Category Archives: COVID-19

Watcher of Weasels 2020-05-31 01:23:21

In the old days, when even a cold could be deadly, it was only polite to stay home. In a Wuhan virus time, we’re going to see a return to those manners.

When I was little, my mother often kept me home from school. Over the years, I’ve assumed this was because I was adept at manipulating her into thinking I was too sick to go to school, and she certainly did like having me home. In retrospect, though, I realize there was an additional factor involved.

My mother was older than my peers’ mothers, for she was almost 40 when I was born. She had grown up in a pre-antibiotic era, as well as surviving a concentration camp in the tropics. She’d had Diptheria as a child and tuberculosis in camp. She also got cave fever (whatever the heck that is) in Israel after the war and almost died.

The same was true for my dad, who was over 40 when I was born. He’d been born into the hell of post-WWI Berlin and, to make that more extreme, he’d spent his first five years in a slum before being placed in an orphanage. He’d had scarlet fever when he was little although thankfully it didn’t affect his heart. During the Israeli War of Independence, he almost died from some disease that no one at the time was able to identify. He died almost fifty years later without ever knowing what almost killed him.

For the first half of my parents’ lives before I was born, there was no such thing as a “little” illness. Every cold could become pneumonia. Every small cut was a pathway to sepsis.

When my friends’ American-born parents were sending them to school saying, “It’s just a little cold; you’ll be fine,” my mother was tucking me up in bed to recover safely. Moreover, she found it indescribably rude when other parents sent their sick children to school, which created the risk that I’d bring their germs home. All illness was dangerous.

Once I left home, I finally accepted the mores of my American culture. As a young lawyer, I worked a 60-80 week no matter what. Once I had children, the rule in our household, for adults as well as children, was that, if you didn’t have a high fever and weren’t losing fluids in unpleasant ways, you were well enough to go to school or go to work. For large chunks of the year, someone in our house was always sick, and the same was true for every house in the neighborhood. We were proud of our stoicism.

We had an advantage, though, when it came to being stoic, for we knew that these sicknesses weren’t going to kill us. Even when my son’s cold turned into pneumonia, a short stay in the hospital with an antibiotic IV cured him. (And yes, I did find it upsetting and worrying but he was bright as a penny again within one day of leaving the hospital.) For almost forty years, the rule in my life has been that illness is unpleasant, not fatal, so if you’re sick, out you go.

The Wuhan virus has changed my mind, and I suspect I’m not the only one. When I went running errands, I realized that thanks to the virus, the modern American mindset that has governed me for so long is over. We’re back to my parents’ world view.

I did not wear a mask to Lowe’s today because there are no active cases in my community. Only about 20% of the customers people in the store were masked.  and, while the employees all had masks on, most had them slung under their noses. I got the feeling that their mindset was “I’ve got to breathe but, if I sneeze, I won’t spray my germs.”

However, if an unmasked customer in a Lowe’s aisle had coughed in my direction, I would have skittered out of that aisle. While I’m willing to be out and about and proceed mostly in a normal fashion, I suddenly have developed my parents’ mindset: If you’re sick, stay home and don’t make other people sick. Even a little cough can be deadly.

I suspect I won’t be alone. Indeed, thanks to telecommuting, even those businesses that still maintain some office will encourage their employees to work from home if they’re the slightest bit symptomatic. Schools will probably be the same.

What happened yesterday at my hairstylist, though, was completely over the top. Thanks to state regulations and insurance requirements, I felt as if I was going into the cleanroom at some hi-tech manufacturer. I’ve already blogged about the hoops I had to jump through just to get there so I won’t repeat it here. Let me just say that, if you’re wearing a mask when you get your haircut, you end up with your mask filled with hair. It’s ugly.

Still, there is good news, which is that I may have just gotten the best haircut ever. This is a new stylist because my first attempt at getting a haircut here in South Carolina was not pretty. This new gal is a genius and I am ridiculously happy. The laughable hoops and the hair-filled mask were worth it. Even better, the cut cost 65% less than I would have paid in California. Can’t beat that!

Image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels (cropped).

This so-called ‘new normal’ had better not be the permanent ‘normal’

In 1920, Warren G. Harding’s campaign slogan was “a return to normalcy.” He won. Perhaps that ought to be Trump’s new slogan: “Make America Normal Again.”

One of the ickiest phrases around lately is the “new normal.” We’re told by leftist politicos and a thousand commercials that we’re in the “new normal.” This “normal,” we’re told, will last until there is a vaccine for the Wuhan China Virus. Achieving a vaccination currently has the 12th of Never as its deadline for completion.

The new normal is that I stand outside of Walmart and Trader Joe’s, in 90-degree weather with 90 percent humidity, waiting for permission to enter.

The new normal is that, when I go to the dentist, the waiting room is off-limits. Instead, I stand in the doorway while the masked receptionist quizzes me about my health history, makes sure I have a mask, waves a wand at me to take my temperature, and then tells me to wait outside in my car (with the engine running, spewing pollutants, so I can have life-giving air-conditioning) until I’m called in. When my appointment is over and I sign the various forms, the same masked receptionist blithely hands me her tablet and pen, neither disinfected, so that I can sign.

The worst thing, though, is how this “new normal” affects my hair cut. I currently look like Albert Einstein’s lost love child. It’s not pretty.

Even though (thankfully) South Carolina is not a “stay-at-home” lockdown state, the state, while leaving big box stores open, closed all hairstyling establishments. On the day they opened, I called my stylist and was able to get an appointment two weeks out.

During the appointment phone call, the receptionist told me that the stylist would be masked and gloved, that I must be masked, that I must check in from the parking lot via telephone, and that the receptionist will call me when I can enter, at which point she’ll wave an app at my to take my temperature. If I have one of my hot flashes, my temperature will be about 104 degrees. So much for the cheerful camaraderie of a hair salon.

That was bad enough. It got worse. With my appointment around the corner, I got an email with a form I have to complete to get my hair cut:

I don’t blame the hairstylist for this risible form. I know that it’s because she has to comply with the form, just as she has the new check-in rituals and mask and glove requirement, so that she can keep her insurance. However, I don’t want this to be the “new normal.”

The reality is that my county has had only 142 reported Wuhan China virus cases. The state of South Carolina estimates another 872 cases based upon an algorithm that says that, for every reported case, there might be another 6-8 cases that are so de minimus that they don’t merit a doctor’s visit.

Just to put that in perspective, my county has about 150,000 or more people. That means 0.09% of people in my county were diagnosed with the Wuhan China virus. I think 17 might have died, but I’m not sure. If that’s the case, then 0.01% of my county’s population will have succumbed to the virus. My county, incidentally, is over 25% black, which I note only because blacks have been more vulnerable to the virus.

The new normal is unacceptable. Where I live, 99.99% of all people are seemingly healthy. Why are we being treated as if this is the new bubonic plague? My objection to this “new normal” isn’t just me whining about the economic effects on a hairdressing establishment that can no longer have multiple customers or a restaurant that can only fill half its tables. This is also about the psychology of living as if we’re all dying.

If it weren’t for the insurance companies and the government, I think most people would snap back. While my Bay Area friends are busy virtue signaling like crazy about wearing masks, here in my little corner of South Carolina, masks are vanishing.

A month ago at the local Walmart, about 50% of the customers were wearing masks, especially black customers. A week ago at the local Walmart, maybe 10% of the customers were wearing masks. Staff members had masks, but many had just pulled them down to hang around their necks.

If my Bay Area friends were to see this, they’d start frothing about suicidal instincts and Trump poisoning people’s minds so that they clearly want to die. Frankly, I don’t think people here have a death wish; they have a normal wish.

I honestly believe that Trump would do well with a Make America Normal Again campaign. Combine that with what an Obama economist believes will be the biggest economic boom in American history, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Oh, did I not mention that economic boom? Here’s what Politico has to say:

In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection.

Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim.

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.

I believe that too. If we’re just allowed to be normal, we’ll explode into prosperity, especially because Trump is loosening job-killing regulations.

You know what else Politico has to say?

Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”

And top policy officials on the Biden campaign are preparing for a fall economic debate that might look very different than the one predicted at the start of the pandemic in March. “They are very much aware of this,” said an informal adviser.

You read that right. Democrats desperately want a failing economy because they think that’s the only way they can knock Trump out of the White House. That’s why the pressure for the New Normal. If we restore the old normal and get back to the business of America, Democrats are done for, they’re cooked, and they can’t even justify the fraud of mail-in ballots. And that’s why they keep the panic going, so I have to fill out a 14 question form to get my hair cut.

Bookworm Beat 5/25/20 — Memorial Day illustrated edition

This mammoth illustrated edition honors Memorial Day, then tackles the Wuhan Virus, Biden, Democrats, government, and finally ends with a few good laughs.





















































Biden can no longer speak coherently:


















This is your cat on drugs….

 

A note on the featured image: “Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Lilly pays his respects to a fallen veteran May 28, 2013, at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Boulder City, Nevada. Lilly and other Airmen from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., volunteered their time to place flags over veterans’ cemetery plots for Memorial Day weekend. Lilly is a 57th Operations Group joint terminal air controller. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)”

America is killing itself with a political and cultural cytokine storm

An immune system overreaction (a cytokine storm) can be more deadly than the disease. America’s political immune system is overreacting, and it’s killing us.

An older friend of mine lives in Oregon, which has had 137 deaths from the Wuhan virus. In a population of 4,217,737, that means that 0.0032% of the Oregon population has been felled by the virus. Forty percent of the deaths have been in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, Oregon’s largest city.

That 40% figure is misleading, though. Another county, Washington, has had 11% of the deaths – but Washington is part of the greater Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Oregon and Washington Area. That means that greater Portland accounts for 51% of Oregon’s 137 deaths. The next most affected area is Marion county, home to Salem, the state capital, which has had 17% of the deaths.

My friend lives in Deschutes County, which has had a total of zero deaths. It’s also had 94 cases. With a population of 186,807, that means that only 0.05% of the county caught the virus – and, again, no one has died.

Despite these staggeringly low statistics, Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat, has announced that the entire state of Oregon will continue to be locked down until July 6. This is insane, whether we’re looking at insane paranoia or an insane lust for control.

Despite the lockdown, the governor has not made masks mandatory. Unfortunately for my older friend, the Costco in Bend, Oregon, is making everyone wear a mask. Again, keep in mind that all of Deschutes County has had zero deaths.

So my older friend dutifully dons her mask, goes to the Costco – and a short time later collapses from hypoxia (i.e., oxygen deprivation). Fortunately, since she has ongoing balance issues, she wears a helmet. Had she not worn a helmet, she could easily have struck her head, gotten a brain bleed, and died.

Did I mention that there have been zero deaths in Deschutes County?

Nor is my friend anomalous. Just after I got off the phone following her tear-filled call, I coincidentally read that a man who Wuhan who tried running while wearing a mask suffered a collapsed lung:

A man in China burst a lung after running for more than two miles in the coronavirus epicenter city of Wuhan while wearing a face mask, according to a report.

The 26-year-old jogger was rushed to Wuhan Central Hospital, where he underwent major surgery for the collapsed lung after he began having difficulty breathing, the UK’s Sun reported.

[snip]

Health officials believe the man’s lung burst because he was wearing a mask while running.

Chen Baojun, head of thoracic surgery at the hospital, said the man was already susceptible to a spontaneous pneumothorax because of his tall and lanky frame.

In two other incidents involving physical activity, two Chinese boys dropped dead within a week of one another recently while wearing masks during gym class.

The above is not just the craziness of China’s socialized medicine system. While masks are as yet unproven when it comes to protecting against the Wuhan virus, a retired neurosurgeon warns that they can cause real health problems. In ordinary cases, the more stringently a mask protects against particulate matter, such as an N95 mask, which my friend was wearing, the more likely the mask is to cause headaches.

The reason for the headaches is hypoxia:

As to the cause of the headaches, while straps and pressure from the mask could be causative, the bulk of the evidence points toward hypoxia and/or hypercapnia as the cause. That is, a reduction in blood oxygenation (hypoxia) or an elevation in blood C02 (hypercapnia). It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, as happened to the hapless fellow driving around alone in his car wearing an N95 mask, causing him to pass out, and to crash his car and sustain injuries. I am sure that we have several cases of elderly individuals or any person with poor lung function passing out, hitting their head. This, of course, can lead to death. (Emphasis mine.)

And there you have my friend, saved only by the fact that she wears that helmet whenever she’s out of the house.

It gets worse. Cutting through the medical language, Dr. Blaylock explains that hypoxia can affect the blood oxygen level. You’re not just breathless; you’re fundamentally de-oxygenated. A significant drop in blood oxygen impairs immunity, meaning that people are more, not less, likely to get the Wuhan virus.

Low blood oxygen can also stop the body’s ability to fight cancer. So people in lockdown areas who are forced to wear masks are less likely to get their cancer diagnosed or treated and also less likely to have a robust immune system to fight it.

Oh, and one more thing, according to Dr. Blaylock: The most significant factor in the severity of a Wuhan virus infection appears to be viral load. If you catch a few free-floating virus particles while in a parking lot, you’ll probably have a mild case, But if you get a whomping big load on the subway or in a hospital setting, you’ll have a bad case.

People who have a mild or asymptomatic case, because of a low viral load can unwittingly increase their viral load by exhaling the virus into the mask and then inhaling it again. How’s that for an ironic kick in the pants?

The Western world is going to go down in history (assuming there’s anyone left to write a history), as the only civilization that died, not from the plague, but from its insane overresponse to the plague. We are engaged in the civilizational equivalent of a cytokine storm.

Here’s what I mean: The human body’s immune system can overreact, killing someone affected with a contagious illness that is not necessarily fatal. Cytokine storms were the reason that so many healthy young people died from the Spanish influence – it triggered a massive overreaction of their immune system. The Wuhan virus seems to do the same.

In America and other Western countries, our governments and media have responded to the virus with a massive overresponse of preventive measures. Whether it’s total lockdowns that kill the economy or masks that cause oxygen deprivation deaths, it’s not the Wuhan virus that’s destroying us. It’s our overwrought response to the virus.

If America is to survive the Wuhan virus, it needs to ratchet back on its political and culture cytokine storm. Otherwise, we will destroy ourselves before the Wuhan virus even gets its chance to try.

Bookworm Beat 4/13/20 — the “this is the place to come for coronavirus memes” illustrated edition

If you’re looking for coronavirus memes, my friend, you’ve come to the right place, and I’ll throw some bonus Biden memes, silly stuff, and random wisdom.






































 

 





















He’s 94; she’s 91:

If you liked this post, you can find more illustrated editions here.

The post Bookworm Beat 4/13/20 — the “this is the place to come for coronavirus memes” illustrated edition appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

COVID-19: Behavior changes mean we’re not victims

Seeing COVID-19-related behavioral changes in Walmart, especially among African-Americans, told me that we can control our destinies and reopen America.

I’ve always been a rather fastidious person, but that went stratospheric in around 2003, which was the year that I stumbled non-stop from one cold to another for almost eight months. At about the same time, I read that shopping cart handles are among the filthiest things we touch. Those handles are especially high in fecal matter. That makes sense for two reasons: (1) A lot of people (at least back in the pre-COVID-19 era) weren’t good about washing their hands after using the bathroom and (2) toddlers sit in shopping carts. Toddlers are cute, but when I look at them, all I really see is a walking, talking, drooling, snot-dripping, sneezing, sniffling, licking Petri dish with hands.

For the last 17 years, I’ve always had hand sanitizer in the car. When I’m in a store, I never get my hands anywhere near my face. When I leave the store, before I even enter the car or, God forbid, touch the steering wheel or anything else, I bend down to the hand sanitizer stowed in my car door, use my wrist to pump some into my palm, and smear it all over my hands. If I used my phone before I disinfected my hands, it gets wiped down too. Thanks to that change, I reduced to an average of one or two the number of colds I get per year.

Over the past, oh, I don’t know, five years or so, grocery stores have started having sanitizing wipe stations near the shopping carts. I’ve always stopped to use that station. Before 2020, I noticed that few others did.

In the past six weeks, though, whenever I shopped, I was seeing more and more . . . and more people using the sanitizing wipes. Eventually, the stores ran out of wipes. In the last week, the stores where I live, near Charleston, have had employees stationed at the entrance wiping carts for customers.

The biggest change I’ve seen lately, though, has been masks. Two weeks ago, I saw about five people with masks at my local Walmart. Last week, I saw about 20% of people with masks (and I was one). Today, about 40% of the people at the store had masks. What really impressed me was that almost all the black customers wore masks. This matters because, as the media have been at pains to point out, the virus has attack minority communities with special virulence.

That blacks were masked makes me believe that the White House’s messaging has been very good. As you probably know, Yamiche Alcindor, PBS’s resident race hustler/”journalist”, accused Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who is black, of racism for speaking directly to the black community and telling them that they had to change their behavior if they wanted to lower their COVID-19 risks. I think his message was right on the money — and it apparently was the same message he and Mike Pence had been sharing all last week with minority communities.

Adams began by explaining that, in some ways, blacks and other minorities are screwed. They have higher risks of co-morbidity factors, such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. In addition, they’re more likely to have lifestyles that increase the risk of the disease spreading. They live in more densely populated communities, have multi-generational households, and hold jobs that don’t allow telecommuting.

But here’s the important thing he said — every person has the power to control his or her own risks:

You are not helpless, and it’s even more important that in communities of color we adhere to the taskforce guidelines to slow the spread.

Stay at home, if possible. If you must go out, maintain six feet of distance between you and everyone else, and wear a mask if you’re going to be within six feet of others. Wash your hands more often than you ever dreamed possible. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

And call your friends on your family. Check in on your mother. She wants to hear from you right now. And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your Abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Momma. Do it for your PopPop.

We need you to understand, especially in communities of color, we need you to step up and help stop the spread so we can protect those who are most vulnerable.

While the execrable Alcindor was playing “gotcha” about racism, the black community was apparently listening. At Walmart today, at least half the shoppers were black when I was there. When I got my cart, I saw every one of them use the disinfectant to wipe his or her cart. More than that, as I noted above, most of the black shoppers were wearing masks (as was I). That means that a higher percentage of black shoppers in the store were wearing masks than were white shoppers.

Regardless of color, people at the store were in high spirits. They had a sense, I believe, that they were taking control of their destiny. They weren’t just sitting there waiting to die. They were out and about, but they were making intelligent choices: cleaning objects that transfer disease, wearing masks, using social distancing. It’s huge to have sense of control.

I pity the people in places such as Michigan where they are mere pawns, not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. Knowing that you can affect your destiny is a mental and emotional game-changer. Dr. Adams told one of America’s hardest-hit communities that its members could affect their own destinies and, from where I sat (or stood), that community stepped up to the challenge.

Giving people control over their own lives and destinies is how we get America working again. (Although I’d be happy to see America’s institutions of higher indoctrination stay closed.) The government won’t save you. You will save you, and you’ll save your Abuela, granddaddy, Big Momma, Oma or Opa, Mama and Papa, Nana or whatever else you call your beloved parents and grandparents.

The best way to keep us from being victims is for the government to stop victimizing us — and for the race hustlers and Trump haters to stop trying to paint us as victims.

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For Passover this year, China will take Pharaoh’s role

The Passover story provides us with deep insights into the nature of tyranny. This year, China’s tyranny is the subject of my annual Passover post.

For roughly 3,500 years, Jews have been telling and retelling the story of Passover — which is also the story of the world’s first revolt against a totalitarian dictatorship. The story remains relevant because each generation sees dangerous tyrants abusing their people and trying to expand their reach beyond their own borders. As we stare down those monsters, the thing to remember is that those atop the tyranny pyramid care about only one thing, which is that their tyranny remains stable and protected. And that leads me to this year’s iteration of my annual Passover post.

****

A doubting Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (for it celebrates the world’s first successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the Egyptian people’s genocide. To support this theory, he points to the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague harming the Egyptian people, a cycle of pain that culminates with the death of the firstborn.

Those familiar with the Bible understand that this objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the firstborn in every family without the Pascal lamb’s blood above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own decree, in effect at Moses’s birth, that all firstborn Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile. Still, doubters will argue that God was petty when he later punished innocent people who were not complicit in Pharaoh’s genocidal attack on the Jews.

One argument is that the many plagues, culminating with the firstborn’s death, are nothing more than dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger surrounding the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if the exodus had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. Imagine if Moses had asked, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh had answered, “Sure.”

That narrative lacks punch and heroism. More importantly, God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. Surely it resonates more strongly with the people reliving the narrative every year to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

The above reasoning is silly. The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens he places upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, seem appalling, but the red recedes and life went on. Pharaoh still holds power. The same is true for each subsequent plague, whether lice, boils, frogs, darkness, or any of the other plagues. As long as Pharaoh realizes, after the first panic, that he is still powerful, he will always reconcile himself to his people’s incremental destruction.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he is assured that his people will continue to fear and worship him, their suffering is irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh the plague struck in his own palace, killing his firstborn* — that Pharaoh is convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed in 3,500 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was not only willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed, he never stopped using military supplies for the Holocaust. The war ended only when Hitler, facing personal humiliation, killed himself and the remaining high command, see their lives at stake, finally gave up. Hitler and his commanders were Pharaoh. Only when they, personally, faced a humiliating death would they stop fighting.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even impressing the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was his advisers telling him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender. Instead, Truman understood that, despite an inevitable American victory, if he didn’t take drastic action, that victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and as many as 1,000,000 Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman had two choices: Wage war for at least another year, killing 100,000 Americans and up to a million Japanese civilians, or end the war instantly, with no more American casualties and an estimated 100,000 civilian Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer.  Not only would he save the military, he would also save tens of thousands of POWs, both military and civilian. One of the Dutch civilian POW saved was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.

The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, the only way to end a tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement was directly hurting the tyrant’s person.

Those who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom are the same people who refuse to accept that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, you’re going to end as cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and China’s leadership will release a plague on the world and let tens of thousands of people sicken and die, both at home and abroad — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of goodwill must sometimes recognize that the generation raised under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrant’s lash, in the tyrant’s war, or in a war against the tyrant. Sometimes, when slaves finally taste freedom, they fear it. The Bible recognizes this problem, banning the Promised Land to those who were slaves in Egypt. They were a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if that process causes people to suffer. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Protecting freedom for the greatest number of people sometimes demands proactive behavior. And there is nothing more proactive than an overwhelming response when a tyrant starts putting out feelers to see how far he can go. Had Chamberlain done that in 1938, WWII might have been avoided.**

Today, the tyrant is China’s government and, as was the case with Nazi Germany or Bushido Japan, China’s tyranny has suddenly started to reach far beyond its borders. No matter how China’s bought-and-paid-for American media work to cover up China’s responsibility for what happened, John Adams was correct: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

We know the facts: COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, although we do not know whether this was deliberate or accidental. China, in true tyrant fashion, was so determined to cover up its failure that it willingly let people die by destroying anything (e.g., information and doctors) that might have helped battle the plague early. When Wuhan began to see mass die-offs, China continued to deny there was a problem. As the plague spread beyond China’s borders, its government continued to deny responsibility, so much so that both China and the WHO (which we pay for, but which answers to China) lied consistently about COVID-19’s reach, danger, and origin.

Now that the plague is a world-wide phenomenon, China is sending or selling useless masks and test kits to hurting nations around the world. It is trying to blame America for COVID-19. And it’s almost certain that people are still dying in the thousands in China, even as the government insists it’s tamed COVID-19 and tells the world to start readmitting its people and its shoddy products. The Chinese communist government is Pharaoh.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. Despite media efforts to cover for their Chinese paymasters, Trump is calling China out on its lies and other malfeasance.

China needs to pay. The world must pull out of China: No more cheap Chinese goods flooding the American market and denying jobs to people in America; no more Chinese-made fentanyl killing America’s citizens; no more plague-ridden Chinese citizens hopping on planes and traveling the world, even as China knew they were contagious; and no more rich Chinese students flooding American colleges and buying off leftist college faculties and administrations.

All of that needs to end. Trump is trying hard, despite Democrat and media pushback. Other countries’ leaders are making weak little grunting noises. We can only hope that Trump turns those grunts to roars and builds a great wall around China until the tyrants at the top give up. They give up hurting their people, they give up imprisoning religious people and using them as slaves and unwilling organ donors, they give up funding North Korea’s tyranny, they give up trying to build islands in the South China Sea, they give up using economic blackmail against poor countries, and in all other ways, they turn inward and cure themselves. This is how you end tyranny: you make the tyrants suffer so that they change.

 

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Chag Sameach (Happy Passover). Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

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*The fact that Pharaoh survived the last of the ten plagues tells us that he was not his father’s firstborn son. Either an older sibling died or Pharaoh was the younger child in a family unrelated to the Egyptian ruling family and, through a coup, seized the throne.

**And yes, I am aware of the argument that Chamberlain might not have been Hitler’s dupe. Thanks to England’s anti-War fervor after WWI, which led to disarmament and the drawing down of her military, Chamberlain might have believed by 1938 that England could do nothing to stop Hitler. That belief would have led him to choose appeasement as the only option. I don’t agree with this view because bullies will back down quickly if their intended victim fights even minimally, but I’ll give Chamberlain the benefit of the doubt because he was a decent and patriotic man.

(A couple more things. I highly recommend Dennis Prager’s The Rational Bible: ExodusIf you don’t want to read the whole book, you can just buy his The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, which is a companion to his videos on the Ten Commandments. It’s a quick read and a refreshing one.)

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Thanks to Democrats, Trump is unchained and has freedom to act

Democrats think they’ve outsmarted Trump by saying everything he’s done is bad. They’ve done the opposite, though. Trump is now free to act as he sees fit.

Democrats, both inside and outside of the media, are feeling pretty pleased with themselves. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve got Trump locked in a box. Because most Americans don’t read past the headlines, and can easily have yesterday’s facts overwritten by today’s lies, the Democrats have positioned themselves to describe as “the worst” every single step Trump has taken since it became apparent that both China and the WHO were lying about COVID-19.*

First Trump was a racist who overreacted. Then Trump was a laggard who failed to make America’s blue state governors and mayors aware of the problem facing them. Then he was a bad manager who didn’t correct stockpile problems created early in the Obama administration. Then he was a blue state hater who hoarded supplies to save them for red states. Naturally, there was the complaint that, despite being Hitler, he was a failure because he refused to act in an authoritarian way and shut down the entire economy, rather than merely parts of it.

And that’s only the beginning of the box leftists have been trying to build around Trump. They complained Trump didn’t communicate enough. Now he’s communicating so much that Democrat-run media refuse to carry him. The reason given is that Trump lies, but reasonable people can believe that the media are worried that the public is witnesses in real-time the fact that reporters don’t seek information, they merely seek to destroy. They’re also getting to hear Trump speak unmediated truths and show his boundless optimism.

Incidentally, one of those “lies” the media claims Trump was telling was his optimism about hydroxychloroquine. The moment Trump said that, the media announced that this tried-and-true malarial drug was a killer and Trump a murderer even for mentioning it. That line of argument is fading as it’s becoming clear that chloroquine, when given early, makes a huge difference, and is becoming the treatment of choice around the world.

This kind of manic, illogical, highly dishonest and partisan reporting leads to the usual lefty hysteria and hyperbole. The best example, of course, is Ohio Rep. Tavia Galonski, who will be remembered forever for this tweet about Trump’s expressed hopes for hydroxychloroquine.

There’s also NeverTrumper Max Boot’s “The Worst President. Ever.

And, of course, from former theater critic Frank Bruni, “Has Anyone Found Trump’s Soul? Anyone?

Those are just the three latest, loudest examples. It’s been like this non-step since Trump took the lead and closed our border to China. They all think they’re so clever. They’re certain that, with this kind of attack, there’s nowhere for Trump to go but down, down, down. Down in the polls, down in the election, down in ignominious failure, down in history as the worst, most soulless, president ever.

All these oh-so-clever leftists are forgetting one thing: Just as someone who can do no wrong has unlimited license to act, so too does someone who can do no right.

In the beginning of this pandemic, Trump was taking advice from Anthony Fauci, a man whose every first opinion about the virus has been wrong. Trump dutifully paid attention to Fauci because Trump was at the beginning of his own learning curve. Now that Trump has figured things out, though, he’s going to start making his own decisions.

Unlike Fauci, who’s focused like a laser on killing the last atom of COVID-19 on earth, Trump is focused on saving America. He understands now that America can weather COVID-19, but cannot weather the economic fallout.

Yes, people will die from COVID-19 if they’re not all locked away in their homes, but people always die. The lockdown also means people will die. In the short-term, there’ll be fewer deaths from the flu and car accidents, as a few more people die from Chinese malfeasance. But what Trump gets (and the Democrats probably do too, although they won’t admit it until they can blame Trump), is that if the economy collapses, people will die from depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, drug overdoses, violent crimes, and all the other deadly things that come with abject despair.

What Trump also understands is that, for the left, people dying only matters when there’s a Republican in the White House. Then, each death is a tragedy. When Democrats are in the White House, all those deaths are only statistics.

Right now, we’ve reached the point at which Trump has had, or will have, an important insight about his future plans: Since he’ll be excoriated no matter what he does, he can do whatever the heck he wants. If you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t then, as a moral and intelligent person, you do what you think is right.

In the next few days, Trump is going to free America. The Democrats will howl that he’s a mass murderer, but Trump understands that they’d the same thing if he continues on the current, America-killing track. If the media had been smart enough to leave Trump a channel of behavior that could earn their approval, he might have aimed for that channel, even if he thought that heading in that direction was a bad idea. Now, though, there’s no incentive to steer closer to the Democrats’ demands. They’ve foreclosed that.

They think they’re clever. They’re not.

(And yes, if you’re Jewish, you’re noticing that, on the upcoming anniversary of the world’s first slave revolt, the Jewish celebration of freedom known as Passover, is arriving right around the time Trump is planning to shake off the Democrats’ chains.)

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*If you’re wondering why I’ve taken to calling the current viral iteration “COVID-19,” it’s because this name is the most accurate technical term. What we’re seeing now isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, deadly disease China sends our way. I’ve therefore decided to make sure that, when I look back on past posts, I know which deadly Chinese disease I’m blogging about.

Image credit: Needpix

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It was inevitable that socialized medicine gave up on the elderly with COVID-19

It’s no surprise that socialized medicine countries stopped treating their old people. Socialized medicine rations care even when there’s not an emergency.

I was talking to a friend in Spain who has taken his 88-year-old mother into his home. His mother had previously been living in a retirement community near his house. There, as here, retirement communities are exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19. But it wasn’t quite the fear of the virus itself, which hadn’t even hit her community, that led him to take her to his home. What spurred him to move her in with him was the fact that, as he told me, Spain will no longer provide any treatment to people in retirement communities or skilled nursing facilities. Its system is overwhelmed and triage means the old will never make it to the ER or the ICU. For him, this meant that his mother faced two threats: First, the possibility that she would get COVID-19 and, second, the certainty that, if she got it, she would die.

My friend was right. That’s exactly what’s happening in Spain:

Medical Director at Spain’s Clinical Hospital San Carlos, Professor Julio Mayol explained the country was having to prioritise different patients in the battle against coronavirus. Professor Mayol told Sky News’ Mark Austin that due to a mass surge in coronavirus cases and limited equipment, decisions were being made to not admit the elderly and frail into intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Spain has seen a massive spike in coronavirus cases over the past weeks and this has resulted in an unprecedented death toll in a short period of time.

Italy is doing the same:

Italy has suffered more coronavirus-related fatalities than China, with 4,825 confirmed deaths and 5,000 confirmed patients in the last 24 hours, Channel 12 reported on Sunday.

As his department receives coronavirus patients who are terminally ill, the focus is to allow patients to meet loved ones and communicate with them during their last moments despite the quarantine regulations. Other reports claim that, as the number of dead increases, some families find themselves unable to secure a proper burial for their loved ones.

Peleg said that, from what he hears, patients over 60 tend to receive less treatment with anesthesia and artificial respiratory machines. Peleg stresses that not everyone can be put to sleep and receive artificial respiration, but that each case is looked at carefully.

Some may say, and rightly so, that Spain and Italy are facing a crisis situation and that here in America COVID-19 might prove so overwhelming that our hospitals will also start drawing bright lines: “If you’re over X age or have Y medical conditions, we’re putting you on palliative care until you die. No ventilator or chloroquine for you.” So far, though, American hospitals are planning to treat people based on need, rather than refusing treatment based on disqualifying factors.

What I want to argue in this post is that, while Spain and Italy are going public about refusing treatment to the elderly, the reality is that the elderly always get less care under socialized medicine. That’s the system, rather than a bug in the system.

Unlike free-market medicine which mostly chugs along with care available to everyone, socialized medicine always functions in the equivalent of an emergency environment. Because there’s no profit motive to incentivize innovation or hard work, huge drags always exist in socialized medicine systems, limiting the amount of available care.

As Dan Bongino likes to say, except for the air we breathe, everything is finite. There is nothing that comes in unlimited quantities. There are only two ways to distribute finite goods: rationing or the free market. I like the free market because its incentives encourage people to push back against something’s finite status.

Think of Fuji apples, which were once a delicacy that farmers could sell for huge profits in Japan. Those promised profits encouraged more and more farmers to grow Fuji apples. Eventually, they became so common that, while farmers couldn’t get rich anymore, ordinary consumers could enjoy the pleasures of one of the most delicious apples ever grown. I adore Fuji apples and am grateful every day for the free market that allows me to eat them without selling my firstborn to afford them.

The same is true for flash drives. When they first appeared, they cost a fortune and could hold almost no data. Now, they’re sold by the dozen for chump change and can hold as much data as my first three computers put together. The profit motive drove that.

In America, the profit motive encourages better doctors and nurses, better equipment, more beds, etc. It’s when the government steps in and limits the number of beds or other things that we start having problems.

And as noted, in socialized medicine countries, the government rations everything. There’s no profit to be had from medicine; there are only expenses and the expenses can be paid for only by taxing people. That leads to constant rationing and constant triaging.

That’s why, in England, the country with which I’m most familiar, you ended up with the deadly Liverpool Care Pathway which led to thousands of treatable elderly patients being left to die. That’s also how England openly or through subterfuge denies life-saving treatment (e.g., cancer treatment) or quality of life treatment (e.g., new hips or knees) to elderly patients. With rationing and triage, these people just fall by the wayside. I’ve told people here before about my father, in America, who got a new hip two weeks after he was told it was the only way to keep him mobile. I compared him to my friend’s nice middle-class mother, in Britain, who was told she needed a new hip and died ten years later without ever getting that hip, and having spent the last ten years of her life with extreme pain and limited mobility.

Given the stark realities of socialized medicine, and how those failings are being highlighted with COVID-19’s race through Europe, it’s disturbing to see American Democrats double down on their calls for socialized medicine. How dumb do you have to be never to understand that access is not the same as treatment and that people will not work harder or innovate more if there’s nothing in it for them? I find myself becoming quite hostile to left-wingers who are so deeply immersed in their theories that they never bother to embrace the facts on the ground.

Image credit: Fuji apples by Apple and Pear Australia Ltd. (cropped); Creative Commons.

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