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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Books and Biden

Reading is our primary way to expand knowledge. However, we all know that not everything is worth reading. As you know from the last post, I read only some excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book. If the grabbers the publisher puts out were worthless, why bother with the book? This applies to the rest of the wave of election time books seemingly coming out every other day. These tell-all books add little to what we need to know for an intelligent decision. Disgruntled family members, former employees, and those suffering other party derangement syndrome come up every four years and then are rightly forgotten. Time is better spent elsewhere.

Recently, I finished two books worth time. The first is Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom. The author of many highly informative books, Ridley, understands how the innovations that changed humanity’s course came about. In most cases, it’s not how you thought. Very entertaining and informative. Ripley challenges how we think about things.

The other book is Alec Berenson’s Unreported Truths about COVID-19 And Lockdowns Part 2. Previously, I had recommended Part 1 of this series of what are really pamphlets. As Ii said then, the former New York Times reporter will reinforce what readers of this blog already know. However, Berenson has some information you may not be aware of. 

I had no idea none of our emergency pandemic plans contained any provision for hard lockdowns. Apparently, when the idea was discussed, it was dismissed as far too disruptive. Berenson walks us through how policy planning that was highly reluctant to impose a hard lockdown did a 180 in March. He explains how, in panic, our policy changed. 

In the calm before the storm, planners can take the time to use a larger canvas to factor in other aspects than just the spread of the disease. As we consider the bigger picture, the less attractive the massive dislocations caused by a lockdown look. Yet, only the narrow group of people dealing directly with disease spread had a real input in the actual March decisions.

It is reasonable for epidemic experts to present their narrow views. They didn’t want to be blamed for not doing enough to prevent deaths. Who was there to offer a broader perspective? The people available to present the economic side, such as the President’s chief economist Larry Kudlow, were constrained by fear of being accused of putting dollars above lives. In fact, this is what happened and closed off broader consideration. Why was there no one to present more general medical concerns? Shouldn’t there be some medical people charged with seeing the bigger picture?

Many institutions have recognized this problem and have people involved with public medical policy. Stanford University’s Hoover Institution is one aware of the value of medical people with a broad perspective. It has people like the senior fellow, Dr. Scott Atlas, to advise decision-makers how specific actions would affect other medical areas. How a decision concerning one specialty might affect areas such as pediatrics, surgery, acute treatments, psychiatric and psychological, just to name a few.

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It’s Trump’s Fault

Covid-19, raging forest fires, riots ,and high crime in the cities, we know who to blame. Donald Trump is President, and it’s all happening under his watch.

Trump never fails to provide a real head-scratcher. Why he would give recorded interviews to Bob Woodward, I can’t fathom. In what way would it ever turn out well? Sure enough, Woodward uses the tapes to hammer the President less than two months before the election. Of course, he’ll sell a boatload of books. It indeed adds the narrative of it’s all Trump’s fault.

I haven’t read the book, just the widely published excerpts. The idea trumpeted in the book is Trump knew all about the Covid-19 but failed to level with the people. By playing down the threat he lied to America. This assumes what Trump told Woodward were hard and fast facts the President was hiding from the public. Looking at the excerpts provided, this is far from the case. Rather than hard facts, they are more of an illustration of the fog of war.

Take the Virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious, and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” passage.We already knew from reports out of China the Virus was dangerous and highly contagious. The February 7 interview was done at the same time the Diamond Princess was quarantined in Japan. The ship was, in fact, a floating coronavirus lab. What we found out from it has held basically true throughout the epidemic. We received daily re[ports from the ship.

“Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up” was the authoritative journal Nature’s headline not in February but on July 8. “Governments are starting to change policies amid concerns that tiny droplets can carry SARS-CoV-2. And after months of denying the importance of this, the World Health Organization is reconsidering its stance.”

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