Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 16, 2020


“The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers. … The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

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The Social Distancing and Quarantine Quagmire

Mark Alexander

I have spent more time on conference calls in the last week than in any week since the 9/11 Islamist attack on our nation. Most of those conversations have been on the grim side of the balance sheet. But let me reiterate, what is causing me most heartburn right now is the impact the “viral fear pandemic” and the economic realities of trying to mitigate the actual threat is having on working men and women and their families.

That being said, there has been a lot of social-media chatter about a declaration of a “national quarantine” for 14-21 days for most “nonessential” workers nationwide. Allow me to clarify the quarantine issue and the ramped-up “social distancing” measures — the motives of which are to prevent overwhelming our medical-response capabilities.

On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency as an important measure supporting the government and private-sector response to the COVID-19 epidemic in the U.S. This was a major step to reducing government regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to response and recovery, and it provides significant economic assurances for state and local governments and businesses nationwide. That was an important measure, and while there are no “good options” for dealing with this epidemic, some options are better than others, and the administration continues to implement those options.

For context, as I have written previously, the notion of containing the WuFlu epidemic is absurd. It was nationwide by February. And, to be clear, infectious-disease deaths associated with COVID-19 could far exceed the 2017-18 flu season, when the CDC estimated the U.S. flu death toll was 80,000.

While there is NO schedule for a presidential declaration of a national quarantine, that option has obviously and necessarily been in the range of discussions for the last three weeks — and has been part of the pandemic table-top planning exercises for three decades. Such a quarantine would be exponentially more economically devastating than the current state- and local-mandated measures, and the Trump national-security team is, appropriately, more inclined to leave decisions about what to shutter and where to state and local governments. The administration is rightly concerned that a “one size fits all” approach would not be effective. But it should be noted here that state declarations could significantly impede commutes between states.

To that end, five states took additional measures over the weekend to close restaurants and bars — and that is how these decisions should be made.

The National Security Council made clear yesterday: “There is no national lockdown. The CDC has and will continue to post the latest guidance on #COVID19 #coronavirus.”

What accelerated the rumors about a national quarantine were remarks by the highly respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also serves as the administration’s spokesman for the epidemic response.

According to Dr. Fauci: “I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing. We feel that with rather stringent mitigation and containment, without necessarily complete lockdown, we would be able to prevent ourselves from getting to where, unfortunately, Italy is now. … With regard to domestic travel bans, we always talk about it, consider everything. But I can tell you that has not been seriously considered, doing travel bans in the country. … I don’t see that right now or in the immediate future. Everybody has got to get involved in distancing themselves socially. … Everything is on the table. Right now, myself personally, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant. I just wouldn’t because I don’t want to be in a crowded place.”

Dr. Fauci had earlier said, “I would like to see a dramatic diminution of personal interaction. … Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I would like to see. … The virus is not a mathematical formula. There are going to be people who are young who are going to wind up getting seriously ill. So, protect yourself.”

He noted, “For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. … The vast majority of people recover. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover.”

Regarding the notion that the recommendations are overkill or overreacting, he added, “If you think you’re in line with the outbreak, you’re already three weeks behind. So you’ve got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it. … People need to understand that things will get worse before they get better. … What we’re trying to do is to make sure they don’t get to the worst-case scenario.”

Dr. Fauci is an academician/physician and government-agency head — which is to say his views, while very informed from the medical perspective, are not tempered by other realities, like the economic implications for American workers and their families.

To better understand the motives behind “self-quarantines” and “social distancing,” these measures serve primarily two objectives.

First, the measures are NOT to “contain” the virus. It is assumed that about half of Americans will contract the coronavirus variant causing COVID-19 illness, and a fraction of those will require significant medical attention. Fauci’s reference to what has happened in Italy is a reference to the spike of those requiring medical attention, which overwhelmed Italy’s domestic medical capabilities.

Thus, the objective of increasing individual isolation here is to “flatten the infection curve” in order to retard the exponential rate of spread — how fast we get it — and thus not reduce the infections but spread the demand on our ability to provide medical attention over a longer period of time.

To be clear, the isolation measures being taken by citizens at higher risk — those over age 60 and those with medical conditions that make recovery more difficult — will prevent infections. But again, the coronavirus variant causing COVID-19 illness will remain in circulation nationwide for a long time, especially if it is not slowed by warmer weather as is often the case with seasonal flu epidemics. Wide distribution of effective vaccines is still at least 8-10 months out, if not longer.

The second motive behind increasing individual isolation is equally important. Retarding the rate of infectious spread allows more time to develop and ramp up medical-treatment protocols.

The key question about “hunkering down” is, for how long? Are we going to flatten the infectious-spread curve so long that we flatline the economy?

Here is what I can tell you for sure. Donald Trump has more business experience than any president in a century. As I noted above, while there are no “good options” for dealing with this epidemic, some options are better than others, and this president and his administration understand that as well as any president in my lifetime.

Moving forward, as Trump declared last week, “Everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful. But be calm.” I would add for those who are in judicious contact with others, maintain an infectious and confident smile and pass it along!

(Visit our updated COVID-19 contagion preparedness and response resource page, “WuFlu and You,” and see our related pages.)

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Trump Declares National Emergency, Dems Engage in Political Profiteering

Thomas Gallatin

“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” President Donald Trump said on Friday as he works to address the growing coronavirus pandemic. “The action that I am taking will open up access to $50 billion in our shared fight against this disease.” Trump noted that the primary goal is to slow the spread of the virus and that “no resources will be spared, nothing whatsoever.”

The markets rose precipitously upon the news, gaining 9% Friday. However, as we go to press this morning, stocks have plunged again, erasing Friday’s gains. Until the pandemic is under control, market volatility looks to be the new normal.

In the meantime, Trump’s emergency declaration frees up billions in financial assistance for states and local authorities, while the administration furthers COVID-19 testing via a combination of public and private cooperation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Roche, the drug company, has developed a test that received rapid FDA approval. Google is developing a website that Americans will be able to consult to see if their symptoms seem to require testing. If they do, then they will be able to drive to retailers like Walmart and Walgreens that are making their parking lots available for drive-through tests that involve a nasal swab. The samples will then be shipped to Quest and LabCorp, private labs that will assay the results and deliver them back to patients in 24 hours if all goes as planned.”

Also over the weekend, with a 363-40 vote, the House passed its rushed emergency COVID-19 bailout bill. Unfortunately, the legislation once again demonstrated just what craven political profiteers Democrats are. Never let a crisis go to waste. This was typified by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to sneak in $1 billion in abortion-related funding, a move that had even Leftmedia pundit Joy Reid asking, “What does that have to do with COVID-19?”

Eventually, the abortion-funding loophole was stripped from the bill, but the legislation needs to have a lot more removed. Ironically, the bill will end up hurting small businesses, the very businesses that will likely be in most need of financial assistance, not added expenses. For example, Erick Erickson notes, “In addition to using this COVID-19 situation to spend money on things that are absolutely not related to it, House Democrats are insisting on [mandatory] paid leave. But the Democrats are exempting businesses with more than 500 employees. That puts the massive burden on small businesses that do not have the capacity to [afford mandatory paid leave].” An amendment now exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

In short, the legislation is the usual swamp concoction of needed emergency funding combined with Big Government welfare expansions. The bill now heads to the Senate, where we hope majority Republicans will pump the brakes on the Democrats’ political profiteering. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set a measured tone, stating, “Senators will need to carefully review the version just passed by the House. But I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses.”

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Applying the Wisdom of C.S. Lewis to Coronavirus

Written at the dawn of the Cold War, C.S. Lewis’s 1948 book, On Living in an Atomic Age, is still relevant. Here’s a key excerpt:

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

"In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors — anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

"This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

To reframe that last paragraph amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic:

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by a virus, let that virus when it comes find us doing sensible and human things, but with social distancing in the near term to slow it down — teaching remotely, reading, listening to music on our stereos, bathing the children, exercising at home, chatting to our friends over a video conference — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about viruses. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

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Demo Debate: Two Senile Old Men Argue About Coronavirus

Nate Jackson

Two at-risk septuagenarians greeted each other with an awkward elbow bump on the Democrat debate stage Sunday night. Few Americans were paying attention as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders squared off in the first debate since the field has narrowed to just two. These two, at that.

Biden and Sanders primarily debated — what else? — coronavirus. Both men coughed a bit too much, reminding Americans just how old and vulnerable they are during a time of crisis. And neither had command of the basics. As The Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles noted, “Both candidates experienced difficulties while attempting to discuss the coronavirus (Wuhan) pandemic in relation to previous outbreaks. Biden touted his role in the Obama administration’s response to ‘the N1H1 [incomprehensible] as well as what happened in Africa.’ He meant the H1N1 virus and Ebola, which Sanders repeatedly cited instead of the coronavirus. ‘I’ve got Ebola in my head right now!’ he said, after finally catching his mistake.”

The two traded barbs over Medicare for All, which is Bernie’s “solution” for everything. “You have a single-payer system in Italy,” Biden observed of a nation hit particularly hard by coronavirus. “It doesn’t work there. [The coronavirus] has nothing to do with Medicare for All. That would not solve the problem.” When Sanders predictably fought back, Biden said he didn’t “want to get into a back and forth in terms of our politics” … which is kind of the point of a debate.

One thing Biden did do, however, was make a play for Sanders’s voters when the inevitable day comes that Bernie has to admit defeat. Biden did this by tacking to the extreme left on various policies. “The first 100 days of my administration,” he said, “no one will be deported at all.” On energy, he declared, “No more subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry, no more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. Period. Ends.” Biden also insisted, “We should be talking about things like I’ve been talking about for years: high-speed rail, taking millions of automobiles off the road.”

“Biden 2020: No oil, no cars.”

Seems like a winning message for the “moderate” in the race.

As for Sanders, he again reiterated his support for all the great things authoritarian regimes in Cuba and China have done to for their citizens. “China is undoubtedly an authoritarian society. But will anybody, will any economist, deny that extreme poverty in China today is much less than what it was 40 or 50 years ago? That’s a fact.” And his response to Biden’s radical climate agenda was, “All well and good, but nowhere near enough.” Good grief.

Even so, back to coronavirus, Biden offered what is essentially the bottom-line assessment of why he’s virtually certain to prevail over Sanders: “People are looking for results, not a revolution.” The problem is that Biden seems ready to bring revolution, too, just packaged a little more neatly.

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It’s as Easy as ABC (Anybody But China)

Arnold Ahlert

In 1942, America began the Manhattan Project. It was driven by the fear that Nazi scientists were developing an atomic bomb and that Adolf Hitler was prepared to use it. Today, America needs a new Manhattan Project to respond to the reality that China — an enemy every bit as determined to rule the world as the Nazis were — controls the supply of 80% to 90% of U.S. antibiotics. And for those Americans who think the word “enemy” is too strong, the Chinese Communist Party’s media mouthpiece has boasted about that nation’s ability to impose pharmaceutical export controls that would push America into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”

That media mouthpiece is a state-run agency known as Xinhua. It is now casting China as heroic for containing the virus as long as it did. “We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial stated. That would be the same China that blatantly lied about when the outbreak began, ignored offers of outside help for weeks, and arrested whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, forcing him to sign a letter saying he spread “untrue speech” about the danger. Li subsequently succumbed to the virus.

In America, succumbing to communist thugs, to the point where loyalty and patriotism have been completely supplanted by the globalist agenda, has now reached catastrophic levels. It’s a catastrophe enabled by a self-anointed “New World Order” elitist class that no longer hides its contempt for ordinary Americans who’ve seen their cities and towns decimated by outsourcing leading to despair, homelessness, massive drug abuse, and now a communicable disease that threatens our entire way of life — even as they are told globalism is a “net benefit” for the nation.

Net benefit? Ordinary Americans were supposed to be mollified by cheap consumer goods, while elitists amassed historically unprecedented levels of wealth. Moreover, those same elitists lectured us about how the nationalist agenda of the Trump administration was akin to Nazism, and that any hesitation to embrace globalism was xenophobic. Even now, despite this being the second virus originating in China (SARs emerged in 2003), our own media insists that referring to COVID-19 as “Wuhan virus,” the “Wuhan coronavirus,” or the “Chinese coronavirus” is racist.

In the midst of a pandemic, it doesn’t get more intellectually or morally bankrupt than that. The hypocrisy is astounding: Many of the same media sources now browbeating Americans for their racism initially used precisely the same terms to describe the virus.

So what changed? Politics.

A media ostensibly concerned with the well-being of Americans is more concerned with undermining a Trump administration that has proved largely antithetical to the globalist agenda. An administration that facilitated the creation of millions of new jobs supposedly impossible to create, because the “new normal” of low expectations professed by the Obama administration was said to be an immutable reality.

And above all else, an administration that finally challenged the odious assertion by both parties that accommodating a totalitarian nation would eventually “democratize” it.

It was all a lie. “Fact is, choosing to invest in China versus the United States is not a simple dollars-and-cents, bottom-line calculation,” explains columnist Curtis Ellis. “Certain ‘externalities’ enter into the equation. Externalities such as national security. Externalities such as the continued existence of the United States. Externalities such as the continued existence of freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and individual liberty in this world. By now it should be crystal clear to anyone but the willfully blind that the communist party ruling China holds and promotes values antithetical to our own.”

Willfully blind? Willfully greedy, stupid, and corrupt is more like it. To the point where the massive theft of intellectual property, the “editing” of Hollywood entertainment, and the coerced silence of NBA players — to name only a handful of examples — is willfully granted in exchange for access to a billion Chinese consumers.

And now, as many people are discovering for the first time, drug companies and their supply chains are an integral part of the sellout. One that has left us as vulnerable as any outright war or terrorist attack could. “I have no doubt,” retired Brig. Gen. John Adams told Fox News, “that they would consider weaponizing their dominance of the pharmaceuticals market if they felt that that would give them an advantage over us strategically.”

The president is attempting to do something about it. On Friday, he declared a national emergency, fast-tracking testing for the virus, enlisting Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS, and others to facilitate the process. He is also expected to announce an executive order that will tighten “Buy American” laws that would require federal agencies to purchase American-made pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

That may be a heavy lift. The last plant in the United States to manufacture the key ingredients for crucial antibiotics like penicillin was Bristol-Myers Squibb, which closed its factory in East Syracuse, New York, in 2004. Even then, American politicians knew of the possible consequences of outsourcing critical drug-supply chains. But even then, as now, national security — because this is all about national security — took a back seat to bottom-line considerations.

“The coronavirus outbreak has been a wake-up call that we must combat America’s supply-chain vulnerabilities and dependence on China in critical sectors of our economy,” stated Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in response to Trump’s forthcoming order.

Our entire nation has been turned upside down in a way that may prove as deleterious as 9/11 — if not more so — and that’s what it takes to wake up?

And wake up whom? Millions of Americans have borne the brunt of the globalist agenda for decades, and the bet here is the only reason our Ruling Class and its globalist benefactors give a damn this time is because viruses know no class boundaries. Thus, those who long believed they were insulated from every self-serving policy and program they inflicted on the rest of America are suddenly as vulnerable as everyone else.

Regardless, they still have defenders like Joe Biden. The same presidential contender who slammed the Trump administration’s response to the crisis — even as he cautioned Americans not to “fall back on xenophobia” — is the one who told us as recently as May that China is “not bad” and “not competition for us.”

Utterly preposterous. Moreover, like so many others in his party, as well as their media lapdogs, the idea that politics “stops at the water’s edge” in times of crisis is officially dead.

Next November, Americans have a critical choice to make. Between now and then, one hopes the current fear will turn to righteous anger and that a majority of voters will realize the host of contemptible agendas that define globalism — outsourcing, open borders, sanctuary cities, media-generated divisiveness, and hysteria, the crushing boom-and-bust financial cycles, and now, life-altering pandemics (all of which have been promoted as a “reasonable” tradeoff for worldwide “interconnectedness”) — is finally seen for what it truly is: a mortal threat to our constitutional republic.

America will never be completely isolationist. However, going forward it might be useful to embrace a new trade and supply-chain strategy. One as easy as ABC:

Anybody But China.

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Don’t Miss…

Also on our website today:

Robin Smith writes that Family Is Still Society’s Bedrock. With all the hoopla over infectious disease, some truths never change.

Thomas Gallatin analyzes the recent exchange of strikes between the U.S. and Iran. U.S. Retaliates After Iran Picks a Fight.

And Patrick Hampton writes about Coronavirus: An American Threat, saying conservatives have always been the party of preparation, liberals the ideologues of panic.


Jordan Candler

  • THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL: Coronavirus brings life in the U.S. to a grinding halt as federal and local governments work to stop spread (Fox News)

  • SOCIAL DISTANCING: CDC urges halting gatherings of 50 people or more (The Washington Post)

  • “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY SO MUCH”: Trump calls on Americans to cease hoarding food and supplies (AP)

  • NEAR-ZERO BENCHMARK RATE: Fed takes emergency steps to slash rates and ease bank rules (AP)

  • “I FULLY SUPPORT H.R. 6201”: House approves coronavirus relief bill, after urging from Trump, in 363-40 vote (Fox News)

  • ELECTION FALLOUT: Georgia joins Louisiana in delaying presidential primaries over coronavirus fears (The Guardian)

  • FOR THE RECORD: Media downplayed swine-flu outbreak under Obama (Issues & Insights)

  • UNDERSTANDABLE: Trump considering full pardon of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (CNBC)

  • PANDERING: Joe Biden pledges to pick a woman to be his running mate (CNBC)

  • END OF AN ERA: Bill Gates leaves Microsoft board (CNBC)

  • POLICY: COVID-19: Public health-policy responses (The Heritage Foundation)

  • POLICY: A fast, coordinated response to COVID-19 is essential (The Washington Post)

  • HUMOR: Latest numbers on coronavirus: 100% of world still under God’s control (The Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

The Patriot Post is a certified ad-free news service, unlike third-party commercial news sites linked on this page, which may also require a paid subscription.

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Video: Will We Sacrifice Liberty in COVID-19 Crisis? — Are we ready to accept widespread limitations on our freedom of movement, of assembly, and of worship?

Video: The Coronavirus Chinese Coverup Exposed — As the WHO officially labels the coronavirus a pandemic, the Chinese government is under fire for covering up key information about the virus.

Video: The Coronavirus Proves Leftists Love a Good Crisis — Especially if they can use it to bash Trump.

Video: Fleeing California — PragerU’s first mini-documentary explores the root causes of the Golden State’s mass exodus.


For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.


For the record: “There is nothing speculative or theoretical about the murderous efficiency with which new diseases can burn through societies encountering them for the first time. … The horrors of pandemics have been documented and depicted often. Yet while climate activists have been forecasting world-ending doomsday scenarios since the 1960s, the apocalypse never seems to materialize. … Worrying about the devastation of an active viral epidemic is not merely a matter of ‘trusting science’ or ‘waking up’ to an inconvenient truth. Plagues are real. They have erupted with deadly effect in the past, just as Covid-19 is erupting in the present.” —columnist Jeff Jacoby

Observations: “My question about hunkering down is, when does it end? For how long are we expected to defer travel, avoid public events, and hole up in our homes? Will conditions be any different a month from now? I don’t think so; why should they be? Two months? Three? Curve-flattening, by its nature, will go on for months, at a minimum. Maybe warm weather will bring a temporary respite, but a conscious strategy of minimizing many forms of economic activity, for months if not years, will inevitably magnify the virus’s impact on our economy.” —Power Line’s John Hinderaker

Political futures: “I’m sure there are those who will pretend otherwise, but there’s little question that for anyone watching last night’s Democrat presidential debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders with an open but discerning mind, there was but one conclusion to be drawn: the thought of either one of these two men in the White House is beyond foolish.” —The Resurgent’s Peter Heck

Social isolation: “Do you have a parent? Do you have a grandparent? Do you want to be the vector that carries that disease to them? Do you know anybody and love anybody who’s older and might be frail? You don’t want your last memory of that person being that you gave them the virus that killed them. You’ll kick yourself for the rest of your life if you did that.” —New York Times reporter Donald McNeil Jr.

A total lack of self-awareness: “Have been talking to lots of Trump supporters across the country these last couple of days, and the disdain for and distrust of the media right now is worse than I’ve seen at any point throughout this presidency.” —New York Times reporter Elaina Plott

Non compos mentis: “It’s great that everyone is coming together around this crisis. But people are in crisis everyday. 500 mil [sic] Americans go bankrupt from medical debt every year. 68 mil are un or underinsured. We’ve been in a state of emergency. We need a president who acts like it.” —Bernie Sanders’s press secretary Briahna Joy (The U.S. population is roughly 330 million.)

And last… “Democrats shut down Congress for a sham impeachment when Donald Trump was shutting down travel from China…saving American lives. And they had the audacity to call him xenophobic at the time.” —TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk

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