Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 21, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” —John Adams (1770)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

China Virus Testing Woes

Thomas Gallatin

“We need more testing” has become the most popular refrain invoked by political leaders when pressed on when Americans can expect an end to the ongoing shelter-in-place orders. Governors from Maryland to Michigan and Ohio to Virginia continue to complain that the lack of tests, testing supplies, or testing facilities is preventing them from feasibly moving forward on relaxing their lockdown directives.

They’re not entirely wrong, but their focus is misplaced. For the most part, tests have been administered to those experiencing possible symptoms of the China Virus. What the country currently lacks is broad, nationwide sample testing for both active cases of COVID-19 and antibodies, with the aim of determining the overall infection rate. Without this data, political leaders are largely left in the dark guessing as to what the best course of action is.

While the U.S. has conducted a higher total number of COVID-19 tests than any other country, the lack of broad sample testing has hindered our ability to determine the actual national impact of the virus on the population — at least what is publicly known. It may very well be that sampling is already underway, but the CDC may not want to release the results of those samples if they don’t support the current shelter-in-place guidelines. If people learned that this virus is not nearly as dangerous as they have been led to believe, it would undermine efforts to get people to abide by restrictions.

There are, however, some positive developments, specifically regarding antibody testing. Again, that data is needed for gaining a fuller picture of just how broad the infection rate actually is, and therefore a better picture of the virus’s fatality rate. A recent Standard study on antibody testing in Santa Clara County, California, has provided data suggesting that the infection rate may be much more widespread — upwards of 50 to 80 times higher — than current numbers indicate.

This is potentially really good news. The study’s author, Dr. Eran Bendavid, explains, “If our estimates of 48,000-81,000 infections represent the cumulative total on April 1, and we project deaths to April 22 (a 3 week lag from time of infection to death), we estimate about 100 deaths in the county. A hundred deaths out of 48,000-81,000 infections corresponds to an infection fatality rate of 0.12-0.2%.” In short, this would mean a fatality rate significantly lower than current data estimates have projected — one on par with annual influenza.

Furthermore, another study covering Los Angeles County was released on Monday. “Based on results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county’s adult population has antibody to the virus,” the study’s researchers said. “Adjusting this estimate for statistical margin of error implies about 2.8% to 5.6% of the county’s adult population has antibody to the virus, which translates to approximately 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who have had the infection. That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the county by the time of the study in early April.” New York is also expanding its own antibody sample tests.

Finally, once this data is collected, we can begin to ascertain the answer to the real question of acceptable tradeoffs. Should the economy be opened up more quickly and fully with a better understanding of the real infection and fatality rates? Early antibody testing indicates that the answer may be yes. But until that nationwide sample testing is done, the debate will largely remain academic.

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Southern States Announce Plans to Reopen

Nate Jackson

Millions of Americans are beyond ready for COVID-19 to be a distant memory. As the Trump administration laid out last week, however, making that a reality will be a long road with numerous benchmarks and phases. Following Trump administration guidance, the Republican governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have released plans to begin reopening this week and next.

“Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said certain businesses, including gyms and hair salons, can reopen beginning this Friday,” reports Fox News. “Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee confirmed his state’s stay-at-home order, previously extended to April 30, will end that day. And, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said businesses previously deemed nonessential — department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops — could reopen their doors.”

In Tennessee, the four large metropolitan areas operate under their own health departments, and all four Democrat mayors will delay reopening beyond Gov. Lee’s directive.

Just as many of these governors faced criticism for shutting down too slowly, now they’re receiving blowback for opening up too soon. Kemp’s vanquished gubernatorial rival, Stacey Abrams, slammed his decision as “dangerously incompetent.” Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin called Kemp the “front-runner for [the] country’s dumbest governor.”

As The Resurgent’s Steve Berman accurately notes, “The original reason for all our countermeasures was to keep COVID-19 from spiking to the point where our health care resources were completely overwhelmed and unable to deal with the caseload. We have done that. The case load has stabilized and new cases are declining, while testing activity is building up. Nationwide, we have plenty of hospital beds, and additional hospital space is now available.” He adds, “The reason for the lockdowns was not to completely eliminate deaths from COVID-19.”

In other words, many states are beginning to meet the appropriate benchmarks, and their governors are responding accordingly. Democrats and much of the media keep moving the goalposts, however, because they’re most interested in destroying the economy to win an election. The balancing act for every governor is weighing the tradeoffs of lockdown versus reopening, as well as what best protecting their citizens actually looks like. The problem with metrics and models is the fact that a gradual reopening is going to increase the number of infections and deaths. There is some portion of the population that simply won’t adhere to the most basic CDC guidelines, which is going to cause a surge. But states and citizens need to proceed the best we can.

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Investigation Is the First Step in Holding China Accountable

Harold Hutchison

As America recovers from the Wuhan coronavirus, it’s important to figure out just what the heck happened. This is not to determine whether the People’s Republic of China should pay a price — Beijing’s cover-up of the initial outbreak has definitively answered that question in the affirmative — but it will determine exactly what price it pays.

Here’s the deal: If the coronavirus emerged from a wet market and all the ChiCom government did was cover it up during the early stages, that’s one level of guilt. The cover-up showed signs of a depraved indifference to human life. However, if, as some reports suggest, the virus was being studied and released in a lab accident that was covered up, that warrants a harsher level of payback. If the virus was created in the lab and accidentally released, an even harsher level of payback would be necessary.

This is where losing that spy ring during the Obama administration hurts so badly. We could really use human intelligence sources who could gather information on what happened in Wuhan. As of now, we’re wholly dependent on what we can pick up from independent journalists and whistleblowers … and we know China works very hard to censor those.

Investigating the World Health Organization is just as important. We need to know if the WHO merely took Communist China’s word at face value (making its role one marked by mere stupidity) or if it was aware of the truth and chose to hide it (making it actively complicit in the cover-up).

To obtain that information, we can’t just rely on congressional hearings, even though they would be very important. We may need to either position intelligence personnel into the WHO to also keep track of methods and practices or to recruit those currently employed by that organization. In addition, such penetration could very well offer us the chance to influence the officials.

This pandemic has taught America a number of harsh lessons about vulnerability and what needs to be done to mitigate the next outbreak. The fact of the matter is that anyone who argues that the United Nations and World Health Organization are reliable partners is living in a fantasy world.

The fact is, if the UN and the WHO won’t reform, and leaving is not a viable option, then we will need other ways to hold those organizations accountable. But the measures to do so must fit the level of culpability. In addition, since the UN and the WHO are seriously compromised at best, it doesn’t hurt to focus some of our intelligence gathering on them. There would be another bonus: If you have the CIA, NSA, and FBI focusing on the UN, the WHO, and similar organizations, it means that fewer assets would be available to pull nonsense like Spygate.

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Dems See Pandemic as Opportunity for Election Fraud

Lewis Morris

Seeking to push the crisis stirred by the China Virus to its fullest extent, congressional Democrats are trying to enact their agenda by other means. True to form, Democrats blocked aid for small businesses and other needed relief efforts in exchange for old wish-list items that wouldn’t see the light of day in the pre-COVID-19 political climate. Right now, the crown jewel is voting by mail.

For decades, Democrats on the municipal, state, and federal levels have done everything possible to strip away voter laws. They have consistently claimed theirs is an effort to broaden the registered voter base, reverse disenfranchisement of minorities, and get more Americans involved. In truth, every leftist proposal is designed to make the voting process easier to manipulate and bend to an outcome favorable to their ends, not to secure and promote responsible voting.

Democrats and their communications department, also known as the mainstream media, consistently argue that voter fraud doesn’t exist. They regularly challenge in court attempts to clean county and state voter rolls of dead people and convicted felons. There are numerous attempts in several states to register illegal immigrants to vote, and Democrats across the board patently refuse to accept any laws that require identification at polling locations. These issues constantly wind their way through the courts, with Democrats fighting bitterly to prevent any attempt to make voting more secure.

National voting by mail, however, is a new front in this battle that should worry everyone concerned about the future of our republic. The argument now goes that people should be allowed to vote by mail because congregating in public is unhealthy due to the China Virus. The pandemic and the ensuing quarantine represent, they argue, the perfect opportunity/excuse to switch to a national vote-by-mail system.

Proponents of vote-by-mail point to the fact that it is more widespread than people realize. That should not be comforting to anybody. There have already been numerous instances in the last few years that have proven beyond doubt that voting by mail is not a secure method of conducting elections. Post-election analyses in multiple state- and lower-level elections around the country have found that those elections decided by mail-in balloting produced inclusive and even fraudulent results.

Mail-in ballots are much easier to fake or hide than a ballot recorded at a polling station. While most poll workers tasked with counting mail-in ballots are upstanding citizens doing their civic duty, it only takes a few well-placed crooked counters in a well-established crooked county or city to swing a district and ultimately an election with fraudulent counts.

Even if one discounts how easy it is to manipulate mail votes once they’re in the counting room, there are numerous other reasons why national vote-by-mail for the 2020 election will yield disaster. Let’s start with the U.S. Postal Service. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found in the 2016 presidential election that more mailed-in ballots were misdirected or unaccounted for through the mail than the margin of votes between the two presidential candidates. For every vote Hillary Clinton won nationally, more than two ballots ended up going nowhere and were never returned because of bad addresses or any number of other reasons.

Additionally, switching to a national vote-by-mail scheme for a presidential election that is barely six months away in a country with approximately 160 million registered voters is just asking for trouble. Even The New York Times, which as one might expect is all for the idea, concedes, “Given the decentralized structure of American elections, which are governed by states, counties and even municipalities, shifting to a federally mandated, completely vote-by-mail system for the general election could be impossible both logistically and legislatively.”

The funding is not available to make it work smoothly in so short a time, and the checks and balances are nonexistent — which of course suits Democrats just fine. But even if this mound of evidence is unconvincing, just consider the fact that the idea has support from virtually every elected Democrat in this country and a vast majority of the mainstream media. That should be enough to make plain that national vote-by-mail should not be allowed to happen.

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‘Anonymous’ Deep Stater Sent Packing

Nate Jackson

Way back in September 2018, The New York Times published an op-ed by “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” The op-ed was a hit piece from the deep state that was supposed to pull back the curtain on President Donald Trump’s fitness for office and detail how a brave cabal of “fellow Republicans” were battling Trump’s idiocy from inside the administration.“Anonymous” followed that up with a 2019 book — A Warning — expanding on the same theme.

Well, the identity of “Anonymous” is now reported to be former Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates. RealClearInvestigations (RCI) reports the rather humorous answer to the obvious question of her job future: “Rather than fire Coates, the White House has quietly transferred her to the Department of Energy, where she awaits special assignment in Saudi Arabia — far from the president.” With all the secrecy, we suppose she’s already gotten used to wearing a head covering.

We get it. Donald Trump severely disrupted the status quo in DC and people who’ve built their careers on that status quo don’t like the change. Thus, people like Coates and former National Security Council member Alexander Vindman take it upon themselves to protect “the way things ought to be.” That isn’t to say these folks are always or entirely wrong about Trump or their preferred policy. Coates is no lefty, but is rather what RCI calls a “longtime and loyal operative of [Ted] Cruz.” But these folks aren’t the elected president of the United States; Trump is.

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God Bless You, Sergeant Major Adkins

Mark Alexander

Vietnam veteran Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins, a Medal of Honor recipient, died after a weeks-long fight to overcome COVID-19 disease.

Sgt. Maj. Adkins served 13 of his 20 Army years as a Green Beret with 7th, 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions between March 9-12, 1966, when then-Sgt 1st Class Adkins endured 38 hours of close-combat engagement with North Vietnamese forces as an intelligence sergeant with 5th Special Forces Group at Camp A Shau, in South Vietnam. He served three tours in Vietnam and we encourage you to read his Medal of Honor citation. He was 86 years old and is survived by a daughter, two sons, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He will be missed by family, friends, and all who value the service that he rendered to our country.

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Republican states Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina announce plans to reopen some businesses, wind down coronavirus stay-at-home orders (Fox News)

  • Trump to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” by executive order (Fox News)

  • Good news: Los Angeles County antibody study produces more evidence of widespread COVID-19 (Power Line)

Government & Politics

  • Nearly three-quarters of adults fear losing personal liberties because of coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

  • Sixty percent of Democrats blame Trump more than Communist China for coronavirus (Rasmussen Reports)

  • Phase 4 relief emerges: $500 billion state and local bailout (Hot Air)

  • The Supreme Court correctly holds that jury verdicts in state criminal cases must be unanimous (National Review)

  • Biden raises over three times as much money as Trump in March (Reuters)

  • However, more than half of the DNC’s $32 million March fundraising haul came from Bloomberg; furthermore, Trump and the RNC have more than four times as much cash in their coffers (National Review)

Business & Economy

  • Anger mounts after corporations tap small-business relief funds (The Hill)

  • Publicly traded firms get $300 million in small-business loans (AP)

  • Feast or famine, part I: Walmart announces another huge round of hirings (The Daily Wire)

  • Feast or famine, part II: United Airlines posts $2.1 billion loss, seeks more federal aid (CNBC)

  • A futures contract for U.S. crude prices dropped more than 100% and turned negative for the first time in history on Monday, showing just how much demand has collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic (CNBC)

  • Historic buying opportunity: With oil below zero, Trump to fatten up Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Fox Business)

World

  • Israel’s Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz stave off a fourth election within a year by reaching an agreement to form unity government (NBC News)

  • South Korea: No reason to think Kim Jong Un gravely ill despite U.S. media report (USA Today)

  • Death toll from Canada’s worst mass shooting rises to 19 18, excluding the shooter (Reuters)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Why Has the Voice of America become a voice of confusion? (National Review)

  • Policy: “Housing First” less effective than advocates claim (Manhattan Institute)

  • Humor: Trump declares lockdown will be lifted for everyone except Hollywood celebrities (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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VIDEOS

Video: Video: ‘Let Them Eat Ice Cream’ — The Trump campaign excoriates Nancy Antoinette for elitism during a crisis.

Video: Trump’s Plan to Open Up America Again — It’s cogently phased, scientific, and state-centric.

Video: Left vs. Right Marathon — These five-minute videos by Dennis Prager review some fundamental differences.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” —Edward Bernays (1891-1995)

For the record: “The very same people who should be making the argument for more government are also the ones acknowledging how incompetent, inept, mistaken, and unreliable government has been and continues to be.” —Peter Heck

Upright: “The feds now collect about $6 billion a year in royalties. Canceling those payments would be a small price to pay to save an industry that employs several million workers. Under federal law, the president has the executive authority to take this action. America has become the world’s largest oil and gas producer — and the Russians and the Saudis want to end that supremacy. Trump can and should make sure they don’t succeed by slashing the taxes and royalties this critical industry pays until the coronavirus crisis is over.” —Stephen Moore

Braying jenny: “President Trump called this a war, and it is exactly that. So let’s act like it. In World War II, there weren’t people lining up at the Capitol to protest the fact that they had to drop everything they were doing and build planes or tanks or to ration food. They rolled up their sleeves, and they got to work.” —Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, apparently missing the irony that she’s demanding her state not get back to work

Political futures: “I’d take [Michelle Obama] in a heartbeat. She’s brilliant. She knows the way around. She is a really fine woman.” —Joe Biden on a running mate

And last… “Democrats are cheering economic devastation, rooting for the destruction of certain industries, and blocking small business relief bills because their politics requires decline, stagnation, and misery.” —Sean Davis

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