Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Importance of Work


“Leisure time is only leisure time when it is earned; otherwise, leisure time devolves into soul-killing lassitude. There’s a reason so many new retirees, freed from the treadmill of work, promptly keel over on the golf course: Work fulfills us. It keeps us going.” – Ben Shapiro

Shapiro hits on one of the main reason the loss of jobs is so devastating. Even if the government were able to reimburse the wages of all of those thrown out of work, life would still be unsatisfying for many. They have not earned that leisure time. It feels wrong, and they feel marginalized. They feel unfulfilled.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Projection Models are a Waste of Time


Will someone explain to me why we are bothering to share projection models with the public for COVID-19? There are so many reasons not to create them, so I’d be grateful for your input.

In case you have no idea why I’d question these models, let me explain:

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I knew it might be an odd experience since I haven’t been out much. But it felt even stranger and more disconcerting than I had expected. The pharmacy in our development is small. It’s usually not very busy there, so I figured I’d just ride over and pick up my prescription. Jerry was dying to get out of the house—it was almost like a road trip—and drove me over.

To avoid people’s bumping into each other to shop or pick up their prescriptions, the owners decided to allow one person at a time into the store. There were at least four signs in the little outside entry area that demanded we wait outside until it was our turn. (I say demanded because words on the signs were underlined, and one sign had a large arrow on each side of it so that inattentive customers would be sure to see it.)

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Chicken, Egg: Heart disease, COVID-19


This Wednesday, Dr. Fauci gave one of his occasional snippy, generally poor answers when indirectly challenged. The set up was a leftist White House press reporter (but I repeat myself) putting the “conspiracy” label on anyone pointing out that loose counting in COVID-19 fatalities helps juice the badly sagging projected numbers. Vice President Pence failed to reject the premise and show respect to Americans daring to challenge “experts.” Dr. Fauci signaled his first instinct to avoid honest discourse by appealing back to AIDS conspiracy theories. Dr. Birx, on the other hand, added a bit of context.* Let me explain.

The most appropriate models for the question of a population’s risk of dying from a disease are competing risk models. Such models do what they sound like. Consider an example:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. We Shouldn’t Feel Weird About Supporting Startups During the Pandemic


Electric vehicle startup Rivian’s R1T all-electric truck, Mill Valley, CA.
Is it somehow, I dunno, untoward for Silicon Valley startups — those powerful examples of American capitalism at its best — to seek a government loan (assuming they can) to stay in business and prevent layoffs? The New York Times contributing writer Kara Swisher suggests it might be. She says the very notion of taxpayer dough heading to the land of unicorns “rankles many people who don’t want to foot the bill for venture capitalists who then can keep their own powder dry for the inevitable turnaround.”

Now Swisher doesn’t quote any of the rankled, actual or potential. It seems more the case that venture capitalists are worried about a possible mass rankling should they grab some government-supplied cash. The ones she spoke with “do not want to attract pitchfork anger from those who think the well-to-do of tech should permanently social distance themselves to the very back of the line.”

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. CARES Act Focused More on Pork Than Pandemic


The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act was an attempt to mitigate the economic damage caused by the government’s response, some of it necessary, to the coronavirus. It started as sort of a bridge loan to help Americans through tough times but became larded with expansions of the welfare state and outrageous special interest pork.

CARES, in overview, is a massive transfer of assets from the private sector to government, maybe the largest ever. Yet it was accomplished with no taxes or other offsets to pay for the truly massive spending. For that, you can thank the rising influence of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), which holds that sovereign governments can spend without limit because they have the magical ability to print more money when needed. Of course, it’s pure bunkum but spenders like it because it offers a rationale for doing what they want, which is to hand out benefits without raising taxes. The economic harm from our response to the coronavirus will be borne instead by future generations.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What ‘The Martian’ Tells Us about Pandemics and Progress


Plan beats no plan. And in The Martian, Red Planet-marooned astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) devises a pretty simple one, though hardly an easy one: “In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option. I’m gonna have to science the s— out of this.”

To that quote, my brain always adds a parenthetical, “Because that’s what Americans do.” Scientific discovery and entrepreneurial application are the key drivers of human progress. And Americans like to think that no one is better at those things than we are. The United States leads the world in pushing forward the technological frontier. No nation has won more Nobel prizes in the sciences. No nation has better technology companies or universities.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Problem with ‘Common Good Constitutionalism’


In 1980, Stanford Law School Professor Paul Brest wrote his famous article, “The Misconceived Quest for An Original Understanding,” in which he defined “originalism” as an “approach to constitutional adjudication that accords binding authority to the text of the Constitution or the intentions of its adopters.” Brest concluded that originalism failed to deal adequately with two fundamental problems: the multiple intentions of different parties, and the danger of constitutional obsolescence attributable to changed circumstances.

Brest’s skeptical view of originalism was quickly championed by other writers, most notably the legal scholar Ronald Dworkin, who advocated a “moral reading” of the Constitution. In his book Freedom’s Law, Dworkin treats the text as the basis for understanding key constitutional conceptions like liberty, equality, and dignity, which judges, lawyers, and citizens have to flesh out under some ideal normative theory.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trump: Too Much of a Good Thing?


Let me begin by saying that I am very glad, on so many levels, that Trump has been holding his daily updates for the COVID-19 Task Force. Here are some of the reasons I think they are a good idea:

  1. The broadcast tells the public that Trump and the task force members want us to be informed. Transparency is critical.
  2. In spite of the confusion and inconsistencies of the models, the Task Force is determined to give us the best and most up-to-date information available.
  3. The Task Force members, even if we don’t always agree on how they arrive at policy, or about their refusal to give the available drugs their full endorsement, have been clear about their reasons.
  4. It is a healthy sign to see that Trump is not always in lock-step with the Task Force members.

So what’s the problem? My biggest issue is Trump himself.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Spring Flowers in Song


Here are a few blooming ideas to start a soundtrack for the season. I invite you to share your own in the comments or even start your own flower patch with a particular musical genre. We’ll start off in the 19th century with Stephen Foster, “Ah! May the Red Rose Live Always!” Suzy Bogguss, a wonderful traditional country singer, offers this rendition:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Destructiveness of Anger


“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” — Mark Twain

People who are angry in these times feel justified in their fury. The world seems out of control, while scientists and doctors expound on the devastating impact of a perplexing virus. We, however, want someone, anyone, to be able to explain everything, right now, in a way that makes sense and can be digested by all of us.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Once, But Never Again


Whether or not we should have been, we were caught unprepared by this epidemic. There will be plenty of time to assign blame when this current phase is over. I’m willing to excuse virtually any error if it was made with good intentions. That doesn’t include naked power grabs; those have to be exposed and punished. But unpreparedness, miscalculations, overly optimistic or pessimistic assumptions, and excessive or inadequate reactions: all of these can be expected when something this big and this novel happens this quickly.

But it can only happen once. Assuming this peaks soon, as seems likely, and assuming it is expected to return in the winter, as again seems likely, we have a few months to prepare.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uncommon Knowledge: Trump, China, and the Geopolitics of a Crisis


Stephen A. Kotkin is a professor of history at Princeton and a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Kotkin is one of the nation’s most compelling observers of foreign affairs, past and present, and is now working on the third and final volume of his definitive biography of Josef Stalin. From that perspective, Peter Robinson and Kotkin discuss Trump’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, Kotkin’s thoughts on the Chinese leadership class and the advantages they may seek to exploit, and which country—China or the United States—will come to represent the more successful or compelling model to other nations.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF PoMoCon #13: Very Online Conservatism


My series on new developments and developing writers in conservatism continues. Here’s my PoMoCon talk with Tanner Greer, who’s writing a book on America since 2003 for Tyler Cowen, about old conservatism’s Trump-shock and new, Very Online Conservatism’s Great Awokening shock. Tanner has an NRO essay criticizing Reform Conservatism while agreeing with its reformist intentions and time-honored purposes. He argues that older conservatives worry about politics, whereas newer conservatives seem to worry about the very ground of politics. The previous assumptions about institutions are upended, down to the family, so it’s no longer a matter of how should we be doing things, but who even are we!

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Passover: The Nature of Modern Slavery


Passover has become a very special time for me. Not only do we celebrate the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, but it arrives at a time of new beginnings: springtime.

This year, Passover time fills my heart with mixed emotions. I will not be able to celebrate with the @iwe family in Baltimore. They have grounded my Passover observance in holiness and light, and they were central to my own personal spring/rebirth, my return to Judaism. This year I have asked my husband to participate in a mini-Seder, just the two of us, so that we might observe not only the Jews’ freedom from slavery, but also how we are called to pay attention to the real and imaginary ways that we enslave ourselves, and how we might transcend those limitations.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Policing the Pandemic


I have a new piece up over at PJ Media in which I discuss some of the more bizarre incidents of overzealous law enforcement going on across Southern California in the name of keeping us “safe” from the coronavirus. I’m sure members of the Ricochetti across the country can describe similar happenings in their own cities and towns.

I do not discount the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, I am of a sufficiently advanced age to be considered a high-risk patient if I were to contract the disease. But neither do I discount the genuine threat to liberty posed by the various orders, decrees, edicts, and mandates lately imposed by the nation’s governors, mayors, health commissioners, and every other sort of government functionary exercising their newly discovered power to limit the freedom of their fellow citizens. In the case of the people being hassled for watching the sunset, cited above, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was so proud of this exercise of authority that they made it their pinned tweet on their Twitter account.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Virgin Experience #2: Grocery Delivery


You might have read the post about my virgin experience of pizza delivery. You would think it would have prepared us for our first adventure into grocery delivery. Not hardly.

We finally convinced ourselves that grocery shopping in a store with potential coronavirus zombies disguised as real human beings was not a good idea. Many people insisted that having our groceries selected and delivered by strangers made more sense. Since I am very picky about the food I buy, I was skeptical. Selecting raspberries that aren’t moldy or strawberries that are ripe at the end of the season are iffy propositions. But I finally relented.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Problems


“Isn’t it wonderful; if you have a few problems, you have trouble, but if you have a whole lot of problems, they start solving each other.” – H. Beam Piper, Ministry of Disturbance

Problems? We all have problems today. Enough problems that this aphorism (which Piper used some variant of in several stories) begins to apply. If you have enough problems you can put them together to start solving themselves. It is a principle I have cheerfully, indeed ruthlessly, applied since my early teens when I first came across it in one of Piper’s sci-fi novels.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Testing… Testing…


If I were a certain sort of woman, I’d blame it on The Patriarchy. If I were another sort, I’d blame it on A Culture Insufficiently Supportive of Life. (And, if I were a very specific sort, I’d do both.) Instead, it was the understandable result of The Powers That Be in our neighborhood hospital system not having leeway to make more fine-grained distinctions in a crisis. Which is how pregnant women, who aren’t permitted to receive any in-person prenatal care right now if they have the least little sniffle but no negative lab result for Covid-19, must go through a lengthy, frustrating, and high-exposure screening process to see if they qualify for Covid-19 testing, while the nonpregnant may simply waltz – or rather drive – through safer, low-exposure Covid-19 testing in about 15 minutes.

If you’re pregnant, though, the screening process might take hours, during which you hear, at each step along the way, that you may be ineligible for the lab anyhow – and that’s just your time spent at the walk-in screening center. It doesn’t count the hours (days) you may have spent trying to find a walk-in screening center that hasn’t run out of swabs for the day, and finding out whether you’re even eligible to visit it.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Duration: Vet Visit


Had to take the dog to the vet for his heart worm test. He’s had it, and beat it, but you have to make sure it doesn’t come back. Strolled up to the office as usual, Birch unaccountably excited as usual. Don’t know why. Surely a dog’s nose picks up all sorts of bad odors from a vet office – fear, strange angry dog, the screaming soprano notes of chemicals. He gets anxious once we’re inside, as well he should; poking and prodding is en route, and no matter how kind the vets are, no matter how many kibble-treats are bestowed, there must be a remnant memory of the BACK ROOM, where he was subjected to the heartworm treatment and caged lockdown.

But he’s all excitement now, straining at the leash, ready to go in. I had my mask, expecting the waiting room to be observing the usual protocols.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Holy Week


From the weekly newsletter of Rev. George Rutler, pastor of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, in midtown Manhattan:

As I write, the Navy hospital ship “Comfort,” last seen here on the Hudson River after the World Trade Center horror, is passing by our rectory windows. The convention center nearby, usually home to flower and boat shows, is being converted into a huge emergency hospital.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. COVID-19 Data: Survival Rates for Patients on Ventilators


From the UK’s Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC): Report on 775 patients critically ill with COVID-19

The report looks at 165 COVID-19 patients whose status was resolved — they died or were discharged — out of a population of 775 COVID-19 patients who were admitted to intensive care by reporting hospitals.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF PoMoCon #12: Plague Politics


Pete Spiliakos and I talk about politics in the age of the plague–what’s so insane about supply-side economics, what it means to think politically and prudentially, what the common good requires, and how to understand our weaknesses that we may deal with them. Fear is good, seriousness is required, preparing for the crisis unfolding, and planning for overcoming it is the sequence we need to go through. Pete and I have praise for Tucker Carlson and Sen. Tom Cotton, and a lot of criticism for everyone else.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. April 2, a Two-Act Briefing: Money, Money, Money, and ICU? I See You.


The April 2 Coronavirus Task Force briefing was even better than April 1. Secretary Mnuchin played Santa Claus, followed by Rear Admiral John Polowczyk (Vanna, can I buy a vowel?) announcing, and demonstrating, complete dominance over the supply and demand for relevant critical medical supplies. He truly knows who has been naughty and nice, and who has been crying wolf on supply shortages. State and local officials would do well to understand what he just announced, and get their acts together if their stuff is not already tightly wrapped. America will win; the Navy has arrived, along with every other military service.

Oh, and it should come as no surprise that reporters are calling for Orange Man Bad to become dictator, to seize and command the means of production. Really. They clearly have not thought through what that would mean if President Trump was then reelected. Thankfully, he continues to praise the American people and their beautiful businesses.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uncommon Knowledge: Kevin Warsh and the Long Road Back to Economic Recovery


As the COVID-19 crisis continues, Peter Robinson sat down (virtually over Zoom) with Kevin Warsh, the Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. They discuss the nuts and bolts of the Federal Government’s 2 Trillion dollar (and rising) recovery and aid package, why it was needed, and its chances of staving off a depression. In addition, they discuss how the government can help (and possibly hurt) both small businesses and large corporations. Finally, Kevin gives some reasons to be optimistic (in the long run at least) and makes an argument as to why the U.S. economy is well suited to make a strong recovery.