small-town mayors to Democratic presidential candidates, the issue is one of controlling the people — treating them like sheep, leading them around by the nose like small children. They believe that just by saying “science is on our side” they can frighten and coerce their citizens into changing behavior.

And, if not done voluntarily, well, there are always drones, snitches, and the police who will force you to comply.

This is one crisis that liberals should let go to waste.

DeSantis followed a reasonable, logical program of containment and is now reopening Florida. Liberals won’t admit it, but it worked.

He went on to say that “there just aren’t massive outbreaks that have been linked to a lot of outdoor activity and so that’s why I got a lot of flack from the Acela media because I didn’t want to close every beach in Florida.”

DeSantis noted, “We kept golf courses open, we had fishing going on the whole time, people could boat.”

He pointed out that the Florida communities that kept beaches open and followed social distancing guidelines “have some of the lowest rates, places like Brevard County, very low death rate, and so I believe outdoor activity is low risk.”

Florida’s population density isn’t as high as some eastern states like New York or New Jersey, but they have far more senior citizens than most states. Yet they’ve only had 42,000 positive tests for the coronavirus and 1,800 deaths. That’s just a fraction of the deaths in New York state and New Jersey.

But even if the death toll in Florida matched that of New York, DeSantis had the right attitude going into the crisis and was philosophically correct in his approach. Whether he’s proven to be right in getting the coronavirus under control remains to be seen.

SOURCE 






Fury in Germany as thousands join protests across country

Thousands of people across Germany are protesting coronavirus lockdown measures over the weekend.

From anger over lockdown measures to a purported vaccine plan by Bill Gates, the growing wave of demonstrations in Germany by conspiracy theorists, extremists and anti-vaxxers against coronavirus measures has alarmed even Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Initially starting as a handful of protesters decrying tough restrictions on public life to halt transmission of the coronavirus, the protests have grown in recent weeks to gatherings of thousands in major German cities.

Meanwhile, German police said on Saturday that they have launched an investigation after a tombstone was placed in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's electoral offices as part of the protests.

Red roses and candles were placed around the mock tombstone, which bore the inscription: 'Freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, movement and assemblies - Democracy 1990-2020', according to the police.

Thousands of protesters gathered again in Stuttgart, Munich and Berlin on Saturday, with police out in force after some protests turned violent.

Germany newspaper Die Welt said that well over the 1,000 limit of people went to Theresienwiese to demonstrate against the coronavirus measures in the country.

After the area that the police had cordoned off had filled, the police tried to send people away. Instead, hundreds of people lined the pavements, filling the area.

When Police announced that people should leave, they were met with boos from the crowds, many holding banners, with slogans like 'freedom instead of coercion'.

Thousands also gathered at a demonstration in Stuttgart, with police limiting numbers to 5,000 maximum. However, many people gathered outside of the area designated to them by police.

Frankfurt city centre saw counter-protests against the protesters, with one woman holding a sign that read 'Conspiracy theories can be fatal'.

At protests in Berlin, police could be seen using heavy-handed tactics to remove protesters who breached the coronavirus measures, or the rules of the protests.

The growing demonstrations have sparked comparison to the anti-Muslim Pegida marches at the height of Europe's refugee crisis in 2015, raising questions over whether the strong support that Merkel is currently enjoying due to her handling of the virus crisis could evaporate.

Just like it won popularity by fanning anti-migrant sentiment five years back, the far-right AfD party is now openly encouraging protesters and re-positioning itself as an anti-lockdown party.

A recent poll commissioned by the Spiegel news magazine found that almost one in four Germans surveyed voiced 'understanding' for the demonstrations.

The development has shocked the political establishment, with Merkel reportedly telling top brass of her centre-right CDU party of the 'worrying' trend that may bear some hallmarks of Russia's disinformation campaigns.

SOURCE 






Cops Lecture Parents About 7-Year-Old’s Toy Gun

There's really nothing worse than neighbors ratting out neighbors. But that's what Democrats are urging citizens to do across the country. And more often than not innocent Americans are getting caught in the crosshairs.

Sheila Perez Smith tells the Todd Starnes Show that she was stunned when the police showed up at her home near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Smith's 7-year-old son had just completed a zoom class from the den of their home when she received an urgent email from her son's first grade teacher.

It just so happened that the little boy had recently been gifted a toy gun and the child had placed his "new favorite thing" on the table next to the computer.

"Another parent had been very uncomfortable by the fact that the gun had been in view of the zoom call," Mrs. Smith said on my radio show. "It's such an innocent thing that someone used to make a judgment and an accusation."

A few hours after they received the email, there was a knock at the front door. It was the police.

"The police officer came to our door right after breakfast and asked us to step outside of our home as a result of the zoom call," she told me.

Mrs. Smith's husband tried to explain to the officer that there were no guns in the house - other than the toy gun that their son had received.

"He essentially lectured us on child safety and the fact that our children are too young to interact with any guns and weapons," she said.

The officer said it did not matter that it was a toy gun and he continued to lecture the couple.

The family was not cited and there were no follow up visits from authorities, but they were definitely shaken by the ordeal.

SOURCE 

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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17 May, 2020  

The Religious Freedom of a Nation May Depend on One Small Cake Shop

Masterpiece Cakeshop, a small family business that sits opposite a car wash in the Mission Trace Shopping Center, has survived a Supreme Court case and is struggling through the pandemic.

The challenges of running a small business during shutdowns, food supply disruptions, and economic turmoil aren’t unique to the Colorado cakeshop which specializes in custom designed cakes. But Jack Philips, the cakeshop’s masterpiece creator, has also spent 8 years battling for his religious freedom.

And the struggling cakeshop off South Wadsworth is dealing with its third lawsuit.

“Since its birth in the fires of the French Revolution, the political left has been at war with religion," David Horowitz wrote in Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America.

Eight years is a short time to wait to destroy a cake shop in a struggle that has gone on for centuries.

Jack Philips is a devout Christian. Masterpiece Cakeshop is closed on Sundays. And while he loves detailing glazed flour petals for weddings, his art expresses his deepest moral convictions.

That’s why he won’t even bake cakes for Halloween.

Six years of religious persecution appeared to have ended when the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had discriminated against Jack’s religious beliefs after the Commission had not only ordered him to make cakes celebrating gay weddings, but its members had compared his dissent to slavery, and rejected the idea that religious freedom deserves to be respected.

And yet the political mafia that had tormented him all these years made it clear that it wasn’t going to stop. DNC Chair Tom Perez vowed to continue the fight in a press release calling for "equality" in "bakeries". 211 Congressional Democrats, including Senator Michael Bennett, and future Governor Jared Polis, had filed a brief against the small cakeshop. After the ruling, Polis vowed to “stand strong.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a massive LGBT lobby with a $43 million budget, had submitted not one, but two amicus briefs against the cakeshop. One of those briefs featured a variety of celebrity chefs who make more in one day than Masterpiece Cakeshop and Jack Philips have in their entire existence.

The HRC claims to have raised $20 million for Obama.

The entire Left, from LGBT pressure groups like GLAAD, to the SEIU, the NAACP, the American Psychological Association, the American Bar Association, the cities of Los Angeles and New York, and even the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, poured down briefs.

They weren’t going to leave Jack alone.

And so, the Supreme Court ruling didn't provide much of a break for the small family business which had been forced to cut its staff and get out of the wedding cake business entirely to avoid more lawsuits.

The radicals seeking a confrontation began placing orders for cakes with Satan, upside down crosses or pentagrams on them. Philips believed that one of his tormentors was Autumn ‘Adam’ Charlie Scardina, a local lawyer, who at one point allegedly tried to order a red-and-black cake with an image of Satan on it.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has yet to determine that there is a civil right that obligates a Christian baker to design and bake a cake with Satan on it, but after the Supreme Court took up the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, Scardina called to order a gender transition cake and was turned down.

Scardina then filed a complaint. That was in 2017.

The timing of the attempted order, “moments after news broke that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear Jack’s first case”, makes it obvious that this was not a legitimate attempt to obtain a cake, but a fallback legal strategy to continue the harassment in case the Supreme Court ruled for religious liberty.

The Commission found Jack liable for not making Scardina’s gender transition cake. But the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the small business, sued the state for discrimination. And the Colorado AG agreed to drop the case if the cakeshop would drop its suit.  Instead of appealing the dismissal, Scardina sued the cakeshop in the District Court for the City and County of Denver.

The lawyer is demanding over $100,000 and a jury trial to punish Jack for the cake that wasn’t.

Scardina had not been placing an order in good faith, but seeking to entrap the cakeshop by first placing an order for a birthday cake and then announcing that it was also a gender transition cake.

That’s not how you order a cake, but that’s how a radical familiar with the law entraps a good man. And Scardina's site is titled, "Attorney and Activist". While Scardina accuses Philips of deception, it’s the “attorney and activist” who was being deceptive by misleadingly structuring the cake request.

Scardina claimed to have heard ads for Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2017 and ordered the cake in a "hopeful" mood. In fact, Scardina had been harassing Philips since 2012, sending him taunting emails that mocked his religion. The Satan cakes alone suggest a calculated pattern of harassment.

Despite claiming that the cake was needed to celebrate Scardina’s gender transition, the name Autumn appears all the way back in 2013 paperwork for the Adams County Department of Human Services. It even appears in the records of the California Bar Association. Since Scardina moved to Colorado in 2008, that cake order would have been a very belated celebration of the alleged gender transition.

The lawyer harassing Masterpiece Cakeshop had been working for Adams County for seven years. Scardina is familiar with the system and is exploiting it to harass a religious man for his beliefs.

Jack Philips won two lawsuits, one initiated by Scardina’s complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but no matter how many legal cases he wins, the harassment campaign continues.

After the Supreme Court cracked down on the Commission’s hostility to Jack’s religious beliefs, his tormentors decided to pursue a strategy of more directly harassing him through the courts.

Paula Greisen, the lawyer who is representing Scardina, also represented Craig and Mullins, the gay couple who had originally sued Masterpiece Cakeshop, making this the case that never ends.

The Left has the resources to continue harassing, threatening, and suing Philips indefinitely.

If Scardina loses, the next case has almost certainly already been prepped and waiting in the wings. The Left will not stop until it has smashed a small cakeshop tucked into the side of a shopping center.

Can one small business owner who is already on the brink stand up to 8 more years of this? The religious freedom of a nation may hinge on the determination of one cakemaker to resist a machine of hate.

As the Alliance Defending Freedom filing notes, "Phillips has suffered enough. The state’s past prosecutions generated death threats and vandalism and cost Phillips seven years of his life, 40% of his family income, and most of his employees — harms that endure even though he eventually won his legal fights. This crusade against Phillips and his faith should stop once and for all."

What’s at stake is not a cake, but a primordial struggle between religion and a radical cult as David Horowitz had described in his groundbreaking book, Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America.

"Radicals in America today don't have the political power to execute religious people and destroy their house of worship," David Horowitz wrote in Dark Agenda. "Yet they openly declare their desire to obliterate religion."

Destroying freedom of conscience is not a civil rights cause, but a crusade against religion.

The Supreme Court’s ruling penalized the egregious hostility by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the very idea of religious freedom, but didn’t settle the fundamental First Amendment question at stake.

And as long as that question remains unsettled, the harassment will continue.

In defending his right not to bake a cake that violates his beliefs, Jack Philips and his small cakeshop stood in front of a vast national bulldozer that seeks to destroy the very idea of religious freedom. The Supreme Court victory by the beleaguered small business didn’t save his business, it made him a target.

The Left understands that destroying Jack, even if he wins every court case, will make an example out of him. And until the Supreme Court upholds his inalienable freedom to be true to his faith, not only Jack, but every person of conscience will have his or her freedom held hostage in Lakewood, Colorado.

Until the freedom of that small cakeshop is settled, none of us are truly free.

SOURCE 





New York's Terrible Decisions on Wuhan Coronavirus Screwed the Rest of America

The curve of Wuhan coronavirus cases across the country has flattened and cities are slowly coming out of stay-at-home orders. Businesses are opening back up and people are doing what they can to return to normalcy.

But the bad decisions made by politicians in the hardest-hit areas, specifically New York, should not go unnoticed as we start to pull away from the pandemic.

On March 2, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was encouraging residents to continue their regular behavior. He even gave them ideas about what to do in crowded areas. The virus had been in the country since the end of January and rapidly spreading. Italy, a preview of what could come to the U.S. without proper preparation, was completely overrun, devastated and chaotic.

"Since I'm encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions. Here's the first: thru Thurs 3/5 go see 'The Traitor' @FilmLinc. If 'The Wire' was a true story + set in Italy, it would be this film," he tweeted.

When things got serious just a week later, and New York City came under siege from the disease, de Blasio berated the federal government and President Trump for failing to send medical supplies or personal protective equipment. But it turned out, de Blasio didn't order them.

"It was not until March 6 and March 10 — over two months after the coronavirus outbreak first hit China — that they finally secured the first emergency procurements of masks and hand sanitizer, according to the city comptroller's office," The New York Post reported on March 20.

By this time, the federal government, led by President Trump, had been sounding the alarm about the disease for over a month. Those warnings went unheeded and crashed into disaster.

As the crisis got worse, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo followed President Trump's lead with daily press briefings. While Democrats and their allies in the media were hailing Cuomo's performance, they were rabidly opposing and criticizing President Donald Trump.

When cases in New York City and the surrounding areas got out of control, President Trump floated the idea of shutting down travel to and from the state. Cuomo was irate and said a quarantine of New York would be a "federal declaration of war."

According to a tracing study detailed by The New York Times, the disease spread around the country as New Yorkers traveled.

"New York City's coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country," the paper found and published on May 7. "The research indicates that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast."

"The findings are drawn from geneticists' tracking signature mutations of the virus, travel histories of infected people and models of the outbreak by infectious disease experts," the reporting continues.

It turns out an early quarantine could have saved the rest of the country from economic havoc. But back to New York.

Since the beginning of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, one thing has been clear: the elderly are the most likely to die from the disease. Despite this fact, Governor Cuomo mandated that nursing homes accept virus patients. Workers from these homes pleaded patients be sent to hospitals or the USNS Mercy, but they were ignored. The results have been horrific and deadly.

"Another 1,700 coronavirus deaths have been reported in nursing homes and adult care facilities around the state," Spectrum News NY1 reports. "According to Gov.  Andrew Cuomo's office, 4,813 people have previously died from COVID-19 in the state's nursing homes since March 1."

Further, Cuomo's stay-at-home and shelter in place orders have been ineffective.

"This is a surprise…66 percent of the people were at home, which is shocking to us," Cuomo said during a May 7 press conference. "They're not working. They're not traveling…We were thinking that maybe we were going to find a higher percent of essential employees who were getting sick because they were going to work — that these may be nurses, doctors, transit workers. That's not the case. They were predominantly at home."
Despite this statistic, Governor Cuomo extended the state's stay-at-home order until June 13 this week.

New York City politicians handled major steps of this process the completely wrong way and yet the rest of the country has been expected to follow their lead. When Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chose a different, successful approach to handling the disease, he was roundly berated for not following the New York model. Thank goodness he didn't.

For the first half of the year, the rest of the country has been held hostage to New York, where decisions by leftist politicians led to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to the rest of the country. It's beyond the time that their advice be ignored so that competent people elsewhere can get back to their lives. Don't forget their actions when de Blasio and Cuomo demand a taxpayer-funded bailout.

SOURCE 






The pernicious Logan Act should have been scrapped long ago

by Jeff Jacoby

WHAT DOES Gen. Michael Flynn, the now-exonerated former White House national security adviser, have in common with Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda, and Nancy Pelosi?

Answer: All of them were threatened with the so-called Logan Act, one of the oldest federal statutes, and arguably the most pernicious.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of lying to an FBI agent when he was asked about his communications with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the transition to Donald Trump's inauguration. But he later withdrew that guilty plea, and the Justice Department last week moved to dismiss the case. It did so, according to court filings, after evidence emerged that the bureau long ago knew there was no legitimate reason to believe that Flynn had engaged in any unlawful collusion with the Russian government. It pursued him anyway, arranging an interview in hopes of getting him to say something inculpatory.

Handwritten notes by the FBI's counterintelligence chief indicate that agents were angling "to get [Flynn] to lie, so we can prosecute him" or "get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act" in his conversation with the Russian envoy. Yet it was clear all along, as the Justice Department documents show, that a Logan Act prosecution had no chance of succeeding.

The Logan Act, embedded in the US Code at Title 18, Section 953, makes it a crime for any citizen to engage in unauthorized "correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government ... in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States." A crime, that is, for any American who doesn't represent the president or his administration to communicate with a foreign government about US policy. The statute's ostensible purpose is to prevent private interference in the conduct of foreign affairs. It certainly was never meant to prevent an incoming president's national security adviser from discussing US-Russian relations with the Russian ambassador.

There was never the slightest likelihood that Flynn would be charged with violating the Logan Act, let alone convicted of doing so. Nobody has ever been convicted of violating the Logan Act. In the 221 years since it was enacted, it has been used for one purpose only: as a cudgel to threaten political opponents.

The Logan Act is a relic of what Thomas Jefferson called "the reign of witches," when the Federalist majority in Congress approved, and President John Adams signed, laws making it a crime to oppose the president. Two of those laws were the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts; the Logan Act was another. It was named for George Logan, a Philadelphia Quaker who attempted to privately negotiate a détente with France at a time when the Adams administration was deeply hostile to the French government. Outraged by Logan's "temerity and impertinence," Adams asked Congress to make it illegal to communicate with foreign officials "without authority." Congress obliged. The law has been with us ever since.

The Logan Act is invariably brandished to criminalize political differences. When John Kerry was engaged two years ago in "shadow diplomacy" to preserve the Iran nuclear deal he had negotiated as secretary of state, Trump said he should be charged with a "total violation of the Logan Act." I wrote at the time that while Kerry might be wrong about Iran, the suggestion that he be prosecuted for meeting with foreign leaders was absurd. Equally absurd was Kerry's own suggestion three years earlier, when he was still secretary of state, that a group of Republicans led by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had run afoul of the Logan Act (or even the Constitution) by writing to Iranian officials to derail the deal Kerry was negotiating.

The litany of Logan Act accusations is a long one. Among the many who have been accused are former president Jimmy Carter, for meeting with Hamas officials in 2008; Jesse Jackson, for his personal missions to Cuba and Nicaragua in 1984; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for sitting down with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2007; and Jane Fonda, for her infamous trip to Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

If the Logan Act were ever tested in court, it would almost certainly be struck down as an unconstitutional infringement of free speech. Nevertheless, as long as it remains on the books, it will tempt malicious prosecutors and zealous political operatives. If that wasn't clear before the Flynn case, it is now. The Logan Act is dangerous and un-American, and ought to be expunged once and for all.

SOURCE 





The importance of challenging expertise

Even great minds can be swayed by the prejudices of the age.

As everyone now knows, science is contested. Of course, many aspects of science continue unchallenged – things like the electron mass or the structure of DNA. But other aspects, such as the speed of light, are open to constant refinement. Some aspects will soon cease to matter entirely to everyday science.

But the sort of science we are most familiar with right now, the science of exploring the unknown, is very different. It is an emergent process – a messy, gradual approximation towards truth, replete with uncertainty and ambiguity. It is advanced by human beings within social systems. And this appreciation of it as neither firm nor fixed, as not grounded in clear or inviolable evidence, is currently contributing to a cultural epiphany.

Almost every aspect of the coronavirus outbreak has been, and will continue to be, drawn into question by scientists and others for some time. That is how it should be. The origins, extent, actions, infectivity, durability and lethality of the virus are disputed, as are the best way to mitigate its spread and treat its associated diseases. Discussions of all these things draw on models, with built-in assumptions about all these aspects, as well as assumptions about how people behave.

The experts disagree on various issues here. This is because their interpretation of what currently passes for the available evidence – on everything from fatality rates to the benefits of wearing masks, from lockdowns to the reliability of tests – matters as much as the evidence itself. It is a competition for meaning within science.

That some scientists are venal, fallible and selfish may come to be as important as their virtue, diligence and humanism. The systems they work within matter, too. Mechanisms for the peer review of their work, the success, or not, of their funding applications, and the pursuit of promotions, are all open to gaming and interference. These are all framed by what some sociologists call ‘cultural scripts’.

After all, who decides what questions should be pursued in all this, what matters most and what ought to be prioritised. How any ensuing data (limited as it is in both scope and specificity) is to be interpreted is another key issue. Inevitably, decision-makers (and scientists) have other agendas, too – as we all do. Science, then, is not an exact science, but a deeply cultural activity.

A short contribution, titled ‘Misanthropy and Political Ideology’, to the American Sociological Review in 1956, illuminates some of the issues raised here. Its author, Morris Rosenberg, wanted to explore how individuals’ political ideologies are formed. He noted the research on factors such as personality characteristics, interpersonal relationships and group affiliations, among others. In his opinion, however, what had been overlooked was our fundamental attitudes about human nature or, as he highlighted in the title of his piece, misanthropy.

At its heart, democracy rests on having faith in the rationality of people. This affects how we interpret the actions of others, and it shapes what we each think is necessary for society to function. In other words, our most deeply held views of what human beings are like shape ‘the principles, practices and policies of a political system’, he argued. He sought to measure faith in people, correlating this against how we view our relationship to government, free speech and state control.

His conclusion was that, more than any other factors, these things determined individuals’ political outlooks. And what was true then about politics is also true today in relation to science and scientists, not least because science and scientists increasingly hold sway over much political decision-making. But what do we actually know about these people, about scientists? That the PM’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, attended a recent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) pales into insignificance when we begin to ask what the actual scientists really think about us.

We know full well how recent events – from Brexit to Trump and beyond – have led elites to question the rationality of the people and, implicitly, democracy itself. How many of this expert group of scientists potentially share these prejudices? And how might that shape decision-making? As we know, the dominant impulse in public-health circles is a patrician one – one of the state telling the people what is for their own good.

We see scientific questions being contested now every day. Maybe the next time a politician or scientist talks with such certainty about ‘the science’ – in relation to climate change or our diets – we ought first to think about how they view other people, free speech, and whether they look to the state, rather than the people, to control things.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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15 May, 2020  

CNN Virus Townhall Features Greta Thunberg for Some Reason

If you think you’re having a tough time right now, just try to put yourself in Greta Thunberg’s velcro shoes. Less than six months ago, that kid was on top of the world that she claimed was ending. She was Time magazine’s Person of the Year. She was a liberal icon. Cameras followed her everywhere. They all wanted to know her opinions about everything. She was the most famous truant child since Huckleberry Finn, and she rode around on a much nicer boat.

Then COVID-19 the Chinese virus came along and ended the whole party. Suddenly, nobody cares what Greta has to say anymore. We’re too busy trying to survive an actual threat, right this minute, to worry about the weather killing us 12 years from now. (It’s always 12 years from now. It was 12 years in 2008, and it’ll be 12 years in 2032.)

If you want to compare the pandemic to the Kennedy assassination, Greta Thunberg is the new Vaughn Meader. Current events gave her an instant career, and then took it away.

So what’s a girl to do? Go on CNN as a virus expert, that’s what!

"Former acting CDC director Richard Besser, former HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius and activist Greta Thunberg join @AndersonCooper & @DrSanjayGupta for a live #CNNTownHall. Coronavirus - Facts and Fears"

That lineup isn’t all bad, I suppose. Besser used to run the Centers for Disease Control, so that makes sense. Sebelius… um… well, just because she oversaw the Obamacare rollout and it was such a disaster that she resigned in disgrace and hasn’t been heard from since, that doesn’t mean she’s not a coronavirus expert. Let’s hear her out.

And then Thunberg. A Swedish teenager who doesn’t go to school. Okay, I guess? She’s an expert on making people panic about invisible dangers, so now she’s switching over from the Angry Sky Gods to the virus. At least this time it’s something that actually exists.

It’s not as if she needs to keep fighting to shut down modern society. The virus has taken care of that for her. Carbon emissions are down, industries are collapsing, lots of people are dying… it’s an environmentalist’s dream. You did it, Greta!

But just because she won that battle, with a little help from the Chinese Communist Party, that doesn’t mean her work is over. She still needs to keep her name out there. Branding is very important. She doesn’t need to know what she’s talking about, regarding the weather or infectious disease or anything else. She just needs to keep finding “journalists” who will put her on TV.

Okay, you can get mad at me now. Sorry to pick on the confused child who keeps getting pushed into the spotlight by her elders for political reasons. My bad!

SOURCE 






I’m an ER Physician. Here’s Why Abortion Isn’t an ‘Essential Health Service.’

Although we appear to be “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic, with governors slowly lifting stay-at-home orders and hospitals beginning to schedule surgeries again, infection spikes in certain regions remain a possibility.

Throughout the coming months, we need to focus as a society on medical care that will not only help us survive but thrive.

Working in emergency rooms as an emergency medicine physician of more than 20 years, I’m particularly concerned that abortion activists have been promoting and advocating abortion as an “essential health service.”

An essential health service is a health care action or medical procedure that is essential to protecting the life of a human. But the truth is that rather than helping women through this pandemic, abortion is more likely to worsen the toll of illness.

Any decision about a medical procedure as serious as terminating a pregnancy must be made with facts and an assessment of risks. When medical equipment is scarce and many resources must be directed toward treating victims of COVID-19, continuing to perform abortions is medically irresponsible.

Here are three key facts:

1. The stress of COVID-19 adds to abortion’s emotional toll.

Abortion is known to result in mental health issues, and COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate those negative effects. Anxiety and fear have exploded during this time as many Americans suffer from prolonged isolation and economic challenges.

Calls to the federal mental health crisis hotline are nearly 900% greater than this time last year. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been affected negatively due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.

Combined with the emotional toll of abortion, the impact of this stress is amplified. Abortion long has been associated with serious, adverse mental health outcomes such as depression, grief, persistent sadness, and elevated stress—many of the same mental health challenges we are seeing from COVID-19.

Losing a baby, whether from abortion or a spontaneous miscarriage, causes emotional pain. Women who have abortions face higher rates of depression.

Data shows an increase in the number of suicide attempts by women who previously had an abortion. In fact, women who get abortions are at a 154% increased risk of suicide, according to the Southern Medical Journal.

What’s more, we know that women sometimes are coerced into abortion as a result of domestic abuse. Claiming that abortion is an “essential health service” only will minimize the emotional risks, fueling this cycle of violence and pressure.

At a time when domestic abuse afflicts more women than ever before, we need to respect and support women, not encourage them to get abortions.

2. Complications from abortion are more dangerous during a pandemic.

Complications from an abortion are a significant risk—even more so during a pandemic with an over-stressed health care system. I’ve seen firsthand the life-threatening medical complications that stem from an abortion procedure.

This type of crisis is often the result of abortion clinics not being equipped to provide the necessary emergency care. Instead, they send women to the ER.

Abortion itself carries risks of infection and increases the likelihood of women needing additional medical supervision and treatment. Also, blood loss, inflammatory stress, and other adverse outcomes from abortion can compromise a woman’s health and immune system, which makes her more susceptible to contracting a virus.

Chemical abortions, such as by the brand-name drug Mifeprex, are no safer. Typically 5% to 7% of women who undergo a chemical abortion require surgical follow-up procedures. Experimenting with an abortion at home—especially right now—is very dangerous.

3.  COVID-19 doesn’t affect pregnancies.

I have heard from pregnant women who are worried that continuing a pregnancy during COVID-19 could be harmful. I understand their concerns, but the available data suggests that pregnant women do not suffer from coronavirus infections.

And as yet there is no evidence of vertical transmission of the coronavirus from mother to baby; the virus hasn’t been found in breast milk or amniotic fluid after birth. To date, the research shows that women infected with the coronavirus during pregnancy don’t have a higher incidence of compromised health or unhealthy babies.

Some women may be considering abortion because they fear that increased doctor visits and a hospital birth might expose them and their family at home to COVID-19. In actuality, abortion puts women at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than their pregnancy does.

***

Abortion has long-term detrimental effects on a woman, the data shows. Our nation desperately needs more love and hope, and less death and despair.

The reality is that if women who face unplanned pregnancies view abortion as the “healthy” option, we know that it is in fact a fatal deception.

As a physician who deals with death daily in the ER, I can say that death of any kind is horrific. I believe we can and must protect the lives of both the young and the old, and this includes protecting preborn human life.

SOURCE 




Michigan Gov. Whitmer Strips 77-Year-Old Barber of His License Without Due Process

This story is getting better and better — for those who enjoy David vs. Goliath contests where Goliath gets a faceful of cow manure from David.

That’s what Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer must be feeling like today. The 77-year old barber, Karl Manke, who is defying her executive orders to keep his business closed is beset on all sides by the state. He was taken to court by the state who asked a judge to order Manke to close his doors. The judge refused. Then, Whitmer sicced the Department of Health on him. He refused to comply.

Finally, after the close of business on Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs made good on Whitmer’s threats.

Breitbart:

“Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has suspended Karl’s license,” attorney David Kallman told radio host Steve Gruber.

“Not thinking about it, they’ve actually done it without a hearing, without any due process,” he added, saying the action took place some time after 5:00 p.m.

“It’s an unbelievable abuse of power,” Kallman said, arguing there’s no legal basis for the action. “This is pure retribution by the governor’s office and by the AG. This is so petty and vindictive, it’s beyond the pale,” he told Gruber.

Isn’t it kind of unconstitutional to take this action without even going through the motions of “due process, governor “?

What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know we’re in a CRISIS? We don’t need no stinkin’ constitution to enforce my orders.

When asked specifically about Manke defying her edicts, Whitmer responded, “I expect people to follow the law. These executive orders are not a suggestion. They’re not optional. They’re not helpful hints.”

You will comply. Resistance is futile.

The more Whitmer pushes, the more heroic Manke appears. Using the vast powers of the state to crush this little old man is not only making Whitmer look like a bully, but Manke is becoming a rallying point for those wanting to resist the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

“I’ve never looked for handouts. I don’t even know what they are. I had somebody call me and say why don’t you get on food stamps. I don’t want to get on food stamps. I want to work.”

“I came into this last Monday alone, thinking I’m going to swing in the wind alone,” he said. “I cannot believe the support that I’ve got,” he added to cheers, with some responding, “You are not alone!” “It’s overwhelming,” he added, getting choked up.

Elements of the Michigan militia have taken up his cause and are now guarding his barbershop. If Manke and his supporters want to lose sympathy quickly, allowing the militia to “defend” Manke’s rights is the quickest way. Arms aren’t necessary. Manke has won so far using the law. And I imagine the law will take a dim view of the governor’s license suspension as well.

If Whitmer was smart she’d quit while she was only losing a little. But if she goes all in and throws the book at Manke, she will lose big — so big, that it just might propel Trump to victory in the state and John James into the Senate.

SOURCE 






Liberal privilege in two tweets

This week, we’ll look at two tweets that encapsulate everything that’s wrong with the “white privilege” narrative consuming our nation.

The Twitter account @nowthisnews posted a video of shutdown protesters yelling at police in California, Colorado and Michigan with the heading: “What would happen if protesters of color acted this way to police?”

Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) responded: “We’d all have been shot dead. Next question.”

Unless Ms. McDonald is a time-traveler from 1965, I can’t imagine what she’s talking about. Was she at the Sharpeville Massacre?

McDonald is an actress, and therefore I assume an idiot, but her profoundly ignorant tweet was enthusiastically endorsed by MSNBC talking heads and, at last count, had more than 16,000 “likes” and thousands of retweets.

Are they talking about Ferguson, Missouri, where cops stood by during the 2014 riots and politely watched the city burn? In response to the police shooting of Michael Brown — a shooting that both the grand jury and Eric Holder’s Justice Department found was justified — mostly black protesters raged off and on for months, torching dozens of buildings, shooting at responding firemen, looting stores and throwing rocks at the police.

And yet — miraculously! — no protesters were “shot dead.” No protesters were even arrested, unless they committed felonies in open view of the police.

To the contrary, two policemen were shot by a black protester.

It was the same thing at Black Lives Matter protests across the nation — in Baltimore, Oakland, Dallas, Baton Rouge and so on. Cops stood mutely, as water was dumped on them, their patrol cars were set on fire, rocks were hurled at them and protesters screamed obscenities in their faces. Their marching orders: Do nothing unless you see a crime being committed in front of you — and not always even then.

We’ve had Al Sharpton protests in New York City for decades. No protesters shot dead. In fact, I can’t think of a single protest in the 21st century by black people, or by white people, that police have responded to with violence.

When was the last time? You have to go back to the Democratic National Convention protests of 1968 — and those protesters were white. If we’re including the National Guard, there was Kent State in 1970 — also white protesters. The most recent black protest that was met with police violence was Selma, 1965.

Can we restrict wild generalizations about the police to things that have happened in our lifetimes? If you can produce examples of black people being billy-clubbed merely for protesting, we’d all love to see them. We’re looking for something more recent than 1965.

What would happen if protesters of color acted this way to police?

Audra McDonald: “We’d all have been shot dead. Next question.”

Why not, “They’d bring back slavery. Next question”? It’s just as insane.

Facts don’t matter because the “white privilege” craze is just a fashion statement. What opinions do I need to have to be fashionable? I’m so busy, I go to a lot of dinner parties. Could you fix me up with some opinions? Absolutely! You want to talk about “white privilege,” “racist cops” and “systemic racism” — using these phrases will get you wild applause.

Liberals are so mesmerized by racism fantasies that they don’t look at their own evidence. The video posted by @nowthisnews shows white protesters expressing their opinions volubly at the police. If the protesters were black, these would be called “peaceful protests.”

In one clip, a white guy shows up at a Denver rally with a holstered gun. Then you see the cops handcuffing him. The end. Explain to me how that’s an example of “white privilege.” I think it’s more an illustration of “white protester being subjected to the operation of the law.”

LIBERALS: It’s a white male with a gun! Nuff said.

JUDGE: Did you look at this tape, counselor? Meet me in chambers. I’m trying to help you. This is defense evidence.

The mass delusion about “white privilege” and “systemic racism” has real-world consequences. At a BLM protest in Dallas in July 2016, a black man furious about “racist” police murdered five white policemen in cold blood, wounded seven more and held the city hostage for hours. That year, BLM-inspired activists also murdered three police officers in Baton Rouge and two in New York City.

Everyone’s already forgotten about those racist murders. (Admittedly it was four long years ago, not nearly as recent as 1965.)

Even at the time, the Democratic Party couldn’t support the assassinated officers without eulogizing Black Lives Matter. Days after the Dallas slaughter, President Obama invited Black Lives Matter representatives to the White House.

Hillary Clinton went to CNN to give her considered response to the bloodbath in Dallas. Ignoring the dead officers, she cited a string of recent police shootings, pledged to “go after systemic racism, which is a reality” and called on “white people, like myself, to put ourselves in the shoes of those African-American families who fear every time their children go somewhere.”

This, as the corpses of five white policemen lay in a Dallas morgue, basking in their “white privilege.” Or as Ms. McDonald would say, “Shot dead. Next question.”

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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14 May, 2020

The Israeli Consensus on Annexation Can Break the Peace Deadlock

One month before he was murdered, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke in the Knesset on how he saw the future of the land east of the "Green Line," the Armistice Line between Israel and Jordan, created in 1949. He spoke about the conditions that, to his mind, were essential elements and prerequisites for any Israeli future.

"First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty. ... The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term ... changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the Green Line, prior to the Six Day War," Rabin declared in October 1995.

These demands almost completely mirror the details laid out in President Trump's peace plan, which would allow Israel to annex much of this territory, including the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs.

Rabin's heirs on the center-left, including Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi — like Rabin, both former Israel Defense Forces chiefs-of-staff — have entered into an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring forward plans to place sovereignty over the areas demarcated in the former prime minister's speech.

Israeli consensus about issues of sovereignty and annexation is stronger than ever before.

Arguably, for the first time in Israel's history, there is remarkable consensus among Israeli political representatives about the issue of sovereignty and annexation. Even the current leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz, who ran with the Meretz Party in the recent election, is a fully willing member of a future government that places these issues openly on its agenda.

Israelis of all backgrounds and ideologies long have believed this conflict never was about territory. Ever since it began, more than 100 years ago, the question that motivated Palestinian rejectionism was always about Jewish sovereignty per se, and not about where and how much. This is what motivated massacres of Jews in the Land of Israel in the 1920s and 1930s, among others.

This is what motivated the Arab leaders of Mandatory Palestine to reject the Peel Plan of 1937, which would have given them around three-quarters of the whole territory for statehood, and the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, which would have provided for a state on 55 percent of the territory.

Palestinian Authority leaders Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas continued this rejectionist stance in 2001 and 2008, even though Israeli prime ministers offered terms that included an almost full withdrawal from the territory east of the Green Line.

The Palestinian sticking point always has been the sovereignty of Jews anywhere in their ancestral homeland.

The sticking point always has been the issue of sovereignty of the Jewish People over any territory in their indigenous and ancestral homeland. This is why Abbas could walk away from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's maximalist offer at Annapolis in 2008 because the agreement would include articles about ending the conflict and all claims to the territories offered.

Since then, Abbas has barely allowed himself to enter into a room with an Israeli prime minister, even after Netanyahu placed a full construction freeze on settlements in 2009, demonstrating again that the issue of settlements and territory is merely a "red herring" issue.

No Israeli has seen Israeli and Palestinian leaders shake hands for over 12 years.

Thus, no Israeli has seen an Israeli and Palestinian leader shake hands for over 12 years. On the contrary, many Israelis have felt the continuance of Palestinian rejectionism, in the form of suicide attacks, deadly rockets and attempts to charge the borders, especially emanating from territories that Israel relinquished in the now-dashed hopes for peace and reconciliation.

Israelis are tired of waiting for a Palestinian leader, so they want to force the issue by taking the legal step of placing sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, which are vital from a security, national and historic vantage point.

None of these steps precludes making a deal in the future if a Palestinian leader decides to free his people from rejectionism and instead wants to use its resources to build up a Palestinian polity and society. Until such time, Israel must take steps that it sees as being in its best interests, with the broad support of multiple parties from the right to the left, government and opposition.

Of course, it should be done sensibly, and not increase the numbers of Arab citizens of Israel and disrupt the delicate demographic balance in Israel. This also could be offset by offering the heavily Arab-populated Triangle area in northern Israel to the Palestinians.

Annexation will show Palestinians that rejectionism has consequences.

Annexation can be seen as a step towards ending the deadlock between the parties. It should be the pressure to place on Palestinian leaders to acknowledge that they will not defeat Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. It will show the Palestinians that rejectionism has consequences and force them to give up longstanding violent aims.

Most of all, it will fulfill the vision of Israeli leaders — from the left, right, and center, such as Rabin, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon — who understood implicitly that Israel will always retain the settlements and the Jordan Valley. It is time to take them off the table.

SOURCE 






Why the Nigel Farage Dover story matters

Nigel Farage recently made a trip to Dover to report on what he sees to be a ‘scandal’: the apparent ferrying of illegal immigrants across the Channel by the UK border force. Migrants regularly attempt the Channel crossing, often in dinghies or other small craft. These are then intercepted by the authorities, and the people on board are transported ashore for processing.

Making a video about illegal immigration would not be everyone’s choice for a lockdown outing. But one reaction to Farage’s video has revealed something far more concerning than what that video itself reports. According to Farage, he was subsequently visited at his home by two policemen who came to ‘advise on essential travel’, at the sociable time of 10pm. The officers said they had received a complaint about his trip to Dover.

Now, the public has been advised that we may not leave our homes without what the College of Policing ominously calls ‘a reasonable excuse’. But going to work, if that work cannot be done from home, is considered fine. A politician and commentator going to report on what he sees to be an important political issue seems to fit within the guidelines. That he was not directly commissioned to make such a report, or indeed that he does not derive any financial profit from it, seems irrelevant. It was hardly a leisure activity, so it must have been work-related.

But let us assume for a moment that Farage did, in fact, go against the guidance. We would still be faced with the deeply uncomfortable prospect of a man being visited by police after criticising the action – or inaction – of the government, all because one of his fellow citizens snitched. This is the sort of story we are more used to hearing from dictatorial states. It should worry any lover of liberty. Here we are confronted with the censorious and authoritarian potential of the lockdown policy.

Not all blame can be foisted upon the government. It has not ordered the police to intimidate potential lockdown-breakers, or to clear public spaces – the coppers have gone about doing this on their own steam. But the lack of clarity from the government over what it considers to be reasonable activity has resulted in police overreach, undermining our rights. What makes the situation worse is that there are members of the public who are all too prepared to aid in such illiberal practices.

What kind of jobsworth sits at home watching Farage’s video and decides to call the police? I can imagine the wry smile as they dialled 101. ‘Hello, officer, I need to report on someone. Their crime? Going for a drive.’ In lieu of dealing with actual crime, the police are apparently offering a new service. You can now get at your political enemies by telling the authorities they have broken the lockdown.

Holding the authorities to account is essential, whether or not one agrees with an individual’s specific analysis of a particular policy. In fact, this is probably more important now than ever. This is why the Farage story matters

SOURCE 






Media hysteria is tearing the social fabric

There has been much talk about solidarity and a national effort throughout the coronavirus crisis. But it is worth pointing out that the best expressions of both are exhibited by the public. In particular, the role that the public has played stands in stark contrast to that of the political and media elites.

Expressions of solidarity and selflessness among the public under lockdown have been nothing short of inspirational and should not be underestimated. Southern Europe erupts into applause every day for frontline workers. Hundreds of thousands of Brits are volunteering to help in hospitals. Community groups have been organised to look out for the most vulnerable. And vast armies of supermarket workers continue to serve the locked-down public. People have rallied together and shown themselves at their best. What’s more, the solidarity shown by the public, continuing to abide by the lockdown rules and social-distancing protocols after so many weeks, is itself profound. It is a sight that is as surreal as it is impressive.

Of course, there is nothing to celebrate in the political decision to lock everyone in their homes, which has stripped people of their livelihoods, of their most fundamental rights and of everyday social interactions. It is nevertheless clear that ordinary people have taken their only practical and meaningful role in defeating the virus – social isolation – very seriously, and have carried it out to the letter.

This is an intuitive and palpable expression of social solidarity, born of concern for others. This is where hope lives. It is therefore crucial that we make a distinction between the public’s reaction to the lockdown, and the political class’s decision to implement it – with all the economic, social and cultural devastation that comes with it.

This dynamic makes the actions of the media all the more reactionary and decadent. Mainstream media broadcasters and commentators have actually served to undermine the social solidarity shown by the public through scare stories and moral panics. The media should be holding government and experts to account and engaging and informing the public by asking wide-ranging and contentious and difficult questions. But instead, they have acted more like sandwich-board merchants of doom, making ever-more deranged and hysterical demands for tougher and tighter measures to contain and control the public.

The media elite have predicted doom resulting from sunbathing in parks and on beaches, group picnics, jogging, cycling, walking in the country and even from shopping for non-essential items. They just cannot help themselves. Their tendency to catastrophise was evident long before Covid-19, particularly in their interventions in the climate change and Brexit debates.

The liberal-left media, in particular, have been utterly indifferent to the economic and social catastrophe that has landed on the public due to the lockdown. Their enthusiasm for shutting down society, regardless of the impact, is an instinctive and palpable expression of their fear of mass society.

This fear of the ‘mob’ was best and most recently expressed in the run-up to Easter weekend. When weather forecasts indicated that the sun might shine, the panic was unleashed. In the fevered imaginations of journalists, the country’s parks and beaches would fill to capacity with the thronging, virus-laden and degenerate masses. This never materialised, of course. Most people are acting rationally, despite the irrational circumstances.

It should also come as no surprise that the people who see non-existent public disorder everywhere among an apparently zombie-like public are the same fanatics who dismiss and delegitimise dissenting voices by casting them as outside the acceptable parameters of discourse.

The political and cultural elites do not understand solidarity. Instead, they usurp public expressions of solidarity and codify them into propagandistic tools in an attempt to control and cajole the mob. This is why social media and community campaigns in support of health workers have been rebranded as an officially sanctioned campaign to ‘Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. This is a self-serving reassertion of the state’s authority and a naked attempt at ideological coercion. It is little more than political sloganeering in the place of rational public engagement.

How the elites have responded compared to the public needs uncoupling. It is revealing that the total adherence to the lockdown by the public is being continually undermined by the constant search for and reporting of the exceptions. This has fuelled the consistent demands for ever-tougher restrictions and extensions to the lockdown.

The public’s instinct for social solidarity is the good news. This is where hope lies. People have demonstrated time and again throughout this crisis that they are willing to sacrifice basic freedoms and put themselves in harm’s way for the love of their fellow man.

The bad news is that we have a political and media elite so fearful of the mob that instead of trusting the public to do the right thing, they are increasingly likely to reach for proscriptive and authoritarian measures to punish us.

SOURCE 





Colorado Suspends License of Restaurant That Opened for Sit-Down Service on Mother's Day

The state of Colorado has suspended the business license of C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock after the owners opened the doors of the restaurant on Mother’s Day and allowed customers to sit and dine. The business violated the state’s ban on restaurants only serving carryout and delivery.

The restaurant was packed on Sunday with a line down the block to get in. What’s worse, is that the customers weren’t six feet apart and few people wore masks. Governor Jared Polis was outraged.

Denver Post:

“I hope, I pray that nobody falls sick from businesses that chose to violate the law,” Polis said when announcing the suspension. “But if the state didn’t act and more businesses followed suit, it’s a near guarantee that people would lose their lives and it would further delay the opening of legitimate businesses.”

C&C Coffee and Kitchen remained open Monday afternoon, and it’s unclear exactly what the state is going to do if the owners continue to defy the order to close.

“It is disheartening that this restaurant has chosen to move ahead of the public orders and not even consider implementing best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” John Douglas, Tri-County’s executive director, said in a statement announcing the closure order.

The health department could shut them down, but owners Jesse and April Arellano do not appear to be in any hurry to comply. “We’re here to serve the people of the community, churches and schools, and anyone we can help. That’s why we’re in the business, to serve people,” Jesse said.

The virus-shamers have been in full-throated attack mode.

“I’ve seen a lot of love and I’ve seen a lot of hate,” he added. “We’ve gotten death threats; ‘We’re going to burn the place down,’ ‘I hope all your family all gets COVID and dies,’ and things like this.”

Mr. Arellano wonders what life will be like if we give in to the fear of this virus.

“Everyone is tired of this and they’re ready to live life,” he said. “What kind of life are we going to have if we’re all scared to live and we’re always in a bubble? No one wants to live like that. There are risks all over the place, every day. There are animals who can hurt you in the mountains, but you don’t stop going there. You can drown in the ocean surfing, but people still go.”

Or you can go to the store and catch the flu. While COVID-19 is a more serious disease — more deadly and you’re more likely to be hospitalized if you contract it — the 35-60,000 flu deaths and 400,000-plus hospitalizations every year don’t appear to rattle anyone’s nerves that much.

And for good reason: we’ve learned to live with it. For many of us, it makes perfect sense to take precautions like practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. Those of us at risk for serious illness or death should know what to do to protect ourselves.

But it still should be a choice. I have no doubt infections and death will spike when we reopen the economy. This is to be expected. But people are getting sick and dying now and no one is advocating we lock people in their houses and close everything down. It’s not possible — unless you’re in Communist China. If you want to stop people from dying that’s what needs to be done.

So we’re willing to accept some people dying and getting sick. How many? The American people will decide. And they appear to be deciding to take some risks and go about living their lives.

The governor can emote and weep about people getting sick and dying all he wants. The people have spoken.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here
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13 May, 2020  

Obama Laments DOJ Dropping Flynn Case, Trump Hits 'Obamagate'

The Justice Department dropped its case against Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, after documents revealed an FBI plot to entrap Flynn. That came amid increasing evidence from the recently released House testimony on the fake Russian dossier and Democrat claims of Russian election interference in 2016. Flynn was set up in order to take down Trump. In his testimony before the House, Barack Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, acknowledged: “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting [or] conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.”

Predictably, Obama decided to weigh in. Obama blasted the DOJ’s decision, claiming, “There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.” Obama is concerned about Rule of Law? Please. Besides, Flynn wasn’t charged with perjury. He was charged with lying to the FBI. (Somebody get Bill Clinton on the phone to explain perjury charges.)

On Sunday, Trump pointedly hit back at his predecessor by dubbing the recent FBI revelations as simply “OBAMAGATE!” Trump justifiably called the investigation into his campaign and the subsequent attempt to bring down his presidency “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” He noted that Obama “used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration.”

Indeed, these latest revelations make abundantly clear that the true threat to Rule of Law can be traced directly back to Obama. Specifically, it was the actions taken by members of his Justice Department, who smeared Trump’s 2016 campaign with the Russia-collusion hoax and then undermined his presidency after his surprise election victory.

In order to keep their nefarious plot covered up, Obama’s DOJ deep-state cabal needed to “get Flynn fired.” As Andrew McCarthy explains, “I think the best way to look at this is what the FBI and the Obama Administration wanted to do here was really audacious if you think about it in terms of the idea of trying to continue an investigation after a new president has come into power and is in a position to shut down the investigation — when the president ultimately is the target of the investigation.”

McCarthy further notes: “I think what happened specifically with General Flynn is that while the president brought in a lot of people into his original administration who had various types of expertise, he was kind of short on people with a lot of national security and foreign relations background. General Flynn was an exception. He had been the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he knew how the FBI worked in conjunction with the intelligence community and it is inconceivable to me, if you wanted to continue an investigation of the president during the president’s administration, that they could have pulled that off with a sophisticated intelligence actor being the national security advisor and being loyal to the president.”

McCarthy also observes, “[Flynn] would necessarily have found out that they had investigated the Trump campaign. He would’ve found out, for example, that they were in the FISA court conducting surveillance on Trump campaign advisors. And he would’ve been able to figure out pretty easily that President Trump was the ultimate quarry that they had in connection with the investigation.”

As the most “scandal free” administration in U.S. history is being exposed for having instigated and orchestrated a political scandal that makes Watergate look like child’s play, a clearly worried Obama is doing his best spin job. As the paper trail of the insidious plot by Obama and members of his DOJ to undermine Trump’s presidency is being uncovered, Obama feigned concern about Rule of Law. It’s as disingenuous as the whole Russia-collusion hoax, but count on the Leftmedia dutifully running the propaganda.

SOURCE 





A Hairdresser Shall Lead Them

“I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it’s not someplace that I want to be. But I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but I am not going to shut the salon.” —Dallas hairdresser Shelley Luther’s response to Judge Eric V. Moyé of the 14th Civil District Court of Dallas. Moyé subsequently sentenced Luther to seven days in jail and fined her $7,000.

Every crisis has a seminal moment. Henry’s speech galvanized Virginians and convinced them to provide troops for the American Revolution. Luther, who represents millions of decent Americans wanting to stand on their own two feet and provide for their children, has seemingly galvanized the nation in a similar manner.

Henry’s speech was far longer than most Americans know. But it addressed the very same elitist contempt and heavy-handedness to which Luther was subjected. “Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none,” Henry warned. “They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.”

As modern day Americans have been witnessing, the Democrat/Media Complex and its bureaucratic allies are using the current pandemic as the means to bind and rivet the nation to a similar group of arrogant elitists, who’ve unilaterally decided the Constitution can be suspended when they deem it necessary to do so.

Judge Moyé is one such elitist. In his imperiousness, he gave Shelly a chance to avoid jail — if she apologized. “If you would like to take this opportunity now to acknowledge: that your actions were selfish, putting your own interests ahead of those in the community in which you live,” Moyé lectured, “this court will consider the payment of a fine in lieu of the incarceration that you have demonstrated that you have so clearly earned.”

Moyé himself has earned a reputation as a racial arsonist. In 2007, he circulated a letter written by A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., chief judge emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. It described Higginbotham’s take on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, which Higginbotham himself illuminated during a 1994 lecture at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. “I can only think of one Supreme Court justice during this century who was worse than Justice Clarence Thomas: James McReynolds, a white supremacist who referred to blacks as ‘niggers,’” he stated.

As for elitism, the same New York Times article described Moyé as a man “with a weakness for Cuban cigars and the finest steaks.”

And why not? Moyé earns $158,000 per year. Thus, he remains well paid — and currently employed.

Luther? Not so much. “We were shut down March 22, so it had been several weeks that the government was kind of telling us the [small business] money was coming,” she told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “The Dallas County Judge, Clay Jenkins, kept pushing back the date of when we would open weeks out in advance, before we would hear any new comings of what was going on with masks or whatever. When he finally pushed it back a final time I just woke up one day and I said, ‘I have to open, my stylists are calling me, they’re not making their mortgage.’”

Angry Americans woke up as well. As of this writing, the Shelley Luther Fund at the Go Fund Me website has raised a whopping $500,085, and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick reportedly paid Luther’s $7,000 fine. Moreover, last Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton put Moyé’s decision in the proper perspective, stating, “I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table.”

Dallas has indeed begun releasing more than 1,000 inmates from the county jail, including those with serious felonies. Unfortunately, it’s hardly alone in that regard. Thousands more inmates, and more violent offenders, have been released throughout the nation.

Remarkably, no one has asked a simple question: Why are lockdowns bad for convicts, but good for law-abiding citizens?

Moreover, why are law-abiding citizens being treated like convicts? Several protesters opposing draconian shutdown orders have been arrested.

“We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament,” Henry stated. “Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!”

All throughout the nation, America’s equally arrogant Ruling Class, every one of whom remain largely immune to the consequences of their utterly capricious decisions, have demonstrated ample amounts of similarly elitist contempt for their fellow Americans. Americans trapped in an unemployment pandemic every bit as bad — if not worse — than the viral one.

Such realities apparently resonated with both Gov. Greg Abbott and the Supreme Court of Texas. Last Wednesday, Abbot amended his executive order. “I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders,” Abbott stated. “Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place.” A day later, the Court ordered Shelly’s release.

“If we wish to be free,” Henry stated, “if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!”

Two hundred and forty five years later, nothing has changed. Americans must once again fight to defend our Liberty. There is no nobler struggle than that. Kudos to Shelly Luther for reminding us.

SOURCE 




Case Pitting Job Anti-Bias Laws vs. Religious Freedom Set for Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in a pair of consolidated cases, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel, that will examine the so-called ministerial exception.

That’s a legal doctrine that protects freedom of religion by exempting religious institutions from the application of anti-discrimination laws to employees who carry out important religious functions.

In this case, the court will decide whether it will be Catholic schools or judges and bureaucrats who determine whether teachers are adhering to Catholic doctrine in their duties, including teaching religion class to young children.

The case was supposed to be heard in April, but was rescheduled to May 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be heard via teleconference.

Here’s what happened in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru:

Our Lady is a Catholic school that provides education to young people steeped in Catholicism, its faith and traditions. In 2015, the school decided not to renew Agnes Deirdre Morrissey-Berru’s contract as a teacher.

School officials at Our Lady didn’t think Morrissey-Berru had been teaching in accordance with the Catholic traditions the school upholds. Morrissey-Berru sued and claimed the school was discriminatory.

The issue in St. James School v. Biel is nearly identical, and the Supreme Court will hear both arguments at the same time, in the interest of time and the cases’ similarities.

At the heart of these cases will undoubtedly be a zealous discussion of what defines the “religious duties” of a teacher and the scope of a religious employer’s “ministerial exception” from anti-discrimination laws.

The Supreme Court will likely inquire about the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling. That court sided with Morrissey-Berru’s discrimination lawsuit and said that although she had some “religious duties,” they were not “religious enough to warrant First Amendment protections” under the ministerial exception legal doctrine. Expect a lengthy discussion about this concept during oral arguments.

This isn’t the first time this issue has been before the court.

In 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, establishing that religious organizations do have a First Amendment right to select their own religious ministers, teachers, or employees, without government interference.

It was the first case to apply the ministerial exception doctrine and, given that the justices are hearing a similar case on May 11, it’s clear that some of the issues have yet to be resolved.

As a Daily Signal article reported on the case back in 2012, the earlier case was a “major win for religious freedom” because the “Court clarified that the protections of the ministerial exception are not limited to cases where a religious group fires a minister only for a religious reason,” among other things.

However, as a Federalist Society commentary summarized it in 2019:

Hosanna-Tabor understandably did not answer all questions about how the doctrine operates.

Some of those questions are important. Such as how to determine what a religious ministry is, who a religious minister is, what types of government interference are impermissible, and how a substantive right grounded in both Religion Clauses should operate at a procedural level.

To give concrete examples: does a Jewish day school count as a ministry, even if it has an equal opportunity policy that forbids religious discrimination in employment, receives government funding, and accepts non-Jewish students?

Is the principal of a Catholic elementary school a minister, even if she has neither formal religious training, nor an explicitly religious title?

Employees of religious institutions should have legal recourse if they face unconstitutional violations of their rights. But the ministerial exception is critical to preserving the freedom of religious institutions to determine how their own doctrines are applied by their own employees when carrying out an important religious function.

That’s something that courts and bureaucrats do not have the competence to do.

The ministerial exception does not negate all claims against a religious employer. It creates an exception that protects employers of religious institutions from getting sued every time an employee decides he or she isn’t going to act in accordance with religious doctrines, gets fired, and wants to retaliate.

Given that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment clauses should prevent government officials from meddling in the way religious organizations hire employees to carry out religious functions—or fire them when they don’t—this is an important case, and the distinctions they discover will aid future cases of a similar nature.

SOURCE 






Keeping middle seats empty for social distancing is not feasible, the airline industry argues

Of all the safety steps airlines are taking to lure travellers back onto their planes in the coronvirus era, the empty middle seat is the most alluring.

What passenger in an aisle or window seat hasn't wished or even prayed that the person heading down the aisle is not bound for the unoccupied seat next to them?

Qantas, Virgin Australia and many other carriers are granting that wish in the name of social distancing by blocking middle seat assignments and/or not filling planes to capacity to assure passengers it's safe to fly.

But passengers shouldn't get too giddy about the extra space, experts and some airline executives say, because it won't last forever.

"It's a lovely soundbite," said John Grant, senior aviation analyst with aviation analytics firm OAG. "It's just not practical."

He says the social distancing measures will be temporary, lasting perhaps through the Thanksgiving travel booking season.

It all comes down to money. Airlines make money when they fill a certain percentage of seats, and leaving middle seats empty means they'll have to charge more for the remaining seats.

The figure for low-cost carriers including Southwest and JetBlue, according to OAG: 52 per cent more per passenger on average.

The International Air Transport Association, which has come out strongly against permanent social distancing on planes because it says the risk of virus transmission is low and the new mask requirements will provide more passenger protection, says average fares would jump 43 per cent to 54 per cent around the world depending on the region.

In North America, filling just two-thirds of the plane by keeping middle seats empty would boost the average ticket price by 43 per cent, from $202 to $289, based on 2019 figures, IATA says. Airlines in the region need to fill three-fourths of their seats to break even, the group says.

Most travelers won't be willing to pay the price, critics and skeptics of permanent social distancing say. Leisure travelers, the passengers the industry expects to return first when travel demand comes back, are notoriously price sensitive and lured by cheap fares.

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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12 May, 2020  

Are Endless Lockdowns the Result of Malice or Stupidity?

In a harrowing article for PJ Media, Dennis Prager argues that the COVID-19 global lockdown is “possibly, the worst mistake the world has ever made,” leading to a mortality rate eclipsing anything the virus could have delivered. Widespread famine in Third World Countries and extreme poverty across the globe are now imminent, “all because of the lockdowns, not the virus.” A study released on May 4 by the nonprofit research institute Just Facts confirms Prager’s argument, concluding that “the total loss of life from all societal responses to this disease is likely to be more than 90 times greater than prevented by the lockdowns.”

Despair, anxiety, bankruptcies, suicide, reduced productivity, diminishment of life expectancy as well as “quality of life,” and postponement of elective surgeries (just one example of undoubted millions: my wife’s mother is going blind but corrective treatment has been put off indefinitely) are some of the consequences of the great “flattening.”

When one factors in the economic costs and attendant suffering, the effect is almost too staggering to contemplate. How could our leaders have committed such a blunder? Prager is at pains to clarify that the economic catastrophe we are undergoing globally should be attributed not to evil intentions but primarily to rank incompetence. He is obviously invoking “Hanlon’s razor” that advises us: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Prager writes: “The lockdown is a mistake; the Holocaust, slavery, communism, fascism, etc., were evils. Massive mistakes are made by arrogant fools; massive evils are committed by evil people.” I suspect the razor applies to many government leaders who simply did everything wrong and then doubled down on their error rather than admit mortal fallibility. They were stupid—and too proud to acknowledge their mistake. They ensured that the remedy would be worse than the disease, but they cannot be blamed for malice aforethought.

The same acquittal would not apply to the denizens of the hard left, whether in government or the media, who are certainly actuated by malice and, quite possibly, by evil. Many government officials—whether national, state or local—may prolong the lockdown to enforce their hold on power, entailing the consequent reduction of a free and prosperous citizenry to a debased condition as wards of the State, a tactic dear to leftist administrations.

In any event, the motives of our political and media elites are as suspect as their credulity; it is no surprise that they readily adopted the false Coronavirus models and statistical projections of a charlatan like British science guy Neil Ferguson, with the result of near-universal social and economic calamity. “Ferguson’s self-centered attitude is all over the place,” writes Bryan Preston, “reflecting both an elitism and rank ignorance of economics and consequences.” Ferguson’s “track record is terrible,” his predictive models in the past skewed by several orders of magnitude.

Rather piquantly but not entirely unexpectedly, Ferguson was later found to have violated his own lockdown directives, receiving visits from his married mistress. This seems to be a progressivist habit; one recalls Illinois governor and lockdown fiend J. B. Pritzker whose wife traveled to the family property in Florida despite Pritzker’s rigid stay-at-home order. Malice or stupidity? As a billionaire and heir to the Hyatt hotel chain, Pritzker can afford both.

Meanwhile, as was to be anticipated, our medical “experts,” who have been consistently wrong à la Ferguson, are now predicting two and three succeeding waves of the pandemic, which will keep us in limbo for up to the next eighteen months—by which time we will no longer have a recognizable world and the casualty count from our moribund economies will exceed numerical probability. The media will persist in stirring up hysteria and our run-of-the-mill leaders will continue to flinch before lurid hypotheticals while at the same time consolidating their power over the truly huddled masses. Malice or stupidity? Whichever, it represents a godsend for the political left and progressivists everywhere.

Prager is right. There is really no option, if we wish to survive and preserve our democratic liberties, but to adopt sane preventive measures, rely on herd immunity, as in Sweden, and return to our trades and professions. We must recognize malice or stupidity where we see it, whether among our partisan leaders, failing politicians, media pontiffs or medical soothsayers. The alternative does not bear thinking.

SOURCE 






Joe Biden meets his comeuppance

Bettina Arndt: newsletter@bettinaarndt.com.au

Exciting news. This week the Trump administration finally pushed through their new Title IX rules for adjudication of rape on campus, introducing more due process rights for the accused.

Hopefully this brings to an end the recent shameful history of male students being denied basic legal protections when facing campus sexual misconduct allegations. It’s clever timing from Education Secretary Betsy de Vos, with no students on campuses to mount noisy demonstrations and feminist lawyers confined to Zoom meetings to plot their next moves.  

Within hours of the new regime being announced, Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden declared he would reverse these changes if he becomes president.

The hypocrisy of the man. Biden’s presidential campaign may well come unstuck over allegations that he sexually assaulted a former aide, Tara Reade, and indulged in inappropriate touching of a string of women – charges Biden strenuously denies. He’s passionately arguing the voting public should give him the benefit of the doubt, to presume his innocence.

But few American politicians have done more to undermine the presumption of innocence in sexual assault claims than Biden. As KC Johnson, author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, has put it, ‘Perhaps no major American political figure has so consistently championed the erosion of due process of those accused of sexual misconduct’.

As this recent spiked-online.com article on “the shameless hypocrisy of Joe Biden” explains, Biden was a key player in the Obama move to require publicly funded universities to enforce the unfair Title IX regulations, openly declaring he was using the campuses for social engineering of these feminist policies. “We need a fundamental change in our culture. And the quickest way to change culture is to change it on [the] campuses of America.’

In her recent politico.com article, Emily Yoffe explains that  “Joe Biden created the culture he is a target of” –by encouraging the Obama administration “to expand the definition of sexual violence to include compliments, or the kind of touching—often unasked for, and sometimes unwelcome—that Biden has engaged in for years.”

Yoffe adds, “There is an irony at work here: Biden helped to make possible a world in which long-ago and trivial accusations can upend one’s reputation and career.”

Here’s the man who declared:  “Drunk sex is rape, is rape, is rape.” Listen to this excellent spiked-online podcast :

https://www.spiked-online.com/podcast-episode/neil-fergusons-staggering-hypocrisy/.  (Start at 13.37)

It is hardly surprising that many are watching Biden getting his comeuppance with considerable glee. Not least the battered universities which have taken the financial hit from losing the majority of over 400 civil actions taken over the failure to protect legal rights of accused students. And there is the huge costs of paying for the army of HR campus bureaucrats to administer the now discredited tribunal system.

Via email






Why the Wuhan Lab Coronavirus Release Story Refuses to Die

Rarely mentioned is that the Wuhan laboratory is China's major biosafety facility for dealing with viral challenges.  That alone arouses suspicions

U.S. and U.K intelligence agencies are carefully examining cell phone data that might show a shutdown in October of the high-security area of the Wuhan lab where bat coronaviruses were being studied.

Some analysts believe that this evidence suggests a “hazardous event” occurred at the lab right around the time that the coronavirus was first seen in Wuhan.

U.S. intelligence can’t confirm whether the lab was shut down during that time or not, and have been silent about any reason it might have happened if it did.

But the report, compiled using publicly available cellphone data, explains why it’s not so nutty to think that something very bad happened at the lab in Wuhan where the specific bat coronavirus that later was able to make the leap to infect humans, was being studied.

New York Post:

The report, obtained by the NBC News Verification unit in London, shows no cellphone activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24, 2019 and says there may have been a “hazardous event” sometime between Oct. 6 and 11. But there is no hard proof either of a shutdown or that the virus mistakenly leaked from the lab.

Were there evidence of a lab shutdown, it would bolster theories alluded to by the Trump Administration and some scientists that the novel coronavirus accidentally came from the lab. Many scientists, as well as the World Health Organization, remain skeptical of the lab theory and still believe it came from the wet market in Wuhan.

It’s good to be skeptical. The burden of proof is on those making this very serious charge. But the media is allowing their anti-Trump hysteria to get in the way of what could be the most explosive story of the age and the biggest coverup in history.

Telegraph:

Experts urged caution over the report, suggesting it may be based on only limited commercially available mobile phone data, and that there could be other reasons for varying levels of phone usage.

However, the document could be what Donald Trump was referring to when the president recently said he had seen evidence giving him a “high degree of confidence” the pandemic began accidentally at the Wuhan laboratory.

That caution may be well-founded.

Daily Mail:

A US official who has looked at the document told NBC News that the report’s data ‘looks really weak to me and some of the conclusions don’t make sense.’

US officials also said that US intelligence agencies had previously received other reports based on publicly-available cellphone and satellite data, also suggesting that there had been a shutdown at the lab.

But, those agencies later decided that the reports were ‘inconclusive’ after being unable to confirm the shutdown based on reviews of overhead imagry and their own data.

The investigation is just beginning. The agencies have reams of data on the lab, including intercepts and satellite imagery to go through from October. They may yet find evidence to confirm the theory of an accidental release or debunk it.

But the media has already made up its mind; Trump is pushing this story to deflect attention from his administration’s response to the pandemic. Never mind that it might be true. Don’t bother to investigate it. Just jump to your own conclusion and go from there.

Can you imagine if the media devoted the same amount of resources to look into a Wuhan lab-coronavirus pandemic connection that they devoted to the Trump-Russia collusion story?

We’d have the answer in no time.

SOURCE 






Federal Court Overturns Kentucky Ban on In-Person Church Services

A federal judge in Kentuck has overturned Governor Andy Beshear’s ban on mass gatherings as it relates to in-person church services. The ruling clears the way for churchgoers to attend services on Sunday.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove issued a temporary restraining order against the governor’s rule after two other federal judges upheld the ban as constitutional. The order will allow services at “any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”

Associated Press:

The federal judge’s order in the Tabernacle Baptist Church case said Beshear had “an honest motive” in wanting to safeguard Kentuckians’ health and lives, but didn’t provide “a compelling reason for using his authority to limit a citizen’s right to freely exercise something we value greatly — the right of every American to follow their conscience on matters related to religion.”

Tabernacle had broadcast services on Facebook and held drive-in services, but the substitutes offered “cold comfort,” according to the opinion. The opinion went on to say that Tabernacle alleged irreparable injury and was likely to succeed on the merits of its federal constitutional claim, as the defendants didn’t “dispute the challenged orders place a burden on the free exercise of religion in Kentucky.”

Van Tatenhove was eloquent in his defense of religious liberty.

“The Constitution will endure. It would be easy to put it on the shelf in times like this, to be pulled down and dusted off when more convenient,” Van Tatenhove’s opinion read. “But that is not our tradition. Its enduring quality requires that it be respected even when it is hard.”

His opinion says Kentucky’s attorney general urged the court to apply the injunction statewide, and since the executive order challenged didn’t solely apply to Tabernacle, the injunction granted would also have a similar scope.

“Both rulings affirm that the law prohibits the government from treating houses of worship differently than secular activities during this pandemic,” Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a statement.

Those who don’t want to risk exposure will stay home; those who want to worship will go to church. Citizens in Kentucky will now have the choice and not have it made for them by the state. The government is being forced by the courts to treated Kentuckians like adults, and not helpless children.

Favorable court opinions have been few and far between during the pandemic as courts generally recognize the authority of the state to override constitutional rights. Perhaps now that governors are reopening, the need to sue in order to exercise religious freedom will no longer be necessary.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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