Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 27, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” —Thomas Paine (1776)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Mr. President, Please Disinfect Your CV19 Press Briefings

Mark Alexander

For the last eight weeks, I have endured the White House CV19 “press briefings” every evening — defined mostly by rambling remarks from Donald Trump. These lengthy and vacuous episodes have become increasingly painful to watch, especially when the president repeatedly digs himself into a hole … and then just keeps digging.

A few weeks ago in a column, “Mr. President, Don’t Be the Poster Child for CV19 Misery,” I warned that Trump is setting himself up to be the face of CV19 misery, in large part because of his omnipresence at these briefings — lording over what are anything but “brief” pressers. I advised then that, as commander-in-chief, President Trump should only spend a few minutes delivering positive and encouraging remarks — update his administration’s progress against the virus, then progress supporting our businesses’ recovery efforts (something he actually knows a lot about), and then get off the stage. He should leave all the details and press questions to Vice President Mike Pence and his Task Force members.

But alas, for weeks Trump has refused to yield the podium and, as a result, has irrevocably become the face of an epic national catastrophe. He didn’t create CV19 disease, but he has made himself the lightning rod for its consequences. Our economy is on a life support ventilator — having erased Trump’s “greatest economy in history” reelection platform.

White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett warns, “Make no mistake: It’s a really grave situation. This is the biggest negative shock that our economy, I think, has ever seen. We’re going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression.” According to Forbes, the current unemployment rate of 20.6% is the highest level since 1934. Peak unemployment in the Great Depression reached 25%, and the next wave of unemployment figures this week will challenge that peak figure.

For Trump to be swapping stupid with jackasses — bantering with his Leftmedia agitators — while 26.4 million Americans have lost their jobs is not what the nation needs from its executive. Trump’s modus operandi is to wear out his opponents with his sparring position shifts and streams of consciousness, keeping them on the ropes. But his daily briefings have worn out his supporters, and his credibility is suffering. Only 23% of Americans still have a significant level of trust in what Trump reports about the pandemic.

A few weeks ago, most networks cut away from the nightly pressers because they claimed Trump was using them as “campaign events.” The fact that they were not televising these fiascos is fortuitous because the briefings have tanked Trump’s job approval ratings, and he now trails Joe Biden by six points.

Trump has deeply wounded his reelection campaign. The presidential election is six months away, which is a couple of political lifetimes. He can pull his reelection prospects out of the ditch he has dug, but he better start today.

The good news is that after yet another self-inflicted wound at last Thursday’s confab, Trump’s staffers are finally, at long last, listening to those of us outside the Beltway and cutting back his endless CV19 briefings.

As you are undoubtedly aware, in one of his endless diatribes last Thursday, which Task Force communications director Dr. Deborah Birx kindly described as Trump processing new information “out loud,” he was pontificating about disinfectants and the use of UV light to kill coronavirus. Unfortunately, he conflated two things: the use of disinfectants externally and the possible injection of UV light to kill coronavirus. What came out was a garbled mess. “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” said Trump, “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

Friday morning, The Washington Post led with the word-twisting claim that Trump had asked “that scientists test whether disinfectants, such as bleach, could be injected inside the human body to fight the coronavirus.”

Rather than admit his comments were confusing, Trump told reporters that he was just being sarcastic: “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you to see what would happen. … [It was] a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside.”

There is no way to parse that assertion — that is not what happened. He was not addressing reporters when he made those confusing comments. He was addressing his medical experts, who were staring at him in disbelief at the words coming out of his mouth.

Sidebar: Their expressions reminded me of the look on COMPACFLT ADM Robert Willard’s face when Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) expressed his concern in a House Defense Appropriations hearing about the number of Marines being stationed on one side of Guam. Johnson declared, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” Maintaining his composure, ADM Willard responded, “We don’t anticipate that.”

Regardless, the issue is not what Trump said, what he meant, or how that was portrayed in the press. The issue is that he never should have been blathering about this at a press briefing in the first place.

As I noted previously, the president should start those briefings by focusing for a few minutes on his administration’s progress against the virus, then turn to the progress supporting businesses’ recovery efforts — something he actually knows something about — and then leave the room.

By Friday evening, apparently Trump got the message. That briefing was the shortest of the last 50, lasting a mere 22 minutes, and it was conducted like a presidential briefing. That was a dramatic and long-overdue departure, and there was no briefing Saturday or Sunday. Asked if he was going to discontinue the briefings, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “I leave that to the president; that is entirely his decision.”

I suspect that it’s not just his advisers who finally got through to him, but that some key members of the CV19 Task Force said they would resign en masse if he did not cease and desist.

Moving forward, here is some additional advice from far outside the Beltway: Briefings should not stop cold — or it will then appear that Trump and his administration are AWOL.

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Is the Leftmedia Sabotaging Biden?

Thomas Gallatin

The story that Joe Biden’s campaign — with the help of certain Leftmedia outlets — tried to ignore and make go away has suddenly gotten bigger. New “evidence” emerged that appears to corroborate Tara Reade’s allegation of Biden having sexually assaulted her back when she was a young staffer for the then-senator from Delaware. That new evidence came in the form of an unearthed 1993 clip from CNN’s “Larry King Live,” in which an unnamed woman from San Luis Obispo, California, calls in seeking advice as to what she should do after claiming that her daughter recently quit working for a “prominent senator” after not being able to “get through with her problems at all.”

The caller never mentioned her name or what the problems were that caused her daughter to quit. And she didn’t name the “prominent senator.” Yet the existence of the video appears to corroborate Reade’s previous statements that she had told her mother about being sexually assaulted by Biden and that her mother had called into Larry King’s program. Reade could not recall the exact date of her mother’s call, though her claim sent some journalists digging.

We have previously noted the glaring hypocrisy displayed by Leftmedia outlets such as The New York Times and CNN, which breathlessly reported every spurious and vacuous allegation against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford and others while they have essentially ignored and downplayed Reade’s claims against Biden. Meanwhile, the “Larry King Live” episode from which the video clip in question came has suddenly gone missing from Google Play’s archive, and the number sequence for the show’s episodes has been changed to make it appear as if that episode never occurred. In short, it looks like a cover-up.

However, it would be wrong to conclude that this is simply a case of Leftmedia hypocrisy being exposed by conservative media, for some of the news outlets doing the hardest digging have been Leftmedia outlets like The Intercept. So, what can be made of this?

The Democrat Party is split between two factions — the Washington establishment class and hard-left socialists. The Leftmedia finds itself in a similar split. The more mainstream Leftmedia outlets like the Times and CNN see Biden as the only viable option for defeating President Donald Trump. Furthermore, with Biden’s commitment to choosing a female running mate, any allegations of sexual harassment or assault raised against him, no matter how spurious, may gain popular credibility due to #MeToo’s “believe all women” standard — ironically initiated by the Left. This factor may prove to scare away a popular woman from hitching her wagon to his campaign. And with Biden’s clearly declining mental acuity, it’s a strong possibility that his vice president would quickly take the reins following his assuming office.

Meanwhile, the socialist faction of the Democrat Party supported by several Leftmedia outlets was clearly not happy with Bernie Sanders’s endorsement of Biden. That cadre would love nothing more than to see Biden forced out in favor of Sanders. Recall that Sanders only suspended his campaign, noting that he will retain all his delegates with the supposed intent of ensuring that elements of his socialist platform would be adopted by the party. If this allegation forces Biden out of the race, Sanders will be in prime position to declare himself the last man standing. Might this be why this story has suddenly gained traction?

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Isolation Is Also Deadly

Robin Smith

Isolation is the key to social or physical distancing aimed at curbing the transmission of COVID-19. But isolation of both the ill and symptomatic along with the well also intensifies problems with mental health, like depression. It’s impacting one key aspect of those in recovery from addictions, not to mention the deaths and diseases of despair.

Healthy social interactions range from the mundane of encountering smiling faces in our daily comings and goings to individuals who partner with a group or a counselor to overcome addictions through accountabilities. These human touches and encounters are needed in our lives for our own purpose, self-worth, camaraderie, and identity.

With the prolonged isolation of both sick and well, positive COVID cases with hospitalizations are not the only numbers that have to be considered. Deaths of despair will soon be part of the death count, though there won’t be extra COVID funding coming for those lives.

Forced unemployment in double digits has placed Americans who would never in their lives expect to receive a government unemployment check out of work. Wait, they’re told, on the population centers to stabilize their case counts and hospitalization rates. Wait on some authority to allow “nonessential businesses” — the estimated 30.2 million sole proprietors or authentic small businesses that make up more than 98% of all businesses in the U.S. — to resume operations.

Remember the opioid epidemic? Deaths of despair were characteristic of the opioid crisis, because there is a a correlation between economic instability or collapse and the increase in illicit drug use and addiction. Hence, the opioid epidemic had part of its roots in economic distress. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2017, there were 70,000 deaths due to opioid overdoses. America didn’t close its economy but there was a mounted response to intervene and reverse course, which happened to include improved economic opportunities for millions.

Yet today, some push a straw argument in efforts to marginalize the opposition in order to keep everything locked down. It goes like this: If you want to reopen the economy, you’re greedy and want people to die. Rhetorically, the question is posed, “How many deaths are too many before it’s time to close businesses again?”

It’s not just the out-of-work adults facing despair. The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman records several reports of increased volume at the teen suicide hotline as a result of social and physical isolation combined with family pressures within the home.

Social determinants and adverse childhood events are buzzwords in the academic community, with massive efforts to reconstruct environments to end destructive behaviors into more favorable and thriving situations. Yet the harsh polarizing defenses employed to keep strict closures and the quarantine of all — well, vulnerable, sick, and healthy — runs counter to the very foundations of these priorities when addressing children and youth in physical and mental health by addressing a variety of factors, including family income and socialization.

There was a need to understand this virus — its transmission and presentation — and to have a temporary intervention to contain and mitigate its spread. This virus from Wuhan is here to stay. But keeping businesses closed, workers unemployed, and government printing and borrowing money is neither sustainable nor healthy for adults, teens, or families. Yes, isolation kills. But it kills more than the viral transmission of a pathogen. It also kills an individual’s well-being through work, self-reliance, community, and ability to support a family.

The poison of political hatred, however, will cause a significant truth to be missed or dismissed: There’s a mountain of data and research demonstrating a wealth-health connection tying economic growth and work directly to better health and well-being.

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Herd Immunity Might Be the Answer

Arnold Ahlert

“My mother doesn’t want to get coronavirus and die [but] she also doesn’t want to die of something else before ever again being able to hug her grandchildren because she’s still waiting for a vaccine. Herd immunity gives us [a] much more proximal way to get back to life in the world as we knew it.” —Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center

Last week, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned of a second wave of coronavirus emerging in the fall. Dr. Anthony Fauci concurred, but he insisted America will not be as unprepared as it was this time. “In the fall we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter,” he stated.

As America has learned, “containment” is a loaded word. “In this current crisis, the longest if not the first complete shutdown in U.S. history, the freedoms of American democracy are being tested in ways we scarcely ever imagined,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Hanson is somewhat in error. Members of the globalist-minded ruling class have long imagined the “fundamental transformation” of America, and there is little question their corporate media shills have run what is arguably the most successful panic-inducing campaign in the nation’s history. That media-anointed “experts” have been wrong, sometimes by an order of several magnitudes? That millions of Americans have been so traumatized they may never recover?

As far as the media are concerned, it is utter folly to even suggest that locking down the nation might have been the wrong course of action.

Yet context is everything. Americans must never forget that media elitists remain well paid and well fed, even as they deem themselves worthy of lecturing millions of their fellow Americans with no money, no jobs, and virtually no hope about their shortcomings. Their fellow elitists eat ice cream while Americans wait at food banks. They receive concierge medical treatment in the Hamptons while millions can’t get desperately needed medical treatment at all.

Nonetheless, the elites continue to insist that “flattening the curve,” even if it takes 18 months, is the only sensible — and moral — course of action.

Yet what are we to make of such an assessment in light of a possible second wave? America might not endure the current shutdown without massive economic and health consequences. A second shutdown could push the nation into post-apocalyptic territory, possibly precipitating even more death and destruction than the worst coronavirus projections.

Moreover, what does flattening the curve really mean? If the whole idea behind it was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, we have certainly accomplished that.

But is it because we self-isolated? A study by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicates that between 221,000 and 442,000 adults in that area have previously been infected. Another study in New York indicates as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers could have had the virus. And in Miami, approximately 165,000 people also have virus antibodies. All three totals far exceed the number of confirmed cases. More important, how does one square self-isolation in New York with open mass-transit systems?

Flattening the curve also implies something else. “If all you do is flatten the curve, you don’t prevent deaths or severe cases,” Dr. Katz explains. “You just change the dates.”

Possibly worse? Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, whose urgent-care facility has tested over 5,200 patients, assert that lockdowns diminish peoples’ immune systems, increasing their vulnerability to the virus.

Dr. Scott Atlas, the former neuroradiology chief at Stanford University Medical Center concurs, writing, “Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.”

Unfortunately our policy-makers, most of whom have seemingly bought into the media’s moral absolutes, remain steadfast, even as they studiously avoid an uncomfortable question: Why are future deaths precipitated by the virus less immoral than present ones? Dead is dead, and the idea that we must consider any policy sacrosanct, even when it is one likely to precipitate a second wave of infections — and another shutdown — is astounding.

Which brings us to herd immunity. As Dr. Katz explains, herd immunity is accomplished by those at low risk of getting a serious infection moving about, getting coronavirus, and recovering, and thus developing antibodies that inhibit further spreading of the virus among the general population.

The problem with that approach? As columnist Steve Berman aptly notes in reference to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to begin opening up that state, no one wants to be a “beta tester.” Yet he acknowledges the current reality. “The problem here isn’t one of clinical fact, or statistical trends,” he adds. “It’s a problem of perception.”

No doubt. But at some point, the perception relentlessly drummed by the media into the American psyche will give way to what is likely to be a tsunami of emotional desperation, as in the realization that the cure is indeed far, far worse than the disease, and that life in isolation with no end in sight is no life at all.

Thus it is seemingly inevitable that Sweden, which has walked the walk of herd immunity, will become impossible to ignore. “In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau and we’re already seeing the effect of herd immunity and in a few weeks’ time we’ll see even more of the effects of that,” asserts Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency.

Tegnell also notes the rest of the country “is stable,” and while he acknowledges Sweden’s mortality rate is relatively high, he attributes it to “the introduction [of the virus] in elderly care homes.”

Regardless, the avalanche of moral reprobation directed at that nation has been fierce. While some of it is driven by genuine concern, much of it is the vilest form of political cynicism — perpetrated by those who see America’s failure as a political opportunity and any risk assessment about opening our own country that does not conform to the current narrative as heresy.

Heresy producing “blood on one’s hands.”

Yet tellingly, criticism has been far more muted regarding New York, despite a number of deaths precipitated by state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker’s decision requiring nursing homes to accept residents who tested positive for coronavirus — and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that “it’s not our job” to ensure the safety of those facilities.

That’s the same Andrew Cuomo excoriated Trump for making a similar assertions regarding state versus federal responsibilities.

Apparently, some hands are “less bloody” than others.

If a second wave is inevitable, discussions of herd immunity must not be taboo, just as deaths caused by the policies associated with coronavirus cannot be deemed less important or less relevant than deaths caused by the virus itself.

Far more important, it’s also worth considering that the number of people with antibodies in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami doesn’t just indicate self-isolation might not be working. It may actually indicate herd immunity is already underway.

Whether our political leaders like it or not.

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More Great Analysis

Are there only “two Americas,” as John Edwards infamously asserted, or are there actually three? Longtime Patriot Post editor J. Adams Clymer answers that question.

Vernon Jones — Story of a Runaway Democrat Slave is the latest grassroots perspective from Patrick Hampton

NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • President Trump, who risks becoming the poster child for COVID-19 misery, held a 25-minute briefing on Friday — much shorter than the traditional hours-long affairs. By Saturday, he declared the briefings weren’t “worth the time & effort,” which theoretically means they’ll be tailored henceforth. In our opinion, however, all of his briefings should have been as short and concise as Friday’s.

  • Roughly 6% of Floridans may have been infected with coronavirus, according to a University of Miami antibody analysis, which puts the extrapolated rate of infection 16 times above the headline number (which, in effect, reduces the fatality rate). If anything, Florida’s study corroborates other antibody studies in California and New York.

  • Andrew Cuomo’s malfeasance: New York refused to send nursing home’s COVID-19 patients to nearly empty and underutilized USNS Comfort, which is returning to Virginia (New York Post)

Joe “Believe All Women” Biden

  • Three potential Biden running mates appeared on Sunday shows. None were asked about sex-assault allegations. (The Daily Wire)

  • Coincidence or obfuscation? CNN’s “Larry King Live” episode appearing to show Biden accuser’s mother calling missing from Google Play catalog (The Daily Caller)

  • Senate Democrats — the same ones who feverishly castigated Brett Kavanaugh — refuse to acknowledge sexual-assault accusations against Joe Biden (The Daily Caller)

  • Former Hillary Clinton adviser calls on Biden to drop out: “We lose all moral authority” if we don’t take Tara Reade seriously (The Daily Caller)

Heartland

  • This week, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, and Tennessee will get their economies rolling again, Reuters reports. Last week, it was Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska, and South Carolina.

  • Better late than never (but still maybe too late for her political career): Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends stay-at-home order while liberating state of draconian bans (The Federalist)

Other Notables

  • States face $500 billion shortfalls as Congress debates aid (Washington Examiner)

  • Trump calls reports he may fire HHS Secretary Alex Azar “fake news” (The Washington Post)

  • Navy recommends reinstating Brett Crozier, who was ousted as commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (Fox News)

  • How noble of them: Saudi Arabia bans flogging as criminal punishment (New York Daily News)

Closing Arguments

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

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VIDEOS

Video: Will This Be Biden’s Running Mate? — One failed politician is pushing hard to make the cut.

Video: AOC Says Workers Should Refuse to Go Back to Work — Because capitalism is bad or something.

Video: Cuomo Ignores Concerns of Economic Hardship — Matt Walsh analyzes the New York governor’s 90 seconds of pure drivel.

Video: Trump Made CNN Journo Cry, Then Humblebrag About It — Bill Whittle, Stephen Green, and Scott Ott look at the man who might have been Brian Stelter.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Upright: “It seems indisputable that the lockdowns have slowed the spread of the disease, but at an enormous economic cost. We are going to have to show some flexibility and be willing to adopt a patchwork approach to opening up around the country. We can’t be beholden to public officials and commentators who, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, have the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be rollerblading.” —Rich Lowry

For the record: “If Liberia was able to safely hold an in-person election amidst an Ebola outbreak, there is no reason we cannot do so here in the United States in the wake of this pandemic.” —Ken Blackwell

Village idiot: “China did a lot of things right at the beginning. Like any country where a virus first shows up, they can look back and see where they missed some things.” —Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, whose company “has had a presence in China for more than 20 years.”

Friendly fire: “New information has emerged supporting #TaraReade’s account of being sexually assaulted by #JoeBiden. … Credible rape accusations are disqualifying or we have NO moral standards.” —former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou

A blind squirrel finds a nut: “I accepted the credibility of the complaint in the article. I didn’t want to challenge the person that made the complaint and wrote the article. I thought it was very credible and certainly within the person’s rights to write that article, of course. That was highly justified.” —Chris Matthews

Never let a crisis go to waste: “The governors are impatient. … They should be impatient. Their impatience will help us get an even bigger number.” —Nancy Pelosi on the next bailout for states

Observations: “Bailing out the Illinois state pension system is the worst idea from a week in which we were discussing the health benefits of mainlining Lysol.” —Kevin Williamson

Braying jenny: “There were Americans coming back or green-card holders coming back, but there were tens of thousands. So, if you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.” —Nancy Pelosi’s unconstitutional tirade against Trump’s China travel ban (Moreover, as Rep. Dan Crenshaw reminds us, “Pelosi promoted [the] ‘No Ban Act’ legislation that same day — which would limit presidential power to restrict travel.”)

Dezinformatsiya: “If there is a good thing about this economic crisis, it has been the clean air and views we haven’t seen for a long time.” —NBC’s Chuck Todd

And last… “We don’t have a choice. We have to move forward and get people back to some sense of normalcy.” —Dan Crenshaw

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TODAY’S MEME

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

TODAY’S CARTOON

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


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