Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Going Our Own Way

As we wrote two days ago, the DrsC are more likely to experience contagion when traveling by plane or cruise ship - close quarters being the operational mechanism. When we travel in our private vehicle or stay home, the odds are much more in our favor.

Very simply, the issue is how tightly we are packed in with others. Public transportation is a serious contagion risk factor.

Victor Davis Hanson writes in National Review about the relative lack of Covid-19 cases and fatalities in California. He develops a conspiracy theory of his own, arguing the Golden State may have gotten (and gotten over) coronavirus last fall and developed a "herd immunity." Perhaps he is correct.

Occam's razor suggests a simpler answer; relatively few Californians utilize public transport on a daily basis. Metro San Francisco is virtually the only place in CA where doing so is even feasible for most people.

The DrsC had two elderly aunts who lived in SF their whole lives and never learned to drive a car. Among Californians this made them near-unicorns, real oddities.

As native Californians, we've joked that to be born here is to pop out with an ignition key in your hand. Driving is our birthright. As we grew up the important milestone in one's life was not voting age or alcohol purchase age, but age 16, when one got a driver's license.

We hear this is less true today, but Californians are still a people on wheels. Few CA cars have more than 2 occupants, and many are solos. Natural social distancing - it has to have positive health consequences, compared to strap hanging on a crowded subway car or bus, contributing to the shared miasma.

A Conspiracy Theory

Here is a conspiracy theory I haven't seen elsewhere, and frankly I'm a bit surprised. My theory is that fear of the pro-democracy uprising in Hong Kong caused China to release the Covid-19 virus and cover it up until relatively wide-spread. Perhaps I'm imagining causation and intention where coincidence is the operational mechanism.

For most of 2019 Hong Kong experienced public unrest and demonstrations which the CCP wasn't able to suppress effectively. Since the pandemic outbreak those expressions of discontent have largely disappeared, primarily because they were based on massed (mostly) peaceful demonstrations which are the antithesis of social distancing.

Having noted the above "coincidence," I did a web search and found a couple of commenters on reddit.com who've had the same notion, here and here. My web search, at least, turned up no widely available media sources posing this hypothesis.

I don't claim it is true, I have no insider information. I do know that China's long history teaches that holding the large and heterogeneous nation together is an almost superhuman task, rarely successful for long.

The historical norm is for regions to break off, under the leadership of locally dominant warlords. Those who would lead an undivided China are always aware of this tendency, though rarely able to resist it for more than a few decades. Clearly it is on the minds of those who have held onto power in Beijing for the past 70+ years.

The Enthusiasm Edge

Political news isn't completely MIA, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds Democrats support Biden, but without much enthusiasm. A more key finding is this:
Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who prefer Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the nomination, 15% say they’d back Trump over Biden in the fall.
Something like 12% of Sanders supporters voted for Trump in 2016.

The poll finds those who prefer Sanders are 42% of "Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents." My back-of-envelope calculation suggests that slightly in excess of 6% of all "Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents" will vote for Trump instead of Biden.

In a 50-50 nation, that 6% looms large, maybe large enough to swing the election for Trump. Trump also has the enthusiasm edge.
Perhaps the Democrats’ biggest risk is under the surface, in Trump’s big advantage in backers who are “very” enthusiastic about supporting him. Strong enthusiasm for a candidate can help boost turnout on Election Day, a must-have particularly for Democrats, who rely more on motivating less-frequent voters to come to the polls.

There’s déjà vu in these results: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found herself in largely the same position four years ago. She, too, had a slim lead among Democrats for the nomination and ran essentially evenly with Trump among registered voters. And she lagged in enthusiasm, with a low of 32% very enthusiastic in September 2016. Biden is 8 points under that mark now.
Reminder: Like two other low-enthusiasm candidates - McCain and Romney - Hillary Clinton lost.

Monday, March 30, 2020

FDA Emergency Use Authorization

Newsweek reports the Food and Drug Administration has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of the symptoms of Covid-19 in hospitalized patients.

Why was it possible to do this so quickly? Because the behavior of the drugs in human subjects is known, including side effects, dosing levels, and interactions with other medications. The drugs are in current use for malaria and some auto-immune diseases.

Evidence concerning the drugs' efficacy is, at present, contradictory with good results reported from France and poor results reported from China. Candidly, for different reasons I view neither nation as a source of reliable information.

The use of these pharmaceuticals became controversial after President Trump expressed optimism about their potential in the Covid-19 context. Of course TDS sufferers would question it if he claimed aspirin is useful therapy for normal headaches or moderate exercise is an aid to general good health.

Mahalo and Aloha, Five-0

Our household has watched the “new” Hawaii Five-0 for several years. Never our favorite program but an okay one in a sea of dreck. Now the most recent episode reveals that next week’s program will be the finale, not merely of the season but of the series.

I’m not surprised, the program had more or less run out of gas and was revisiting old tropes ad nauseum. It was noted this was their 10th season, and if anything it has seemed longer.

The program had the best theme music on TV, because it recycled the surf-sound theme from the original way back in 1968. One thing I won’t miss is the bickering between McGarrett and Danny. Scott Caan’s character got old almost immediately.

The show’s demise marks the passing of a great opportunity for Asian actors, bikini-clad extras and tropical scenery. Whatever else it was or was not, the descriptor “picturesque” always fit..

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Natural Social Distancing

The New York Times runs a story of rich Europeans heading for their second homes in the countryside to escape the Covid-19 pandemic, echoed on msn.com. Don't be surprised if Americans do likewise, many New Yorkers have been reported going to Florida. Leaving town has been a smart thing to do to avoid disease for at least several hundred years.

The DrsC live in rural settings most of the year and drive a distance that ranges between 7 and 16 miles to get our mail, groceries, and fuel. Social distancing describes our life. The exception to rural living is when we're on a cruise ship, something we normally do twice a year for 2-4 weeks each time (N.B., our spring cruise this year, to Hawaii, has been cancelled).

Cruise ship life resembles urban life. Small, densely clustered cabins, restaurant meals, shared dining tables, elevators, crowded theaters, night club-like bars with entertainment - it's the urban luxury hotel experience. And no surprise, when we do catch a cold or get a cough, it is normally on shipboard. This has happened often enough that I've considered refusing to cruise but realized the other DrC would just leave me home.

The Covid-19 pandemic could enhance the desire to escape urban living, and telecommuting makes that choice possible for increasing numbers of professionals. The best part - a trend to rural living will drive urban planners bonkers.

Our Inflection Point

Writing at The Hill, Grady Means looks beyond the Covid-19 pandemic and asks what will post-pandemic America look like, how will it differ? He doesn't claim to know for sure where we're headed, but poses some interesting possibilities.
The pandemic has made the shift to online retail permanent and decisive. Medical and legal professionals, bankers and nearly every other service sector have learned to work from home, suggesting a permanent, low-overhead model for many. Distance learning will grow and there will be more focus on telemeetings, as the structure of work changes.

Telemedicine, distance learning, emergency response, telecommuting, even tele-socializing will all expand after this crisis.

America may be shifting toward what Trump might call “nationalistic globalism.” All of this, in the end, is a huge blow to U.S.-China trade relations.

Biosecurity will be on everyone’s mind. Other types of security will move to the fore, including cybersecurity, grid security (EMP hardening), emergency response and communication systems, and dominating space.
Our early 21st century has found its "black swan" event, its inflection point. We have to step up and, in words I used in a quite different context nearly 50 years ago, "Cope, damn it."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Reconsidering the Market

Normally, I favor market mechanisms over central planning, hands down. OTOH, the current Covid-19 challenge makes us consider some of the market's drawbacks in a challenging world.

Market forces tend to cause one to procure things from whoever will produce them to an acceptable quality level and timeline most cheaply. We've been following that model with China, a nation whose behavior indicates they view us both as a major customer and as a hostile rival for world hegemony. Perhaps we should rethink this policy.

Much of what we purchase from China is things we can do without, things which we use for a season or a year, wear out, and discard, like t shirts and toasters. Things we consume but could substitute for, or produce ourselves. I have no problem with our continuing to purchase them from the lowest bidder, often China.

When we start single-sourcing things from China without which we cannot easily survive or thrive, like semiconductors used in military applications or antibiotics or rare earth minerals, we hand our primary opponent a weapon it can easily deploy against us. This we must not do.

Suppose it is the case China will sell these essential items to, for instance, Peru or Ireland or Chad more cheaply than we can produce them in North America. So what? Many nations with few international responsibilities can buy from the lowest bidder, or maintain a lame military, and in doing so run little risk. The U.S. cannot, we have too much to lose, our responsibilities are too great.

I begin to see in several of his comments that the trans-ideological truth of this strategic dilemma has impressed itself upon President Trump. It is my hope that, after the pandemic crisis is past, he will undertake a revision in U.S. make-or-buy policies with preserving our national independence of action as a primary goal.

Plague Diary

Today we get to venture off our mountaintop as the other DrC has a routine medical thingy - nothing to do with Covid-19. While in town we can collect our mail, which has been accumulating in the PMB. Staying home gets old after a few days, more so than I realized would be the case.

I’ve been wondering when TP and other paper products - tissues, paper towels - will once again be routinely available in markets? Will their reappearance be the signal that the panic is over? I suspect I will view it that way. Somebody should start a pool for predictions of the first routine, non-rationed, non-intermittent availability of TP.


During our 2 months in SoCal we watched the entire 8 seasons of Game of Thrones, most evenings seeing 2 episodes. It was our first experience with GoT.

During the quarantine we’ve been rewatching it, seeing things we missed on the first pass because we didn’t recognize their significance as they were happening. One thing that strikes me on the second pass is the unremitting nastiness of life in the feudal period. Only the 1% lived anything approaching what we think of as a reasonable life.

After rewatching GoT Season One we’ve had to take a break and see some lighter stuff. Unremitting Middle Ages grimness was getting depressing as a companion to today’s nightly plague news.


Will Covid-19 will make Americans pay attention to the annual death rate from flu-like illnesses? It turns out we’ve been ignoring it in much the same way we ignore the thousands of highway fatalities each year, as something that almost always happens to unknown others. Having experienced flu several times in a long life, I know it is no joke and thoroughly unpleasant.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

An Attention-Getting Event

Michael Auslin of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University writes for RealClearPolitics that China's cover-up of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan province may well be seen by historians as marking the clear beginning of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China. I believe Auslin oversimplifies.

I see parallels between the role of the current pandemic situation vis-a-vis China, the role of the Berlin blockade in formalizing the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, and the role of 9-11 in formalizing the U.S.-Militant Islam Long War. Let me explain.

In each of these cases, the conflict was already ongoing. Cold War with the Soviets began as hostilities ended in Europe, during the Truman administration. The Long War with political Islam dates back at least to the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. You could even argue it dates back to "the shores of Tripoli" the Marines sing about, which happened during the Jefferson presidency. And our conflict with China has flickered off and on since the Korean War.

What all three events have in common is that they captured the attention of everyday Americans who pay little attention to what happens overseas until it affects them personally. Each of these was a wake-up call to the American man-and-woman-in-the-street.

You can argue, as Auslin seems to, there is no Cold War, no Long War, until everyday Americans recognize it has begun. For those of us who pay attention to overseas happenings, it isn't that simple or clear-cut. These things build up slowly until a splashy event gets the public's attention. Covid-19 may well be that attention-getting event with China.

More Plague Diary

I cannot track down where I read it but someone commenting on the high Covid-19 mortality rate in Italy noted the following. The statistics show most of those deaths were the elderly who were sick already with more than one pre-existing condition.

This person then wrote we'll need to compare the death rate of this year with previous years to determine if Covid-19 actually caused deaths that would not otherwise have occurred. His/her point was that many who may have otherwise died of pneumonia (aka "the old man's friend") or flu are being listed, fairly or unfairly, as Covid-19 fatalities.

Therefore, to the extent to which the 2020 Italian death rate exceeds the average of the previous 5 years death rates, to that extent Covid-19 was something extraordinary and dangerous. Their further point: it may be that we've overreacted or perhaps not, when available the data will answer the question.

Within limits, overreaction is probably safer than under reaction. I'm not arguing for, or personally taking, half measures.

Exurbia: The New Hotness

COTTonLINE's favorite demographer, Joel Kotkin, weighs in with an article for Quillette in which he celebrates the death of the obsession with urbanization, a demise he believes the Covid-19 pandemic will only accelerate. His assessment of where we are now:
Developers became adept at building cities—even in the tropics—but it seems clear they have not been able to stop the revival of old hygiene problems. This is particularly true in China, which has undergone extraordinarily rapid urbanization. Behind the impressive setting of China’s high-rise cities, many urban residents, particularly some of the 200 million migrant workers, live in overcrowded neighborhoods with poor sanitation and drinking water.

Even once clean Western cities are passively developing ways to incubate pestilence. Homeless encampments are on the rise throughout Europe, but the problem is most acute in American cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. These informal settlements attract rats and all sorts of diseases, some of which, such as typhus, are distinctly medieval and arguably far more dangerous than COVID-19.

Once held up as a grand ideal, the megacity is increasingly losing its appeal as a way of life. (snip) Even without government assistance, and often in the face of opposition from planners, dispersion has continued to characterize Western cities. This pattern is well-established throughout Europe, Canada, and Australia and is particularly evident in the United States where, since 2010, nearly all population growth has occurred in the urban periphery and smaller cities.
And his hope for where current trends, with luck and Covid-19, could take us:
Dispersion might offer a sunnier scenario, with people spread out across different regions. Property would be far less expensive and accessible to the middle classes. Larger living space could be ideally configured from home-based work that would bring back the family-oriented capitalism of the early modern era. Rather than bringing us to a high-tech Middle Ages, we could use this crisis to develop a new and more human economic and social model that combines a cosmopolitan outlook with a better, and safer, way of life.
I like the sound of the possible future Kotkin describes. Maybe it is the current situation's silver lining?

Plague Diary

Nothing like a pandemic to drive politics off the front pages, eh? A couple of months ago we were all involved with politics, then it went away. Will it return? Only if/when the pandemic subsides.

So many things are on hold - politics, sports, school, work (for many), vacations, weddings, etc. A truly life-and-death situation tends to put other things into perspective, as in “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And guess what, it’s mostly small stuff.”

Apocalyptic fiction has been popular ever since Nevil Shute’s On The Beach. I wonder what living through the experience - vicariously or for real - will do to demand for this niche genre? Maybe nothing.

Noting New Orleans is a new Covid-19 hot spot, some writers have indicated this shows warm weather will not cause it to pull back. I disagree, the average highs and lows during Mardi Gras are cool enough for the spread of most flu-like diseases, of which Covid-19 is one. NOLA doesn’t start to get hot until May.


Later ... Wow, I normally pay attention to the four ‘corners’ of the calendar, the two equinoxes and two solstices. This pandemic has so swallowed the news cycle I let the spring equinox slip past unnoticed and unremarked. Allow me to correct that oversight.

This year the spring equinox, the day on which there are 12 hours each of day and night, occurred on March 19, and yes, that is early. The last time it occurred this early was 124 years ago in 1896, per The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Why is this so? CNN reports:
It involves how leap years, leap centuries, the Gregorian calendar and the speed of the Earth's rotation don't precisely align and how and when we make periodic adjustments to sync things up as much as possible.
Welcome to springtime, let’s hope we all survive it. Our current situation doesn’t inspire the customary spring optimism, does it?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fauci Would Try Chloroquine

Lucianne.com links to a Breitbart Politics article which includes the transcript of a radio interview of Dr. Anthony Fauci who has been on TV with President Trump every recent evening explaining the medical/ epidemiological view of Covid-19. Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
CHRIS STIGALL:If you’re a doctor listening to me right now and a patient with coronavirus feels like they want to try [Chloroquine] and you’re their doctor, you’re not Anthony Fauci the guy running the coronavirus task force, would you say ‘alright, we’ll give it a whirl’?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah, of course, particularly if people have no other option. You want to give them hope. In fact, for physicians in this country, these drugs are approved drugs for other reasons. They’re anti-malaria drugs and they’re drugs against certain autoimmune diseases, like lupus. Physicians throughout the country can prescribe that in an off-label way. Which means they can write it for something it was not originally approved for. People do that all the time, and it really is an individual choice between the physician and his or her patient as to whether or not they want to do that.
IOW, it probably won't hurt and it could help. Now I see where President Trump's optimism about Chloroquine comes from.

Actually, it appears doctors are Rxing Chloroquine in combination with Azithromycin, aka Z-Pak. A month from now we'll have a better idea if the combination works.

China’s Sub-Western Health Practices

Twelve days ago COTTonLINE wrote about China's "cultural indifference to microorganisms" and called China "an enormous Petri dish." At today's Instapundit, guest blogger Stephen Green writes:
We once might have smugly laughed off China’s wet markets as a Third World aberration, a medieval leftover, somehow still lingering around as a quaint vestigial bit of Chinese culture in a rapidly developing country. What we’ve learned in recent months however is that those wet markets are an even more serious security risk than Osama bin Laden looking for American flying schools from his computer in a secret location somewhere in Afghanistan. The viral threat emanating from China’s sub-Western health practices has at least an outside chance of killing more American civilians than soldiers have died in all of our wars.
COTTonLINE is happy to see others picking up this thread. The DrsC have repeatedly seen these risky practices in person, most recently in booming Shanghai ... they are no joke.

Plugging, Banning Equally Crazy

President Trump has been on TV saying nice things about the promise of anti-malarial drugs in treating the Covid-19 virus. Meanwhile Nevada's Democrat Governor Sisolak has banned their use in treating the disease in his state.

I'm not clear how either of these worthies knows anything useful about anti-viral drug therapies. The medical people who know won't say much, and we end up with politicians plugging or banning therapies ... how is this useful?

I am entirely disinterested in the views of either gentleman about matters on which they demonstrably know no more than I. At least President Trump has a cadre of qualified people to advise him on such matters. Does a NV governor? It seems unlikely.

Politicians pontificating about medical technicalities make as little sense as show biz freaks trying to instruct us about politics. Neither deserves an audience when they stray beyond their job descriptions which, for presidents and governors include exhorting us to follow safe sanitary practices and informing us about their activities to help the medical folks care for us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Media, Lame Stream Division

Instapundit cites a highly biased CBS News story and characterizes it ... accurately. First, the CBS headline:
Arizona man dies, wife ill after taking drug touted as virus treatment: "Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure."
And Glenn Reynolds' characterization of this crappola story:
It’s not a “drug touted as virus treatment.” It’s fish tank cleaner, with warning labels, containing an ingredient that sounds similar.

Press: Want people to stop thinking you’re garbage? Stop being garbage. And CBS, you’re garbage for running this story with this headline. Absolute garbage. And you don’t care, and we all know why.
CBS is peddling propaganda, thinly disguised as news. I'm certain George Orwell didn't intend 1984 as a "how-to" book.

Tentative Good News, Continued

As a probable result of the House/Pelosi reversal described below, the Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the Dow industrials climbed 2000 points, its best day since 1933. Dysfunctional government is definitely not what markets wish to see.

John Hinderaker of Power Line writes:
One can only imagine how bad the Democrats’ polling must have been to cause such a hasty retreat. The Democrats had no one behind them except their most extremist supporters, like the New York Times.
I imagine people were asking Democrats, "Holding up government aid to pass the Green New Deal is worth exactly how many American lives? Does that include my mother?"

Tentative Good News

It appears Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats took considerable justified flak for their Green New Deal/pork-laden Covid-19 bailout bill. It is reported this morning at JustTheNews that Pelosi has backed down, they write:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that she will attempt to pass the Senate's coronavirus economic stimulus package – putting aside the alternative, projected $2.5 trillion measure that she proposed.

The California Democrat said she'll try to pass the Senate's projected $1.8 trillion measure by unanimous consent, meaning House members can say yes without having to come to Capitol Hill to vote.
What we don’t yet know is whether the Pelosi “attempt” will be successful. One supposes any single firebrand House member could object and kill the supposed “unanimity.” Let us hope her “attempt” is not mere alibi creation, a real possibility.

Senatorial Snark

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) speaking on the Senate floor about Democrats’ attempts to block the Covid-19 bailout, asks rhetorically if his listeners know what the American people are thinking, before giving three obvious answers to that question.
They’re thinking that the brain is an amazing organ. It starts working in a mother’s womb, and it doesn’t stop working until you get elected to Congress.

They’re thinking that this country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by a bunch of idiots.

They’re thinking why do the members of the United States Senate continue to double down on stupid?
Translation: Dems gotta Dem. They never let a good crisis - like this one - go to waste.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Plague Ship? Not Quite

Power Line links to an analysis of the Diamond Princess "plague ship" experience posted at Watts Up With That. Imagine, a bunch of senior citizens trapped on a cruise ship in Asia with Covid-19; it sounds like a disaster movie scenario.

What actually happened is that 83% of the passengers never caught it at all, and of those who did get it, almost half were asymptomatic - translation: they never felt ill. Nearly three-quarters of those over 80 - the most at-risk group - did not catch Covid-19. There goes your disaster movie script, the reality isn't scary enough.

Failure to Verify

Instapundit reprints a Tweet by Annie Wu, China editor for The Epoch Times. She writes:

My default attitude toward pronouncements by the PRC is, as Reynolds writes, "Forget the trust, just verify." In this case, verification failed.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bye-Ku for Gabbard

Axios reports Tulsi Gabbard has suspended (i.e., “quit”) her campaign for the Democrat nomination for president. With the by-now customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Rep. Gabbard a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.
Aloha, Tulsi.
Looking good, sounding nutty -
The zen way to run?

Who Is At Risk

Various sources have reported an unreasonable number of Italian deaths from Covid-19, or perhaps I should write an unreasonably high percentage of infected Italians dying. Now comes clarification of those numbers.

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports as follows:
99 per cent of coronavirus deaths in Italy are patients with existing medical problems, a study by the country's health service has found.

Research into 355 deaths found that only three of the victims, 0.8 per cent, had been clear of illnesses before they were infected.

Nearly half of them - 48.5 per cent - already had three or even more health conditions before they were diagnosed with Covid-19.

Another 25.6 per cent had two other 'pathologies', while 25.1 per cent had one.

According to the study, the most common of these problems in Italy include high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
In other words, Covid-19 is killing the same compromised people influenza kills. Most healthy people survive Coronavirus as they do the flu.

The elderly are at risk because they are more likely to have one or more preexisting health issues. Plus Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, ranking #5 at a median age of 45.5 years.


Aside: It cannot be coincidence that 75 years later the three losing-side Axis powers of World War II are 3 of the 5 nations with the oldest populations - Germany (3), Japan (2), Italy (5). The other two are tiny irrelevancies - Monaco (1) and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon (4).

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Editorial Caveat

COTTonLINE has been providing links to various reports of treatments, information, etc. for the Covid-19 pandemic. I've noted reports about blood types, climatic influences, possible immunities, usefulness of antivirals approved for other diseases, etc.

Let me be clear. Lots of good people are thinking about this Coronavirus threat. They've noticed apparent relationships, possible links, and other phenomena associated with the disease.

Once this crisis is behind us, some of these will be shown in hindsight to be hopeful nonsense, others to be coincidental covariances with no underlying connective mechanism. Some few may even be foreign propaganda disguised as science. Perhaps if we're lucky some will be shown to be dead accurate or at least strong hints of a way forward toward prevention and treatment.

As it stands now, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff is beyond my intelligent layman's ability. I'll post the links that don't seem overtly flakey, I ask you to understand that there are no guarantees which of these will stand the test of time.

Learning the Lesson

If we learn nothing else from the Covid-19 pandemic, we should learn the lesson that we cannot have most of our serious pharmaceuticals made in third world countries. This is especially true of China which appears to be our most serious global adversary.

China briefly threatened to hold up drug supplies, something which could get ugly fast. I'll bet they didn't threaten to stop selling fentanyl to the Mexican cartels to smuggle in to our addicts.

If China wants to make our non-prescription headache and antihistamine pills, no problem. Antibiotics, antivirals, and steroids are another story, no way we should lose control of those and other serious prescription meds. Let's bring the manufacture of our prescription meds back home, it's a national security issue.

Are Most Immune?

John Hinderaker, senior contributor at Power Line, has some possible good news concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Hinderaker quotes work by a Nobel Prize winning chemist - Michael Levitt - who visits China with some frequency, reprinted from the Jerusalem Post.
“The rate of infection of the virus in the Hubei province increased by 30% each day — that is a scary statistic. I am not an influenza expert but I can analyze numbers and that is exponential growth.”

But on February 7, something changed. “The number of new infections started to drop linearly and did not stop,” Levitt said. “A week later, the same happened with the number of the deaths. This dramatic change in the curve marked the median point and enabled better prediction of when the pandemic will end. Based on that, I concluded that the situation in all of China will improve within two weeks. And, indeed, now there are very few new infection cases.”

In Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, the whole population theoretically was at risk of becoming infected, but only 3% were.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship represented the worst-case scenario in terms of disease spread, as the close confines of the ship offered optimal conditions for the virus to be passed among those aboard.

“Those are extremely comfortable conditions for the virus and still, only 20% were infected. It is a lot, but pretty similar to the infection rate of the common flu,” Levitt said. Based on those figures, his conclusion was that most people are simply naturally immune.
What it didn't say, but should have, is that maybe "most people are simply naturally immune" in China. Italy seems to be having a less-favorable experience. I'm thinking their so-called "Mediterranean diet" isn't as healthy as we've been led to believe.

Weird Epidemiological Science

Lucianne.com links to New York Post article which reports preliminary findings from China to the effect that people with type A blood appear to be more likely to come down with Covid-19 whereas people with type O blood appear somewhat less likely. The differences are neither huge nor absolute but nevertheless real.
The study also examined 206 patients who died from the virus, finding 85 victims, or 41.26 percent, had type A blood. Just 52 of the deaths, or about a quarter, had type O.
For comparison, around 48% of the Chinese population has type O blood and 29% has type A.

A Tough Gig

I’ve been thinking about just how difficult it is to be a national (or state, or city) leader in the Coronavirus era. I conclude it is basically a lose-lose proposition.

As leader, you realize most people will survive the pandemic and won’t thank you for bankrupting the society with excessive palliative measures. On the other hand, those who get really sick or the survivors of loved ones who die will say you didn’t take it seriously enough soon enough.

Meanwhile, in the absence of hard data, you are guessing about what will work, what people will put up with, and what can be done that won’t leave us homeless paupers after the disease subsides. And you know hindsight will show you guessed wrong some of the time, maybe a lot of the time.

Chances are, because it happens, as sailors say, “on your watch” you’ll be blamed by some non-trivial proportion of the survivors. All you can do is keep calm and cowboy up (mixed metaphor alert).

Imagining Our Way Forward

Various Covid-19 closures and warnings are having the effect of temporarily shutting down restaurants, hotels, airlines, sports and entertainment venues and cruise lines. At some level, these organizations’ expenses continue while their revenue streams are interrupted.

Most humans will survive Covid-19, and at some point things will return to some new “normal.” A question for our nation’s planners - which of these ‘utilities’ do we want operational at the end of this period of disruption? Will we need airlines? Hotels? Restaurants? Almost surely we will need them. Cruise lines we could do without, although we may choose not to do so.

If all of these industries are to go through a period of no revenue, how can we protect them from mass bankruptcies? Or indeed should we do so? These are very complex questions, with no easy answers.

For example, might we say to restaurants that during any period of government-mandated closure you owe your landlord no rent? You owe your lenders no monthly payment of principal or interest? Thus causing the burden to be shared by landlords and lenders as well as restaurant proprietors? Might a property tax hiatus likewise exist for enforced closure periods on a pro rata basis? 

I’m not at all certain I’ve hit upon the correct responses, but clearly these issues need considering. A society cannot turn its back on essential private sector infrastructure in the hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries, nor do we wish to makeover these into public-owned entities, God forbid.

Can you imagine anything less welcoming than a government-run restaurant or hotel? Having lunch at the DMV or getting a room at the Post Office? Grim, and boring too.

Monday, March 16, 2020


Guest blogging at Instapundit, science fiction author Sarah Hoyt writes the following as a reaction to Joe Biden's promise to pick a woman to run as his VP.
Note: It is the style at Instapundit to make lead-in editorial comments in caps, it does not suggest shouting. Still, it is to be hoped Ms. Hoyt is here employing hyperbole.

Weird Climatic Science 2.0

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line reports four Chinese professors have published research showing, in his words:
High temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus. This conclusion is based on a study of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases of the virus.

The professors found that a one degree Celsius increase in temperature and a one percent increase in relative humidity lower “R” by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively. “R” is the effective reproductive number of the virus. As I understand it, if that number drops below 1.0, it means the virus is dying off faster than it is reproducing.

The authors note that their findings are “consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza.” They conclude that “the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.”
Mirengoff notes this finding is also consistent with the research PL shared yesterday. If these findings hold up, places like equatorial Singapore - hot and humid all year - should be relatively safe. Miami and New Orleans should be okay too.

Plague Diary

We see that the conditions the urban planners and other “experts” have urged us to adopt - high density living, public transportation, urbanization, reusable shopping bags - are exactly those which make pandemics more likely and harder to stop.

Conversely, those conditions which they oppose - private autos, suburban sprawl, single family dwellings - are just what we need to slow a pandemic’s progress. Social isolation is what breaks the transmission chain.

We were sailing along ignoring the apocalyptic horseman of pestilence, thinking I suppose we were somehow ‘beyond’ all that. Thinking only nutcases find inspiration and life lessons in the Book of Revelation.

I wonder if, somewhere in Italy, Boccaccio’s spiritual descendent is writing a latter-day The Decameron? When I read Boccaccio as a teenager, it was steamy erotic stuff; by modern standards it would probably not even be R Rated.

Later ... Maybe Game of Thrones is this generation's Decameron? It is plenty long, raunchy and violent, and has a cast of thousands, many of whom die onscreen.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Weird Climatic Science

Instapundit links to a scientific study concerning what brought about the ends of various ice ages. By inference, it may also shed light on why they start.
New University of Melbourne research has revealed that ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth's axis was approaching higher values.

During these times, longer and stronger summers melted the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, propelling the Earth's climate into a warm 'interglacial' state, like the one we've experienced over the last 11,000 years.
It’s hard to imagine the humans who existed at the time had anything to do with ice ages ending. It seems our sun and our planet’s orientation towards it drives climate variations.

Poor Greta will be so sad, buy her a lolly.

Spring Optimism

You know how we think of colder weather as “the cold and flu season”? There is some scholarly thinking that the Coronavirus falls into that category and will behave accordingly.

Steven Hayward of Power Line posts interesting research which shows concentrations of Covid-19 deaths plotted on a world weather map. The following quotes the study’s abstract:
A significant number of infectious diseases display seasonal patterns in their incidence, including human coronaviruses. We hypothesize that SARS-CoV-2 does as well. To date, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, has established significant community spread in cities and regions only along a narrow east west distribution roughly along the 30-50 N” corridor at consistently similar weather patterns (5-11 degrees Celsius and low specific and absolute humidity).
Translation for the bulk of COTTonLINE readers who live by Fahrenheit temps, 5-11 ℃ is between 41 and 52 ℉.

Do people who live where it is warmer get flu too? Certainly they do - I have, unhappily, on more than one occasion in a long life. But clearly one’s chances of getting respiratory infections goes down dramatically in summer. Maybe we’ll be ‘rescued’ by spring which is just under a week away. I choose to be optimistic.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

VDH in Context

COTTonLINE has often cited with approval the writings of Victor Davis Hanson concerning the decline of California, and he continues to write in that vein, where his latest bemoans CA as "a cruel, medieval state." Mostly, he is correct, but his view of the 'golden' state needs to be put in context.

The DrsC voluntarily spend several months a year in CA, something we would not do if things everywhere in CA were as Hanson describes. They aren't.

To comprehend his view of CA, realize Hanson's family farm is located in the southern part of the great CA central valley known as the San Joaquin Valley. This is "grapes of wrath" country - orchards, vineyards and truck farming. He appears to split his time between there and his current institutional home, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto.

Hanson's Fresno area is a long-time destination for the least skilled immigrants who pick crops, prune vines and trees, and generally do farm labor. Ninety years ago these were Steinbeck's Okies, in the post-war era they are Hispanic illegals.

Time was, most Hispanics would go home to Mexico for the winter and return in spring when farm work revived. That's no longer easy to do, so they stay in el Norte all year and, lacking work, get in trouble.

Hanson commutes between one of the poorest rural parts of CA and one of its richest urban parts, the contrast has to be jarring and the disconnect is reflected in the bitterness of his writings.

We spend time in that northern third he calls "Outer California." Also in the coastal corridor, and seldom encounter the worst excesses of CA which Hanson describes.

He's correct that the state is badly governed, by virtue-signaling snowflakes. On the other hand, institutional inertia continues to allow much of the state to be relatively livable, particularly for non-resident visitors, which we are.

Another One Down

The Gateway Pundit site reports on U.S. airstrikes made in response to a rocket attack on coalition forces which killed two Americans and one Brit. Unlike media reports, Gateway Pundit writes of the air attacks:
General Siamand Mashhadani, #Iranian Revolutionary Guards Top Commander, was killed by the #American airstrike in #Iraq.
This is from a Tweet by a Kurdish news source onsite in the region. I'd suggest viewing the claim as "provisional" until vetted by a source about whom more is known.

Certainly, if true, the report is excellent news. We need to keep doing this sort of thing pour encourager les autres.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Microscopic Enemy

As expected this afternoon, President Trump officially declared the Covid-19 pandemic to be a "national emergency." This has particularly helpful legal implications enabling the government to act more decisively to ramp up treatment, prevention, and economic backstops for all of it.

The President appeared with a collection of CEOs of major companies - Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens - who are all onboard to cooperate in the effort. I don't believe our society has been this united in purpose since the 9-11 attacks.

I find it ironic our society is normally fractured into interest groups which only pull together when we are attacked by some outside actor. That's what it takes to put all of us on one side, fighting together against some external enemy, in this case a virus.

The upside is that when we do coalesce against an external enemy, we experience some of our finest hours, borrowing a felicitous phrase from Winston Churchill.

China Is a Petri Dish

While I’m thinking about Covid-19, let me have my say about whether calling it the “Wuhan virus” is somehow “racist.” The answer is no.

Having visited China on several occasions, it doesn’t surprise me the country spawns new and uglier diseases. I remember vividly visiting a Chinese “teaching hospital” in a group of four tourists which also included the other DrC, a western physician, and his friend, a hospital administrator.

In this ‘esteemed’ institution there were near-full spittoons in the hallways and dried mucus on the walls above them where people had missed. You could smell the toilets several doors down the halls. And the staff proudly displayed an iron lung, which our young physician had only heard about, never seen.

On that same trip, I saw a tour boat busboy washing dishes in the same Li River into which the boat’s toilets emptied. It didn’t do much for my appetite.

To this cultural indifference to microorganisms, add a cuisine which includes nearly everything plant or animal that’s not immediately poisonous. The result is a near-perfect incubator for cross-species transfer or “cross pollination” of disease organisms.

In short, I’m never surprised when a new disease surfaces in China. It isn’t racist to be critical of Chinese sanitary practices or the resultant diseases. China is an enormous Petri dish.

About Civil Service

We’ve written about the problems with FDA and CDC bureaucracies holding up responses to the Coronavirus. This a.m. John Hinderaker of Power Line has more on this issue. Before this pandemic is over we’ll read a lot more on the subject.

If you’ve not worked in the Federal bureaucracy, as I’ve done on two occasions for a total of roughly 3 years, you may have trouble understanding how these functionaries get so bogged down. It has to do with the reward-and-punishment matrix in FedGov civil service.

No civil servant gets punished for being too cautious, too careful, too closely hewing to the written policies. On the other hand, rewards for taking initiative and risk in pursuit of big achievements are doggone scarce.

In other words, as long as you follow the rules, even if the outcome is bad, your career is unharmed, you’ve CYA’d. If you break or evade the rules to accomplish something major, and your deviation proves useful, you get maybe a pat on the head, or maybe a jealous colleague nails you for rule violations.

It is a system that does not much reward, but often punishes, initiative or out-of-the-box thinking. Ergo, little initiative is taken. Folks plod along for 30 years ‘turning the crank’, following rules and then draw their pensions.

Routine responses normally work “okay” for routine circumstances; for black swan events like this pandemic, not so much. It is a design flaw, but perhaps an inevitable one.

Later ... See also this just-posted Steven Hayward column at Power Line which adds another supporting incident re the bureaucratic bumf we’ve experienced with Coronavirus.

Swamps Are Unhealthy

Instapundit quotes the following from The New York Times' discussion of the serious lack of Covid-19 testing materials, the article lurks behind the NYT paywall.
After problems arose with the C.D.C.’s test, officials could have switched to using successful tests that other countries were already using. But the officials refused to do so, essentially because it would have required changing bureaucratic procedures.

The federal government could also have eased regulations on American hospitals and laboratories, to allow them to create and manufacture their own tests, as Melissa Miller of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine told The Washington Post. But federal officials did not do so for weeks.
To which NYT copy, Reynolds adds the following:
On Facebook, Virginia Postrel observes, “The people who screwed this up weren’t Trumpites. They were the pros.”
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH essentially admitted as much on Bret Baier's Fox News Special Report last evening. If memory serves, he said, "We aren't set up to react to this type of threat."

When things calm down, Congress will have to determine (a) why not and (b) what is needed to be better prepared next time. For there will be a next time.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

World Class Snark

Stacy McCain, cracking wise at his The Other McCain website about fake-Indian Elizabeth Warren’s campaign flameout and third place finish in her home state.
If you’re going to play identity politics, you need to have a real identity.
If not a real identity, perhaps a plausible one, like Barack Obama’s claim to be African-American. He at least looked the part even if he didn’t play it very convincingly. That inauthenticity may have helped him win white votes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Covid-19 News from China

Power Line cites an Asia Times article which reports the following possible good news* from China.
For more than two months, the country has been in de facto lockdown. Factories, businesses and schools were closed in the battle to stop the spread of the deadly Covid-19 epidemic. So far, the death toll has hit more than 3,000 with nearly 90,000 people infected in the country.

Still, slowly, Chinese citizens are getting back to work, according to a flash survey by Alibaba-owned Gaode, which is also known as AutoNavi. Earlier this week, the mapping, navigation and location-based services app revealed a snapshot of life in the world’s second-largest economy.

The leading city was Dongguan in Guangdong province with a “work resumption” figure of around 49.5% while Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, was at the bottom of the table on 12.5%.
Without burying you in data, two cities most westerners are aware of - Shanghai and Beijing - report work resumption figures of 45.47% and 37.14% respectively. That argues the U.S. may be emerging out the far side of this epidemic perhaps by July ... one can hope.

*Caveat: Asia Times is headquartered in Hong Kong. It may therefore be coerced by the CCP to report less-than-candidly on issues of great importance to Beijing.

Causes of Homelessness

With his One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey did society no favors. For over a decade COTTonLINE has written about the scandal that was the closure of our nation's mental hospitals.

We have pointed out society's conscious refusal to acknowledge "miswired" individuals who've ended up living on the streets. Mostly, we've been a proverbial voice crying in the wilderness about this ... with next-to-nobody listening.

Perhaps that could change. See a City Journal article about the real causes of homelessness.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times investigation, 46 percent of the homeless and 75 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a substance-abuse disorder—more than three times higher than official estimates.

New data from the California Policy Lab show it’s likely that 50 percent of the homeless and 78 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a serious mental health condition.

According to new data from the Downtown Seattle Association, the homeless represent 45 percent of all bookings into the King County Jail system, which means that homeless individuals are nearly 100 times more likely to commit crimes and get booked into jail than the average citizen.
Instead of mental health professionals, today's damaged individuals are 'managed' by the police and the penal institutions. Doing so is neither humane nor particularly helpful, and ignoring broken people doesn't work. It is likely much substance abuse is self-medication for uncomfortable mental states.

Potty Mouth Joe

Joe Biden, campaigning in Detroit, was asked by an auto worker about his talk of empowering Beto O'Rourke to confiscate guns. It is widely reported Biden barked at him, "You're full of sh*t" with the cameras rolling, taking it all in.

I would ask my Democrat counterparts, how is this Biden behavior an improvement over the deportment of one Donald J. Trump? Clearly it is nothing of the sort, if anything it is worse.

To be fair, Biden is less hyperactive than Trump so we'd have less of his behavior of which to disapprove. But quantity aside, qualitatively Biden will be the greater embarrassment.

Cross Trump, Become ex-GOP

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake writes about a small group of Republicans who have crossed President Trump and found themselves in the political wilderness. The basic target of the piece is Sen. Mitt Romney who voted for an impeachment article against Trump, the only Republican to do so.

Blake also notes similar treatment of Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Bob Corker. Those last two decided not to run for reelection, fearing primary challenges.

I’m unclear why Blake left Jeff Sessions off his list of apostates. Sessions royally ticked off Trump by recusing himself on the Russian involvement investigation while hanging onto the Attorney General job, instead of offering to resign. He did this in a situation where Trump couldn’t politically afford to fire him.

Now Trump has endorsed his opponent as Sessions runs for reelection to his old senate seat in AL. We don’t yet know if AL Republicans will reelect Sessions or give the nod to Tommy Tuberville in the GOP primary. They have some reputation for being fractious.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Another Tuesday Night

Today six states were gathering opinions about the remaining Democrats who seek the party's nomination for president. These were MI, MO, MS, ND, ID, and WA.

Of these 6, four have been called for Biden - MI, MO, MS, and ID. Sanders is ahead in the remaining two, but by margins too narrow to call. In WA with over a million votes cast, Sanders is ahead by ca. 2000. Sanders will, however, get significant delegates from all but MS.

If I'm interpreting the RCP chart of results correctly, substantial numbers of primary voters have cast ballots for candidates no longer actively pursuing the nomination. In the state of Washington both Warren and Bloomberg are in double digits percentage wise, though neither is achieving the 15% cutoff for delegates.

I wonder if those "throw away votes" represent Washingtonians' dissatisfaction with Biden and Sanders? Perhaps it only means WA has been voting for a month or so.

Sanders Right About Something

A couple of debates back, Warren and Sanders got into a spat over whether or not he had said to her America wasn't ready to elect a woman president. There apparently were no witnesses to the supposed interaction.

I don't know if he said it as Warren described, or if what he really said was America wasn't ready to elect Warren president and she assumed he meant it was because she wasn't a guy. Regardless of what he said, the prediction as she interpreted it was 100% correct.

Sanders was right; barring a black swan cataclysm, America will not elect a woman president in 2020. It seems odd no one has noted this prediction being proven correct so quickly. If Americans paid attention to what happens overseas - most don't - I'd blame Angela Merkel.

Joe in Small Doses

Power Line’s Scott Johnson writes about the new, ‘low-impact’ approach to Joe Biden campaign events.
Appearing at campaign rallies before friendly crowds in St. Louis and Kansas City over the weekend — see “Biden on the trail” for links to the videos — Biden’s handlers limited his exposure to speaking for a few minutes at each event.

Even so, Biden struggled in the style to which we have become accustomed. The style to which we have become accustomed reveals his obvious mental decline. We can see the decline in real time — even when the guy is reading from teleprompters, as he was at these campaign events.

Can the Democrats’ mainstream media adjunct prevent observation of what becomes more obvious every day?
As Democrat operatives with press credentials, the mainstream media will make the coverup of Biden’s senior moments their job one.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Today's Democrat Delegate Counts

Last Wednesday I wrote I would not be chronicling the delegate counts for several days. Believe it or not, six days after the Super Tuesday primary there are still delegates not yet assigned in CA (59), CO (20), TN (1) and UT (10).

Since there are six more primaries tomorrow, here is where the delegate counts stand today. My source: RealClearPolitics, which indicates 1991 are needed to win on the first ballot.
670   Biden
574   Sanders
069   Warren*
061   Bloomberg*
026   Buttigieg*
007   Klobuchar*
002   Gabbard
*These 4 have dropped out of the race. Three of the four have endorsed Biden, Warren has made no endorsement.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Where Daylight Saving Time Makes Sense

I’m certain you have all set your clocks forward one hour to the time we’ll be on until early November, correctly called “Daylight Saving Time” with no “s” at the end of “Saving.” Of course “all” does not include most Arizonans and all Hawaiians.

Most Arizonans includes everyone not living on “the big Rez” as the Navajo Nation is called. The AZ refusal to reset clocks twice a year is pure contrary cussedness.

On the other hand, Hawaii avoids DST because it makes no sense as you get closer to the equator.  DST likewise is not observed in Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands.

Daylight length varies little season to season near the equator, whereas the seasonal variation grows much greater the farther from the equator you are located. Near the poles there are (summer) times of the year when the sun never truly sets, and other (winter) times when it doesn’t rise above the horizon.

The DrsC have experienced both extremes. I was able to read a newspaper outdoors by natural light at 1 a.m. in Fairbanks, AK, in late June. And we’ve experienced the “white nights” of St. Petersburg in summer.

We also watched from our balcony as the sun appeared to drop into the Philippine Sea off the coast of Guam at times that varied little year-round. The other DrC actually saw a rare “green flash” sunset off Tumon Bay, though sadly I missed it.

People whine and complain about DST, I’ve never found it a problem. There is a bit of dislocation for 2-3 days and then the new normal takes over. In nice weather having long twilight evenings is excellent.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Higher Ed Cost Control

Because of our career history, COTTonLINE takes extra interest in good and bad news dealing with higher education. The Atlantic reports some good news about what former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has accomplished in his 7 years as President of Purdue University.

Since Daniels arrived on campus, there have been zero tuition and fees increases. If there is another campus with no increases for seven years, I'm unaware of it. He is described as "notoriously tight with a dollar."
Roughly 70 percent of college students take out loans to finance their education. The average undergraduate leaves school more than $25,000 in debt.

At Purdue, by contrast, nearly 60 percent of undergrads leave school without any debt at all.
I would hope state legislatures would lean hard on their system administrators to emulate Daniels' successes at Purdue. He's shown it can be done and is quite open about how he's done it. Certain public universities in Texas have tried the same approach, I haven't seen a report on how that turned out.

The Dem's Nice Mess

"Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." I imagine Democrat county chairmen and chairwomen all across our great land echoing the Laurel and Hardy line as they contemplate the results of their party's primary process.

The self-proclaimed party of youth, minorities, women, and the down-trodden, ends up with two ancient privileged white men as their presidential nominee choices. One isn't even a Democrat, he calls himself a socialist and never met a leftist autocrat he didn't admire.

The other suffers far too many senior moments and, while genial, has never been regarded as bright. Both have crooked family members and both have become wealthy while drawing government salaries for decades. That's not easy to do honestly.

For a party which considers deposing the current POTUS as its only significant goal, are these men the best the Democrats can come up with? These two geezers? I don't think either can win, Trump is a very tough opponent.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Placing Blame

People have alleged Sen. Elizabeth Warren's poor primary performance, never coming in higher than third in any state, is the result of sexism or misogyny. National Review's Jim Geraghty responds to that plaint.
If this is indeed sexism, this is a sexism that is rampant among Democratic primary voters in 19 states now. Two-thirds of women in Massachusetts voted for someone else. For once, Warren fans can’t blame Republicans or Donald Trump or Fox News or conservatives. This was a contest among their own. If sexism indeed tanked Warren’s campaign, it means the Democratic Party and its voters are a much an obstacle to women’s advancement as that dastardly GOP is. The sexism is coming from inside the house!
No kidding, two-thirds of Democratic women voted for guys? What happened to "Sisterhood is powerful"? Paraphrasing Pogo Possum, "We have met the enemy, and she is us."

I'm more inclined to the view that Ms. Warren doesn't have great people skills; she's nearly as preachy as Sanders. If Warren is at all charming, it doesn't come across on TV.

Threatening Judges?

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has publicly threatened by name two recent Supreme Court justices - Gorsuch and Kavanaugh - with what sounds like personal injury, if not actual physical violence. He has been censured by Chief Justice Roberts, after which Schumer doubled down, according to Majority Leader McConnell.

Free speech is not an unlimited right. Isn’t there applicable law banning the coercing of judges to rule in particular fashion? I’d like to see a perp walk in Chuckie’s future.

At the least Schumer should lose his leadership position. In a just world he would lose his Senate seat and perhaps his freedom.

Bye-Ku for Warren

Various sources cite a New York Times story that Elizabeth Warren will today drop her pursuit of the Democrat presidential nomination, without endorsing either Sanders or Biden. With the by-now routine hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Sen. Warren.
Poor Elizabeth,
Running third in your home state?
Time to leave the race.

I guess that spikes the rumor noted below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Rumor Mill

There’s a conspiracy theory making the rounds. It claims Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg dropping out while Warren stays in is evidence of a DNC cabal to help Biden and torpedo Sanders.

Warren is the one whose voters might be most tempted to join Team Bernie if she quit. The other three’s supporters are viewed as having Biden as their second choice. Or so the theory goes.

Warren will take a reputational hit if she stays in the race past the point where her chances look feasible. Perhaps the DNC has offered to make her doing so worthwhile in some non-obvious fashion - a future ambassadorship or court appointment?

What Bernie Won Yesterday

Let’s take a look at the states Bernie Sanders won. His home state VT, check. California, check; CA is part of the left coast in more ways than one. Along with Oregon, Colorado is where liberal Californians go to escape the overcrowding while hanging onto legal weed and a nanny government. Conservatives leaving CA go to NV, ID or TX.

The outlier in this Bernie-favoring group is Utah. Being a progressive in Mormon Utah is like being a conservative in CA. You’d see yourself as a member of a beleaguered minority, the perception is radicalizing.

A reentry student of mine had been for several years a non-Mormon living in Provo. She reported the non-Mormon ‘expats’ would get drunk together out of solidarity, even though some didn’t much enjoy bonding via hangovers. Favoring socialism is a non-chemical, but equally self-destructive, way to rebel against UT’s conservative zeitgeist.

It’s Complicated

I won’t be writing about delegate counts this morning, or indeed today. With the complex rules the Democrats have adopted for this cycle, it sometimes takes days to determine exactly who gets a state’s delegates.

Some get assigned immediately, those I believe are the ones tied to the raw vote totals in that state. Others take awhile, probably because they’re tied to the “whoever gets 15% in each congressional district gets delegates” rule. Quoting the Janet Evanovich character Stephanie Plum’s favorite line, “It’s complicated.”

Can’t Buy Me Love....

With Bloomberg’s exit from the race, and Steyer’s earlier quit, it is time to take stock of the whole “billionaire buys election” meme that some ascribed to Trump. Two very wealthy men tried it in 2020 and both failed, forcing us to reevaluate what Donald John Trump accomplished in 2016.

I believe we must conclude that money, while extremely helpful, is no substitute for the basics. Namely, a program that resonates with many voters and performance skills to deliver that resonant message in a memorable way.

It turns out Trump had all three: the money, the message, and the delivery skills. Bloomberg and Steyer lacked a distinctive message and charisma.

The next billionaire who tries needs the complete package, not merely unlimited dollars. In show biz terms, the candidate needs to be able to “read the room” which means knowing what the public wants to hear and tailoring one’s message accordingly. Hat tip to the Beatles for the title.

Bye-Ku for Bloomberg

Multiple sources report billionaire former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has ended his big-money campaign for the Democrat’s presidential nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Bloomberg.

Mazel tov, Michael
 You proved one cannot purchase
Charisma or votes.

Super Tuesday - the First Cut

Super Tuesday was yesterday and the preliminary results are in the record books. Coming out of that experience there remain exactly two feasible candidates for the Democrat nomination: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Biden won more states than Sanders (9 vs 4) but Bernie was ahead in the biggest prize - California.

Warren and Bloomberg accrued embarrassingly few votes and both should drop out, though it isn’t clear either will do so. Only Maine remained uncalled as of a half hour ago. We don’t yet know the delegate totals each candidate won in each state, those should become clear in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Active Conspiracy or Logical Conclusion?

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff notes the Trump campaign has been encouraging Sanders supporters to believe Bernie is the victim of a DNC conspiracy to prevent him becoming the party's nominee. Is it true? Mirengoff believes not, I am much less certain than he.

If I were a Democrat Party superdelegate, I would be alarmed at the notion of Sanders becoming the party's nominee. I would probably agree with many of his policy positions but worry about the electability of a self-avowed socialist, and his negative impact down ballot.

Are superdelegates conspiring against Sanders, or merely reaching similar conclusions independently? Those who know aren't saying.

It is clearly in Trump's interest to help Bernie Bros believe they confront a DNC conspiracy. In the quite sizable likelihood Sanders does not win the Dem nomination, it benefits Trump if Sanders' embittered young supporters spitefully sit out the 2020 race, or vote for Trump, as some 12% did in 2016 when Hillary was the villain.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Bye-Ku for Klobuchar

Politico is reporting Amy Klobuchar has suspended her campaign for the the Democrat's presidential nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Sen. Klobuchar.
Minnesota nice
And the middle of the road
Didn't work this year.

The Buttigieg Bail-Out

People are arguing Buttigieg dropped out because he is otherwise unemployed and hopes to earn "good guy" points toward a job in a New Democratic administration. I don't buy it; evidence suggests that, in spite of his hyper-curated public image, he is seriously smart.

The likelihood of a Democrat occupying the Oval Office in January, 2021, isn't terribly high and I'm fairly certain Pete knows it. He probably knew it before he started.

Buttigieg won one state and some delegates, got his name into the public consciousness, and bailed out before he embarrassed himself with poor showings in too many minority-heavy states. This is excellent window-dressing for later, maybe for 2024.

If we get a black swan event and a Democrat is elected this fall, Buttigieg probably wouldn't turn down an offered cabinet post. But I don't believe his hopes are (or should be) high.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Bye-Ku for Buttigieg

The Associated Press reports former mayor Pete Buttigieg is ending his campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination. With our customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Buttigieg.

What's next Mayor Pete?
From small town to White House was
A bridge much too far.

Belated Saturday Snark

Steven Hayward at Power Line posted his The Week in Pictures Saturday. There is one item so on-the-nose I have to share it with you, it's from the comment section (scroll down).

Visualize a picture of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, captioned as follows:
Study, Get a Good Job, and Work Hard
And We Will "Redistribute" Your Money
to Someone Who Didn't
Exactly nobody studies or works hard in such a regime. Why make the effort? 

Chilly Civil War: Yeomanry vs. Clerisy

Quillette runs long, thoughtful articles. Today's is by demographer Joel Kotkin, whose work we've often cited. Kotkin's topic is the conflict between "the two middle classes."
First there is the yeomanry or the traditional middle class, which consists of small business owners, minor landowners, craftspeople, and artisans, or what we would define historically as the bourgeoisie, or the old French Third Estate, deeply embedded in the private economy. The other middle class, now in ascendency, is the clerisy, a group that makes its living largely in quasi-public institutions, notably universities, media, the non-profit world, and the upper bureaucracy.
Kotkin argues the yeomanry is under siege by an ascendant clerisy, which is allied with the oligarchs who own maybe half of everything. This relationship resembles the ties between the nobility and the clergy in the Middle Ages.

Kotkin further argues that continued democracy requires a strong yeomanry. Absent that, bad things will likely follow.
The struggle between the two middle classes is not just a matter of wealth and power, but also of retaining the social basis for democracy itself. Without a strong, independent middle class operating outside the control of large institutions, be they tech giants or governments, we may be heading towards a technocratic future, that as one Silicon Valley wag put it, resembles “feudalism with better marketing.”

An independent and assertive property-owning middle class that can thrive remains the only force able to challenge ever-growing centralization. Without them, there is likely no way to prevent a new feudal order from emerging in the future. As the radical social theorist Barrington Moore suggested a half-century ago, “no bourgeoisie, no democracy.”
I spent a career as a closeted 'subversive' in the clerisy, my heart was nearly always with the yeomanry. Trust me, you don't want clerisy flakes running your life or your country. I offer our screwed-up universities as evidence of how unskilled they are.

Having a Rough Winter?

Not everything has to be deadly serious. Check out some Daily Mail photos from a Lake Erie coastal town where homes are covered in layer upon layer of wind-driven ice and snow.

Honest to god, they look like the frozen dacha from the Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin 1965 film, Dr. Zhivago. If you've not seen the movie, or don't remember the country 'ice palace,' check out stills numbered 2, 15, 86, 91, and 94 at the IMDb site.

Republicans Diss Romney

The Washington Examiner cites the findings of a Zogby poll of Republicans.
Among only Republican likely voters, we asked, ‘Should Senate Republicans limit Mitt Romney's future role in the Senate (i.e. legislation or committee chairs) because he voted to remove President Trump from office?‘

Overall, a majority (58%) of Republican likely voters thought Romney’s vote to remove President Trump from office should result in some retribution, such as limiting his future role in the Senate, while slightly more than a quarter (27%) of Republicans did not agree, and 16% were not sure.
Had anyone asked us, COTTonLINE would have voted with the majority. Mitt as the current avatar of the John McCain Sore Losers Club has earned censure.

Where They Stand Today 2.0

Last Monday we summarized a chart maintained by RealClearPolitics, showing how many delegates had been won by each of the Democrats pursuing their party’s nomination. Today, following the SC primary yesterday, we do so again.
56 Sanders
48 Biden
26 Buttigieg
08 Warren
07 Klobuchar
00 Everyone else
Note: For each of the prior states (IA, NH, NV), the sum of awarded delegates equals the first amount in the Delegates column. This is not the case for SC where that sum is 44 but the Delegates column first value is 54. The discrepancy is not explained. Perhaps it will be clarified later or perhaps the “awarded” numbers will be revised upward.

Dilemma Time

Sleepy Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary which happened yesterday. He got more than twice as many votes as Comrade Sanders, and no one else met the 15% cutoff to earn delegates. RealClearPolitics projects Biden will win 33 delegates to Sanders’ 11.

This has me wondering if we might see a series of Democrat primaries in which states where most Democrats are black vote for Biden and the other states vote for Sanders. Where does that leave a party that can’t win without black votes but also can’t win with only black votes?

Up that often-cited, evil-smelling creek without a means of propulsion, I’d judge. Squarely in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. Richly deserved, too.

In Honor of Leap Year Day

Yesterday - February 29 - was a very special day, one that occurs only once every four years, for a total of 24 times per century. I’m sorry I didn’t note the day yesterday, the DrsC were traveling.

That 24 isn’t an error, by the way. You’d think it would occur 25 times in 100 years, but when the year is evenly divisible by 100 but not by 400 we skip having a Feb.29. It happens because a solar year is just a little shorter than 365.25 days. The adjustment is necessary to keep the seasons happening at the same date each year, century after century.

Bye-Ku for Steyer.

Politico is reporting hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer is dropping out of the race for the Democrat nomination. With our customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell, to Steyer.
Tom, you had Trump’s bucks,
What you lacked was his on-air
Performer’s know-how..