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The impact of COVID-19

May 12, 2020

As more states around the nation ease up on their COVID-19 (Chinese) virus lockdowns, New York is still suffering the worst. This link is to a regularly-updated map, showing the number of deaths per million in all nations, and by US state.

You can tell by the color coding that New York stands out like a blackened tooth, with 1378 deaths per million. Even other “hot spots” such as Michigan and Louisiana are under 500 per million. Florida, whose Governor has been savaged by the media for not closing down the whole state, has 80 deaths per million. Texas has only 39 (meaning the odds of dying of the virus in Texas are over 2-1/2 times longer than the odds of winning the Pick-4 lottery.) In Montana, it’s 15; in Wyoming, 12. It’s obvious how much New York is skewing the national death figures. Yet some health officials tell us that every state must impose the same strict lockdown rules as New York indefinitely or we’ll all die.

But wait: how effective have these rules been even in New York, if it's that bad (we now know 66% of new hospitalizations are people who were sheltering-in-place)? And for all the praise being lavished on Gov. Andrew Cuomo by the media, has he really been that effective and proactive in stopping it? We’ve been told that everything Trump has done has been wrong, like what a racist he was for shutting off travel from China in January. But that saved countless lives. On the other hand, the New York Times reports that according to a new study of outbreaks around the US, New Yorkers were “the primary source of infections” in other states. A Yale epidemiologist said they now have enough data to be confident in saying that New York was the primary gateway for the virus to the rest of the country.

But when other states, such as Rhode Island, proposed quarantining New York to contain the disease, Cuomo threatened to sue them if they didn't let New Yorkers in (for the record, Rhode Island currently has 398 deaths per million residents.)

So we can add that action to the list of tragic missteps that included forcing New York nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients, which led to New York having the highest rate of nursing home deaths.

Having been a Governor myself, I am loath to criticize and second-guess every incorrect decision that’s made when you’re dealing with an emergency and don’t have all the data needed. But when you add up not having enough ventilators on hand to deal with any major crisis, sending virus patients to nursing homes filled with the most vulnerable group of people, and threatening lawsuits to prevent a quarantine of a deadly, highly contagious disease, I’m finding it hard to understand why so many Democrats think we should replace Trump with Cuomo. Is Biden really that bad a candidate?

But then I look at Biden and think…yeah, he is.

While looking for some background information on former FBI Director James Comey, I happened to click on a link that took me to a 2003 profile of him in NEW YORK magazine. How interesting –- I love to look back at contemporaneous observations, in this case from the days following 9/11 and the introduction of the Patriot Act.

The thrust of the piece seems to be that Comey is just a “good guy” who can’t really be pigeonholed politically, and in 2003, that uncomplicated picture might have been adequate to describe him. There was a lot I learned about him, though, including events surrounding the deeply tragic loss of his 9-day-old son from an infection that could easily have been treated at the hospital.

Comey always seems to have been obsessed with moral introspection –- not sure when he picked up the nickname “Cardinal Comey” –- but the impression given in the article is also that of someone who didn’t want to be too public about it, or about his work in general. The future FBI director made it clear to the interviewer that he thought Rudy Giuliani, for example, was too much of an attention-seeker for his taste, much more of a show-boater than he himself could ever be. In that respect, the James Comey we see now appears to have changed a great deal from the man being profiled in 2003, in that today he has no problem with being bathed in the glow of worshipful anti-Trump media attention, which can always be counted on to provide a forum for all his self-indulgent lecturing and posturing and criticizing and condescending and tweeting and famously bragging about going around established procedures because, hey, he thought he could get away with it.

And in light of what we know today about what Comey did to ruin the life and career of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn –- bringing up the Logan Act to President Obama as part of the plan to railroad Flynn over a phone conversation that was a perfectly appropriate part of his new job as Trump’s new national security adviser –- one paragraph in particular leaped out at me:

"When Comey arrives in Washington next month to become interim deputy attorney general (his appointment is subject to confirmation hearings), the Patriot Act’s provisions will be among his main weapons. ‘Filling in this spot is a big...deal. Especially on the terrorism side,’ says a senior staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘...Now that the Patriot Act powers are in place,’ the staffer says, ‘the cast of characters --- the people who are really going to implement them --- really matters. A PROSECUTOR WITH THESE TOOLS CAN RUIN SOMEBODY’S LIFE. [Emphasis mine.] Comey comes in with a reputation as a pretty good professional. We’ll see.”

And now, seventeen years later, we have seen.

Another eye-popper, offered by a colleague of Comey’s: “Whenever a new prosecutor started working in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Comey would tell him, ‘Don’t you ever say something you don’t completely believe. I’m not even talking about shades of gray. If you don’t 100 percent believe it, don’t you dare say it. That’s why being a prosecutor is so great: You don’t have to make arguments you don’t believe in.’”

Where to start? When it came to going after Trump and his campaign associates and bringing down Michael Flynn, Comey was painting with more shades of gray than an HGTV house-flipper. Recall that he was one of several officials who signed phony FISA warrant applications, swearing that they contained only “verified” information when they all knew otherwise. And in 2018, he told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC that the FISA process is “incredibly rigorous” and claimed that Republicans’ criticism of the Carter Page FISA warrant application was “a political deal” that was “not based in substance or law.”

That’s 100 percent SOMETHING, all right, but I won't use that language here. I'll just say that the former director of the FBI is a real piece of work. Under Comey’s watch, and with his blessing, the media were presented with a phony “dossier” and a phony story about the resulting “Trump/Russia” investigation, from beginning to end. It was based on nothing, it found nothing, but it told us everything we need to know about the caliber of leadership at the FBI.

If you want to see a master prevaricator at work, just check out this interview Comey gave to Chris Wallace on FOX NEWS after the release of the Horowitz report. He sort-of got away with it at the time, but the internet is forever, and we know so much more now about what really was going on at the FBI. Even so, I’d be willing to bet that in his own mind, he’s still always 100 percent truthful, 100 percent virtuous, a model of goodity and purity for the ages. And if he has to BELIEVE the sky is green and the grass is blue to make other people believe it and still be able to look at himself in the mirror, by golly, he will.

From the archives, here’s that 2003 profile of Comey.

Leaving California

May 12, 2020

Californians have voted further and further left for years. As they have, they’ve watched their borders be erased, illegal alien criminals being welcomed and released from jail (first because ICE wanted to deport them, and now because they might get sick if they stayed in jail, so they have to release them to rob and kill law-abiding citizens.) They’ve watched their taxes and gas prices (due to taxes) skyrocket even as the homeless population exploded and public sanitation became so bad that parks and sidewalks were covered in feces and drug needles and ancient diseases such as typhus made a return. Affordable housing is impossible to find, and small business owners are fleeing to other states. Some areas, such as Silicon Valley, have reverted to the era of feudalism, with the wealthy tech lords protected by security walls and armed guards in their castles (while denouncing security walls and guns for anyone else), as the surfs who work for them shelter in tiny dwellings or in their cars.

Not content with driving out the middle class and small business owners, the leftist leaders passed AB-5, which is killing the growing gig economy (in the name of “helping the workers,” naturally), making it impossible for contract workers from Uber drivers to club musicians to make a living.

And then came the coronavirus, which gave leftist power mongers their long-dreamed-of excuse to “fundamentally transform” society by ordering everyone to just stay home and live off government handouts, no matter how painful or irrational that may be (someone pointed out that leftists want to arrest Americans who go to work to feed their families, but not illegal immigrants because they just want to work to feed their families.) They have now gone so far than even some of the tech titans are starting to cry foul. Like electric car pioneer Elon Musk, who has had enough of the endless lockdown policy.

Musk called the lockdown that’s shuttered his Tesla factory in Fremont “the last straw.” He says he’s filing a lawsuit against the county and plans to move his HQ and future programs to Texas and Nevada, and he might have to close the Fremont plant, depending on how they are treated. He noted that Tesla is the last carmaker left in California. No surprise there.

And how did California officials react to this news? Did they reexamine their policies? Did they try to convince Musk that they could be reasonable, and he should keep his plant in California? Are you kidding? Of course not! San Diego Rep. Lorena Gonzalez, author of the disastrous AB-5 bill, responded by sending a profane tweet cursing Musk (warning: foul language at the link, the kind responsible adults don’t use in public forums.)

Musk offered a perfect reply, but his ultimate reply will come if and when he takes his thousands of jobs and joins the stampede out of California. Let us hope this is the “last straw,” the one that finally convinces Californians to come out of their homes, go to the polls and throw these lunatics out of office, so that they can discover what it feels like not to have a job or be able to pay their rent.

Most people have tried to follow the guidelines to stay home and be cautious, but as the forecasts for the impact have proven to be grossly over-estimated, the only people who seem to want this to continue are certain elected officials who like telling people what to do.

I’ve been to some countries with authoritarian governments that govern with a brutal iron hand. I’ve always appreciated that as a citizen of the United States of America, I had guaranteed civil liberties and clearly defined rights that would be protected. Even if I actually committed a crime and the entire thing was captured from 6 angles on video, I was still presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty by a jury of my peers and I would be entitled to legal representation and due process. We’ve all been rankled by criminals who did horrible things, but who were protected by the very law that we hoped would put them in prison and away from our communities where they did real damage to the innocent. Then came the pandemic, and with it forced closure of businesses, events, and public places, and even forced demands to wear masks and refrain from even visiting our own relatives. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, my beloved America is starting to look like some of the truly horrible and abusive places I have visited and couldn’t wait to get out of.

This week, a hair salon owner in Dallas was actually put in handcuffs and taken to jail because she refused to apologize to a power-hungry judicial tyrant who gets to wear a robe at taxpayer expense. Her crime was not just that she chose to open her salon so that her employees could earn a living and feed their families. She was jailed because she refused to say the magic words ordered by the judge that she was selfish for allowing her employees to earn money to pay their rent, buy groceries, and pay their bills. The judge gets his paycheck by the way, and it’s a good one—over $150,000 a year. Meanwhile in Washington, members of the Nancy Pelosi-led House refused to return to Washington or to engage in session via online meetings because they didn’t think it was safe. They are fine with YOU driving a truck, working in a hospital or nursing home, answering calls as a firefighter or policeman, or stocking the shelves at your local supermarket. But they’re not going to work. But they are getting paid anyway. And YOU are paying them.

Then it hit me. Want to end the most ridiculous and dictatorial aspects of the shutdown? It’s simple. Whatever level of government orders a shutdown for others, its members should cease being paid until those under the shutdown can return to work. If your business can’t open and YOU can’t earn a living, then your mayor, your county officials, your governor or your Congress who shuts you down shouldn’t take one penny of pay until YOU can. You know what will happen? Those orders will get relaxed. Then it will be up to you whether you feel safe venturing out and opening your business or patronizing a business. It’s called freedom.

We’re Americans and we ought to act like it. And the people who were elected to serve us need to start treating us like Americans with fundamental civil liberties instead of like 1st graders who are told when it’s appropriate to go to the restroom and to line up for a trip to the lunchroom so we can eat what someone else has decided is good for us.

So to mayors, governors, county officials and members of Congress as well as the appointed and employed government officials I say this: Since you’re a public servant and the people you work for AREN’T getting paid, stop collecting YOUR paycheck until they get theirs.

You won’t see out of control judges putting hair stylists in jail for not saying the right words. As I said last week-I fear that I MIGHT get a virus. I fear even more that I will lose the liberties that make being an American unique. I’ve visited some police states. I don’t want to live in one.

Monday, I told you about what we discovered deep within the 88-page transcript of a House Intel Committee interview with CrowdStrike cybersecurity expert Shawn Henry. As it turns out, others such as Dan Bongino and Tucker Carlson picked up on that same piece of news and did commentaries as well. It’s a huge story that, sadly, most of the media will bury under a pile of Barr-bashing and scary coronavirus stories. Really, though, this story is arguably the scariest one of all, because it shows our country has spent the past several years in the grip of a different kind of contagion: mass hysteria.

Mr. Henry’s testimony, hidden for three years, reveals that the lie Democrats have told since 2016 goes beyond the phony assertion that there is evidence Trump was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin while running for President. They also lied when they said there was evidence of the Russian government trying to hurt Hillary by hacking DNC emails. According to Henry, the one in charge of CrowdStrike’s investigation, they found no direct evidence, only “indications” and assumptions. (I mentioned in my earlier commentary that they are known to have made mistakes before when attributing computer hacks to Russia.) But a Russian hack fits the narrative. When Henry was brought in by Clinton lawyer and helpful dirt-disher Michael Sussmann to handle the “remediation," it was Sussmann who told him the FBI had already found “indications” that caused them to suspect the Russian government, essentially handing Henry the client’s preferred narrative on a silver platter.

RELATED READINGWith "Russia Hoax" exposed, it's time to look at CrowdStrike

The fact is, we don’t know if Russia hacked the emails of the DNC and John Podesta, head of Hillary’s campaign. Maybe they did; maybe somebody else did. But there is no EVIDENCE that they did, although California Rep. Adam Schiff has been talking about the “evidence” every chance he got. This is a dangerous man --- and I don’t mean only if you get between him and a TV camera. Over and over, he has claimed there is "evidence in plain sight” about Russian “collusion” with the Trump team.

It is an abominable lie. But he tells it so often, he must be using Lenin's strategy of “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” I have my own version to offer Mr. Schiff: “A lie told often enough just makes you that much more of a dirty liar.”

To stick to his fake story while still maintaining he’s telling the truth, Schiff is trying to claim the “evidence in plain sight” is the Trump Tower meeting. Yeah, that’s the ticket! We all know that meeting took place. It involved Trump campaign people and some Russians. So, all right: “collusion!”

But not so fast. In April, John Solomon uncovered evidence about that meeting that shows it to have been downright inconsequential. Some FBI memos concerning the Trump Tower meeting had been released, specifically the July 12, 2017, interview with Anatoli Samochornov, a trusted translator for the State Department, and Solomon found that they provided a great deal of exculpatory material that Mueller’s team had conveniently left out of their final report.

In Solomon’s words, “Samochornov’s eyewitness account entirely debunks the media’s narrative." We now can see the FBI agent’s '302' notes on Samochornov, in which the translator “concurred with Donald Trump Jr.’s accounts of the meeting.”

Recall that at the time of this interview, the media were going crazy about the Trump Tower meeting, hoping it might be THE piece of “collusion” evidence. Imagine: we had Don Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort lured to a meeting by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskya by the promise of “dirt” on Hillary! They ridiculed Don Jr.’s account that the meeting was really about a Russian lobbying campaign to change adoption practices under a human rights law called the Magnitsky Act.

Veselnitskya had hired Samochornov to be her translator for her legal work, and he was present at the Trump Tower meeting in that capacity. While he was being interviewed by the FBI, they wrote this: “Samochornov could not speak about other occasions, but said there was no discussion about dirt on Hillary Clinton. Samochornov did not think Hillary Clinton was mentioned by name at the meeting. Samochornov had not heard Veselnitskya say anything about having ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskya did not offer any materials during the meeting and no papers were exchanged.”

So, it really was about the Magnitsky Act. In fact, most of the presentation was done by an American lobbyist, according to the translator. It was brief, as people had a campaign to run.

NONE of this information appeared in the final special counsel report. A Senate staffer involved in the Russia investigation told John Solomon, “The omission from the Mueller report leaves a distorted picture that has been allowed to persist for more than two years. We are looking into the circumstances of the editing of that report and why DOJ allowed such investigations and false public narratives to carry on in the face of significant evidence of innocence.”

So they DON’T have evidence of collusion, but they lie and say they do. They DO have evidence of innocence, but they lie by omission and leave it out. This farce has gone on long enough. Thankfully, acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell is calling for the release of more and more long-withheld evidence that, sure enough, is turning out to be exculpatory. And no amount of spinning by Schiff --- or even Obama, who’s desperate now to keep the lid on his own role in the plot to take down Trump --- will stop us from calling a lie a lie.

Liking the idea of getting dirt on one’s political opponent is not wrong. In this case, though, there was no “collusion” with Russians to get it. The only “collusion” we’ve seen was in the Hillary camp, when they paid for “dirt” from Russians.

Speaking of Obama’s role, Mollie Hemingway at THE FEDERALIST has a great piece on what was done to target Michael Flynn and also to hide classified information from the incoming Trump team. We’ve covered most of the details, but she lays them all out in a revealing timeline. Highly recommended.

Monday Fake News

May 12, 2020

Monday Fake News: On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC, Chuck Todd played a video clip that seemed to show Attorney General Bill Barr explaining the dropping of the charges against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn by saying, “Well, history is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who's writing the history." Todd then blasted Barr for his “cynicism.”

In fact, that quote was lifted wildly out of context. Barr went on to say, “I think a fair history would say it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice." That’s the part Todd didn’t bother to show viewers, and he was appropriately roasted for his own “cynical” attempt at deceiving the public.

I’ve been watching the desperate attempts to spin the dropping of the charges against Flynn, despite clear and irrefutable evidence that he was targeted, framed, misled by his attorneys, pressured into pleading guilty and that evidence against him was altered and fabricated. The best the opposition has come up with was the claim, echoed by Rep. Gerald Nadler, that he “admitted to lying to the FBI!” Only after he’d lost his job, his reputation, his life savings, his home and the prosecutors were threatening to do the same to his son if he didn’t sign.

The Democrats’ incredibly low standard of “evidence” put me in mind of the Salem witch trials. I imagine this bit of dialogue from an upcoming play, “The Crucible II”…

Judge Nadler: “Mr. Flynn signed a sworn confession, admitting to being a witch! Buuuurn him!!”

Flynn: ”But it isn’t true! Chief Witch Hunter Mueller tortured me and forced me to sign it!”

Judge Nadler: “So you admit you signed a false sworn confession? Buuuurn him!!!”