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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, May 01, 2020

The Scab & The Wound Beneath

. . . On painful realities in the age of the coronavirus.
Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.)
by Victor Davis Hanson: An overriding theme of the historian Thucydides’ monumental history of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) is the fragility of civilization. In extremis, when both the elites and masses lose their thin veneer of culture, society can turn feral quickly. During a horrific war, plague, or revolution, even a wealthy and sophisticated civilization such as that of the classical Greek city-states regresses in a second to its innate state. And what follows from these natural and man-made disasters is not pretty. Still, these calamities can be tragically instructional. Hypocrisies arise. Pretexts vanish. Fundamental but forgotten truths, easily masked in times of calm, reemerge. From Thucydides’ warnings, we can glean that even suburban elites in Range Rovers can in a day be reduced to tugging over toilet paper rolls at Whole Foods.

During the twenty-seven-year-long Peloponnesian War, Athens, the most liberal and confident of some 1,500 Greek city-states, proved the readiest to butcher prisoners and civilians. And it did so en masse at Mytilene, Scione, and Melos. Thucydides noted that during the plague of 430–29, the most virtuous of Athenians (“especially the case with such as made any pretensions to goodness”) perished along with the selfish. Indeed, their courage in abandoning social distancing to aid the infectious sealed their doom (“honor made them unsparing of themselves in their attendance in their friends’ houses”).

Throughout the savage revolution on the island of Corcyra (Corfu), honesty of language and moderation in politics were among the first casualties. And once the violence and body count mounted, extremism in thought and action followed:Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any.The historian’s diagnosis of Corcyrean social malaise could be aptly applied to our current war being waged over vocabulary: whether it is impolite to say “Wuhan virus,” or whether we need euphemisms like “shelter in place” for quarantine or “social distancing” for “anti-social avoidance.”

Of course, in historical terms, covid-19 may prove a rookie virus in comparison to the still mysterious infection—typhus, smallpox, or typhoid?—that wiped out one quarter of the Athenian population along with its iconic sexagenarian leader Pericles. He was the architect of the very wartime strategy of forced withdrawal inside the walls of Athens that birthed the plague in the first place and took his life.

The Athenian disease promptly revealed that the city of Socrates, Sophocles, and Euripides was all too human. The desperate threw the corpses of friends and family on the pyres of others, often while still aflame:sometimes getting the start of those who had raised a pile, they threw their own dead body upon the stranger’s pyre and ignited it; sometimes they tossed the corpse which they were carrying on the top of another that was burning, and so went off.At such times, the majestic Parthenon on the Acropolis or Sophoclean tragedy in the Theater of Dionysus or three hundred triremes at the Piraeus became irrelevant. Recounting the even worse plague of 541–42 A.D. that ended the Byzantine emperor Justinian’s dreams of reconstituting the Roman Empire, the court historian Procopius describes scenes in Constantinople that come right out of contemporary New York: “During that time it seemed no easy thing to see any man in the streets of Byzantium. . . . And work of every description ceased, and all the trades were abandoned by the artisans, and all other work as well, such as each had in hand.”

Wartime and plague-stricken Athens, the most refined of cities, turned the most brutish. Rural and inward Sparta, home of the supposedly duller wits with little cultural enrichment from the wider Aegean, remained more or less true to its traditional mores, avoiding the plague and the panic that the epidemic birthed among coastal and cosmopolitan Athens. In times like these, for once it was deemed wiser to live in Sparta or in rural Utah than in the bustle of cosmopolitan Athens or Manhattan.

Thucydides’ accounts of the plague, the savage factionalism at Corcyra, the mass executions at Mytilene and Melos, and the disaster at Syracuse all remind us that what is considered normal in calm can be rendered absurd instantly in the cauldron of panic and death. Last month I saw what seemed to be a stylishly dressed woman in a Lexus buying toilet paper from her car window in the parking lot of a local Walmart from someone who appeared homeless, a social interaction rare in healthier times.

The pernicious coronavirus tore off an American scab and revealed suppurating wounds beneath. Take the central actor of this plague, China. For much of the twenty-first century, the American establishment’s foreign policy toward China, to the degree it was even formalized, was ethically and logically bankrupt. Yet the status quo remained unquestioned, given it rested on a rare alignment of both progressive and commercial self-interests.

Of course, Americans in general have had a long romance with China. They were never colonialists in China, at least in the manner of the Europeans. Over fifteen million Chinese, our erstwhile allies, were killed in World War II, many brutally slaughtered by our enemies, the Japanese.

More recently, Mao Zedong, arguably the most lethal mass murderer of the twentieth century—perhaps a greater killer than Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot combined—held an attraction for the New Left of the 1960s. His cherubic smile, worker’s cap, peasant dress, cool aphorisms, and hatred of running-dog capitalists once captivated student protestors. Even Barack Obama’s acting White House communications director, Anita Dunn, in 2009 still swooned that Mao was one of her two favorite political “philosophers”:And then the third lesson and tip actually come from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa—not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is, you’re going to make choices. You’re going to challenge.More recently for the Left, China has become empathetic as the classic long-suffering “other”—as opposed perhaps to the less sympathetic discriminated-against Chinese-Americans applying to Ivy League colleges. Beijing is guilty of interning roughly one million Muslim Uighurs, all but wiping out the culture of Tibet, destroying vestigial democracy in Hong Kong, and forging a new Silk Road imperialism in Africa and Asia. This is to say nothing of their systematic patent and copyright infringement, pollution, and currency manipulation. And yet liberals have been hesitant to fault China for these legal injustices and civil rights violations.

Indeed, in the present crisis, China is now praised for its supposedly more successful reactions to the very virus that it spawned than the remedies of the Trump administration. We are learning that the Left accepts and finds politically useful the ridiculously constructed data issued by the Chinese communist government. That fact is known to Beijing, which in turn might explain why it keeps promulgating outright lies about virus fatalities that are embarrassing to all but the American Left.

Hillary Clinton, for example, on March 27 retweeted a New York Times story with the headline “The U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Coronavirus Cases. Following a series of missteps, the nation is now the epicenter of the pandemic.” She added her own snarky editorial quip: “He did promise ‘America First.’ ”

Aside from her apparent indifference to American dead and ill being used as a source of embarrassment to the American government, Clinton must have also known that the United States was not the leader in the world in actual deaths or cases, given that by mid-March the Chinese government had simply declared that the virus all but over in its 1.4-billion-person population, and claimed falsely that there were few, if any, new cases or deaths. Such myths were necessary to shift blame for Beijing’s culpability in spreading the virus by fraudulently claiming credit for first eliminating the contagion. Clinton further knew that in terms of deaths per million, a 330-million-person America was not “first,” given that almost all European countries, with the exception of Germany, had suffered a far higher fatality to population rate.

Chinese money has been far more influential in warping American politics than were the supposedly colluding Russians who ran some Facebook ads to stir up chaos in 2016 and may have spent a few million dollars in salting misinformation. By the time the virus abates, there may indeed be Chinese “collusion” in this election year, as the media and the Left parrot the Chinese Communist Party’s conspiracy theories and fantasies about the virus, ones deemed mutually efficacious in ensuring that the purported Sinophobe Donald Trump is not reelected. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that the Chinese communists and the American Left hate Trump equally.

The viral panic has reminded Americans of all sort of anomalies. Some 360,000 Chinese students serve as money-makers for American colleges and universities at a time of higher education’s financial crisis. Certainly, the art of charging Chinese students full freight for a college education has proved far more lucrative for campus administrators than trying to squeeze out more money from American students currently over $1.5 trillion in collective student debt. One realization of the crisis is that students can continue their courses online and at a distance—without the need of diversity and inclusion czars, and without receiving refunds for their tuition fees, which were predicated on a full, in-person college experience.

When Donald Trump announced on January 31 travel restrictions on foreigners entering the United States from China, he was blasted as racist and xenophobic by many of the now-withdrawn Democratic 2020 presidential candidates—most of whom eventually grew quiet or supported the measures. His references to the “Wuhan” and “Chinese” virus supposedly proved his bias—in a way unlike China’s own use of the former adjective and the long-standing practice of labeling infections by their places of origin.

Joe Biden’s staff scrambled to explain the candidate’s earlier demagoguery surrounding the restrictions by claiming he was really outraged by Trump’s reference to a “Chinese” virus—oblivious that Biden’s attack on the measures predated Trump’s reference to the origins of the virus. Still, many wondered how and when Biden would inevitably try to square the circle of blasting Trump’s travel restrictions by later agreeing with them. And he tried just that on April 4 by insisting a once racist and xenophobic prohibition would have been enacted even earlier by a President Joe Biden, given that he knew it likely would have saved thousands of lives. Perhaps Biden meant he would have banned in early January all Chinese from arriving at U.S. airports and yet not called them Chinese? In sum, China, for a variety of economic, cultural, and historical reasons, was given a pass by the Left in a way that many monsters in the Middle East, for instance, have usually not been.

Corporate “conservatives” likewise have manipulated China’s special status. How otherwise could American companies so easily and without censure have outsourced key production in rare earth metals, medical supplies, high-tech military applications, and pharmaceuticals? As a result, in the post-virus world, there may be no more smears of “protectionism,” “nationalism,” and “nativism,” but rather embarrassed silence about the globalist rhetoric that veneers what is really just self-interest at the expense of one’s fellow citizens.

How could a Democratic presidential candidate, the multibillionaire corporate mogul Michael Bloomberg—for a brief moment the great Democratic hope to stop socialist Bernie Sanders and to replace an enfeebled Joe Biden—claim to Americans, as he did in a 2019 interview, that President Xi Jinping is “not a dictator. He has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive”? How could Bloomberg craft multibillion-dollar investment schemes to capitalize Chinese companies while simultaneously not allowing his own Bloomberg reporters to faithfully report stories that show the Chinese Communist Party in a negative light?

The Bloomberg viral ironies did not end there. During his campaign, his prior folk wisdom emerged in a series of embarrassing videos of past sermons. In one, he lectured an Oxford audience about the banality and rote of farming, ancient and modern, claiming that he “could teach anybody to be a farmer.” Information technology, Bloomberg insisted, required “a lot more gray matter.” During the lockdowns in Manhattan, the country did not need any more multibillionaires with brains full of “gray matter” capitalizing Chinese communist government companies, but instead needed innovative farmers—you could call them “anybodies”—to keep sending a sheltered-in-place America the most diverse, safe, plentiful, and cheap food in the world.

The apparently consensually led China touted by Bloomberg has lied about the birth, origins, spread, and infectiousness of covid-19; sent over one million of its citizens into U.S. airports after Beijing knew that the virus was communicable; had countless more circumvent U.S. restrictions; falsely declared that the U.S. military created the virus; threatened to cut off shipments of medical supplies produced in China by U.S.–Chinese joint ventures; and caused several thousand American deaths while causing trillions of dollars’ worth of economic damage.

Remember, before the epidemic, Donald Trump was attempting to recalibrate U.S.–Chinese commercial relations via punishing tariffs that had already rattled the communist government, which was suddenly eager for a more compliant president approved by the Council on Foreign Relations. Perhaps Americans will come to their senses when the virus subsides. They might not tolerate a country that harvests human organs, sells bats and live scorpions in wet markets for medicinal purposes, and controls Iowa’s supply of ventilators, California’s N95 particle masks, or Detroit’s ampicillin. If, in the past, the profit-minded multimillionaire stars of the nba seemed deluded in their loud appreciation of the Chinese communist government—and more so by their equally loud disdain for their own elected president—in the future such appeasement will seem not just naïve, but perhaps even repugnant or near-treasonous.

Not having control of the supply of needed medical appurtenances and medicines may be the Boomers’ version of the Greatest Generation’s waking up on December 8, 1941, and realizing that there was nothing in the American arsenal comparable to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter or Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedo—and would not be for the months of hard fighting and dying ahead. Likewise, Beijing now enjoys enormous advantages in the short term as it inventories all the ways the American military, government, and consumers are China-dependent. Whether China has woken a sleeping giant in the manner of the earlier Japanese, or just a purring kitten, remains to be seen. One test will be whether we begin to recalibrate key American industries or unleash Adam Schiff to conduct yet another congressional investigation against his nemesis Donald Trump.

Before the epidemic, critics of globalization could not convince our best and brightest that enriching autocracies by asymmetrical trade policies would not eventually turn China into Jackson Hole or Palm Beach. Doubters of America’s China policy complained that running up staggering American trade deficits with China would hardly lure China into the family of nations—at least in the manner of Barack Obama, who in 2014 once boasted that his new outreach initiatives with Beijing, inter alia, would “help affected countries to strengthen capacity-building on health and epidemic prevention so as to place the epidemic under control as soon as possible.” How has China’s envisioned “epidemic prevention” and “control” worked out?

The virus also exposed the absurdities of transnational utopianism more generally. For decades, the European Union has been held up by progressives as a model that had ossified old national rivalries and chronic European wars. The original and inspired European Common Market, in comparison, appeared to elites as a Neanderthal effort of only haphazardly integrating a few autonomous European economies. In contrast, the European Union would create an economic colossus comparable to the United States. But it would be guided by postmodern humanitarianism, sustained by wind and solar energy, and defended by heralded “soft” power. In fact, it was soon run and financed by a new Germany that increasingly sounds as we would expect an old Germany to sound.

Nonetheless, boundaries were to disappear. A common currency and common protocols would create a European new man. All-knowing, all-wise technocrats in Brussels and Strasbourg would adjudicate what exactly qualified as a banana on Crete. But then suddenly something happened to pan-European ecumenicism. The virus arrived and most of Northern Italy turned into something nightmarish, right out of Boccaccio’s Decameron. Spain began to suffer a viral death rate of over 2,500 fatalities per million population, as if it were the beginning of 1348 rather than of 2020.

Borders slammed and have remained shut. The much-lauded Schengen Area Agreement that had abolished all passport control and border checkpoints among twenty-five European countries—a postmodern pact often contrasted with the supposedly paranoid and premodern U.S. border wall with Mexico—was suspended in a few minutes.

What was to be the fate of so-called undocumented migrants who sought an enlightened European refuge from the horrors of Africa and the Middle East? The logic of Camus’ La Peste took over. Interned in Turkey and Greece, the migrants were now quarantined and treated as suspect illegal aliens that should go home to North Africa.

Did German banks step up to relax repayment schedules to their near-bankrupt Mediterranean brothers, hit hardest by the virus? In the euphemistic language of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the notion of issuing “corona bonds” was not “the view of all EU countries.” Translated, that meant EU brother nations with cash and fewer dead were certainly not going to lend money to EU nations without it but with more dead.

Surely medical supplies such as ventilators and masks were common EU property, a humanitarian version of the common Euro that reflected pan-European brotherhood? Not quite, as the ancient creed of every nation for itself supplanted the European Convention on Human Rights before the European Union announced a transnational medical stockpile. Germany abruptly stopped all shipments of key medical supplies before later opening up exports. It tightened its borders. It turned back French shoppers who had skipped across to hoard at better-stocked German supermarkets. The virus should remind Europe that if a war ever came, any EU-abiding country that shared its arsenal and headed for the front would suffer the fate of the virtuous citizens in the plague chronicles of Thucydides and Procopius who died first.

The United Nations did little more than pass resolutions praising itself for its singular efforts to control the virus. In the key first weeks of the outbreak, when the death and destruction might have been somewhat contained, the UN medical appendage, the World Health Organization, proved little more than a Chinese megaphone. Indeed, it helped spread the contagion rather than arrest it. The organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, assured the world that there was little threat from the Chinese virus. Director Tedros is not a medical doctor, a first for the who. He had no international health management experience. His chief recommendation might have been that he was non-Western and had come to the UN post from his government sinecure as a health minister in Ethiopia, itself perhaps predicated on his past service in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Tedros’ résumé may help explain why the UN mouthpiece so readily assured the world that the virus was not transmissible between humans, that it was largely already contained by China, and that Donald Trump’s all-important January 31 travel restrictions stopping foreigners from entering the United States from China (a heavy contributor both to the who and to Ethiopia) was not just unnecessary but would “have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.”

Prior Trump initiatives now seem prescient. Donald Trump’s controversial efforts in the pre-virus days to call out China for systematic Chinese mercantilism and serial cheating and lying, to secure U.S. borders, to issue travel bans on countries that had no quantifiable passport control, and to greenlight experimental and off-label drugs for near-terminal patients proved requisites for the policies he quickly enacted to fight the spread of the virus. Most of Trump’s initiatives were initially blasted by the very foreign and domestic censors who soon quietly advocated adoption of them.

So the virus confirmed what many Americans had long suspected at home as well. “Trump Derangement Syndrome” was no longer a Republican talking point, but was exposed as a psychosis with real consequences for the entire country. In the initial weeks of January, when Trump was told by the who, the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and most foreign and American leaders that the virus, like the earlier Chinese-born sars virus, was containable, the President, like they had at times, compared it to a bad flu. But by January 31 he had reversed course earlier than many of his future critics, rejected the earlier insistence of experts that xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism, and not the virus, were the real enemies, and issued travel restrictions—the one step that stopped some fifteen to twenty thousand Chinese nationals from arriving daily into the United States, including on direct flights from ground zero in Wuhan. Altogether over a million Chinese had arrived in October, November, December, and January. After the restrictions were enacted, many more found ways to enter the United States on connecting flights from non-embargoed nations in Europe and Asia.

No matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed Trump’s response to the virus had been “deadly” and later added, “As the president fiddles, people are dying.” At about the same time, she tried to delay passage of a joint congressional bailout bill intended to keep endangered small business and the unemployed afloat as she scrambled to insert funding for the Kennedy Center and Planned Parenthood.

By the end of March, Pelosi was hinting about desires for something akin to impeachment 2.0 and a commission similar to the 9/11 investigation. Such a Star Chamber would supposedly find Trump criminally naïve in not reacting earlier to the epidemic. In that context, perhaps the coronavirus was supposed to do what the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, Stormy Daniels, the Mueller “dream team,” and impeachment had not—derail the Trump presidency before the November 2020 election.

On the Alinskyite assumption that progressives project their own vulnerabilities onto their opponents, it was quickly noted that Pelosi herself, almost four weeks after the Trump travel restrictions, had visited San Francisco’s Chinatown, indeed as late as February 24, to encourage Americans to come there and shop: “That’s what we’re trying to do today is to say everything is fine here. Come because precautions have been taken. The city is on top of the situation.”

The whines of other Trump critics—such as the New York Mayor Bill de Blasio—that Trump was late to the anti-corona effort, at least in comparison to their own performances, are not to be believed either. De Blasio in mid-March, six weeks after the Trump travel restrictions were announced, had urged New Yorkers to go out and enjoy the city: “If you love your neighborhood bar, go there now because we don’t know what the future holds.”

Pre-virus, some suspected that the entire agenda and energy of the American Left was focused on destroying the Trump presidency at any cost and by any means necessary. During the epidemic this was confirmed, and this hatred was shown to have national consequences. When evidence prompted Trump to let the public know that old drugs like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin were often efficacious in treating particular patients infected with coronavirus, reporters sought to persuade Americans that such off-label uses had no utility and were dangerous—even if they had to stoop to find someone unhinged who drank fish-tank cleaner, clearly marked unfit for human consumption, to prove that a non-potable chloroquine derivative cleaning agent provided confirmation of “Dr.” Trump’s malpractice.

Almost daily, the reactions to the virus revealed how surreal pre-virus America had insidiously become. On March 28, the governor of Rhode Island announced that the state’s law enforcement officers would stop cars, check license plates, and knock on doors to ferret out citizens who had come from New York State—a type of surveillance of U.S. citizens that has rarely been applicable to millions of aliens who have entered and resided illegally in the United States.

Because of worry about overcrowded jails and infectious prisons, some criminals throughout the nation were given early parole—even as our elite erupted in a fight over whether to allow gun stores to remain open. Rumors abounded that those without any prior firearm experience were among those inquiring how to buy handguns. Despite claiming to be the watchdog of American civil liberties, it was the Left that hammered Trump to employ the Defense Production Act to nationalize American companies by fiat. Mostly Democratic mayors urged strict surveillance of shelter-in-place compliance and threatened stiff fines for offenders, sometimes to be ratted out by snitches.

What has made the U.S. reaction to the virus so different from the response to the 2009 H1N1 epidemic that eventually infected 60.8 million, hospitalized 274,304, and may have killed 12,469? Why did we not similarly shut down the country during the bad flu season of 2017–18 that had killed more than 60,000 Americans, put nearly a million in the hospital, and may have likewise infected over 60 million? The answer? Lots of both logical and illogical reasons. The coronavirus was, we were reminded ad nauseam, not influenza. It was more contagious and could become more lethal.

Perhaps. But when one excepts health workers of all ages who were subject to enormous and repeated initial viral load exposures at work, along with those over the age of sixty-five with concomitant pulmonary, diabetic, cardiac, or malignant complications, the toll of covid-19 may in the end prove comparable to, or less than, some of the totals of 2009 and 2017–18.

What terrified the world in general, and America in particular, were media-driven reports of occasional excruciating symptoms and sudden death among a small percentage in good health that overshadowed the fact that the majority of the infected had mild or few symptoms. News blared about the less than 0.5 percent of the infected non-elderly who died and ignored the 99.5 percent under sixty-five who had recovered. The media hyped models that showed biblical plague rates of death in the coming weeks, never returning to such prognostications when they were proven fallacious if not hysterical a few weeks later.

So there was also initially not just little data about the infection, but awful data. Modelers worked only from known cases and supposedly known deaths to terrify the world with projections of 3 percent death rates of the infected and predictions of two million Americans and a half-million Britons to die. In truth, those already recovered from the virus, or carrying it without symptoms, were likely much more numerous than those who felt ill or were exposed enough to request testing and had proved positive. Moreover, even the numerators in the arithmetic of death were never uniformly defined, since no one seemed to know how to calibrate deaths from or deaths with the virus. Yet in the Thucydidean logic of panic, it made sense for the media, for some on the front lines of medical care worried about supply shortages, and for politicos to count those who died with toxic help from covid-19 as dying only from it.

Issues such as prior herd immunities established earlier than the falsified dates of the outbreak supplied by Beijing also likely invalidated the initial tabloid warnings of experts. By April, some increasingly appeared more like astrologers than statisticians. Modeling had consequences. For example, on March 12, the Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, the director of his state’s health department, declared on shaky grounds that one hundred thousand Ohioans probably were at the time infected (e.g. 1 percent of Ohioans “has it”) at a moment when there were five known cases, under a theory known as “community spread.” If one were to collate the then-current lethality rates per known cases of infection—which Acton admittedly did not do—such a staggering number of those actively infected would imply for the state’s more than two million residents over sixty-five that about two thousand five hundred were perhaps already doomed. The governor and his director also warned that cases were likely to double every six days in Ohio before peaking in late April or May. As I write in early April, twenty-four days later, Ohio has reported a total of 4,043 known cases and 119 reported covid-19 deaths. The doomsday scenario suggested more than 1.6 million infected Ohioans (one hundred thousand doubling four times) and perhaps forty thousand dead or dying (at a 2.5 percent rate of known cases). That was with no social shutdown, a now-unverifiable proposition since Ohio swiftly moved to enact a lockdown.

Little has been reported about the way that the scientific models factor in the effect of common-sense social distancing and increasing herd immunity, both of which have been effective in slowing the virus’s spread. Instead, the American people are treated to worst-case scenario predictions that don’t factor in the reality on the ground. Meanwhile, off-label drug treatments, new medical protocols, and plain old experience in handling patients—with news of far more rapid introductions of effective new drugs—are continuing to offer hope of a swifter-than-predicted recovery. Sophisticated statisticians oddly seem unsophisticated in failing to account for the human mobilization and response to warnings of mass death—which they had helped encourage, perhaps on the logic that the pessimist is never faulted.

After all, if a public health official errs on the side of caution in times of plague, she saves lives; if she is right in implying mass casualty over the next twenty-four days, she is prescient. In contrast, the optimist is proven correct only because of the pessimist’s bleak warning that changed behaviors, but if wrong is tantamount to a murderer. If an optimist had countered on March 12 that even in the unlikely event that 100,000 were infected in Ohio, many of them would not even know it, and never need hospitalization, she would have lost either way: only Acton’s warning had prompted action which later made the optimist’s skepticism look warranted.

Another contributor to the ongoing hysteria has been the idea that China has lied about the origins and nature of the virus, which has only led to paranoia. There are legitimate questions to be asked about the virus’s origins, given the presence of a Chinese military level-four virology lab proximate to ground zero of both the sars and covid-19 viruses.

Then there was the elephant in the room of Donald J. Trump and the 2020 election. In America and the world at large, the media has reported on the spread of the virus in terms of Trump’s own reaction to it. Various internet global clocks of infections and deaths by country and state ticked hourly, as if scorecards to assess relative efficacies. For a cynic, the subtext of the entire reportage, here and abroad, was that the more America might become terrified of a Spanish flu–style wipe-out, the longer the shutdown was required, the more the economy sank into recession, and the more it was unlikely to recover its lost robustness before the November election, and thus the more likely the coronavirus would at last appear as the coup de grace where all other blows to Trump had failed. The co-generators of international news, Europe and China, were both invested in seeing Trump discredited and defeated, and the result was the strange collusionary effect of American media progressives quoting chapter and verse both Chinese communist propaganda and European Union pontifications.

The media has not hesitated to call coronavirus the “Trump virus,” while Scott Stringer, the New York City comptroller, said that Trump had “blood on his hands.” This besmirching was joined by willful misrepresentations, such as that Trump had called the viral outbreak a “hoax,” when he clearly was referring to the lie that he had done nothing to combat the epidemic. Trump supposedly in its initial appearance had uniquely downplayed the new coronavirus as a mere flu, when most at the time, from the who to the cdc, was urging us not to panic, given the virus would likely resemble a bad flu year. Again, it is still not clear whether the coronavirus in fact will prove more lethal than, say, the 2017–18 flu outbreak.

Trump, in his alleged climate-denialist fashion, was again reportedly at war with “science,” when in truth he and his administration have encouraged almost all the suggestions of his advisors Drs. Fauci and Birx such as social distancing, sheltering in place, and the wearing of masks in public places. Those two doctors are now under suspicion from the Left that they have become enablers of the Trump agenda.

Had Trump not been president, had he not just been impeached, had he not previously galvanized resistance to Chinese mercantile piracy, had China not lied about the virus, had it not originated in Wuhan, had it not been a new sort of virus, had we not yet been in a globalized world of instant communications and cheap and easy intercontinental travel, had the media not been 90 percent negative in its prior reporting on Trump, had it not been an election year in 2020, and had Trump’s popularity not spiked but crashed during the epidemic—then the hysteria might have been prevented, and the United States might have reacted with care and concern but without the veritable destruction of its economy and the human damage that it entailed.

But those were too many “had nots.” Epidemics and the reactions to them, ancient and modern, do not allow much margin of error. And so it has been too in our time of plague.
Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) is a senior fellow, classicist and historian and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution where many of his articles are found; his focus is classics and military history. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Article shared on The New Criterion.

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California: You Win Some, You Newsom

by Tony Perkins: Good news, California! Your generous dictator, Governor Gavin Newsom (D), has decided to "allow" residents to watch the sunsets! Turns out, it's one of the few government-approved activities his administration has benevolently approved in lockdown, according to a new decree. His scepter also waved agreeably at gardening and car washing, in case people were wondering. But if you want to play doubles' ping-pong, you'd better get the county's permission.

"Huzzah! Let us peasants bow on bended knee and vow to be worthy of his merciful thoughtfulness," one resident tweeted sarcastically. "Oh good," posted another. "Meditation is on the list. Thank you, Governor Newsom for not policing my brain. That's so lenient of you!" Others, like California's Republican Party leadership, were less veiled in their criticism. "[Newsom's] gone off the deep end," Harmeet Dhillon fumed.

When people started hitting the beaches, one sheriff's deputy said they weren't supposed to allow chairs because people might -- get this -- sit down. "Basically, you're supposed to be just kind of walking or swimming -- or resting from your walking or swimming. But they don't want chairs," he grumbled. At first, people like Pastor Jim Garlow says they laughed. "They can't be serious, we thought. After all, it's America! But they didn't. And now, it's no longer funny." The governor fired back at critics, saying they have to be "cautious." But this isn't cautious -- it's outright despotic.

Elsewhere, in places like Louisiana, some of the state pressure is paying off. As more churches grow impatient to start the re-opening process, Attorney General Jeff Landry encouraged the governor, John Bel Edwards (D), to start amending his emergency order. "As other states begin reopening and unrest in the legislature continues, I believe many faith-based congregations will begin to meet with or without guidance," Landry wrote. "We are be better served by taking a proactive approach by publishing reopening guidelines that take a phased approach to faith services restarting. Without guidance based on best practices in place, this could be disastrous."

Borrowing from FRC's roadmap for re-opening churches, he included a draft framework for how Louisiana could approach the issue. On Thursday, seeming to heed the call, Governor Edwards agreed that churches could at least start holding services outdoors, if they practiced social distancing. Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Edwards, said the state fire marshal would send guidance to churches about it as early as today.

Down in Florida, pastors don't seem to be deterred by the new normal. After all, one said, the church isn't just a building -- it's a community. "Everything that we'll do, we'll do outside," a minister of a small Tallahassee church explained, including baptisms. They'll ask people to wear masks, and they won't pass a plate. Instead, there'll be donation stations and other boxes set up around the parameter.

David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando, admitted that he'd been worried about how this would all turn out. But even in livestreamed funerals, He's seen God work in amazing ways. "So you know what? I think we can do these things. We just have to do them a little differently."

For advice on how your church can get prepared, check out our new publications, "Guidelines for Re-opening Your Church" and "What Pastors Should Know about the White House Plan to Open up America Again."
Tony Perkins (@tperkins) is President of the Family Research Council . Article on Tony Perkins' Washington Update and written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tags: Tony Perkins, Family Research Center, FRC, Family Research Council, Governor Gavin Newsom, California: You Win Some, You Newsom To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

All the Above . . .

. . . Hypocritical Democrats have changed their tune on the #believeWomen stance they had taken with the Kavanaugh accusation.

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: editorial cartoon, AF Branco, All the Above, Hypocritical Democrats, have changed their tune, #believeWomen stance, they had taken with, Kavanaugh accusation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

General Flynn Entrapment was McCabe's Revenge

Daniel John Sobieski: Key to the ambush interview of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn that set him up for prosecution and persecution on made-up charges by James Comey’s FBI was the advice given to Flynn by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe -- relax, you won’t need a lawyer. Flynn had to be caught off guard and without legal counsel for the entrapment plan to work:Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau's interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 -- the interview that ultimately led to Flynn's guilty plea on one count of making false statements -- suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was "relaxed" during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe's account of events plus the FBI agents' write up of the interview -- the so-called 302 report -- is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn's defense team.

Citing McCabe's account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 -- the fourth day of the new Trump administration -- McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn's West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he "felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down" with Flynn to discuss Flynn's talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. "I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only," McCabe wrote…

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn's office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was "relaxed and jocular" and offered the agents "a little tour" of his part of the White House.

The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview," the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials "decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport."
We know that swamp thing James Comey’s mission in life was to keep Hillary Clinton out of prison and Donald Trump out of the White House, but McCabe had a personal animus towards Flynn which goes way back, possibly originating in Flynn’s offer to be a witness in a legal proceeding filed against McCabe.

As I noted here on June 30, 2017, Flynn and McCabe have a past that predates the Trump presidency, one that provides ample motivation for the perjury trap that McCabe and James Comey set up after Flynn’s illegal unmasking. McCabe had a personal grudge against Flynn and the perjury trap was his revenge.

To help cover up, it also appears that multiple 302s were created:The sentencing memorandum reveals for the first time concrete evidence that the FBI created multiple 302 interview summaries of Flynn’s questioning by now-former FBI agent Peter Strzok and a second unnamed agent, reported to be FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka…

While Flynn’s sentencing memorandum methodically laid out the case for a low-level sentence of one-year probation, footnote 23 dropped a bomb, revealing that the agents’ 302 summary of his interview was dated August 22, 2017. As others have already noted, the August 22, 2017 date is a “striking detail” because that puts the 302 report “nearly seven months after the Flynn interview.” When added to facts already known, this revelation takes on a much greater significance.
Indeed, the existence of multiple 302s and the seven-month gap suggests that the Flynn investigation was a setup motivated in large part by Andrew McCabe’s desire for retaliation for Flynn’s drumbeat of criticism of the foreign policy of an Obama administration he once served.

As Sara A. Carter and John Solomon of Circa News report:The FBI launched a criminal probe against former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn two years after the retired Army general roiled the bureau’s leadership by intervening on behalf of a decorated counterterrorism agent who accused now-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other top officials of sexual discrimination, according to documents and interviews.

Flynn’s intervention on behalf of Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz was highly unusual, and included a letter in 2014 on his official Pentagon stationary, a public interview in 2015 supporting Gritz’s case and an offer to testify on her behalf. His offer put him as a hostile witness in a case against McCabe, who was soaring through the bureau’s leadership ranks.

The FBI sought to block Flynn’s support for the agent, asking a federal administrative law judge in May 2014 to keep Flynn and others from becoming a witness in her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) case, memos obtained by Circa show. Two years later, the FBI opened its inquiry of Flynn…

McCabe eventually became the bureau’s No. 2 executive and emerged as a central player in the FBI’s Russia election tampering investigation, putting him in a position to impact the criminal inquiry against Flynn.

Three FBI employees told Circa they personally witnessed McCabe make disparaging remarks about Flynn before and during the time the retired Army general emerged as a figure in the Russia case.
In legal circles, that’s called “motive.” We have to factor in as well that McCabe and Flynn come from different ends of the political spectrum. Flynn became a key Trump supporter after accusing President Obama of facilitating the rise of ISIS through his policies and inaction. McCabe is a Democratic loyalist whose wife campaigned for state office in Virginia as a Democrat with heavy Democratic financial support. In fact, McCabe’s efforts on behalf of his wife became the subject of multiple federal probes:Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a central player in the Russia election case, is the focus of three separate federal administrative inquiries…

The allegations being reviewed range from sexual discrimination to improper political activity, the documents show…

Circa reported Monday that former supervisory special agent Robyn Gritz, a decorated counterterrorism agent, has filed a sexual discrimination and retaliation complaint that names McCabe and other top FBI officials…

Gritz also filed a complaint against McCabe with the main federal whistleblower agency in April, alleging social media photos she found show he campaigned for his wife’s Virginia state senate race in violation of the Hatch Act…

In addition, the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating allegations from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that McCabe may not have properly disclosed campaign payments to his wife on his ethics report and should have recused himself from Hillary Clinton's email case.
McCabe certainly had no love lost for Flynn, who was a potential witness on behalf of one of McCabe’s accusers. As PJ Media reports:In 2014, Flynn, then director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, personally intervened on behalf of Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz by writing a letter vouching for her on his official Pentagon stationary and offering to testify on her behalf. He also supported her case in a radio interview in 2015….

The FBI, for its part, claimed that Gritz had become "underperforming, tardy to work, insubordinate, possibly mentally ill or emotional and deserving of a poor performance review."…

Flynn argued just the opposite in his May 9, 2014 letter: “SSA Gritz was well-known, liked and respected in the military counter-terrorism community for her energy, commitment and professional capacity...
McCabe did not disclose Democratic contributions to his wife’s campaign in Virginia in financial disclosure forms, donations that raised questions about both is integrity and objectivity:The records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe left the box blank for wife Dr. Jill McCabe's salary, as a doctor with Commonwealth Emergency Physicians. And there is no documentation of the hundreds of thousands of campaign funds she received in her unsuccessful 2015 Virginia state Senate race…

For the reporting period of October through November 2015, McCabe's campaign filings show she received $467,500 from Common Good VA, a political action committee controlled by McAuliffe, as well as an additional $292,500 from a second Democratic PAC.
Connect those dots: We have a former Deputy FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, campaigning for his wife who receives huge sums of money from the Democratic Party of Clinton political ally Terry McAuliffe. After Clinton blames Russia for her election loss, Flynn becomes a target of an FBI probe in which his identity is illegally unmasked. He was a character witness on behalf of one of McCabe’s accusers. Was Mrs. McCabe’s largess a quid for a future quo?

And is all this just the result of McCabe’s lust for personal revenge?
Daniel John Sobieski (@gerfingerpoken) writes for many conservative sites. He provided the ARRA News Service editor with this article which first appeared on the American Thinker. View other articles by Daniel John Sobieski.

Tags: Daniel John Sobieski, General Flynn Entrapment, McCabe's Revenge To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

When the State Tells You . . .

RIP McIntosh, Turning Point USA: When the State tells you it's safe to go to Home Depot to buy a sponge but dangerous to go and buy a flower, it's not about your health.

When the State shuts down millions of private businesses but doesn’t lay off a single government employee, it's not about your health!

When the State prevents you from buying cucumber seeds because it's dangerous, but allows in person lottery ticket sales, it's not about your health!

When the State tells you it's dangerous to go golf alone, fish alone or be in a motor boat alone, play outdoor sports, but the Governor can get his stage make up and hair done for 5 TV appearances a week, it's not about your health!

When the State puts you IN a jail cell for walking in a park with your child because it’s too dangerous but let’s criminals OUT of jail cells for their health. It’s not about YOUR health!

When the State tells you it’s too dangerous to get treated by a doctor of chiropractic or physical therapy treatments yet deems a liquor store essential- It’s not about your health!

When the State lets you go to the grocery store or hardware store but is demanding mail-in voting, ITS NOT ABOUT YOUR HEALTH!

When the State considers abortions as essential, yet dental, ACL, MCL and many other needed surgeries aren’t essential… it's not about your health!

When the State tells private landscaping companies they can't work then gives it's citizens public nuisance violations for not having their lawns mowed, but the public parks and buildings are mowed and landscaped… it's not about your health!

When the State tells private landscaping companies they can't work then gives it's citizens public nuisance violations for not having their lawns mowed, but the public parks and buildings are mowed and landscaped… it's not about your health!

By the liberals politicizing fear they get to impose any controls they want on our lives! So if you think this is still all about your health you’re mistaken! … it's not about your health!

Have you noticed that the mainstream media and the Dems have gone silent or aren’t pushing their “stack ‘n pack” housing, use mass transit, “shrink your physical footprint” (the UN’s Agenda 21 or Mpls’ 2040 Plan)?!

In other words, the liberals don’t want us to know that a rural/suburban lifestyle is the most safe way to live, especially during a pandemic!

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FBI Leadership Cabal Targeted Flynn, New Docs Reveal

. . . Learning more about the scandalous effort by the deep state to take out Trump.
by Thomas Gallatin: Yet another layer of the sinister plot by members of the deep state within Barack Obama’s Justice Department to take down President Donald Trump was exposed on Thursday. Newly released DOJ documents reveal that former FBI leaders targeted and worked to trap Gen. Michael Flynn in a crime even after their investigation found “no derogatory information” to continue targeting him.

It was learned on Thursday that the FBI’s infamous spy/surveillance operation against the Trump campaign over supposed Russian collusion, known as Crossfire Hurricane, had a sub-operation called Crossfire Razor that specifically targeted Flynn for investigation. According to the records, the purpose of Razor was to determine if Flynn “was directed and controlled by” or “coordinated activities with the Russian Federation in a manner which is a threat to national security.”

These documents reveal that the FBI closed its investigation into Flynn after concluding that there was no evidence. According to a memo dated January 4, 2017: “The FBI is closing this investigation. If new information is identified or reported to the FBI regarding the activities of CROSSFIRE RAZOR, the FBI will consider reopening the investigation if warranted.”

However, that same day, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, lead official on Crossfire Hurricane, sent out a text message to the FBI manager handling the case instructing, “Hey don’t close RAZOR.” Strzok then explains that the FBI’s seventh floor, the top leaders, “need to decide what to do with him [with respect to] the [REDACTED].” This occurred roughly two weeks before the FBI’s informal White House interview with Flynn, the interview used by Robert Mueller’s prosecutors to charge Flynn with having lied to FBI agents — one of those agents being Strzok.

As was learned earlier this week, newly released documents contained hand-written notes from the former FBI chief of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, revealing the true motive behind this White House interview: entrapment. “What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? … If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to [the Justice Department and] have them decide. If we’re seen as playing games, [the White House] will be furious.”

Furthermore, regarding the infamous Flynn interview, recall that former FBI Director James Comey admitted that agents abandoned normal procedures to take advantage of the chaos of Trump’s team transitioning into the White House. The FBI knew Flynn and others wouldn’t be fully up to speed.

So stunning are these latest revelations that it had constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley nearly dumbfounded. “I have been a criminal-defense attorney for decades. I have seen abusive tactics. However, this is one of the most thuggish records I have seen,” Turley marveled. “Most concerning is that they were trying to create a crime, not investigating a crime. The use of Logan only highlights that bias.” He also cogently observed, “There was a time when networks like MSNBC and CNN argued for civil liberties and against such abuses. Now, because such principles would benefit Trump, there is just a shrug with a common mantra ‘everyone does it.’ Yes, abuses occur but that is not license for their commission.” Indeed, the mainstream media has responded by essentially ignoring a scandal that makes Watergate look like child’s play.

It’s clear that Attorney General William Barr was not speaking hyperbolically when he recently stated, “My own view is that the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness. There is something far more troubling here. … What happened to [President Trump] was one of the greatest travesties in American history. … Without any basis [the FBI] started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign … to sabotage the presidency.”

Finally, Trump weighed in on the scandal yesterday, stating that he “would consider” bringing Flynn back into his administration. He further observed, “It looks to me like Michael Flynn would be exonerated, based on everything that I’ve seen. I’m not the judge, but I have a different kind of power. But I don’t know if anybody would have to use that power. I’ve never seen anything like it. What they did, what they wrote … it’s just disgraceful. … They did everything possible to destroy him. He’s still breathing very strongly. But they hurt him very badly.”
Thomas Gallatin is a Features Editor at The Patriot Post.

Tags: Thomas Gallatin, Patriot Post, FBI, Leadership Cabal, Targeted Flynn, New Docs Reveal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Flynn Timeline, A Preemptive Strike, Trump's Other Side

Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer: The Flynn Timeline
As we reported yesterday, new documents in the case of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn show that the FBI set out to entrap him. Other materials create a chronology of events that is very revealing and disturbing. Here's what we have learned:
  • Elements of the Deep State had been investigating Michael Flynn for some time in 2016.
  • Yesterday news broke that FBI officials drafted a memo on January 4th expressing their intent to close the investigation on Flynn because they found no evidence of wrong-doing.
  • Within minutes of this memo being circulated, Peter Strzok emailed the case agent, "Hey, if you haven't closed [the Flynn case] don't do so yet."
  • The case agent replied, "What's up?" and Strzok answered, "7th floor involved." For those not intimately familiar with Washington, D.C., that's where the offices of the FBI's top officials (James Comey and Andrew McCabe) are located.
  • Twenty-four hours later, Comey went to the White House. He met with Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Sally Yates. At that meeting, Comey was instructed to go to New York to brief President-elect Trump about the Steele dossier.
  • On January 6th, Comey told Trump about claims that the Russians have lurid information they could use to blackmail him.
Of course, we now know that the Steele dossier was a pack of lies paid for by the Clinton campaign and full of Russian disinformation. And the FBI knew that it was false information that couldn't be trusted, yet they used it to undermine Trump.

Once Comey had briefed Trump, the Deep State started leaking. Within days, just before the inauguration, there were multiple stories about the dossier and the ongoing investigation into whether the president-elect colluded with Russia or was compromised in some way.

And the rest is history. All this ended up consuming the first three years of the administration.

But wait. . . There's more.

A Preemptive Strike?
National security expert K.T. McFarland said yesterday that Gen. Flynn and Donald Trump were deeply concerned about the growing power of America's intelligence agencies, as well as the increasing evidence that they were encroaching on the civil liberties of the American people.

McFarland said Flynn had a plan to reorganize and reform all 16 intelligence agencies, to cut out the fat and to safeguard civil liberties. She believes that the Deep State launched "a preemptive strike against Flynn" in order to protect their "fiefdoms."

Now let me remind you of one more thing. Let's back up to January 3, 2017.

That's when Sen. Chuck Schumer infamously warned that President-elect Trump was "being really dumb" to publicly fight with the intelligence community. Schumer said, "Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."

The Other Side
Kudos to President Trump for a tremendous job at yesterday's press conference!

During an event highlighting the administration's efforts to protect America's seniors from the coronavirus, the president took a few questions from reporters. He demonstrated remarkable knowledge on a wide range of subjects, and refused to take the media's bait when prodded with gotcha questions.

One reporter asked the president about a suggestion that flags should be lowered to recognize those who have died during the pandemic. The president's heart was plain to see in his response. He said:

"I think lowering the flags would be very appropriate. . . I don't think anyone can feel any worse than I do about all the death and destruction that's so needless. . . Nobody has spent more time late in the evening thinking about what has happened to this country in a short period of time."

I felt the exchange showed an incredible degree of empathy and a side of Donald Trump that the media almost never shows. While this president is rightly known for being tough, I have frequently seen this other side of Donald Trump during my visits to the White House, and others have also testified to Trump's compassion.

For example, in 2017, after the son of former Fox News host Eric Bolling died of a drug overdose, President Trump called the Bolling family on Thanksgiving. Just a few weeks ago, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump called a 15 year-old boy with terminal leukemia.

By the way, the president was also asked yesterday about Tara Reade, and I thought he handled the question skillfully, saying that Biden should address her allegations.

The president added, "It could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations. I've been falsely charged numerous times. And there is such a thing."

He then pivoted to how the media handled the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, saying, "What happened with him was an absolute disgrace to our country."

But here's something interesting to ponder: Until this morning's appearance on MSNBC, President Trump had been asked more often about Tara Reade than had Joe Biden! That tells you everything you need to know.

By the way, multiple people have come forward to say Reade told them in 1993 the same story she is telling now. But as we have pointed out, most left-wing media outlets have ignored the story.

Yet when the Biden campaign announced yesterday it would be making a statement today, the same media that has never informed viewers about the charges gleefully declared that the vice president would be refuting the charges today.

Just imagine how confused millions of Americans must have been. What charges?

Commenting on Biden's performance this morning on MSNBC, Geraldo Rivera said, "I think that the former vice president looked like a deer caught in the headlights." And as Rivera correctly noted, Biden will never face the same kind of vitriolic questioning that Kavanaugh endured.

What About The Science?
There are many people insisting that science must direct our response to the coronavirus. While I am optimistic that science will find a treatment or vaccine for Covid-19, science doesn't have all the answers.

Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, has an excellent column on this subject. Below are a few excerpts.

"Of course, our policymakers should be informed by facts and reason, but science has a limited competency. Once you are outside a lab setting and dealing with matters of public policy, questions of values and how to strike a balance between competing priorities are involved and they simply can't be settled by people in white lab coats. . .

"Science can't tell us how we should think about the trade-off between economic misery caused by shutdowns and the public-health risks of reopenings. It can't determine the balance between shutting down a hospital's elective surgeries so it can prepare for a Covid-19 surge, and tanking its business and forcing it to furlough employees. . .

"We, as a self-governing people, will have to decide the important questions about how to respond to the coronavirus going forward, not the doctors on TV or the researchers in the labs."

Gary Bauer (@GaryLBauer)  is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: The Flynn Timeline, A Preemptive Strike, Trump's Other Side To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Unthinkable . . .

. . . What can we expect from a mentally depreciated President Biden and the possible risk involved?
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, The Unthinkable, what can we expect, from a mentally depreciated, President Biden, possible risk involved? To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

How COVID-19 Is Affecting the Nation’s Meat Supply

Even though Americans might be seeing empty grocery shelves, that is
generally a logistics & inventory problem, not a reflection of food shortages.
by Daren Bakst: Many Americans are rightfully concerned about the status of the country’s meat supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to help address those concerns, and the situation is constantly changing.

The following is a Q&A regarding the current status of the meat (including poultry) supply and provides a few recommendations that could help address any supply problems going forward.

Q: In general, do we have a food shortage?

According to both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. isn’t facing a food shortage.

Even though Americans might be seeing empty grocery shelves, that is generally a logistics and inventory problem, not a reflection of food shortages.

The coronavirus has drastically disrupted the food supply chain. In fact, rapid changes to the demand for certain foods resulted in surpluses, rather than shortages.

Major customers for food, such as restaurants, hotels, and schools, all of a sudden were no longer food customers (or their demand was significantly reduced). Prior to the coronavirus, 54 cents out of every $1 spent on food was spent away from home.

Those surpluses are why farmers have reportedly been dumping commodities such as milk and produce. Commodities that were supposed to go to those customers no longer had a destination.

As for the current concerns regarding the meat supply, there is an additional—and more pressing—problem due to disruptions in meat slaughtering and packing facilities.

Q: Why are there concerns over the meat supply?

Some meat-processing plants are closing or reducing their operations due to coronavirus illnesses, affecting the beef, pork, and poultry industries. There has also been a reported 20 workers from meat-processing facilities who have died due to the coronavirus.

Major companies such as Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods have been closing plants. Tyson Foods published a widely reported advertisement in several newspapers expressing serious concern about the meat supply.

One reported estimate asserts that pork slaughter capacity has been reduced by 25% and beef slaughter capacity by 10%.

Q: What does that mean for consumers?

There appears to be significant agreement among experts that there will be meat-supply disruptions, but that doesn’t mean meat won’t be available.

Within the next few weeks, it’s likely that some meat availability, though, will be reduced and prices will increase.

To simplify and expedite operations, some processing plants are expected to make changes to their product. Therefore, for example, it might be difficult to find boneless chicken breasts at the grocery store, whereas chicken drumsticks will be available.

If processing plants start to open back up, then these selection and price issues will be reduced. If they don’t open up, and more processing facilities are closed, then the problem could get worse.

This is a fluid situation that warrants close attention. Consumers can also help mitigate any problems by not hoarding meat and looking to different sources of protein beyond beef, pork, and poultry.

Q: Why are farmers euthanizing animals if there are concerns with the supply of meat?

A: As with the dairy farmers who dumped their milk, livestock and poultry farmers are faced with the problem of not having a destination for their animals. Due to space limitations and costs, they can’t keep them. That has led to very unfortunate problems requiring animals to be euthanized.

Q: Why don’t processing plants simply hire new employees to replace those who are sick?

The employees are not easily replaced because there is a level of specialized knowledge required.

Q: What should be done to address the closing of meat-processing plants?

The following are just a few recommendations.

The top priority needs to be creating a work environment that is safe for employees. Unlike most other employees on the food front lines, workers at processing facilities work very closely together, making it difficult to address the coronavirus problem.

The employees can be spread further apart, but that would reduce the meat supply due to lower processing speeds, although that may need to be part of any solution.

When distributing personal protective equipment and making testing available, the federal government and states need to work together and prioritize workers at these plants.

The meat-processing companies should be doing what they can as well to secure personal protective equipment and testing.

They also need to adapt and make changes to protect their workers, including being in compliance with the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding workplace safety at processing facilities.

At the same time, there’s a need for liability protections for companies that do take appropriate steps to protect workers.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that expresses the administration’s concern about the current situation and is designed to keep processing plants open.

The Department of Labor also issued a statement regarding its enforcement policy that appears to minimize liability if proper actions are taken. Ideally, Congress would pass legislation to provide the necessary liability protection.

All of that said, the food supply chain, from farmers to grocery stores, is remarkably resilient and innovative. While there’s a current challenge facing the meat industry, there’s little reason to think the food supply chain won’t again rise up to find solutions.

Soon enough, this specific challenge will be solved, just like the coronavirus that has caused this pandemic.
Daren Bakst (@darenbakst) studies and writes for the Daily Signal and about agriculture subsidies, property rights, environmental policy, food labeling and related issues as The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in agricultural policy.

Tags: Daren Bakst, Heritage Foundation, The Daily Signal, How COVID-19, Is Affecting, Nation’s Meat Supply To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Small Business Owners Call For Ending The Shutdown Before It’s Too Late

Charles and Amber Colaw
by Richard McCarty: Over the past six weeks, over 30 million people have applied for unemployment in the U.S. As depressing as these numbers are, it is highly unlikely that the hemorrhaging has stopped.

The federal loan fund known as the Paycheck Protection Program was established to help small businesses survive the economic shutdown and continue to pay their employees, but the program quickly ran out of money.

Now another $321 billion has been approved for the program to provide further assistance to these businesses. Of course, this new funding is also likely to run out quickly. Before yet another coronavirus relief bill is needed or tens of millions more workers lose their jobs, policymakers should heed the words of small business owners and reopen the economy.

Charles and Amber Colaw, who own Colaw Fitness, know something about running a successful small business. They run three fitness centers and are in the process of building two more. Here is some of what they had to say about the shutdown just prior to Congress’ passage of the payroll protection plan and its impact on their business, their employees, and their customers.

Amber: “We’ve had to shut… the doors of all three of our locations… We are lucky. We have not stopped any construction that we’re doing on the other two locations yet. So we’re just really praying that that doesn’t have to happen… With all of our clubs shutdown, we can’t bill for a membership for a location that’s not open… There’s zero revenue coming in for us.

“We’ve have had to pretty much lay off 95 staff members which affect all of their families. We’re losing hundreds of thousands coming in. We’ve got hundreds of thousands in bills that are gonna continue to go out… If we can’t get these other two locations open… we’ll lose 200 or more jobs that those locations would have brought.

“And none of this is to mention the impact that this is having on… our members — tens of thousands across multiple states who don’t get to work out… We stayed open as long as we could. We’ve had great feedback on our social media — people very thankful that we stayed open as long as we did. They’ve been very supportive. They want to let us know that they will be back as soon as we reopen. We’ve also had other people say, ‘Go ahead and bill me. I want to be supportive of you’ — which we would never ethically do. So [the shutdown] has impacted us to a great extent.”

Charles: “We need the government to allow us to return to work. I’ve got probably about a dozen to two dozen good friends that also run small businesses, other business owner friends, and I would say all of them could never last even six months — maybe a month or two… We feel the effects. We know it’s going to come really quick — just within a few months for us ‘til we have like a zero balance and we have to file bankruptcy or have some sort of major issue…

“I would say most small businesses with competition — especially in the market of fitness… it’s hard to have over a 20% profit margin… If you are down even one month, you’re probably not going to have a profitable year at all… So we have to get back to work. We can’t last months without any revenue… Even one month of being closed, I think, is too long for most… businesses.”

Amber: “It’s like Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the virus itself. So it’s time to lift these regulations and let the American people get back to work.”

In the short term, the government’s extraordinary spending is understandable, but it is unsustainable in the long term. The country was deeply in debt prior to the pandemic, and now we can expect our fiscal situation to grow worse as more jobs are lost and tax revenues plummet. That is why it is imperative that the economy be reopened, as small business owners, like the Colaws, are requesting.
Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

Tags: Small Business Owners, Call For, Ending The Shutdown, Before It’s Too Late, Richard McCarty, Americans for Limited Government, Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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