Sunday, November 29, 2020

Role Reversal

For a good portion of my life the two major political parties had identities that most people understood..

Democrats were the party of the working and middle classes. Democrats were likely to be union families and most were not college-educated. Many lived in factory towns outside of major population centers and that included the small business owners who lived in those same towns. 

Republicans were the party of big business and Wall Street. Republicans were likely to have higher incomes and college degrees. Many Republicans were found in suburban areas near large population centers. Republicans tended to have globalist views and were strongly in favor of expanding international relationships. Most of the nation's elites were Republicans.

These identities made sense as Republicans were considered conservatives which generally means people who are interested in maintaining the existing order or traditions in society without radical change. These voters generally were interested in conserving what they had and the system of government that allowed them to achieve it.

Democrats, on the other hand, were those who generally wanted economic, social and political change and wanted a government that was active in facilitating that change. These voters wanted a system of government that promoted progressive change in order that they could achieve more than they had been able to do previously under the traditional system.

What I have found particularly interesting in observing the evolution of the political parties over the last 40 years is how the voters who identify themselves as Republicans (conservatives) or Democrats (liberals) has completely reversed.

Voters who were Democrats 40 years ago are now Republicans.

Voters who were Republicans are now Democrats.

It is a complete role reversal.

This evolution has been ongoing since 1980 but the emergence of Donald Trump and his transformation of the Republican party has made it apparent to all.

Let's take a look at a few charts to show you what I mean.

This is the county map of the 1980 election between Ronald Reagan (red) and Jimmy Carter (blue).

It was a landslide win for Reagan but it seems almost unfathomable today that a Republican carried almost every county in California (including Los Angeles county by 10 points) as well as New York.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

This is what the map looked like in 1992 between Bill Clinton (blue), George H.W. Bush (red) and Ross Perot (green).

Source: Wikipedia Commons

This is the 2000 map between George W. Bush (red) and Al Gore (blue). You can see how the presence of Democrats in the heartland of the country was starting to recede.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

2008 map between Barack Obama (blue) and John McCain (red) in which Obama won convincingly.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

2016 map between Donald Trump (red) and Joe Biden (blue).

Source: Wikipedia Commons

In 2016, Donald Trump won 2,626 counties to 487 for Hillary Clinton.

Preliminary numbers for 2020 indicate that Joe Biden won just 477 counties.

Obama won 689 counties in 2012. He won 873 in 2008.

Over the years the votes for Democrat presidential candidates have increasingly been concentrated in large population centers and have been centered on the east and west coasts and along the southern border. Most of the heartland votes have disappeared.

This chart shows how the Democrats have increasingly gotten their votes in the 100 largest counties since 1980.

The reliance on the large population centers today is remarkable.

Democrats only carried 30 out of the 100 most populous counties in 1980. They carried 91 out of 100 in 2020.


How can this be explained?

One explanation is the tremendous increase in immigrants into the country beginning in the 1980's of which a large share ended up settling in the country's largest population centers.

Source: Migration Policy Institute

We have also seen a role reversal in college-educated voters moving toward the Democrat party. It also seems to be true that the more time someone spends in school the more likely they will be to vote Democrat. Some argue that this is because those with more education are more "enlightened". However, it actually may have more to do with biases of the education system itself. Colleges spend as much time feeding propaganda to students as they do anything else.

In 1980, 76% of the 100 counties with the largest share of college degrees voted for Ronald Reagan. In 2020, 84% of those counties voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

How can anyone make the argument anymore that the Democrats are the party of the working class?

You also can see how things have changed between the parties in looking at this chart of how the vote for President has gone over the last 40 years in the 100 counties with the highest median income.

Ronald Reagan captured 91 of these 100 counties in 1980 and 93 of the 100 in 1984.

Joe Biden won 57 of these counties in 2020.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Republicans are the party of the rich?

It is not true any longer.

As you can see from these charts, all of these trends have been been ongoing for the last 40 years.

However, the full import and impact and the changes did not come into complete focus until Donald Trump arrived on the scene.

The defining issues that caused a lot of this change to come into better focus were Trump's views on immigration and trade. Trump made it clear that he was not going to allow illegal immigration to be used to undermine the jobs and incomes of those working class Americans who were so badly hurt by this low cost illegal labor. He also made it clear he would renegotiate NAFTA and hold China and other countries to account for the unfair trade practices that had hollowed out much of the nation's manufacturing base over the last 40 years.

What did the Democrats do in reaction to Trump? They took the side of the illegals over what had been their core working class constituency that had sustained the party over many decades. They also got in bed with Wall Street, Big Business and Big Tech in order to fund their campaigns. The transformation was complete. Democrats became a party with two widely separated groups of voters. Rich, urban elites and mostly lower income minorities both living in and around large urban population centers.

That is how a party that was once considered that of Wall Street, big business, the elites, the rich and the globalists became the party of Main Street, small business, the working and middle class and economic nationalism.

Democrats might deny it but the proof is where the votes come from today. The Democrats are not pulling many votes out of the heartland anymore. They seem to lack much empathy for small business owners or those in the working and middle classes. It has become a party of Wall Street, elites in Big Business and Big Tech who seem to care more about how the United States treats the rest of the world that how it treats its own workers and taxpayers.

Little did I ever think I would see such a role reversal in my lifetime.

Donald Trump has revealed it in living color for all to see.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Bleak News About Covid

There is a lot of bleak news about Covid in the news these days.

Cases are up.

Tests are also up.

This chart shows that cases are largely following the trend in tests. However, you can see that the summer months undoubtedly inhibited the transmission of the virus. All respiratory viruses are seasonal and as we enter the winter months this undoubtedly has a lot to do with this wave in the virus.


Adjusted for testing increases, this chart suggests that the current wave is still less severe than what we saw last Spring at this point. 

In fact, more Covid tests were done in the last five days than were done for the flu in the last five years.

We are now approaching 2 million tests being administered each day.


This chart gives you some context to show how testing in the United States compares to some other major countries. The U.S. and U.K. are testing far more per capita than almost anywhere else in the world. That carries additional emphasis in the U.S. since the U.S. population is so much larger and geographically diverse than the U.K.

Tests per 1,000 population

Bear in mind that Joe Biden and his experts claim that the main solution to the problem is "more testing" needs to be done.

Deaths have also risen with the recent wave but they still are not at the level we saw last April even though about 6 times the number of confirmed cases are being reported as there were last Spring.


All of this bleak Covid case data has resulted in another round of bleak news  regarding economic lockdowns, further quarantine orders and school closures.

Some of the measures seem to be particularly bleak in the message they send.

In Oregon, the Governor wants residents to call the police to report neighbors who may be violating her order that no more than six people can gather in a single household. This is the same governor who has been sympathetic in the people in her state who want to defund the police.

In Nevada, you now need a reservation to go to a fast food restaurant.

In New Mexico, they have actually shut down grocery stores for two weeks who have had more than four rapid response positive tests within a 14-day period.

It is bleak indeed.

However, the bleakest news the last couple of weeks has been for the experts who claimed that all of these measures we have had to take were due to the "science".

Let's look at some interesting developments in that regard that have been published in scientific papers I have come across in the last couple of weeks.

Let's consider deaths first. Every day we hear the count of Covid deaths.

You can't get away from it. However, keep in mind that between 50,000 and 70,000 people die in the United States every week. Deaths also increase every year in the winter months. Before 2020 even started, it was projected that somewhere over 2.8 million people would die in the United States this year. That means that even with an expansive definition of Covid deaths they will represent less than 10% of all deaths in the United States this year.

recent paper that was published by Genevieve Briand, who is assistant program director of the Applied Economics master's degree program at Johns Hopkins University, takes a detailed look at the CDC death statistics. That study indicates that there have been no overall increases in deaths in the United States since the Covid pandemic began nor has there been any change in the percentage of deaths of any age group.

(Go to this archived link if the article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter no longer exists. After writing this, I found that JHU may have taken this article down. I wonder why?)

The narrative you hear in the news would suggest that we would be showing an increasing percentage of deaths particularly in those who are older. However, that is not shown in the CDC data according to Briand.

Deaths in all age groups have been relatively steady in all age groups both pre and post Covid.

Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same. 

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said.

Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths. 

These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.

How could there be relatively no effect on overall deaths in the United States if we are told we have  tens of thousands of Covid deaths?

It appears that as Covid deaths went up other deaths decreased by almost identical amounts.

For example, look at this chart that shows the period in April when Covid deaths were the highest.

Credit: Genevieve Briand

Notice how as Covid deaths increased that deaths due to other causes dropped (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, flu etc) on a week to week basis.

Is it a pandemic if overall deaths over the course of the year remained essentially unchanged? 

Another interesting study was recently released that undercuts the narrative that much of the spread of the virus is being caused by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases.

A peer-reviewed study in The Lancet indicates that it is unlikely that Covid-19 is being spread in  asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

It also calls into question PCR testing as an effective method in identifying infectious disease. The length of time that viable virus is present in an individual for it to be transmitted to another person is also short-lived (5-9 days) although testing may pick up the virus for longer periods of time. In no case did the study find live virus present beyond 9 days even in cases with high viral loads.

Our study shows that despite evidence of prolonged SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in respiratory and stool samples, viable virus appears to be short-lived. Therefore, RNA detection cannot be used to infer infectiousness. 

Our study shows that isolation practices should be commenced with the start of first symptoms, which can include mild and atypical symptoms, preceding typical symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough and fever.

In other words, asymptomatic cases are not spreading the virus or are those who are pre-symptomatic. The study indicates that some symptoms (although they may be mild) have to be present in order for the virus to be infectious.

If that is the case then we are back where we were in January where Michael Osterholm, one of the experts on Joe Biden's Covid task force, made the statement below. This was in response to early reports that Covid could be spread by asymptomatic carriers.

Osterholm stated that in 17 years of working with coronaviruses he knew of no evidence where they were found to be infectious during their incubation period. In other words, you have to have symptoms in order to spread the disease.

Of course, the argument that asymptomatic or presymptomatic cases can spread the virus is the entire basis for telling us that we need to wear face masks.

Osterholm also said this about the mask mandate that was being instituted in Minneapolis at the end of May specifically regarding the cloth masks that most people wear when in public.

In other words, masks have almost no benefit for the general public. In fact, he worried that they might do more harm than good.

Osterholm later changed his tune even though when he made the statement above he was correctly citing all of the best scientific research ever done on the efficacy of masks by the general public in protecting against the spread of an infectious viral disease.

It seems that Osterholm might have been right in May before he became more interested in politics than science.

Here is what has occurred in Minnesota since the various mask mandates were instituted.

How could anyone look at this data and suggest that masks worked in inhibiting the spread of the virus?

On the subject of masks, we also have the recently released study from Denmark reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that is the most comprehensive, randomized trial on the use of masks since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

The study involved approximately 6,000 participants half of which were given 50 high quality surgical masks to wear during the course of the trial. This allowed the participants to use a new mask at least once day and dispose of the used masks. Note that this would be far superior protection compared to what we would expect with those who are wearing cloths masks and reusing them for days on end.

1.8% of those who wore the masks were found to have contracted the virus at the end of the trial period. 2.1% of those in the control group who did not wear masks contracted the virus.

In fact, those who wore the masks in the study all the time "exactly as instructed", had an infection rate of 2.0% which was higher than those who wore the masks "most of the time".

In other words, there was almost no difference in infection rates between those who wore masks and those with no masks in the study. You can make an argument that there might be small benefit from masks in looking at the data. However, the authors of the study stated that the reality of the statistical intervals based on the samples sizes in the trial suggested that one could actually conclude that wearing masks might actually be riskier than no masks.

It should be noted that when the trial began the authors were hoping to show at least a 50% reduction in infection rates due to mask usage. The trial did not come close to showing that result.

So that everyone understands how political the issues of mask usage has become, it took the authors of this study almost three months to get this study published as it was not considered "politically correct".

Additional studies may come to different results in the coming months. However, as I have suggested before, the science is far from settled with Covid-19. These new studies confirm that again.

At this point there is nothing in the science, facts or data to justify any mandates, business or school closures or anything else. It certainly should not be done by executive orders. If anyone believes that rights and liberties need to be curtailed let that be done by legislation.

Politicians and others who are trying to hide behind claims of "science" are doing the public a great disservice with their claims of certainty on how to combat the virus as well as not putting all of this in the proper context.

Models, theories and opinions are not reality. They are also not "science" even if someone tries to convince you they are.

How many months have passed when we were told if we do this or that it will all pass?

In the meantime, how many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed?

How many more are going to be sacrificed before it is over?

If it is bleak it is because most of the so-called experts and politicians don't have a bleeping idea of what they are doing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

But For 400 Years Ago

During this Thanksgiving week of 2020 we should stop and give thanks to those intrepid Pilgrims who landed on our shores 400 years ago this month.

2020 has been a difficult year but it is embarrassing to compare our current troubles with those hearty individuals who arrived on the Mayflower after a 66 day journey across the North Atlantic in the Fall of 1620.

I recently read Rush Limbaugh’s book on those Brave Pilgrims to my 6 and 9 year old grandsons.

I also took the time this week to view the PBS documentary film on The Mayflower to pay further homage to these people of indomitable spirit and perseverance.

I was fairly familiar with most of the Pilgrims story but the book and documentary introduced me to a couple of new historical facts I was not aware of.

I knew the names of the key leaders of group on the Mayflower who included William Bradford, William Brewster and Myles Standish.

I was not familiar with the story of John Howland who was a young servant to John Carver who became the first governor of the New Plymouth Colony.

Howland was swept overboard in the midst of a North Atlantic gale in high seas on the crossing but was able to grasp a trailing rope from the Mayflower as he went into the water. That allowed the crew to pull him back aboard.

Grasping that rope was an act of great Providence as Howland went on to later marry a 13-year girl who was on the Mayflower with her parents. Her name was Elizabeth Tilley and she was later orphaned when her parents died after arrival in the New World that first winter which claimed the lives of about half of the colonists. Howland married Tilley in 1623.

John and Elizabeth went on to have 10 children and more than 80 grandchildren.

An estimated 2 million Americans can trace their lineage back to this union. A union that would not have occurred but for that grasp of a rope in the middle of an Atlantic storm.

Who are some of those who were in that 2 million? Who might we have never known but for that length of rope dandling over the side of the Mayflower?

Howland's direct descendants include three presidents — Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — as well as former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin; poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; actors Alec Baldwin, Humphrey Bogart, and Christopher Lloyd; Mormon church founder Joseph Smith; and child care guru Dr Benjamin Spock.

My grandsons (via my son-in-law), who I read that book to, are descendants of Wlliam Brewster who was also on the Mayflower.

We truly owe a lot to the shoulders of those giants we sit on who went before us.

The other historical fact I learned recently is that the Pilgrims took well over a month after reaching the New World to determine where to place their settlement. They did not spy Plymouth Rock and immediately set about settling into their new home.

Small search parties left the Mayflower to try to find a suitable location for their new colony in and around Cape Cod Bay.

They found a near perfect location in Plymouth in that it had a sheltered bay, nice hills surrounding it for defensive purposes, and ground that had already been cleared for crop planting. They even found buried corn seed stored underground. In fact, it was the site of a former Indian settlement of nearly 2,000 that had been decimated and abandoned a few years earlier by a plague.

Although they arrived at the tip of Cape Cod on November 11, 1620 it was not until December 21, 1620 that the first landing party arrived at Plymouth to begin construction of the colony.

Most of the inhabitants of what was called Patuxet by the Indians had died and those that survived had fled. The plague had been introduced to the Indian population by fisherman from Europe who had come ashore to trade with the Indians. 

The Pilgrims would never have gotten the assistance they got from the Indians that they did but for the fact that the Wampanoag tribe realized that they needed to strike a strategic alliance with the Pilgrims. The plague had severely weakened their numbers and standing in the power structure in the area. In order to protect themselves from competing tribes who wanted their land they knew they had to do something to protect themselves. The muskets and other firepower the Pilgrims brought with them was very helpful in that regard.

Both the Pilgrims and Indians had a lot to be thankful for at that first Thanksgiving in 1621. However, actual history shows that the Indians had not been invited to the festivities. They showed up on their own uninvited. They must have smelled the food. Something that has not changed much in 400 years.

Is it not interesting that a pandemic also played such an important part in shaping our history in 1620 as it is doing in 2020?

However, again, if I would have to pick a pandemic to face it would seem that one that has an overall survival rate of over 99% in 2020 is a whole lot better than one that was under 10% in the 1600’s.

We do have much to be thankful for.

If you want to learn more about the Pilgrims story I recommend you read the blog post below on how socialism almost did the colonists in before William Bradford discovered how property rights, a profit motive and the incentives around both turned a failing Plymouth Colony into a success.

400 years later and we still seem unable to understand this?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pilgrims, Prosperity And Poverty
(originally posted November 28, 2013)

I am thankful for many things.  My family. My friends. My job. I could go on and on. The list is very long.

I am most thankful I was born in the United States of America.  A country founded on the concept of individual rights and freedom.  A country that has embraced the idea of economic freedom, property rights and capitalism since its founding.

Of course, I was born at a different time than where we seem to be today in our attitudes about some of these ideals. Will our young people be as thankful as I am about their country of birth? I certainly hope so. However, it amazes me how we fail to accept the reality of the failings and foibles of the human condition throughout history. As a result, the same mistakes and missteps plague us no matter how many times the history lesson is taught.

Look no further than Venezuela. What was once the one of the most prosperous South American countries now languishes under a socialist regime despite rich natural resources.  Communist North Korea can't feed its own people while South Korea is giving a tablet computer to every school child. Taiwan flourished in freedom while Red China floundered for decades before its leaders embraced capitalist-based economic reforms. The same was true for East and West Germany.  In all of these cases there was no difference in the people. They were literally blood brothers and sisters. It was the governmental system and philosophy that made the difference between prosperity and poverty for the people of these nations.

Speaking of history, let's revisit the story of the Pilgrims and the origins of Thanksgiving Day. The story as I learned it in school was about a group of rugged individuals who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 seeking religious freedom in America. They encountered many hardships that first year but thanks to help from Indians and the Grace of God (I am sure this is no longer mentioned in the textbooks) they reaped a bountiful harvest in the following year and gave thanksgiving with a giant feast.

The First Thanksgiving At Plymouth, Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

The real story is much more enlightening.  It also shows that there is absolutely no question about which system works best to provide the most prosperity for the most people and limits poverty. There should be no debate. It has been shown to be true over and over again in human history. However, over and over there are those who persist in thinking there is a better, more humane way to best provide for people in a society.

The real story of the Pilgrims was written by William Bradford who was the leader of the Plymouth Colony from 1621-1657.  He wrote "Of Plymouth Plantation" to chronicle the story of the Pilgrims and it is recognized today as the most complete and authoritative source on the subject.

One of the best summaries I have seen about the Pilgrim story was written by Dr. Judd W. Patton, "The Pilgrim Story: Vital Insights And Lessons For Today".

Let's start at the beginning. When the Pilgrims decided to go to America they had a problem not uncommon to many of us. They did not have enough money. They lacked the funds to sail to America, equip and establish their colony. As a result, they got financial help from some investors who financed New World adventures in return for a share of what the colonists made through farming, fishing, trade and other working endeavors.

The contract between the Adventurers (Investors) and the Pilgrims consisted of ten points. The most critical of which stated, “That all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock and goods of the said colony.”
Today we would call this a socialist commune. In other words, the Pilgrims accepted the socialist principle, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Each person was to place his production into the common warehouse and receive back, through the Governor, only what he needed for himself or his family. The surplus after seven years was to be divided equally, along with the houses, lands, and chattels, “betwixt the Adventurers and Planters.”

The first year after they set sail for America was particularly difficult. The voyage itself took sixty-six days. They landed first on Cape Cod even though they had intended to reach the mouth of the Hudson River. They spent another month sailing the coast of Cape Cod until they finally decided to settle in Plymouth at the site of an old Indian village on December 21, 1620.

Within two months, half of their numbers died. Of the 24 families who had set sail, only four were untouched by death that first year.  Four other families were wiped out completely.  Those that made it to that first Thanksgiving were thankful.  However, it wasn't necessarily because of a bountiful harvest. They were just happy to have survived.

Contrary to legend, the harvests were extremely poor in 1621 and 1622. It was normal to be hungry. Governor Bradford referred to 1621 as the “the small harvest” year. Yet he notes that in “the summer there was no want.” Thankful for what God had given them, Governor Bradford declared a three-day feast for the purpose of prayer and celebration. We all know it as the first New England Thanksgiving – apparently observed in late summer.

Things were marginally better in 1622. The harvest was a little better but many Pilgrims held back and did not work as hard as others. There was stealing and hoarding. Bradford and the other Pilgrim leaders recognized that this would continue unless they changed the system.  What could they do to prevent another poor harvest?

This is how Governor Bradford tells it in "Of Plymouth Plantation".

“So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land…This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise…The women now went willingly into the field, and took the little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

The socialist system was discarded and replaced with a system that was built on individual property rights that put the trust in individual initiative to take care of the common good of the colony.

How did that work out?

In 1621, the Pilgrims planted only 26 acres. Sixty acres were planted in 1622. But in 1623, spurred on by individual enterprise, 184 acres were planted! Somehow those who alleged weakness and inability became healthy and strong. It’s amazing what incentive will do to improve bad attitudes!

However, the Pilgrims still had their challenges. The summer of 1623 was hot and dry. For almost two months there was no rain. Their crops were in jeopardy. Governor Bradford did not lose faith.

Governor Bradford then set a “solemn day of humiliation (fasting) to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress.” Their prayers were answered. By evening it began to rain. It revived the corn and other fruits. Even the Indians were astonished. The soft showers continued along with beautiful fair weather. The result was a “fruitful and liberal harvest …for which mercy they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”

By the fall of 1624, the colonists were able to export a full boat load of corn! And the Pilgrims settled with the Adventurers. They purchased the Adventurers stock in the colony and completed the transition to private property and free markets.
The rest is history. The experience of the Pilgrims went a long way to forming the values and principles upon which our Founding Fathers created a new nation unlike anything the world had ever seen before. It came to be the most prosperous and powerful country ever known to mankind. For that I am forever thankful to the Pilgrims and the others who endured trials and tribulations to give me the life I have today.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving it is useful to remember the Pilgrims and what their experience can teach us. I think Dr. Patton summarizes the lessons pretty well.

The Pilgrim experience dating from 1623 was and is yet a prototype for the United States of America. They learned the hard way that: (1) Socialism does not work; it diminishes individual initiative and enterprise; (2) Socialism is not a Godly economic system; and (3) Famine and drought can be used by God to humble a people and set them on a proper course. The Pilgrims responded. The real question today is: Can Americans learn these vital insights from the Pilgrims or must we too face famine and drought in the coming years?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Smoke and Mirrors or Fire?

There is plenty of smoke in the air in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The question is can anyone find the source of the fire?

An even bigger question is whether there is ANYONE that has the COURAGE to put out the fire if we find it?

There are a lot of claims circulating about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. That is about the worse thing you can have in a constitutional republic where everything needs to be built on a foundation of trust in the voting system. Without that trust, you literally have nothing.

A Rasmussen poll released this weekend revealed that 47% of all voters believed that it was likely that “Democrats stole votes or destroyed pro-Trump ballots in several states to ensure that Biden would win”

75% of Republicans said it was likely.

Even 30% of Democrats agreed it was likely.

This would suggest that the foundation of our entire system is in serious jeopardy.

That is why I have argued before that it is absolutely necessary to investigate all of the claims of election interference and fraud. In fact, looking at the poll numbers, that is just as true for Joe Biden as it is for Donald Trump.

I don’t know if there was widespread fraud in this election. I see many things that are hard to make sense of. Let’s call it smoke. It remains to be seen if that smoke was caused by an intentionally lit fire.

When I analyze things I try not to get caught up in the weeds. I try to look at the big picture first to put as much of the landscape as I can in perspective
Let’s start with that perspective in mind.

When an incumbent is running for re-election, it is generally true that if they can get everyone that voted for them the last time to support them again, they will win.

This is a pretty simple concept to understand.

Let’s look at that concept applied to the 2020 election.

Donald Trump received 63 million popular votes in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton got 66 million votes. Trump won the electoral vote because Clinton’s entire national vote margin was in California. In the other 49 states Trump had about a 1.5 million vote margin overall.

How many votes does Donald Trump have right now recognizing that counts are still coming in?

73.8 million votes.

In other words, Trump effectively got all of the 63 million voters who supported him the last time and added almost 11 million others.

That is an increase of 17.2% in total votes for the incumbent President.

How does that compare to some other past elections where an incumbent either won (Obama, Clinton) or lost (Carter, George H.W. Bush).

Obama lost 5.5% of his votes between 2008 and 2012 and won re-election but Donald Trump gained 17.2% in votes but lost?

It defies all common sense.

Democrats argue that it is all explained by higher turnout of voters across the board.

There will probably be close to 155 million votes cast in this election when all is said and done.

That compares to 129 million just four years ago.

Joe Biden will surely get to at least 80 million votes.

For context, that is 14 million more than Hillary Clinton received in 2016 and Barack Obama got in 2012.

Where did all of these voters come from?

Some argue that is was a surge of young and first-time voters.

However, the share of voters 18-29 actually went down from 19% of the electorate in 2016 to 17% in 2020 according to exit polls..

First-time voters were also lower as an overall percent of all voters (14%) in 2020 than they were in 2016 (15%). 

In any event, these numbers still do not explain how total votes cast could have gone up over 20% in just four years.

If we are to believe the Biden vote totals you have to believe that some 15 million people who did vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton somehow decided en masse to vote for a candidate who did not campaign and for whom there was absolutely no enthusiasm for whatsoever.

Again, it defies all common sense.

If any of this can be explained it can only be done by considering the massive increase in mail-in ballots.

It has been reported that 65 million votes were cast by mail in 2020.

Only 33.3 million ballots were cast by mail in 2016.

In the 2018 mid-term elections 30.2 million votes were cast by mail.

As I have written before, mail-in ballots are much more subject to fraud than in person voting. Mail ballots do not require an actual, living and breathing human being to physically show up at a polling place, show an ID (in some states) and sign the voter roll that can then be compared to the registration record signature.

Let’s look at the mail-in vote totals in two states (Georgia and Pennsylvania) that have received attention in this election for possible fraud. 

Compare the mail-ballots that were cast in 2020 compared to 2016 in the two states.

There were over 6 times as many mail-in ballots in Georgia and almost 10 times as many in Pennsylvania as four years ago.

In order to prevent fraud and insure the integrity of the ballot it is critical that safeguards be applied to mail-in ballots in order to be sure that the voter casting the ballot is the same as the person on the voting rolls.

This is typically done by requiring a copy of a picture id, driver’s license number or witness signature with the ballot. It is also critical that the signature on the ballot envelope be checked against the signature on the registration rolls.

Due to these requirements it is not uncommon to have a fairly high number of rejected mail-in ballots in that voters do not follow the rules which causes ballots to be declared invalid.

This chart from Pew Research shows the percentages of absentee/mail ballots that were declared ineligible in different states in the last two national elections.

In particular, note the percentages in Georgia in 2016 and 2018

Considering the great number of ballots being submitted by mail for the first time in 2020 wouldn’t you expect the number of rejected ballots to increase?

That would be the logical conclusion.

It is also what U.S. Election Commission predicted would occur in 2020.

These were their exact words.

“It is expected that the rejected ballot percentage will increase in 2020 as more voters are expected to vote by mail, some for the first time.”

How many rejected mail-in ballots have been reported in Georgia out of those 1.3 million votes?


That is .2%

That is 6 times lower than the national average cited in 2016.

It is 320 times lower than the percentage of rejected mail-in ballots Georgia reported in 2016.

All in a year when so many were voting by mail for the first time?

That number defies all reason.

It clearly shows that almost no examinations were done of the mail-in ballots in Georgia before they were accepted.

In Pennsylvania there have been only 1,009 rejected ballots out of 2.6 million cast.

That means that for every 2,577 mail-in ballots that were accepted only one was rejected. That is .03%.

In the 2018 mid-term election in Pennsylvania, 4.4% of absentee ballots were rejected.

How can anyone believe that even the most rudimentary examination of these ballots were done before they were counted?

There are even bigger questions about the legality of the mail-in ballots in these states.

In Georgia, the entire rules regarding the expansion of mail-in ballots in the state were instituted by the Secretary of State earlier this year without any involvement by the state legislature.

This is a major problem as the U.S. Constitution is clear that that federal elections are delegated to the states in rules established by the state legislatures.

In the election for President , Article I, Sec. 2 reads “Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature may direct…”

In the election for Senators and Representatives, Article I, Sec. 4 states that “ The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;”

Therefore, under what authority did the Secretary of State have to liberalize the rules for mail-in ballots without having it passed by the state legislature?

This is the basis of one lawsuit filed in Georgia asking for the results of the election be overturned. This was filed by attorney Lin Wood acting on his own behalf and not for the Trump campaign.

In Pennsylvania, there is a similar problem with the liberalized rules on mail-in ballots.

However, in Pennsylvania these new mail-in ballots were approved by the legislature in a bipartisan vote and signed into law by the Governor in 2019.

The problem with this is that the rules with regard to what is an allowable reason for absentee voting is enshrined in the Constitution of Pennsylvania. It limits absentee voting to those things we think of traditionally for such voting (being physically absent from the state or county, having an illness or physical disability etc).

A constitutional provision should require a constitutional amendment in order to change the law. This was not done.

This is also the subject of another lawsuit in Pennsylvania brought by Rep. Mike Kelly and other Republicans in the state claiming that all of the mail-in ballots under the new law were illegally cast.

Some argue that the change in the law regarding absentee voting in Pennsylvania was done in a bipartisan manner so everything should be fine.

I am sorry.

Just because something is bipartisan does not make it constitutional.

A lot on how all this is going to turn out will depend on how much COURAGE exists in our state legislatures and our courts. Are there people out there who are willing to act based on what the facts and law tell them to do?

That is a tall order. It is one that probably only the U.S. Supreme Court would be willing to consider.

I don’t know where all of this ends.

I do know a few things.

There is a lot of smoke out there.

Are the Trump attorneys merely using smoke and mirrors to prolong the inevitable or is there a fire raging beneath the surface we need to know about?

There are a few hard and fast dates that loom ahead over the next few weeks.

December 8, 2020—“Safe Harbor Deadline” for states to certify their votes for the electors. If the state has not certified electors by this date the state risks Congress intervening to resolve any potential dispute.

December 14, 2020---Date that the electors from each state votes

This then leads to the date that the votes of the electors are actually revealed in Congress.

January 6, 2020 

If no candidate has the required 270 electoral votes it will then be up to the House of Representatives to select the President with each state having one vote.

This evening the Trump campaign announced that any work that Sidney Powell was doing on election fraud was not being done in the name of the campaign.

Much of Powell's work seemed to be involved with the larger issues of voting fraud that might encompass the voting systems and software rather than the issues involving the casting of illegal or illegitimate votes that I have outlined above.

It is unclear why the Trump campaign has distanced itself from Powell's potential lawsuit at this point.

Have they decided that she doesn't have the evidence she claims she has?

Have they determined that it would take too long to prove any claims in this regard in the limited time they have?

Did they simply determine that they could not pursue two very different theories of fraud without diluting their overall efforts?

Is there something in Powell's allegations (wrongdoing of Republican officeholders? wrongdoing of government agencies?) that would not look good for President Trump to be involved with?

Perhaps we will find out more in time.

For now, I am hearing that Sidney Powell is planning to pursue a lawsuit on election fraud on her own. This is no different than what Lin Wood has done in Georgia and Mike Kelly and others have done in Pennsylvania.

It promises to be an exciting few weeks.

Is there fire underneath all this smoke?

If there is, does anyone have the COURAGE to put it out?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Indescribably Inane

It is becoming increasingly difficult to document all the indescribably inane things that we see unfolding in the United States of America right now in our reaction to Covid.

If we were not living through right now I don't know that we could adequately comprehend it or have anyone else in another time believe it.

Covid represents a health risk to all of us. However, I would submit that Covid is doing far more damage to our brains than any other parts of our bodies.

A few examples over the last several days.

Governor Mike DeWine of my home state of Ohio has ordered a curfew in the state for at least the next three weeks that will require all residents to be in their homes from 10pm until 5am.

Does Governor DeWine seriously believe that this is going to impact the virus?

Does he have evidence that Covid is only spreading at those wee hours of the night?

It is does not get much more indescribably inane than that.

We also have Governor Thomas Wolf in Pennsylvania ordering those in his state to wear a mask in their homes if they have anyone in their home that is not in their household even if they are socially distanced.

In other words, you would be required to wear a mask in your home if a furnace repairman is working in your basement and you are in your upstairs bedroom reading a book.

That also means that if Aunt Nellie comes to visit you for Thanksgiving week and stays in your guest room that everyone in your house is going to need to mask up for the duration of the visit.

I assume you are allowed to take off your mask to brush your teeth.

It is beyond me how anyone would believe that such an order could be considered constitutional. For example, in 1965 the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut  ruled that a state could not deny married couples the ability to purchase or possess contraceptives in that it would constitute an invasion of their "right to privacy" insofar as the marital bedroom is concerned.

In Stanley v. Georgia (1969) built on the "right of privacy" further in unanimously deciding that an individual had a right to possess and view pornography (including  pornography that might be the basis for a criminal prosecution against its manufacturer or distributor) in his own home.  

Have we reached a point that you have a right to view pornography in your home but you do not have the right to refuse to wear a mask in the same home?

I have to think that even Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have no problem in striking down that Pennsylvania face mask order.

A California judge has recently ruled that strip clubs in San Diego must be allowed to stay open while state and local officials continue to stand in the way of churches having religious services due to Covid.

A California judge ordered San Diego to reopen strip clubs even as local officials crack down on churches.

San Diego Superior Court judge Joel R. Wohlfeil ordered the state to end any actions that prevent the clubs from "being allowed to provide live adult entertainment," according to the decision. The owners of two strip clubs argued that their business is legally protected speech guaranteed by the First Amendment—the same argument that churches have been making about their own services.

It is an interesting decision in that the First Amendment specifically mentions freedom of religion as the first item in the Bill of Rights---it is actually listed before freedom of speech, freedom of the press or the freedom to peaceable assembly.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Do you see any mention of the freedom of strip clubs to operate in the First Amendment?

This is where we are?

How about Oregon, which I wrote about in my last blog post, where the Governor has recently ordered all business offices to work from home, has restricted restaurants and bars to take-out only and limited social gatherings to six people?

At the same time, voters in Oregon in the November election voted to decriminalize heroin. meth, cocaine and other street drugs if they are a "non-commercial" amount.

The tweet below puts it all in context.

Use all the drugs you want to personally but don't visit grandma in a nursing home, go to the gym or dare enter a restaurant in the state of Oregon!

We truly have entered "The Twilight Zone".

Finally, let's consider the views of one of Joe Biden's "science" advisors on Covid.

You may recall that Biden told us that he would always follow "the science" and "the experts" on dealing with Covid.

Earlier this week Biden named 13 health experts to what he is calling his Covid-19 Transition Advisory Board.

One of those "experts" is Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Dr. Emanuel is the brother of former Obama adviser and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Dr. Emanuel is known for his outspoken views on what value we should put on older people. In an essay in The Atlantic in 2014 he suggested that he hoped to die at age 75 and stated that he thought more should share that view.

Emanuel argued in that essay that "by 75, creativity, originality and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us" 

It makes you wonder why Dr. Emanuel would want to support and work with Joe Biden who is about to turn age 78?

Emanuel also has weighed in with what I think are a few other controversial views concerning Covid.

He argues that the Covid vaccine should be first distributed globally before it is made available to Americans.

I guess it does not matter very much to Emanuel that the two companies who have announced successful Phase Two trials, Pfizer and Moderna, are both U.S. companies which took billions of dollars in federal taxpayer funds to develop the vaccines.

Emanuel has also argued that the age group most vulnerable to Covid-the elderly-should be the last in line to receive the Covid vaccine rather than first as has been proposed by the Trump administration. He believes the young should get the highest priority on the vaccine because they have the longest life expectancy. 

Emanuel doesn't seem to be "following the science" that the young are at the lowest risk and the elderly at the highest risk from the virus.

This is from an article in the New York Post in September which highlighted Emanuel's views on the subject.

Biden adviser Ezekiel Emanuel wants to reverse the Trump ­administration’s intent to offer the vaccine to those over 65 ahead of the general population. People over 65 are at highest risk from COVID-19. But in a new piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Emanuel argues the elderly shouldn’t be given priority — because they don’t have as long to live anyway.

I wonder how many of those voters over age 65 who voted for Biden knew this is the "science" that the Democrat candidate said he would follow regarding Covid?

Emanuel's views on not giving priority to the oldest Americans on the Covid vaccine is also interesting in that he seems to be saying that Joe Biden should be among the last to receive any vaccine than being among the first.

 I don't think Biden got Emanuel's memo on the subject.


Where do you think a 78 year old American is on Emanuel's list for those who should get the Covid vaccine?

Yes, Covid is a health risk to all of us. However, it seems that a fairly large portion of our political class have lost their minds because of it.

How many people are using their own minds to conclude just how indescribably inane much of what we are being told really is?

Monday, November 16, 2020

Here We Go Again

There were many who believed that the panic porn surrounding Covid-19 would disappear after the election.

They could not be more wrong.

It appears that the Covid-19 panic porn has accelerated into an even higher level in the last two weeks.

It is true that confirmed cases have increased drastically over the last several weeks.


Some of that is due to increased testing which is now up to almost 1.7 million tests per day.

Let's put that in context.

That is equivalent to one out of every 194 people in the United States being tested in a single day.

Or one out of 27 people in the United States being tested in one week.

For further perspective, consider that less than 1 million lab tests have traditionally been given each year to diagnose the flu. We are now doing almost twice that in a single day to test for Covid.


Hospitalizations are also rising. This is a major concern. Where will we be in a month if this continues as there is typically a lag of a couple of weeks that follows rising case counts.

Several states (notably those run by Democrats) have reacted to the rising case counts by imposing a new round of lockdown measures.

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has ordered all business offices to work from home, restaurants and bars limited to take-out only, social gatherings are limited to no more than six people, all gyms and indoor sports facilities closed etc. Schools will remain open in Oregon.

Oregon has had a mask mandate in all indoor spaces since July 1.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has instituted a range of similar Covid measures in that state but also closes all high schools and colleges.

Michigan has had a mask mandate since July 10.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has also implemented a strict lockdown for two weeks that includes much or what is being done in Oregon and Michigan but which will also close indoor malls. Indoor gatherings can no include more than five persons.

New Mexico has also had a mask mandate since May. That order has included wearing a mask outdoors in public spaces.

Daily Covid cases in New Mexico

What impact does it appear that the mask mandate has had on the spread of Covid in New Mexico?

I would love for it to be proven that masks really worked. It would give us something that we really could believe in right now. I wear one when required but how can one believe what we have been told in looking at what is going on right now?

As I have written before, there was not one credible study in the last 100 years (before everyone started mandating their use in late Spring/early Summer) that showed that face masks were effective in preventing any virus transmission in the general public. 

This included this paper from the CDC that was published in May of this year.

"Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."

How many times have we been told that if everyone wore a mask that the virus would be eliminated within 4-6 weeks?

Mask mandates have been in place throughout a good part of the country for at least five months. I have been in several areas of the country over the last several months and I do not see anyone that is not wearing a mask while shopping etc. I see more and more people wearing masks outside taking a walk even as cases increase.

At one point does someone look at the facts in this pandemic and conclude that the prior research was actually correct?

Dr. Richard Feynman was considered by many to be the most influential scientist in the post-World War II era. We hear a lot today about "following the science". Feynman had several things to say about following the science while he was alive.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

"It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong."

If science is to progress, what we need is the ability to experiment, honesty in reporting results—the results must be reported without somebody saying what they would like the results to have been—and finally—an important thing—the intelligence to interpret the results.

The latest outbreaks indicate how Covid (like all respiratory viruses) is prone to seasonality when people are more likely to be indoors.

Everyone should keep the three V's in mind to minimize their risk.

Venue- avoid smaller, confined inside venues.

Ventilation-you always want to be in places that are well ventilated. Outdoors is best.

Vocalization-avoid places where a lot of people are talking or singing. 

You also should recognize that risks are small when exposure to any contact is short. The longer the exposure to anyone the greater the risk. Passing someone in the same aisle at the grocery store presents almost no risk. Talking and cavorting at a bar with 30 strangers for 3 hours is a lot of risk.

Considering all of this it should be no surprise we are seeing the current increase in cases. The rise in cases is most pronounced in the Upper Midwest right now. That area of the country lagged the rest of the country in cases earlier (less community immunity) and colder temperatures have driven more people indoors in the last month.

This is a heat map to show where new cases were coming from at the end of July. Notice that most cases were grouped around areas of the country with very hot temperatures where most people were spending less time outdoors and more time inside in air conditioned environments.

The Upper Midwest was having few cases in July as was the case in the Northeast that saw so many cases in the Spring.


Here is a heat map as of November 8, 2020. Notice how the pattern has reversed.


To this point, although alarms are being sounded, hospital capacities are not being threatened despite what you may be seeing and hearing in the media.

For example, here is a chart that shows hospital capacity utilization in the continental USA and compares it to average utilization for the period 2016-2018. Some states have seen increases in hospitalizations compared to historical averages but most capacities are well below 80%.

Interestingly, New Mexico hospital utilization right now is below historical averages despite the aggressive measures the Governor is instituting in that case.


In my home state of Ohio, hospitalizations have been fairly steady over the last 21 days despite the increasing case trend in the state.

Deaths are actually running below the 21 day trend rate Ohio but you likely don't get this perspective from the news.

Ohio reported case 21 day trend

Ohio hospitalizations 21 day trend

Ohio Covid deaths 21 day trend 

It will be important to keep an eye on the hospitalization and deaths numbers in the next several weeks to see if these numbers follow the rise in cases.

The other thing that is in play right now concerning hospitalizations is that we continue to see almost no cases of seasonal influenza this year. It is almost as if the regular flu has been wiped out by Covid.

Thus far, flu tests are showing miniscule .17% positivity rates. That compares to an average of 2.58% for the previous five years at this point in the flu season.


We are seeing the same thing in other countries.

The CDC estimates that influenza was responsible for as many as 740,000 hospitalizations in the United States last year.

To put that in context, Covid thus far has resulted in just over 500,000 hospitalizations in nine months.  If flu cases remain down by 90% as they are right now, Covid cases will merely be replacing what normally would be flu-related hospitalizations.

Where have you ever seen that Covid hospitalizations in the last year are actually lower than flu hospitalizations were last year in any news reporting?

As I have written before, Covid is nothing to trifle with. It is highly contagious and it can be deadly to those in vulnerable groups.

However, the reaction to this pandemic is not commensurate with the actual risk it poses to the human race. 

It is being hyped by exaggerated case and death counts and it has been unnecessarily politicized by both sides.

What would I do if I were President of the United States to put this all in better context?

Mandate that all testing use no more than a 32 cycle threshold. Most labs today are using cycle thresholds in the 40 range. Lowering the cycle threshold would significantly reduce the number of false positive cases that are being found that have no effect on the spread of the disease. Any virus material found in cycle thresholds above this level is dead material that is not infectious. This would allow scare resources in the medical and public health communities to solely focus on true cases that are contagious. The number of confirmed cases would drop immediately by as much as 90%.

Mandate that reported deaths only include those resulting from Covid and not deaths with Covid.  A significant number of Covid deaths are not resulting from Covid but are deaths where it has been determined that there has been a positive Covid test with the decedent sometime over the last several months.

For example, would we count someone as dying from the flu if they had the flu in September and died of a heart attack in November? That is what is occurring with regard to Covid deaths.

Here is the latest CDC data on Covid deaths including what are referred to contributing factors.

26,557 Covid deaths which also list cardiac arrest as another factor?

20,864 with Sepsis?

10,443 with Malignant Neoplasms?

7,919 with intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events?

When did we ever classify deaths as being from the flu when they were actually from cardiac arrest, cancer, a sepsis infection or a poisoning or accident?

The reporting of Covid deaths is giving us a distorted view of the risks of the virus and feeding a false narrative.

These actions would not cure Covid but it would allow the public to put this pandemic in better perspective. At this point a good portion of the people in this country have lost all perspective of the risks that Covid involves.

Make no mistake, it is much more dangerous than the seasonal flu. However, it far less deadly than almost every other pandemic we have faced in history.

Even with the expansive definition of what is considered a Covid death, over 90% of the deaths in the United States of those over age 75 since the pandemic began have had absolutely nothing to do with Covid.

The overall survival rate from Covid for all people 75 and older and older (22.6 million people) is 99.4% since the pandemic began.

For the population at large it is 99.93%.

In September I asked the question when will all of this end? I wrote this at that time.

I am often asked when will it end?

When will we take off the masks, gather in restaurants, attend concerts and the theatre and have our children back in school?

I don't know the answer to that.

I do know that it will not occur until we stop counting and reporting cases and deaths every day.

As long as every case and every death is reported daily there is no hope of returning to normal.

It is impossible for the human brain to operate normally if it is being told that there is something to fear whenever they turn on the television, listen to the radio or check their social media feeds.

How then will it all end?

People must feel confident before things can return to normal.

However, how can people feel confident when they are inundated every day with numbers without any context and they are told they are going to die if they don't wear a mask? And every trip to the store and every virtual school session reinforces that narrative.

It will not end until we stop counting.

The counting will also most assuredly not stop anytime before November 3.

That is something you can definitely COUNT on.

November 3 has come and gone and the counting has actually accelerated.

Here we go again.

Where it will stop nobody knows.

In the meantime, keep your wits about you and put all of this in the proper context.

No one else is going to do it for you.

Not Tony Fauci. Not Joe Biden. Not Donald Trump.