Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 22, 2020


“Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state.” —Alexander Hamilton (1790)

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‘Happy’ Lenin/Earth Day

Thomas Gallatin

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and also (not so coincidentally) the 150th birthday of Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin, who the world can thank for ushering into power the murderous and anti-human ideology of communism. In 1970, the same year that the Environmental Protect Agency was formed, leftist Democrat Sen. Gaylord Nelson (WI) helped found Earth Day. There’s plenty of irony in communist ideology claiming to exist to promote the flourishing of humanity when in reality it’s responsible for killing more of humanity than any ideology in history. In many ways, the same can be said of the ecofascist movement responsible for creating Earth Day.

The goal of eliminating pollution for the betterment of humanity and the environment is laudable. However, when environmentalists actively celebrate the suffering of humanity brought about by the massive slowing of industry due to the China Virus pandemic (see: socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) as being “good for the planet,” they show their true colors.

Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in massively reducing pollutants that harm humanity and the environment. As Jason Isaac, senior manager and distinguished fellow of Life:Powered, notes, “The United States has dramatically reduced emissions of the six key pollutants that harm human health. Lead, ozone, carbon monoxide, and other harmful airborne substances have declined by 74% — all while our economy, population, vehicle miles traveled, and energy consumption have skyrocketed. Our cities are no longer shrouded by smog and toxic fumes, despite our dramatic growth.”

“In fact,” Isaac adds, “we’re the only highly populated nation to meet the World Health Organization’s standards for safe air. Of developed countries, only Canada and Australia have cleaner air. It’s worth noting, however, that both of their economies are considerably smaller — smaller than the state of Texas’s economy alone.”

The great irony of ecofascists celebrating the massive downturn in global industry and energy production is that the current malaise actually leads to fewer environmentally beneficial developments. Isaac cogently observes, “Without energy to provide for our physical needs — heating and cooling our homes, cooking our food, shipping our medicine, and providing clean, running water — scientific experimentation would be nearly impossible. When mined, transported, and used properly, fossil fuels are a friend of environmental progress.”

Finally, in a related story, The Washington Post reports that 2020 is on track to be the hottest year on record, even despite the massive decrease in CO2 emissions due to the pandemic. However, the Post conveniently dismisses this fact because its true commitment is to blame human activity for climate change: “Climate scientists do not place too much emphasis in annual rankings for monitoring and attributing global climate change, but rather focus more on long-term trends in greenhouse gas emissions, air and sea temperatures and climate indicators such as melting glaciers, sea level rise and changes in precipitation patterns.” So, when a massive decrease in human-caused emissions does happen and yet it won’t contribute to a decrease in global temperatures, the Post suggests that it’s merely an anomaly that should be ignored. How convenient.

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More Money Coming, but Will Small Businesses Get It?

Nate Jackson

A longrunning story during the Great Coronavirus Shutdown has been the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the $350 billion portion of the CARES Act for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to back loans for small businesses to keep more Americans on the payroll. That money was a smaller part of the massive $2.2 trillion “phase three” aid package. All told, Congress has approved roughly $3 trillion in coronavirus aid, with perhaps almost that much more to come — all on top of a 2020 budget that was already approaching $5 trillion. Staggering.

First, we’ll tackle the political wrangling. After two weeks of Democrat obstruction over unrelated demands, Congress authorized another $321 billion for the PPP and yesterday the Senate passed by unanimous consent a total package of $484 billion. The House will vote Thursday.

“I am just sorry that it took my colleagues in Democratic leadership 12 days to accept the inevitable,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “They shut down emergency support for Main Street in a search for partisan ‘leverage’ that never materialized.”

Actually, some of that leverage did materialize. Republicans gave up on a “clean bill” of only PPP funding, while Democrats won roughly $160 billion in totally unrelated money for hospitals and testing (hence the dollar discrepancy above), even if they failed to secure more bailout money for state governments.

Second, we’ll note the bigger story: Who’s getting the money.

The PPP ran out of money last week after processing “14 years worth of loans in less than 14 days.” The Dispatch reports, “According to Treasury Department data, 1,661,367 loans — 74 percent of which came in at $150,000 or less — were approved by 4,975 different lenders. The average loan disbursed was $206,000.”

Why did the money disappear so quickly?

A significant part of the answer is something we pointed out right from the beginning: Some relatively big businesses gobbled it up.

According to the Associated Press, at least 94 publicly traded companies received aid, and some have “market values well over $100 million.” The Wall Street Journal reports it was more than that, adding, “Twenty of the 103 [publicly traded] companies employed more than 500 people.” Those big companies raked in big cash, too.

When most of us think of small businesses, we think of the mom-and-pop shops around town that employ a relative handful of people, not publicly traded chains. Businesses employing 100 or fewer workers constitute 98% of firms and account for roughly 50% of the workforce. Yet because the SBA considers any operation with 500 or fewer to be “small,” most of the PPP money went to fairly sizable operations that perhaps weren’t as desperate for cash as the little guy.

The law was supposed to distribute money on a first-come-first-served basis. But big banks seem to have shuffled big customers to the front of the line — leaving small businesses at the back — as alleged in class-action lawsuits filed against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. When truly small businesses did succeed in obtaining loans, it was through smaller community banks. (Democrats claim to have added stipulations specifically allocating $60 billion of new funding to small banks.)

By contrast, individual relief payments were prioritized for those with the lowest income. It certainly seems like it would have been prudent to do likewise for truly small businesses.

All this said, it’s important to note that this isn’t to distinguish between the workers whose jobs were saved. An employee of a bigger company needs that job every bit as much as the one working in a small store front. It is simply to say that too many small businesses in critical condition ended up being left out while some of the bigger fish were fed.

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No Free Thought: Harvard Prof Calls for Homeschooling Ban

Louis DeBroux

With the Wuhan coronavirus sending nearly all of America’s 56 million children home for school, progressives are terrified that parents might ultimately realize homeschooling is a better option than many of our failing public schools.

This was evident in a recent article in Harvard Magazine regarding the supposed “dangers” of homeschooling. The author, Erin O'Donnell, notes that homeschooling is rapidly increasing, with 3-4% of America’s school children now educated at home unrelated to school closures.

She quotes extensively from Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard public-interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program. Bartholet sees “risks for children — and society — in homeschooling,” and she recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling. In other words, parents must petition government for the “privilege” of educating their own children and prove a valid need to do so.

Why? Because homeschooling, claims Bartholet, violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and protection from potential child abuse. Furthermore, Bartholet claims homeschooling damages our democratic society because “a majority of such families … are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture.” Worse, she hyperventilates, many are “extreme religious ideologues” who “question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

She continues, “It’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”

The lack of self-awareness is actually rather impressive. Bartholet is actively campaigning for government restrictions so that children will not be exposed to “other people’s viewpoints” — particularly conservative Christianity — simply because she finds them offensive. Yet she does so in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.”

Her accusations are made as statements of fact, but she offers no supporting evidence. Exposed to the light of truth, her assertions are laughable.

As for diversity, of the nearly two million homeschooled children in America, 8% are black and 25% are Hispanic. The real problem for Bartholet and her fellow travelers is that two-thirds are Christian, and that is unacceptable to progressives. They don’t think parents should have the right, for example, to opt their children out of being aggressively indoctrinated in deviant and dangerous sexual practices.

Protection from child abuse? According to the Department of Education, during the 2017-2018 school year, a staggering 962,300 violent incidents occurred in American public schools, along with 476,100 nonviolent incidents (i.e., bullying and threats of violence). In fact, protecting children from this very kind of abuse is a major reason parents give for homeschooling. Nationwide, there are literally hundreds of lawsuits filed because public schools ignored not only bullying but rape, sexual assault, blackmail, and severe physical injuries. Many of these poor children committed suicide to escape their tormentors. As it turns out, legally homeschooled children are 40% less likely to die by child abuse or neglect than the national average.

Question science? What science? Is she claiming homeschool parents teach their children the Earth is flat, or that gravity is a myth? Or is she just upset that homeschool parents tend to teach their children that there are two sexes, not 57, and that sex is genetically determined rather than something you “feel”?

Subpar education? America per-student spending is near the top globally, yet our academic achievement is mediocre at best. One-third of Baltimore’s public schools had not a single student that read at grade level. California is America’s most populous state but is ranked among the worst educationally.

Yet on average, homeschooled children far outpace their peers in public school, scoring 15-30% higher on standardized tests (regardless of parents’ education level or income), higher on SAT/ACT tests, and go to college and graduate at higher rates. According to PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard, they also score higher on measures of “social, emotional, and psychological development including peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”

These same studies, Bolyard adds, show homeschool students “internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a high rate,” and that one is unacceptable to the progressive doctrinaires who seek to eradicate homeschooling.

A free public education is the tenth plank of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin declared, “Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Adolf Hitler banned homeschooling and created Hitler’s Youth, teaching children loyalty to the state and to report on parents who disobeyed or disparaged the state.

This is not to equate American progressives with those murderous tyrants. It’s to point out that those who believe in the supremacy of the state and seek to control the levers of power have always made controlling the minds of the children a primary goal.

Bartholet and O'Donnell are essentially arguing that children belong to the state, which allows parents to raise them so long as parents obey their government masters.

To argue that parents have no right to raise and educate their children and instill in them their values is a grotesque corruption of all that America stands for. Such a despicable viewpoint should be soundly rejected.

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Bottom Falls Out of Oil Market

Thomas Gallatin

“Oil falls below zero dollars a barrel,” blared headlines across the country on Tuesday, as the price of oil plunged to record lows, even reaching “negative” territory in some cases. It began earlier this year with a price battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia, both of whom ramped up production to undercut the other (and the U.S.). Then, with the world economy in the throes of the China Virus shutdown, demand for oil plummeted. According to the American Petroleum Institute’s calculations, current global oil production is 100 million barrels a day, but demand has slipped to just 70 million barrels, creating a massive oversupply that sent prices crashing.

However, the actual price of oil is not less than zero dollars; rather, the price has everything to do with available storage. The Wall Street Journal explains, “Oil traders are storing crude in the expectation that they can get a higher price later, but storage capacity is running out. Traders who are long in the market are having trouble finding storage for delivery, so they have to sell at a firesale price. Meanwhile, the oil price for contracts due in June was $21.40 on Monday, and for August it was $29.15.”

With the U.S. economy in a pandemic-induced hold, the nation’s storage capacity for oil is quickly filling up. America’s storage capacity is around 825 million barrels and, the Journal reports, “Actual storage has never previously exceeded 500 million barrels. Now there are fewer than 100 million barrels of storage left.”

Meanwhile, there’s the asinine celebratory sentiments of socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who invoked her inner Marx: “You absolutely love to see it,” she crowed. “This along with record low interest rates means it’s the right time for a worker-led, mass investment in green infrastructure to save our planet.” She may have deleted her tone-deaf tweet, but, once again, AOC and her degree in economics is a testament to America’s failing system of higher education.

As economist Stephen Moore aptly put it, “Almost no one (other than radical environmentalists) favors decapitating an industry that has made America an energy powerhouse, created as many as 5 million new jobs, and almost single-handedly pulled our nation out of the 2008 to 2009 recession.” Few but AOC, anyway. She and her fellow ecofascists won’t shed any tears over the massive job losses in the oil industry that are already beginning.

There’s hope that the deal President Donald Trump negotiated with Saudi Arabia and Russia will help to shore up falling prices. Yet that agreement doesn’t go into effect until May 1. And even with that deal in place, as long as the U.S. economy is stuck in shutdown mode, it will likely be months before demand catches up with production. This reality has some calling for tariffs to be levied on foreign oil in an effort to shore up U.S. oil companies. That’s easier said than done, however, as the vast majority of U.S. refineries are equipped for refining foreign oil rather than the American shale oil. Retrofitting refineries will take time and cost companies tens of millions, effectively erasing any immediate gains. On top of that, raising tariffs on foreign oil would hurt American consumers.

There are no easy solutions, but the best options are to slash royalty payments and for oil nations to agree to significantly cut back on production until demand increases again.

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Editor’s Note

After publishing our article on the alleged discovery of the identity of “Anonymous,” Victoria Coates, her former colleagues at Red State, Erick Erickson and Dan McLaughlin, penned an op-ed at National Review arguing in no uncertain terms “Victoria Coates Is Not ‘Anonymous.’” The pair argue that, based on their longtime personal relationship with her, the RealClearInvestigations representation of her rings false and unpersuasive. So we’ll consider this case not closed, and we’ve amended our story accordingly.


Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Senate passes $484 billion relief package; $310 billion will go toward the Paycheck Protection Program (The Hill)

  • Runaway spending: Mitch McConnell slams brakes on fifth round of coronavirus aid (Politico)

  • Trump’s 60-day immigration pause, which exempts temporary foreign workers, falls well short of full ban, but the White House’s goal is to allow more jobs to be filled by U.S. citizens (Politico)

The Latest on Coronavirus

  • U.S. deaths top 45,000, doubling in a little over a week (Reuters)

  • The first stateside death was in California on February 6 — weeks earlier than initially believed (NBC News)

  • CDC chief warns second wave may be worse, arriving with flu season (Reuters)

  • Hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit, more deaths in VA virus study (Fox News)

  • NIH panel recommends against combining the drugs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (NPR)

  • “An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction”: Missouri becomes first state to sue China over coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)

Government & Politics

  • Trump says he will ask Harvard, which boasts a $40 billion endowment, and big businesses to return relief funds (The Hill)

  • For the record: Filthy-rich Harvard isn’t the only university taxpayers shouldn’t bail out (The Federalist)

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer awards (then rescinds after being busted) coronavirus contract to Democrat consulting firm (The Washington Free Beacon)

National Security

  • Iran saber-rattling in the Persian Gulf despite coronavirus woes (Washington Examiner)

  • Trump instructs Navy to “destroy” any Iranian gunboats harassing U.S. ships (Fox News)

  • Navy deploys two ships to South China Sea amid tensions (The Hill)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: The world’s bad actors see coronavirus as an opportunity (Bloomberg Opinion)

  • Policy: How public transit makes the nation more vulnerable to disasters (The Federalist)

  • Humor: Gov. Whitmer changes name to “Karen,” wants to speak to the manager of coronavirus about rude protesters (Genesius Times)

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

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Video: Why People Are Protesting the Coronavirus Lockdown — Matt Walsh gives his take on why we shouldn’t judge those protesting.

Video: Coronavirus Overreach — Governments pass ever more restrictive rules in the name of saving us. How many of these rules are helpful?


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


Insight: “Dogma is the convictions of one man imposed authoritatively upon others.” —Felix Adler (1851-1933)

Upright: “The notion that Nature is ‘having her revenge’ or anything of the kind is absolutely pagan. Nature has always been both sustaining and incredibly dangerous. The norm for nearly all of human history was privation and vulnerability. Only technology allowed us to minimize this.” —Ben Shapiro

Observations: “It’s evident that some of people chiming in on the lockdown debate don’t have families to support and have never worked hard for anything. They honestly don’t understand why losing a job is so devastating. The ‘you’re putting money over people’ [crap] is their privilege talking.” —Matt Walsh

For the record: “No amount of bailout dollars will stimulate an economy that is being strangled by quarantine. It is not a lack of money that plagues us but a lack of commerce.” —Sen. Rand Paul

The BIG Lie: “Voter fraud is, by and large, a myth. The president of the United States, number one, voted by mail just recently, and so it worked for him. The concern he has is that it will actually work for every American.” —Stacey Abrams

Armchair quarterbacking: “Rather than execute a swift and aggressive effort to ramp up testing, Donald Trump is tweeting incendiary rhetoric about immigrants in the hopes that he can distract everyone from the core truth: he’s moved too slowly to contain this virus, and we are all paying the price for it.” —Joe Biden

Braying jackass: “Packed beaches should work nicely to thin the ranks of Trump/DeSantis/Gimenez supporters in #Florida who value money over health.” —Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago

Alpha jackass, part I: “I get that people need to go back to work, I do. But the point of ‘stay-at-home’ is to get a lid on this, so we can get back to work. And then stay at work. I’m starting to think that these characters who support Trump might be suicidal. They seem to fight hardest for the things that will kill them.” —Jimmy Kimmel

Alpha jackass, part II: “They want guns. They want pollution. I figured it out: They want to die and they’re taking us down with them.” —Jimmy Kimmel

And last… “I keep hearing in the media about ‘non-essential businesses.’ Is the media ‘essential’? Why haven’t we had a media shutdown during this crisis?” —Dinesh D'Souza

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.



For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

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