As We Approach the End

Here we are, a week from election day. It probably crossed the mind of each of the Presidential candidates they could lose. Both are probably asking themselves, how could I lose to this guy? That each candidate is highly flawed is no secret. Readers of this blog know I have not been Donald Trump’s biggest fan. Some of his policies, such as trade and immigration, I find self-defeating. Trump is a man unable to play well with others, even when it’s to his benefit. He has made enemies of many who might’ve helped widen his appeal. He speaks endlessly when it would profit him to let others do the talking. This was surely true of his COVID-19 updates.

Yet, much to my surprise, he has delivered on most of his campaign promises. A Mitt Romney would’ve been proud of the record of cutting taxes, reigning in regulations, filling the courts with originalist judges, and rebuilding our military. On policy and results, he’s a pretty good Republican.

If it weren’t for the Corona-virus, Trump would’ve been a solid bet for re-election. As I’ve noted, Trump’s actions on the virus have been uneven. Still, in less than a year, we may have a vaccine. With better methods and therapeutics, deaths have been stabilized even in the face of rising case levels. The new treatments have been put into practice in record time. Trump has joined most of the rest of the world in realizing lockdowns aren’t the answer. When we look at Trump’s performance, we again have to ask, compared to what?

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Pelosi and The Little People

As an octogenarian, I’m alert to anything moving us closer to “Herd Immunity.” At my age, with a wife recovering from lung cancer, life is basically a form of house arrest. It will remain that way until we arrive at “Herd Immunity.” We get there by enough people becoming immune to impede the virus. Natural spread, a vaccine, or a combination of the two are the ways we get there. Given the history of vaccine development, a successful one at first looked a very long way off. Due to herculean efforts by all hands, miraculously, we might have one in a month or two. A get out of jail card may be in the offing.

However, even when the clinical trials are over, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently decreed a further two-month observation period before release. This will probably push a vaccine well into the new year. The need for this is hotly contested in the scientific community. Unfortunately, it got injected into election-year politics. Having pulled out all stops with his “Operation Warp speed,” President Trump was looking forward to the early vaccine O.K. Democrats claimed he was pushing through a possibly unsafe vaccine to help in his re-election. If half the country refused to get vaccinated, it would be difficult to achieve any early “Herd Immunity.” The fact a delay would cost lives and cause further hardship is the basis of the FDA rules’ criticism. The critics see little risk in moving quicker.

In the midst of all of this, Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a warning a Covid-19 vaccine should not be authorized for use in the U.S. based on data from British trials. Ms. Pelosi told reporters in Washington, “We need to be very careful about what happens in the U.K. We have very stringent rules in terms of the Food and Drug Administration here, about the number of clinical trials, the timing, the number of people and all the rest.”

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Some Things Upsetting Me

A couple of things cropping up have caused me some upset. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on for a commission to explore granting reparations for black slavery. Also, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warned the U.S. executive branch against adopting U.K. trial results to approve a COVID-19 vaccine to release it here. I find both troubling. In this post and the next post, I’ll tackle these.

The idea of reparations for black people is a bad idea, much like Marxism that refuses to go away. The notion is we can hold people monetarily liable to others they haven’t personally wronged. This goes against our entire legal history. Yet, here we are again.

Most of those supporting reparations ground their claim in civil war General William Tecumseh Sherman’s order granting 40 acres and a mule to some freed slaves. The land was confiscated tidal land in Georgia and South Carolina. Sherman’s ruling was later reversed by President Johnson. While some blacks have claimed this was a pledge to every ex-slave, Generals don’t make laws for the nation.

Even though this was never a general government commitment, I have written this could be used as a jumping-off point. Just not in the way those claiming reparations envisioned. This is a good time for an update. The monetary value of the acres and mule has gone up due to inflation. The best estimate I can find is the average cost of an acre of farmland in the U.S. is approximately $4,721 and a good mule up to $5,000. This comes to about $200,000. The proponents of reparations say blacks are owed this to compensate for “institutional racism.” It may be compensation, but if there really is institutional racism holding black people back, reparations money won’t change it. 

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The Wallace Method

Chris Wallace has given us great insight into how narratives are taken as facts. I’m sure he had no intention of doing so, but nevertheless group think has invaded the mind of our best interviewer. Maybe it was always in residence. A couple of posts ago, Books and Biden, I noted Wallace questioned the appointment, Dr. Scott Atlas. I wrote, “on his recent Sunday program, he questioned Dr. Atlas’s addition to the President’s coronavirus staff. What could a neuroradiologist have to offer in a pandemic?” I pointed out it was a strangely uninformed statement. Dr. Atlas is a respected national expert on public-health policy. He’s advised national leaders, including the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Going back to March and April, I explained we lacked someone to provide a broader perspective to severe lockdowns. Someone to offer real cost-benefit analysis. Had that person or persons been present initially, maybe some of the destructive excesses of the lockdowns might have been avoided.

The idea Wallace’s characterization was an uninformed one-off statement now is out the window. He again commented on Dr. Atlas to Sandra Smith on Fox’s America’s newsroom concerning Dr. Atlas’ statement, ” ‘I anticipate a complete, and full, and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period,'” Smith said, quoting Atlas. “‘I anticipate [Trump] will be back on the road in full swing. He is a very, very healthy guy and the overwhelming majority of people even at his age do fine with this'”

To this, Wallace barked, “I’m going to say something. And folks, I’m just trying to give you the truth,” Wallace continued. “Dr. Scott Atlas is not an epidemiologist, is not an infectious disease specialist. He has no training in this area at all. There are a number of top people on the President’s coronavirus task force who have had grave concerns about Scott Atlas and his scientific bona fides…Listen to people like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx — who have been largely cut off. Listen to the independent people who do not have a political axe to grind. And I, frankly, don’t think Scott Atlas is one of those people.”

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Dove of Peace Sighting

I’ve always been one to encourage people to think outside the box. If there ever was a box encasing how we thought about the Middle East, it was the Two-State solution. Israel and the Arabs living in most of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would make peace allowing for a Palestinian State. For decades we encouraged the Israelis to make concessions to achieve this goal. Over the years, Israel made offers only to be violently rebuffed. Now, Gaza is ruled by Hamas, while the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Neither has held any recent elections. Who exactly is Israel supposed to negotiate with? The impasse continued through the decades without progress. Our Foreign Policy establishment could never find any way out of the Two-State Box.

Enter Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. While the previous Obama administration clung to the Two-State solution with a seeming list towards the Palestinians, the Orthodox Jewish Kushner was bound to see things in a different light. Given the close familial relationship, President Trump would look at the problem with fresh eyes. The break with conventional thinking first became evident when we moved our embassy to Jerusalem. The Foreign Policy establishment predicted all hell would break loose. The whole Muslim World would react violently. It didn’t. The establishment will never forgive Trump for exposing them.

I had thought a tacit alliance between Israel and the Kurds with U.S. backing might provide balance to the Middle East. While the anti-Israel Sunnis and Shia duked it out, the U.S. from a Kurdistan base could have a decisive influence. This made sense when I proposed it years ago, but the whole landscape has changed.

With the size and population akin to Maricopa County, Arizona, Israel never was a major threat to its neighbors. It just was a political rally point for Muslims. Awash with oil money, they had no need of anything from Israel. Death to the Jews and drive them into the sea played well at home.

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