Monday, May 25, 2020

A broad, reality-based COVID-19 perspective is desperately needed

Stipulated: COVID-19 is a serious disease. If you get it, you may be in for a few horrible weeks of fighting it. And, you may lose your life.

This coronavirus sneaked out of China, and caught the world by surprise. Very little was known about it, and dealing with it was difficult.

The warnings from scientists about becoming infected were horrifying. Which explains why such drastic actions by federal, state and local officials were so readily obeyed. At first.

As of Sunday, nearly 90,000 Americans had died from it, and about 1.5 million Americans were known to have been infected with the disease. But there are some problems with these numbers.

We really don’t know how many have actually been infected, because many infected people don’t have symptoms, or have mild symptoms, and are not tested. If they aren’t tested, nobody knows they have the virus. An article in Forbes magazine cited a study by a team at Kyoto University estimating that nearly 18 percent of those with the virus had no symptoms. We have learned the percentage of persons tested that have a positive result is about 13 percent.

If testing shows that 1.5 million Americans have the active virus, applying the Kyoto study’s data to that figure means that approximately 1.8 million actually have been infected. Two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand people were going about their business, never knowing they were infected, and could have been infecting others.

The number of people who actually die from it is also uncertain. That’s because if a person passes away and has been infected, the mandated conclusion often is that they died of COVID-19. There is no distinction between whether someone died “because of” the virus, or merely “with” the virus. noted in an analysis that “The CDC guidance says that officials should report deaths in which the patient tested positive for COVID-19 — or, if a test isn’t available, ‘if the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty.’ It further indicates that if a ‘definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID-19 on a death certificate as probable or presumed.'”

So, if someone has pneumonia or is run over by a beer truck and dies, and they test positive for the virus, they may be recorded as having died of the virus, whether that was the primary cause of death or not.

In dire situations like this pandemic, a reasoned perspective is needed, but is very difficult to develop. We certainly do not want to make too little of the coronavirus, putting Americans needlessly at risk. But we also must not make too much of it by needlessly continuing the heavy economic and social restrictions, and the damage they produce. It is a narrow line to walk.

On May 17 there were 1,507,829 active cases. Of those, 89,589 had died and 275,560 had recovered. For active cases, death occurred for 6 percent, while 18 percent recovered. No information is provided about the other million-plus who tested positive.

USA Today reported earlier this month, “Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to Congress in March that the mortality rate may be as low as 1.0 percent when accounting for people who are infected but don’t develop symptoms severe enough to be tested.”

Some perspective on causes of death in 2018, from the CDC:
Heart disease: 647,457; Cancer: 599,108; Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936; Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201; Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383; Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404; Diabetes: 83,564; Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672; Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633; Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173.

Available information indicates that unless you are elderly or have some sort of pre-existing health issue, you have a very good chance of surviving COVID-19.

Fauci, who is President Donald Trump's coronavirus expert, stated at a coronavirus task force meeting, “I've looked at all the models, I've spent a lot of time on the models. They don't tell you anything. You can't really rely upon models," according to The Washington Post.

Yet inaccurate models were utilized in developing the measures that health officials said should be implemented to limit the impact of the virus, and a one-size-fits-all list of restrictions was imposed on the nation.

As time passed, while New York, New Jersey and a few other states were hit hard, several states were barely affected. Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Wyoming and Vermont had fewer than 1,000 cases and fewer than 100 deaths. Eight other states reported more than 1,000 cases, but also fewer than 100 deaths. The harsh restrictions in these states may have done more harm than good.

As more time has passed, some states have relaxed restrictions, allowing a slow, careful reopening to occur. Georgia and Florida have drawn criticism for their re-opening actions, but have shown declining cases, so far.

Abandoning the one-size-fits-all approach and treating areas according to their actual disease level is a sensible way to start getting the economy re-started. That is a very important step.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The United States is being torn apart … from the inside!

The good news is that there is a large, strong faction of Americans that recognizes the superior nature of our republic’s original and unique design that is fighting to keep it intact.

But there is another faction that is working to disassemble the republic, and turn it into a totally different nation. Some in that faction are doing this deliberately, while others may not even realize that what they are doing will negatively affect the country.

No nation ever was or ever will be perfect, and the United States isn’t perfect. But a major transformation would be magnificently foolish. The United States must simply work to continue to improve itself, and watch for and combat efforts at fundamental change. One such problem is the education system.

A new report on the state of public education shows that schools are performing poorly on basic educational goals. The results of testing on a representative sample of 42,700 eighth grade students from nearly 800 schools in 2018 showed that students are deficient in learning U.S. history, civics and geography.

Test scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for geography and U.S. history declined, and civics scores are unchanged from the last test in 2014.

Only 25 percent were “proficient” in geography. In civics, only 24 percent performed at or above the “proficient” level. And worse, only 15 percent scored “proficient” or above in U.S. history. At least 25 percent of the entire group are classified by the NAEP as “below basic” in all three testing areas, and have an inadequate level of understanding of civics, historical issues, and geography.

These kids have a generally poor understanding of their country, how and why it is designed as it is, and why that is important. They are therefore ripe for political indoctrination.

Columnist Michael Barone recently discussed the sad state of affairs among giant Internet companies that want to censor “inappropriate” speech.

Two law professors, of all people, say controlling speech on Internet platforms is necessary. Jack Goldsmith from Harvard University, and Keane Woods from the University of Arizona, writing in The Atlantic, stated the following: "Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society's norms and values."

So, in the age of the Internet the First Amendment is no longer important. And if free speech is suspended by online platforms in order to be “compatible with a society's norms and values," how long before that dark cloud of censorship covers all speech in America?

The “old ways” are under attack. Because something was utilized a century ago, it is considered invalid because of its age and the current social climate. Under such a system, nothing can be thought of as eternally good, or even eternally bad.

What was accepted as good in the 1800s is useless today. What we replace the old ways with today will be useless in 2080. Stability is becoming non-existent.

Today, some want to force “clean” energy on the nation in the name of a pure environment, even though clean energy sources are not capable of satisfactorily replacing fossil fuels, and the U.S. leads the world in carbon reduction.

Making some things free, like a college education, is thought to be useful to establish equality. But free things are not necessarily better than costly things, and not everyone who will avail themselves of a free college education needs to, or should go to college.

There is a move to devalue success, because celebrating success supposedly belittles those who didn’t win the race or become the valedictorian. Everyone gets a participation trophy, so they won’t feel bad. So, what’s the point of working to achieve?

Also, let’s put more of our lives under control of the government, which always knows best what we need.

The coronavirus pandemic has sickened and killed thousands and struck fear into the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. In trying to protect people and stop the spread of the virus, businesses have been closed and people confined to their homes.

Fear is a great motivator. The more the people are made to fear things — going to work or school, going to the grocery store or other commercial establishments, any activity that puts them too near other people — the fewer of us will dare to restart living our lives as we used to.

Some governors and mayors have imposed overly-restrictive rules on things people want and need to do. People are fined, arrested and jailed for not abiding by the imposed guidelines.

Does a governor or mayor have the unilateral authority to implement rules and penalties with the force of law that deny people their Constitutionally guaranteed rights in an emergency?

If so, perhaps we will see a rash of emergencies develop, as the element of control becomes more popular among office holders.

If you don’t do anything else while you are keeping yourself safe at home, give some thought about who is being hurt by this shutting down of society, and also about exactly who it is that benefits from it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The “New Way Forward Act” is more like the “New Way Backward Act”

Forty-four members of our House of Representatives have come out in support of a bill — H.R.5383 — that has received precious little attention from our national news media. After you learn what is in this piece of legislation and what it will do, you are likely to wonder why such sweeping legislation would not at least peek through the coronavirus mania that now receives almost as much attention as Donald Trump’s latest imagined booboo.

The New Way Forward Act, in the words of its primary sponsor, Democrat Illinois Rep. Jesús García, simply asks for a “fair shot at the opportunity for immigrants to stay in the country they call home.”

That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Finding a way for those immigrants who love America and want to come here, become true Americans and contribute to making us an even better nation — who could possibly object to that, other than those who are racists and xenophobes?

Why, then, would such a humanitarian-oriented bill escape the notice of the mainstream news media?

Then, on the other hand, when the immigrants in question are frequently or mostly illegal aliens, who have broken the law to come here, and more than a few have committed other crimes before and/or after coming here, maybe this law isn’t such a great idea.

Matthew Tragesser, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), had this to say about it: “The New Way Forward Act is arguably the most radical piece of immigration legislation in American history.”

Some of the features of the New Way Forward Act are:
* It will assist foreign born criminals to live here
* It will allow people who have committed serious felonies in other countries to move to the United States
* It will make it much more difficult for federal immigration officials to detain potentially dangerous immigrants
* It will transport deported criminals back into the United States at our expense
* It will give free health care to illegal immigrants
* It will abolish ICE

This measure needs to be ripped up and tossed in the trash, ala Nancy Pelosi at the State of the Union address.

In its place must be measures to secure borders and ports of entry, and punish those who flaunt our immigration laws. The following should be done:
* Stronger measures to prevent illegal entry into the country
* Charging illegals who illegally re-enter the country with a crime and jailing them, not deporting them
* Illegals who have committed crimes in other countries and/or in the U.S. should be jailed, not deported, so they cannot once again try to re-enter the country
* Confinement for breaking immigration laws should be neither inhumane nor pleasant. It should be a deterrent against entering the country illegally, and a measure that costs tax payers as little as possible

In a “nation of laws, not men,” as the United States is, and as a nation where citizenship is a valued asset that can be earned by those from other countries, the provisions of the New Way Forward Act are poisonous. They are precisely opposite to what is needed for a secure nation. They are sharply at odds with the principles our Founders set forth two and one-half centuries ago. They also are at odds with common sense.

By relaxing our immigration standards to allow whoever wants to come in, we will have no idea who is coming in. Will it be only honest, hard-working, good people who want to become Americans? Will it be lazy people who want to live off the government? Or, thugs and criminals who will commit all manner of crimes?

The answer: all of the above.

Surely the proponents of this horrible mis-named legislation are capable of understanding the dangers of this concept. Or, perhaps they just don’t care.

García and 43 other Democrat House members introduced the New Way Forward Act last December. Some of the 43 others are Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, and the infamous “Squad” which is known for its radical ideas: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.

Other House Democrats who support lax enforcement of immigration laws include Michigan’s Andy Levin, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, and the Speaker of the House, California’s Nancy Pelosi.

It is interesting to watch people in Congress, some of whom live behind gates and are very careful about who comes on their property. Many of them support lax immigration policies that would allow people to enter their country that they would never allow in their homes. On the one hand, safety is the main concern. On the other, political expedience is the main concern.

Democrats more and more are trying to change America’s basic orientation. While he didn’t start this trend, former President Barack Obama certainly properly characterized it: fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

But America does not need fundamental change. Its design is so far ahead of other countries that it would be, to put it in the most graphic terms, stupid to follow the Democrat’s preferred path, and turn it into one more socialist state bound for failure.