|FIVE STORIES PRESIDENT TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO MISS|
|Thousands of Health Experts Sign Declaration Calling for End to Lockdown, Warn of ‘Irreparable Damage’|
-The Daily Wire
“Thousands of medical and public health experts have signed on to a declaration calling for an end to lockdown policies in favor of a more targeted approach to combatting the coronavirus pandemic,” Tim Pearce writes. “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies,” the declaration states.
“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice,” it continues.
The doctors say that the current approach to fighting the pandemic — locking down wide swaths of the economy and barring people from gathering in places such as schools and churches — “will cause irreparable damage” if continued until a vaccine is readily available to the public.
Instead, the doctors recommend a targeted approach that protects high-risk populations, such as the elderly and those with co-morbidities. The doctors also point out that for many people, especially the young, “COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.”
The doctors endorse the same strategy followed by Sweden’s government in fighting the virus, known as herd immunity. As more people from less at-risk populations get the virus and build up an immunity, the threat of the virus to society at large falls.
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls,” the declaration says. “We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”
The doctors recommend special protections be put in place for people that live in nursing homes, for example. Staff at such facilities should have immunity to the disease and rotating staff should be done as little as possible.
The vast majority of people should be “be allowed to resume life as normal,” the doctors say.
Return Respect to Nomination Process (Opinion)
–Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“We should not allow the toxic politics of recent Supreme Court nominations to turn this nomination into a partisan circus. Judge Barrett and our country deserve a fair and respectful hearing,” Arkansas Lt. Governor Tim Griffin writes. “In a less polarized time, a nominee as eminently qualified as Judge Barrett would receive a nearly unanimous vote for confirmation.”
Noah Feldman, a self-described liberal law professor at Harvard University, supports Judge Barrett’s nomination and recently wrote, “I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith …”
She currently sits as a federal judge on the Seventh Circuit and has 15 years of experience as a law professor at Notre Dame School of Law, where she was selected three times as the “Distinguished Professor of the Year.” In addition, she has experience in trial and appellate litigation as a private attorney. She also clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge Barrett has an unyielding devotion to the U.S. Constitution. Like Justice Scalia, she is an originalist who believes in textualism: The Constitution should be interpreted as it was written, not as one wishes it would have been written. Consider her words during her announcement: “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
The Constitution is the crown jewel of our republic, and will be in good hands with Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court.
Judge Barrett lives with her husband and seven children in South Bend, Ind. Her family is as beautiful and unique as the country she has dedicated her life to serve: Two of her children are adopted from Haiti, and her youngest son has Down syndrome. If confirmed, she would be the first mother of school-aged children to serve on the Supreme Court. And with the passing of Justice Ginsburg, Judge Barrett would add to the diversity of the court as one of three female justices.
In a less polarized time, a nominee as eminently qualified as Judge Barrett would receive a nearly unanimous vote for confirmation. Justice Ginsburg, who clearly held liberal political views, was confirmed by a vote of 96-3. Democrats now complain that, because Senate Republicans in 2016 chose not to advance the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for Supreme Court, that Judge Barrett should not be confirmed either.
The politics of Supreme Court nominations have turned toxic in modern times, and it’s helpful to remember why. In 1987, President Regan nominated highly qualified Judge Robert Bork. Judge Bork was mercilessly attacked by Senate Democrats, who disagreed with his originalist philosophy. They torpedoed his nomination, and in the process smeared the character of a good man. In fact, the Democrats’ assault on Bork was so out of the ordinary that the term ‘Borking’ a judicial nominee came to represent the character assassination of an otherwise qualified nominee.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated now-Justice Clarence Thomas, the second African American to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court. Despite being confirmed on a narrow vote, Senate Democrats, including Joe Biden, viciously attacked Judge Thomas with last-minute accusations of sexual harassment.
During the Obama years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for federal judicial nominees. The move, opposed even by many Democrats, was a dramatic departure from Senate norms and a raw power play that irreparably damaged court politics even further.
Democrats pulled out all the stops in their quest to deny Judge Kavanaugh a seat on the court. They accused him of everything from being a sexual harasser to a gang rapist, even going as far as to comb through his high school yearbook for non-existent evidence to support their wild accusations.
The decision not to advance Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the court in 2016 has led Democrats to feel that Republicans haven’t played fair in judicial confirmations either. While no party is totally blameless, the Senate’s decision not to advance Judge Garland can’t be understood without the context of Senator Reid’s decision to eliminate the filibuster, along with the mistreatment of Judge Bork and Justice Thomas.
And Republicans have historical precedent on their side: There have been 15 election-year vacancies on the Supreme Court. In the nine instances where the presidency and Senate were controlled by the same party, eight of those nominees were confirmed.
When the presidency and Senate were controlled by opposing parties, two of the six nominations were confirmed.
We must choose whether to continue the dysfunctional politics that have characterized most Supreme Court nominations from Judge Bork to Justice Kavanaugh. or return to a respectful and fair process. Unfortunately, some on the far left have already attacked Judge Barrett’s children and her religious views. May more reasonable voices prevail.
Judge Barrett is the ideal candidate for the court: an incredibly gifted legal mind with superb qualifications, an inspiring personal narrative, and a strong fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. I look forward to her eventual confirmation.
Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (Opinion)
Across the United States, “fear and bad press slowed down or canceled school reopenings,” Brown University economist Emily Oster writes. “It’s now October. We are starting to get an evidence-based picture of how school reopenings and remote learning are going . . . Schools do not, in fact, appear to be a major spreader of COVID-19.”
Since early last month, I’ve been working with a group of data scientists at the technology company Qualtrics, as well as with school-principal and superintendent associations, to collect data on COVID-19 in schools. (See more on that project here.) Our data on almost 200,000 kids in 47 states from the last two weeks of September revealed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff. That’s about 1.3 infections over two weeks in a school of 1,000 kids, or 2.2 infections over two weeks in a group of 1,000 staff. Even in high-risk areas of the country, the student rates were well under half a percent. You can see all the data here.
School-based data from other sources show similarly low rates. Texas reported 1,490 cases among students for the week ending on September 27, with 1,080,317 students estimated at school—a rate of about 0.14 percent. The staff rate was lower, about 0.10 percent.
These numbers are not zero, which for some people means the numbers are not good enough. But zero was never a realistic expectation. We know that children can get COVID-19, even if they do tend to have less serious cases. Even if there were no spread in schools, we’d see some cases, because students and teachers can contract the disease off campus. But the numbers are small—smaller than what many had forecasted.
Predictions about school openings hurting the broader community seem to have been overblown as well. In places such as Florida, preliminary data haven’t shown big community spikes as a result of school openings. Rates in Georgia have continued to decline over the past month. And although absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I’ve read many stories about outbreaks at universities, and vanishingly few about outbreaks at the K–12 level.
One might argue, again, that any risk is too great, and that schools must be completely safe before local governments move to reopen them. But this approach ignores the enormous costs to children from closed schools. The spring interruption of schooling already resulted in learning losses; Alec MacGillis’s haunting piece in The New Yorker and ProPublica highlights the plight of one child unable to attend school in one location, but it’s a marker for more. The children affected by school closures are disproportionately low-income students of color. Schools are already unequal; the unequal closures make them more so. Virtual school is available, but attendance levels are not up to par. Pediatricians have linked remote schooling to toxic stress.
Parents are struggling as well, not just children. Cities have recognized the need for child care for parents who cannot afford to quit their jobs to supervise their kids, but this has led to a haphazard network of options. Houston, for example, has opened some schools as learning centers. L.A. has learning centers set up for low-income students in alternative locations. These spur the questions: If school isn’t safe for everyone, why is it safe for low-income students? And if school is safe for low-income students, why isn’t it safe for everyone?
Democratic governors who love to flaunt their pro-science bona fides in comparison with the anti-science Trump administration don’t seem to be aware of this growing body of evidence. On Monday, for instance, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo claimed that businesses were not “mass spreaders,” as opposed to schools, and subsequently announced that he would close schools in hot-spot areas.
Where can the country go from here? From my end, we are going to continue to collect data through our dashboard, to try to better understand the patterns we are seeing and what correlates with “safe” reopenings. I hope that more schools and districts will see these data, and others, and perhaps start to think about how reopening might work. We do not want to be cavalier or put people at risk. But by not opening, we are putting people at risk, too.
In Afghanistan, As We Enter Our 20th Year, It’s Time to Come Home
“As someone who volunteered for service, fought in Afghanistan, and watched good friends give their lives for the mission there, it’s difficult to accept that 19 years hasn’t been enough. As President Donald Trump signaled on Twitter on Wednesday American involvement in the Afghan conflict should end, our service members should come back to their families, and our country should move forward with a renewed focus on our future security and prosperity,” Nate Anderson writes.
The 9/11 attacks were a traumatic experience for our nation. I was in high school, and I can still remember the lingering shock that hovered over everything.
Remembering it still evokes strong emotions. And as America’s attention turned from fires still burning under the rubble in Manhattan to a faraway land called Afghanistan, our response to the attacks would send a message to the world and those who meant us harm.
President George W. Bush famously stood on top of the rubble at Ground Zero and proclaimed to first responders, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
And they did. Operation Enduring Freedom began on October 7, 2001. American military efforts led by CIA operatives and Green Berets on horseback laid waste to Al Qaeda and Taliban resistance in the country.
Fast forward an entire generation of warfighters, we have long since met our original goals in Afghanistan. We punished the Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda, degraded those elements as a fighting force, and killed Usama bin Laden.
By lingering for nearly two decades of fruitless nation-building, we have put American lives at risk with little national security benefit, wasting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in the process.
This endless war we still fight has been perpetuated by a bipartisan effort. Through three administrations of both parties and 10 Congresses with shifting partisan majorities, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has persisted in contradiction to popular will and military necessity.
But there is hope. We are closer to a withdrawal than we’ve ever been as President Donald Trump follows through on his promise to bring home more troops (https://youtu.be/OyNMCVDIoIk) and encourages peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
National Association of Scholars Calls for Revoking the 1619 Project Pulitzer Prize
“An impressive array of academics associated with the National Association of Scholars signed a letter to the Pulitzer Prize Board calling for it to revoke the prize it ceremoniously awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones this year for her lead essay in The New York Times’ deeply troubled and historically challenged 1619 Project,” Glenn Stanton writes. “Hannah-Jones and the Times secretly deleted the most fundamental claim of her lead essay for the project: that slavery was the central reason for our nation’s founding.”
In fact, five of the world’s leading scholars of the period were quick to point out the 1619 Project’s deep historical carelessness and oversights in a very public letter to the Times’ editor, even while explaining “we applaud” its spirit. The New York Times largely dismissed the scholars’ serious concerns, offering a relativistic explanation that “historical understanding is not fixed; it is constantly being adjusted by new scholarship and new voices.”
In fact, many of these scholars sat for extended interviews with the World Socialist Web Site to discuss their concerns with the revisionist slant of the 1619 Project. Princeton’s James McPherson was keen to remind us that while slavery was indeed a very dark curse on the soul of our nation, “opposition to slavery has also been an important theme in American history.”
The 21 signatories of the National Association of Scholars’ letter can be found here.
US – Afganistan War