Join Jim and Greg for two good martinis and some craziness. They welcome evidence that the spread of COVID-19 may be slowing in New York. They also salute private industries shifting their focus in big ways to meet the demand for ventilators, masks and more. And they roll their eyes as Nancy Pelosi begins eyeing the next big spending bill.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Grim Costs of Total Lockdowns

 

The coronavirus crisis raises two urgent questions for the United States: First, what are the likely number of deaths from the coronavirus in either the absence or presence of a determined program of social intervention? Second, what is the set of tools, both coercive and noncoercive, that should be used to implement the most effective interventions in light of the limited resources that are available? Both questions give rise to multiple, often clashing considerations, and they require urgent answers given the rising anxiety about the disease. As of March 30, a total of over 143,000 cases have been confirmed in the United States, with just over 2,500 deaths, many of which are concentrated in the New York metropolitan area.

It is critical to take a step back from the immediate crisis in order to articulate a few fundamental propositions that should help place this problem in context.

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Join Jim and Greg as they cheer much quicker COVID-19 tests, new treatments, and progress on a vaccine. They also discuss the likely impact of America shutting down for at least another month. And they shake their heads at the tactics of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.

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It’s all crazy news on Tuesday’s Three Martini Lunch! Join Jim and Greg as they catalogue the irrelevant and expensive Democratic Party wish list that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to promote while holding up vital coronavirus relief for families and businesses and how Pelosi wrongly assumed the media would cover for her. They also roll their eyes as multiple media outlets try to blame President Trump for the death of one man and the illness of the man’s wife after they consumed fish tank cleaner because it contained chloroquine. And they react to Liberty University welcoming students and faculty back to campus while the rest of Virginia and the nation increasingly shut down.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Overreaction

 

Out of over 367,000 COVID-19 cases reported as of noon March 23, 2020, 16,000 people have died, a rough increase of about 9,500 from the past week. China has contributed about 3,500, a figure that is holding relatively stable — if we are to believe the reporting coming out of the People’s Republic of China — as is Iran’s total of 1,812 deaths (another potentially dubious total). In Spain, the death toll is 2,206. Italy has taken the lead with 6,077 deaths, 85 percent of which are of people over 70, which stems, it appears, from a conscious decision not to supply ventilators to anyone over 60. These four nations make up close to 13,000 deaths or about 82 percent of the total. Taken together, these four countries account for over 13,595 of the 16,097 deaths. The good news here is that the growth rates in both Italy and Spain have turned downward in the past 48 hours.

In my column last week, I predicted that the world would eventually see about 50,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, and the United States about 500. These two numbers are clearly not in sync. If the first number holds, the total US deaths should be about 4 to 5 percent of that total, or about 2,000–2,500 deaths. The current numbers are getting larger, so it is possible both figures will move up in a rough proportion from even that revised estimate. Indeed, the recent run-ups in Italy and perhaps Spain suggest that those countries have yet to turn the corner.

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Good news is scarce once again today, but your Monday martinis dissect three critical stories. Join Jim and Greg as they slam House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for blowing up Senate progress towards a coronavirus relief bill, making it far less likely that individuals and businesses will have financial assistance in hand when their next rent or mortgage payments are due. They also cringe as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggests the COVID-19 restrictions may be in place as long as nine months and up to 80 percent of the population will contract the virus anyway. So is the damage to jobs and businesses worth it if the restrictions won’t stop the virus from spreading? And Jim unloads on the World Health Organization for accepting China’s coronavirus lies as fact and failing to confront the regime in an effort to make sure the virus was contained.

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It always feels good to make it to Friday, but this week it’s especially welcome. Join Jim and Greg as they discuss reports that we may be days away from a national lockdown that closes airlines, the markets, and forbids millions from commuting to work. They also groan as a number of U.S. senators face lots of questions after selling off stocks before the market plummeted over coronavirus fears. And as three New Hampshire residents sue Gov. Chris Sununu over his allegedly unconstitutional order banning gatherings of more than 50 people,they discuss the tensions between freedom and safety.

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Good news is a bit scarce today but the Three Martini Lunch is discussing three big stories. Join Jim and Greg as they document the latest evidence that China covered up the COVID-19 outbreak and refused to admit person-to-person transmission until late January. They also bang their heads on their desks as Philadelphia police make it known they are not going to arrest people for a wide variety of crimes while New York City and other major metropolitan areas look to empty their jails to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. And they wonder why Bernie Sanders continues his presidential when he’s hopelessly behind in the delegate count after another major shellacking on Tuesday.

 

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The home version of the Three Martini Lunch is now up and running but there is always a stool for you! After Jim revels in the news that Tom Brady’s 20-year run with the New England Patriots is over, he and Greg tackle the good, bad, and crazy martinis of the day. First, they welcome the news from Dr. Anthony Fauci that a possible coronavirus vaccine is already in the first stages of testing. They also wonder just how restrictive government officials are going to get as they down society in an effort to confront coronavirus now that San Francisco is ordering residents to shelter in place, groups larger than 10 people are discouraged, and New Jersey is dabbling with curfews. Finally, they weight both sides of the furious political and legal fight in Ohio after Gov. Mike DeWine ordered Tuesday’s primary to be postponed.

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After a brief discussion of the media and the markets and convenient coronavirus excuses, we dive into Wednesday’s Three Martini Lunch. Join Jim and Greg as they are gratified to see convicted rapist and former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison. They also discuss what this episode says about our justice system. They also have different reactions to South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn suggesting Joe Biden’s big wins on Tuesday suggest the Democratic National Committee should “shut this primary down” and “cancel the rest of these debates.” And they get a kick out of the writer for “The Atlantic” who feels betrayed because her husband voted for Bernie Sanders for strategic reasons in the California primary while she stuck with Elizabeth Warren.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Playing Politics with Coronavirus

 

Stories of the rapidly escalating responses to coronavirus (COVID-19) dominate the news cycle. There is an increasing number of cases throughout the United States, and many major events have been postponed or canceled, such as the South by Southwest festival in Austin and the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. Many institutions have canceled non-essential travel and public health officials are recommending that people with weak immune systems stay home. Purell dispensers are proliferating in public places, and there have even been modest runs on food supplies and toilet paper.

At this time, the total cost of the combined responses is assuredly in the trillions, and these costs vastly outstrip the number of deaths worldwide from the coronavirus. The New York Times is presently reporting (and constantly updating) a total of 545 confirmed cases across 34 states and DC with 22 total deaths—surely a low estimate of the total prevalence of the disease. By way of comparison, the CDC reports that this year’s U.S. flu season saw between 34 and 50 million infections, between 350 thousand and 620 thousand flu hospitalizations, and between 20 thousand and 52 thousand flu deaths. (The wide range of these estimates is due to difficulty estimating the number of flu cases that go undetected through what the CDC terms “influenza surveillance.”)

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Curious Cases of Judge Walton

 

A senior judge on the United States District of Columbia court is desperate to keep the Russia hoax alive, and is actively interfering in the 2020 election under false color of law, or is that what is really going on? Credit where credit is due. I am no fan of the Wall Street Journal, having ended my subscription well over a decade ago. Even given that the editorial board is still somewhat distinct from the news sections, it was truly remarkable that they would publish an editorial, under their name, condemning a federal judge’s attack on Attorney General Barr. Is the judge a fool, a partisan hack, or true believer?

Judge Walton’s Political Aside
He gets his facts wrong in a broadside against unpopular Bill Barr.

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I first heard of this on the radio a few weeks ago, “A man using a rubber chicken robbed a Tim Horton’s Franchise” … My mind was completely blown – How do you use a rubber chicken to rob a doughnut shop? More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Schumer Should Apologize – Sincerely This Time – for Supreme Court Tirade

 

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Thus did Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) address a crowd in front of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning. It was impossible to miss the implication that Schumer was menacing two Supreme Court justices by name with unpleasant if vague consequences, leading Chief Justice John Roberts to issue a rare public rebuke:

Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

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The President, the Chief Justice, the Senate Majority Leader, and at least one other of Chuck Schumer’s Senate colleagues have denounced his threat against two Supreme Court justices. Naturally, Republicans are concerned that someone might take Schumer’s words as an invitation to violence. Senator Schumer’s threat against originalist justices deserves strong rebuke and censure, and […]

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The Three Martini Lunch has you covered as the presidential race narrows yet again. Join Jim and Greg as they react to Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the 2020 field and chronicling how this top-tier candidate turned into an electoral dud. They also dissect Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bizarre threats against Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday and his pathetic response to the rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. And they sigh as the coronavirus panic leads the National College Players Association to suggest the NCAA play its March Madness games with no audiences in the arenas.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mob Justice, #MeToo Style?

 

To date, I’ve refrained from commenting on the conviction of Harvey Weinstein. I’ve just listened to the first significant post-verdict report, on the Femsplainers latest podcast (here), released yesterday (March 2). It increased my concern that Weinstein’s conviction may have been a serious miscarriage of justice, and perhaps an example of mob rule.

I am always hesitant to second-guess a jury. The jury heard extensive testimony from multiple witnesses, and (presumably) had voluminous exhibits, over a period of about a month. I’ve only heard and read a few summaries. A jury verdict is generally entitled to our respect. Based on what I have heard, however, I have significant concerns.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Revenge of the Paris Agreement

 

The English Court of Appeal handed down a blockbuster decision last week which held that the British Government had to take into account the impact on global warming from adding a long-planned and long-delayed third runway to Heathrow Airport. The reason: Britain’s decision to sign the Paris Agreement of December 2015. The Heathrow runway project is estimated to cost some £14 billion and take until 2028 to complete. When completed, the third runway would accommodate 700 additional flights per day, which would significantly increase carbon emissions.

The judicial decision did not scrap the project, but it branded as “legally fatal” the transportation authority’s failure to consider British obligations under the Paris Agreement in formulating its Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS), which sets the standards for the expansion of Heathrow. Accordingly, any new determination to build the third runway there—or indeed any other airport expansion—could easily be challenged again given that ANPS uses an open-ended test that requires the transportation authority to prepare “an Environmental Impact Assessment to identify, describe and assess effects on human beings, fauna and flora, soil, water, air, climate, the landscape, material assets and cultural heritage, and the interaction between them.” (¶ 4.12).

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. New York: ‘Gimme Shelter’; 2nd Circuit: ‘No Satisfaction’

 

President Trump, the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, and the American people won again. The Second Circuit smacked down New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Rhode Island, along with a leftist judge. The case was New York et al. v. United States Dep’t of Justice et al.

The White House Press Secretary was right on top of this, quickly publishing a brief thank-you notice, the shorter version of which is “Nice court, good judges!”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The New York Wrecking Ball

 

A NYC judge has ordered that the top half of the nearly-completed 200 Amsterdam building be lopped off.
New York City’s dicey legal system has garnered some more unwelcome publicity lately. In January 2019, Judge W. Franc Perry held that the building permit issued for the construction of the high-rise on 200 Amsterdam Avenue had been issued illegally, even though the developer had complied with all the applicable rules that the City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) required for a permit. The shoe dropped when 13 months later he ordered the developer to lop off the top half of the 52-story building in order to bring it in compliance with the zoning code.

Just how did this sorry spectacle come to pass? As my NYU colleague Roderick Hills wrote in City Journal, the permit had been issued in 2017 pursuant to a 1978 guidance of the DOB, known as the Minkin Memo, which stated “a single zoning lot … may consist of one or more tax lots or parts of tax lots.” In ordinary English, this cryptic ruling was universally understood to allow a developer to assemble one buildable lot out of many separate tax lots, which developers had done successfully 28 times since 1978.

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