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Some Covid Links

Purdue University president Mitch Daniels delivered stirring remarks to that school’s graduating class of 2021. A slice:

This last year, many of your elders failed this fundamental test of leadership. They let their understandable human fear of uncertainty overcome their duty to balance all the interests for which they were responsible. They hid behind the advice of experts in one field but ignored the warnings of experts in other realms that they might do harm beyond the good they hoped to accomplish.

Sometimes they let what might be termed the mad pursuit of zero, in this case zero risk of anyone contracting the virus, block out other competing concerns, like the protection of mental health, the educational needs of small children, or the survival of small businesses. Pursuing one goal to the utter exclusion of all others is not to make a choice but to run from it. It’s not leadership; it’s abdication. I feel confident your Purdue preparation won’t let you fall prey to it.

But there’s a companion quality you’ll need to be the leaders you can be. That’s the willingness to take risks. Not reckless ones, but the risks that still remain after all the evidence has been considered.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman exposes the hypocrisy of Michigan strongwoman Gretchen Whitmer. A slice:

There’s also more news on Ms. Whitmer’s rejection of her own government’s travel advisory. It’s not just an issue of deciding to fly to Florida—which she has singled out as a travel risk—but also her government’s guidance on what to do in the event of such travel.

Rod Meloni and Natasha Dado of NBC affiliate WDIV report that a few weeks before her trip, Michigan’s health department released guidance saying, “get tested with a PCR viral test one to three days before you travel.” The WDIV report continues:

Then upon your return to Michigan the guidelines read, “Get tested again with a viral test three to five days after your trip and stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel, even if your test is negative.”

“If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel,” the guidelines continued.

Yet [three days after her return]… Local 4 News cameras rolled as the governor bypassed the self quarantine and attended a vaccination press conference at Ford Field…

Local 4 News asked the governor’s office why she did not follow her own health department’s guidance and the response was it wasn’t an executive order and she followed all orders.

One would think that, if nothing else, this episode at least has given the governor an appreciation of how difficult it is for Michiganders to live by the standards she has demanded of them. One might even expect that Ms. Whitmer would finally show a measure of regulatory restraint.

One would be wrong on both counts. Taylor DesOrmeau reports for mlive that “the state is working through a process to make permanent its workplace COVID-19 rules, enforced through the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” Business owners hoping for an end to emergency regulations are now facing the prospect that some burdens will be with them forever.

We have simply lost our minds.

Here’s the conclusion of David Marcus’s latest piece at The Federalist:

Of all the side effects of COVID, none is more stark and disturbing than Americans’ disregard for the welfare of our children. Let us pray that, like the virus itself, this horrible new normal in which we sacrifice our kids dissipates. And then let us beg their forgiveness.

Thankfully, voters in Pennsylvania are resisting the unchecked Covidocracy that Gov. Tom Wolf wishes to create. Here’s the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:

Voters finally rode to the rescue Tuesday with a pair of state constitutional amendments that will restore a healthier separation of powers. One limits the Governor’s emergency declarations to 21 days, unless the Legislature extends them. That passed 53% to 47%, according to the latest tally.

The other amendment says the Governor can’t veto a resolution that ends an emergency. The write-up on Tuesday’s ballots, controlled by a Wolf appointee, tendentiously presented this change as “removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval.” But if Mr. Wolf’s veto can protect Mr. Wolf’s emergency, that’s no check at all. Voters also approved that amendment 53% to 47%. One question is whether Mr. Wolf will deign to obey the voters or look for some legal ruse to get around them.

And here’s Eric Boehm on this happy development in Pennsylvania.

Jacob Sullum rightly criticizes the New York Times‘s encouragement of a “COVID cult of caution”. A slice:

The fact that the Times describes COVID-19 safeguards as “golden rules,” analogous to a timeless ethical principle, suggests that its advice is based on something other than rational, context-dependent concerns about virus transmission. Mask wearing and physical distancing, once presented as temporary responses to the pandemic that would no longer be necessary after the danger had passed, have been transformed into rituals that signify membership in a COVID-19 cult of caution.

As Reason‘s Robby Soave notes, that cult has strong partisan overtones. “The mask was supposed to be a temporary public health intervention,” he writes, “and it’s regrettable that for many people these little bands of cloth have become Team Blue’s version of the Make America Great Again hat.”

That conclusion is hard to deny given the comments of some dedicated mask wearers and the weak scientific basis for urging vaccinated people to act as if they never got their shots. “Vaccines do not offer 100 percent protection,” the Times warns. But they come pretty damned close.

Gordon Rayner and Liam Halligan write on, and talk with, A State of Fear author Laura Dodsworth. A slice:

“It’s not just a genie that has been let out the bottle. It’s like we’ve unleashed a Hydra and you can keep chopping its head off, but they keep employing more of these behavioural scientists throughout different government departments. It’s very much how the Government now does business. It’s the business of fear.”

Dodsworth set off on her quest after being struck by a now-infamous minute of a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting last March. It noted that a sub-group of Sage, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behaviours (SPI-B), had warned that many people “still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened” and that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased”.

This has become “Exhibit A” in the case against the Government’s use of alleged covert psychological strategies – but Dodsworth found multiple branches of the State employing similar methods. There is the Behavioural Insights Team, better known as the “nudge unit”, which has become so successful it is now a semi-independent body advising other countries on how to use nudge theory to the greatest effect.

Sarah Knapton reports on yet another Covid variant (the Indian one) that, like all the other variants so far, is proving to be far less worrisome than the Covidocracy initially proclaims it to be.

Those of you who continue to dismiss claims that the Covidocracy is tyrannical might wish to read this report from the once-free country of Great Britain. A slice:

Families should expect a ‘knock on the door’ when they return from abroad, Priti Patel warned last night.

The Home Secretary said enforcement was being stepped up to make sure travellers who visit amber-list countries such as France, Spain and Italy obey the ten-day quarantine rule.

Officials have the capacity to carry out 10,000 home visits a day and 30,000 were conducted last week.

Madeline Grant identifies “some striking and dangerous similarities between the movements to eradicate carbon and Covid.” A slice:

Now, however, the Net Zero fanatics have a twin. It was bad enough the first time around, but a similar kind of utopian posturing is visible in the ongoing calls to eliminate coronavirus from Britain and achieve Zero Covid.

There are startling similarities between these ideas – illogical, impractical projects whose costs will fall disproportionately on the poorest, with a worrying lack of transparency about their true impact. Although the Government’s advisers have – hearteningly – spoken of “learning to live with the virus”, a sizable crop of scientists beg to differ.

“Zero Covid” does appear to be gaining ground. It’s present in the demands for open-ended border closures. You can see glimmers of it among the calls to delay or even reverse the end of lockdown. Ignoring the previous criteria (overwhelming the NHS, or surging deaths), we appear to have switched to shutting everything down because cases are rising in discrete areas. The ever-mobile goalposts have shifted so often that the football match is now being played with the neighbouring cricket club.

Both Net Zero and Zero Covid offer intellectual cover to those who love state control for its own sake. Many who long for the downfall of capitalism have passionately embraced the Net Zero arms race; some Zero-Coviders possess dubious motives for trying to make Britain just a little more like China, or at least of potentially ignoring the financial consequences of continued lockdown.

Fraser Myers reports that, at least in Britain, claims of “vaccine hesitancy” are quite overblown. A slice:

The panic over vaccine hesitancy is just the latest expression of our establishment’s tendency towards authoritarianism. Officials and the media are far less interested in tackling Covid-19 than in shaming perceived deviants and enforcing draconian measures. Compare, for instance, the press’s demonisation of ‘Covidiots’ in parks and on beaches – which evidence suggests have never been linked to a single Covid outbreak – to their relative silence on the hospitals which released Covid-infected patients into care homes. Vaccine hesitancy may not exist on any large scale, but it does make for a good pretext for more illiberal measures, such as vaccine passports or continued social-distancing rules.

Covid Derangement Syndrome on display in Germany.

Diederik van Hoogstraten decries Covid restrictions on international travel as “cruel and unscientific.”

Ethan Yang talks with Maja Graso about the moralization of Covid-19.