I'm a frequent skeptic of my home-state of California and no fan of its left-wing leadership, but Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed seem to have constrained the impact of the coronavirus in their state far better than leaders in New York.

New York's emergence as the epicenter of the coronavirus was far from inevitable. A report from the left-leaning site ProPublica contrasted New York City's and New York State's responses with those of San Francisco and California. While people do not live on top of one another in San Francisco to the same degree that they do in the Big Apple, the actions of de Blasio and Cuomo strike a marked contrast with those of Mayor London Breed (D-San Francisco) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). ...

ProPublica noted that there had been nearly 350,000 coronavirus cases in New York and more than 27,500 deaths on May 15. The true story is worse, as the majority of coronavirus cases across the U.S. trace back to Gotham. In California, by contrast, there were just under 75,000 cases and slightly more than 3,000 deaths. In New York City, there had been almost 20,000 deaths. In San Francisco, there had been 35.

Many factors contribute to this difference, but the quick leadership of Breed and Newsom strongly contrasts with the failures of de Blasio and Cuomo.

California isn't as dense as New York City, but Newsom and Breed made the right decisions much earlier than Cuomo and de Blasio did -- when there were fewer infections and less obvious evidence.

This pandemic is a perfect example of why it's so important to pray for our leaders, whether or not we agree with their political positions.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior...


As a software engineer who has worked in academia and industry, it's no surprise to me at all that the Imperial College coronavirus pandemic model is full of errors. Making computer models is extremely difficult, and just because you're an expert in epidemiology doesn't mean that you'll be able to build a functional epidemiological computer model. Computer modeling is a specialization of its own, not an add-on to other sets of expertise. And it's not just about individual expertise: institutional expertise is at least as important.

Processes not people. This is important: the problem here is not really the individuals working on the model. The people in the Imperial team would quickly do a lot better if placed in the context of a well run software company. The problem is the lack of institutional controls and processes. All programmers have written buggy code they aren't proud of: the difference between ICL and the software industry is the latter has processes to detect and prevent mistakes.

For standards to improve academics must lose the mentality that the rules don't apply to them. In a formal petition to ICL to retract papers based on the model you can see comments "explaining" that scientists don't need to unit test their code, that criticising them will just cause them to avoid peer review in future, and other entirely unacceptable positions. Eventually a modeller from the private sector gives them a reality check. In particular academics shouldn't have to be convinced to open their code to scrutiny; it should be a mandatory part of grant funding.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust any modeler who isn't risking their own money on the accuracy of their model.


Andrew C. McCarthy's analysis of the latest revelations in the prosecution of Michael Flynn is not surprising given our understanding of the shady Mueller investigation, but I sincerely hope that the corrupt practices described aren't common in the American justice system. McCarthy himself is a former federal prosecutor, and he seems appalled by what he sees.

Powell and other champions of Flynn's cause have long claimed he did not lie to investigators -- a claim supported by the interviewing FBI agents, who concluded that Flynn had not made intentional misstatements, just failures of recollection, which are common. Instead, they maintain that Flynn was coerced into pleading guilty nearly a year later by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of hyper-aggressive prosecutors. Prosecutors did this, Powell argues, by threatening that if he refused to plead, they would prosecute his son. The son, also named Michael Flynn, worked in Gen. Flynn's private intelligence firm, which Team Mueller was scrutinizing over its alleged failure to register with the government as a foreign agent -- a dubious allegation that was rarely handled as a criminal offense before Mueller's probe.

After DOJ's revelations last Friday, Powell filed a submission with the court, asserting that the new disclosures demonstrate that Mueller's prosecutors not only pressured Flynn with the possibility of indicting his son; they also secretly assured Flynn's former counsel, the well-connected Washington firm of Covington & Burling (C&B), that Flynn's son would not be prosecuted if Flynn pleaded guilty. This "side deal" (a) was not explicitly memorialized in the formal plea agreement, (b) was not otherwise disclosed to the court as federal law requires, and (c) was designed to enable prosecutors to evade their due process obligations in future cases.

Basically, it sounds to me that the DOJ lawyers and Flynn's lawyers conspired to hide the true details of Flynn's plea agreement from the court because the prosecutors thought the details would embarrass them and weaken Flynn as a witness against other targets. Hiding these details from the court is illegal, but it's also super-shady to coerce a guilty plea by threatening a target's son with prosecution.


Gandalf117 has created the most complete that I've ever seen family tree of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Don't open it if you don't have a day to waste invest.


Wesley J. Smith makes the cogent point that we seem to be forgetting the purpose of the shutdowns:

The point of the national economic shutdown seems to have shifted in Cuomo's mind. The purpose of mitigation, to use Dr. Fauci's terminology, was to "flatten the curve" -- meaning reduce the number of people seriously ill at any given time and have people's illnesses spread over a longer period -- to prevent medical resources from being overwhelmed as happened in Northern Italy. That goal may have been accomplished, which is why President Trump is encouraging a phased restart of the economy.

But it seems that Cuomo now believes the point of keeping everyone at home is for nobody to get sick. That's impossible, particularly with a virus this communicable and one that is going to be with us for some time even if researchers successfully create a vaccine, which is no sure thing.



Hospitals seem to have plenty of spare capacity across most of America.

Tens of thousands of health care workers across the United States are going without pay today, even as providers in the nation's hot spots struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic

This "tale of two hospitals" is a function of clumsy, if well-intentioned, federal and state directives to halt all non-emergency procedures, which appeared at first blush to be a reasonable precaution to limit unnecessary exposure and safeguard staff, beds and equipment.

But instead of merely preserving hospital beds and other resources, this heavy-handed injunction has created a burden of its own design: a historic number of empty beds in systems left untouched by the pandemic.

The curve is flat in America, except for New York; asymptomatic COVID-19 infections appear to be more widespread than previously thought.

Based on results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county's adult population has antibody to the virus. Adjusting this estimate for statistical margin of error implies about 2.8% to 5.6% of the county's adult population has antibody to the virus- which translates to approximately 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who have had the infection. That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the county by the time of the study in early April. *** The number of COVID-related deaths in the county has now surpassed 600.

This is great news because it equates to a fatality rate in a range between .0014 and .0027. Standard seasonal flu viruses typically have a fatality rate around .001.

Seems like the shutdowns have mostly succeeded, and we can begin loosening the restrictions. We can't "return to normal" yet, but we can probably get by in most of America by isolating the vulnerable population and letting others take appropriate precautions and get back to work.


A proposed law would allow American victims of Wuhan coronavirus to sue the Chinese Communist Party for damages.

Americans will be able to take the Chinese Communist Party to court for its lies and omissions about the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus from the Middle Kingdom under a new bill proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). The bill would strike down immunity for foreign countries like China in the specific case of the coronavirus, enabling Americans to sue for damages in U.S. courts.

"By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe," Cotton said in a statement on the legislation. "Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It's only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused."

The immediate question then is: if plaintiffs win, how could they collect payment from the CCP? The CCP has plenty of assets in America that could be seized -- particularly real estate, which could be harvested at a premium (low) valuation thanks to the coronavirus -- but here's another idea: China owns about $1.1 trillion in American debt that could be transferred and repatriated to victorious plaintiffs.

If the United States moves forward with any kind of legal liability for the CCP it's likely to provoke retaliatory seizures of America assets in China.


It's unfortunate that it needs to be said, but yes, churches need to obey shutdown orders issued by the authorities to protect public health. The pastors and churches that are refusing these orders are not advancing the Kingdom of God, but in fact are bringing dishonor and shame to the name of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-7:

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

It's conceivable that a shutdown order could in some hypothetical situation be cover for government oppression of the church, but that's definitely not the case right now.

Instead of fomenting conflict with the government, churches should be praying for our leaders, medical professionals, and infrastructure workers. Christians should also be doing whatever we can to relieve suffering, provide for those in need, and share the Gospel while obeying the health directives of our government.


There are a lot of numbers we don't know yet about the China coronavirus that's plaguing the world right now, but there's at least one number we should know that I haven't seen reported: the excess death rate:

I have no doubt the number of deaths there now is higher than usual and that there are excess deaths, perhaps a huge number, particularly in certain regions of the north where the virus has been concentrated. But how much higher? Italy ordinarily has a particularly high rate of death from the flu, for example, which might make the "excess death" figure especially important to know. Are significant numbers of the deaths we're seeing in Italy deaths that would be taking place anyway from the flu or other illnesses we're accustomed to and which sometimes cause the death of elderly people who are already ill? And if so, how many?

One of the huge problems with COVID-19 is that so far it seems to have caused localized outbreaks that burden a health system and in particular hospital ICU resources. That in turn results in some people dying who might otherwise be saved but for the sudden influx. That is particularly frightening, and many of the strategies being brought to bear in the US are a result of trying to prevent such a calamity. But in order to know how much we need to do and what we can expect in the worst-case scenario, wouldn't figures for excess deaths in Italy be helpful?

But so far I haven't found anything written for the public discussing that issue. I realize that, since the disease only began a few months ago, we don't have figures for total excess deaths. But shouldn't we have some preliminary figures to compare to average figures per day or per week or per month during a bad flu season and during a good flu season in the localities involved?

Basically, how many people are dying now than we'd expect to be dying in a "normal" year? We can attribute the difference to the China coronavirus.


Twitter's hateful conduct policy now forbids dehumanizing and hateful speech targeted at age groups. Presumably this includes unborn humans, who by virtue of their age are continually assaulted with dehumanizing and eliminationist rhetoric on Twitter.

You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.

A quick survey reveals that there are innumerable Twitter accounts whose primary purpose is to advocate for the right to slaughter very young humans. This hateful conduct needs to stop.

We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category.

Tropes like "a fetus is just a clump of cells" are clearly and intentionally dehumanizing towards unborn babies.

Note: individuals do not need to be a member of a specific protected category for us to take action. We will never ask people to prove or disprove membership in any protected category and we will not investigate this information.

You don't need to be an unborn baby to take action. Even if you are not a member of the category you can still stand up for the dignity of the unborn.


We citizens obviously want law enforcement agencies to have a strong incentive to catch criminals, and we shouldn't expect them to balance that incentive against our needs for privacy. We citizens and our elected representatives need to be the ones doing the balancing, knowing that we'll sometimes have to push back against the very people who work to protect us. The final paragraph in this article about a data breach of Clearview's facial recognition software highlights the tension.

Facial-recognition technology--which matches photos of unidentified victims or suspects against enormous databases of photos--has long drawn intense criticism from privacy advocates. They argue it could essentially mean the end of personal privacy, especially given the proliferation of security cameras in public places. Some law-enforcement officials, meanwhile, see it as a tool with enormous potential value.

They're both right. How to balance privacy against crime risk is a political question, not a law enforcement question.


California's homeless problem is almost over thanks to creative thinking by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his State of the State address on Wednesday to a joint session of the California Legislature and told the predominantly controlled by Democrats body that of a new proposal that would allow doctors to write out prescriptions for housing as part of a five-point plan to combat California's homelessness situation.

Newsom proposed a "once-in-a-generation" Medi-Cal reform, which includes a $695 million budget request, according to Newsom's speech and the Sacramento Bee.

"Health care and housing can no longer be divorced. After all, what's more fundamental to a person's well-being than a roof over their head?" Newsom said during his speech. "Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics."

I medically require a beachfront house in Malibu. Cleaning and maintenance work are harmful to my mental health, so I also need some servants.


The New York Times nails the subtext of my earlier post about the Iowa Democrat Caucuses: without secret ballots, have the caucuses been a fraud this whole time?

An hour after the caucuses began, the Iowa Democratic Party chairman, Troy Price, huddled in another room with other officials, none of them with a clear strategy to manage the unfolding chaos or answers to share with increasingly exasperated presidential campaigns. A conference call with the campaigns ended with Mr. Price hanging up on them, amid accusations that caucus results in Iowa may have been incorrectly reported for decades.

As disastrous as the 2020 Iowa caucuses have appeared to the public, the failure runs deeper and wider than has previously been known, according to dozens of interviews with those involved. It was a total system breakdown that casts doubt on how a critical contest on the American political calendar has been managed for years. ...

"You always had to calculate these numbers, all we're asking is that you report them for the first time," Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders's closest adviser, said he told Mr. Price on the call. "If you haven't been calculating these numbers all along, it's been a fraud for 100 years."

Mr. Price ended the call.

It's time to end the caucuses. They aren't democratic, and it seems likely that they've been fraudulent since their inception. The new reporting rules simply revealed the errors that have been there all along.


The Republicans are going to get a lot of mileage out of Pelosi ripping up Trump's state-of-the-union speech. Here's a video of her ripping interspersed with clips of the outstanding American's that Trump recognized during his speech.

(HT: Powerline Blog)


Yes, the Iowa Caucuses were a disaster for the Democrats last night. But even aside from the execution problems they experienced this year, it's important to point out the biggest flaw of the caucus process itself: the lack of a secret ballot. Caucuses are explicitly designed to put social pressure on people's vote.

The Kremers plan to start caucusing for Pete Buttigieg. They say they like that he's intelligent and stands for what they believe. But what they like the most is that he can be a "healer."

"The world needs healing," Bonnie said.

They don't agree on their second choices: Jack said he prefers Amy Klobuchar. And when Bonnie said her second choice was Elizabeth Warren, Jack replied: "Don't forget you need a ride home."

The couple laughed and said they drove two hours from Fort Myers Beach.

Sure, it's a funny joke between a husband and wife, but there's absolutely no doubt that social pressure drives caucus behavior. It's undemocratic and should be eliminated.


Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in the UK.

"We love Europe, we just hate the European Union."


Not surprising that the GOP has already cut an ad from this cringeworthy CNN segment.

I personally think it would be great if both sides showed some respect for each other. The Left's disdain for Trump voters/sympathizers will be its undoing.


I thought the Babylon Bee was supposed to be satire? "Increasingly Secular Nation Replaces Outdated Religious Ideas With End Times Prophecies, Moral Judgments":

U.S.--The increasingly secular nation has replaced its outdated religious ideas with more advanced, enlightened ideas, like telling you what behavior is immoral and predicting when the world is going to end.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has just predicted that the world will end in 12 years if you do not give the government more power over your life. Leftists across the country agreed this is a big improvement on outlandish religious claims that the world will end and you will be judged for your sin one day soon.


I thought the Babylon Bee was supposed to be satire? "Increasingly Secular Nation Replaces Outdated Religious Ideas With End Times Prophecies, Moral Judgments":

U.S.--The increasingly secular nation has replaced its outdated religious ideas with more advanced, enlightened ideas, like telling you what behavior is immoral and predicting when the world is going to end.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has just predicted that the world will end in 12 years if you do not give the government more power over your life. Leftists across the country agreed this is a big improvement on outlandish religious claims that the world will end and you will be judged for your sin one day soon.


Despite claims that the money the Obama Administration gave to Iran already belonged to Iran, this isn't true. The Iranian money previously seized by the Unites States had already been paid out as compensation to the victims of Iranian terror.

The most infamous payoff was the $1.7 billion in cash the administration shipped off to the IRGC on wooden pallets in exchange for U.S. citizens held hostage by the regime. The White House said that there was no "quid pro quo," that it was Iran's money to begin with--$400 million the pre-revolutionary government had deposited in 1979 to buy U.S. arms, plus interest. But the U.S. had already used the $400 million to compensate terror victims of the Islamic Republic. That was Iran's money. The $400 million the Obama administration used to "pay back" the Iranians belonged to the U.S. taxpayer.

The administration argued that the U.S. had to pay the ransom in cash because Tehran had been cut off from the financial system and there was no other way to transfer the funds. That was not true. The Obama administration had wired payments to Iran before and after the wooden pallets episode. The Iranians wanted cash so it would be harder to track their terror financing.

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