“The Army (considering the irritable state it is in, its suffering and composition) is a dangerous instrument to play with.” —George Washington (1783)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- Carrier Captain Torpedoes National Security
- ‘Social Justice’ in a Pandemic
- Are Protocols More Important Than Hope?
- ICIG Atkinson Deserved to Get the Boot
- Daily Features: News Executive Summary, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
In the last week there has been some media attention regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on military readiness, including the Defense Department’s suspension of virtually all domestic and international travel by military personnel. Clearly, our military operations are not exempt from the viral impact.
But one particular story — a letter written by the now-former Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and published in the San Francisco Chronicle — received widespread attention. In that letter, CAPT Brett Crozier bemoaned the impact of the virus on his crew and pleaded for the Navy to take “decisive action” to stem its spread. While his concern for his crew was laudable, choosing to communicate his concerns and sensationalist tone in a way that was certain to end up in the public domain was not. The media praise for Crozier was misguided, and he was appropriately relieved of his command.
News of his “reassignment” was met with media accusations of a cover-up and praise for his great bravery in bucking the system. But Crozier wasn’t fired for speaking truth to power, as many would have you believe. He was fired for losing his cool in a high-pressure situation and improperly disclosing sensitive information — readiness status for a deployed, strategically significant asset. We’re not questioning the sincerity of his concerns for his crew, but his loss of composure raises serious questions about his fitness to command one of our nation’s premier war-fighting platforms.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made things clear in his statement about Crozier’s actions: “As I learned more about the events of the past week on board USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71), including my personal conversations with the Strike Group Commander, Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Chief of Naval Operations, and CAPT Crozier himself, I could reach no other conclusion than that Captain Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from the Commanding Officers of our aircraft carriers.”
Sec. Modly, a Naval Academy graduate and former pilot on the Roosevelt, was too kind. The fact is, Crozier’s irresponsible communication negatively impacted our national security and sowed seeds of dissension within the ranks, both of which increase the risk for our frontline warriors — including the TR crew and her air wing. Modly had more choice words when addressing the USS TR crew this week, calling Crozier’s actions a “betrayal of trust.”
Commanders have to balance mission and people daily. A deployed carrier has a critical mission. It may not technically be at war, but it’s operating in a grey area closer to war than peace and is there in part to send a signal that any nation that picks a fight with us will pay a price. Releasing the letter to the public like he did just fostered additional fear and stress among the crew’s loved ones at home and told the world this would be a great time to try to sucker punch us. Yes, the Chinese probably already had a good idea what was going on, but Crozier’s letter confirmed their suspicions and gave them a propaganda tool to sow doubt and dissension throughout the U.S. Navy and public.
It’s also worth noting that the people side of the coin, while serious, does not appear to be the life-or-death situation Crozier suggested. Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, declined to say how many Roosevelt sailors are infected, but stated, “I have no sailors hospitalized. I have no sailors on ventilators. I have no sailors in critical condition. No sailors in an ICU status on the Theodore Roosevelt.”
From the outside looking in, it appears the Navy was and is doing the best it can to protect the TR sailors in an unprecedented situation with no easy solutions.
An important piece of the puzzle that has received far less attention — hardly any, actually — goes back to the beginning of March. On March 4, well after the impact of the virus was known and Asia was identified as ground zero, the TR made a historic port visit to Vietnam, which is most likely where the virus was introduced to the crew. What inquiring minds should want to know is this: Who voiced concerns then, and who made the final decision to go ahead with the visit? Hopefully there was a rigorous risk assessment and the final decision was made on the basis of a broader engagement strategy and not in the name of sailor welfare (i.e., We have to make the port call because the crew has been looking forward to it for months and we can’t keep ‘em at sea forever!). If Crozier, who has now tested positive for the virus, had concerns and was overridden, that would have been the time to sound general quarters.
America is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic meltdown caused by shutting everything down. It’s affecting every American in some way, and we’ll need to unite to get through it. The worst may be yet to come.
“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams over the weekend. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”
Unfortunately, unity is not exactly this nation’s strong suit in recent years. Some are trying to fit the round peg of COVID-19 into the square hole of social justice.
“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” complained Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”
This is, of course, in line with the Democrats’ view that the current crisis is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” But it’s also an extension of their view that America is such a racist backwater that even equal-opportunity viruses actually target minorities.
It does seem to be true that, at least in some areas, blacks are contracting and dying of COVID-19 at a higher rate. According to ProPublica, “As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black. Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on black communities nationwide.”
But the numbers don’t tell the whole tale. In fact, ProPublica’s story inadvertently draws attention to something that might be a bigger factor than race. “Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40% of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are black.”
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, residents of New Orleans declined to observe evacuation orders, evidently believing that, no matter what transpired, government would come to their aid — as it does on a daily basis. The resulting death toll there was terrible.
Could it be that the inner-city communities around the country — where populations disproportionately depend on government checks, government food stamps, and government housing — are simply not complying with warnings or protocols regarding the current pandemic? In other words, rather than a failure of social justice, is it a failure to abide by social distancing?
It’s beyond troubling that when so many Americans of every color are legitimately suffering, Democrats are so focused on scoring cheap political points by dividing us.
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A number of new stories last week addressed three topics related to coronavirus: A combination of drugs that would mitigate the effects, some possible vaccines, and one possible cure. And while these developments offer hope to millions of Americans trapped in their homes, the caveat attached to all of them is the daunting reality that assuring their complete safety requires months of clinical testing.
First the vaccines. “Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe that they’ve found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus,” the New York Post reports.
The vaccine produced by these scientists was tested on mice and produced enough antibodies to successfully counteract the virus. It would be delivered on a small, fingertip-sized patch and follows the approach of many flu vaccines. They were able to come up with it relatively quickly because they had already done research on SARS and MERS, which are similar to coronavirus. Moreover, it is “highly scalable” for widespread use.
Nonetheless, bureaucratic reality intrudes. “The study’s authors are now applying for an investigational new drug approval from the US Food and Drug Administration,” the Post adds. “They hope to start human clinical trials within the next few months.”
Another potential vaccine has been discovered in the United Kingdom. “The maker of Benson & Hedges and Lucky Strike cigarettes claims it has developed a coronavirus vaccine made from tobacco plants,” the Daily Mail reports. “British American Tobacco (BAT) said it can manufacture up to three million doses a week starting in June if it gets support from the UK Government.”
Like its American counterpart, it has also shown success in tests on animals. Moreover, BAT would sell its test to the government at cost, even as the company announced it had pivoted its nearly $70 billion in resources to fight the virus. And a June start for the vaccine’s production would be nothing short of miraculous.
Unfortunately, miracles may be in short supply. The company is imploring the government to fast-track the vaccine’s development, partner with government agencies, and bring it to clinical studies beginning this month. Otherwise, human trials could take most of the year and make a June release date impossible.
Compounding the problem? “Tobacco firms are currently barred from doing deals with governments under World Health Organisation rules, but BAT said it planned to contact the WHO,” the Mail explains.
That would be a thoroughly corrupt WHO whose widely exposed deference to Chinese communists has reduced its credibility to less than zero. If there’s an ounce of sanity left in the world, no government should allow any potential game changers to be blocked or delayed by this contemptible agency.
Other potential vaccines are also in development, but nothing that would be available before the end of the year at the earliest.
Second, mitigation. Despite the avalanche of skepticism and disdain evinced by our mainstream media — whose Trump Derangement Syndrome is apparently boundless — hydroxychloroquine has shown genuine promise with regard to lessening the effects of the virus. In fact, Dr. Stephen Smith, founder of the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health, has labeled the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin a “game changer” in the fight against the virus.
Smith treated 72 patients, including those who were prediabetic, diabetic, and obese. Nonetheless, the results were highly encouraging. “We haven’t had anyone under 70 who didn’t have a very high BMI, or was pre or diabetic, get seriously ill,” he stated. “This is amazing stuff.”
How amazing? “No person who has received five days or more or the [drug] combination has been intubated,” he added. “The chance of that occurring by chance … are .000-something. It’s ridiculously low no matter how you look at it.”
Yet once again, politics intruded. Two Democrat governors, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Nevada’s Steve Sisolak, initially restricted the use of hydroxychloroquine in their respective states. They have since backed down. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order limiting prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to virus-affected patients in state-approved clinical trials, and for FDA-approved uses as an antimalarial or autoimmune treatment.
Yet in fairness to the governor, this appears to be an effort to prevent hoarding and supply depletion abetted by some doctors who were self-prescribing drugs for themselves, families, friends, and patients who remained in good health. The drug is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and people with those conditions might have trouble filling their prescriptions.
Nonetheless, a survey released last Friday confirmed the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine: More than one-third of 6,227 physicians in 30 countries rated hydroxychloroquine as the “most effective therapy” from a list of 15 options used to fight coronavirus.
And finally, a potential cure. Dr. Jacob Glanville, who was featured in the Netflix documentary “Pandemic,” announced that he and his team have discovered a cure that works by “blocking the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells.”
“I’m happy to report that my team has successfully taken five antibodies that back in 2002 were determined to bind and neutralize, block and stop the SARS virus,” Glanville later added.
Great news — except for the timeline. The antibodies will first be sent to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where they will be used directly against the virus to see if they work as intended. Human trials on 200 to 600 people will come “in the summer, probably in July,” Glanville said.
With regard to all of the above, the elephant in the room is obvious. Whether it is about inefficient bureaucrats; risk-averse politicians who inevitably err to the side of self-preservation; a protocol-obsessed medical community; fear-amplifying media outlets that roundly condemn anyone who strays from their twisted priorities; or trial lawyers who might exploit a single failure in a sea of successes, Americans must face the reality that, barring a paradigm shift, the timeline necessary to fight the virus effectively will apparently be excruciatingly long.
Will that reality hold? Millions of Americans are de facto prisoners in their homes, and in the midst of their fear, despair, and anger the inevitable question will arise: What have we got to lose if we fast-track every possible treatment for this virus? What if we buck the bureaucracy, traditional scientific methods, and timid politicians? What if we tell the trial bar there will be no litigating unforeseen negative outcomes for certain individuals? What if we simply ignore a wholly corrupt media still looking to score political points amidst a national tragedy?
Most important, what if we set a date certain for the compilation of all data on which we base such choices, and simply move forward to the best of our ability — with the understanding that desperate times call for desperate measures?
Time is of the essence, and fear must give way to hope. American exceptionalism was engendered by risk-taking.
It is time to reclaim our heritage.
On Friday, President Donald Trump gave official notice to Congress that he would be removing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson from his post after the 30-day notification requirement period. “It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and the effectiveness of Federal programs and activities. The Inspectors General have a critical role in the achievement of these goals,” Trump stated. “As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
Recall that it was Atkinson who alerted House Democrats of a whistleblower complaint against Trump, which he insisted met the “urgent” classification standard. The complaint was over a phone call Trump had with the president of Ukraine that the Democrats used to launched their impeachment charade.
At the time, we noted the mystery surrounding changes to the whistleblower complaint form. Earlier in 2019, that form included a firsthand-knowledge requirement in order to meet the “urgent” classification status needed to trigger a congressional alert; later, it was updated by removing this firsthand-knowledge requirement. That was never explained by Atkinson even after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter requesting an answer. To put it simply, the whistleblower complaint was originally submitted via a form that would not have mandated an alert to Congress. Atkinson made sure Democrats were alerted anyway.
As House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA) stated back in early October, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”
Following the announcement of his firing, Atkinson released a statement essentially insisting that he was guilty only of doing his job. “It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derived from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General,” Atkinson asserts.
So, Atkinson argues that doing his job included essentially collaborating with Democrats to ensure that a partisan whistleblower complaint — proven inconsequential by the transcript of the phone call in question — was elevated and politicized into a charge of an impeachable offense. Atkinson, whether wittingly or not, worked against Trump. Why should Trump have any confidence in Atkinson going forward that he wouldn’t again be used by Democrats to gin up another frivolous complaint? If the timing looks suspect, remember that Democrats are already setting up new inquisitions into the Trump administration’s handling of the China Virus pandemic. Trump simply can’t have an ICIG this easily manipulated by politically motived Democrats.
Don’t Miss More Great Analysis
Is abortion “essential healthcare”? Robin Smith argues that it’s neither essential nor healthcare.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Rainbow Mafia pals are targeting Samaritan’s Purse for helping with medical needs in the Big Apple. Thomas Gallatin explains why.
And in our Grassroots Perspective feature, Patrick Hampton worries that religious liberty could be at risk.
The Latest on Coronavirus
“We see light at the end of the tunnel”: Trump says U.S. near peak of pandemic (Washington Examiner)
In the meantime, public health officials warn of grim days ahead: “This next week is going to look bad” (The Hill)
Bending the curve? Italy, Spain, and France report declines in daily death tolls (Business Insider)
CDC advising Americans to cover faces with cloth (Fox News)
Doctors rate hydroxychloroquine — a drug Democrats love to hate — “most effective” coronavirus treatment (The Daily Wire)
I’m from the government and I’m here to help… Federal agency USAID shipped face masks overseas as VA hospital in the same city rationed them (National Review)
Feds investigate aborted deal for 39 million masks in California (Fox News)
Government & Politics
Trump fires Michael Atkinson, the grossly negligent intelligence IG who told Congress about Ukraine phone call (Fox News)
Supreme Court cancels oral arguments for rest of the term, leaving nine cases in limbo (NBC News)
“Let’s do the same bill we just did, make some changes”: Pelosi abandons sweeping legislative agenda, agrees to narrowly tailored Phase 4 relief bill (National Review)
Young, inexperienced, but probably a Mitch McConnell guy: Trump nominates 37-year-old Kentucky judge for DC Circuit (Power Line)
Biden flip-flops, now supports Trump’s China travel ban he once called “hysterical xenophobia” (PJ Media)
After threat of lawsuit, New York Times issues corrections on article defaming Sharyl Attkisson (The Daily Wire)
Due to exemptions, more than 40,000 people have arrived in the U.S. from China since Trump restricted travel (The Daily Caller)
Trump administration weighs legal action over alleged Chinese hoarding of PPE (New York Post)
Zoom admits some calls were “mistakenly” routed through China (SmarterAnalyst)
Nurturing the lawbreakers: California providing millions of dollars for illegal-alien business owners not covered by federal relief package (The Daily Caller)
Economist Stephen Moore warns U.S. could be headed toward a Great Depression “if we go much past May 1” with lockdowns (New York Post)
Policy: Why Russia is playing oil-price hardball (Washington Examiner)
Policy: Destroying the economy will create a different public health crisis (The Federalist)
Humor: New York to raise taxes on coronavirus causing it to flee state (The Babylon Bee)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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Video: Having a Job Is Essential! — When the world’s economic engine is shut down, the economic curve is flattened.
Video: The American Economy Is Crashing — Matt Walsh discusses what this means for the American economy going forward.
Video: CA Gov. Says Coronavirus Proves We Need More Socialism — Never let a crisis go to waste.
Video: Samaritan’s Purse Field Hospital Slammed for Christian Agenda — The Rainbow Mafia is undermining the charity’s disaster relief.
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
Insight: “I hope the people on Wall Street will pay attention to the people on Main Street. If they do, they will see there is a rising tide of confidence in the future of America.” —Ronald Reagan
Observations: “Right now … all the talk is about the horrible medical statistics, predictions, models. All the talk is apocalyptic when we’re discussing the virus. … Meanwhile, everybody’s at home, the economy shut down, everybody realizes this can’t go on, but there is this degree of uncertainty as to when this is gonna end. It cannot go on like this. At some point, folks, we as a country are gonna have to answer a question: How much of the economy do we let drift toward Great Depression status before we stop it?” —Rush Limbaugh
For the record: “The Democrats are gonna pitch this as lives versus money, and they’re gonna do their best to make sure this economy stays shut down because that’s the fastest way, they think, to beating Trump. … Lives versus money. When in fact it’s lives versus lives. It’s not lives versus money. Money is not an enemy of lives. Money is not an enemy of life. But to the modern-day Democrat Party and media acolytes, it is.” —Rush Limbaugh
Never let a crisis go to waste: “This crisis has been weaponized. And it’s a tragedy because we’re going to come out of it pretty well. But there are people who feel that they have to emphasize the downside to enact an agenda that otherwise would not be enacted without this popular depression and anger. And yet political correctness says that we can’t really identify it and condemn it, because to do so, ironically, would be to be partisan in our reaction to what is clearly a partisan manipulation of the disaster.” —Victor Davis Hanson
Non compos mentis: “I think this is the opportunity of the century for China to build trust in the world, which it has found so difficult to come by as a rising nation, and to rebuild its international image — China doesn’t [want to] waste an opportunity like this.” —London School of Economics associate professor Keyu Jin (“Well, starting at zero there’s nowhere to go but up.” —Stephen Green)
Braying jenny: “Someone asked me today how would @BarackObama have handled this crisis? Answer in one word — Better. Ok, two words. Much better.” —former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett (“Why do so many Obama administration staffers constantly try to make Americans feel awful? Highlighting policy differences is expected — but this level of vitriol? During this pandemic? Why?” —Rep. Dan Crenshaw)
Alpha jackass: “Gov[ernors] of Florida, Texas, Missouri and Georgia will have thousands of dead on their heads. Rightwing ideologues resisted science. The GOP has become a death cult.” —The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin (“Democrats will not even support bills that would protect babies who survived abortions. They vote against them every time they come up, whether it be at the state level or in Congress. That’s ghoulish in the extreme and is the definition of a death cult.” —Sister Toldjah)
Race bait: “COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities. Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Or it’s the chronic toll of people on urban poverty plantations who think the government is responsible for every aspect of their welfare.)
And last… “The coronavirus has acted as a solvent on a decade or more of cliches about the arrival of a globalized world where old lines drawn on a map no longer matter. In a crisis, everyone turns to borders as a first line of defense.” —Rich Lowry
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis