Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Surgical Masks: A Tale of Two Paradigms


We are hearing more discussion about encouraging mask-wearing in the US. What is changing? According to this article and what I’m hearing from my hospital, it’s actually a shift in paradigm.

A face mask will not protect you from being exposed to COVID-19. It will generally cover your nose/mouth and prevent accidentally touching them, but it is not protective from the virus itself. That requires a particulate respirator, like an N95.* However, particulate respirators can be dangerous for people with poor breathing conditions. We saw how our garbage media have run with the fish tank anti-parasite chemical story. All it would take is one lady stuffing an N95 on her asthmatic husband, and media would be portraying Trump as personally choking the guy to death like Darth Vader. Also, people need to shave to use a normal respirator. The media would tun that into Trump wanting to kill orthodox rabbis and Muslim men.


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.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hold It. Stop. And Wait Just a Dog-Gone Minute.


It should be expected that many would berate President Trump and Jared Kushner for their comments yesterday concerning the federal stockpile of medical equipment. While no expert, my life experiences do include 36 years of direct patient care, state legislative responsibilities that included Health Policy/Finance and a specific role in strengthening my state’s laws concerning response to things like a pandemic. Here is some of what I think I know:

When it comes to the Federal stockpile of medical supplies, Trump, Kushner, and others in the Administration are correct, the Feds were never supposed to be the supplier of first resort. The Bush Administration’s planning documents published in 2005, as a result of the fear of SARS and avian flu threats, clearly outlined the shared responsibility of all levels of government.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Age Distribution: Data from NYC


I found an excellent source of COVID-19 information from the New York City health department (here). As of 4:30 p.m. April 2, it reports a total of 1,562 deaths, about 25% of the national total. The site does note that the recent daily figures are not final, and the page appears to be updated periodically, so the figures and graphs may be different by the time you check.

The site has excellent information on the age distribution of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Here is their graph of deaths per 100,000, by age group:


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.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Update for April 2, 2020


I have another update for you, with the same general methodology as before. The data is through today, April 2, 2020. I have made one change, which will only affect the scale of my graphs. I previously reported on reported cases or reported deaths per million. I am changing this to per 100,000. This does not affect the shape of any of the graphs. It is only a change in scale. I am making this change for consistency with other sources, as I recently noticed that both Dr. Birx and the NYC health department have been reporting on this basis.

I. Reported Deaths


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.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The World According to Sussman and Carter


Wednesday night I had the privilege and the treat of being on Real Side Radio, where Whiskey Politics’ Dave Sussman was guest hosting. The program is carried on upwards of 70 radio stations across the country, and a ton of satellite stations as well. As this video demonstrates, we had a lively discussion on a variety of topics ranging from the response of various nations to the Coronavirus, to its implications for the 2020 presidential election, to my recent article on the state and local impulse to release prison inmates into local communities. So sit back, grab a favorite beverage, and enjoy the show!


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Remember the Good Old Days, Way Back in March 2020?


From an editorial in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. Emphasis added.

The latest data from a monthly survey of small businesses comes as a jarring reminder of what life was like back in the halcyon days of … March. On Thursday the National Federation of Independent Business will release last month’s polling of 627 of its members. A majority of the responses, the NFIB says, arrived before the coronavirus clampdown.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Perils and Pleasures of Modeling


The term ‘model’ is much in the news, and I’m not talking about @RightAngles trade. It’s the term apparently favored by the media to describe a general area that may also go by: cybernetics, system dynamics, advanced statistics, simulation, control theory, and others. Having some academic and professional background in the domain, this is my (inevitably simplified) attempt to sketch its limits, so you can be smarter than the average journalist.

So, simplifying, as warned: There are two types of models. One is broadly statistical in approach. The other attempts to be more mechanistic.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Dear Chuck…


Ouch. This was hinted at in the April 2, 2020, Coronavirus Taskforce briefing, but I still was not prepared for this level of smackdown. It serves as forewarning to the leftist hacks like Adam Schiff that their continued dishonest partisan assaults, including their planned grand inquisition just before the election, will be returned with politically lethal force:

Warning: set down your beverage, safely away from your keyboard and screen! Now enjoy a “Letter from President Donald J. Trump to Senator Charles E. Schumer.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Keeping It Simple…


From a conversation yesterday evening with my kid brother John:

John: So, what socially insular thing are you doing tonight?


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. High Noon of the Healthcare Worker


In the next two weeks, we will see the virus death toll peak. Facilities and supplies will be stressed to the max. Nearly everyone across the world is locked down. To the extent that social distancing can ease the problem, it has been done to the max.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Orwell on Wells


In 1941, Orwell wrote an essay “Wells, Hitler and World State.” The whole essay, contained in Volume 2 of his collected essays, is worth reading. Here’s an excerpt.

All sensible men for decades past have been substantially in agreement with what Mr. Wells says, but the sensible people have no power and, in too many cases, no disposition to sacrifice themselves. Hitler is a criminal lunatic, and Hitler has an army of millions of men, aeroplanes in thousands, tanks in tens of thousands. For his sake a great nation has been willing to 0verwork itself for six years and then to fight for two years more, whereas for the common-sense, essentially hedonistic world-view which Mr. Wells puts forward, hardly a human creature is willing to shed a pint of blood … [skipping about ten lines] … The people who say that Hitler is Antichrist, or alternatively the Holy Ghost, are nearer an understanding of the truth than the intellectuals who for ten dreadful years have kept it up that he is merely a figure out of comic opera, not worth taken seriously.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Cracks Were Always There


A Story About Engines:

In late summer a few years ago, I cracked a piston in my old (1999) Tahoe. Well, I say late summer, but the truth is that I have no idea exactly when I cracked that piston, only when the crack widened so much that the engine was in grave danger of, literally, falling to pieces. You see, the old Tahoe is, as we affectionately call it, a “farm vehicle”, a gas guzzler with a 350 that is great for all the general trips you make within a ten-mile radius of home. However, with over 200,000 miles (you gotta love an old Chevy V-8) and terrible gas mileage, it’s not the kind of vehicle you take on long journeys–until you have to, that is.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Different Focus: Briefing with Two Teams


“It would be a mistake, a mistake with terrible consequences, for any adversary to attempt to do us harm during this health crisis, or ever for that matter.” — National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien

“This is the United States military. You will not penetrate this country. You will not get past Jump Street. You’re not going to come in here and kill additional Americans. And we will marshal whatever assets are required to prevent your entry into this country to kill Americans.” — General Milley


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Day 73: COVID-19 Reframing Freedom


The numbers in the US continue to climb. The numbers in Italy hint of a possible peak but there will need to be several days to confirm. If the peak is confirmed then we will get some hint as to a possible peak in this country. The 91-DIVOC website compares countries by the metric “days since reaching the 1 case/million population”. (This is useful because the US recorded a case back on January 20 but did not start recording a substantial number of cases until early March.) Italy is on day 39 since reaching that metric; the US is on day 25. Does this mean we will reach a peak of our epidemic 14 days after Italy?


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hear Writer Seawriter Discuss His New Book


Okay, you are at home, bored. That’s a problem. I have a new book out, but all my book signings and promotional appearances have been canceled. That means the book is probably not selling well. That’s a problem. Oh, by the way, most bookstores are closed, which means that’s a problem for the bookstore employees.

Science fiction writer H. Beam Piper once wrote that if you have one problem you often cannot solve it, but if you have enough problems they will start to solve each other. Let’s see if he is right and if we cannot solve all three problems.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why Can’t We Be More Like Sweden?


Why can’t we be more like Sweden? Boy, I never thought I’d write those words, but I just did. You may ask in what way would I like the US to be more like Sweden? Well, it turns out they are the only country in the western world in which the government has not unilaterally shut down society in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they are just as interested in the economic, social, and psychological health of their citizens as they are in minimizing death and illness from the coronavirus. They are, therefore, treating their citizens as responsible, rational adults.

So far, Sweden has closed its borders to non-EU nations, has restricted public gatherings to less than 50 people, and, well, that’s about it for enforced prohibitions. Otherwise, the government has issued a number of advisories including asking people to practice social distancing, work from home if possible, students over 16 are asked to study from home, and those 70 and over are urged to self-isolate. Most private businesses remain open, restaurants still offer table service, private meetings and parties continue apace, and elementary schools are open. This does not mean that Sweden has not yet felt any pain from the virus. According to the NBC News article I linked to as of March 31, Sweden had recorded approximately 4,500 cases of coronavirus and 180 deaths therefrom.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. There Are Violators in My Community!


I’m here to report that in my little collective enclave in California, some of my fellow comrades have dared to violate our leaders’ mandates and can be seen walking outside breathing in air that they believe to be fresh and uncontaminated and seemingly enjoying the warmth of the sun. How dare they! And why children don’t report their parents to the authorities is beyond me. There must be more incentives to make children more obedient to the state. Perhaps snappy little uniforms with armbands and medals bestowed upon them by mayors or our governor himself. Just a suggestion.

Now, I have noticed such enemies of the state when I make my very infrequent trips in my routinely disinfected, hermetically-sealed, hybrid automobile to the pharmacy or to my local grocery store — because relying on Amazon or other delivery services to deliver eggs or bananas is a sketchy proposition at best. When I am forced, in these instances, to break quarantine, I take all the necessary precautions by wearing my homemade plastic garbage-bag and duct-taped hazmat suit with matching Zip-Lock bag booties and snorkel mask. As an added precaution, I duct-tape my mouth as well.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vermeule’s Gleeful Illiberal Legalism


Few have been brave enough to flesh out what the Ahmarist, or “anti-Frenchist,” vision of the common good should be. Some have said articulating specifics is beside the point, that Ahmarists’ refreshing achievement is unapologetically asserting a common good exists, even if they decline to say what, exactly, it is. And then, there are guys like Adrian Vermeule, writing in The Atlantic, brave enough, at least, to flesh out a vision of sorts. Vermeule calls it “common-good constitutionalism”, which he describes as “an illiberal legalism that is not ‘conservative’ at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.” When Vermeule writes,

[U]nlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, [emphasis added] a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires…


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus and Human Nature


For a few weeks, we in the coronavirus-stricken parts of the world have been living under “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders. The only conceivable purpose of such orders is to keep people from congregating and spreading the disease. But I can leave my house while also avoiding human contact — a truth evidently lost on Italian authorities, who’ve been punishing the criminal scum of their society for engaging in the recklessly dangerous activity of jogging with their dogs; or on the social-media malcontents who believe that carping at their neighbors is 2020’s equivalent of storming the Normandy beaches.

In Britain, police shamed hikers for daring to wander the wilderness in solitude. Do the moorlands have a preexisting condition? Are birds and butterflies at risk of dying from coronavirus-induced respiratory failure? Britain’s own lockdown law allows residents out of their houses for only “one form of exercise” per day. Does combination exercise cause coronavirus to spring up out of nowhere, like maggots spontaneously generating in a hunk of rotting meat? Who cares whether Simon and Bertha spend their entire day camping in the countryside?


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Countries That Shouldn’t Exist


Nationalism is in the air these days. (That and the surely virus-infected spittle of the unmasked woman clearly standing over the yellow line behind me at the supermarket yesterday, but I’m not one to worry.) I’m not here to contribute to the extensive debate on whether that’s a good or bad thing. I only mean to suggest that it may have given some the erroneous impression that not only may borders be a good thing per se, but that the current ones are necessarily as well-drawn as they could be; in other words that we somehow landed on a good batch of countries, when some clearly aren’t worth the effort of keeping around anymore. I offer this not as an exhaustive list but only a few preliminary nominations.

5.) Greece: This country is a lie. I have no problem with the Greeks except that they’re not Greeks. Mainland Greece was largely depopulated in the early Middle Ages, its unbroken connection to the classical civilization like so many national myths an invention of 19th century romantic folderol, and repopulated by Greek-speaking Romans from Anatolia and the capital. The modern Greeks are not Hellenes as they call themselves but Romanoi. And none of this phony getting along with the Turks either. No one’s buying it. Rename the country the Eastern Roman Empire and get busy retaking Constantinople. Rest not until mass is heard once again under the domes of the Hagia Sophia.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Drug Trials


There is a lot of noise now about azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine as therapy for Wuhan flu. People are demanding drug trials, people are claiming 100% cure rates, people are calling for free access to the drugs.

There’s a problem here. You can’t do a proper drug trial during an epidemic. The results of treating a critical illness will vary with an astonishing number of co-factors, many of which cannot be foreseen as you begin. For example, treating menopause with estrogens will increase strokes and heart attacks if the drug is given orally, but not when it is given transdermally. That took about 40 years to figure out.