Good Economic News

The Epoch Times reported the following yesterday:

Manufacturing in the United States, as measured by a key business activity gauge, surged to a 15-month high in July, exceeding economists’ expectations.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) business survey, published Aug. 3, shows that its topline manufacturing activity indicator, called the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), surged to a reading of 54.2 in July.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below mean contraction.

“The PMI signaled a continued rebuilding of economic activity in July and reached its highest level of expansion since March 2019,” Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in a statement (pdf).

Economists polled by Reuters predicted the manufacturing index would rise to 53.6 in July, so the higher-than-expected number is encouraging, particularly in light of April’s 11-year low of 41.5.

Why is it that when a Republican is the President, good economic news always exceeds expectations?

The article also notes:

Another manufacturing sector gauge tapped by ISM in the survey is the New Orders measure, which soared to 61.5, up 5.1 percentage points from June.

“Orders starting to pick up. [An] increase of about 35 percent to 40 percent,” a chemical product manufacturing executive said.

“Incoming orders are slow. This is usually our busiest time of the year, but production is reduced due to lack of demand. Additional layoffs expected,” an executive at a furniture maker said.

Another gauge, the production index, showed 4.8 percentage point growth from June to July, coming in at 62.1, the highest reading of all the ISM gauges.

“Manufacturing outlook has improved greatly in June, as business has resumed at nearly 100 percent. We have implemented a number of safeguards that are costing extra money, but we are running,” an executive at a computer and electronics products maker said.

There was also some negative news included in the article, but considering the fact that the country has been locked down or in semi-lockdown since March, that is not surprising. The two-week shutdown has extended far past where it was scheduled to be. I would also like to note that the purpose of the lockdown was to avoid overwhelming our hospitals. Now we are in semi-lockdown to avoid the spread of the disease. There is significant information that this is not the best course of action (see article here), so why are we still in semi-lockdown? Why are churches limited in the amount of people they can allow in their buildings when the John Lewis funeral was packed? Why was there an exception to the quarantine rule for the people who attended the John Lewis funeral? Has the damage from the lockdown now exceeded the possible damage from the disease?

This Really Shouldn’t Be A Surprise To Anyone

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about some recent changes in arrangements for the Democrat National Convention.

The article reports:

At least 100 police agencies are pulling out of agreements to send personnel to next month’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Milwaukee, partly over concerns that officers will be unable to use tear gas to control crowds under a recent directive.

The law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and across the country who are set to withdraw from the security agreements had previously said they will send officers to bolster security at the DNC, which will run from Aug. 17-20 at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

The move follows an order from the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission last week, which directed Chief Alfonso Morales to revise the police department procedures—including prohibiting the use of tear gas and pepper spray. The order threatens Morales’s termination if he fails to comply “fully and promptly.”

The article notes:

Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb, who chairs the Wisconsin Police Executive Group, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he expects other Wisconsin police agencies to withdraw from the security agreements.

“We respect the Fire and Police Commission’s decision. But in this particular case, we strongly disagree with the actions they’ve taken,” Lamb said.

He said he was concerned that the safety of the public and police officers could be compromised.

“We believe in removing those tools, the use of chemical irritants or pepper spray, from the available resources that the law enforcement officers would have at their disposal if protests become non-peaceful would severely compromise the safety of the public and also the safety of the law enforcement officers who would be assigned to protect the DNC,” he added.

As I have stated before–protesting is legal–rioting is not. Watching the videos of the ‘protests’ that are happening in some of our major cities leaves little doubt that these ‘protests’ are riots. It is amazing to me that the police have used the self-restraint they have. The police have been attacked by bottles, bricks, firecrackers, and worse. What in the world is to be gained by taking away the non-violent weapons they have to defend themselves? Is this move going to result in the police finding it necessary to use deadly force? That would only make things worse. It’s time to remove those in power in the cities that are supporting rioters and attempting to limit the ability of the police to protect themselves and innocent citizens.

Under The Radar

On Wednesday The Epoch Times reported the following:

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced on Wednesday significant developments in the administration’s efforts to eradicate the notorious MS-13 gang, including its plan to seek the death penalty of an alleged gang member in connection to the slayings of two New York teens.

Trump said his administration’s “campaign to destroy MS-13” had lead to the arrest and indictment of dozens of MS-13 members and its leaders. The Justice Department launched Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV) in August 2019 in an effort to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy the vicious gang, which has been responsible for a wide range of criminal activity across the United States such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder.

Among the arrests include the indictment of Melgar Diaz, who became the first MS-13 member to be charged with terrorism-related offenses, officials say.

“He was responsible for activities in 13 states—20 cliques in the United States.  He was also the person who would greenlight assassinations in the United States.  The orders come from El Salvador—or they request to assassinate people who go down to El Salvador, and he would greenlight the hit,” Barr said during a press conference at the oval office on Wednesday.

Diaz, whose indictment was unsealed on July 14, was charged with offenses including conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to kill or maim individuals overseas, and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

The article concludes:

The attorney general told reporters that more actions against the leadership of MS-13 are expected, saying that the administration had been working very closely with counterparts in El Salvador.

MS-13 was initially formed by Salvadoran immigrants that came to the United States in order to escape the civil war in their home country, according to a study published in the Journal of Gang Research in 2009.

This action is long overdue. Securing our borders is one way to keep members of MS-13 from coming into the country. Arresting the members that are already here is another step toward making America a safer place.

Finally

Yesterday (updated today) The Epoch Times reported that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency on Monday, sending the National Guard to Atlanta to restore order.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported:

In Atlanta this weekend, an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed while riding in a vehicle with her mother. The driver was trying to enter a parking lot where a group of people had illegally placed barricades. Someone in the group reportedly opened fire.

The article at The Epoch Times reports:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order declaring a state of emergency on Monday, authorizing the deployment of the troops.

He argued that the troops are needed to protect state buildings, including the state capitol, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, the governor’s mansion, and the Georgia World Congress Center. He noted these troops will free up state troopers from those locations to patrol the streets of Atlanta.

“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement on Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”

Kemp said that as a result, he declared an emergency “because the safety of our citizens comes first,” adding that it will “allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. ”

“Enough with the tough talk,” the Republican governor concluded. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

Across Atlanta over the Fourth of July weekend, 31 people were shot and five people died, including an 8-year-old girl. The Georgia State Patrol headquarters were also vandalized by protesters over the same time period, according to local media reports.

“They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told WSB-TV, adding that between 60 and 100 vandals dressed in dark clothing came to the headquarters in the early-morning hours to cause havoc.

This is not a protest–it is a murderous rampage of lawlessness.

The article concludes:

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said the 8-year-old child wasn’t killed by police officers and referenced recent calls for police reform.

“Well, now we’re demanding action for Secoriea Turner and for all of the other people who were shot in Atlanta last night and over the past few weeks because the reality is this—these aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta, these are members of the community shooting each other,” she told reporters on Monday.

“If you want people to take us seriously, and you don’t want us to lose this movement, then we can’t lose each other,” the mayor said, adding that “you can’t blame this on a police officer, you can’t say this is about criminal justice reform.”

“This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car.”

If the Mayors of our largest cities cannot maintain order, the Governors of their states need to declare an emergency and call in the National Guard to restore order. Lawlessness is not an option, and those who choose to practice it need to be arrested and sent to jail.

Insert Poison Pill To Block Common Sense Legislation

Yesterday The Epoch Times reported that Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blocked a resolution that condemns “mob violence.” That sounds like a common sense resolution that should easily pass the Senate, but it was blocked.

The article notes:

Lee (Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) ) took to the Senate floor in Washington Thursday to announce his belief that it was important for the Senate to go on record “condemning the rising tide of mob violence we see across the country and the increasingly prevalent mob mentality that’s fueling it.”

Lee cited several recent instances, including the shooting by a protester in Utah, the assault of a Wisconsin state senator by a group that tore down two statues, and the berating of law enforcement officers for standing at their posts.

While some Americans have organized peaceful protests, other events have devolved into rioting, looting, and violence, Lee noted.

The article continues:

Menendez said he objected, arguing that the resolution made no mention “of America’s original sin, which is slavery.”

Many New Jersey residents don’t believe the United States is morally committed to justice, he argued, which would clash with the third paragraph of the resolution. That paragraph states: “The United States is a diverse nation committed to cultivating respect, friendship, and justice across all such differences, and protecting the God-given equal rights of all Americans under the law.”

“I would consider not objecting to the senator’s request if he also recognized and added to his resolution the fact that we have a president of the United States who ultimately provokes—provokes insightful language and violence,” Menendez added, noting that President Donald Trump recently shared a video that included a man saying “white power.”

Lee was willing to accept the proposed revisions except for the part about Trump, saying lawmakers shouldn’t point to one specific individual.

So Senator Menendez was not willing to condemn violence unless the resolution specifically attacked President Trump. Wow. It’s interesting that the Senator blames President Trump for provoking the violence when the violence is generally committed by people who oppose him. That’s like accusing France of starting World War II because they responded when Germany attacked them. Every rioter is responsible for his/her own actions. They can blame no one but themselves. When they are arrested, they will be held responsible. How dumb does Senator Menendez think the American people are?

Transparency Is Always A Good Idea

Yesterday The Epoch Times reported that Judge Carl Nichols with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Trump administration can compel hospitals and insurers to publish negotiated costs for health care services that are normally kept secret from patients. This is wonderful news for patients in hospitals although I suspect that the medical community is not happy with the decision.

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced a rule in November 2019 that defined “standard charges,” laid out the publication requirements for hospitals and insurers, and the department’s enforcement plans.

At the time, hospital and insurer organizations and advocacy groups objected to the agency’s proposals, disputing that the Trump administration has the authority to require the disclosures, which they believe are trade secrets. The hospitals also disputed that the policy would benefit consumers and lead to lower costs, countering that compliance would instead be too burdensome and “get in the way” of providing services for patients.

The finalization of the rule, which goes into effect January 2021, prompted the American Hospital Association (AHA) to sue, arguing that the White House didn’t have the authority to make the directive, had violated the First Amendment in its creation, and had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

The article concludes:

Trump’s executive order on improving transparency on health care prices and quality required the HHS secretary to propose a regulation to publicly post standard charge information “in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format using consensus-based data standards that will meaningfully inform patients’ decision making and allow patients to compare prices across hospitals.”

It also requires hospitals to regularly update the posted information.

David Mitchell, the founder of advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, said in a statement to The Epoch Times in response to the ruling that he thinks “we have to get rid of our system in which prices are secret and hidden from those who must pay them.”

This is good news for the people who pay for hospital care.

Great News For America

Energy independence is wonderful, but in today’s technology age, there are other important areas where America needs to be self-sustaining. One of the them is the rare earth minerals used in the manufacture of our technology. On Wednesday (updated yesterday) The Epoch Times posted an article about one step that has been taken in this direction.

The article reports:

Owners of the Wheat Ridge facility for processing rare earth elements and critical minerals have received an operating permit that will enable minerals critical to advanced technology manufacturing to be mined and processed in the United States.

USA Rare Earth, LLC, and Texas Mineral Resources Corp. announced on June 18 that their Wheat Ridge, Colorado, facility has received its operating permit, with its pilot plant now in the commissioning process.

Texas Mineral said in a press release that the plant “will have the ability to produce the full range of high purity, separated rare earths as well as other critical minerals … which are essential for modern manufacturing ranging from defense applications to wind turbines, electric vehicles, smart phones, advanced medical devices, and the physical backbone of emerging 5G networks.”

The company says its objective is “to build the first rare earth and critical minerals processing facility outside China.”

The CEO of USA Rare Earth, Pini Althaus, said in a press release that the establishment of an independent, robust, and domestic rare earth metal and critical mineral supply chain is vital for the United States, “overcoming reliance on China.”

Congress and President Trump have both recognized the need to produce these minerals in America.

The article notes:

Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation (pdf) on May 28 to protect American mineral supply chains.

Gosar described critical minerals as the building blocks of our modern lives, as they are vitally important for special components in defense systems, health care applications, and energy generation technology.

“For years, our country has become increasingly dependent on China and other nations to fulfill our demand for minerals,” said Gosar. “The global pandemic has demonstrated the severe consequences of allowing this longstanding over-reliance on China to go unchecked.”

Waltz said that critical minerals are integral to our way of life.

“As coronavirus has unfortunately demonstrated, if China can threaten to cut off our pharmaceutical supply, they can do the same with their supply of rare earth minerals,” said Waltz. “We need to bring this supply chain back to America—and this bill will be an important step to do that.”

…President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13817 in December 2017, titled “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” The order directed federal agencies to list critical minerals, develop strategies to reduce reliance on the minerals themselves and on foreign suppliers, and increase domestic production.

The positive impact of the coronavirus is that it reminded us that as a nation we need to be as self-sufficient as possible. It is encouraging to see steps being taken in this direction.

The Underlying Purpose Of The Mueller Investigation

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article explaining how the Mueller investigation was used to block the release of any information that would have shown the Russian collusion charges against President Trump as a hoax.

The article explains:

Within an interesting interview conducted by Jan Jekielek of Epoch Times, former AAG Matt Whitaker confirms what CTH long suspected. The Mueller investigation was used by corrupt interests within the special counsel’s office to threaten any/all executive branch and congressional officials with “obstruction of justice” charges if they revealed any exculpatory or counter-narrative information during the Mueller probe.

Whitaker describes this as the “obstruction of justice trap.”

Essentially, this approach confirms the second-prong purpose of the Mueller investigation itself. First, use the special counsel in 2017, 2018 and into the beginning of 2019, as a shield (hide information); and secondly a weapon (threats) against any entity who would reveal the background intelligence that undercut the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

We know President Trump was threatened by Rod Rosenstein not to declassify any information in September of 2018 or the Mueller investigation would use that act as evidence of obstruction. Whitaker confirms that same approach was applied toward any executive branch officer who would reveal or release information to congress during the tenure of the special counsel; even within the DOJ and including the attorney general.

This is how the Mueller probe was weaponized to mislead the American people.

…Documents could not be released without Mueller approval; interviews with key FBI/DOJ officials could not be conducted without Mueller team approval; information could not be declassified without Mueller team approval, etc.

Any agency or individual that attempted to release any information was subject to the threat of indictment by the same corrupt prosecutors leading the investigation. It’s a self-fulfilling safety mechanism.  Even DOJ officials like Matt Whitaker were under threat. Whitaker calls it the “Obstruction of Justice Trap”.

With that in mind this is a very serious flaw in the authority of the special counsel statute that needs to be addressed by congress. Who can watch the watchers, when the watchers were specifically selected because they would knowingly contribute to the corruption.

The article includes the following video:

The article also highlights particular parts of the video:

Very disturbing (timestamps for interview):

♦03:43 On Judge Sullivan choosing not to dismiss the case against Gen. Flynn
♦06:54 On FBI director Christopher Wray calling for an internal investigation
♦08:41 What kind of accountability will we see for 2016 election surveillance?
♦15:27 The problem with the regulation creating Special Counsels
♦19:32 Obstruction of justice trap?
♦35:38 Communist China’s a greater threat than Russia

The truth needs to come out. Americans are entitled to see how their government became a political weapon used against a campaign and against a presidency. There are a number of people who need to pay a high price for what they have done to thwart the smooth transition of power in America.

This Might Be A Clue To What Happened In China With The Coronavirus

On March 22, The Epoch Times posted an article that gives us a way to gauge what happened in China during the coronavirus epidemic.

The article reports:

The number of Chinese cellphone users dropped by 21 million in the past three months, Beijing authorities announced on March 19. Deaths due to the CCP virus may have contributed to the high number of account closings.

Cellphones are an indispensable part of life in China.

“The digitization level is very high in China. People can’t survive without a cellphone,” Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based China affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times on March 21. “Dealing with the government for pensions and social security, buying train tickets, shopping … no matter what people want to do, they are required to use cellphones.

“The Chinese regime requires all Chinese to use their cellphones to generate a health code. Only with a green health code are Chinese allowed to move in China now. It’s impossible for a person to cancel his cellphone.”

China introduced mandatory facial scans on Dec. 1, 2019, to confirm the identity of the person who registered the phone. As early as Sept. 1, 2010, China required all cellphone users to register phones with their real identification, by which the state can control people’s speech via its large-scale monitoring system.

Furthermore, Chinese people’s bank accounts and social security accounts are bundled with their cellphone plans; apps on Chinese phones check SIM cards against the state’s database to make sure the number belongs to the user.

The article concludes:

A comparison with the situation in Italy also suggests the Chinese death toll is significantly underreported. Italy adopted similar measures to those used by the Chinese regime. The CCP virus death toll in Italy of 4,825 translates to a death rate of 9 percent. In China, where a much larger population was exposed to the virus, the reported death toll of 3,265 translated to a death rate of only 4 percent, less than half that reported in Italy.

Activities in the outbreak epicenter of Hubei Province seem to contradict the reported death toll in China. The seven funeral homes in the city of Wuhan were reported to be burning bodies 24 hours a day, seven days a week in late January. Hubei Province has used 40 mobile cremators, each capable of burning five tons of medical waste and bodies a day, since Feb. 16.

Lacking data, the real death toll in China is a mystery. The cancellation of 21 million cellphones provides a data point that suggests the real number may be far higher than the official number.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

We need to remember that China is a communist regime. The regime routinely lies to the population to create the narrative that is best for the regime. The concept of taking steps to protect the population is not the first priority of the regime. We will probably never know the toll the virus took on China, but we can safely bet that the numbers were much higher than what we have been told.

Making It Easier To Deport Criminals

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

The article reports:

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled to make it easier for the federal government to deport lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have been convicted of serious crimes.

In a 5-4 decision, the top court justices sided against a man who was seeking to cancel deportation orders stemming from firearm and drug offenses. LPRs who are subject to deportation orders can apply to have their removal canceled under a federal immigration law if they meet strict eligibility requirements.

That law gives the attorney general power to cancel the removal of an applicant who has been an LPR for five years and has resided continuously in the United States for seven years, during which time he or she must not have been convicted of an aggravated felony. If an LPR is found to have committed such felonies, a rule called the “stop-time rule” would be triggered. This rule would cause the accrual of the seven-year requirement to pause from the time when the individual commits a crime that renders them “inadmissible.”

The court on Thursday ruled to uphold a lower court decision that found the man ineligible for the discretionary cancellation of his removal because he had committed aggravated assault offenses within the initial seven years of his residency, even though those crimes were not grounds for his deportation.

The ruling is widely viewed as a victory for the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has been running on a platform that pushes for stronger enforcement of national immigration laws.

There is no reason for us to allow criminals who are not Americans to remain in this country. We are perfectly capable of creating enough criminals on our own–we don’t need to take anyone else’s.

Good News On Covid-19

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog that included some good news about the coronavirus. Generally speaking it seems that a lot more people have had the virus without knowing it, and thus the death rate is much lower than originally thought. Americans are also in the early process of creating ‘herd immunity,’ which should prevent the overwhelming numbers of serious cases originally predicted.

The article includes the following graph:

As you can see, we are on the downside of the bell curve. It should be noted that the number of deaths from the coronavirus is a lagging indicator and may increase in the coming two weeks before going down.

The article reports:

…there is growing evidence that many more Americans have had COVID-19 than has generally been thought. Reuters reports that of the sailors on board the COVID-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, 60% of those who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic. This is a higher percentage than was previously estimated by Dr. Fauci, 25%-50%. The Reuters reporter doesn’t seem to understand that this is good news, for two reasons.

First, it means that the fatality rate for COVID-19 is lower than most have believed. I think the balance of evidence so far is that the Wuhan virus is somewhat more lethal than the usual seasonal flu, but of the same order of magnitude. It is possible, however, that it may prove to be no worse, statistically, than the average flu.

Second, it means that the U.S. is closer to achieving herd immunity than previously believed. This ABC News story is to the same effect:

The first large-scale community test of 3,300 people in Santa Clara County found that 2.5 to 4.2% of those tested were positive for antibodies — a number suggesting a far higher past infection rate than the official count.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that we are still a long way from the levels that confer herd immunity.

The article concludes:

Currently, global COVID deaths are just under 30% of the average for a seasonal flu bug, per the WHO. Those numbers are likely wrong, because China and Iran have almost certainly underreported their fatalities. If we assume that China’s true fatality number is ten times what it tells the WHO, and Iran’s is three times, then total global fatalities from COVID-19 would be 41% of an average flu season, so far.

For the U.S., according to CDC, the COVID-19 deaths to date equal 53% of the deaths from seasonal flu two yeas ago.

COVID-19 is a disease, and there nothing good to be said about diseases. But today’s news is generally positive.

One of the reasons I don’t trust the Chinese numbers of people who died from the coronavirus is an article in The Epoch Times on March 22, 2020, that reported the following:

The number of Chinese cellphone users dropped by 21 million in the past three months, Beijing authorities announced on March 19. Deaths due to the CCP virus may have contributed to the high number of account closings.

That’s an awful lot of people who suddenly decided they didn’t need their cell phones.

Countering Fake News

Unfortunately many in the media have decided to use the coronavirus pandemic to bash President Trump rather than to help deal with the problems created by the crisis. That has caused some government agencies to periodically make statements calling attention to the false reporting that is going on. Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about one such event.

The article reports:

The Department of Defense issued a rare denial to an anonymously sourced media report claiming that military intelligence allegedly warned about the CCP virus pandemic as early as November 2019.

ABC News cited anonymous officials on April 8 to claim that the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) released a report in November 2019 that detailed concerns about a potential outbreak. The NCMI issued a statement in response to the article saying the report doesn’t exist.

“As a matter of practice, the National Center for Medical Intelligence does not comment publicly on specific intelligence matters. However, in the interest of transparency during this current public health crisis, we can confirm that media reporting about the existence/release of a National Center for Medical Intelligence Coronavirus-related product/assessment in November of 2019 is not correct. No such NCMI product exists,” Shane Day, director of the NCMI, said in a statement.

The article also notes:

Trump banned travel to China on Jan. 31, ten days after the United States confirmed its first case of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Sam Faddis, a former CIA operations officer, told The Epoch Times that the idea that the highest levels of the U.S. government were repeatedly warned about a pandemic and “collectively” ignored it is “ridiculous.”

I wonder how many people who saw the initial charge saw the response from the Intelligence Community that it was false. Somehow I don’t think the mainstream media made that a major story. Therein lies the problem. The segment of our population that relies on the mainstream media has been fed a bunch of lies about how President Trump has handled this crisis. This makes them less likely to listen to him in the crisis. That seriously undermines our government and creates divisions which make it harder for Americans to work together. The mainstream media is largely responsible for knowingly tearing at the fabric of our society. It is truly a shame that they cannot be trusted to report events honestly.

 

Some Good News From New York

The Epoch Times posted an article yesterday reporting some good news from New York.

The article reports:

Hospitals in New York state have discharged more COVID-19 patients than they have added for four days in a row, according to the latest data from the state hit hardest by the CCP virus pandemic.

Hospitals in the state discharged 1,709 COVID-19 patients on April 4, while admitting 574 patients. The number of daily discharges had also surpassed the daily admissions on the three prior days, state data shows.

…New York has been the U.S. epicenter for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus. While New York City has borne the brunt of the outbreak, there has been an increasing shift to Long Island, which now accounts for 22 percent of the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The number of daily deaths in New York state from COVID-19 dropped for the first time on April 4, when 594 people died, down from 630 deaths the day before, with a total of 4,159 people dying from the disease statewide.

“What is the significance of that? It’s too early to tell,” Cuomo said.

New York has been the epicenter of the virus, but reports indicate new epicenters in New Orleans and Detroit. However, it would be nice if New York has truly turned the corner in fighting the virus.

How To Navigate The Media Spin

The Epoch Times posted an article yesterday about the report of the Justice Department Inspector General. The report found that the FBI failed to document facts correctly in 29 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications that were reviewed. A rational person would take that as an indication that all was not well at the FBI and that Americans were being unlawfully surveilled. However, the mainstream media did not necessarily see it that way.

Eli Lake posted the following comments at Bloomberg News:

In the twisted politics of the Trump Era, some of bureau’s defenders might actually view this report as good news: It shows that the investigation of the Trump campaign was not necessarily politically motivated. The bureau made the same kinds of mistakes with suspects who were not connected to the Trump campaign.

That’s hardly reassuring — and the malpractice that the report uncovers is a much larger problem than the FBI and its defenders may wish to admit. So far, the response to Horowitz’s December report has been a series of administrative reforms, such as a requirement that FBI field offices preserve their “Woods files” and a mandate for new FISA training for FBI lawyers and agents. That’s all well and good. But one need not go back to the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover to see that the bureau has been careless in its monitoring of U.S. citizens.

The Woods procedures were issued in 2001 after Congress obtained a memo from the FBI’s counterterrorism division detailing surveillance abuse in the late 1990s. One target’s cell phone remained tapped after he gave it up and the number was reassigned to a different person. Another FBI field office videotaped a meeting, despite a clear prohibition on that technique in its FISA warrant. In 2003, an interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded that the 2001 memo showed “the FBI was experiencing more systemic problems related to the implementation of FISA orders” than a problem with the surveillance law itself.

Very little has changed in the intervening 17 years. That’s why it’s foolish to expect new and better procedures will work this time. A better approach would be an aggressive policy to prosecute FBI agents and lawyers who submit falsehoods to the surveillance court. The best way to prevent future violations is to severely punish those who commit them in the present.

Scott Johnson posted an article today at Power Line Blog that included the following quote (follow the link to the article for the audio of the answer to the question):

The New York Times is illustrative of “the twisted politics of the Trump era.” Daniel Chaitin covers the Times angle in his Examiner article “‘Biased and out of control’: Devin Nunes rips New York Times reporting on FISA memo.” Chaitin reports on Rep. Devin Nunes’s interview with Larry O’Connor:

Radio host Larry O’Connor read a passage from the [Times’s] report [on the Horowitz memo] to Nunes during the Examining Politics podcast on Tuesday. It said DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report “helps the FBI politically because it undercuts the narrative among President Trump and his supporters that the bureau cut corners to surveil the adviser, Carter Page, as part of a politically motivated conspiracy.”

“So, the good news for the FBI is that they trampled on people’s rights all over the place, not just people who worked with Donald Trump’s campaign,” O’Connor said. “Is that the takeaway we should have here congressman?”

I agree with Eli Lake–severe punishment for those guilty of illegal spying on American citizens is the only way to prevent future abuse by the FBI.

 

What We Should Call The Coronavirus

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an editorial giving their opinion on what to name the coronavirus. Their suggestion is a common-sense approach to placing responsibility where it belongs.

The editorial states:

The Epoch Times suggests a more accurate name is the “CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus,” and calls upon others to join us in adopting this name.

The name holds the CCP accountable for its wanton disregard of human life and consequent spawning of a pandemic that has put untold numbers in countries around the world at risk, while creating widespread fear and devastating the economies of nations trying to cope with this disease.

After all, CCP officials knew in early December that the virus had appeared in Wuhan, but they sat on the information for six weeks. They arrested those who tried to warn of the danger, accusing them of spreading “rumors,” and employed the regime’s rigorous censorship to prevent media coverage and to delete any mentions of it from social media.

What might have been contained was allowed silently to spread, showing up in all of China. Individuals who might have protected themselves became victims, in numbers far greater than the CCP has admitted. By late January, there were reports that all of the crematoria in Wuhan were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deal with the crush of dead bodies.

The editorial notes the price of getting too cozy with dictatorships:

In any case, as questions about the origin of the virus have gone unanswered, the CCP has begun throwing out wild charges that the United States is responsible. This will be met around the world with perplexity, if not ridicule. President Donald Trump has pushed back by referring to the “Chinese virus.”

But the CCP likely intends these charges of U.S. responsibility for its domestic audience. The CCP has victimized the Chinese people in its first denial of the virus and now seeks to victimize them again by shifting responsibility for its actions to others.

And this points out why the name “CCP virus” is needed, to distinguish the victims from the victimizer. The people of Wuhan and of China are the victims of the CCP’s arrogance and incompetence, expressed in this viral pandemic.

The name CCP virus also sounds a warning: Those nations and individuals close to the CCP are the ones suffering the worst effects from this virus, as is seen in the raging infections in the CCP’s close ally Iran and in Italy, the only G-7 nation to sign onto the Belt and Road Initiative. Taiwan and Hong Kong, which are highly skeptical of the CCP, have had relatively few infections.

The editorial concludes:

Finally, the CCP virus reminds the people of the world that the source of the virus is itself evil. This is a communist virus, and with the name CCP virus, The Epoch Times reminds the world of the cure: ending the CCP.

This Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

The Epoch Times posted an article today about a sexual assault case in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The alleged assault took place in a gender-neutral bathroom in a high school. I sincerely question if the people who came up with the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms were ever teenagers. Unfortunately we don’t live in a world that can safely support the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms. I’m not sure that world ever existed, but it does not exist now.

The article reports:

According to News 9 WOAW, 18-year-old Austin Sauer was arrested on Thursday on charges of child enticement, fourth-degree sexual assault, and exposing genitals to a child, the sex of whom has not been reported.

The Wisconsin state law defines fourth-degree sexual assault as “sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person.”

An officer from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department told the local ABC affiliate that the incident took place in a gender-neutral bathroom at Rhinelander High School. The school has promptly closed that bathroom.

In a statement released to WOAW, Rhinelander School District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi said that “both students went into the bathroom voluntarily.”

“This was not a random incident, as both students went into the bathroom voluntarily,” she said. “The male student will no longer be able to be on school grounds, and the gender-neutral bathroom is no longer available to students.”

The article concludes:

Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision in a privacy lawsuit against a public school district in Dallas, Oregon. A panel of three judges ruled in favor of the school district, saying that it did not violate federal law or constitutional rights with a “student safety plan” that allows transgender students to use bathroom, locker, and shower facilities that “match their self-identified gender.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court last May refused to hear an appeal in a case from Pennsylvania, in which lower federal courts upheld a school district’s policy of permitting transgender students to use restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity. Four students, who felt uncomfortable with the policy, sued the school district on the basis that it violated their privacy rights and federal laws under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

It seems to me that common sense needs to be part of this discussion. The majority of our high school students are not transgender. Those students are entitled to privacy. There is no reason for a student with male genitals to be in a high school girls’ locker room. I don’t know exactly what provisions would have to be made, but I wouldn’t want my granddaughters to have to deal with boys in their locker room. If they still have their male body parts, they are boys and do not belong in the girls’ locker room. If they no longer belong in the boys’ locker room, then other facilities need to be made available.

This Case Is Still Relevant

On Tuesday The Epoch Times posted an article about the Awan scandal. In case you have forgotten, various members and friends of the Awan family were IT aides to more than 40 Democratic members of key national security and foreign policy committees in the House of Representatives. Their positions gave the aides access to all of the members’ digital communications and documents.

The article reminds us:

With the exception of Imran Awan, all of the Awan network members lost their access to the House IT network in February 2017, as a result of a report by the top House administrative officials that said the aides “are an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems and thereby members’ capacity to serve constituents.”

Imran Awan was kept on the House payroll by then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) until he was arrested by federal agents while trying to leave the United States.

Awan was subsequently charged with bank fraud in connection with a loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union.

The article reports the current activities on the case:

An apparently frustrated federal judge ordered attorneys for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appear Jan. 15 for a “snap” hearing to explain why the government isn’t producing documents sought by Judicial Watch concerning former Democratic information technology aide Imran Awan.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta’s unusual order followed a sealed submission by DOJ attorneys Jan. 10 in the case prompted by the nonprofit government watchdog’s November 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

Such hastily convened hearings are extremely unusual in a federal judicial system so jammed that months can pass before cases are litigated in courtrooms.

“In a hearing last month, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta expressed frustration and ordered the Justice Department to explain its failure to produce records by January 10 and to provide Judicial Watch some details about the delay,” Judicial Watch said in a statement Jan. 14 about the snap hearing.

“Instead, the Justice Department made its filing under seal and has yet to provide Judicial Watch with any details about its failure to produce records as promised to the court,” Judicial Watch said.

Federal attorneys previously said in December 2019 that they were unable to provide the documents sought in the Judicial Watch FOIA requests because they include materials from a “related sealed criminal matter.”

Thank God for Judicial Watch.

The article concludes:

The Awan scandal was first exposed by Daily Caller investigative journalist Luke Rosiak, who subsequently published a book on his findings, titled “Obstruction of Justice: How the Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats.”

None of the Awan network members were reportedly required to undergo security background checks prior to being employed on congressional staffs.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in the nonprofit’s statement that “the DOJ’s handling of the Awan brothers case has long been an issue of concern and now we are expected to believe some secret investigation prevents the public from knowing the full truth about this scandal. We are skeptical.”

Just another example of inexplicable actions by the Justice Department.

Playing Politics With Drug Prices

On Wednesday, The Epoch Times reported on a bill in the Senate that was designed to lower drug prices.

The article reports:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blocked a bill that would lower prescription drug costs, arguing that a measure that addresses other health care issues would be better.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wanted a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to be passed unanimously on Nov. 13, but Schumer blocked the measure by objecting to Cornyn’s request for a unanimous vote.

Schumer said he didn’t oppose the bill’s substance, but accused Cornyn of playing a “little game” to try to get his bill passed when action on additional issues in health care was being blocked by Republicans, according to The Hill.

“We have a whole lot of legislative ideas, not just his,” Schumer said on the floor. “His party blocks everything that would have far larger consequence.”

Schumer said there were better legislative options than Cornyn’s bill, including one introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Cornyn responded by saying Schumer’s blocking of the measure was “what people hate about Washington.”

“My bill is not going to sink the prospects of that larger package of legislation,” Cornyn said.

“I’m not going to agree to price-fixing by the U.S. government,” he added about another measure Schumer cited, which would let Medicare negotiate drug prices.

The bill is noncontroversial and bipartisan. There is no reason to block it other than politics.