Mid-Day Digest

May 19, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.” —Thomas Jefferson (1775)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Barr Plays It Cool

Douglas Andrews

Those with an abiding respect for Rule of Law may have been discouraged by news yesterday that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the investigators of the Russia-collusion hoax is unlikely to end in the cuffing and stuffing of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — despite Obama’s fingerprints being all over the coup crime scene.

Sometimes, though, a few choice words can do more lasting damage than a frog march: “This cannot be, and it will not be, a tit-for-tat exercise,” said Attorney General William Barr. “We are not going to lower the standards just to achieve a result.”

Let’s think about those two sentences for a moment. Both imply wrongdoing, and both imply an unwillingness by Barr to stoop to the level of those wrongdoers. But neither signals any sort of capitulation. Far from it. Barr, as is his penchant, is playing it cool, refusing to get out over his skis. Instead, he’s allowing a seasoned and highly regarded U.S. attorney to quietly gather the facts and do his job. And if doing his job requires that he first focus a few levels down from Obama and Biden, where bad actors like Peter Strzok and Kevin Clinesmith were operating, then so be it.

“I’m a little surprised by that statement,” said President Donald Trump yesterday. But this, too, is a good thing. If our nation’s attorney general is seen as little more than the president’s toadie, then his credibility will be greatly diminished — and so will be the findings of the investigation he launched. Here, the contrast between Barr, a by-the-book lawyer who first served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, and Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, couldn’t be starker. “I’m still the president’s wing-man,” said Holder in 2013, “so I’m there with my boy.”

The moment a nation’s attorney general claims to be “there with my boy” the president is the moment a Department of Justice has lost its way.

But there is something on which AG Barr and President Trump agree wholeheartedly, and it should give encouragement to every citizen who respects the law and wants to see justice done in this case. The mainstream media ignored it, of course, but former DOJ attorney Andrew McCarthy captured it in National Review:

What happened to the president in the 2016 election, and throughout the first two years of his administration, was … a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in American history. … We saw two different standards of justice emerge, one that applied to President Trump and his associates, and the other that applied to everybody else. We can’t allow this ever to happen again [emphasis added].

If that last sentence sounds familiar, it’s because President Trump has been saying the exact same thing for months now. And if our mercurial president and his cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow attorney general can agree on only one thing, let it be this.

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Reopening the Lone Star State

Nate Jackson

“Texas governor reopens more businesses and schools days after highest jump in Covid-19 cases in the state,” blared CNN’s headline. Business Insider reported, “Texas reported its highest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases as restaurants, salons, and cinemas open to the public.” Likewise, the Houston Chronicle sounded the alarm: “Rising cases, inadequate tracing put Texas at risk during reopening.”

The same could be said for numerous other states: Cases are rising slightly as states reopen. Leftmedia outlets seemingly tout this as proof that no state should be easing lockdown edicts. The Atlantic even called Georgia’s reopening an “experiment in human sacrifice.” Texas is now entering Phase Two of reopening — hence the apocalyptic headlines.

But some of us have been saying for some time that a rise in coronavirus cases is the necessary price for reopening. The devastation to our economy outweighs the risks.

More to the point, the drastic rise in testing that has accompanied reopening means … drumroll please … there will be more confirmed cases. That doesn’t necessarily mean more cases, but rather confirmed ones. This is not proof that states are doing the wrong thing by allowing the economy to open back up at reduced capacity and letting some people return to work under conditions as safe as can be contrived. Unmitigated reopening and total lockdown are not the only two choices.

Hot Air’s Karen Townsend puts Texas’s plight in perspective: “Governor Abbott has taken a slow and deliberate approach to reopen the state. Not only has Texas been dealt a blow by the coronavirus pandemic and the nation’s economic collapse but the oil and gas industry has hit unprecedented lows, too. The Texas economy is a driving force in the strength of the nation’s economy, the second-largest in the United States. Reopening Texas will be good for the national economic recovery.”

Texas, by the way, became somewhat of a poster child for the ridiculous measures taken to enforce lockdowns when salon owner Shelley Luther was arrested and fined for daring to fix people’s hair. She eventually went free. The rest of Texas is slowly following suit.

As Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “It is time to reopen America in a smart and deliberate fashion and stop calling people murderers because they want to get back to work. The American people are responsible enough to live free and confront risk. Let them do so.”

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Back to School?

Lewis Morris

As the 2019-20 school year finishes the home stretch, it’s now obvious that kids will have to wait till fall before they see the inside of a classroom again. Or will it be longer? Comments made by pandemic guru Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate hearing last week were reported to suggest that he recommended not opening schools this fall.

During the hearing, Fauci noted that we shouldn’t count on a vaccine before then, though he is confident that a vaccine will be developed at some point. The media spun his words to indicate that Fauci recommended keeping schools closed in the fall. President Donald Trump publicly disagreed with that idea.

Trump wants schools opened. Except for the elitist establishment, we all do. The big issue, of course, is safety. It’s become impossible to build consensus on what constitutes “safe” and how to achieve it. Ultimately, each state may proceed as it sees fit, but many state and local agencies look to the federal government for guidance on what to do next.

The biggest concern is whether we have enough evidence or even the right evidence to make informed decisions. An article in Wired magazine laying out the case for reopening schools points to mounting evidence from around the world that children have been largely unaffected by COVID-19. In Europe, many kids are already back at school, where the institutions are regularly disinfected, and class sizes and lunch periods have been refigured to comply with social distancing.

Senator Rand Paul, a physician and COVID-19 survivor, pressed Fauci with facts shared in the Wired article and data from major health organizations regarding childhood mortality and the China Virus. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that only 1% of coronavirus patients were under 10 years old, and only 1% were aged 10 to 19 years old. Even in New York City, the epicenter for the virus in the U.S., only 10 deaths out of about 16,000 attributed to the China Virus have been those under the age of 18. More school children die of pneumonia each year.

Establishment-type elitists making the case for continued school lockdowns point to the concept that, while children may have a lower susceptibility to COVID-19, they have the potential to be carriers of the virus, bringing it home to older family members. However, the reasons why or to what extent are still unknown.

Still, maintaining an indefinite lockdown posture in the absence of medical absolutes we may never achieve is not doing our children or us any good. Long-term closure of schools has a negative effect on their understanding of important social dynamics, which are formed during school years. Long periods of being stuck at home can lead to depression and anxiety among kids as well as their parents, who must cope with their children’s stresses on top of their own. Increased mental-health problems and child abuse are the result.

Perhaps one of the most obvious points for getting kids back to school in the fall is because it will free up parents to get back to work — assuming they have that choice. Many parents have either had to leave their jobs or do home-based work while their kids are out of school. They can’t get back to business until their kids get back to school. Keeping children out of school also disproportionately affects lower-income families, who don’t have as many employment options, often can’t afford babysitters or nannies, or don’t have adequate computers and Internet connections for distance learning.

Rather than wait for a 100% all-clear to send our kids back to school, state and local governments should take this summer break to develop plans to create a safe and clean education environment. There are lessons to be learned by what some countries have done in Europe, and we owe it to our children to provide them the best education possible.

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WHO Keynote Speaker: Global Pandemic Expert Xi Jinping

Thomas Gallatin

On Monday, President Donald Trump sent a scathing letter to the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warning him that the U.S. would permanently withhold its WHO funding if the UN’s health organization didn’t make serious changes and break from its China appeasement. “It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote. “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”

Trump’s letter follows his announcement in April that the U.S. would withhold its $400-$500 million in annual funding to the UN organization as his administration conducts an investigation of the WHO’s failures in response to the China Virus global pandemic. Trump’s letter featured a bulleted list of instances in which the WHO failed to abide by agreed-upon international standards, such as not holding China accountable for not following health regulations requiring countries to report “risk of a health emergency within 24 hours.” In fact, Trump noted, “By the time you finally declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, it had killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries.”

Meanwhile, the WHO invited the leading expert in spreading a global pandemic, Chinese Communist Party President Xi Jinping, to speak at its annual oversight convention. Trump turned down a speaking invitation, citing the WHO’s ongoing “China-centric” behavior. A White House official explained, “If the WHO had done its job, and not enabled China’s refusal to be transparent, the world would likely be in a very different place right now. Now is the time for answers and transparency, not a photo opportunity aimed at conveying a false sense of solidarity.”

Xi pushed back against Trump’s accusations, absurdly claiming, “All along, we have acted with openness, transparency, and responsibility. We have provided information to the WHO and the relevant countries in a most timely fashion.” Yet China still refuses to allow international health officials to investigate the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

Finally, in a perfect demonstration of Trump’s charge of the WHO being little other than China’s puppet, guess which nation has been excluded from the WHO conference? The one nation that notably has had the earliest and most effective response to the pandemic, Taiwan. Clearly, the WHO is still kowtowing to Beijing.

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Garbage Models Lead to Garbage Policy

Harold Hutchison

Computer programmers have a phrase, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” But this phrase doesn’t just apply to computers — it can also apply to policy. The fact is, policy can only be as good as the information used by those who make it. And, as Dr. Anthony Fauci explained in March, “The model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions.”

Bad intelligence led American officials with the best of intentions to decide Saddam Hussein’s regime had to go. True, taking out Saddam wasn’t solely predicated on weapons of mass destruction, but the failure to find the WMDs was an issue that dogged George W. Bush throughout his presidency.

We’ve seen a serious case of garbage in, garbage out regarding the Wuhan coronavirus, though, and failing to face this will cause history to repeat itself. The country may have been locked down when no lockdown was needed, and thus, we have suffered colossal economic damage we didn’t need to suffer.

According to a report from Fox News, it turns out that the model predicting 2.2 million deaths in the United States and 500,000 in the United Kingdom was, well, not quite ready for prime time. In fact, one expert went so far as to call it “quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen.” If that code had been turned in for a commercial project, the coder would be deservedly fired.

As an aside, the professor who created that model was busted sneaking his married mistress into his house, flaunting the United Kingdom lockdown for which he advocated. Sound familiar? Well, it’s about as bad as those A-list celebrities who fly private jets all over the world but lecture us about carbon footprints — but we digress. The real issue is to make sure that we don’t get suckered by a bad model in the future.

Patriots will remember that models have been used to make a lot of doomsday claims about climate change. Those doomsday models, in fact, are used by some in political power to justify the criminalization of dissent over environmental policy — all in the name of stopping climate change. Of course, stopping climate change would likely result in a longer-running version of the lockdown, with all of the harm that such a shutdown would cause.

This is why Congress will need to get to the bottom of how the models that resulted in the lockdowns got things so wrong. The lockdowns were arguably the largest regulatory taking of all time. Americans deserve answers as to how the models were so far off. The fact is, garbage models lead to garbage policy, and America deserves better than that.

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More Great Analysis

There is no evidence that Russia hacked the DNC’s emails, says Thomas Gallatin.

And a new member of our team, Douglas Andrews, lays out the threats to Republican Senate control.

NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Last week, Richard Burr provisionally stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. His eventual fate rests entirely upon the outcome of the federal government’s probe into whether Burr et al. engaged in insider trading. In the meantime, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will serve as the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee,” Axios reports. In the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “Senator Rubio was the natural choice for this temporary assignment on the basis of accumulated committee service. His proven leadership on pertinent issues only made the decision easier.” We couldn’t agree more.

  • Recall that, last December, a Saudi national brutishly murdered three people and injured even more at Naval Air Station Pensacola (Florida). Attorney General William Barr provided an update on the incident in a press conference yesterday in which he revealed, “The FBI finally succeeded in unlocking [Mohammed Saeed] Alshamrani’s phones. The phones contain information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani’s significant ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States.” Columnist Gary Bauer observes, “While COVID is dominating the headlines, it’s important to recognize that radical Islam remains a threat to our homeland.”

Government & Politics

  • President Trump, citing the organization’s “alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China,” threatens to make WHO funding freeze permanent (NBC News)

  • Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine to protect against coronavirus (The Washington Post)

  • On the heels of Katie Hill’s “throuple,” Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford admits to decade-long affair with former intern (The Washington Free Beacon)

Business & Economy

  • They’ve been through riots, protests, and natural disasters — but America’s colleges have never seen anything like the financial meltdown the coronavirus is about to bring to their campuses (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • China slaps an 80% tariff on drought-affected Australian exporters as brutal punishment for push for COVID-19 inquiry — just hours after saying it’ll support inquiry when pandemic is over (UK Daily Mail)

  • Japan has slipped into a recession as its economy sank for a second straight quarter (UPI)

  • Hope for producers as oil clears $30 a barrel (Washington Examiner)

Culture & Heartland

  • Oregon’s coronavirus restrictions ruled “null and void” after governor failed to get approval from legislature (Fox News)

  • Democrat-imposed coronavirus orders face lawsuits across the nation (Fox News)

  • Gov. Charlie Baker announces Massachusetts reopening plan (The Hill)

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio warns beach swimmers will “be taken right out of the water” (The Daily Wire)

Other Notables

  • Not-so-mission accomplished: Over 100 million in China’s northeast face renewed lockdown (Bloomberg)

  • Good news: Early data show Moderna COVID-19 vaccine generates immune response (STAT)

  • Four ways the 1957 H2N2 pandemic resembles, and differs from, COVID-19 (The Daily Signal)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: How blind faith in scientific expertise wrecked the economy (The Federalist)

  • Policy: The public health crisis means cities need to reevaluate transit projects (The Hill)

  • Humor: Mayor Bill de Blasio lays naval minefield to deter swimmers (The Babylon Bee)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: People Can’t Be Forced to Stay Home Indefinitely, WI Court Says — Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency powers don’t allow him to extend stay-at-home orders in perpetuity.

Video: The Fallen Soldier — A moving tribute, written and narrated by former Navy SEAL and author Jocko Willink.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor.” —George Orwell (1903-1950)

The bottom line: “The lockdown is ending because the American people say it’s ending. No further explanation from government is necessary.” —Dan Bongino

For the record, Part I: “The law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a false and utterly baseless Russian-collusion narrative against the president.” —Attorney General William Barr

For the record, Part II: “What happened to the president in the 2016 election … was abhorrent, it was a grave injustice, and it was unprecedented in American history.” —William Barr

Observations: “Here’s something to ponder: The same progressives who were telling President Trump that he can’t detain illegal immigrants are now telling American citizens they must be locked up in their homes and their businesses must be shut down.” —Gary Bauer

Upright: “When a disc jockey or a talk show host or a journalist who is being paid to work from his or her home tells people who can’t work, pay bills or pay their rent or mortgage to ‘Stay home and be careful because we’re all in this together,’ it’s okay to question the premise.” —Pat Sajak

Friendly fire: “The politicians & unelected bureaucrats who stole our liberty should be tarred, feathered & thrown out of town!” —Elon Musk

Braying jackass: “As far as the president is concerned, he’s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group — morbidly obese, they say. So I think it’s not a good idea.” —Nancy Pelosi on Trump’s taking hydroxychloroquine as prescribed by his doctor

And last… “It is easy to ‘prioritize public health’ when you work comfortably from home.” —Rep. Dan Crenshaw

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