Patterico's Pontifications

9/30/2020

This Week in Depressing and Unwarranted Self-Abasement

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:27 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Last week, two academics from the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University — sorry, The Ohio State University — addressed the national crisis of an autumn which thus far has been deprived of college football in the Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences. Professor Matthew J. Mayhew and PhD candidate Musbah Shaheen, writing in Inside Higher Ed, welcomed the recently-announced return of tOSU Football by arguing that “college football may be an essential element of our functioning democracy,” suggesting that love of one’s Dear Old Alma Mater was a force that unified Americans across racial and political lines. While acknowledging that “it pains us to admit that college football may play a starring role in the political theater of American life,” the authors managed to insist that athletic departments provide the student-athletes both the highest level of safety possible as well as a platform to peacefully protest all of the unjustness which bedevils our society at every turn. The essay was a bit overblown and trite, but the arguments seemed pretty mainstream.

And then apparently all hell broke loose.

First, various social justice “experts” took to Twitter to bemoan the “privilege,” the “center[ing] of whiteness,” the benefit to “the owning class,” the whiff of “white racial authority,” and the lack of emphasis on “empowering minoritized [sic] communities” by “individuals and organizations in positions of power who do not value their lives or actively seek to limit their rights.” Goodness me! What also really set these 280-character warriors alight is that the authors apparently ignored contrary conclusions from research done by academics at some of our nation’s premier third- and fourth-tier institutions. (Yep, that’s very churlish of me to write, but for fun note how many of these pseudo-intellectuals describe themselves as Democratic Socialists or experts in Marxist theory.)

This led to a long-winded (and believe me, I’m an expert on long-winded) letter to the editor from a history professor at Dallas College taking great umbrage with the idea that anyone with a keycard to the faculty restroom would promote the idea of college athletics, especially that middlebrow (his word, not mine) sport of football, as a positive force. He bemoans the fact that alumni will give generously to athletic programs while playing cheap with academic departments (here’s a hint, professor: perhaps it begins with faculty members not haughtily insulting the interests of donors). Contrary to the Mayhew/Shaheen thesis of football being a unifying presence, our dissenting history professor in Dallas sees the game as — stop me if you’ve heard this one — an exploitation of black bodies for the amusement of white audiences. This message has unfortunately thus far failed to make its way to the exploited athletes themselves, who spent much of the end of summer begging their conferences to resume play.

So in a sane world, Professor Mayhew and Doctor-to-be Shaheen might have replied to the letter (and, by extension, to the tweets) with a defense of their article. They could have pointed out — I will reiterate it — that college athletes overwhelmingly wanted to play this fall, undercutting the Sandersian rubbish that these youngsters are “indentured servants” or “Roman gladiators.” They could have outlined the economic impact to the athletic department and the university of playing versus not playing, and how the potential cancellation of the season was already wreaking havoc in athletic departments, even if some of that havoc was mere pretext. They could have doubled-down on the idea of sports being a unifying force which allows us to rally around something other than our ethnic/racial/tribal/political instincts.

But no, Professor Matthew J. Mayhew of The Ohio State University chose to capitulate, and did so in such a disgraceful and contemptible manner as to beggar belief. In a follow-up piece in Inside Higher Ed, he describes himself as “uninformed, ignorant and harm inducing,” before stooping to grovel:

I recently led a piece in Inside Higher Ed titled “Why America Needs College Football.” I am sorry for the hurt, sadness, frustration, fatigue, exhaustion and pain this article has caused anyone, but specifically Black students in the higher education community and beyond.

I am struggling to find the words to communicate the deep ache for the damage I have done. I don’t want to write anything that further deepens the pain experienced by my ignorance related to Black male athletes and the Black community at any time, but especially in light of the national racial unrest. I also don’t want to write anything that suggests that antiracist learning is quick or easy. This is the beginning of a very long process, one that started with learning about the empirical work related to Black college football athletes.

I can hardly bear to share any more of his Maoist self-criticism except to let you know that he makes an impressive attempt to shoehorn in every single buzzphrase from Critical Race Theory:

I learned that I could have titled the piece “Why America Needs Black Athletes.” I learned that Black men putting their bodies on the line for my enjoyment is inspired and maintained by my uninformed and disconnected whiteness and, [blah, blah, blah] positions student athletes as white property. [blah blah, blah] I placed the onus of responsibility for democratic healing on Black communities whose very lives are in danger every single day [blah, blah, blah] the Black community can’t benefit from ideals they can’t access. [blah, blah, blah] words like “distraction” and “cheer” erase the present painful moments within the nation and especially the Black community.

[blah, blah, blah] my love for Black athletes on the field doesn’t translate into love within the larger community [blah, blah, blah] I have taken pleasure in events that ask Black athletes to put their bodies on the line and take physical risks. [blah, blah, blah] Black men who often are conditioned by society and structural racism in ways that lure them into athletics [blah, blah, blah].

[blah, blah, blah] I have harmed communities of color with my words. [blah, blah, blah] — my uninformed, careless words — often express an ideology wrought in whiteness and privilege. [blah, blah, blah] my commitment to diversity has been performative, ignoring the pain the Black community and other communities of color have endured in this country. [blah, blah, blah]

[blah, blah, blah] another burden of a white person haunted by his ignorance. [blah, blah, blah] the scores of others whose pain I didn’t fully see, [blah, blah, blah] the tears and emotions I’ve experienced being caught in an ignorant racist moment.

I’ll hold out faint hope that this was in itself a performative act, with the professor gamely trying to tweak the academic grievance community by mindlessly repeating their banalities back to them, but I am guessing that these are the legitimate thoughts of Professor Mayhew, now that his mind has been reoriented to Goodthink. I wish him the best, though I don’t think his professional (or for that matter personal) life is going to get any better from here.

– JVW

What Did We Learn Last Night?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 am



What did we learn from the immature display we witnessed last night? Maybe a few things.

First, foremost, and most obviously, we saw the effects of the presidency on a guy who was a narcissist to begin with. And it’s not pretty. Over three years of people deferring to him, with at least the last year being filled entirely with yes men and yes women, has made this even more insufferable than ever. Yes, we have all seen his bullying in public in his press conferences and elsewhere, but this is a situation where nominally at least someone else (Chris Wallace) was supposed to be in control . . . and he couldn’t deal with it. Trump was humorless, rude, and insufferable. (Yes, I already used that word, but Mark Twain says that you must always use the right word even if you used it recently.) He’s totally unlikable and only people who openly admire bullies (as he does on the world stage) — fans of “apex predators” — could possibly bring themselves to defend his behavior.

In a related vein:

This comes across in all the books (I just finished Woodward’s, by the way) and you can see it in the press conferences, but watching this guy with the attention span of a gnat try to stay on topic is a joke. He doesn’t listen, he can’t talk about the same thing for more than 10 seconds, and did I mention that he is insufferable?

Enough about Trump. What did we learn about Biden?

We learned that he is able to string sentences together without an earpiece or drugs or a TelePrompTer. We learned that his avoidance of Chris Wallace didn’t mean that he was going to crumble into little pieces upon being asked some tough questions.

We learned that he didn’t turn in a great performance. Sometimes rude (“this clown” or “shut up”), he led with his chin at times, rose to Trump’s bait far too often, and rarely took the easy route of openly rising above this nonsense. He did do it a couple of times, turning to speak to the camera, and those were by far his strongest moments. If he could have brought a little humor to the matter, laughing off Trump’s silly attacks, it would have been far more effective.

Ultimately, while Biden was unimpressive, the main thing we learned was something we already knew: that he is not Donald Trump. So far, that’s been good enough, and it was good enough last night.

I’ll leave you with some tweets. First:

To end the post, there are these three tweets from the redoubtable Coleman Hughes. They are tweets to which I subscribe entirely:

Yes, it is.

9/29/2020

Presidential Debate Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:51 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Well, tonight’s the big night. The first of three presidential debate begins at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) and you can watch it on every major network and cable news channel as well as on YouTube.

So, how’s the debate prep going for the two candidates? Frankly, the former TV reality star doesn’t appear to be too concerned about doing any serious preparation ahead of tonight’s event:

On Monday morning, he made a surprise appearance on the South Lawn to survey a new all-electric pickup truck. He convened reporters in the Rose Garden later in the day for an announcement on Covid testing.

On Saturday, the President was largely preoccupied with the pending announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee and held no formal debate prep sessions, according to people familiar with the matter… After the announcement Trump flew to Pennsylvania for a campaign rally.

On Sunday, Trump spent much of the morning and early afternoon at his private golf club in Virginia — and was seen playing a round on the course midday — before convening an early evening press conference, which had no discernible purpose other than repeating his praise of Barrett and making false claims about mail-in voting. Christie and Giuliani joined him off to the side, and Trump said they were alternating playing Biden in debate practice sessions…

“We had a little debate prep before we came here,” Trump said at his news conference. “I think this whole thing, though, is debate prep. You know, what I do is debate prep every day.”

But there is some loosey-goosy-on-the-go prep happening:

In reality, people familiar with the matter said, both men along with several of the President’s aides are informally tossing out lines they believe Biden might use to see how Trump responds.

That includes accusing Trump of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic, which the President is likely to rebut by citing his decision to ban travel from China — and accusing Biden of being soft on Beijing. Aides also expect Biden to bring up reports Trump disparaged members of the military, which he will seek to counter by pointing to his record of securing Pentagon funding while accusing Biden of supporting endless foreign wars.

Trump’s Director of Communications Tim Murtaugh echoed the President:

“The president prepares by being president. And by regularly facing hostile news media. That’s pretty good practice by any measure.” The president spokesperson added that while President Trump’s ABC News Town Hall last month advertised questions by “uncommitted” voters, the president was pressed. “He faced a rigorous and challenging questioning, I think, to put it mildly. It was a good debate practice workout.”

And yet, one would have to believe that surely his aides and campaign handlers are peppering the President with strategical responses to the just-released analysis of his tax returns. Specifically on how he should respond to Americans’ outrage over $750. With a massive number of voters now unemployed, losing their businesses, being evicted from their places of residence, and/or relying on food banks for the first time all because of the pandemic, how does Trump explain the paltry sum to frustrated Americans? Certainly blathering on about tax laws and loopholes, etc., is not going to cut it. While one would think that his base would continue to see this as just another unfair attack on him, might this just be a bridge too far for those supporters that have actually taken a financial hit during the pandemic? And of course, what about the undecideds? How does he reach them in light of this latest revelation?

For Joe Biden, debate prep is happening in the traditional do-your-homework manner:

[D]ebate prep has been taking place both in-person at his Delaware home and virtually, in huddles with long-time advisers and top campaign officials, according to a campaign source familiar with the strategy.

The Democrats are reviewing the president’s almost daily tweets about Biden, his record and his family as examples of the type of attacks they think the president will focus on.

“The people know the president is a liar,” Biden said in a MSNBC interview on Saturday. “He doesn’t know how to debate the facts, because he’s not that smart.”

“He doesn’t know that many facts. He doesn’t know much about foreign policy. He doesn’t know much about domestic policy. He doesn’t know much about the details,” Biden added.

For their part, the campaign believes Tuesday’s debate topics — specifically, COVID-19, race and violence in cities, and election integrity — allow Biden to highlight what he sees as the president’s most serious missteps. He’s expected to retool criticisms of the Trump administration he has been using for the past few months.

Biden is also expected to defend the Affordable Care Act and connect its fate, in part, to the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, since Democrats see the nominee as potentially hostile to the Obama-era healthcare plan.

Axios lists some possible pitfalls that Trump and Biden need to watch for, respectively. I’ve taken their list and added my own thoughts and examples to it, thus it’s not in blockquotes:

Overconfidence. He hasn’t taken debate prep seriously. He is a bully by nature, and he may try to strongarm Biden – who has had 47 years of debate experience.

Policy. Can he clearly articulate what his second-term agenda would look like without the use of a teleprompter, or will he just go on some generalized stemwinder, which is what he is most comfortable with?

Attacks on the moderator. Think: Megyn Kelly.

Downplaying the coronavirus. How can his team even prepare him to answer to valid attacks by Biden on his mishandling of the pandemic when he has steadfastly refused to admit to it?

Lying. This will be a big problem for Trump, who likes to make stuff up in general. Given that Chris Wallace won’t be fact-checking the President, this presents the risk of Trump getting away with any number of lies during the actual debate (although his lies will be called out afterward).

The potential pitfalls for Joe Biden include: misspeaking, transposing numbers or seeming to lose his train of thought.

More:

Losing his cool. He has been confrontational with voters while on the campaign trail, and has aggressively gotten in their faces. So, when Trump baits him tonight, will he be able to keep his cool? It’s a problem for Biden, especially as he has even lost his temper and blamed Democrats for his own words. Remember when he was a guest on radio host Charlamagne tha God, and made his now infamous comment, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” and the next day angrily blamed the black radio host for baiting him? Another example was, when he was questioned by a reporter about whether he had taken a cognitive test, Biden got angry and demanded to know whether the reporter was a junkie.

Verbosity. It is nearly impossible for Biden to go straight from Point A to Point B in a succinct and coherent manner. He is prone to finding himself out in the weeds, resulting in a tuned-out-glazed-over audience. He needs to make cogent and succinct arguments.

Lying. Biden is prone to storytelling and has been known to tell some real whoppers.

Tripping over his own tongue. He is also a human gaffe machine who has insulted any number of minority voters.

And there is this: “He’s also a creature of decades spent in the Senate, and some of his parliamentary verbiage is better understood in the cloakroom than in American living rooms.”

Two points of attack by Trump which are almost guaranteed to provoke an angry response from Biden will be questions about his age and mental acuity, as well as anything to do with Hunter Biden.

P.S. – The Trump campaign has made a last-minute request that both camps allow a third-party inspection of the debaters’ ears tonight for any electronic devices or transmitters. While Trump has agreed to this, Biden has declined to any such ear check.

It should be a fun night!

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I’ll try to be active in the comments. Let’s keep it friendly! Biden did make this joke on Twitter:

Parents Logging Off To Protest Online School

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:00 am



[guest post by Dana]

Parents frustrated with distance learning in California are planning to log off in protest:

Families who say they have had enough of distance learning are calling on students to log off statewide for a full week to protest the continuing closure of public schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The planned weeklong protest is starting Monday, September 28, and is set to go until October 2.

With distance learning, you can’t just ask the teacher to help you,” said student Nicholas Han.

His mother Syndie Ly has four children who have all been learning at home. But this week, they plan to participate in the “Zoom out.” Ly helped organize the strike through the Facebook group Reopen California Schools. It now has more than 6,800 members.

“It’s very difficult to take AP classes doing distance learning twice a week. You can’t possibly do AP classes doing distance learning,” she said. “With regards to my middle school, he has expressed a bit of depression.”

Most of the state’s K-12 schools did not reopen classrooms when the academic year began. To reopen schools, counties must first move from the purple to the less restrictive red tier. In many cases, districts then have to renegotiate terms with teachers unions before making a decision.

COVID-19 cases have remained fairly low across the Bay Area. But last week, state public health officials warned that hospitalizations could dramatically increase over the next month. Many of these cases could be tied to Labor Day outings. Flu season is also on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the White House was reportedly putting pressure on the CDC to massage a more positive message about students physically returning to schools:

The White House put the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under immense pressure to produce more evidence that suited the Trump administration’s agenda to send kids and teachers back to school in person before the election despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports. One member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff claims that she was repeatedly asked to instruct the CDC to write more reports that showed a decline in virus cases among young people. The staff member, Olivia Troye, said she regretted being “complicit” in the effort, and left the White House in August. One unnamed former public-health official told the Times that, before a task force briefing in June, White House officials asked the CDC for supportive data in “a snazzy, easy-to-read document.” Recent data shows that hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-1 have increased at a faster rate in children and teens than among the general public. One coronavirus tracking project has reported at least 30,000 cases in U.S. schools since the school year began.

While there have been outbreaks at numerous schools throughout the U.S., and districts have had to reverse course and move to online learning as a result, there is some positive news:

Thousands of students and teachers have become sick with the coronavirus since schools began opening last month, but public health experts have found little evidence that the virus is spreading inside buildings, and the rates of infection are far below what is found in the surrounding communities.

This early evidence, experts say, suggests that opening schools may not be as risky as many have feared and could guide administrators as they charter the rest of what is already an unprecedented school year.

“Everyone had a fear there would be explosive outbreaks of transmission in the schools. In colleges, there have been. We have to say that, to date, we have not seen those in the younger kids, and that is a really important observation,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

On Wednesday, researchers at Brown University, working with school administrators, released their first set of data from a new National COVID-19 School Response Data Dashboard, created to track coronavirus cases. It found low levels of infection among students and teachers.

With 570 public and private schools and school districts participating in both in-person classes and hybrid classes volunteering data to Brown University, here are some details:

The researchers found that during a two-week period beginning Aug. 31, about 0.22 percent of students and 0.51 percent of teachers had a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. The rates were even lower when looking solely at confirmed cases at 0.075 percent for students and 0.15 percent for teachers.

The Post noted that additional early data in Texas and the Northeast are signaling optimism as well.

According to data released last week, about 2,350 students who were found positive for the coronavirus — or about 0.21 percent of the 1.1 million students attending school in person. The Post noted that an additional 2,175 school employees tested positive, although a rate could not be calculated because it was not clear how many of the state’s more than 800,000 school staff members were working in school buildings.

And finally, New York City’s elementary students are returning to in-person classes today:

Elementary school students in New York City streamed back into classrooms with masks, temperature checks and globs of hand sanitizer on Tuesday as the nation’s largest school district tries to safely open schools amid the coronavirus pandemic…New York City’s daily positivity rate rose to 3.25%, the first time it has gone over 3% in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. The 7-day rolling average positivity rate stands at 1.38%. If that 7-day rate goes over 3%, de Blasio has said that the city will close all schools… The in-person education is limited: A hybrid schedule has students in the classroom only a few days a week, with the rest of their learning online. About 54% of students are participating in that blended model, while 46% opted for fully remote learning, according to the latest preference survey results from NYC’s Department of Education.

–Dana

The Michael Flynn Hearing Is Underway

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



The call-in lines are all full, but the matter can be followed via live-tweeting from various reporters covering the case.

So far the judge has said that sentencing was technically already underway, since December 2018, and that many of the steps he has taken are standard steps, like issuing a standing Brady order or appointing an amicus, but still got a lot of attention.

Consider this an open thread. I may update it at noon.

UPDATE: The hearing is over. No decision today. I think perhaps the most remarkable thing about the hearing is that Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell admitted she recently talked to President Trump about the case. When Judge Sullivan asked her for details, she initially tried to claim executive privilege (!!). LOLOL. She ended up admitting that she had asked Trump not to pardon Flynn and claimed that was all she had talked to him about.

I hope Chris Wallace asks Trump about that. He ought to.

9/28/2020

Should Chris Wallace Fact Check Trump and Biden Tomorrow?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



This seems mostly right, but I have concerns:

The presidential debates for the 2020 election kick off Tuesday in Cleveland, and many Americans are uncertain about what to expect. One thing is for sure: Fox News Sunday anchor and moderator Chris Wallace will not be tasked with fact-checking the candidates in real-time.

“We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to be fact checkers,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chair, The Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” Sunday. “The minute the TV is off there will be plenty of fact checkers.”

. . . .

If one of the candidates says something incorrect onstage Tuesday, it is the other candidate’s job to raise concern and essentially fact check live, Fahrenkopf said.

Tough decision. You don’t want to pull a Candy Crowley and fact check a candidate incorrectly. But making this announcement makes it seem like Trump’s brand of blatant firehose streams of lies will get a pass. Why have Chris Wallace there in that case?

There are things these guys say over and over that have been proved false. If Wallace knows he is on firm ground, he should correct them. But as the Crowley example showed, he would need to be on top of his game and not just accept something everybody says but that might not be true.

We’ll see. I still think Flynn’s hearing tomorrow makes news. But the tax returns have to be question number one. “To whom do you owe $400 million, Mr. Trump, and should the American people be concerned about any conflicts of interest arising from those debts?”

9/27/2020

EARTHQUAKE: New York Times Gets Trump Tax Returns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:29 pm



Wow. This is going to shake up the race.

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

. . . .

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

We’ll be talking about this through the election, I would guess.

Please let me know what the spin will be below. Options that leap to mind: Fake News; it’s smart to minimize taxes; focus on who leaked them … well, whatever I missed, you guys will tell me.

UPDATE: This is charming:

Rather, there appears to be a closer-to-home explanation for at least some of the fees: Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by treating a family member as a consultant, and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business.

The “consultants” are not identified in the tax records. But evidence of this arrangement was gleaned by comparing the confidential tax records to the financial disclosures Ivanka Trump filed when she joined the White House staff in 2017. Ms. Trump reported receiving payments from a consulting company she co-owned, totaling $747,622, that exactly matched consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii.

Very slick.

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 87

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen” (Until now you have asked for nothing in My name):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 21:23-32:

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism — where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ — we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

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

Forgive, o Father, our guilt
and yet have patience with us,
when we pray in devotion
and say: Lord, to Your commands,
(ah, speak no longer in parables,)
help us much more by intervening!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

9/26/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:46 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to chew over. Feel free to add anything that you think readers might be interested in. Please make sure to include links.

First news item

Money, it’s a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash:

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that many Americans enrolled in Medicare would receive a $200 card in the mail in several weeks to better afford prescription drugs — a brazenly political effort to gain stronger support among older Americans before Election Day.

“Nobody’s seen this before. These cards are incredible,” Trump said at an event in North Carolina touting the administration’s health record. “The cards will be mailed out in coming weeks. I will always take care of our wonderful senior citizens.”

Oops, he did it again:

A day after President Donald Trump promised that Medicare beneficiaries would get a $200 prescription discount card within weeks, administration officials said all the cards wouldn’t be going out before the Nov. 3 election.

Second news item

Power couple pitfalls:

Him:

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband, University of California Regent Richard Blum, was named Thursday by the state auditor’s office as one of the regents involved in admissions scandal where UC wrongly admitted dozens of wealthy, mostly white students as favors to well-connected people.

Her:

Democrats are fiercely trying to prevent President Trump and Senate Republicans from confirming a new Supreme Court justice before November’s election, but a number of them are worried their leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is not up to the task.

Feinstein, 87, is currently the oldest member of the Senate, and stands to play a key role as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, which will vote on Trump’s pick to determine if they ultimately go before the full body for a confirmation hearing.

“She’s not sure what she’s doing,” one Democratic senator told Politico, expressing concern that Feinstein could make costly errors that impact not only the Supreme Court but the party’s Senate future.

Oh, karma, you pesky bitch:

A third senator told the outlet that the party was “in an impossible position” because they could not remove a woman from power as Trump is expected to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court.

Third news item

Now trending:

Ka Mauri Harrison is a nine-year-old boy in Harvey, Louisiana. Earlier this month, he was taking a social studies test—during a virtual classroom session—when one of his younger siblings entered the room and knocked over an unloaded toy BB gun. Harrison picked up the fake weapon, which made it briefly visible on screen… The district, Jefferson Pariah Schools, threatened Harrison with expulsion for having a lookalike weapon in class—as if his home is now an extension of the school. The Washington Post reports that the expulsion was later reduced to a six-day suspension .

Fourth news item

Pelosi to Biden: You’re breaking my heart, you’re shaking my confidence daily :

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down during an appearance on “Morning on CBS” on comments she made last month that the former vice president should skip the debates so they don’t become “an exercise in skullduggery.”

When asked if she still believed Biden should sit out the three presidential debates on September 29, October 15, and October 22, she said “Oh, I do.”

Fifth news item

David French explains the awful realities:

Yesterday a grand jury in Kentucky refused to charge the officers who killed Breonna Taylor. This result was both lawful and deeply unjust.

Sixth news item

A how-to for Presiden Trump…just in case:

Seventh news item

Ay caramba!

President Donald Trump said at a campaign rally Friday that Abraham Lincoln “wasn’t big on the Hispanic movement” in an apparent attempt to praise himself. Repeating his claim that he’s done more for minority communities than any other American leader, Trump tooted the results of his campaign events in Florida with leaders of the Hispanic community. He said, “We call them the ‘Latinos for Trump,’ where we are polling at numbers that I guess no Republican has ever polled at before, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln. But in those days, he wasn’t big into the Hispanic movement, I think. He had other things to think about.”

Eighth news item

Gov. DeSantis warns Covid-19: Don’t come around here no more:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he is lifting all restrictions on businesses statewide that were imposed to control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Most significantly, that means restaurants and bars in the state can now operate at full capacity.

Up to now, restaurants and bars in Florida could serve customers indoors at 50% of legal occupancy. DeSantis said his new executive order lifts that restriction statewide, though local governments can keep additional limits in place if they’re justified for health or economic reasons.

“Every business has the right to operate,” DeSantis said. “Some of the locals can do reasonable regulations. But you can’t just say no.”

DeSantis also said his order would stop cities and counties from fining people for not wearing mandated face coverings. He said fines and other penalties imposed so far would be suspended.

Ninth news item

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

9/25/2020

Trump And A Covid Vaccine

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:36 pm



[guest post by Dana]

During a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, President Trump suggested that the Covid-19 vaccine was being intentionally delayed for political reasons (2nd video, unable to separate the two):

“We will have a vaccine so soon, you won’t even believe it, although they are trying to do a little bit of a political hit. ‘Let’s delay the vaccine just a little bit.’ Did you notice that?”

As you recall, Trump promised that there would be a vaccine before the end of the year.

So, what might have prompted Trump’s accusation of an intentional delay of the vaccine? How about safety reasons to help ensure that the vaccine is safe and allay the fears Americans have about taking a fast-tracked vaccine:

On Wednesday afternoon, Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, the $10 billion public-private partnership to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine, confirmed a proposed FDA measure that could slow down its pace, requiring pharmaceutical companies to provide two months of safety results before candidate vaccines can be authorized for emergency use by the public.

Additionally:

Earlier Wednesday, the commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Stephen Hahn, made a commitment to America that the “FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families.”

“FDA will not authorize or approve any Covid-19 vaccine before it has met the agency’s rigorous expectations for safety and effectiveness. Decisions to authorize or approve any such vaccine or therapeutic will be made by the dedicated career staff at FDA, through our thorough review processes, and science will guide our decisions,” Hahn specifically promised the Senate Health Committee.
“FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that,” he added.

According to a recent YouGov poll, Americans are indeed cautious about taking a Covid vaccine. Only one-third are planning on taking the vaccine when it becomes available. It then makes sense that the FDA take extra steps to, not only ensure the efficacy of the vaccine but to also reassure Americans of its safety:

32 percent of Americans say they would not get a coronavirus vaccine, if and when one becomes available. Another 32 percent of Americans haven’t made their decision, saying they are unsure if they would get vaccinated. In contrast, only two in five (36%) Americans say they would get a coronavirus vaccine.

Trump reacted to news of the proposed FDA measure exactly how you might guess he would react:

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the White House may not approve tougher FDA guidelines for authorizing the emergency use of any coronavirus vaccines.

“That has to be approved by the White House,” Trump said. “We may or may not approve it.”

Trump also suggested that the FDA’s decision to revise the standards, first issued in June, “was a political move more than anything else.”

According to former FDA heads, it’s possible that “Trump could pressure scientists into authorizing or approving a Covid-19 vaccine.”

While Covid has been politicized by both sides of the aisle, Trump has repeatedly insisted that a vaccine will be available before the end of the year, preferably before the election. But by labeling cautionary moves as little more than political is to ignore the very real concerns about safety that American have:

Trump’s repeated promises that a vaccine is imminent contradict top government health officials who say that a shot won’t be ready until late 2020 at the earliest, and that it will take months longer to get it to all Americans. The president’s hard charge for a vaccine has prompted fears that his administration will rubber-stamp a shot based on political calculations rather than scientific data.

Even the White House scientific community is pushing back on Trump:

On Wednesday, top health officials in the Trump administration, led by chief US infectious disease scientist Anthony Fauci and the heads of the CDC and FDA, took the unusual step of pledging to the public that coronavirus vaccines will be vetted without political interference and promising to get the shots themselves.

And on Thursday, the heads of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine took the rare step of denouncing the politicization of science, particularly regarding vaccines. “Any efforts to discredit the best science and scientists threaten the health and welfare of us all,” they said in their statement.

In yet another major sign of the scientific community’s discomfort with Trump’s push for a speedy vaccine, an HHS advisory panel voted unanimously this week to recommend COVID-19 vaccines be approved for the public through the FDA’s “gold standard” licensing process, rather than the emergency avenues now being contemplated.

“Great caution should be exercised,” the panel’s statement read. Any expedited decisions from the FDA should only come with the recommendation of outside expert panels at both that agency and the CDC, the statement added. Those panels typically advise the heads of HHS agencies, though their votes on vaccines are not legally binding.

While politics has always been a part of scientific development, Trump has taken it to a whole new level:

“Political interference in scientific issues is not new,” science policy expert Albert Teich of George Washington University told BuzzFeed News. “But the willingness of the Trump administration to twist science to serve what the president regards as his interests, and the impact on matters of life and death to the nation and its citizens, is unprecedented.”

For his part, Trump is giving developers the benefit of the doubt, rather than considering the concerns of the American people:

“I have tremendous trust in these massive companies that are so brilliantly organized in terms of what they’ve been doing with the tests,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why [a vaccine] should be delayed further because if they delay it a week or two weeks or three weeks, you know, that’s a lot of lives you’re talking about.”

–Dana

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