“One of the scariest things in the world is called ‘the unknown.’”

That’s how Scott Adams, creator of DILBERT and an expert on the science of persuasion, started a recent podcast. He noted that this is especially true if your enemy is something you literally can’t even see. I’ve been thinking about that in light of recent conflicting reports on the Wuhan virus (COVID-19) and promising therapies.

Adams decided to go on record, based on a lifetime of experience, with what he thinks the next several weeks are going to be like. Later we’ll know how close he got.

We’re seeing a huge conflict between two schools of thought. Some think that closing down the economy and all self-quarantining is much too extreme, that people need to get back to work now even if the virus spreads and some lose their lives (as happens with the flu every year). Adams says this is a very “adult” opinion that he respects; at least it shows an understanding of the costs and benefits, though we can only speculate how large or small either of those are. Others say we need a complete shut-down to get the virus under control and only then can we let people go back to work. Again, we can only speculate how long that will be.

It occurs to me that many Americans get their underwear in a bunch at the thought of a GOVERNMENT shut-down, during which “non-essential” government employees stay home for maybe a few weeks. For this, some are talking cavalierly about a TOTAL economic shut-down, for maybe a few months or even longer. That would inevitably lead to a crashed economy, perhaps the very soul of our nation in ruins and, yes, much death (suicide). That “cure” is unacceptable, worse than this disease.

Commentary continues below advertisement

Anyway, Adams predicts that neither of these extreme scenarios will play out. (It’s not, to use “progressive” terminology, a binary choice.) To anticipate how it will go, he first consults the medical professionals. But he keeps in mind that they’re concerned not just with treating the patient but with availability of supplies and also with “crowd psychology,” what I’d call managing expectations and fears. Normally, Adams says, we can trust doctors and scientists to give us “a straight fact,” but in this situation, we might not.

They have good intentions and the best information, he says, but we may need to look through what is being said to know what’s really going on.

Adams cites the studies we’ve been discussing on the use of hydroxychlorophine and the “Z-pack” to treat COVID-19. Adams finds himself, like me, “more optimistic” than Dr. Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control have been, at least publicly, about the usefulness of these therapies. He thinks doctors are downplaying our hopes as a way to help keep us home, at least for now, and because they don’t yet have a large enough supply to meet the incredible demand there will be.

If there were a panic over getting the drugs, some people would stop at nothing. (Look at what they do to have toilet paper.) They also might be too optimistic about the difference the drugs will make. But Adams’ hunch, based on all he knows, is that doctors think this treatment is better than they’re currently letting on. “All of the evidence so far is that it’s a pretty good kill shot,” he says.

He predicts, based on studies going on now around the world, that we’ll find out in a week or two that with these treatments, we can take the death rate for healthy people under, say, 60, very close to zero. (I would add that this would be comparable to that of the usual seasonal flu.) They might get sick and miserable with the virus, but they’re highly unlikely to end up in the ICU. That will be the time to let many people go back to work, but not older and otherwise high-risk people, of course.

We’ll be able to turn the economy back on, he says, but “not like a light switch.” It’ll be more like a “dimmer.” But first, the health care system can’t be overloaded (as it currently is in New York), and there has to be a good supply of the medications.

Adams also asked some healthcare professionals how practical it would be to give drugs to those who were non-critical or even just presenting early symptoms that might or might not be coronavirus. Would they bother testing first, knowing that doing so would use up the supply of tests, which are probably more time-consuming to make and administer than just giving meds?

Commentary continues below advertisement

Based on what they told him, he thinks medical professionals will be dispensing the medication fairly soon –- in places such as California, with nice weather, even in “pop-up tents” outside hospitals --- to people who aren’t sick enough that they need to be admitted. “Our ability to deliver it to people who are not critically ill will be very high,” he says. (I disagree on the advisability of “pop-up tents” if it means doctors will just be handing out drugs; hydroxychloroquine occasionally has serious side effects.)

Adams uses the restaurant business as an example of how the “dimmer” might be gradually turned up. Restaurants in a particular city may open for business, it might be determined, but only if nobody under 60 goes inside them. That would still cut out a lot of business, but it might get the restaurant back to covering salaries and rent. (I would assume people OVER 60 would still at least be able to get take-out!) He envisions a fairly rapid phase-in, assessing results as we go.

What we need to know now from our media: 1) What is the survival rate of people who have received these drugs?, and 2) What is the availability pipeline for the drugs? The media are letting us down here. The answers are likely encouraging.

Adams laments how the media ARE talking about this, vilifying Trump for telling “fairy tales.” Here’s what Rachel Maddow said: “But the President loves saying things like, you know, ‘There’s a drug we’ve got and it’s very effective. It’s approved already. Everybody’s gonna get it.’ He loves saying things like that, because that would be a lovely thing to tell people –- unless, of course, THAT’S NOT TRUE!” Maddow accuses the President of lying, when Adams can personally confirm through the experience of a friend of his with the virus –- sorry for the “anecdotal evidence” –- that medical professionals are giving patients this therapy. “Do you think they’re giving it to people because they don’t think it works?” he asks. Doctors are giving these drugs, FDA-approved but used off-label, because they believe them to be effective and not harmful, at least not harmful enough to outweigh the benefits.

In other words, it’s Maddow who is lying. (Talk about deplorable.) The President talks to all the experts and knows what he’s saying is true, and he’s working to get this treatment out as soon as possible.

Check out Scott Adams’ podcast, Episode 863, “PART 1: LET ME TELL YOU HOW WE BEAT THE VIRUS AND GET BACK TO WORK SOON.”

Many media outlets and Twitter twits went on a rage against President Trump, accusing him of pushing false hope by declaring a combination of drugs including hydroxychlorophine to be a miracle cure for the Wuhan flu (see what I did there?) Or as Mediaite put it, “Trump Touts Unproven Coronavirus Drug Cocktail As 'One Of The Biggest Game Changers In The History Of Medicine.'”

No, he did not say that. They left out his preceding qualifiers, including saying that “if it works,” it could be a game-changer, “and maybe not.”

What does it tell us about the mindset of our current “news” media that they can hear the President say there’s a possibility we might have a cure for a deadly pandemic that’s shut down the US economy, and they think that the most newsworthy part of that statement is that if you edit and twist it enough, you can use it to make the President sound like a liar?

It’s incredible that something so serious and frightening still hasn’t been able to penetrate the media’s terminal case of Trump Derangement Syndrome and shock or shame them into acting like responsible professionals. They have seemingly learned nothing, certainly not humility or the limits of their expertise, since the earliest days of this crisis, when they attacked Trump as a racist and xenophobe for shutting down travel from China.

I assume they would prefer Trump had reacted the way the PC mayor of Florence, Italy, did, by showing defiance of “xenophobia” by encouraging Italians to “hug a stranger.” That worked out well, didn’t it?

And as recently as February 8th, the chairman of the New York City Council Health Committee was tweeting for everyone to turn out for the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, to show “defiance of (the) coronavirus scare.”

So when any of these people attack the way Trump is dealing with this unprecedented crisis, ask them: “Why should we listen to anything you have to say? Have you gotten ANYTHING right so far?”

On that subject, here are “10 Ways the Left Has Politicized the Coronavirus Pandemic.” But this article is a week old, so there are a lot more by now.

And on a similar subject, as tough as it is to choose who should be Miss Universe out of all those contenders, or which movie out of a whole year’s worth of releases is the “Best Picture,” imagine how hard it must be to narrow it down to only the “Top 10 Lies About President Trump’s Response to the Coronavirus.”

President Trump told Americans that there’s nothing wrong with the supply chain and they need to “just relax" and stop hoarding supplies. I might add, “especially toilet paper.”

Judging by the runs (sorry!) on toilet paper, you’d think people believe the #1 symptom of coronavirus is explosive diarrhea. Americans are so terrified of running out of TP while hunkering down (sorry again!) that they’ve denuded store shelves of it. I’ll bet they’re thinking back on all the houses they TP’ed on Halloweens past and kicking themselves. Or recalling how they laughed at Sheryl Crowe for suggesting using only one sheet. Now, they ruefully think that if they’d only done that, imagine how many rolls they’d have left. It would also serve a double function by insuring that no other people would come within six feet of them. Your friends would do the “social distancing” for you!

I wanted to see if it was really that bad, so I put on my hazmat suit and visited a few big stores: a Kroger supermarket, an Aldi, a WalMart supercenter and neighborhood store, and two CVS pharmacies. Sure enough, not a single roll of Charmin to squeeze in any of them. Photo one here is an example: the bare toilet paper aisle at a CVS in a northern Dallas suburb.

But then I noticed something odd that suggests people may be so panicked that they’re not thinking clearly. Right next to the empty TP shelves were shelves with plenty of boxes of Kleenex for sale.

Am I the only one who realizes that Kleenex can be used for…ahem…”multi-tasking”? Speaking of that, I should also note that the magazine rack still had plenty of copies of Time and Rolling Stone.

Finally, as ironclad proof that all this toilet paper hoarding is being fueled not by need but by irrational panic buying, I offer this shot from just two aisles over: shelves of Depends, filled to bursting (the shelves, I mean.) If people really needed toilet paper and all the stores were out, you'd think this would be the obvious solution.

For those who are panicking about the disease without knowing its real effects, this is a good article to check out.

It notes that the risk of death is considerably lower than with SARS or MERS. The greatest danger is to the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that weaken their immune systems, and for most people who get it, it’s like a heavy cold. Also, while you’ve heard about the terrible death toll in Italy, less reported is the fact that Italy has one of the oldest populations in Europe, and the majority of fatalities have been among people in their 80s and 90s. Also, their socialized medical system doesn’t have the equipment to handle it, and other European nations have refused to help, keeping it for themselves. Thanks, EU!

In a related story: it’s said that everyone is conservative about the things he knows best. So it’s been very instructive to see all the other nations closing their borders. When President Trump shut down travel from China in January, he was denounced as a racist, a xenophobe and a liar. Chuck Schumer accused him of a “war on immigrants.” We now know that that move slowed the spread of the virus, bought us time and likely saved many lives. Of course, Trump is still being called a racist, a xenophobe and a liar, just as he was when he tried to stop migrants with Central American diseases from flooding across the border.

But now that reality can no longer be denied, look at all the liberal leaders, from Germany to Canada’s virtual-signaling Prime Minister, Justin “Canada is open to everyone” Trudeau, closing their borders. Even Mexico is considering shutting its US border to Americans to keep the coronavirus out.

Have they all suddenly become xenophones? Or is it just that once talk stopped being cheap, they had to clam up about fake “xenophobia” because they now have a real disease to deal with.

The Gov. felt compelled to answer this letter from Tavane:

Governor, I was with you right up until you said "Goodness knows, that’s a more productive use of funds than just passing out money to everyone." Though it may not make a difference to you, I know many, many families who are in dire straights right now because, like many Americans, they live from paycheck to paycheck and have no reserve funds set aside to buy extras to get them through the shutdown of this country. If they do have a 401k or other savings/retirement accounts you can't just get money out of them when you want to as they have special governing rules to them highly inaccessible and also bear steep penalties if withdrawals are made. These citizens also have children who are not going to school now and they also have jobs that need them there so now have to pay for daycare of some sort so they can keep their jobs. I usually find your comments uplifting but to negate the fact that American's need financial help right now to make it through is very negative and unworthy of a man of your stature.

From the Gov:

Good heavens, Tavane, I never said or even meant to imply that the government shouldn’t offer financial assistance to people who are hurting. I said “JUST passing out money to everyone.” People in many industries are devastated right now and need help. To cite just one example, my staff and I know many in the music business (most of whom struggle to stay afloat during normal conditions) who have lost ALL their work for the foreseeable future and are at a complete loss as to what to do and how to survive. I share all of your concerns. You are right about all of this --- except the part where you say I “negate” the fact that people need help.

What I was saying is that we have to find a medical solution to this because we can’t JUST pass out money forever. That alone is a terrible long-term plan, because if we just print billions and even trillions of dollars while everyone stays home indefinitely, we surely will end up like Venezuela. But, yes, of course, we must help Americans who are hurting right now.

Still, we have to find a cure and/or a vaccine that will allow us to get back to work --- and to stay at work with no threat of a "second wave." The longer that takes, the bigger the pit we'll have to dig out of. In the meantime, though, we certainly have to help each other get through this and come out the other side.

Huck's Hero Kurt Kruczek

March 22, 2020

I wrote recently that I seem to live in a very different America from the dog-eat-dog Zombie Apocalypse described by the media. In the America where I live, people are dealing with the current pandemic scare by trying their best to stay calm, keep on keeping on, and helping each other as much as possible.

One great example of a Huck’s Hero in this situation is Kurt Kruczek, owner of Naples Pizza in West Hartford, Connecticut. His business is down 50%, he had to close one location, and he’s struggling to keep paying all his workers. But when he saw the doctors at the local hospital on TV in their “space suits,” working so hard to deal with the coronavirus, he knew he had to help. So he called and asked if they’d like some free pizzas. The gift was greatly appreciated by the overworked staffers and worried patient family members. So he’s now making a weekly delivery of free pizzas to the hospital, one during the daytime and another at night, for the night shift people who tend to be forgotten.

Kruczek appeared Wednesday on “Fox & Friends,” where he urged people to please support their local restaurants that are struggling to survive by ordering good to go or to be delivered. And here’s a great idea: he said if you can afford it, consider buying gift cards and either using them when the pandemic is over, or else donate them as thank-you gifts to your local hospital, police or firefighters.

There’s even a website now that can help you find a restaurant near you that’s offering gift cards, to help your local businesses survive. To learn more, go to

For those who like to keep track of things in handy list form, here are “10 Ways the Left has Poliiticized the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

There are a lot of stories encapsulated here, from Biden plagiarizing Trump’s plan (plagiarism seems to be Joe’s virus) to Nancy Pelosi trying to sneak a lot of liberal wish list items like taxpayer-paid abortion into the emergency relief bill.

To expand on that, the phrase “40 Republicans” started trending on Twitter when 40 House Republicans voted against the initial coronavirus emergency relief bill. Naturally, they were vilified as heartless monsters. One commenter even asked what they would do next, vote to kill Santa Claus? Well, in a manner of speaking, that’s sort of what this bill was: liberals trying to use a disease like Santa Claus.

As Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert (who is taking tremendous heat for his opposition) explained it, this bill didn’t just cynically get loaded with leftist pork spending. It also contained the type of measures leftists love who’ve spent their lives in politics and academia but have never run a business or met a payroll. For instance, instead of providing shorterm, immediate relief to workers who can't work, it created an endless mandate for small businesses to provide unaffordable paid medical leave to all employees. They got a tax credit in return, but by the time they collected the refund, many of them would be out of business. I've never understood why liberals think they're helping workers by waging war on the people who create their jobs.

As is her wont, Nancy Pelosi made sure House members got the 89-page bill with only 15 minutes to read it, in a ploy to use a health emergency to demand that Congress pass a massive bill first, and then find out what was in it. Fortunately, this time around, we have a GOP Senate that refused to fall for that scam. At this writing, a replacement bill is still being hammered out. Let’s hope it passes quickly, it deals with the current problem, and it gets help to those who need it fast without causing more problems than it solves.

On a side note, I doubt that it will include Mitt Romney’s proposal just to give everyone $1,000, although that will probably help complete his transition to being an honorary Democrat.