Thursday, July 30, 2020

Follow The Money

One of the most famous movie lines of all time was in All The President's Men which recounted the journalistic pursuits of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein involving the Watergate Scandal. 

Their "Deep Throat" FBI informant repeatedly sought to guide them on the story without giving too much away by telling Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money..." 

So it is with almost anything. If you follow the money it usually leads you to the truth. 

If we follow the money it might also explain how an inexpensive, generic drug has come to be considered the most controversial, scrutinized and dangerous drug known to mankind.

It makes you wonder why so many politicians, members of the media, social media powerhouses, and public health "experts" (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) have sought to criticize and denigrate the drug. 

Of course, I am talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine.

At first I thought it was a natural reaction to the fact that President Trump had mentioned early in the pandemic that the drug might be helpful in treating Covid-19. Of course, the fact that Trump actually later took a course of the drug as a preventive measure when there were several cases in the White House made it even more critical that it had to be shown that Trump was an idiot.

It should be apparent by now that if Trump says anything there will be a group that will want to immediately prove that he is wrong. After all, "the orange man is bad!" There are no other ifs, ands or buts about it.

I have recently seen evidence that indicates that the more logical explanation for the smear campaign on hydroxychloroquine may be explained by returning to that old advice of following the money.

Hydroxychoroquine (HCQ) is a generic medication that has been prescribed by doctors for over 65 years for malaria, lupus, arthritis and various autoimmune disorders. All drugs have side effects and risks but HCQ has generally been considered one of the safest drugs on the market due to its long history of successful use.

Its safety is supported by the fact that it is an over-the-counter drug in a number of countries around the world. That includes India and a number of countries in Africa where malaria is a concern.

Was it just a coincidence that this occurred just as the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were becoming known in China?

Was it also just a coincidence that an earlier study involving SARS- CoV ( a virus that shares about 3/4 of the same DNA as Covid-19 (officially SAR-CoV2) ) came to the following conclusion in 2005.

Chloroquine is effective in preventing the spread of SARS CoV in cell culture. Favorable inhibition of virus spread was observed when the cells were either treated with chloroquine prior to or after SARS CoV infection.

Could it then be possible that there were those in the pharmaceutical industry that might have more than a slight financial interest in seeing to it that a low-cost drug to treat Covid-19 never gained credibility as a treatment for Covid-19? 

Why let a low-cost generic drug take away revenues and profits that might amount to billions and billions of dollars in costly new drugs and vaccines?

You would think that the FDA, the CDC and the medical establishment exist to make sure that "truth" rather than "money" would prevail in a situation like this.

However, Dr. James Todaro who is one of the physicians who is member of the America's Frontline Doctors group which I wrote about in my last post has written an article that calls that assumption 
into question. I suggest you read it in full here. The extent to which he believes that the pharmaceutical companies have co-opted government, medical institutions and journals, and the entire medical establishment, is sobering.

How do they do it? Follow the money. Money talks. Therefore, money carries a lot of INFLUENCE.

Todaro begins the article by quoting the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine about what that influence is doing.

Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the U.S. Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.

- Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the NEJM, The Truth About the Drug Companies

A few interesting factoids that Todaro has on the money that pharma is using for influence.

Influencing government agencies and politicians.
The pharmaceuticals and health products spent $295 million in lobbying efforts in the United States which places it in 1st place in money spent on lobbying. For comparison, the insurance industry and automotive industry only spent $155 million and $69 million in 2019, respectively. 

Money spent on marketing and advertising. Ask yourself now many pharma ads you see each day on tv or other forms of media. It is A LOT. 
According to researchers at Dartmouth College, the US pharmaceutical industry increased total spending on marketing from $17.7 billion in 1997 to nearly $30 billion in 2016. The strategy was successful with US spending on prescription drugs ballooning from $117 billion to $329 billion during this time. 

Money spent with academic medical journals.
Advertising and sponsorships are a substantial source of revenue for most medical journals comprising up to 80% of publishing revenue for some journals. 

As I have written before, I don't know how effective HCQ is as a treatment for Covid-19. I do know that doctors that I respect and listen to believe it is the treatment of choice if administered early after symptoms present themselves.

I know that some have argued that HCQ's efficacy has not been proven in randomized clinical trials (RCT). However, I know of no other drug (and certainly no vaccine) that has been proven to treat or prevent Covid-19 based on this gold standard either.

Looking at the data with Covid-19, one of the things that continues to mystify me is why some of the countries with much less in the way of medical resources and wealth have death rates that are fractions of Western countries.

Consider this chart from that compares death rates between countries that have adopted early HCQ use and those that did not.

That website also has references to all of the studies that have been done on HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19---65 in all (39 peer reviewed).


Let's take a closer look at India.

When Covid-19 broke out I had tremendous fears that a full-scale humanitarian crisis from the virus would overwhelm India. I had the same concerns about many countries in Africa.

For example, here is a picture I saw in March when the government in India ordered a business lockdown in the country and millions of migrant workers with no job and no money set out for their ancestral homes around the country.

Does this not look like a disaster in the making based on what we have been told about the importance of social distancing and masks?

Credit: The Katmandu Post

This is how The Katmandu Post describes how this scene.

India is walking home', declared the headline in The Indian Express as newspapers and television screens filled with images of millions of migrant workers, clutching their meagre belongings, trekking along India’s deserted highways to return to their homes, hundreds of kilometres away.

On the evening of March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared, with just four hours’ notice, a 21-day lockdown from midnight onward, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But he had failed to plan for the impact of his announcement on India’s vast informal economy.

Unable to earn money to feed themselves or pay rent in congested urban ghettos, India’s vast legion of workers packed up and set off for home, often to villages in faraway states. With trains and buses out of service, they walked.

India's population is over 1.3 billion people.

It has a population density that is 12 times greater than that of the United States.

Mumbai, India has a population density of 76,790 per square mile. New York City is about one-third of that at 27,800 per square mile. 


The United States spends over 50 times as much on health care per capita as India.

The USA is first on the list of countries below. India is last. India spends the grand total of a little more than $200 per capita/per year on health expenditures.


Now let's compare Covid-19 deaths per capita in the two countries.

India only has about one-seventh of the deaths per million as the United States despite greater population density, less wealth and much fewer health resources.

Why is that?

It could be related to the sub-tropical climate in much of India. It does have a younger population. Perhaps Indians have fewer pre-existing conditions. It could be that India does not have as sophisticated a death certification process as we do in the United States so deaths are underreported.

Then again, perhaps it is the heavier use of hydroxychloroquine in the population. It might also be that India is not subject to the same influences of the pharmaceutical industry as in richer countries. There is far less chance that $6,000 drugs are going to be widely used in India. The money is just not there to do it.

I don't know the answer. However, I do know all of these questions should be asked.

Here is a chart comparing the United States with various African countries which raises similar questions to those involving India.

The first question above all others is why have so many negative stories suddenly appeared about an inexpensive drug that was not controversial and had almost no known side effects after being used for over 65 years?

Why is there such a concerted effort to silence any doctors who do not follow the correct script by writing scrips for HCQ to treat Covid-19?

If you want to dive deeper into this story I would recommend you read this article by Filipe Rafaeli who is a Brazilian who has researched HCQ exhaustively.

I should warn you that you need to be well rested before you read his work because it is an estimated one hour read. I did read it (well, most of it).

If you don't trust people with political agendas this is for you. The author shares no love for Trump or Bolsonara and seems only driven by science and the data. He shares a lot of facts and pulls no punches with anyone.

His conclusion is that Gilead (who developed the drug Remdisivir which both Fauci and Trump have praised) orchestrated the attack on HCQ. The only difference is that Fauci never said anything positive about HCQ. Rafaeli explains why that is suspicious in itself considering the facts about both drugs.

Never doubt the communication power and influence of a $ 22 billion company. It is childish to doubt that.

Hydroxychloroquine, cheap, without patents and without a large corporation behind it, has no bargaining power. The drug was attacked and disqualified.

Big pharma’s trained monkeys are able to maintain the narrative that other drugs don’t work. But the script failed: the big pharmaceutical companies are failing to say that their profitable drugs works, despite huge marketing.

In fact, in addition to not reducing deaths, Remdesivir has caused kidney failure and left people on dialysis machines . And one more coincidence: I have not seen news in the mainstream media about the serious side effects of this medication.

In the end, it is not a "scientific war", but narratives wars. And hydroxychloroquine will win.

You cannot hold results data from other countries for long. Nor is it possible to ban countries from using them, despite attempts, such as the lobbying over Russia, with its excellent numbers, which are already bothering.

Soon the narrative that doesn’t work will crumble like a house of cards. It can’t be all coincidence.

I don't know whether "hydroxychloroquine will win" in the end as Rafaeli predicts.

I am only interested in "the truth" winning in the end. 

I don't give two hoots about HCQ, Remdisivir, the "promising" Covid-19 vaccines or anything else.

Like most everyone else, I just want this whole pandemic to end. And to end QUICKLY.

I do know it won't end if we are fed false promises and fake claims. It won't end by suppressing people with different opinions. We need all hands on deck and the diversity of thinking that comes with it.

Right now the truth is a very elusive commodity.

It seems that there are those that seem fearful of what the truth may show.

Why else have we seen the extraordinary efforts to discredit what used to be just an ordinary, inexpensive generic drug that no one cared about?

How best to find the truth?

It starts with following the money.

Do your own research. Use your own common sense. Beware those that have their own agenda.

May the truth prevail.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Science or Politics?

We are told that science matters.

However, it seems that science only matters today if it is the science you agree with.

Of course, scientific facts are not debatable. They are settled and irrefutable.

A scientific fact is the law of gravity, the boiling point of water or the distance to the moon. 

That is why we often hear statements about the "consensus" of scientists today when it comes to many "scientific issues". 

Of course, "consensus" is not the same as facts. And consensus is not a scientific fact. 

Prior to the 15th century, the consensus of scientists was that the earth was the center of the universe.

In the 18th century, the consensus of medical scientists was that blood letting was the best method to cure illness.

As recently as 25 years ago the consensus was that peptic ulcers were caused by stress. We now know it is caused by bacteria.

I could go on and on. In fact, in most cases like these, the consensus of scientists was proven wrong by one person who did not believe the consensus and proved it wrong.

If there is one thing that ought to be evident by now is that there is still much that is not known about the science involved with Covid-19.

Consider just a few of the contradictions we have seen since the pandemic began.

Masks were first stated to not be helpful in controlling the virus with the general public. Now they are said to be absolutely essential to stopping the spread.

We were told that asymptomatic spread was a major transmission source when the pandemic first started. Now that seems to be much less a concern.

We were warned in March that that virus could be spread widely on infected surfaces . It now seems that this occurs rarely and the virus is almost always transmitted by airborne particles.

Thousands of ventilators were supposedly necessary to treat Covid-19 patients and the federal government built them like there was no tomorrow in March and April. All of those new ventilators now sit idle as they have proven to do little in helping patients recover.

I am not a doctor, epidemiologist or scientist but I like to think that I study issues with some rigor and depth with a heavy emphasis on analytical and critical thinking. I look at data and facts. I don't accept things blindly. I have also been on this earth long enough to want to know the possible ulterior motives or motivations someone might have that tries to peddle "facts" to me. 

When you hear talk about consensus in science I am always reminded of the speech the late Michael Crichton gave at Caltech in 2003 where he talked about how politics was infiltrating science.

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. 

Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus.

Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Crichton cautioned us about all of this 17 years ago.

Did anyone listen?

Consider what happened yesterday when a group of frontline physicians gathered in Washington, D.C. to give their opinions about Covid-19 and the success they have had in treating it with hydroxychloroquine and other therapies.

America's Frontline Doctor's Group

The video of the press conference went viral on social media and reportedly was the most viewed video on Facebook on Monday. President Trump retweeted a link to the video on his Twitter account.

I don't know whether the the claims of these doctors qualify as science. They certainly should qualify as informed opinions based on their own knowledge and experience. That seems to be as good as it gets with Covid-19 right now. No one that I know of has cracked the science of this virus.

When you are dealing with so many unknowns it would seem that differing opinions and perspectives are crucial to the debate and moving the science forward.

How did social media and the mainstream media react to the views of these doctors?

Facebook took the video down claiming that the video was promoting  "misinformation" about Covid-19. YouTube said that it violated its "community standards". Twitter deleted it saying that the video violated its "Covid-19 misinformation policy".

(CNN Business)A video featuring a group of doctors making false and dubious claims related to the coronavirus was removed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube after going viral online Monday.

The video, published by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, featured a group of people wearing white lab coats calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" staging a press conference in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Do you notice a little media bias in this "reporting"?

"False and dubious claims". That may be CNN's take but how do they know? These doctors are speaking from their personal experience treating patients. How can that be false and dubious if they have experienced it first hand in their own medical practice?

"Right-wind media outlet"  When have you ever seen CNN describe someone as a left-wing media outlet?

"Group of people wearing white lab coats".  CNN could not even refer to them as a "group of doctors'? It would seem this would have been pretty easily supported and established.

If the social media censorship was not bad enough, the website host that the doctor's group was using also shut them off. This is the United States of America?

In contrast to this story, I thought it was interesting all of the positive news stories circulating in the last several days about the Covd-19 vaccine developed by Moderna that is progressing to Phase 3 trials.

It is merely a coincidence that the Moderna vaccine is being developed based on patents and research that Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institutes of Health have been involved with?

LEADING INFECTIOUS disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Monday that the progression from sequencing the coronavirus to getting Moderna's potential vaccine into its phase three trial "is the best we, in the United States, have ever done."
Fauci called it a "truly historic event in the history of vaccinology" on a call with reporters. He said that emerging data from the trial should be available in November or December, and insisted that despite the speed of the development, "there is no compromise at all with regard to safety or scientific integrity."

   How is the Moderna vaccine described in most news stories?


I hope the vaccine fulfills that promise.

However, let's put this subject in context.

Moderna has never developed a successful vaccine for anything. Not once.

The timetable for the development of this vaccine is shorter than anything that has ever been done by many, many years.

There has never been a successful vaccine developed against any type of coronavirus.

The United States government has already given Moderna almost $1 billion for the development of the vaccine.

To this point the Moderna vaccine has only been tested on 45 individuals most of who experienced what are termed "mild' side effects. However, four of the 45 had severe or medically significant side effects including fevers of over 103 degrees.

Early indications are that if the Moderna vaccine works it would require at least two shots (and possibly three or more for the elderly).

All of this is considered promising?

On the other hand, hydroxychloroquine has been in use for over 60 years.

It has literally been prescribed for a variety of uses over 1 billion times in that period.

It has proven to have almost no side effects over its 60 years of usage.

A course of treatment for Covid-19 costs less than $10.

Harvey Risch, M.D, PhD., an epidemiology professor at Yale Medical School recently wrote an opinion column in Newsweek in which he stated that 100,000 lives could be saved by the use of hydroxychloroquine in the appropriate circumstances.

When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc.

On May 27, I published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) entitled, "Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis." That article, published in the world's leading epidemiology journal, analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients, plus other very large studies that showed the medication safety.
Since publication of my May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. In a lengthy follow-up letter, also published by AJE, I discuss these seven studies and renew my call for the immediate early use of hydroxychloroquine in high-risk patients. These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk. Since my letter was published, even more doctors have reported to me their completely successful use.

There is an actual track record here and the doctors who are successfully prescribing it are called "people in white coats" making "false and dubious claims"?

I thought this was a very interesting tweet from a doctor who seemed to be questioning what the real agenda was regarding hydroxychloroquine. It does seem to ring true when you consider the side effects that seem common with a lot of drugs.

As I said before, I am not a doctor or scientist.

Does hydroxychloroquine work? Is it effective and safe?

I don't know. I haven't treated patients or done pharma studies. I also don't know if Moderna's vaccine is promising or not. 

However, what I find strange is why there is such a concerted effort to silence doctors (who do have experiences in treating Covid-19) from even talking about alternative treatments that have worked for their patients?

Silencing debate and discussion would seem to be the very antithesis of what we need right now to determine what the SCIENCE really says about the disease.

I think Michael Crichton would describe what we are seeing as another example of consensus science.

What did Crichton warn us about those that peddle consensus science?

They want to avoid any debate.

They want your wallet because you are being had.

Are we talking science or politics with most of what we are told about Covid-19 right now?

That doesn't seem to require much debate.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

100 Days To Go

We have 100 days to go until the national election in the United States.

Compared to other years, I have written almost nothing about the upcoming election.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, Covid-19 and BLM have given me plenty of material to write about.

Second, I think it is almost impossible to predict what is going to happen in November considering what is going on in the country right now.

The pace of events is overwhelming. In fact, it would not surprise me if we have yet to see what historians will later point to as the most consequential issue in this election.

Here are some examples that are not too far-fetched.

Michelle Obama agrees to become Joe Biden's running mate.

Joe Biden or Donald Trump comes down with Covid-19 or another health issue.

Covid-19 is effectively wiped out by October 1.

Covid-19 returns with a strong second wave.

A new scandal is alleged implicating Donald Trump and/or members of his family.

Joe Biden steps down from the ticket after several disastrous public appearances raise questions about his cognitive abilities.

The Justice Department indicts several high-ranking Obama appointees and FBI agents making it clear that there was a coordinated government-led attempted coup intended to undermine a Presidential campaign and/or the results of that election.

It becomes increasingly clear that China covered up the release of Covid-19 from its Wuhan lab and its operatives are actively supporting the protests in major U.S. cities to sow division.

I gave up making predictions about elections after the 2012 Obama-Romney race. I prefer now to just provide some observations on the politics involved.

2020 has been a year of surprises and the fact that Joe Biden is the Democrat nominee is something I would not have expected a year ago.

Joe Biden is what I call a "default" nominee in the same manner that Bob Dole was the GOP standard bearer in 1996 and John McCain was in 2012.

A crowded Democrat field left voters confused and concerned. There appeared a real chance that a committed Socialist could win the nomination and the other candidates in the field were apparently considered by the voters to be too far left or judged to be too moderate.

When human beings are uncertain about a decision they tend to default to the familiar.  Familiar is the safe choice. You see it in politics all the time. Voting for an unknown and unproven candidate is risky unless the new candidate really convinces voters and separates themselves from the field.

Biden benefited from that uncertainty and won by default. However, he really lacks a defining message in his campaign. Even worse, it is unclear whether he is capable of delivering any message coherently.

Democrats seem to be making a bet that all that is needed from their default candidate is that he is not Donald Trump. Perhaps they are right. However, history would suggest that voters want more if they are being asked to make a change. Where is the "hope" with Joe Biden?

That is another truth regarding human beings. Making any change involves risk.  People tend to prefer the known versus the unknown. That is why incumbents usually have an advantage in most elections.

Early in the campaign I wrote a blog post about Biden titled "The Human Gaffe Machine". I suggest you read it if you are not familiar with Biden's lengthy gaffe-ridden history. You were never sure what would come out of Joe's mouth when he was at the top of his game. If I was a Democrat I would be terrified at what could transpire over the next 100 days.

This is what I wrote in that post.

Can the Human Gaffe Machine win the Democrat nomination? I will be shocked if Biden prevails through the primary process. If he does win, it will truly show just how far most Democrat candidates have strayed compared to where most Democrat voters are. Biden might be what they believe is the only reasonable choice. That will say a lot in itself.

Before Covid-19 occurred I believed that there was a better than 50% chance that large Democrat  donors and the establishment would make a move to replace Biden at the top of the ticket. They have to know the risk they are taking with Biden. Of course, Joe would have would have fought the attempt to supplant him but in the end the big money wins. It would have been packaged as Joe had decided that his health required him to step aside.

However, Covid-19 has given Biden a lot of cover. It has also helped him with the polls. A number of polls show Biden up by double digits. The Real Clear Politics composite average shows him up by 9.1%.

These poll results have clearly given Biden a reprieve. It is doubtful that Democrat donors would want to rock the boat looking at these numbers right now.

Nevertheless, I think the Democrats have placed as extraordinarily risky bet on Biden. I don't think Trump could have been given a better candidate to run against.

I am not giving any poll a lot of credibility in a year like this one 100 days before the election.

This is particularly the case when you see the extent to which some of these recent polls are weighting the extent to which they believe that Democrat voters will turn out compared to Republican voters.

For context, in 2016 there was a +3%-5%% greater turnout for Democrat identified voters compared to Republican identified voters based on which exit poll you looked at.

Check out the weightings in these recent polls in favor of Democrats as detailed by Joseph Sheppard.

Considering that 90% of self-identified Democrats can usually be expected to support the Democrat nominee, if you over sample Democrats by 7 points that would shift the overall poll by 6 points in favor of Biden.  Using the same turnout breakdown as 2016 means that Biden would only be up 3 points rather than 9 points.

Interestingly, Rasmussen's most recent poll has Biden up by only 2 points rather than 9 or 10. Rasmussen was one of the most accurate pollsters in 2016.

The internals of the most recent Rasmussen daily tracking approval rating raise even more questions as to what is really going on and how much we can rely on any polls right now.

Rasmussen has Trump's overall approval rating at 49%. That would be on the high side of most approval rating polls for Trump.

However, what really stood out to me were the internals in that poll.

Rasmussen raises the question of whether a backlash is building regarding all of the lawlessness we see going on in American cities.

It actually shows Trump with 49% approval with Blacks and 50% with women! Those numbers are astounding if true. In fact, I have a hard time believing they are true just as much as questioning the validity of a +10% Democrat sample in the polls above.

Approval ratings do not necessarily convert to votes but let's consider these numbers in more detail.

For context, Rasmussen had Trump at an overall approval rating of 43% the day George Floyd was killed. His Black approval was 22%. His Non-White approval was 41%. His White approval was 48%.

Look at the numbers above. Trump's White approval has not changed since Floyd was killed and the protests and riots began in American cities. On the other hand, Trump's approval with Blacks is up 27 points and with Non-Whites 16 points.

Perhaps there is a reason we see so few Blacks participating in the BLM protests. Minorities might be those most concerned about defunding the police, emptying prisons and promoting a socialist agenda.

There is little question that Donald Trump faces severe headwinds in his re-election bid right now.

The mainstream media has a visceral hatred for the man the likes I have never seen.

There are a substantial number of people who are afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome who would do most anything to see that he is defeated in November.

The Covid-19 pandemic still plagues us.

The economy has been decimated by the virus and the lockdowns.

You are never 100% sure what Donald Trump will say or do.

However, it is also true that periods of crisis and uncertainty also play to the advantage of the incumbent. Difficult times call for a strong leader. Many people may not like Trump but when your back is against the wall there is something to be said for having someone you know is going to be tough and unrelenting. Say what you want about Trump but he is indefatigable. There is no quit in him. You also will never see him hiding in the basement.

I also still think Biden is a ticking time bomb for the Democrats. He has always been a human gaffe machine. That is now compounded by the fact that he appears well past his prime. I will be shocked if he does not do or say something that ultimately raises substantial questions about his ability to lead the country.

Even if Biden survives the gaffes, we are talking about a man who will be 78 years old at the beginning of a first term, 82 years old at the beginning of a second term and 86 years old at the end. Does anyone really think he is going to lead the nation? Is he nothing but a puppet? Who is going to be pulling his strings?

It is one thing to complain about Donald Trump.

It is another thing altogether for the American people bet their lives, livelihood and liberty on Joe Biden and the Democrats right now considering what we see going on in liberal-run cities across the country.

If you think electing Biden and the Democrats will calm the radicals down think again.

The fact is a Democrat victory in November would not satisfy the rioters, it would embolden them.

Look no further than what they have done to the Mayors of Seattle, Portland and Oakland.

This is what they did to the Mayor's home in Oakland last week. Oakland is one of the most liberal cities in the United States. The Mayor is a vocal BLM supporter. Just like the Mayor of Seattle, who had her home vandalized several weeks ago, they didn't seem to care that she had a "Black Lives Matter" sign in her window.

If you don't want to abolish the police, let everyone out of prison and go full Marxist, you are the enemy.

It promises to be a very interesting 100 days.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Random Ruminations

A blog post of random ruminations to help provide some additional context on what is going on in the world.

Face Masks

Are masks the answer to preventing the spread of Covid-19? We are now told that is the answer. I can guarantee when the cases start to wind down we will be told it was because of the masks. Will that really be true?

Or is there a natural up and down movement of the virus that generally plays out over a 2-3 month period when it attacks an area. Note how remarkably similar these curves are in various countries.

Do you see a similar pattern in the Northeast states?

If this pattern holds true it suggests that we are probably close to the peak in the current hot spot states of Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Look at the chart below that compares mask compliance and daily cases of Covid-19 in different countries around the world.

It is difficult to discern a consistent pattern.

For example, Vietnam and Finland have widely divergent use of masks and both are reporting no cases.

Very little mask use in Scandinavian countries and a lot in Asian countries. Denmark and Japan is another interesting comparison as is the Philippines and Australia.

Population density may be at play here as well.

I can't help but wonder if face masks were the answer why weren't we told that they would allow us to avoid the lockdowns in March, April and May?

How have the Scandinavian countries brought daily cases down while specifically avoiding any mask protocols or mandates?

California instituted a mask mandate on June 18. It has been over a month since that order went into effect and daily cases have almost tripled. Considering that Covid-19 has an average incubation period of about 5 days it would seem that if masks were effective there would have been some slowing of the spread of the virus. There is no evidence of that.

Daily New Covid-19 Cases in California

Flu shots

Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic I saw some research that indicated that those who had been vaccinated against the flu this year seemed to be more vulnerable to Covid-19. I had not seen any more about that until I came across this interesting analysis.

It seems countries with high flu vaccinations rates for those over age 65 have experienced the highest death rates per million.

This got me thinking as well that nursing homes have some of the highest vaccination rates for the flu because of concerns for the elderly.

Is this coincidence or is something else going on here?


To put this in further perspective, the Rvalue representing the correlation coefficient for this data is .7299.

Statisticians would consider that a "high positive" correlation.


Balanced against this is the fact that most hospitals require all employees to get flu shots every year as a condition of employment. I have not heard that hospital workers have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 despite being in a high risk environment. Why not? Lower age? PPE?

Investment Returns

Most individuals focus on the returns of the stock market because that is what they hear about the most in the news.

However, the fact is that an investment in long-term corporate bonds over the last 20 years would have produced much higher investment returns than stocks over that time period.

This is all a function of the dramatic decline in interest rates over the last 20 years as lower interest rates caused the prices of bonds to increase.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much more room for interest rates to fall further from where we are today.

When interest rates start to rise that light blue line will be inverted from what you see above.

I am sure that you have seen the following legal disclaimer that mutual funds and other investment products have to provide in their marketing materials.

Past performance is not an indicator of future results.

It was never truer than today with regard to bond returns.

However, those last 20 years have been unbeatable for bonds.

Mortgage Payments

There has been no place that lower interest rates has had a bigger effect on American consumers than in mortgage payments.

Mortgage rates are at all-time lows.

30-year rates are now below 3% in some areas of the country. 15-year rates are below 2.5%.

This chart by Ben Carlson puts this into further perspective.

Since 2000, the median sales price of an existing home is +90%.

Inflation is +54%.

The monthly payment based on a 30-year mortgage is up only +8%


I had a couple of mortgages in my lifetime at between 8.5% and 10.75%. Some Baby Boomers paid 12% or more in the early 1980's.

Millennials may complain about their student loan debt but they probably should be putting everything in perspective. It will never get much better than this in borrowing to buy a home.

Single Millennial Women

I wrote a blog post "What Is It With Millennial Women?" a few weeks ago asking the question as to why single, white Millennial women made up such large numbers in Black Lives Matter protests.

I still don't know the answer.

However, if you need further evidence that the BLM movement could not exist without these women consider these two photographs I came across recently.

How many young, white women are in this picture?

Also consider this image of a young woman who is "confronting" the police in Portland, Oregon.


I ask again. How do you explain it?

Is this really about Black Lives Matter or is it about something else?

Suzanne Venker is a relationship counselor and coach who is an op-ed contributor for The Washington Examiner.

She has some perspectives on the topic I had not previously considered.

Venker believes that these young women (and others) just want to belong.

People often think of peer pressure as something teenagers experience. In fact, peer pressure is just as prevalent among adults. It's the reason ideas spread like wildfire. People jump on board with what everyone else is doing or thinking for one simple reason: They want to belong.
Have you ever wondered how Adolf Hitler managed to convince so many people to commit evil acts? Or how cult leaders such as Charles Manson or David Koresh could get so many people to do what they told them to do and to believe what they told them to believe? The need to belong is just that fierce and strong, particularly for vulnerable folks who feel lonely or misunderstood.
It's happening right now with the Black Lives Matter movement. It's not about the fact that black lives matter, with which no sane person would disagree. A simple search of their own website will tell you its goals: to "disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure" and to "foster a queer‐affirming network."
But doing research or thinking critically about any idea or movement is threatening to what so many people want. These folks aren't interested in the truth. They don't want the facts. What they want is to belong.

Is there any group today that feels more lonely, is more misunderstood and wants to belong than young, single, college-educated white women? Many have no man in their life. There are no children or likely prospects that marriage or children will occur soon due to the imbalance between male and female college graduates. They live in rental apartments in large cities leading hectic, anonymous lives with little sense of community and huge sums of student loan debt.

I published the chart below three years ago that I found in The Washington Post that shows the imbalance between male and female college graduates ages 22-29 in various U.S. cities. Is it a coincidence that Portland and Minneapolis have been at the center of the BLM movement?

Portland has 156 women for every 100 men among college grads age 22-29. Minneapolis has 143.

Fairfax, Virginia is considered a top 10 city for women on the dating scene but it still only has 80 men for every 100 women. Atlanta is 5th best and only has 90 men for every 100 college grad women.

I have written about the imbalance of male and female college graduates several times over the years in these pages and warned of the potential impacts that it might have on relationships as well as society as a whole.

You can read two of these here and here.

Are we seeing some of those effects now?

Venker outlines the plight of these women in another op-ed.

In the last week alone, I've spoken with three millennial women (who reached out for coaching) who are all in the same boat: They're up to their eyeballs in debt, having gotten degree upon degree due to the pressure they felt from their parents and the culture to do something big with their lives. To not let their intellect go to waste. To not worry about finding a man to marry or even having children because, well, they have bigger fish to fry.
These women aren't just in debt — they're crestfallen. All they want is to have a family of their own, but they've been so conditioned to believe marriage and motherhood constitutes a lesser life that they don't dare admit this desire. I can't tell you the number of single women who tell me they'd give up their career in a hot second for a husband and kids.
That's the crux of the problem for the women who reach out to me: They were taught that their value lies in what they do, rather than in who they are — that if they don't live their lives the way men live theirs, they are failures. And it's tearing them up inside. One woman broke down after admitting she has spent a decade getting two degrees she doesn't even want.

I have no idea if Venker is right. However, it is additional food for thought because what we are seeing with single, white Millennial women is very difficult to explain.

Context is everything when assessing anything. When you see or hear anything these days think about the context around the issue. You cannot understand anything without putting everything in context.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Deluded Under Any Name

It seems that it is hard to keep track of how many people are deluded these days.

At the top of the list is New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

Let's start with the fact that DeBlasio entered the Democrat primary apparently believing that he could become President.

DeBlasio dropped out of the race in September, 2019 right after this poll came out showing the preferences of Democrat voters in New York City.

DeBlasio got 0% in his own city!

Source: @SienaResearch 9/8-12

Bear in mind this was before Covid-19 swept through his city leaving it with the highest death toll of any area in the United States.

At last count there have been more than 23,000 deaths in New York City alone from Covid-19.

About one in six deaths from Covid-19 in the United States and have been in the five boroughs of New York City.

There have been more deaths in New York City than in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, South Carolina  and Texas, COMBINED.

Of course, it is now known that almost all of the Covid-19 cases in the United States had their origins in New York City (after coming from China to Europe to NYC). If Cuomo and DeBlasio had been more proactive in instituting actions against the virus in early March much of what occurred later could have been avoided.

This New York Times article provides the background on how NYC seeded the virus to most of the rest of the country.

Who would have ever guessed this?

Consider what I wrote in March. This was written when the lockdowns were first being put in place.

I believe that there is almost no choice other than to lock down the New York City metro from the rest of the country. Flights need to be stopped in and out. Trains, buses and other public transportation that brings people in or out of the metro area need to also cease. A ban on all personal and non-essential travel in and out of the area may also be necessary if the numbers don't start dropping.

At this point it will do no good for Ohio or Nevada or Florida to go through extreme measures for several weeks to stop the spread only to have people from the most affected area in the country bring new cases of the virus in.

When President Trump floated this idea both DeBlasio and Cuomo vigorously opposed a travel ban in and out of New York. Cuomo said a quarantine of New York would be a "federal declaration of war".

Unfortunately, Trump backed down because of those words. Trump was right and should have followed through with his instincts. 

Consider as well what has happened in New York City in conjunction with the Black Lives Matter protests and riots in which DeBlasio has been front and center in pushing an anti-police agenda.

Crime exploded in New York City in the month of June.

Shootings     +130%
Murders         +30%
Burglaries      +118%
Auto thefts     +51%

For the month of June 2020, the number of people victimized by gun violence and murder in New York City spiked significantly, when compared to the same period in 2019. Between June 1 and June 30, there was a 130% increase in the number of shooting incidents across the city (205 v. 89) as the number of shootings rose in every borough of New York. The number of people murdered citywide increased to 39 v. 30, (+ 30%) for the month, while the number of burglaries increased to 1,783 v. 817 (+118%) and the number of auto thefts increased to 696 v. 462 (+51%) citywide.

Despite the increased crime, the NYPD reports that it actually has made 40,000 fewer arrests in 2020 than it did in the same period in 2019.

While all of this is transpiring in New York City Mayor DeBlasio is proudly stating that NYC has fewer people in jail than ay any time since WW2 and they are safer and better for it.


Is there anyone more deluded than this?

While all of this has been going on DeBlasio was also painting a huge Black Lives Matter street mural on Fifth Avenue right in front of Trump Tower.

Credit: ABC News

He also recently announced that he wants to cut the NYPD budget by $1 billion.

However, while the NYPD is stretched to the limit and crime is rampant, how is DeBlasio allocating those precious law enforcement resources?

According to former Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, DeBlasio is reportedly assigning 27 cops each day to the site of the BLM mural to see that nothing happens to it.

All of this while the rest of the city disintegrates? 

It is more important to protect paint on the street than the city's residents?

How deluded can one be?

The exodus is under way.

Apartment vacancies rising. Rents falling.

A real estate tidal wave in neighboring Connecticut is underway.

About one in four office employers intend to reduce their footprint by at least a fifth, and about 16% expect to move jobs out of the city, according to the Partnership for New York City, an influential group composed of corporate chief executives, which enlisted over a dozen consulting firms to work for free to conduct the study.

The study estimated that city and state tax revenue losses may exceed $37 billion during the next two years, as the state’s economic output drops 7%. The city’s economy could shrink as much as 13% this year.

A lot of the moves above were influenced primarily by Covid-19. What do you think it is going to look like when there is no confidence that the city will protect property or lives?

It all raises the question as to why does a man come to think this way?

The answer is usually apparent in looking at one's background.

The following was drawn from several sources including DeBlasio's Wikipedia profile as well as this Snopes article on DeBlasio.

Bill DeBlasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. on May 8, 1961.

During the 1950's, both of his parents were accused of having a "sympathetic interest in communism".

Warren Wilhelm, Jr. became Warren DeBlasio-Wilhelm when he was 22 years old to honor his mother and his maternal family who were largely responsible for his upbringing. It appears that his father was largely absent during most of his childhood years.

DeBlasio received degrees from NYU (Metropolitan Studies) and Columbia (International Affairs).

Shortly after graduating from Columbia in 1987, DeBlasio went to work as a political organizer for the Quixote Center. The Quixote Center was heavily involved in the support of the Soviet-backed socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. DeBlasio traveled to that country during the Nicaraguan Revolution to provide food and medical supplies to the Sandinistas.

Upon returning to New York City after his time in Nicaragua, DeBlasio was an ardent supporter of the socialist government and was a member of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York  which raised money for the the Sandinista political party.

About this same time, DeBlasio got involved in local politics in New York City and worked for David Dinkins' mayoral campaign. He eventually ended up with a job as an aide in City Hall. When asked in 1990 about his goals for society, he stated he was an advocate for democratic socialism.

DeBlasio went on to be a campaign manager for Charles Rangel (U.S. House) and Hillary Clinton (U.S. Senate).

In the interim he got an appointment from the Clinton administration to be the Regional Director for HUD for the New York/New Jersey area.

In 2001, DeBlasio changed his name again and dropped the Wilhelm from the hyphenated name and also became William (Bill). The first name of Warren was gone. That is also the year that DeBlasio ran for City Council in New York City.

DeBlasio won his first term as Mayor in 2013 with 72% of the vote.

He was re-elected in 2017 with 65% of the vote.  

You might notice a similar career profile for DeBlasio as you do for other leftist politicians. He has never spent one day in the private sector. He has been a political organizer, activist, campaign aide, city hall aide, federal government employee and elected city official. He has never toiled in the private sector or had to meet a payroll. He has no appreciation for anyone who produces anything of value and  pays the taxes that make our society work. He seems to have no appreciation for the United States of America.

It is said that people get the representation they deserve.

Deluded voters might end up electing deluded leaders.

The name does not matter. The Warren Wilhelm, Jr. that was born in 1961 or the Bill DeBlasio that leads New York today. Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden. Barack Obama. There are similarities in all of their backgrounds. 

DiBlasio's background clearly led him down the wrong path. How unfortunate that he is leading so many others down a path of empty promises that will inevitably lead to despair. Look no further than what happened in Nicaragua and Venezuela when the socialists gained control. How far can New York City fall? 

This man is simply deluded----under any name.

Don't be deluded yourself. Your vote counts in 2020. Don't sell the country out to leaders who will do to the United States what DiBlasio is doing to New York City. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Does The Substance Match The Style?

Does the substance match the style?

That is a question I have been asking myself about Dr. Anthony Fauci for the last three months.

It came to mind again as I saw Fauci on the cover of InStyle magazine along with a glowing interview by Norah O'Donnell of NBC News.

I won't even get into why Fauci thought it was a good idea to do a cover shot for a magazine like InStyle in the middle of a pandemic.

I guess, as the cover indicates, it is because he is "The Good Doctor."

I wrote this about Fauci on April 13.

I have generally been supportive of Dr. Anthony Fauci who is considered the nation's top infectious disease expert.
He comes across as someone who doesn't mince words and is a pretty straight shooter.
However, I must also admit that I have seen some things that have troubled me when it comes to Dr. Fauci during the Covid-19 crisis.
First, Fauci has had the top job regarding infectious diseases at the National Institute of Health since 1984---36 years.
As people begin to ask whether we should have been better prepared wouldn't the first person that should be questioned regarding that lack of preparation be Dr. Fauci?
Yes, I know he is only a bureaucrat and he doesn't control funding and the like. However, politicians have one million issues (and especially Presidents) on their plates. Fauci had responsibility that included one very big issue---our response to a pandemic. Did he use his platform and his influence effectively to insure we were prepared?
Fauci also seems to have been going out of his way to defend the World Health Organization and China in their responses to the Covid-19 crisis.
Again, I understand that Fauci must have a lot of friends in the WHO and with infectious disease experts in China. However, it would seem to be better to say nothing than defend the actions of the WHO and China in all of this.

The questions about Fauci don't end there.

There is a long list of things that Fauci has said and done that indicates that there is more style than substance about the man.

This is a man who said in February that the risk of a pandemic was relatively low.

He also said at that time that there was not a chance that the United States would lockdown 50 million people as was done in China. I guess you can say he was right. We locked down 300 million people.

He reportedly disagreed with President Trump that a China travel ban was necessary.

He testified before Congress it wasn't his job to determine whether the lockdowns might have been more harmful to the nation than the disease. What? He is supposedly the nation's top expert on public health and infectious diseases. How can that not be part of his job?

In March Fauci told CBS' 60 Minutes that wearing face masks were not helpful and could be harmful.

“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences—people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”

Fauci was asked in the InStyle interview about whether he had any regrets about his earlier advice on mask wearing. This was the question and Fauci's response in which he says he does not regret anything.

NO: It’s been recently reminded to us by the White House that you advised against people wearing masks in public, and, of course, that was due to the surge because the concern was about saving PPEs for medical professionals. Do you regret that comment? 

A F: No. I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people. That’s what the dialogue was in the task force meetings, which led all of us, not just me but also [U.S. Surgeon General] Jerome Adams, to say, “Right now we really need to save the masks for the people who need them most.” When it became clear that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers who don’t know they’re infected, that made it very clear that we had to strongly recommend masks. And also, it soon became clear that we had enough protective equipment and that cloth masks and homemade masks were as good as masks that you would buy from surgical supply stores. So in the context of when we were not strongly recommending it, it was the correct thing. But our knowledge changed and our realization of the state of the outbreak changed.

Look at Fauci's response to 60 Minutes. He did not say people should not wear masks because of the need to conserve PPE. He said that they would not be effective.

He also claims that new information subsequently came about that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers. Fauci seems to claim that this did not become clear until much later than his March statements.

Really? I wonder then how I could have written this on January 26 based on the reports I was getting out of China. How did I know more than Dr. Fauci?
The virus also apparently has a long incubation period (14+ days) before any symptoms manifest themselves. In the meantime, the subject is contagious even if they do not know they are sick. In that 11 million people live in Wuhan it only takes a small percentage of those people to travel elsewhere for the virus to spread.

Of course, it appears that nothing about what has occurred with managing Covid-19 has altered Dr. Fauci's opinion about himself as seen in this pull quote from the interview.

Has Dr. Fauci been effective? Does the substance match the style?

In both April and May Dr. Fauci stated that there was nothing to suggest that the use of hydroxychloroquine could be effective in the treatment of Covid-19.

However, it is now becoming clear that HCQ in combination (with Z-pac and zinc) is the most effective treatment if it is taken soon after symptoms appear.

There there have been 59 studies (39 peer reviewed) involving the use of HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19. Its efficacy, if used early, is becoming more apparent by the day.

You can go here for a summary of the relevant research.

If you want to take a deep dive into the use of HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19 I recommend you read this which is the best compilation of data I have seen on its use.

That includes this chart that compares countries that have extensively endorsed the use of HCQ versus those that have mixed use and countries that did not use it at all.

As the author of the chart says, "it is not proof (that HCQ absolutely works) but it does make you say 'hmmm'.

Fauci never even said 'hmmm'. He just rejected HCQ out of hand.

Dr. David Samadi, a prominent New York City physician, recently tweeted this advice out.

He also tweeted this out which is excellent advice.

Make sure you know all of the possible symptoms of Covid-19.

Dr. Samadi is not alone. In conversations I have had with other doctors they generally all echo the benefits of using HCQ early. Some even wonder what Fauci's motivation might have been to question the use of HCQ.

It has been suggested that Dr. Fauci could have a financial interest in certain drugs or vaccines that might be developed that Fauci has a patent interest in. HCQ is an extremely low cost treatment. Do you see a possible conflict?

I don't know if Fauci has patents associated with possible Covid-19 treatments but he has admitted in the past that various patents developed at the National Institute of Health are registered in his name. He explained that as a government employee he is required by law to put his name on certain patents.

That is true as the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 changed the law that previously made patents developed on work funded by taxpayer money the property of the United States government. At the time of the Bayh-Dole Act, the federal government had patents on 28,000 inventions but few had been commercially licensed due to the federal bureaucracy. It was thought that by allowing universities and other non-profits to retain the intellectual property on the work (and profits) they did on projects funded by federal dollars might provide a better opportunity to turn inventions into commercial applicability and grow the economy.

The thinking was that the federal government might be giving up some patent income in the short term but it would come out ahead in the end with more tax dollars due to greater commercial applicability on this research and development.

It sounds good in theory but has it resulted in other problems? After 40 years is this a subject that should be revisited?

Fauci has claimed in the past that he has felt it was inappropriate to receive payments for these patents and he has donated the royalties he has received to charity.

Interestingly, I have never seen anyone in the media ask Dr. Fauci for a copy of his tax returns to prove that statement. Why not? Plenty of people in the media are worried about Donald Trump's tax returns. How about Dr. Fauci?

Dr. Fauci apparently has learned one thing living in Washington, D.C all these years. If you ingratiate yourself to the media and the D.C. establishment you inoculate yourself against any criticism.

Dr. Fauci has been good at wearing a mask (and I am not talking about for Covid-19) in trying to act as if he is an impartial, objective scientist.

However, he really let the mask slip this past week in showing to everyone that he is not very objective at all. It also seems to show that he is much more concerned about being invited to D.C. cocktail parties and being in InStyle magazine than being considered a person of substance

Consider this story.

When I first saw this headline on Twitter I thought it had to be a joke.

New York did it correctly?

The state that locked down at least two weeks late. The state that did nothing to attempt to stop European travelers from entering the area's airports. The state that put Covid-19 infected people back into nursing homes. The state that vigorously fought attempts to quarantine NYC from the rest of the country. The state that allowed the NYC subway to run 24/7 with no disinfecting for a couple months.

A state that has over 32,000 deaths.

To put that in context, that is twice as many as California, Texas, Florida have COMBINED.

The nation's top infectious disease expert is calling that a success?

All I can say is that I am relieved that other states did not follow the New York model with Covid-19.

This chart compares deaths in New York compared to the states we are now being told are out of control (AZ, CA, GA, FL, TX) on a per capita basis.


Here is another perspective. Perhaps Fauci was just saying that New York was a model in fighting Covid-19 compared to New Jersey.

What is especially telling in all of this is that Dr. Fauci, a man with a lot of style but little substance to point to on Covid-19, is treated as if he was a deity by the media and D.C. establishment.

Donald Trump, a man with little style but who has proven to have a lot of substance and results to show in 3+ years in office, is treated as if he is the devil.

It says a lot about what is important in Washington.

The problem is that we are living in very dangerous and consequential times today.

Style doesn't cut it any more.

It is long past the time that the media masters and D.C. insiders should be the ones deciding what is good and bad for the country.

Everyone is going to have to make a decision this year about whether they want to bet their life, their livelihood and the legacy of this country on style or substance.

It will be a very substantive decision for everyone.