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Posts Tagged ‘covid-19’

On the Many Potential Real-Life Problems with Any COVID-19 Vaccine

July 23, 2020 24 comments

Most of you might have recently heard something about progress in the development of one (or more) of the many vaccines being developed for COVID-19. While I don’t want into a lot of detail about the types of vaccines being developed, two are getting most of the attention. One is the ‘RNA-based’ one such as those from (Moderna, Pfizer etc. The other type is adenovirus-based ones such as that Oxford-AZ and CanSino vaccine. Even with the initial results of these, and many more, vaccines- I predict that even the most successful vaccine will have to overcome tons of real-life problems. And I am not the only one to hold that opinion. Here is why..

1] RNA-based vaccines of the type developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are problematic for more than one reason. Firstly, no RNA-based vaccine has yet been approved for human or animal use. Sure.. this is partly due to the reason that the technology, injecting encapsulated mRNA to make you own cells produce the antigen you want to stimulate an immune response against is fairly new technology. But there is a second reason- specifically, mRNA based vaccines are notorious for causing grade 3 and higher reactions in a small percentage of individuals. Though Moderna is trying its best to obscure the data, more than a few people in their relatively small phase I trial developed reactions serious enough to require prompt medical attention.

Why does this matter? Well.. let us consider how things will play out if they have a 5% incidence of such reactions during a mass vaccination drive against COVID-19. Imagine you vaccinate a million people and 5% of them develop such reactions. Even if they are can be easily treated in the hospital or a clinic, you have 50,000 fairly ill people who wouldn’t be there if they had not taken this vaccine. Also, if there are 50,000 people ill enough to require medical attention, you can bet a few of them will end up becoming much more ill or even dying. Let me remind you that the mortality due to COID-19 in people under 50 is less than 1 in 1,000. What are the chances that the vaccine kills and hospitalizes as many people as the infection in younger age groups?

This is not to say that vaccines with such high rates of side-effects are useless. The vaccine for smallpox and older versions of the rabies vaccine also had rather high rates of side effects. But there is the thing.. smallpox, when it existed, was a very contagious illness with 30% mortality rate. Rabies has a mortality of almost 100% once the infection has reached the central nervous system. Most people will be fine with a vaccine for smallpox or rabies that kills one in a few thousand people, because of the high fatality rates of those infections. The same cannot be said about COVID-19. To make matters more interesting, we don’t know if mRNA based vaccines are more likely to induce auto-immune diseases than other, more conventional, vaccines.

2] The other main type of COVID-19 vaccines use fairly harmless adenoviral vectors that express some proteins from the virus in question. In contrast to mRNA based vaccines, we have a decent amount of experience with such vaccines in both animals and humans trials. Also vaccines that use a similar strategy- where one fairly harmless virus expresses proteins of a far more harmful virus to induce immunity to later have been used to develop a few vaccines used in animals and at least one for humans (Ebola vaccine). We can, therefore, be a bit more certain that the safety of vaccines in this category is not as unknown as those mRNA-based vaccines. Also, the rate of complications for such viral-vector based vaccines is noticeably lower than mRNA vaccines.

The initial data from the Oxford-AZ vaccine trials also suggest that they do a much better job at stimulating immunity to the virus among CD4 and CD8 T-lymphocytes. It is known that immunity to Coronaviruses in animals is more cell-based than antibody based. In other words, the Oxford-AZ vaccine is likely to produce better immunity under real-life conditions with noticeably fewer side-effects than mRNA based vaccines. The CanSino vaccine, which uses a human adenoviral vector, seems to be a bit less effective than the Oxford-AZ vaccine which uses a chimpanzee adenoviral vector- perhaps, because of pre-existing immunity to human adenoviruses. Between mRNA and adenoviral-vector based vaccines, I would put my money on the later.

3] The next issue concerning COVID-19 vaccination comes down to the logistics of producing, distributing and actually giving the vaccine. Having the best vaccine means shit all if you cannot produce it on a large scale without breakdowns in quality control. Once again, the adenoviral-vector based vaccines are a bit better than mRNA-based ones in that regard, especially with existing infrastructure. Distributing the vaccine, even if effective will however pose quite a few problems. For starters, who do you vaccinate first- the groups most likely to die from infection or those most likely to transmit it? How do you vaccinate hundreds of millions in a very short time without a huge number of people ending up in hospitals due to side-effects, even if temporary.

And what are you going to do about all the people who would rather wait and see what happens to initial bunch of vaccine recipients? What if there is a large wave of hospitalizations from first widespread use of whichever COVID-19 vaccine ends up being approved. Remember even a 2% incidence of severe reactions is a large number once you are talking about millions of recipients. How will you convince people to keep getting vaccinated if initial use of COVID-19 vaccine causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations? This is especially likely for mRNA-based vaccine such as those being developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Then there are issues of efficacy. What if the approved vaccines prove to be only 80-90% effective. While this is a perfectly acceptable for many existing vaccines- dumbfuck “ivy-league experts” have promised the sky to masses.

I can think of many other issues, but we are already past a thousand words. Might write more in a future post on this topic, depending on responses to this one.

What do you think? Comments?

Why Forcing People to Wear Face Masks is an Incredibly Stupid Idea

July 16, 2020 42 comments

As readers know, I often take positions that are contrarian and unpopular but eventually turn out to be right. Consider this article to be another one in that line. You might have heard or read that many politicians in this country and a few others are trying to force people to wear face masks in public for the alleged purpose of reducing or eliminating COVID-19 transmission. My thoughts on this turn of events is best summarized in the title of post, and ya.. I think it is an incredibly stupid idea. The longer version is however more nuanced than the title might suggest, and people who want to comment should first read the entire post completely. You will see there are a number of converging reasons, many of them not obvious, for my contrarian position.

So let us begin by talking about the three categories of face masks and what they are, and aren’t, capable of. The type of ersatz facemasks you see on people all over the country are.. well.. not good at preventing infection by respiratory pathogens. There.. I said it! Masks made of normal fabric (natural or synthetic) are too porous to stop anything smaller than clumps of bacteria or viruses in droplets of saliva or mucus. The only thing they are somewhat good at is reducing the amount of aerosols generated by a person suffering from a viral or bacterial infection. In other words, they have some efficacy at preventing an already infected people from spreading it, but are close to useless for preventing it in an uninfected person.

The second category include the so-called medical/surgical masks worn by medical professionals under certain situations. While somewhat better than ersatz masks, they are also most efficacious at stopping the wearer from infecting others which is very important when performing a surgical procedure or interacting with very sick or immuno-compromised patients. Do they have some efficacy in preventing the wearer from catching a respiratory infection? Perhaps.. if they are interacting with many people within a short time. However their effects on prevention infection of wearer appear to be mostly related to reducing the inoculum of the infectious agent- which is a fancy way of saying that getting infected with a smaller dose of the bug in question will cause a much milder disease than with a large dose. Moving on the the third category..

Masks that are rated N95 or N100, in contrast to the previous two categories are capable of preventing infection of wearer by a number of respiratory pathogens. This is possible because the masks form a tight seal around the nose and mouth while running all exhalations and inhalations through filters capable of retaining particles down to 0.2 micrometer or 1/5,000th of 1 mm. To make a long story short, only masks in the third category are actually capable of preventing the wearer from getting infected. The other two reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of already infected people from transmitting their infection. As you will soon see, this distinction matters far more than most people realize and is very relevant to this discussion.

Now let us talk about who benefits, and who doesn’t, from using all three mask categories. But before we go there, let us quickly revisit something I had mentioned in previous posts- namely, that mortality in people under 50 is less than 1 in 1,000 and hospitalization (not ICU) rates are less than 1%. It also happens to be the case that most people who get infected by COVID-19 are from this age-group. To put it bluntly, only people with chronic disease conditions and serious obesity in the under-50 age group benefit from using masks, specifically N95s as N100s are too bulky. Masks from other two categories give very little protection against infection, with surgical grade ones being marginally better than the ersatz ones.

One could certainly make the argument that providing surgical grade masks to people in certain occupations such as store clerks and cashiers, USPS and other delivery-people, airline stewards, people working in crowded environments and those working with older people would be helpful in reducing spread of infection to vulnerable populations. Other than that, the benefit of otherwise health people under 50 using ersatz or surgical-grade face masks is minuscule. But what about people between 50 and 70. Well.. once again, the risk of death for those between 50-60 is less than 1 in 500 and about 1 in 300 for those between 60-70. For such people, wearing surgical-grade masks could potentially reduce the size of inoculum would potentially reduce mortality. However their maximal effectiveness would still be restricted to crowded environments, rather than.. say.. walking your dog or getting a coffee from Starbucks..

The high risk groups aka people with multiple chronic diseases or in their 80s and beyond, are the only category who would benefit from using N95 type masks in most social situations. Note that these people will benefit very little from wearing ersatz or surgical-type masks. I say.. we should just give them a free supply of such masks and hand sanitizer until the COVID-19 epidemic is over. It would also be a good idea to provide such masks to people who take care of them, in institutions or otherwise. And this brings me to why so many politicians are pushing these stupid mask laws. It is.. you see.. about giving the appearance of action aka public theater. Demanding people wear masks outdoors is the 2020 version of TSA employees searching and scanning grandmothers and children for bombs and weapons after 9/11.

Which brings us to the next set of issues concerning mask laws. Who pays for masks, especially since a lot of people in this country are struggling to feed their families after losing their income due to the COVID-19 shutdown. More importantly, how do you enforce such laws? Haven’t we seen enough of how laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities and poor people? Do we want to see more video clips of black people being shot and strangled by cops for not wearing masks? Given the abysmally low trust of people in institutions and credentialed “experts”, why do you think people will obey such laws- especially since these same “experts” were claiming marks to be useless as late as early May of this year.

But wait.. it gets worse. Did you notice how voters behaved in 2016 when they were lectured by the so-called “elites” that Trump was not fit to be president. That is right.. they voted him in office. The same occurred with Brexit and the rise of many right-wing parties in western Europe due to public backlash against the refugee flood of 2014-2015. Most people hate busybodies, especially of the self-righteous variety, doubly so if there are members of the so-called “elite”. That dynamic combined with degree of political polarization in this country is going to cause some pretty ugly reactions and.. well.. situations. This is especially relevant since the same busybodies pushing for forced masks are the same ones who want to keep schools and universities closed indefinitely + cause millions of small businesses to go bankrupt.

And there is the other big question.. what happens if COVID-19 does not disappear in spite of forced mask laws and shutdowns? The so-called “elites” have tried to sell these measures as a guaranteed pathway to eliminate the disease, but have they even considered how most people will react if the promised end to new infections does not occur, in spite of these measures. Who are they going to blame? More importantly, will the already desperate and impoverished public care about their latest round of excuses? Sustained real unemployment rates about 20% seldom lead to a nice and orderly outcome, to put it mildly.

Finally, there is the issue of symbolism. Will retail and service sector business (employing numerical majority of population) go back to normal if everyone is wearing face masks a few months from now? Aren’t they a very visible reminder that things are not normal? Do you think that shops and malls are going to previous levels of commercial activity? What about restaurants and bars? Let me remind you that hotels, restaurants and bars + allied business in NYC or SF employ more people than the largest financial institutions in NYC or the biggest silly-valley corporation in the Bay area.

What about other small businesses or even larger business that depend on smaller ones? Do you have any idea about the magnitude of social disruption such a situation will cause? Do you have any clue about the amount of permanent job losses this will cause? Have you done some basic math about how this will crater tax revenue in cities and states all over this country? Well.. you should, because a situation where 1/3rd of people cannot make their rent or mortgage payment for month of July is far more scary than the consequences of people not wearing some stupid ersatz face mask of dubious efficacy.

What do you think? Comments?

Case Fatality Rates for COVID-19 are Now Decreasing Across the World

July 3, 2020 9 comments

Since I am feeling a bit lazy today, here is a quick post that is nonetheless quite interesting and topical. Many of you have might have heard about the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in USA- especially on the lying corporate media. Well.. I noticed a trend too, and not just in USA. Have a look at the first figure and see if you can spot an interesting change in the trends for positive cases vs ICU admissions vs deaths due to COVID-19 in Sweden during past month. In case you can’t see the obvious, let me spell it out..

While Sweden has experienced a large increase in number of people testing positive for COVID-19, this increase has not translated into an increase in people admitted to ICU with COVID-19 or people dying from it. In fact the number of people dying from COVID-19 has gone down a lot in the past month despite a large increase in number of diagnosed cases, to say nothing about undiagnosed cases. This is even more obvious when you compare those trends and figures to what was happening 2-3 months ago.

Clearly, something big has changed. Perhaps we are testing for it more widely, the median age of cases is lower, maybe our symptomatic treatment regimes have gotten better or the virus have mutated into a less lethal version. It could also be a combination. But whichever way you look at it, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for COVID-19 has dropped considerably over past month in that country. And yes.. I did factor in the 1-2 week lag between diagnosis and adverse outcomes.

Moving on to this country, we see a similar trend. While there has been a huge spike in number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 over past few weeks, number of people admitted to hospital (most are not in ICUs) has increased very modestly while number of deaths keep on declining. Once again, a number of things might have changed- lower median age of cases, better medical management, newer virus strains being less lethal etc. But once again, it is hard to ignore that the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has COVID-19 has gone down considerably in past few months.

Of course, it always possible that the real Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for COVID-19 was always much lower than what discredited institutions such as CDC and FDA were pretending.

BTW, Case Fatality Rate (CFR) = percentage of people who die due to diagnosed cases of an infection while Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) = percentage who die in all people with that infection- both clinical and subclinical. IFR rates are often calculated after CFR rates as they are based on retrospective analysis of samples and data.

What do you think? Comments?

Potential Consequences of 200-300k COVID-19 Deaths by Election Day

June 12, 2020 16 comments

In the midst of nationwide protests against police brutality, most mainstream media outlets seem to have conveniently forgotten that the COVID-19 pandemic is still killing (mostly old people) in this country at a pretty constant rate. While we are no longer at the peak of about 3k deaths per day, the plateau of about 1k per day does not seem to be decreasing further. Sure.. most people in NYC have probably been exposed to the virus and recovered from it, but most people in flyover country, the deep south and west coast are just now starting to be exposed to it on a large scale. And this brings up an interesting question.. what if COVID-19 ends up killing 200k-300k more people between now and November 3, 2020 aka election day?

To be clear, I am not restricting my analysis to the political implications of such a scenario- which will be considerable. It goes without saying that 200-300k more deaths (even if most are elderly) will throw a massive wrench in the process of reopening the economy in addition to destroying millions more jobs and small businesses than the original shutdown. While I am sure that the stock market will continue booming in response to trillions more dollars for large corporations in the event of such a scenario, it is clear that everybody else will be poor, angry and desperate- especially since political leaders of both parties have shown themselves to be grossly inadequate for the job. Let us now talk about a few obvious effects of such a scenario playing out..

1] A couple hundred thousand more deaths due to COVID-19 will deplete the older (and largely conservative) voter-base of both parties in more than one way. Firstly, there is direct attrition due to the disease in the form of voters who are dead or unwell from post-infection complications (much more likely in 65+ age group). But the indirect effect of such a large number of deaths among the elderly might keep many more in that age range from coming out to vote in person. While this isn’t that big an issue in states with a robust system for voting by mail, it could be spoil a lot of electoral calculations in states where such systems aren’t already in place.

2] Since neither of the two parties have demonstrated the ability, competence or willingness to help the average person most affected by the shutdown.. who is under 45 and increasingly non-white, it would be presumptuous to count on their votes. While it is unlikely that republican will vote for democratic candidates or vice-versa, it is possible that an unusually large number of voters below 50 will just stay home and note vote by election day. This scenario is especially likely if the economy does not pick up by election day, an almost certain outcome if there an additional 200-300k deaths by election day. So we now have a situation where electoral turnout among under-45 and over-65 is likely to be significantly lower than the previous election.

3] But wait.. there is more. As mentioned in previous paragraph, an extra 200-300k deaths by 3rd of November would pretty much negate all the efforts to reopen economy- even if it was not shut down once again. Think about it.. how many people would go to restaurants and bars again even if they were open. What about movie theaters, concerts, sporting events or even malls and offices. What about the effects of such a prolonged and rolling disruption on millions of small businesses, most of whom operate on fairly small profit margins and do not have access to trillions in bailout money unlike large corporations. To make matters worse, both political parties have exhibited a strong unwillingness to bailout both the average person and small business.

4] Which leads us the likelihood of widespread civil unrest, of a scale that will make ongoing BLM protests seem almost quaint by comparison. It is no secret that a pretty significant percentage of those under 40 have jobs or gigs which either disqualify them from unemployment insurance or restrict their access to such benefits. To make matters worse, many financial institutions and rent-seeking outfits have decided that they will not defer or forgive recurring payments from such people- in spite of already having received trillions to cover their potential losses in the event this occurs. So what do you think these people are going to do when they are being evicted from their residences, chased by loan repayment sharks and unable to maintain necessities such as cars.

Did I mention that most of these people are in good physical shape, more educated than their parents and have nothing to lose. Oh.. and one more things, a high percentage of them are white or something other than black- which means the rioting, unrest and other fun will not be restricted to downtown and ‘urban’ areas of large cities. To make matters even worse.. there is very likely to be another wave of mass layoffs over next few months even if the excess 200-300k deaths due to COVID-19 don’t materialize as many business that seem to have survived the initial shutdown have to either shutdown permanently or lay off a good percentage of their current employees. In my opinion, widespread civil unrest, over next few months, by the under-45 due to the economic consequences of this shutdown is now almost inevitable.

5] A further fly in the ointment has to do with the many ongoing standoffs by dying american empire against a host of countries from Iran, Syria and Venezuela to DPRK, Russia and China. Given that Tangerine man’s closest advisors are neocons and the idiot-in-chief seems to think that this voter-base respect “shows of strength”, it is likely that he will decide to intensify these standoffs or even start a war with Iran or DPRK. It does not take a genius to figure out that such military conflicts are unwinnable for USA and will only worsen the domestic situation, especially if the bozo does this after widespread unrest has already started in this country.

To summarize, an extra 200-300k deaths due to COVID-19 by November 3, 2020 are more likely than not, and will worsen a host of large problems and negative trends that we are are already seeing in this country. 2020 promises to even more ‘exciting’ that we anticipated..

What do you think? Comments?

Theory about Why White Protesters Discovered Police Brutality in 2020

June 10, 2020 17 comments

One of the most interesting feature of current nationwide protests against police brutality in this country concerns their racial demography. Many of you might have noticed that the majority (in many cases over 90%) of people protesting against police brutality in cities all over this country are.. well.. white. To be clear, I am not claiming that all previous protests against police brutality in this country have been overwhelmingly black. We do know, for example, that similar protests in the 2012-2017 had a significant minority of white protesters. But the widespread protests we are seeing all over this country now is the first time that the overwhelming majority of protesters at most locations are white. So what has changed between the last time we saw such protests? How did so many young white people suddenly reach the conclusion that “legalized” lynching of black people in this country by police was wrong and unacceptable?

As it turns out, I am not the only person to have noticed this unusual trend- especially given the peculiar history of race and racism in this country. As late as mid-1990s, the parents of most white people who are now protesting against police brutality towards black people were highly enthusiastic supporters of laws and regulations that dehumanized black people and saw them as irredeemable “feral animals” and “super-predators”. Even as late as 2012-13, protests against instances of “legalized” lynching of black people in USA were an almost exclusively black affair. Even multiple instances of similar videotaped instances of police brutality such as the murder of Eric Garner by NYPD, Philando Castile by MPD, Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by GCPD and many more did not elicit such a large, strong and nationwide response. Isn’t it odd that it took until late-May 2020 for a similar incident to finally cause the appropriate reaction.

So.. what is going on? How did a significant minority or maybe even majority of younger white people suddenly develop the firm conviction that systemic racism and “legalized” lunching of black people by cops was unacceptable? Many presstitutes on Twitter have put forth a range of theories to explain the sudden interest in racial equality among younger white people. One of the most popular suggests that this has something to do with the COVID-19 lockdown which cooped up too many people in their homes for almost two months.. aka ‘cabin fever’. Perhaps.. by why did it manifest itself as an newfound interest in racial equality rather than say people flouting the stupid lockdown orders on a large scale? As many of you know, people were already flouting lockdown orders all over the country and more than a few of the previous cycle of protests to open the economy had a pretty decent numbers in attendance.

Another popular theory suggests that this newfound interest in racial equality has something to do with ‘virtue display’ under late-capitalism. While it is true that the willingness of corporations to go along with these protests has everything to do with empty virtue signalling- it is equally clear that majority of people who are protesting are not there because some corporation paid them. Even if we accept that some protesters are there to show off their liberal and progressive credentials, it is equally clear that the majority aren’t in it for virtue display. Some others have compared these protests to a new religious movement often humorously referred to as the “great aWOKEning”. While many mass movements do have quasi-religious overtones, these arise after the movement has become big rather than cause its growth and popularity.

Here is my theory. Regular readers might remember that I repeatedly alluded to the possibility of the widespread civil unrest due to gross mishandling of COVID-19 crisis by the governments of many countries- but especially in USA. If you have read those posts, you might also remember that I said something about the governments bailing out large corporations while throwing just a few crumbs to average people and small business will very likely be what precipitates such a reaction. Well.. as we know now the unemployment and underemployment numbers in this country are through the roof- even if Trump tried to massage them. It is also noteworthy that rates of unemployment and underemployment are especially high among those under 40-45, which is the same group that also suffered the maximum long-term damage from the 2008 GFC.

To put it another way, the majority of people under 40-45 (regardless of race) have seen a continual decline in the material quality of their lives and experienced little advantage of being white- unlike boomers of older- Gen-Xers. AS I said in a previous post, there was a lot of dry tinder on the ground before the perfect spark of George Floyds’ lynching by the MPD. The point I was trying to make is the fuel for this fire was created over a long time by continually declining living standards for people under a certain age. But there is more.. the COVID-19 pandemic was the proverbial straw which broke the camel’s back by exposing the sheer incompetence of many supposedly respectable institutions both national (CDC, FDA etc) and international (WHO). It also exposed the inability and unwillingness of political leadership in this country, at all levels, to help the very people who they were supposed to represent and voted them into power.

What we are seeing now is the manifestation of people expressing widespread, and potentially irreversible, loss of faith in the institutions and systems of governance under which they currently live. But how does this get transformed into protests against racism and police brutality? Well.. because the police along with those involved in taxation are the two most visible enforcers of the coercive state authority. In other words, police are the most visible public face of a failed system in which a lot of people have now lost all trust and hope. Given these connections between the police and authority of a system that is rapidly losing popular legitimacy, it is no wonder that so many white people under 40-45 have suddenly discovered racism and police brutality against black people. It also does not help the overpaid, militarized and arrogant losers who populate police departments thought USA do not cut a sympathetic figures among those who have either lost their job or have seen substantial reduction in their income stream.

What do you think? Comments?

Quick Thoughts on Why the Summer of 2020 Will be Full of Discontent

May 31, 2020 26 comments

Regular readers might remember that a couple of my posts on the topic of COVID-19 (link 1, link 2) explicitly mention the likelihood of serious and lasting social unrest – especially in USA. Some of you might also remember another post (link 3) on that topic on which I talked about collapse of public trust in the old establishment after WW1 and during the great depression of early 1930s was responsible for the rise of fascists and strongmen and military types all over the world- from Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland to Japan. Many years ago, I wrote yet another short post (link 4) about how the Nazi Party was a fringe party in Germany (receiving no more than 5% of votes for many years) until the economic crash of 1929 caused in a huge rise in unemployment which was made worse by the austerity policies of Heinrich Brüning.

To make a long story short, there is enough historical data from previous one hundred years that actual unemployment rates over 20% consistently produce interesting and “unexpected” political outcomes. As many of you might have heard, the unemployment rates in this country (massaged as they are) have now exceeded 25%. Let me also remind you that the unemployment benefit system in this country is designed to exclude people from receiving benefits. Therefore the real unemployment rate is probably closer to 35-40%. The last time we saw such high rates in our country was in the early 1930s- almost 90 years ago. To make matters a bit more interesting, the rates of unemployment among the healthy young are much higher than those of in older age groups. In other words almost everybody under 40 or 45 is screwed.

But why does it matter and what is the relevance of any of this to my predictions of widespread social unrest for the past two months? Well.. let me ask you a few simple questions. Firstly, how did all that talk of social-distancing and COVID-19 dissolve into thin air within the past 2-3 days? Isn’t it odd that the country went from pretending to shame people who violated all those stupid guidelines to burning down social unrest at multiple places in at least 25 cities (thus far) all over this country. Also, how come so many young white people have decided to protest the public murder and lynching of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. What is going on? Surely, all these young white people could not have suddenly developed so much empathy for black people within the past couple of months.. could they?

More than a few “hip” journalists are trying to spin a theory that this is all the result of people spending too much time indoors in past two months. Perhaps.. but why aren’t we seeing the same sorts of protests in other western countries yet? What is so exceptional about this country? Well.. have you ever considered the possibility that one of the biggest difference between USA and other developed country is the quality of the social safety net? Also, USA is an empire in an accelerating phase of its decline. Furthermore, you might have noticed that the age range of protesters skews heavily towards the younger end. In case you haven’t figure what I am getting at by now, let me say it clearly. It is not so much about about race and policing as much as it is about a collapse of belief in the ability of existing status quo to continue providing even the previous bare minimum of living standards.

However, this does not mean that race and policing are not an issue for most people protesting. It is just that they matter in ways not readily obvious to conventional thinkers. Let me explain.. white muricans of previous generations (upto middle of Gen-X) benefited from racial inequality and disparate policing of minorities. That is why for example, shitholes such as Reagan, Clinton, Bush41 and 43 got elected and why that whole “tough of crime” bullshit flourished from mid-1970s to 2008. However due to neoliberal globalization etc, almost everybody born in late 1970s and after has, to put it mildly, been fucked over by the system- regardless or race. Sure.. black people have been screwed over the most but, unlike in previous eras, so have whites below a certain age- albeit to a lesser degree. Long story short, whites people below a certain age have little to no loyalty for system. Then there is the issue of racial demography.

It is no secret that a rapidly increasing percentage of the younger age groups are non-white and therefore have even less of an attachment to the old status quo. It also does not help that those under 40 have been disproportionately affected by negative socio-economic changes from loss of job security, ever increasing costs for housing, higher education and healthcare, multiple asset bubbles whose bursting transferred wealth in this country upwards, the global financial crisis of 2008, stagnant or declining wages for all their working lives. In other words, they have been served a massive shit-sandwich in the name of american exceptionalism and all that associated bullshit for the past twenty years. To make matters worse, if that is possible, the militarization of police throughout this country which began in earnest during 1990s has made them even less accountable and far more willing to harass and abuse white people than they used to in the past.

To make another long story short, majority of those under 40 are far more likely to take the side of a black guy murdered by police than their parents generation. It does not help that the police no longer have popular legitimacy among the younger age groups as they are now seen as as occupying force elusively protecting the interest of hyper-parasitic plutocrats. While this sor of discontent had been openly brewing since 2008, a series of events in past few months have pushed things into overdrive. The small-scale riots you are seeing right now all over this country are just the beginning of an interesting period on the history of this country- assuming there is a functional one left by the time this phase is over. And yes.. that particular outcome is much more likely than most people are willing to admit.

The thing is.. the very public lynching of George Floyd was the perfect spark which set fire to a lot of dry tinder and fuel that had been accumulating (at an increasingly accelerating rate) for past few years. Most dumb conventional thinkers pay too much attention to the spark but ignore the tinder and fuel- at their own peril. These idiots think that all these riots will be self-limiting or follow patterns from the past- such as those from the late 1960s. Here is my prediction.. they won’t follow previous patterns and here is why. The late 1960s or any other period in american history after 1938 did not have prolonged 20% + unemployment. Nor were the unemployment rates so peculiarly distributed by age. If you think that close to 50% unemployment + severe underemployment rates for those under 40-45 won’t cause more and larger social problems in a country without an effective social safety net, you are delusional.

And no.. the economy is not going to come back to “normal” within a few months. In fact, it is much more likely to get worse before it can get better. Problem is that most of those under a certain age do not have the financial resources to stay afloat till then without a job that pays the same as before. It is no coincidence that the rioting started close to the time (almost two months into COVID-19 shutdown) when most people under 40 would start running out of money and credit to maintain their previous lifestyles and in many cases afford the essentials. If you think whatever happened all over this country on this weekend was bad.. just wait a few more weeks. Also the type of rioting, violence and civil disturbances you have see untill now are just a teaser trailer of what might occur within next 2-3 months.

To make matters worse, if that is still possible, the elites from both political parties in this country are out of touch with reality. These dumbfucks appear to think that all of this unpleasantness will just go away if they double down or pretend that these protests are only about race and policing. We are already seeing idiots on both side of approved political spectrum pretend that these riots were caused by “foreign interference” and “out of state professional agitators” etc. By basing their next actions on such delusional thinking, they are going to choose paths of action which will further inflame the situation. I, for one, do not find this surprising- since almost every single empire in its terminal phase is ruled by elites who have lost touch with reality and hence fail to appreciate the real-life limitations of their rapidly declining power.

What do you think? Comments?

Controversy over Hydroxychloroquine Exposes Emptiness of LIEbralism

May 22, 2020 14 comments

Let me begin by saying that I would have preferred to write about the actual science behind the potential usefulness of Hydroxychloroquine (and other 4-aminoquinolines such as Chloroquine, Amodiaquine etc) for treating COVID-19 infections. In fact, I might still do that in the near future. But the debate around their use, has for reasons we shall soon explore, now entered the realm of ideology aka secular religious beliefs. While we can certainly argue over who is to blame more for the politicization of what should have been a scientific debate, one thing is very clear- the debate around use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 has exposed the incredible vacuousness of LIEbralism, specifically its american variant.

I won’t bore you with the history of how anti-malarial drugs were developed almost 70-80 years ago in this post, other than saying that it is a very interesting story- provided you are interested in how drug development actually worked during the golden age of drug discovery. The only relevant part of that story for the purpose of this post concerns their subsequent re-purposing for treating auto-immune diseases. To make another long and interesting story short, by the 1970s, it became obvious through a bunch of serendipitous observations that these drugs could be used to treat autoimmune diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Nowadays in western countries these drugs, specifically Hydroxychloroquine, are almost exclusively used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

The anti-viral effects of these drugs were accidentally discovered sometime in the 1970s during experiments aimed at determining the mechanisms of viral entry into cells. Some of the first published reports about their anti-viral activity can be found as far back as 1980. Without going into further detail in this post, the ability of CQ and HCQ to block infection and spread of infection of a number of viruses from diverse families at concentrations achievable in body tissues with normal therapeutic doses is established science- not a matter of controversy. Some of you might ask.. why haven’t these drugs been used for treatment of viral diseases till now. Well.. there are two main reasons.

Firstly, by 1980, we had already developed very effective vaccines for every major acute viral disease affecting humans. So.. we already had vaccines for everything from rabies and yellow fever to measles and mumps by the time this particular effect of CQ and HCQ was discovered. Effective vaccines are just way cheaper and far more effective at controlling infectious diseases whenever they are available. Secondly, while these drugs do have some effect against chronic viral diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, we quickly found far more effective and specific drugs to treat those illnesses. In other words, we never needed drugs such as CQ and HCQ to treat acute viral infections on any large scale until now.

As far as coronaviruses are concerned, we have known that both drugs inhibit the SARS virus in cell cultures at very reasonable concentrations since 2004 and 2005. In fact, the first instance of a paper describing this effect for a species of bovine (cattle) coronavirus can be found as early as 1990. We also have data showing the efficacy of CQ for treating certain coronavirus infections in animal models as early as 2009. So the idea that CQ and HCQ can treat coronaviral infections, especially if given early on in the course of illness, is perfectly sound and based in experimental data. The real question, then, is whether they work in humans suffering from coronaviral diseases. And this brings us to the issue of when such drugs should be started..

The thing with acute viral infections is that, unlike most bacterial or fungal infections, peak viral replication occurs before the peak clinical symptoms. This has a lot to do with the ability of one virus (infecting a cell) to generate several hundred daughter viruses in contrast to one bacteria multiplying into two every thirty or so minutes. Long story short, drugs for treating acute viral infections work best (or at all) only if given early on in the course of illness. That is why drugs like Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Valaciclovir (Valtrex) have to be started within 48 hours of first definitive symptoms, of Flu and Herpes Simplex (or Zoster) respectively, for maximal efficacy.

As far as COVID-19 is concerned, there are two phases of the illness: predominantly viral (first 4-5 days) and predominantly inflammatory (6-7 days onward). Note that serious respiratory issues occur in the inflammatory phase, not the earlier viral phase. For any anti-viral drug for this illness would have to be administered within first 4-5 days of symptoms to have any worthwhile effect. That is why even a direct anti-viral such as Remdesivir which works pretty well in many animal models of various coronaviruses has such poor efficacy in hospitalized patients on ventilators. If the patient has reached the stage where peak viral replication has already occurred, you are far better off giving supportive care than any anti-viral drug.

Based on my knowledge of medical microbiology and pharmacology, here is what I think about the potential efficacy of HCQ in treatment of COVID-19. The drug will very likely reduce the extent of viral multiplication and size of peak if given within first 3-4 days of symptoms. Such a substantial reduction in viral load will likely result in a far more benign course for the illness. Furthermore the strong immunomodulatory effects of HCQ will also reduce the amounts of various pro-inflammatory cytokines released by the body in response to the virus. Long story short, HCQ if given within first 3-4 days of symptoms (fever, malaise, cough etc) will very likely result in a substantial reduction in number of people who go onto become ill enough to require hospitalization and mechanical ventilation.

My point is that HCQ is not a wonder drug, but used early enough in the infection it should reduce the risk of clinical deterioration often seen in later phase of disease process. So.. it is not going to miraculously prevent infection or milder forms of the disease- just stop people from getting ill enough to require hospitalization and intubation. In that respect, it is very similar to Oseltamivir and other neuraminidase inhibitors used to treat Influenza. And guess what.. more than a few preprints of publications from China say the exact same thing. According to them and emerging reports from Italian doctors, using it to treat patients within first few days of illness or when they have just arrived in hospital with mild respiratory failure reduces the risk of hospitalization and intubation respectively by about 3-4 times compared to historical controls. Also, people on that drug who are not in serious respiratory failure seem to recover faster than otherwise.

While a reduction of 3-4 fold reduction in rates of hospitalization and intubation is not in the same class as using antibiotics to treat bacterial pneumonia, it is definitely better than nothing. More importantly, and relevant to rest of this post, the drug has little to no efficacy in people who are already far into the second phase of illness. So giving it to people with severe respiratory failure and those on ventilators is close to useless. This is why I find the corporate media obsession with “studies” by LIEbral american doctors in certain states who purposely bias their test population with patients who are very ill and in second phase of illness to be both sad and darkly comic. Who are these dumbfucks trying to convince? Then again, LIEbrals have never been known for their intelligence, otherwise the orange man would have never won the presidency in 2016- but he did.

But why are these pathetic attempts to pretend that HCQ has no efficacy so incredibly stupid and likely to backfire very badly? Well.. because the world is bigger than coastal states.

As we speak, doctors from Turkey and Russia to India and Italy are prescribing HCQ quite freely to patients within first few days of illness. From the look of things thus far, it seems that the strategy of prescribing that drug to anybody with even mild or suspected COVID-19 is certainly reducing the rate of hospitalization and death. While Italy started a bit later than others down that path, their death rate is now going down much faster than countries such as UK and USA at an equivalent stage of the pandemic. You can bet that these results will be written up and published in medical journals within next few months. Even in this country, some states are using HCQ far more freely to treat even milder cases or those in first stage of illness. These results too will be written up and published soon. And guess what will happen next..

As I have said in many previous posts, LIEbrals are too stupid to pick the right fight- in addition to be quite incompetent, despite their “credentials”. The fight these dumbfucks chose this time was always a losing proposition. Let me explain. See.. there are only two possible outcomes to the HCQ controversy: 1] It works to a limited extent and reduces need for hospitalization and intubation or 2] It has zero therapeutic effect. Notice that I said nothing about adverse effects.. here is why.. HCQ, when taken in normal therapeutic doses, is a remarkably safe drug in real life. This is especially so if you are taking it for less than two weeks. The smart thing to do was ignore the HCQ controversy and insist on the drug being tried under a variety of circumstances.

That way, you can win regardless of outcome. If it turns out be effective, that is great news. If it fails, you can claim to have tried all possible options- and let other people blame Trump. But the LIEbral mind is too petty and stupid to gasp such solid reasoning. Instead these fucking dimwits converted the HCQ controversy into political football, a game they will lose either way. Confused? Let me explain, again. See.. if it turns out that HCQ reduces hospitalization and intubation, LIEbrals look like petty murderers. But even if turns out to have zero therapeutic effect, almost nobody outside their clique will believe it because these morons have lied about everything connected to Trump for past four years. The boy who cried wolf!

The sad reality is that even if HCQ was ineffective, too many voters will connect the LIEbral attempts to smear that drug with their futile attempts to get rid of Trump via the Russia-Gate, Ukraine-Gate and other stupid conspiracies. It does not help that democratic politicians seem very enthusiastic about prolonging the lockdown resulting in far more unemployment and human suffering than would otherwise occur. Also, if it eventually turns out that HCQ reduces risk of hospitalization and death when given early, the orange man will end up looking like a genius.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Predictions about Downstream Effects of COVID-19 Shutdown: 1

May 20, 2020 12 comments

Since I have been recently writing a lot of posts about the COVID-19 shutdown (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6), I thought it might be a good idea to write down some more and specific predictions about the downstream effects of COVID-19 shutdown. So here are some of them, in no particular order of importance or significance. Just so you know, most are pretty depressing.

1] As I have mentioned many times in the past, jobs in the service sector dominate the economic landscape of post-industrial western countries. Just think about how many people you know who work in a place which makes a real physical product or processes some raw material vs all those who work at some shop, mall, hotel, restaurant or something similar. But this goes even further, as the largest employers in most towns and cities in this country are either hospitals, universities or school districts. While these more “credentialed” jobs might seem to be something other than service sector jobs- they are just that and you will see why that matters later in this post.

While jobs in the service sector might seem too heterogeneous to be hit by the shutdown and its aftermath, they share some common features that make them especially vulnerable to economic disruption. Firstly, majority of business in the service sector operate on much low margin of profit compared to some other sectors. For example, there is no service sector equivalent of Apple or Microsoft with a few hundred billion dollars stashed into overseas accounts and obscure financial instruments. In other words, consumer sector businesses and employers lack the very deep pockets of corporations in other sectors.

Secondly, as a partial consequence of the first, they are heavily dependent on highly predictable levels of businesses activity and are usually (especially in west) financially over-optimized to the point that they cease to be profitable or even viable when capacity utilization levels are not close to maximum. This is a fancy way of saying that restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, most shops in malls etc become money pits if they are not operating at close to their maximum capacity for a good part of the year. FYI- this is less of an issue in some Asian countries where the proprietors often own the premises and are not so heavily financially leveraged.

But why does this matter? Well.. because even if they can survive a couple of months of being closed down due to helicopter money from the government, they are just not viable if forced to operate at 25% or 50% capacity for even couple of months. Sure.. restaurants which do mostly takeout (pizza joints, chinese) might survive, but the vast majority will simply close it down because there is no way a sane person would operate, for more than a couple of months, under poorly thought and uncertain regulations made up by bozos without any skin in the game.

And it gets worse.. the service sector is far less monopolized than other sectors of the economy, and the majority of business in it are either small or medium sized. Given that government largess seems to preferentially benefit the large and politically connected in every sector, it is likely.. almost certain.. that many small to medium sized businesses will go bankrupt or close forever. What makes this outcome especially problematic is that those business account for the majority of jobs in that sector. In other words, we will a large rise in long-term unemployment in the very societies which have decided (about four decades ago) to abandon their economies to the “free market” aka financialism and monopolization by choice.

To add insult to injury, the vast majority of people in this sector are under 60 years of age and therefore the least likely to die (less than 1 in 1,000 chance) from COVID-19. And here is what will happen next.. tens of millions will be unable to pay their rents, mortgages, student loans, car loans etc for a prolonged time. Of course, trying to throw so many people on the street and out of their cars will have some very nasty political repercussions- more so because the majority are young. Some of you might say.. but what about unemployment insurance? Well.. that amount paid by most western countries (but especially USA) is not adequate for covering majority of their bills- more so if you live in a medium to large city.

And it gets worse…

2] The whole “social-distancing” and “quarantine” bullshit along with dubious measures such as requiring everybody to wear mask in public perpetuates the atmosphere of a perpetual crisis. I liken these measures to the security theater we saw in USA after 9/11- but with the potential to cause infinitely more economic problems. Think about it.. would you eat out at restaurants with same frequency as before if you server was wearing a face mask and every alternate table was closed off with big stupid stickers? Would you go to a pub as often? What about a movie theater? What about shops in malls pestering you to disinfect your hands every time you walked into them? Would you buy as many clothes as before if you couldn’t try them out in fitting rooms?

What about airlines? would you take a flight as often if you had to deal with all that bullshit? What about vacations? Would you stay at hotels as often even if you still had a job? And all of this security theater for what end? To maybe slow spread of a highly infectious disease with an gross population IFR of less than 0.5% and mostly problematic in people over 70 and 80? A disease that does not cause symptoms bad enough to seek any medical attention in over 90% of those infected. A disease that is functionally asymptomatic in most people it infects? A disease that the vast majority recover from without any therapeutic intervention or long-term sequelae.

The vast majority of disease control measures deployed to stop this pandemic are closer to ritualistic virtue display than good science. Consider for example, face masks. Do they benefit people under 70 to the same extent as those over 70? And given the highly infectious nature of this disease along with very low mortality in most age cohorts, isn’t it a good idea to let non-vulnerable people get the illness and recover from it. thus conferring them immunity than wait for an effective and safe vaccine- which will likely take at least a few months. Now let me ask you another question- do you think I am the only one thinking along these lines?

It is becoming increasingly harder to maintain lock-down in many parts of the world and while those regions might suffer more death at first- it will become increasingly obvious that letting people under a certain age get infected while protecting the more vulnerable minority is the least bad option. Notice I said ‘least bad option’ because there is no realistic good option in the near future. You are really choosing between options that front-load death or those which spread far wider economic misery over a much longer time-scale. Personally, I choose the first and you can be sure that the majority will eventually choose it because the second one sucks far more.

Noe let me ask you a related question- what happens to the credibility of the people and institutions who pushed the second option. As many of you know, it is my opinion that Trump’s rise of power had a lot to the non-recovery of most people from the GFC of 2008 and continued neoliberal policies under Obummer. Imagine what such a crisis and much bigger repudiation of “credentialed” people and institutions would do for the political scene in this country. You might remember that in a previous post I made the case that rise of fascist and strong-men type leaders in continental Europe during 1920s and 1930s had everything to do with high rates of unemployment among men combined with a repudiation of the elites who led them into WW1.

You think Trump is bad? Just imagine the type of right-wing ‘populists’ that will arise in response to these stupid and ruinous lock-down policies. In future posts of this series, I intend to write about the impact of these stupid policies on schools, universities, future of “left”, effects on certain parts of manufacturing sector, municipal bonds, velocity of money, effect on rates of drug use and much more. But before I finish this post, let me say something else. If you think that a crisis of this extraordinary magnitude will make corporate-owned western governments question their faith in neoliberalism- think again.

And another thing.. this crisis will destroy whatever residual faith people in many countries still have in the WHO- but that is the topic of another post.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 2

May 16, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part, I wrote about how the especially disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals. To summarize the gist of that post, the most ardent supporters of LIEbralism in west come in two main flavors- the very rich (billionaires and multi-millionaires) and their professional managerial class (PMC) lackeys. Sure.. more than a few partisan followers of these two groups do also self-identify as LIEbrals- but are largely irrelevant since they have little real power. I also promised to talk about how LIEbral mental shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. These include, in no particular order, the LIEbral obsession with ineffective lock-downs which have far more to maintaining the appearance of action than making a real difference. As you will, later on in this series, the shortcomings are a result of the peculiar mental gymnastics necessary to maintain belief in LIEbralism.

But before we go that far, let us talk about the most obvious but deliberately ignored question- namely, is the response to this pandemic justified by its mortality rate? If you have watched any of the fake corporate “news” outlets, you might have seen what can be best described as a ‘death clock’ which shows how many people have allegedly died of the pandemic to date. Oddly enough, those bullshit counters do not show you the age distribution of those who have been diagnosed with that infection vs those who with very adverse outcomes such as ending up in the ICU and death. But why does that matter and what does it have to with LIEbral intellectual bankruptcy? As it turns out.. a whole fucking lot! See.. much of the statistics these LIEbrals are peddling on corporate media have no basis in reality. To understand what I am talking about, let us quickly go over a few basic concepts in statistics as it applies to epidemiology.

Infectious diseases come in two flavors- one in which almost every successful infection results in a clinically evident illness and another in which most infections result in an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease. Examples in the first category include diseases such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, herpes, influenza, ebola etc. Examples in second category include diseases such as polio (especially in children under 8), meningococcal meningitis (surprisingly!) and infectious mononucleosis (another surprise) etc. Infections which cause an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease do so in people who were not previously immune. A superficially similar but mechanistically different phenomena known as mild self-limiting infections occurs if you are immune to a closely related strain of the offending virus and is the basis of vaccines for rotavirus infections and genital warts. With that out of the way, let us talk about COVID-19..

Everything we know thus far about COVID-19 suggests that it clearly falls in the second category. And here is where it is important to understand which type of epidemiological data allows you to make what sort of conclusions. See.. calculating the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for any disease with a high percentage of asymptomatic cases requires different criteria from one in which almost every successful infection causes an symptomatic illness. In the later, we can assume that total number of cases = total number of people with specific set of symptoms. For the former, we cannot make that assumption and this has huge consequences for calculating the IFR. In the case of COVID-19, the number of positive PCR-tests from areas with high rates of positive test suggest that not enough testing has been done. So places with 30-50% positive tests such as NYC, Detroit, Northern Italy at beginning of epidemic etc are totally useless for calculating IFR.

To make a long story short, even the most basic calculation of a disease with a known high rate of asymptomatic illness requires test positive rates of below 10%, preferably less than 5%. Luckily there are certain areas of the world where the positive test rates have seldom exceeded 10% and are usually around 5%. These include the western provinces of Canada, Germany and South Korea. We also know that these jurisdictions have done a decent amount of testing since the majority of positive cases are between 20-60 years of age. Based on data from these three well-tested populations we can make a determination of the upper limit of IFR by age group. It is as follows: 0-10 = 0.0%, 10-20 = 0%, 20-30 = 0.1%, 30-40 = 0.1%, 40-50 =0.1%, 50-60 = 0.2%, 60-70 = 0.3-0.5%, 70-80 = 3-5%, 80+ = 5-20% (more in institutionalized people).

In other words, death rate for anybody between 0-50 years of age with COVID-19 is less than 0.1% or 1 in 1000. For those between 50-60, it is less than 0.2% or 1 in 500, and upto 1 in 200 for people between 70-80 who are not institutionalized. And remember.. these are the maximum rates. What we know from serological tests done around the world suggest that there are 10-50x undiagnosed and spontaneously cured infections for everyone caught in the act by PCR-based tests. Even if we take a conservative 5X multiplier, the IFR of COVID-19 now becomes less than 0.02% (1 in 5,000) for those between 0-50, 0.04% or (1 in 2,500) for those between 50-60, and a maximum of 0.1% (i in 1,000) for those between 70-80 who are not institutionalized.

In other words, we can readily identify those at greatest risk from bad outcomes based on age, general health status and certain pre-existing conditions (poorly controlled type II diabetes, serious obesity, COPD, recent treatment for cancer etc). Some of you might say.. but what about our hospitals getting overwhelmed? Well.. as it turns out the risk of hospitalization for each age group, based on PCR-test only, is as follows: 0-50 = less than 2%, 50-60 = 3-5%, 60-70 = ~ 5-10%, 70-80 = ~ 20%. If we use the serological test 5x multiplier, only those above 60 have a hospitalization rate than exceeds 1%. But what about rates of ICU use? Well.. once again using the PCR-only data, only 0.2-0.5% (1 in 500 to 1 in 200) of patients below 50 end up in the ICU- and most of them have serious pre-existing illnesses. For those between 50-70, it is about 1-2% (1 in 100 to 1 in 50)- again mostly with serious pre-existing conditions.

It is only once you get in the 70-80 group, that ICU use starts reaching 10%. And remember.. this is based on PCR-positive cases. You can divide those numbers by 5 to get an estimate based on serological tests. To put in another way, for anybody below 50, COVID-19 poses a lower risk than yearly Influenza A epidemics. For those between 50-70, the risk is about what you might expect in a bad influenza season. It is only once you reach the 80+ age cohort, especially those in very poor general health that the mortality due to COVID-19 starts looking gnarly. But, you see, there is a much easier way to protect that group and others with high-risk co-morbidities. We could provide them good protection by staffing nursing homes adequately, testing the staff who work there frequently, maybe give free face masks and hand sanitizers to everybody over 65. Perhaps we could give free restaurant and grocery delivery to those over 65.

My point is that there are many ways to protect the most vulnerable in our society without shutting down the economy, causing 30-40% unemployment rates and all its attendant socio-economic and political sequelae. But the problem, you see, is that LIEbrals are incapable of objective analysis and rational response, because they do not fit the fashionable “consensus”. It does not take a genius to figure out within next few weeks to months, it will be obvious to most people that COVID-19 is no more lethal than Influenza for those below 65. It is at that time, and with unemployment north of 30%, many will start asking whether all these interminable lock-downs, massive job losses, career-ruining turns and social distancing bullshit was worth it. I don’t think LIEberals have thought that far, because they are intellectually bankrupt. But the 30-40% of those without jobs or a future won’t stop asking them and it won’t be a pretty sight.

In the next part, I will go into why the LIEbral opposition to use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 was such an incredibly bad and stupid idea. Will go into why the promotion by Remdesivir by that stupid conman.. I mean Fauci.. is going to haunt them. Hope to also discuss antibody tests- specifically their specificity and sensitivity for detection antibodies to COVID-19.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 1

May 14, 2020 5 comments

Most of you will have read my previous posts in which I predict that the disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately destroy residual credibility of mainstream corporate media in this country, increase political divisions, have a large effect on the 2020 elections and very likely hurt the democratic party’s prospects in that election and the one in 2022. While writing those posts, and reading them later, I noticed an interesting thread which ran through all those posts and even a prior series I had written. To make a long story short, the horrifyingly inept response of western countries (and to fair, even many east-Asian ones such as China) represent a failure of the ideology of LIEbralism and its institutions. But before we go further, let us talk about what LIEbralism is and is not. This will allow us to get a better grasp of the ideology rather than talk about it by invoking totally wrong stereotypes as done by most idiots in this country.

Firstly, LIEbralism is NOT Socialism, Communism or any combination of them. In fact, LIEbralism does not require democracy, as 18th and 19th century England was a LIEbral society without having anything close to universal suffrage. Similarly openly slave-owning societies such as pre-1865 USA were LIEbral societies. Pre-1945 France, Netherlands, Portugal with their colonies in Asia and Africa were also LIEbral societies. So how do we define LIEbralism? How can LIEbralism exist without democracy and alongside slavery and racism? LIEbralism is best understood as the successor ideology to CONservatism which in turn succeeded Feudalism. The biggest difference between CONservatism and LIEbralism has to do with the rationale given by those in power to justify their position. Under CONservatism, elites justify their existence by invoking tradition and history. Under LIEbralism, elites justify their position and ill gotten gains by claiming that they are somehow “better” and “more deserving”.

To bolster those claims, they support lots of token causes which sound nice such as individual rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious tolerance and equality. Of course, none of this means that they actually give a shit about making the world a better place- though they frequently claim this to be their goal. A better understanding of LIEbralism can be gained by examining what it actually supports in the economic realm. LIEbrals are strong believers in limited government, “free trade” and “free markets”. This is why, for example, it is was possible for wretched parasitic and highly unequal societies such as as 18th and 19th century UK to correctly call themselves LIEbral. Similarly, the founders of USA could write a nice sounding constitution and still be perfectly OK with slavery. Countries such as Belgium could claim to be civilized and LIEbral societies while simultaneously exploiting and killing millions of people in west Africa. LIEbralism is best understood as a worse form of CONservatism, but with secular humanistic facade and tons of double-think to justify its existence.

With that out of the way, let us focus on why the response to current COVID-19 pandemic will be incredibly damaging for LIEbralism in the west- including its most current incarnation aka neo-LIEbralism. So who are most prominent supporters of LIEbralism in the west? Well.. the most prominent and ardent supporters of that ideology fall into two groups- the very rich and those in sinecured professions and jobs. Let me expand on that a bit. When I am talking about the very rich, I am talking about those who will be bailed out of any financial loss by the government. So, that includes billionaires, multi-millionaires in certain sectors, top management of most large corporations.. basically anyone who personally call up elected politicians to bail them out- directly or indirectly. Somebody like Bill Gates, your average CEO of a multinational, large shareholders in Disney etc. Notably, it does not include the vast majority of people who operate small- and medium- sized business and we shall see why that matters later on.

The other group which supports LIEbralism most vocally is the PMC (professional managerial class). This group is defined by being credentialed at “prestigious” educational institutions, inhabiting the ‘right’ social circles and being employed in secure professions or positions with a highly subjective and elitist entry barrier. Fauci is a good example of such a creature, since he has been effectively a senior bureaucrat (and not a scientist) for the past four decades. Other examples of such critters include the vast majority of upper-level management-types in corporations, universities, hospitals etc throughout this country. While they lack the same type of access to government largess at billionaires and other really rich people, they make up for that by being far more numerous than the very rich. Members of this group are defined by a carefully cultivated image of competence alongside a simultaneous and shocking lack of even minimal competence in their supposed areas of expertise.

So why do I think that the ongoing botched response to COVID-19 pandemic will expose the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals to an hitherto unthinkable extent? To understand that, we have to first understand why CONservatism lost the battle to LIEbralism, Communism and Fascism a century ago. You might remember that me saying that the people making decisions about public health measures during this pandemic remind me of the horribly incompetent generals who led armies during WW1. As it turns out, the vast majority of incompetent generals, political leaders and all the others who led the world into that disastrous war were outspoken supporters of CONservatism. This was especially the case in countries which suffered tons of casualties during WW1 (France, German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Italy). Consequently, CONservatism lost the battle for public relations in those countries and the old regimes were replaced by ones who subscribed to other ideologies.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will continue this discussion in the next part of this series- which I hope to post within next couple of days. In it, I will show you how LIEbral mental pathologies and shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. You will, for example, see how the desire of LIEbrals to continue lock-downs has a lot to do with them trying to avoid looking incompetent rather than any real objective measure of efficacy. You wills also see how the mental pathologies and double-think inherent in LIEbralism can explain why its most vocal exponents avoid talking about the need to temporarily cancel rent collections of all types. I will also show you how their unwillingness to honestly and objectively assess risks has a lot to do with their real-life incompetence. And we also talk about the various strains of secular apocalypticism which pervades the mind of LIEbrals under late-capitalism in the declining west.

What do you think? Comments?

Aftermath of Pandemic Will Destroy Residual Trust in Mainstream Media

May 9, 2020 7 comments

In the past, I have written many posts about why (and how) the majority of people have now lost faith in a range of supposedly “objective” and “impartial” institutions. The takeaway from those posts was as follows: 1] No institution can be “better” than the average person who populates them; 2] All institutions, given sufficient time, will end up being run by cliques of incompetent sycophants; 3] Institutions created to solve any problem will always end up perpetuating that problem in order to remain relevant, 4] All institutions, given time, will either lose or expel their competent members and replace them with clever-sounding but ineffectual cock suckers, 5] These changes make said institutions increasingly incestuous, fragile and ineffectual. 6] While decaying institutions can keep going for some time on social inertia alone, sooner or later they will face a series of real-life challenges exposing them for what they have become.

The above stated pattern holds true whether the institution in question is the democratic party, presidency, AMA, Google or the mainstream corporate media. While I have a few things to say about the WHO, let us leave that for another post and focus on the corporate mainstream media. But before we do that, let us define the term. In my opinion, mainstream corporate media often referred to as MSM is best understood as official propaganda in so-called “democratic” countries. The scam works as follows.. to maintain the pretense of a “democratic” and “free” society, the corporation-controlled government allows certain trusted ass-kissers to label themselves as “objective” journalists. To demonstrate their alleged “objectivity”, these clowns are occasionally allowed to write or publish content that is slightly adversarial to those in power. But don’t worry, these presstitutes will never publish anything that will truly challenge the malfeasance of those in power or expose their sheer incompetence.

This is why, for example, very few journalists challenged the official narrative about the Vietnam war until it was obvious that USA would lose. Something similar happened in 2003, when almost no journalist would contradict the official bullshit about the Iraq War until it became painfully obvious that USA was going to lose this war too. Now you know why the media cheerlead the housing boom of mid-2000s until that house of cards crashed or why it supported an endless slew of “free trade” treaties until pissed off people in the MidWest elected Trump in November 2016. People who work in corporate media outlets are best understood as the modern equivalent of minstrels and troubadours whose livelihood is dependent on remaining in the good graces of their real patrons while they sing songs and tell stories about their patron’s nobility and competence to the masses. However, while the medieval audience of minstrels and troubadours saw them as nothing more than entertainment, more than a few people today (usually older) still see their modern counterparts as courageous truth-tellers.

To be fair, the decline of residual public trust in MSM began sometime during the 1990s. But why the 1990s and not say in the 1950, 60s, 70s or even the 80s? Well.. the early part of the 1990s was the first decade which saw a slow decline in living standards of some Americans. While this decline was initially restricted to blue-collar workers in some flyover states, it was different from other ones in past because it was irreversible. The thing is.. most people will go along with a lot of government bullshit as long as they believe that their present is secure and future is hopeful. The 1990s was the first decade in which some Americans had to finally face the fact that their lives were not going to get better. But why should that fact affect their ability to trust MSM? Well.. belief in the MSM is like belief in any religion or cult. People stop believing in religions and cults once those belief systems cannot satisfactorily explain the reality they face.

This is why material affluence does far more damage to continued belief in Islam and Christianity than continued poverty. Another example would be how urbanization has done far more damage to belief in caste system than any reform movement in Hinduism. Or why the plague pandemic in 14th century did more to damage to the hold of catholic Church over Europe than anything before that or since then. But back to the topic of this post.. many believe that the internet (especially Google, FakeBook etc) struck the fatal blow for MSM by depriving them of money made through advertising. While it is true that the Internet in general, and Internet monopolies in particular, did irreversible harm to the previous business model of many MSM outlets, they did not destroy its credibility. That was a self goal.

See.. media overreaction to 9/11, shilling for the Iraq war, shilling for the housing bubble, shilling for financialism of the economy, shilling for Obama, shilling for LIEbralism in an environment where the fortunes of most people in this country slowly but irreversibly went south was the real reason why it lost so much credibility- especially among people who were born after 1970. People went looking in the internet for alternative news because the establishment mouthpieces were clearly, deliberately and repeatedly misleading them. This is also why a reality show clown.. I mean host.. with a sketchy past could win the presidential election against a “qualified” and “credentialed” establishment insider in 2016. Partisan democrats (MikeCA) still want to believe that the election of Trump was an inexplicable aberration rather than the highly predictable consequences of establishment politicians (of both parties) ignoring the needs and interests of a large section of the population. And this finally brings us the topic of this post.

Many of you might have noticed that an endless parade of “professional journalists” seem to have a deep emotional and material investment in keeping the economy closed during this pandemic. While I won’t go into the details of why this is such an incredibly bad idea in this post (read my previous posts on covid-19), let’s just say that shutting down the economy without a definitive and feasible exit plan or crippling it with restrictions for a diseases that kills less than 1 in 400 people below 65 has far more dangerous medium- and long-term consequences than these ivy league morons can imagine. For one, unemployment rates over 20% (closer to 30 or 40%) in a country without a decent social safety net is a disaster waiting to happen. Trying to shout down and at people who want the economy to open in this environment is more risky than striking a storm-proof match in a room drenched with gasoline.

Then again.. this turn of events is highly predictable. The vast majority of presstitutes alive today fall into one of three categories- 1] People from rich families who attended the “right” universities and don’t need the money, 2] People from a less-privileged but still solidly upper-middle class background who aspire to ge in the first category and 3] Social climbers without much money but who still want to emulate the second type so they can become them. Notice that all of them are in it for the fame, prestige, exposure and yes.. some money. My point is that the vast majority of journalists today are in for for giving each other blowjobs, according to a strict hierarchy- of course. But notice what they are not interested in.. “objective” journalism.. you know that thing they all claim to be their guiding principle. But how can I be so sure that is the case?

Well.. just have a look at the bullshit.. I mean “news stories”.. they are peddling. It is all about ‘how COVID-19 is much worse than we think’ or some fake scare story about ‘how it is mutating into increasingly dangerous forms’. But wait.. there is more. If you start asking them about how the results of serological tests affect our perception of the real IFR of this disease, they will tell you with great certainty that all those tests used to determine the results they don’t like are bad- even though these dumbfucks haven’t studied medical microbiology. These pathetic losers are enthusiastically pumping up doomsday stories peddled by aspy shitheads with delusions of grandeur such as Bill Gates or dishonest guinea dagos who haven’t touched a single laboratory instrument for the past four decades such as Fauci.

And they are doing this while either ignoring the real and massive harm done due to shutdown of everything from elective surgeries and cancer treatments to places that offer haircuts and food. Ask them about how to help the tens of millions whose lives have been turned upside down for no fault of theirs to perhaps protect protect a couple of million (at most) very old and dying people warehoused in nursing homes. Do they have a plan or idea to help the far more numerous group? If not, why not? How do these dumbfucks think people are going to buy food, let alone pay rent in a few months from now? Sure.. opening the economy right now might kill 10-15% of all people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. But what is their fraction in the population compared to all those whose lives are being destroyed by this lockdown. Also think about what will happen once it becomes obvious that the IFR is much lower than these presstitutes are claiming it to be. Do they think that tens of millions will just forgive them for helping ruin their lives without adequate compensation.

You might not like my argument because it is too coldly utilitarian. But let me ask you another question.. given the way things are setup in this country, and how the course of events have proceeded thus far, do you have a better and more feasible idea?

What do you think? Comments?

Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Shutdown will Dominate 2020 Elections

May 3, 2020 17 comments

As many of you know, I have consistently held the opinion that social and economic fallout from overreaction to this pandemic is going to be far worse and consequential than the final death toll. In case you need a refresher, here are a few links (link 1, link 2, link 3). While yet another post about this general topic might seem tediously repetitive, it is my opinion that even supposedly non-corporate media-types are too fixated on the deaths of 81-year-olds in nursing homes to notice the absolutely unprecedented socio-economic damage and long-term consequences of this shutdown on many western countries. And yes.. the negative effects of this shutdown will be far bigger in western countries and wannabes such as India than their East-Asian counterparts.

1] Many serological surveys in areas with high rates of deaths due to COVID-19 have consistently shown that the number of people who were infected by this virus (and developed antibodies to it) but did not develop symptoms sufficient to seek medical attention is about 10-50 times higher than number who tested positive for the virus with PCR-based tests. Note that PCR-based tests can only detect active infection (in all patients) or post-infectious viral shedding (in a small minority). In other words, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections account for the vast majority of cases. To make a long story short, serological surveys from even the worst hit areas with an older population suggest an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of less than 0.5%.

Even in areas of northern Italy that are full of old retirees and nursing homes, the chance of an infection leading to death is less than 1 in 200. Now I am sure that some of you are going to tell me that the present generation of serological tests have high error rates etc. And this is in spite of most of you never having performed a serological test let alone have an understanding of the factors which lead to false positive and false negative results in those tests. Once again, to make a long story short, the tests used in most of these surveys were independently validated by the researchers who used them and almost every single one had false positive rates below 1%. To put it another way, while some of the tests could be better, the vast majority were good enough to detect rates of seropositivity over 2%.

In many heavily affected areas, these surveys show rates of seropositivity in the 10-15%, 20-30% and even 50% range. Moreover, the geographical distribution of seropositivity rates in each survey tracks the death rate in those areas. But what does a discussion of seropostivity trends and extrapolated IFR contribute to a post on how the socio-economic fallout of this pandemic will dominate 2020 elections. Well.. let me spell it out for you. An infection, however contagious, with an IFR of less than 0.5% and most likely closer to 0.2% is not much worse than a bad strain of Influenza. Since the end of WW2, we had at least 4-5 Influenza pandemics with similar or slightly higher IFR rates. While some of these pandemics necessitated shutting down schools etc for a few weeks etc, none resulted in a generalized economic shutdown of the kind we are seeing today.

2] Given that the 2020 elections are in early November, which is about six months from today, you can be certain that general experience and many more serological surveys with even better tests will reveal an IFR of around 0.2% (1 death per 500 infections). Since this is no worse for most of the population (below 80 years) than an especially bad Influenza season, people who have been ruined and impoverished through the loss of their jobs and businesses will start asking some very inconvenient questions about the “official response” to this pandemic. Was a general shutdown really necessary? Given the mild presentation and low infectivity of this disease in children and young adults, was the closure of schools and universities really necessary?

Weren’t highly targeted actions meant to protect the most vulnerable (65+ and chronically ill) the better option- especially since we knew, even early on, that the disease caused the vast majority of fatalities in those groups? Given that this virus can easily spread in aerosols beyond 2 meters, how was this whole “social distancing” bullshit any different from post 9/11 security theater in airports. How was the decision to close “non-essential” retail and restaurants a good idea, when studies show that most transmissions occur in private residences, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, aircraft carriers and other unusually crowded and enclosed areas. And the questions will keep get more problematic..

Why did so many elected officials not have a well-thought out (if somewhat unemotional) plan to reopen the economy? Even today, politicians from states such as NY and CA to TX and GA do not have a coherent and well-thought of plan for definitively reopening the economy- the key word being ‘definitively’. Do these elected dumbfucks think that pausing the economy for 12-18 months is possible? This question becomes especially important when it becomes obvious that the IFR is about 0.2% and there is a very clear way to identify those with the worst outcomes? Do these dummies have a plan to successfully develop, mass produce and mass vaccinate hundreds of millions? Given how badly they have bumbled thus far, why would you believe them? Why would you trust people whose poor decision-making skills have already ruined your life?

3] Talking about those who have suffered due to incompetent leaders making poor decisions.. how can all these unemployed people afford to keep on paying rents, mortgages, car payments, health insurance payments, university fees etc. While it might be tempting to point out that the Trump administration has been especially incompetent and stingy at delivering cash payments to average people- even countries which have done a much better job have not been able to make average people whole again. Small business in this country face a similar problem, because most of the trillions in government aid has gone to large companies and multinationals. Long story short, even if the economy all over this country was opened tomorrow, there would tens of millions who would be unemployed and many millions whose small businesses had failed for no fault of theirs. Do we have the political will to implement a decent social safety net?

Democrats, such as that corrupt dago from NY and that neoliberal from CA, are now positioning themselves as the new ‘resistance’ against Trump. They keep on mumbling random bullshit, which they don’t understand, such as “science based plans” for reopening economy etc. Are you fucking serious? Have these democrat dumbfucks even performed a back-of-envelope reckoning of the number (and percentage) of newly unemployed people and failed business in their state? Are they stupid enough to imagine that people won’t blame them for destroying their livelihoods? Then again the democratic party was stupid enough to nominate HRC in 2016 and that dementia patient.. Joe Biden.. in 2020. So, I guess it is possible. Also note how establishment democrats such as that hag with bad plastic surgery.. Nancy Pelosi.. and her compatriots have pretty much disappeared from the public arena. It doesn’t help that these losers haven’t come up with anything beyond a few “means tested” and very inadequate programs to help those affected by biggest financial crisis since the great depression.

Yes.. you read that right. The COVID-19 pandemic, specifically its aftermath, is the biggest financial crisis since the great depression of the early 1930s. The GFC of 2008 now looks almost quaint compared to how bad things have gotten so far, and we are nowhere near the end of this one. And you something else.. when such a large scale disaster or crisis strikes any country, affected people always look for scapegoats. The last time we had an election with over 20% unemployment in this country was in 1932, about 88 years ago- and we know how that went. Heck, even a now minor one like the one in 2008 made many people vote for a black guy who sounded good on TV than anyone remotely connected to that mess. Some partisan democrats (MikeCA) might think that this crisis will translate into a victory for his cult. I wouldn’t be so sure.. because in this crisis, democrats have visibly fucked up at least as much (if not more) than their republican counterparts- and it shows.

Establishment types in the democratic party seem to believe (almost as a matter of faith) that Trump’s fuckups will somehow magically hand them the presidency in 2020. However, as I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there is more than enough blame to go around, and this will be very apparent by early November. At that time, many tens of millions of impoverished and angry people will want to find and lynch a scapegoat.. any scapegoat. Chances are that Trump’s rhetoric of “opening the economy for business” might sound far better to them than “lets keep it all closed (or close to that) until some undefined date in the future”. This outcome is especially likely once it becomes obvious that the IFR is somewhere between 0.2-0.5% and even lower (0.1%) in working-age population. In any case, the economic fallout of the response to this pandemic is going to totally overshadow the number of deaths from it by November 2020.

What do you think? Comments?

Aftermath of COVID-19 Shutdown will Deepen Political Divisions in USA

May 1, 2020 12 comments

Here is another prediction I am willing to make.. ready? I predict that the COVID-19 shutdown, specifically its aftermath, will greatly deepen existing political divisions in this country. To better understand what I am talking about, and get an appreciation of how far things have deteriorated, let me take you back to November 1984. In the presidential election of that year, Ronald Reagan won the electoral college in 49/50 states and got almost 60% of the popular vote. Interestingly, despite such a landslide victory for the republican candidate in presidential elections, democrats held their majority in the house and even gained a few states in the senate. If I told anyone who is not old enough to have remembered this particular election, perhaps someone born after the late 1970s, they would find this particular result to be highly implausible. But why was this the case in 1984 and more importantly.. what changed between 1984 and 2020 (or even 2000).

To understand what changed between 1984 and 2000, we have talk about the peculiar political environment prevalent in this country between 1945 and the late 1980s. To make a long story short, during those four decades there wasn’t much difference in the public and private positions of members from both parties. You could find tons of CONservative racist democrat legislators (even after 1968) as easily as you could find socially LIEbral republicans who were not especially racist. Even when attitudes changed (such as embrace of neoliberalism after late 1970s) there wasn’t much light between the positions of democrats and republicans. This is why republican presidents such as Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan got along well with democratic legislators and JFK and LBJ got along pretty OK with republicans. When some living fossils such as Pelosi and McConnell bemoan the lack of “bipartisanship”, they are referring to this era.

Of course, the flip side of this bonhomie was that both political parties developed a knack for repeatedly screwing over the majority of their constituents, to benefit their donors, under the guise of bipartisanship. To make matters more interesting, the realignment of late-1960s also resulted in both parties gradually cultivating different voter bases. There is a reason why the republican party is today associated with the white working class in non-coastal states, while democrats are the party of affluent white coastal professional types + inner city minorities. 1984 was pretty much the last major national-level election where the majority of voters still saw themselves as part of a larger group. We can argue about which party abandoned which group or vice-versa but it is clear that by the late 1980s, the emerging divisions between political parties (and their bases) were ideological rather than socio-economic. But what does any of this have to do with future political divisions and how is any of this related to aftermath of this pandemic?

Sometime ago, I tweeted about something which can be summarized as follows: Trump’s electoral success was largely due to his realization that american politics was about providing empty reality-show theater, rather than competent governing. In other words, he figured out that most people had lost all hope in the system actually working for them and were only in for the stupid drama and dumb pet peeves indulged in by both parties since early 1980s. Since that time, politicians from both parties have been busy pushing for ever increasing levels of job outsourcing, de-industrialization while simultaneously defunding social safety nets, destroying job security, increasing costs of higher education, making housing less affordable and much more. Electoral turnout in this country is so low because people correctly assume that elections have no effect on public policies. The only way either party can get anyone to vote for them, nowadays, involves empty posturing on meaningless or minor cultural issues such as gun control, abortion or vague and equally meaningless ideological position such as ‘diversity’, ‘patriotism’ or support/disbelief in one set of charlatans.. I mean.. “experts” vs another.

Basically, this country and most other western countries are run by two (or three) “teams” of D-grade actors on the payroll of same corporate masters. This might sound cynical but just have a look at how poorly the political systems of most western countries have dealt with major systemic crisis for the past 2-3 decades. Now.. it is much easier to go slowly go downhill if you you start at a higher point than others. But ultimately the course of events throws up challenges which expose the decrepitude and incompetence of the underlying system. In the past two decades, we had at least three major events (9/11 and its aftermath, GFC 2008 and its aftermath and COVID-19 and its aftermath) that have exposed the allegedly competent western systems for their reality. But what does any of this have to with ever deepening political divisions in this country?

Well.. it comes down to how politics in this country has evolved. Long story short, it has become a meaningless team sport played by an increasingly geriatric and dumb group of elected leaders posturing against each other to win applause from their own crowd of partisan morons (such as Mike CA) rather than come up with even a half-decent solution to a problem- especially if such a solution angered their corporate masters. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but more so in its aftermath, this has taken the following forms..

1] Neither political party in this country has a clear exit plan from the lockdown and its massive associated job loss, some of which will be long-term. On one side, the ‘scientism’ worshiping democratic morons are working themselves up into a frenzy every time somebody suggests that the broader economy has to reopened soon or the disease is nowhere as lethal as they want to believe. On the other side, republican idiots believe that simply opening the economy after such an unprecedented shutdown will miraculously restore the economy to its previous (and let us be honest.. pretty shitty) state- because of “free market” and “american capitalism” pixie dust. But more importantly, neither party has demonstrated any clue as to how to reopen the economy and keep it open while simultaneously fixing the very real human misery (a good part of it medium term or longer) caused by this shutdown.

And here is why this will matter. In Chapter 17 of the ‘Prince’ by Niccolò Machiavelli, he wrote “Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony”. Let me explain that in terms of the COVID-19 crisis.. in the end, most people care far more about the effect of this pandemic and ensuing shutdown on their own financial status than the possible demise of their 81-year old parents or grandparents who have been warehoused in some nursing home. As many of you might have figured out by now, the aftermath of this crisis will cause a large sustained increase in unemployment in sectors of economy that have a lot young people- such as tourism, hospitality, retail and many part-time/ seasonal gigs (concerts, festivals etc). This will occur even if the lock down is lifted today. To make matters worse, there will be an unprecedented number of small-business bankruptcies which, once again will, occur even if the lockdown is lifted today. The point I am trying to make is you will sustained unemployment rates of over 30% in people under 40 and millions of small business owners whose whole sense of self-worth and livelihood will be destroyed for no fault of theirs. As you will soon see, this has an interesting historical precedent- specifically continental Europe in the decade after end of WW1.

Have you ever wondered why so many fascists came to power in continental Europe between 1920 and 1932? Well.. in each case (and this include countries in Eastern Europe) there was a massive increase in unemployment among young men, old and sometimes new political systems that were unable to adapt to new reality, tons of small-business owners who has experienced business failure due to finance-based consolidation and.. oh.. a party that appealed to these disaffected groups- often led by some charismatic individual. Italy had Mussolini, Poland had Pilsudski, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had their own dictators, Hungary had Gyula Gombos, Austria had Engelbert Dollfuss, USSR had Stalin, Spain had Franco and Germany had Hitler. While each took a slightly different manner to power, the overall circumstances and forces which let to those outcomes were remarkably similar.

2] And this brings us to why the existing political system or establishment in those nations was unable to stop the rise of all these strongmen to power. The simple answer is.. the pre-existing political class of those countries was largely insulated and disconnected from the dire struggles of their fellow citizens during that era. They simply could not care, did not want to care and thought they could get away with it while still retaining their old positions in those societies. Today we are seeing something similar, among members of both political parties- but especially democrats. You might have many instances of members of the sinecured LIEbral classes lecturing to and scolding white working class and small-business types who are desperately looking for any sign of the economy reopening and things getting back to normal. These LIEbral shitheads, holed up in their nice suburban houses and condos while being paid via various secure streams of money for their useless jobs have the temerity to confidently tell everyone else that the economy is not going to reopen for 12-18 months while vehemently denying every bit of information that points to a different outcome truly deserve the Guillotine.

But the underlying problem is worse.. if that is possible. These LIEBrals (mostly of the democratic party persuasion) spend time fantasizing about the imminent death of working class people just because they want to get a regular paycheck. Did I mention that USA has a deliberately shitty social safety net and that the number of people without their regular income is closer to 50-60 million, instead of the 30-something million official number) right now. But wait, it gets better. These dumfucks, who decry the desire of working class and petit bourgeois for a return to ‘normal’ have no plan of helping them through measures such as cancelling rent, mortgages, auto and health insurance payments.. let alone give them some sort of universal basic income until the economy returns to some level of normalcy. AS I mentioned in one of my previous post, it would not be surprising if these LIEbral attitudes led to an electoral defeat for the democratic party in 2020 inspite of running against orange man and a bunch of assholes.

I will wrap up this post by giving you one more example of how clueless and disconnected these LIEbals are from reality. You might have heard about how some meat-packing plants have been temporarily closed because of local outbreaks of COVID-19. While I do not support the way these plants are run, especially the working conditions within them, I understand why keeping them open and running at this time is necessary to prevent food shortages, more panic buying and social disorder. But what do LIEbrals think? Well.. these retards are busy lecturing to poor people about their “excessive” meat consumption. I even saw a few urging people to adopt a vegan diet! Yes.. even in the midst of such a massive crisis, rich LIEbrals are busy performing virtue displays. If you still believe that political divisions in this country wont intensify in aftermath of COVID-19 crisis, I have a bridge in London to sell you.

What do you think? Comments?

Response to COVID-19 Will Destroy Democratic Party in 2020 Elections

April 20, 2020 74 comments

I was going to post an article about the stupid western LIEbral reaction to use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 disease in its initial stages. FYI- there is a rapidly increasing amount of evidence from different parts of the world that standard dosages of both drugs started within first few days of symptomatic SARS-2 illness do significantly reduce (by about 4-5 times) the risk of hospitalization in its later stages. This is a big deal, as the percentage of older people who die after becoming sick enough to be hospitalized is much higher than those below 65. While writing that article, which will be hopefully post next, I had an interesting epiphany. In its briefest form, it is as follows: the reactions (and in cases, the lack thereof) by establishment LIEbrals to the economic crisis created by current dumb and ineffectual measures deployed to contain this coronavirus pandemic will likely sink the democratic party during 2020 elections.

While this particular take on what is clearly a rapidly evolving and multifactorial crisis might seem premature, especially since the election is almost 6 months away- my analysis is based on solid factors which most LIEbrals are ignoring at their own peril. I am sure some of the more ardent worshipers of LIEbralism (MikeCA?) would like to tell me how the republican party will suffer the biggest electoral losses in generations since Trump (and by association, that party) botched the initial response to this pandemic. To which I say.. sure, Trump and the republican party certainly botched the initial response to this pandemic and ensuing crisis- but so did every other major western country (from UK and France to Italy and Spain). But let us be honest about something, we have already passed the point where the initial botched response still matters to most people. What matters now is how the political parties in power in those countries deal with the massive economic fallout caused by measures instituted to allegedly contain this pandemic.

Some of you might say.. isn’t the mortality due to this pandemic still the biggest cause for concern. Well.. based on a preponderance of evidence, it is not and let me explain how I reached that conclusion. A number of recent population studies which look for specific antibodies generated in response to SARS-2 infection seem to strongly suggest that the percentage of population who were exposed to this infection and went on to develop an asymptomatic (or mildly symptomatic) form is about 10-50 times higher than the cases who were ill enough to be tested by the PCR tests used for detecting viral RNA. In other words, rate of functionally asymptomatic infections for SARS-2 is at least 10 fold higher than previously thought- especially in otherwise healthy people below 60. While there is no shortage of doomers pretending to be “statisticians” who want to tell you that all that data is somehow wrong, the number of studies from different countries (using different test kits) which support the high rates of asymptomatic infection is now so high that a non-biased person would have to admit that it is true.

So why does this matter? Well.. it immediately changes the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of SARS-2 from 1-3% in countries with extensive PCR-based testing to lower than 0.3-0.1% or even lower for those under 65. While a CFR of about 0.2% is higher than most yearly influenza epidemics, it is in the range of major influenza pandemics such as the one in 1957-1958. That pandemic killed about 100k people in USA when its population was almost half of what it is today. At that time it was seen as an unfortunate, but still acceptable, body count and things improved quickly once it was over. My point is that, heartless as it might seem, a body count of 200k (mostly old people) is not going to have a long-term adverse effect on this country. However a prolonged shutdown which creates 30-40% unemployment rates on top of massive number of business failures is going to cause far more problems that burying or burning the corpses of 200k mostly very old (and white) dead people. And yes, I have factored in the differences in rates of death by race as well as the percentage of each group in population.

But what does any of this have to do with why the official response to this pandemic will likely destroy the democratic party in 2020 elections. To better understand what I am going to talk about, let us first spell out a few obvious facts. Firstly, elections will occur in early November 2020, when the economic impact of the shutdown due to official government response will be a far bigger issue than the number of old dead people. As a consequence, the way both parties respond over next few months to the growing economic disaster will be far more relevant than it is right now. But.. wouldn’t that favor the democrats, since they are allegedly the working class party? Well, in case you haven’t been reading what I have been writing for last few years- the democratic party became the party of credentialed suburbanites + professionals a long time ago. Sure.. some black people vote for them- but that is largely due to historical affiliations among older black people. Neither the democratic party, or its republican equivalent, cares about black people or most white people for that matter.

So what have the democrats have been doing so far?

1] It is no secret that democrats haven’t been doing much, if anything, to help the working class they claim to represent. Most of the two-something trillion dollars in first bailout bill has gone to large business pretending to be small ones. In fact, republican dipshits such as Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley are the reason why it even contains a provision to bail out small business. But it gets worse.. democrats did not seriously try to pass a 2k/month universal unemployment provision in that bill. That number is important because every west-European country, Canada, Australia etc made sure that even their gig and contract workers could easily get at least 2k/ month in addition to generous (75-80%) support for both large and small business to keep their employees on payroll. Now LIEbrals (like MikeCA?) might say that such a measure would not have passed in the senate. Well.. they never tried seriously, so we don’t know. But even if it hadn’t passed, trying hard to pass it would have shown potential voters that the party cared about them- especially important in a presidential election year.

Instead democrats are totally banking on Trump screwing up the response to this pandemic. Yes.. you heard that right. Thy have no other plan to win the 2020 elections other than hope and pray that Orange Man fucks up so badly that people will just vote for their dementia patient aka Joe Biden. To make matters even worse, if that is possible, their response to the crisis has been either cringeworthy or downright repulsive. Some of you might have seen Nancy Pelsoi displaying the expensive contents of her super-expensive refrigerators on national TV at a time when about half the country don’t know whether they can afford food within few weeks and food banks in many cities have been swamped by tens of thousands who had never used such services in the past. Or look at that stupid cunt who is the current governor of Michigan acting like an out-of touch autocrat or the governor of Virgina using this opportunity to push through ‘gun control’ legislation. It is as if democrats at both the national and state level are completely out of touch with the needs and demands of their supposed constituencies.

2] Many of you might have also seen the decrepit MSM giving tons to air time to Andrew Cuomo and to a lesser extent- Gavin Newsom. They are doing so to project both of them, especially the former, as future potential presidential candidates. The only problem is that they are both very mediocre and borderline incompetent leaders with serious electability issues at national level. Don’t believe me? Let us go through their records. Cuomo is a part of a political dynasty which benefited from being in the 2nd most openly corrupt state in USA- after neighboring New Jersey. Andrew’s biggest achievement has been his full throated support for neoliberalism and working with the republican party to keep in his state to maintain that status quo. Did I mention NY is one the most unequal states in this country. As far as his supposed ability to contain this pandemic.. well, it was Cuomo (who against the better judgement of Bill de Blasio) delayed any serious response to the pandemic in NY state by about 2-3 weeks. Under Cuomo, NY reduced its hospital bed count by over 20k in the last few years to build luxury condos and now he also cut Medicaid funding in the most recent state budget.

Gavin Newsom, while not as venally corrupt as Cuomo, is nonetheless a highly problematic potential democratic party leader at national level. From his support of severe ‘gun control’, SJW causes such as trangenderism to being ineffectual at actually solving real problems such as very high levels of homelessness and economic inequality in that state. At best he is a neoliberal who is not as bad as Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, assuming the later still knows who he is. But the much bigger problem, as far as 2020 elections are concerned, is how they are acting right now. See.. both are trying to position themselves as ‘resistance’ to Trump, which means opposing everything put forth by Trump- irrespective of the merit of each idea. That is why both are opposed to any concrete and defined plan for reopening the economy in their states. But why would this matter? Well.. because other states, especially those run by republican governors will reopen sooner and while they may initially suffer from outbreaks of SARS-2, their economies won’t be as thoroughly trashed as those of NY and CA. And this will matter come election time.

As I have repeatedly mentioned in my previous posts on this general topic, USA has neither the bureaucratic framework or ideological bent to quickly provide effective levels of financial help to its citizens in times of crisis. Consequently, this shutdown is going to an incredible amount of socio-economic damage to everyone in this country who is not rich, well connected or has a sinecured job. Sure, some will be hurt more than others but even most doctors are seeing their income plummet because of the cancellation of scheduled surgeries, normal medical procedures and reduction in appointments. The same is true for supposedly resilient entities such as universities, municipalities and many more. Even if the government decides to bail them out, under the present set of rules, most of the money will not reach the people it was intended to help (employees, contractors, small business dependent on them etc). In other words, a prolonged shutdown will cause exponentially increasing amounts of damage to economy and those states which are closed for a longer time (to show their resistance to Trump) will inflict the most suffering on their residents. And this will be weaponized by Trump reelection campaign.

3] Talking about the ‘resistance’.. it is an open secret that corporate media and democrats want Trump to fail. To be clear, I am not suggesting Trump is competent- but then again, there is no evidence that his predecessors were any better than him. Sure, they were somewhat “better spoken” in public, but their policies were just as neoliberal, poorly thought out and shitty as his. You might have seen these ‘resistance’ bullshitters convert each press briefing into an adversarial nightmare and constantly question his actions. The problem with such behavior is that it highly counterproductive. Because the corporate media is so openly adversarial to Trump, he can claim false persecution and thus divert attention from this many actions which are actually stupid and shitty. There is a reason why “RussiaGate”, “Mueller Report”, “UkraineGate”, “impeachment” and now this crisis has not had any impact on his popularity. The relentless but totally ineffectual media attacks on Trump are, ironically, what keep his popularity from going down.

It does not help that all the losers clamoring for prolonged shutdowns in media, and on social media, are limo LIEbrals who have enough money and other resources to weather them. These dumbfucks have little, to no, connection or understanding of how the majority of people make a living. This position is going to become increasingly problematic as more and more evidence from other countries will show that specific antibodies to this virus in asymptomatic people (evidence of exposure and recovery) are far more widespread than currently believed- which implies that CFR is significantly less that 1-1.5%. At that point, I predict that these resistance dummies will try to sabotage testing of people for antibodies or claim that “antibodies in recovered patients do not offer protection” because they want to prolong shutdown and cause more economic damage to make Trump lose is reelection bid. Needless to say, such behavior is only going to make Trump and the republicans look like the better option in November for most of the country.

In summary, the reaction of establishment LIEbrals and corporate media to this pandemic is very likely to severely damage the electoral prospects of democratic party in the 2020 elections.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 4

April 13, 2020 26 comments

In the previous post of this series, I made the point that all of the dumbshit “democratic” western countries and their sad imitators (India etc) have not thought through the full consequences of shutting down most of their economies in response to the SARS-2 pandemic. Because, if they had performed any due diligence, it would be obvious that stopping the collection of all types of rents and bills had to be done before shutting down other things. It is also no secret that some large countries (USA and India) lack both the bureaucratic and financial infrastructure to deliver timely and sufficient money to most of their people who have lost income because of this shutdown. Even those who have done a far better job in this regard (Denmark, Canada, UK etc) are still half-assing it by not covering all their people and cancelling economic rents. Bad as these things are, these are not their biggest failures- so far.

In my opinon, the single biggest failure (thus far) has been the complete lack of any exit plan- something which Kim Iversen alluded to in one of her many videos. Any politician, bureaucrat or “credentialed epidemiologist” who cannot present a definitive and feasible exit strategy from this thoughtless lockdown is not living in the real world. While there will be ample opportunity to dunk on politicians and bureaucrats later on this post (or series), let me start by exposing the utter incompetence of all those “credentialed epidemiologists” who staff the public health departments of western countries. You know who they remind me of.. WW1 generals. If you have read a significant amount of history, you will be aware that the vast majority of generals in WW1 on both sides were epic disasters and clusterfucks whose decisions caused far more casualties than if they hadn’t been born. But why were they such massive disasters? Well it has to do with how they ended up in their positions and careers prior to 1914.

See.. for almost 50 years prior to WW1, there was no large scale warfare in western Europe. The only real action most soldiers and generals in that part of world saw from end of Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of WW1 in 1914 was restricted to putting down rebellions in colonies and a few small skirmishes in the Balkans. Therefore, an entire generation of western generals had never faced anything beyond dark-skinned tribals with spears and a few old firearms. To put it another way, the upper military ranks of western countries were filled with shysters and dummies who had reached their position via family connections, patronage and bribes, flattery and good social manners etc. Sure.. many of them had attended “prestigious” schools and universities and were capable of accurately reciting back whatever they had learned in them. To put it another way, they were incompetent posers who could nevertheless give the appearance of competence. But reality cannot be fooled and WW1 exposed them in a most unflattering manner.

The current crop of “credentialed epidemiologists” in USA and other western countries are, in many ways, similar to WW1 generals. Here is why.. firstly, neither has actually faced a large scale challenge of this magnitude in their entire careers. Sure, there have been bad influenza seasons and occasional outbreaks of some exotic diseases in Africa or East Asia- but dealing with routine or small-scale problems does not prepare one for making decisions during large scale meltdowns. Secondly, just like their military counterparts a century ago, the bulk of these “credentialed epidemiologists” went to “prestigious” universities where they learned to regurgitate the alleged “wisdom” of those who had fought past wars while also building up their social networks. Most importantly, their training and experience leaves them particularly unequipped to think outside the box of “conventional wisdom” and “established norms”. You know.. in some ways, they remind me of the current democratic party establishment.

But why does any of this matter? The brief answer is as follows: any strategy or plan is always subject to the constraints of the system it operates within and available resources. Sure.. you can always find new ways to unlock resources that were previously unavailable or partially bypass existing constraints, but in the end the feasibility of any given plan is dictated by what exists and is available at that time. Let me explain that concept with a couple of examples- the stalemate of trench warfare in WW1 was ultimately broken by using shock-troop tactics by Germans and combined arms operations by the other side- but both approaches, though new, were extensions of what was feasible at that time. Similarly, in WW2- the development of jet aircraft made it possible to fly faster, V1 and V2 demonstrated that cruise and ballistic missiles were not pipe dreams. However, once again, they were extensions of what was feasible at that time.

My point is that physical, logistical and technological feasibility of any strategy or plan of action is central to success- whether you are waging war or trying to control a pandemic. With that in mind, let us talk about something almost every commentator in mainstream media seems to have missed. Ever wonder how you can motivate people to follow a plan of action which might be painful in short-term, but potentially rewarding in long run? The more delusional of you might think that fear would work. However any close reading of history shows that fear by itself, at best, can only buy you a short time (weeks to months). So what else can? The answer is hope.. specifically hope for a better future. In other words, a leader with a reasonably feasible plan to overcome whatever adversity they are facing will always motivate people to go along for a far longer time than somebody who is using only fear. Hope trumps fear. With that in mind, let us go through their stupidities, not necessarily in order of importance.

1] ‘Social distancing’ and shutting down most of economy is unworkable over any period longer than a few weeks. Even countries which provide far more generous direct monetary support to their population than USA have been either unable/unwilling to provide full income replacement. Consequently, any shutdown that goes on for more than a few weeks will definitely have very nasty downstream and knock-on economic effects. But why does this matter? Well.. here is why. SARS-2 aka COVID-19 has a maximum fatality rate of about 1.5% in populations which conduct extensive testing + factoring in asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic patients who recovered (not counted in official positive numbers). Compare this to massive and inevitable job loss in the service sector due to ‘social distancing’ guidelines and the inevitable closure of many small business.Long story short, shutting down economy for more than a few weeks gives results in unemployment rates reaching 30% and beyond. Note that this will be on top of all the other problems caused by many people being unable to pay rent and other bills.

To put it bluntly, the number of severely pissed off people who are unemployed and in poverty will exceed the potential number of who might die by a minimum of over 20 times. Continuing the bullshit charade of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns until we develop an effective vaccine a year or more from now is not a viable option, regardless of what dumbfucks such as Faucci or Bill Gates want to to believe. We are already seeing lineups of thousands (who own cars) in many american cities to use food banks- and this is just the beginning. Let me remind you that similar combinations of unemployment and non-existent safety nets have, in the past, led to the rise of people such as Mussolini and Hitler. Unless the “credentialed epidemiologists” come up with a viable plan to reopen the economy real soon, things will develop a momentum and direction of their own- in ways that are not controllable.

2] ‘Social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’ loses its utility after a few weeks. Slowing the spread of a highly contagious but not-especially-lethal disease (in the absence of effective treatments or vaccines) for more than a couple of months merely prolongs the outbreak. While such measures can buy us a few weeks (at the beginning) to get things in order, find a better protocol for treatment or develop better measures to protect the most vulnerable groups etc- it cannot stop the inevitable. This becomes much more relevant once you understand that excess deaths due to ignoring other diseases and conditions, because of a misguided focus on SARS-2, will keep on increasing and quickly eclipse the extra mortality due to the later. People don’t stop having heart attacks, strokes, needing anti-cancer therapy, requiring elective surgery or receiving treatment for other acute and chronic conditions because there is a moderate pandemic of some sort. Anything which takes resources away from other medical issues will increase total mortality.

To make matters more interesting, most people above 80 who require incubation due to severe presentations of SARS-2 don’t make it- at least with currently used therapeutic interventions. This groups also makes up the majority of deaths due to that disease. At some stage, people will start asking whether intensive therapeutic interventions in severely ill people over a certain age is desirable given that it takes those resources away from people with far more treatable disease conditions. In wretched countries such as USA and India, the loss of income in a system without a decent safety net will cause additional problems such as many people being unable to purchase medications, seek medical help or even buy food. Do not, even for a minute, believe the idiots who are trying to tell you that such deprivations won’t cause widespread and violet social unrest.

Since this post is already close to 1700 words, I will stop now. In the next part we will talk about why legal enforcement of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns are going to cause far more problems than you realize- especially after next two weeks. Will also go into why the fear of looking bad due to covid-19 deaths after shutdown is lifted might cause decision paralysis among the “credentialed” leading to further collateral damage. Might also go into the scientific and clinical evidence behind using Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 in early stages of disease. Here is a quick spoiler, there is considerable evidence that both drugs are very effective at reducing the number of those who require hospitalization and ICU care, but only if given within first few days of initial symptoms- and this actually supports their known mode of action.

What do you think? Comments?