June 5, 2020

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MEGAN MCARDLE: Thanks to the protests, social distancing is over.

In a few weeks, one of two things will have happened. Either covid-19 cases will abruptly reverse their decline in some of America’s largest cities, and we will know that they were seeded by the days of rage we are living through . . . or they won’t. Either way, social distancing is over.

In the happy scenario, the protests will have performed an enormous public service, even beyond agitating for justice. They are basically running a natural experiment that scientists could never have ethically undertaken: Do massive outside gatherings — including singing, chanting, screaming and coughing — spread covid-19, or not? Along with evidence from the Memorial Day weekend parties at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, they may well demonstrate, once and for all, that the risk of spreading covid-19 outdoors is negligible. At which point, throw open the bar patios and backyard barbecues! Bring on the beach-blanket bingo! Move church pews into the parking lot and sing away!

Unfortunately, it’s also grimly plausible that in a few weeks we’ll see new outbreaks that will soon surge out of control, taking many American lives. Because we’ll never be able to lock down our cities again; once you’ve let the cat out of the bag, kitty won’t allow himself to be stuffed back in. . . .

First, as was pointed out when red states were protesting, you may have every right to risk your own death, but with infectious disease, protesters also risk killing other people, who might not have volunteered to die for your cause. Which brings us to the second caveat: In a diverse and highly pluralistic society, authorities don’t get to declare some causes worthy and others worthless. . . .

It may seem obvious to you that ending police brutality rises to a level of importance that, say, church services don’t. But the impossibility of rank-ordering competing ideas about what is “most important” is the reason liberal democracy had to be invented. If you were a religious believer, you might rank church higher; if you were about to lose your house unless your business reopened, you might put nail salons high up on the list.

As individuals, we can make those distinctions. But our authorities may not except on broadly neutral terms. Some public officials seem to imagine that if they can distinguish between selling food and offering Communion, they must also have the authority to make even finer distinctions: allowing people to exercise their First Amendment right to protest police brutality, while circumscribing their First Amendment right to worship in public. Legally, I doubt it, but I’m quite positive that courts won’t let governments distinguish between assembling to protest police brutality and assembling to protest public health policy.

One can, of course, argue that there’s a moral difference. But moral distinctions have no force outside the community that makes them. However satisfying it feels to call one sort of protest “suicidal,” “reckless” and “mind-bogglingly selfish,” while describing the other as a noble and necessary fight against injustice, this will not restrain the disdained. Indeed, the perceived hypocrisy will deafen them to anything said after that.

Yep. The public health experts had one shot, and they blew it. If deaths do result, they should be specifically blamed — and named — as grandma-killers. If deaths don’t result, they should be specifically blamed — and named — as business-killers. And they can’t hide behind neutral science because they abandoned neutral science for politics and preening within their own social circles

Which is a sub-case of why so many of our institutions, from the New York Times to NYC government to higher education and even sports, are failing: The people running them care more about mugging for their peers than about the welfare of the institutions they are entrusted. That’s a species of corruption, and a highly destructive one.

OPEN THREAD: Use all your well-learned politesse.

I WAS WARNED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO THAT CHINA WAS GOING TO TRY TO CREATE ITS OWN ELON MUSK: Chinese private launch firms advance with methane engines, launch preparations and new funding.

WELL, THAT’S NOT THE NARRATIVE: Black Likely Voter Approval of Trump at 41%. Hey, maybe that’s why the Democrats are so anxious to push protests and a racial-polarization campaign.

Related: Democrats Scramble to Win Over More Black Men: Some black voters are attracted to what they describe as President Trump’s tell-it-like-it-is demeanor, surveys found. “Black Americans are one of the Democratic Party’s most loyal voting blocs, and President Trump won just 8% of black voters in 2016, according to exit polls. Mr. Biden is expected to easily win the demographic in November. But if the 2020 presidential election is as close as the 2016 vote, some Democrats say losing even a small number of black men to Mr. Trump—or seeing more of them stay home on Election Day—could hamper Mr. Biden’s White House chances.”

Well, objectively, Trump has done more for blacks in four years than Democrats have done in 40. For all the talk this week, his criminal-justice reforms dwarf anything the Democrats have even attempted, and actually undo some “tough” criminal laws pioneered by . . . Joe Biden.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Even Talcum X has figured out that “systemic racism” is a Democratic Party problem.

Possibly related:

HMM. FOR A WHILE THEY WERE SAYING TO AVOID IT AS DANGEROUS: Coronavirus: Ibuprofen tested as a treatment.

The trial will use a special formulation of ibuprofen rather than the regular tablets that people might usually buy. Some people already take this lipid capsule form of the drug for conditions like arthritis.

Studies in animals suggest it might treat acute respiratory distress syndrome – one of the complications of severe coronavirus.

Prof Mitul Mehta, one of the team at King’s College London, said: “We need to do a trial to show that the evidence actually matches what we expect to happen.”

Early in the pandemic there were some concerns that ibuprofen might be bad for people to take, should they have the virus with mild symptoms.

These were heightened when France’s health minister Oliver Veran said that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, could aggravate the infection and advised patients to take paracetamol instead.

A review by the Commission on Human Medicines quickly concluded that, like paracetamol, it was safe to take for coronavirus symptoms. Both can bring a temperature down and help with flu-like symptoms.


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REVOLVING DOOR REVOLVES: MSNBC and NBC News hire Lisa Page as a legal analyst.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): This is as if the press had hired G. Gordon Liddy to do color commentary on Watergate.

NOT MUCH OF A RESULT: Hydroxychloroquine For Avoiding Infection? “That means what you think it means: there was no statistical difference in infection rate between the HCQ group and the placebo group. . . . So this trial was negative, although one should remember that it could have missed asymptomatic cases. It also tended to enroll relatively healthy people, and can’t speak to any possible protection of high-risk groups.” Some people in both groups were taking zinc.

A better study would have tested people for infection, rather than relying on self-reported symptoms, but I would have hoped to see a positive result here.


Over at Ed Driscoll.com, I take a deep-dive, quoting numerous articles, on the future of the American city — or the lack thereof, post-CCP virus and the week and a half (so far) of riots and looting.


RESEARCH: A cohort study to evaluate the effect of combination Vitamin D, Magnesium and Vitamin B12 (DMB) on progression to severe outcome in older COVID-19 patients. Of course, you should be making sure to get enough of these anyway. And this is a small study, but interesting.

Related: Paging Dr. Hamblin: Does Vitamin D Help Fight COVID-19? Evidence is slowly mounting. Some researchers think that’s enough to recommend it. Of course, you should be making sure to get enough Vitamin D anyway. . .


There’s an astonishing story in the Boston Globe-Democrat — it’s hard to imagine it appearing anywhere else — in which Newbury Street shop owners hit by looters and vandals Sunday night still stand by the protest “heroes.” These stores were ransacked, and not for survival gear or basic foodstuffs, but sneakers, coats and luxury goods.

No matter. The events on the streets in response to the killing of George Floyd are good. Period.

If you think it’s unfair to throw peaceful protesters and violent rioters under the same bus, you make an excellent point. That’s almost as bad as treating all cops like racist murderers — throwing bricks at them, screaming in their faces, calling them “pigs,” — because one despicable dirtbag in Minnesota used his badge to perpetrate a horrific crime.

So yes, it’s possible to support protests and not support violence. Unfortunately, many members of the social justice platoons are determined to defend both. And so the headline from Slate.com is “Non-violence is an important tool for protests, but so is violence.”

Nine local police officers were injured trying to protect the lives and property of Bostonians, and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins takes to the mic Monday to attack the cops as murderers.

In a New York Magazine piece entitled “The Rioters Aren’t Here to Convince You,” Zak Cheney-Rice defends the violence in and of itself, arguing that, like The Joker who wanted to see everything burn, “you might begrudge the rioters their insistence on seeing some of it burn for a few nights. But then again, you’d be missing their point.”

As Stacey McCain writes, it’s “The Return of the Riot Ideology.”

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The Washington Post was blasted on social media after it jumped the gun with an inaccurate tweet Friday claiming the May U.S. unemployment rate was close to 20 percent, moments after the actual report indicated the rate unexpectedly had dropped to 13.3 percent.

“Grim milestone to be reached as May unemployment rate nears 20 percent,” the Post wrote in a now-deleted tweet to accompany a now-edited story with the same inaccurate headline.


TAKING COVID-19 SERIOUSLY: PJ Media writer Matt Margolis and co-author John Cox have a new book out.  Oh, The Places You Can’t Go!

Matt Margolis new book "Oh, the Places You Can't Go!"

THAT SEEMS USEFUL: Bosch introduces automatic emergency calls for motorcycle accidents.

DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY: George Floyd Rioters Deface Civil War Monument… Celebrating Black Union Patriots.


OUR FEVERED TIMES:  Liberty Unyielding:  “Los Angeles Starts to Defund Its Police.”

(For more on the ridiculous view that tolerating more crime somehow benefits African American communities, see this statement of mine from a year or so ago.)

FRANK WHITE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT THIS IN THE EIGHTIES: The Psychological Effect of Seeing Earth From Space Changes You, Astronauts Say.

HOW’S THAT SPACE PROGRAM COMING ALONG? Asteroid to pass by Earth tomorrow.

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE TOM COTTON OP-ED THAT ROCKED THE NEW YORK TIMES: “When a newspaper publishes a bombshell op-ed, it doesn’t want the chief casualty to be its own credibility. But this is what has happened with the New York Times and the op-ed it ran by Arkansas senator Tom Cotton this week advocating using federal troops to quell riots.”

Earlier: The New York Times and the Vanguard of the Incognizant.

BILL DE BLASIO HAS HIS PRIORITIES: The NYPD is policing Jewish mothers while the city burns.

TANK MAN: Short Film About Tiananmen Square Hero.

On June 4th and 5th, 1989, the Chinese government violently put down the pro-liberty Tiananmen Square student protest. One man stood alone against a column of tanks, and for his extraordinary heroism became known as “Tank Man,” though nothing more is known about his identity. Some say he was arrested and killed, others that he is still in prison in China, and still others that he is alive and in hiding. Regardless, he has become a symbol for resistance against tyranny.

Tank Man is a powerful short film (15 min.) dramatizing events leading up to his moment of extraordinary courage. He is little known in China, where all images of him have been erased and all mention of him banned. This film does him some small justice.

The video is at the link.

I BLAME THE MEDIA. THEY’RE LIKE A TOBACCO INDUSTRY FOR THE MIND. Depression, anxiety up 3-fold since start of COVID-19 pandemic.

BECAUSE OF COURSE HE IS: Jack Dorsey is giving millions to Colin Kaepernick’s criminal justice group.

Vox link, but the headline tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

QUESTION ASKED: Is Black Lives Matter a religion for woke white people?

While Nietzsche assured the Jurassic “woke” class of the late 19th century that “God is dead,” most of the branches of the “Progressivism” that followed are forms of a substitute religion to fill the void, including both radical environmentalism, and even socialist health care. As the late Tom Wolfe wrote in his epochal 1976 article, “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,” “It is entirely possible that in the long run historians will regard the entire New Left experience as not so much a political as a religious episode wrapped in semi military gear and guerrilla talk.” (That line was written with early ‘70s radical chic in mind, but reverberates quite nicely today, given Antifa’s current love of paramilitary cosplay.)

STUDIES: WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT THEM? Study: Autonomous vehicles won’t make roads completely safe.


Today’s guest is Jeff Reynolds, who will talk with Mark about police and National Guard kneeling before the Floyd protesters, and undoubtedly other things as well. The show is from 3-4 PM Eastern, 1-2 PM Mountain, noon-1 PM Pacific, and you can listen via:

  • KLZ 560 AM in the Denver area
  • on the internet at klzradio.com
  • or on iHeart Radio.

PROJECT VERITAS: New Video Exposes Antifa ‘Fight Club Training’ in New York City.

AMERICA’S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD: In Show Of Solidarity, COVID-19 Vows Not To Infect Anyone Protesting Inequality.


There are plenty of police reforms that could be enacted from a libertarian perspective that would improve matters. Qualified immunity reform is libertarian. Holding police accountable for misbehavior is libertarian. Reducing the power of police unions is libertarian. Getting rid of overtime and pension abuse is libertarian. Banning no-knock raids is libertarian. Reducing bloated police department bureaucracies is libertarian.

Broader reforms that would reduce the need for police and reduce police/civilian encounters are also libertarian. Getting rid of victimless crimes, especially the drug war, and certain categories of criminal business regulation that should be handled civilly is libertarian. Getting rid of taxes that lead to black markets that in turn lead to police/civilian encounters is libertarian. Abolishing laws that allow local governments to put people in jail for failure to pay civil fines is libertarian. Separating forensic science services from prosecutors’ offices is libertarian. Holding prosecutors accountable for misconduct is libertarian. Finding alternatives to prison for certain categories of offenders is libertarian.

By contrast, “defunding the police,” if that just means willy-nilly cuts, is not libertarian.

If you get rid of the police, they will be replaced by vigilante justice and mob “protection.”

THIS WILL END WELL: Minneapolis City Council May Eliminate Police Dept. for ‘Transformative New Model.’ “If you are a comfortable white person asking to dismantle the police I invite you to reflect: are you willing to stick with it? Will you be calling in three months to ask about garage break-ins? Are you willing to dismantle white supremacy in all systems, including a new system?”