Patterico's Pontifications

8/13/2020

Biden Calls for Three-Month Nationwide Mask Mandate

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:34 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This is unsurprising:

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, called for a nationwide mask mandate on Thursday, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump, who rarely wears a mask himself and opposes such mandates.

“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden said at a press appearance in Wilmington, Delaware. “Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. Forty thousand lives, if people act responsibly.”

“It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American,” said Biden, flipping the script on Republicans who argue that mandates infringe on an individual’s right not to wear one.

You can watch Biden discussing the issue of masks here. He is followed by Kamala Harris, but I tuned out at that point.

Across the nation, 34 states now mandate wearing face masks in public.

While the science (and common sense) makes it clear that placing a barrier between yourself and those around you helps limit your spittle spray and thus inhibits the rate of transmission, people are still refusing to wear a mask in public. To have Biden (and if elected, the federal government) push for a three-month, nationwide mandate will clearly result in tremendous pushback from those already defying local mandates because they believe their civil liberties are being infringed upon and/or believe the pandemic is little more than a hoax.

Bear in mind that a new study warns that around 40–45% of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 most likely remain symptom-free. Such cases may contribute to the “silent spread” of the virus. Covid-19 does indeed spread through asymptomatic individuals.

Given that Biden didn’t discuss possible consequences for not wearing a mask, nor who should be responsible to enforce the directive, I am guessing he believes that it is up to individual states to decide what will work for them. While some states currently provide no enforcement guidance, or simply state that businesses may deny entry to those not wearing a mask, some states have actually determined that violators can be cited for a misdemeanor or fined. (Hawaii’s mandate says that offenders may be fined up to $5,000!)

Joe Biden’s team has released a new campaign ad focusing on Biden’s plan to contain the virus:

Given the frustration with Trump’s erratic and non-urgent response to the pandemic, this is bound to be an effective line of attack on Trump. After all, when the President of the United States blows off the daily coronavirus death toll in America with a cavalier “it is what it is” shrug, most Americans just don’t feel reassured about his concern for the nation’s well-being. And for good reason.

P.S. Commenter norcal questioned Biden saying that masks should be worn when “outside,” and whether he really meant it as a general “outdoors,” as if every time a person goes outdoors, they should wear a mask? He further pointed out that “in Nevada most people are not wearing a mask outside. Nevada is a swing state. If Biden pushes this, it will hurt him here”.

I wondered, in response, given that it’s Biden we are talking about, did he clumsily use outdoors as in out of one’s home and in public places where one is in close contact with others? I am not usually generous toward these yahoos, but he tends to play fast and loose with descriptions and seems constitutionally incapable of being specific.

–Dana

Israel and UAE Reach Agreement

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:11 pm



[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. Pressed for time, just throwing this up here.]

Surprising, to say the least:

Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday agreed to normalize ties in a major diplomatic breakthrough brokered by President Donald Trump.

As part of the agreement, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, the statement said, adding the country would focus on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The deal was finalized during a call between Trump, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed. Trump said discussions between the two leaders had sometimes been tense.

From the White House fact sheet:

The countries have committed to the exchange of embassies and ambassadors, and to begin cooperation in a broad range of fields including education, healthcare, trade, and security.
This historic breakthrough is the most significant step toward peace in the Middle East in over 25 years.

The United Arab Emirates is the first major Arab state to recognize Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed on October 26, 1994.

This agreement is a major breakthrough for Muslims throughout the world who wish to come in peace to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, as they will now be able to fly to Tel Aviv through Abu Dhabi to do so and will be welcomed.

By encouraging more visits, it will help counter the extremists who use the false narrative that the Al Aqsa Mosque is under attack and that Muslims cannot pray at this holy site.
Expanded business and financial ties between these two thriving economies will also accelerate growth and economic opportunity across the Middle East.

This agreement will allow further advancement of the President’s vision for finding a comprehensive, fair, realistic, and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in the region.

While the Palestinians can certainly read the writing on the wall, so too can Trump. This is a big foreign policy win for him ahead of the election:

U.S. officials described the agreement, to be known as the Abraham Accord, as the first of its kind since Israel and Jordan signed their treaty in 1994. It also gives Trump a foreign policy success as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

The next few weeks will see Israel and the UAE come together to sign bilateral agreements.

But not everyone was happy about the nes:

–Dana

8/12/2020

In Which I Agree With Trump, But…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:50 pm



[guest post by Dana]

It’s never clean bill of goods when I agree with Trump. Consider that yesterday, during an interview on Fox Sports Radio, President Trump took the NBA to task for their support of China:

Untitled

While I agree that the NBA is shameful in their refusal to denounce China and its imprisonment and attempted genocide of the Uighurs, it’s painfully clear that their business interests continue to take precedence over any pesky human rights violations. This even as they wear pre-approved social justice slogans on their jerseys (none of which mention China or the Uighurs).

However, Trump loses me because he has also publicly called on professional sports teams to suspend or even fire players who choose to kneel during the national anthem, and worse, he has suggested that those kneeling should not be in the country. He seems to believe that the federal government should be determining how professional sports franchises handle the decisions made by their players.

Moreover:

Trump also criticized NBA players kneeling for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality, calling them “very, very nasty and, frankly, very dumb.”

The president called NBA players “disgraceful” last week for kneeling during the anthem.

–Dana

Chicago’s Rioting Looters Attack Ronald McDonald House Because That Is Just How Depraved They Are

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:21 am



[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. I realize everything is all Biden-Harris right now, but in case you want something else to chew on, here you go.]

What say you, Mayor Lightfoot?

The Ronald McDonald House in Streeterville was among the establishments targeted during looting in Chicago early Monday morning.

The facility provides a home and resources to families while a child receives treatment at local hospitals.

Vandals struck the facility at 211 E. Grand Ave. near Lurie Children’s Hospital as families were sleeping inside. Several windows were smashed, and the front door had to be boarded up.

For a while, residents were placed on lockdown while the commotion was happening right outside

While none of the families or patients inside the refuge were hurt during the attack, a little two-year-old cancer victim missed his birthday celebration because of it:

Two-year-old Owen Buell and his family have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s Hospital while he receives treatment for Stage 4 neuroblastoma.

They were supposed to go home to Joliet to celebrate his birthday.

“We were going to have cake and ice cream and do some presents at home with his siblings and his grandma,” said Owen’s mother, Valerie Mitchell.

But looting throughout downtown Chicago made it impossible.

“The whole door was shattered and it looked like a bullet hole, so I started freaking out thinking about how unsafe that was. You shouldn’t feel that way when your kid needs medical care. You shouldn’t be afraid to walk a few blocks down the street,” she said.

While some small business owners lost everything during the siege that took place on Monday, other businesses are struggling to find a way to reopen or make a decision if it’s worth it to them, given that they already suffered losses back during the May looting. Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who condemned the rioting and looting, saying that “…the core of what happened — that’s organized criminal activity… It was a planned attack,” is still trying to regain control and find the most effective way respond to the disaster in her city:

“The question is how do we find opportunity out of even these very dark days?” Lightfoot asks. “And what we do to band together because together — it sounds like a cliche — but it is so true, we won’t survive this moment. We will not thrive. We will not move beyond, get stronger, and better if we don’t unite.”

However, Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins is fed up with the Mayor’s inability to tamp down the violence and looting:

Hopkins criticized Lightfoot for not being prepared after the earlier looting in May and June that followed George Floyd’s death, which sparked nationwide civil unrest.

“The real question today is, where was the strategy? What was the decision making at the highest levels?” Hopkins said. “That means the police superintendent and the mayor, who’s a very hands-on mayor when it comes to these kinds of decisions.”

Hopkins painted a bleak picture for the city if Lightfoot can’t get such criminal activity in and around downtown under control.

“Literally, the future of Chicago hangs in the balance, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that,” he said. “If this continues, how can Chicago survive? What will be left downtown after Water Tower Place gets boarded up and the for-sale signs go up on all the condos near Michigan Avenue? People who live around there have had their sense of safety badly shaken. This is our tax base, by the way. We count on tax revenue from this area of the city to fund all number of other programs we count on.”

Further:

When you wake up to the kind of devastation seen Monday morning, Hopkins said, there is “no way to defend” the Chicago Police Department’s response.

“That is not to criticize the blue shirts on the ground. It’s to criticize the strategy and the tactical decision-making of the senior command who were unprepared for this. … They acknowledged they had intelligence that this was going to happen. Yet it happened. So, if there was an attempt to intervene at the earliest stages and to stop it, it failed. … And once it started, there was no stopping it,” the alderman said.

And while Lightfoot described Monday’s rioting and looting as an “assault on our city” and warned looters: “We are coming for you,” Chicago pols remain unimpressed, and are exerting pressure on Lightfoot. This includes demands for that the National Guard be deployed to the city:

Following the looting, Lightfoot also faced pressure from Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, who released a statement calling for the National Guard, while Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, of Bloomington, in a tweet on Monday said “the looting, wanton destruction of property and disregard for public safety we witnessed in Chicago overnight is unacceptable.”

“I implore our leaders at the city, state and federal levels to do everything they can to ensure those who perpetrated these crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that all measures are taken to ensure our residents and businesses remain safe,” Brady said.

Downstate Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood also called for help from the National Guard.

“Criminals continue to loot & destroy property in Chicago with little consequence. The Governor, Mayor & Cook Co. State’s Attorney are failing to protect IL citizens & businesses. Utilize the National Guard. Accept federal support. Prosecute criminals. Restore the rule of law,” LaHood tweeted.

Mayor Lightfoot’s response to the criticism? A big whatever:

“Ald. Hopkins has a penchant for letting his mouth run before he actually gets the facts,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t think there’s any reason for me to say anything further.”

“What we need now is not Monday morning quarterbacks and sideline critics. What we need is to come together as a city and have a united strategy and focus,” Lightfoot added. “We’re focused, we’re not going to let the noise of people that like to chatter before they know what the facts are get in the way and that’s all I’ll say about that.”

Businesses need to be able to function without fear of mass looting and rioting, residents need to feel safe in their city, and anyone considering rioting and looting need to know that, without a doubt, they will face a swift reaction by law enforcement and city officials if they attempt to engage in criminal activity. And last but not least, any 2-year olds with Stage 4 cancer need to be able to safely leave their temporary homes to reunite with their families and celebrate together the significant milestone of living to see one more birthday.

–Dana

8/11/2020

Rumored: Biden Has Selected a VP Candidate [Updated: It’s Harris]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:36 pm



[guest post by JVW]

[UPDATE 1:23 pm]NBC News says it’s Senator Kamala Harris. Hat tip to everyone who put this in the comments. I said a while back that this either makes Joe Biden look weak for going with someone who so nastily demagogued him at the debates, or it makes him look magnanimous in victory. Or he had nothing to do with the pick and won’t remember who it is anyway.

In any case, the real Kamala Harris died over the past weekend. I remember him well; may he rest in peace.

UPDATE 2 (Dana): Trump has already tweeted his campaign’s anti-Harris ad:

—— Original Post ——

The media is abuzz with rumors that Joe Biden has finally settled upon a Vice-President candidate and will announce the decision shortly, as early as today. This follows murmurs that since twice delaying his pick after initially declaring that the announcement would come at the end of July, Mr. Biden has had second thoughts about the names he has been dropping for the past couple of months and has even considered reneging on his hard promise to select a woman and his soft promise that she would be African-American. MAGA Twitter and pro-Trump sites yesterday announced that Kamala Harris had met with Mr. Biden and then subsequently unfollowed him on social media, but there seems to be enough holes in that story to take it with a grain of salt. Claims that a private jet had flown from South Bend to Delaware over the weekend sparked speculation that Biden would select Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly, but with Notre Dame agreeing to play football this fall in the Atlantic Coast Conference it would seem that Coach Kelly will be too busy to campaign.

Last chance to make your predictions. I still think that Coach Kelly is strongly in play.

– JVW

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: There goes any slim chance I might have voted for Biden.

Flynn Oral Argument in Motion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 am



I came into it late and have to start working, so I’ll listen to the bulk of it later. However, listening to the Solicitor General arguing, I was struck by Judge Wilkins finally getting to the matter I have asked here many times:

If a defendant has been convicted and sentenced, and there is video of the Attorney General accepting a briefcase of cash from an agent of the defendant, and the Government requests that the case be dismissed … does the District Judge have to dismiss the case?

The Solicitor General’s answer?

Yes. The defendant gets off scot free.

Perhaps the Attorney General can be investigated for bribery and prosecuted, but the defendant gets off scot free — under a rule (Rule 48) that requires “leave of court” for a dismissal.

That strikes me as an extreme position. Am I the only one?

8/10/2020

Need A Palate Cleanser To Make You Laugh?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:13 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Here you go:

I don’t even care if it was scripted and she was in on it. It made me laugh, and that counts for something these days.

–Dana

Covid and the Closing Window of Opportunity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:58 am



[guest post by Dana]

In a new report at STAT, health experts are becoming increasingly concerned about Covid-19 and the window of opportunity closing on us before we can get a handle on the spread of the virus. After all, the cold and flu season will be upon us soon enough, and there is no end in sight for the pandemic – save for the hopes of an effective vaccine in the future:

…which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.

Unless Americans use the dwindling weeks between now and the onset of “indoor weather” to tamp down transmission in the country, this winter could be Dickensianly bleak, public health experts warn.

“I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

While pharmaceutical and biotech companies are involved with vaccine development, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services projects that even with Operation Warp Speed (OWS) in effect, a vaccine will likely not be available until January 2021.

As greater Europe and Asia are currently braced for a second wave of the disease, the US is still in the first wave. States are showing no change in infection rates, a decrease in infection rates, and even some increased infection rates. To put it another way:

[M]ore than 50,000 Americans a day are being diagnosed with Covid-19. And those are just the confirmed cases.

To put that in perspective, at this rate the U.S. is racking up more cases in a week than Britain has accumulated since the start of the pandemic.

While there was hope that the virus would abate during the hot weather, that has not been the case. Experts agree that there is less risk of transmission outdoors, but heavily attended events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Minnesota’s three-day rodeo demonstrates that far too many Americans still don’t take the virus seriously, are tired of the restrictions on their lives, and are throwing caution to the wind.

Public health officials are puzzled by the refusal to take the virus seriously. Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control for the Minnesota Department of Health shakes her head in disbelief:

Just this idea of, ‘I just don’t want to believe it so therefore it’s not going to be true’ — honestly, I have not really dealt with that as it relates to disease before.

More concern:

Epidemiologist Michael Mina despairs that an important chance to wrestle the virus under control is being lost, as Americans ignore the realities of the pandemic in favor of trying to resume pre-Covid life.

“We just continue to squander every bit of opportunity we get with this epidemic to get it under control,’’ said Mina, an assistant professor in Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate medical director of clinical microbiology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The best time to squash a pandemic is when the environmental characteristics slow transmission. It’s your one opportunity in the year, really, to leverage that extra assistance and get transmission under control,” he said, his frustration audible.

Meanwhile, in an effort to encourage more Americans to wear a mask, the CDC will be participating in the World Mask Week campaign, the goal of which is to encourage people around the world to embrace the use of face masks until a vaccine is available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pandemic Action Network are partnering with more than 40 organizations to host World Mask Week which began Friday in an effort to increase the use of face coverings across the globe.

Wearing a mask in public spaces has been stressed by medical professionals as a primary way of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dr. Ali Nouri, President of the American Federation of Scientists, said the event will help normalize wearing a face mask.

“If you’re not masking, you’re not just putting yourself at risk but you’re putting other people at risk,” said Nouri. “The more people that understand that and realize that their well-being depends on other people doing the right thing, that’s going to generate more pressure, more momentum and more acceptability of masks.”

With that, the state of Kansas just released information about the efficacy of face masks. The results were unsurprising:

The state’s 15 counties with mandatory mask orders — including Wyandotte and Johnson counties in the Kansas City area — have seen a greater decline in coronavirus cases than the remaining 90 counties that don’t mandate them.

Since July 12, not long after counties were given the option of accepting or rejecting Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask mandate, those with mask orders have seen cases decline from about 26 to 16 per 100,000 population. Cases in counties with no mask mandate have stayed relatively flat.

In a state as geographically diverse as Kansas — the 15 mandatory-mask counties contain about two-thirds of the state’s population — there are plenty of variables. Density of population is only one of them. Still, an armchair comparison tells you that masks have made a marked difference in the Sunflower State.

All of the decline in cases, says Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman, “comes from those counties wearing masks.”

“Masks work,” says Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. Johnson County’s average number of cases has leveled off and even declined under the mask mandate — “from a high of 116 cases per day the week of July 12 to 90 cases per day last week,” Areola told The Star Friday.

Anthony Fauci points to the need for everyone to take the virus seriously if our country is to get a handle on it:

Everyone has to work together to get cases down to more manageable levels, if the country hopes to avoid “a disastrous winter,” he said.

“I think we can get it under much better control, between now and the mid-to-late fall when we get influenza or we get whatever it is we get in the fall and the winter. I’m not giving up,” said Fauci.

But without an all-in effort “the cases are not going to come down,” he warned. “They’re not. They’re just not.”

Good luck to us.

–Dana

The Looting Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



It’s not over:

Hundreds of people swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.

More than 100 people were arrested as of 9 a.m., according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Thirteen officers were injured during the unrest, including a sergeant who was hit by a bottle. A civilian and private security guard were shot and wounded.

My theory is that the pandemic has turned more people to social media more of the time, and social media makes people crazy, therefore many more people are far more crazy than usual.

Tell me how I’m wrong. Oh wait, let’s let the article I linked prove I’m right instead:

City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.

You’re not allowed to shoot back, officers, or the literal social media mob will come after you. Now in meatspace!

At least five guns were recovered during the peaceful protest.

Happy Monday!

8/9/2020

Sunday Music: Bach Motet BWV 228

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:28 pm



It is the tenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach piece is a motet: “Fürchte dich nicht” (Do not fear):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 14:22-33:

Jesus Walks on the Water

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Do not fear, I am with you; do not recoil, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, and help you as well, I sustain you with the right hand of my righteousness.

Do not be afraid.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

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