Ethics Time At The Senate Senate Pandemic Hearing [Corrected]

There is no reason why a Democratic Senator couldn’t have distinguished himself or herself today during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, eschewing politics and partisan talking points with a statesmanlike and courageous presentation, thus earning Ethics Alarms accolades.

Instead, we got disinformation from Senator Warren, the party’s prime demagogue.

Questioning the ubiquitous Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Senator Warren asked for Fauci’s confirmation of inflated figures.

“As I understand it, we have about 25,000 new infections a day and over 2000 deaths a day … and some are estimating we could be at 200,000 cases a day by June,” she said.

“Wrong, Fearmonger Breath!” the good doctor essentially said, as he disputed the 200,000 new cases per day by June figure and said he expected the real number to be much lower. The other two figures were also false, however.

The 200,000 new cases per day by June estimate was probably from that leaked draft  report that the Times put on its front page this week, presumably to scare people. The White House disavowed the report and its predictions, the CDC disavowed the report and its predictions, and the scientist that created the model disavowedthen too, since  there were multiple possibilities included and he hadn’t completed his calculations.  Elizabeth Warren quoted the half-baked model anyway, because that’s the kind of thing she does.

Her other numbers…well, nobody knows where they came from.  According to the NBC News  death tracker, which compiles information from state officials, the daily Wuhan virus death rate in the U.S. has been under 2,000 since the beginning of May. NBC News’ new case tracker shows that while the number of new cases was around  25,000 a day through April, the rate has fallen off since the beginning of May.

The White House corrected Warren’s misrepresentations later.

From the truth-seeking perspective, rather than the false narrative-building approach, we had Senator Rand Paul, who is a physician (an ophthalmologist), challenging the authority of experts from a position of some authority himself.

Paul questioned  Fauci on data suggesting that recovered patients will have some durable immunity (Fauci agreed), the wisdom of children returning to school and students returning to college, since the mortality rates for rates for ages 0-18 are near zero, and the conventional wisdom-shattering example of  Sweden, where children have continued to go to school and almost no restrictions were placed on businesses or the public. Sweden’s mortality rate is lower than in many other European countriesand it hasn’t had to torpedo its own economy.

Paul also correctly criticized the models that the media worships…you know, like with climate change. (Did you know that this May is on a course to be the coldest since the 1890s? Just thought I’d mention it. ) Pointing out that the virus models have been more wrong than right, Dr. Paul said that in his home state of Kentucky there have been fewer deaths (so far) from the Wuhan virus  than from an average flu season. Outside of New York and surrounding states, Paul said, the effects of the pandemic have been relatively mild.  Paul opined that the national lockdown was absurd. Then he told Fauci,

Really the history of this when we look back will be wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction starting with Ferguson in England. I think we ought to have a little humility in the belief we know what’s best for the economy. As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you are the end-all. I don’t think you are the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there is not going to be a surge and we can safely open the economy. The facts will bear this out. But if we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is that the poor and underprivileged kids who don’t have a parent that can teach them at home are not going to learn for a year. I think we ought to look at the Swedish model. It’s a huge mistake if we don’t open schools in the fall.

I have never been enamored of Senator Paul (or his father), but he has his moments.

This was one of them.

41 thoughts on “Ethics Time At The Senate Senate Pandemic Hearing [Corrected]

  1. I don’t want to say that the lockdowns were wrong from a public health perspective. It may be that the number of people saved outweighs the number of people who die because of the economic depression. And in the early days of the lockdowns, I doubt much was understood. As far as I can tell, the best we had to go on was the Dr. Ferguson model. Granted, Dr. Ferguson’s past models had severely overestimated the effects of past pandemics and cost the British billions of pounds in destroyed beef because of an unwarranted fear of Mad Cow. At the time, they didn’t know he was wrong until it was too late. But for the Wuhan Virus outbreak, the question would be do you take the model of a guy whose past models have been severely wrong, take whatever information you’re getting from China and the WHO knowing that it’s almost all lies and distortions, or do you try and develop a policy without any information, because no early source can be trusted.

    But all that was back in March. Now we’re in mid May and we have much more information available. We have our country’s numbers, which can be trusted more than anything coming out of any other country, though our numbers have some caveats as well. We see measures that were intended to protect our healthcare system seeing around a million medical personnel furloughed or fired outright. Our unemployment levels are close to comparable with those of the Great Depression. Our national debt, which was already ballooning, has seen another $6.5 trillion (yes trillion with a t) added to it. Now there’s another bill in Congress that would see another $3 trillion (again, trillion with a t) added to that. Suicide rates are already higher this year than past years. Protests are spring up everywhere. Lockdowns are being extended even while new cases per day are declining. Even places that are opening up might be doing it too slowly to mitigate damage to people’s livelihoods and their local economies. I will not say that locking down in March was wrong. But I will say that continuing lockdowns in May is wrong.

    • As I pointed out, the one thing missing from this ‘deadly’ pandemic are the deaths. The number of deaths from February-May in this country has been BELOW average. Except for the northeastern states that deliberately sent infected patients to their nursing homes, no state has above average death rates this year (100%±the standard deviation of ~5%). So, as long as we protect the vulnerable elderly and probably a few other vulnerable groups, there isn’t a problem. The lockdowns didn’t help. The school closing and store closing probably HURT infection rates. Sweden basically did nothing and had better results than their neighbors who ‘did SOMETHING’.

      What the data shows is…basically…there is nothing out there. People are cowering in fear of nothing.

      • do you not understand that there’s a significant lag in those numbers? Or do you really think that for the week of 5/2 we only had 66% of expected deaths nationwide? I think the % of expected deaths number shouldn’t even be reported for anything more recent than 8 weeks, which is what they say the lag from death to acquisition of the data can be, because it really has no value. Furthermore it is taking longer than average to process COVID deaths. Take a look at the fine print – the data is not telling you what you think its telling you.

        I also don’t get your premise. We know that at least 80K have died from this virus in the US (and most suspect that we are under counting). Are you saying that as long as we balance out those deaths with a lack of other types of deaths then we have nothing to worry about, or that this is all a hoax, or something else?

        • I think the idea that we’re undercounting is borderline manic. We’re obviously over-counting, in part because we always have, and in part because hospitals receive more aid the more cases they attribute to COVID.

          Last week, I related the story of my father, who had two separate heart attacks and fought Lymphoma (that bitch) for almost six years, finally going into palliative care to die, and catching the Flu while in palliative. The doctor cited “Influenza” as the cause of death. That’s absurd. He had 10% heart function and 20% blood oxygenation going into the hospital, he died of heart failure…. But who is going to fight that? We sure didn’t.

          Right now we’re counting every death where COVID was present as a COVID death, and that’s important because if we expect X deaths in a location, and we have X deaths at that location, despite Y deaths being ascribed to COVID, then the probability is that those people would have died from something else anyway, COVID was just present. Because otherwise, if COVID in and of itself was killing people, we would expect the death total to be X+Y.

          The truth is probably somewhere between those two points; there are cases where people have died from COVID who would otherwise be alive, but there is no way in hell that we were just stricken with the 5th most common cause of death in America and it didn’t increase the mortality rate year over year. That’s just not reasonable.

          • I’ve not seen anything convincing (ie not anecdotal, not social media conspiracy theories, not debunked physicians on YouTube) that suggests you are correct. I’ll concede that we don’t know for sure, but it seems like there’s pretty strong consensus by healthcare professionals that under counting is more likely than over counting.

            Your X + Y analogy seems overly simplistic – people with comorbidities die all the time but only one thing can go on the death certificate. Are cancer deaths rates inflated because many of those patients also suffered from hypertension and would have died anyway? Are heart disease death rates inflated because many of those patients suffered from diabetes and would have died anyway?

            I found these interesting & helpful:

            https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/14/candace-owens/covid-19-skeptics-say-theres-overcount-doctors-fie/

            https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/hospital-payments-and-the-covid-19-death-count/

            https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/85925

            https://www.axios.com/trump-coronavirus-death-toll-d8ba60a4-316b-4d1e-8595-74970c15fb34.html

            There’s a whole host of other questions that need answering. Is social distancing & stay at home orders reducing accidental deaths? Are more folks dying unnecessarily because they are too afraid to go to the doctor? Unfortunately many of the questions will probably never be answered. But Michael R’s declaration that we have fewer than expected deaths over the past few months, when the data is not even complete, is a bad position to take. Especially given the fact that in order to keep the number of deaths at a mere 80K up to this point in time, we’ve needed to basically shut down the country.

          • Further evidence that the CDC numbers being cited by Michael are not what they seem:

            From yesterday to today, the number of reported COVID deaths jumped ~3K for the same time period, which meant the % of expected deaths for the country rose from 97% to 99%. In one day. % of expected deaths for the week of 5/2 jumped from 66% to 75%.

            In Arkansas it jumped from 86% to 96%. Florida had an 8 point jump, Georgia had a 9 point jump. Arizona went form 92% to 103%.Illinois from 97% to 109%.

            As data continues to come in, it looks likely that all or most states are going to easily exceed 100% of expected deaths if these trends continue. Some by a staggering amount. Some by so much that it will all but confirm that COVID deaths are being under counted.

            • How do you under-count a COVID death? If you’re suggesting the data isn’t all in, then you’re probably right…. But if you think that people are dying from COVID, and the cause of death is being improperly listed, I guarantee you that you’re wrong.

              • I have another comment awaiting moderation that further explains my skepticism of your position and has several links that explain why health experts think we are under counting.

                We know the data isn’t all in. Processing COVID as cause of death takes longer than average, sometimes significantly, and the rapidly changing overall, week by week, and state by state % of expected death numbers confirm that. The point is that X + Y = X falls apart when you realize that Y is dynamic, and rapidly increasing.

                • Flu deaths in the US since March 15 = 0. All flu deaths are now COVID deaths. We are over-reporting because there are financial incentives to over-report, not to mention the political one for some.

                  The data shows every single model grossly over estimated infections and deaths. When we had no data, we had all the reason in the world to err on the side of caution. Now that we have enough data, we should be basing policy on it.

                  • The CDC numbers have several thousand deaths coded as influenza (specifically NOT COVID) since March 15th, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

                  • from the CDC:

                    Why are pneumonia and influenza deaths included in this report?
                    Pneumonia and influenza deaths are included to provide context for understanding the completeness of COVID-19 mortality data and related trends. Deaths due to COVID-19 may be misclassified as pneumonia or influenza deaths in the absence of positive test results, and pneumonia or influenza may appear on death certificates as a comorbid condition. Additionally, COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to influenza-like illness, thus deaths may be misclassified as influenza. Thus, increases in pneumonia and influenza deaths may be an indicator of excess COVID-19-related mortality. Additionally, estimates of completeness for pneumonia and influenza deaths may provide context for understanding the lag in reporting for COVID-19 deaths, as it is anticipated that these causes would have similar delays in reporting, processing, and coding.

                • I…. doubt it.

                  X+Y=Z
                  If we know 100 people died, then X+Y=100.
                  If we reclassify a Y as an X , there are still 100 deaths. 80+20 = 100 and 70+30 = 100

                  Unless I really misunderstand American reporting methods (which is possible), I have serious doubts that you’re failing to report total deaths for lack of a definitive cause of death. Are you saying that Z is being under reported? Because if you are, I’m going to need you to cite it.

                  • The original claim was that over the course of the epidemic in the states, we did not see any meaningful increase in the total number of overall deaths – Michael cited the CDC’s % of expected deaths being hovering close to 100% as evidence of that.. That, right off the bat, is fundamentally wrong because of the lag in COVID death reporting (and probably additional lag for normal deaths due to COVID related complications in hospitals and staff shortages – but that’s just speculation from someone who works in healthcare analytics). The sharp jump in deaths counts and % of expected deaths from yesterday to today should prove that pretty conclusively – it was a flawed premise based on a confusing graph.

                    So instead of X + Y = 100, where 100 is static and we’re just shifting numbers around from X to Y with no overall increase, I am saying that both Y and Z are dynamic and rapidly increasing.

        • They are using the data from the same time from the last 3 years. Are you suggesting the lag is only this year and not every year? I did read the fine print and this is the best data we have. We have to go with what we have to work with, not conjecture and models that have proven they give the wrong answer.

          You are trying to tell me that YOU know how all those people died? My mother-in-law just died from leukemia and her death certificate reads anemia and heart failure (since we pronounce death when the heart stops, we all die from heart failure). Even the CDC admits that those are just ‘coronavirus-related’ deaths. That means that the person tested positive for coronavirus or the doctor thought coronavirus might have been a contributing factor. The CDC says less than 50,000, you say 80,000. Where did you get the additional 30,000? Did you fabricate it? Was it from one of the models that has never successfully predicted this infection even a week in advance?

          In my state, the coronavirus testing has shown that ~5% of the population tests positive. In the timeframe of the data 10,000 people died. Statistically, 500 people should have tested positive for coronavirus even if it causes no symptoms. Only 170 did. To say that coronavirus is killing people, you would expect it to be more prevalent in dead people than the population as a whole.

          Look at NYC, THAT is additional deaths. The standard deviation on these numbers is easily ±5%, probably 10%. Anything 90-110% is probably normal. You say the CDC numbers are bad but yours are better. Where are you getting yours? You claim that I am wrong saying that this is a normal year for deaths and they haven’t shown additional deaths across the country, but you have no evidence for it.

          Where is the data showing the additional deaths?

          • If you had read the fine print as you claimed, you would have found that most of your questions have already been answered:

            Why these numbers are different
            Provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as media reports or numbers from county health departments. Our counts often track 1–2 weeks behind other data for a number of reasons: Death certificates take time to be completed. There are many steps involved in completing and submitting a death certificate. Waiting for test results can create additional delays. States report at different rates. Currently, 63% of all U.S. deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death, but there is significant variation among jurisdictions. It takes extra time to code COVID-19 deaths. While 80% of deaths are electronically processed and coded by NCHS within minutes, most deaths from COVID-19 must be coded manually, which takes an average of 7 days. Other reporting systems use different definitions or methods for counting deaths.

            And the CDC numbers are now ~55K deaths over the same time period. The number of deaths, as well as the % of expected deaths, is rapidly increasing in those particular CDC graphs.

      • I agree with that. Which is why I’m saying the lockdowns are less and less justifiable as time goes on. Now the question should be not when but how quickly will we lift the lockdowns? Do we even need phases?

  2. The Fergusen model – I’ve seen the code – is an ameteurish implementation of an inherently flawed set of algorithms.

    The basic SEIR model tracks the observations better.

    Can anyone tell me what the crime of Obamagate is?

    • The alleged crime would be that the President knew of and was directly or indirectly involved in the effort to undermine the Trump campaign and/or Presidency by the FBI/Justice Department proprietorial misconduct involved in trying to “flip” Mike Flynn, surveil the campaign, etc. Since Watergate involved efforts by the RNC and White House figures to undermine the McGovern campaign and the the DNC in advance of the 1972 election, again with a President’s (Nixon’s) knowledge, the offenses are similar. The facts are in need of further investiagtion, so I hesitate to come to any conclusions, but I find the bolded paragraph below particularly troubling. From Mollie Hemingway at “The Federalist”:

      Information released in the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the case it brought against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn confirms the significance of a January 5, 2017, meeting at the Obama White House. It was at this meeting that Obama gave guidance to key officials who would be tasked with protecting his administration’s utilization of secretly funded Clinton campaign research, which alleged Trump was involved in a treasonous plot to collude with Russia, from being discovered or stopped by the incoming administration.

      “President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote in an unusual email to herself about the meeting that was also attended by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, and Vice President Joe Biden.

      A clearer picture is emerging of the drastic steps that were taken to accomplish Obama’s goal in the following weeks and months. Shortly thereafter, high-level operatives began intensely leaking selective information supporting a supposed Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, the incoming National Security Advisor was ambushed, and the incoming Attorney General was forced to recuse himself from oversight of investigations of President Trump. At each major point in the operation, explosive media leaks were a key strategy in the operation to take down Trump.

      Not only was information on Russia not fully shared with the incoming Trump team, as Obama directs, the leaks and ambushes made the transition chaotic, scared quality individuals away from working in the administration, made effective governance almost impossible, and materially damaged national security. When Comey was finally fired on May 9, in part for his duplicitousness regarding his handling of the Russia collusion theory, he orchestrated the launch of a Special Counsel probe that continued his efforts for another two years. That probe ended with Mueller finding no evidence of any American colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election, much less Trump or anyone connected to him.

      An analysis of the timeline from early 2017 shows a clear pattern of behavior from the federal officials running the collusion operation against the Trump campaign. It also shows how essential media leaks were to their strategy to sideline key law enforcement and intelligence officials and cripple the ability of the incoming Trump administration to run the country.

      Here’s a timeline of the key moments and news articles of the efforts, per Obama’s direction, to prevent the Trump administration from learning about the FBI’s operation against it.

      January 4: Following the closure of a pretextually dubious and politically motivated FBI investigation of Flynn at the beginning of January, the leadership of the FBI scrambled to reopen a case against Flynn, the man who in his role as National Security Advisor would have to review their Russia collusion investigation. FBI officials openly discussed their concern about briefing the veteran intelligence official on what they had done to the Trump campaign and transition team and what they were planning to do to the incoming Trump administration. Flynn had to be dealt with. The FBI’s top counterintelligence official would later memorialize discussions about the FBI’s attempts to “get [Flynn] fired.” No reopening was needed, they determined, when they discovered they had failed to close the previous investigation. They found this mistake “amazing” and “serendipitously good” and said “our utter incompetence actually helps us.” Even more noteworthy were texts from FBI’s #2 counterintelligence official Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page noting that the “7th floor,” a reference to Comey and his deputy director Andrew McCabe, was running the show.

      January 5: Yates, Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed Obama on Russia-related matters in the Oval Office. Biden and Rice also attended. After the Obama briefing, the intelligence chiefs who would be leaving at the end of the term were dismissed and Yates and Comey, who would continue in the Trump administration, were asked to stay. Not only did Obama give his guidance about how to perpetuate the Russia collusion theory investigations, he also talked about Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to both Comey and Yates. Interestingly, Clapper, Comey, and Yates all said that they did not brief Obama about these phone calls. Clapper testified he did not brief Obama on the calls, Yates learned about the calls from Obama himself during that meeting, and Comey also testified he didn’t brief Obama about the calls, even though the intelligence was an FBI product. Rice, who publicly lied but later admitted under oath to her widespread use of unmasked intelligence at the end of the Obama administration, likely briefed Obama on the calls and would have had access to the intelligence. Comey mentions the Logan Act at this meeting.

      It was this meeting that Rice memorialized in a bizarre inauguration-day email to herself that claimed Obama told the gathered to do everything “by the book.” But Rice also noted in her email that the key point of discussion in that meeting was whether and how to withhold national security information, likely including details of the investigation into Trump himself, from the incoming Trump national security team.

      January 6: An ostensibly similar briefing about Russian interference efforts during the 2016 campaign was given to President-elect Trump. After that briefing, Comey privately briefed Trump on the most salacious and absurd “pee tape” allegation in the Christopher Steele dossier, a document the FBI had already used to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page. Comey told Trump he was telling him because CNN was looking for any reason it could find to publish a story about Russia having compromising information on him, and he wanted to warn Trump about it. He did not mention the dossier was completely unverified or that it was the product of a secretly funded operation by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

      January 10: In an amazing coincidence, CNN found the excuse to publish the Russia claims after a high-level Obama intelligence operative leaked that Comey had briefed Trump about the dossier. This selective leak, which was credulously accepted by CNN reporters Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein, may have been the most important step in the operation to harm the incoming Trump administration. The leak of the briefing of Trump was used to legitimize a ridiculous dossier full of allegations the FBI knew to be false that multiple news organizations had previously refused to report on for lack of substantiation, and created a cloud of suspicion over Trump’s campaign and administration by insinuating he was being blackmailed by Russia.

      January 12: The next part of the strategy was the explosive leak to David Ignatius of the Washington Post to legitimize the use against Flynn of the Logan Act, a likely unconstitutional 1799 law prohibiting private individuals, not public incoming national security advisors, from discussing foreign policy with foreign governments. Ignatius accepted the leak from the Obama official. He wrote that Flynn had called Kislyak. “What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States. Was its spirit violated?” Flynn’s routine and appropriate phone call became fodder for a developing grand conspiracy theory of Russia collusion. In discussions with investigators, both DOJ’s Mary McCord and Comey conspicuously cite this Ignatius column as somehow meaningful in the approach they would take with Flynn. “Nothing, to my mind, happens until the 13th of January, when David Ignatius publishes a column that contains a reference to communication Michael Flynn had with the Russians. That was on the 13th of January,” Comey said of the column that ran online on January 12. In fact, quite a bit had happened at the FBI prior to that leak, with much conversation about how to utilize the Logan Act against Flynn. And the leak-fueled Ignatius column would later be used by FBI officials to justify an illegal ambush interview of Flynn in the White House.

      January 23: Another important criminal leak was given to Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller of the Washington Post, also based on criminal leaks. Their article, headlined “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit,” was intended to make Flynn feel safe and put him at ease about the FBI stance on those calls the day before they planned to ambush him in an interview. The article was used to publicize false information when it said, “Although Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were listened to, Flynn himself is not the active target of an investigation, U.S. officials said.” In fact, emails prior to this date confirm Flynn was their prime target. This article was later cited by McCabe as the reason why they were justified in concealing from Flynn the real purpose of their interview. Flynn later asked McCabe if he knew how all the information about his phone calls had been made public and whether it had been leaked. Any potential response from McCabe to Flynn has been redacted from his own notes about the conversation.

      January 24: Comey later admitted he broke every protocol to send agents to interview Flynn and try to catch him in a lie. FBI officials strategized how to keep Flynn from knowing he was a target of the investigation or asking for an attorney to represent him in the interview. The January 23 Washington Post article, which falsely stated that Flynn was not an FBI target, was key to that strategy. Though the interviewing agents said they could detect no “tells” indicating he lied, and he carefully phrased everything in the interview, he later was induced to plead guilty to lying in this interview. Ostensibly because White House officials downplayed the Kislyak phone calls, presumably in light of what Flynn had told them about the calls, Yates would go to the White House the next day and insinuate Flynn should probably be fired.

      February 9: The strategy to get Flynn fired didn’t immediately work so another leak was deployed to Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post. That article, headline “National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say,” was sourced to people who happened to share senior FBI leadership’s views on the Logan Act. This article was also based on criminal leaks of top secret information of phone call intercepts and laid out the FBI’s case for why Flynn’s contacts with a foreign adversary were a problem. The fact that such phone calls are routine, not to mention Flynn’s case that improved relations with Russia in a world where China, North Korea, and Iran were posing increasing threats, never made it into these articles for context.

      February 13: The operation finally succeeded in getting Flynn fired and rendering him unable to review the operations against the Trump campaign, Trump transition team, and Trump administration.

      March 1: Flynn was the first obstacle who had to be overcome. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the next. The Trump loyalist with a strong Department of Justice background would also need to be briefed on the anti-Trump efforts unless he could be sidelined. Comey admitted that early in Sessions’ tenure, he deliberately hid Russia-related information from Sessions because, “it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations.” To secure that recusal, yet another leak was deployed to the Washington Post’s Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller. The leak was intended to tar Sessions as a secret Russian agent and was dramatically spun as “Sessions Spoke Twice To Russian Envoy: Revelation contradicts his testimony at confirmation hearing.” One meeting was in passing and the other was in his function as a United States Senator, but the hysteria was such that the Post authors could get away with suggesting Sessions was too compromised to oversee the Department of Justice’s counterintelligence operations involving Russia. It is perhaps worth noting that the Special Counsel idea was pushed in this article.

      March 2: Sessions recused himself from oversight of the FBI’s anti-Trump operation, providing no meaningful oversight to an operation that would be spun into a Special Counsel by mid-May. With the removal of Trump’s National Security Advisor and his Attorney General, there was no longer any chance of Trump loyalists discovering what Obama holdovers at the FBI were actually doing to get Trump thrown out of office. After Trump fired Comey for managerial incompetence on May 9, deceptively edited and misleading leaks to the New York Times ordered by Comey himself were used to gin up a Special Counsel run exclusively by left-wing anti-Trump partisans who continued the operation without any meaningful oversight for another two years.

      This stunning operation was not just a typical battle between political foes, nor merely an example of media bias against political enemies. Instead, this entire operation was a deliberate and direct attack on the foundation of American governance. In light of the newly declassified documents released in recent days, it is clear that understanding what happened in that January 5 Oval Office meeting is essential to understanding the full scope and breadth of the corrupt operation against the Trump administration. It is long past time for lawmakers in Congress who are actually interested in oversight of the federal government and the media to demand answers about what really happened in that meeting from every single participant, including Obama and Biden.

      • Do you think Barr will depose Biden or Obama about the January 5, 2017 meeting? Or will he depose others to expose them? Or depose Biden and Obama later to determine if they’ll perjure themselves?

        • That would be amusing. Would Biden’s deposition go something like this video:

          …or more like this?:

      • After reading your response to Zoe a few times, I keep hearing the old Peter. Paul and Mary song “If had a hammer…” in my head.

        • Holy Cow! Emmet Sullivan has taken the dismissal of Flynn’s prosecution under advisement and is considering allow amicus briefs to be filed! In a criminal case at the trial level!

          https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/judge-slows-effort-drop-flynn-case-252725

          So Jeff Bezos gets to weigh in on this? Will the NYT have Jim Comey draft their brief? Clapper and Brennan will argue the CNN brief before the court? This is kangaroo and star chamber stuff. Maybe Joe Stalin’s heirs are friends of the court as well.

          • More likely than not he just wants to position himself so that a potential Biden DOJ and Democratic Senate can’t call for his removal from the bench.

            • You suppose his surname was changed from Kelly? I fear he’s going to reject the withdrawal of the charges so Flynn’s lawyer will have to take it to the court of appeals and then appeal to the Supremes.

      • Nicely detailed. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone lay it all out at once. It’s pretty damning. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Obama or Biden to get called before the Senate, though. McConnell wants no part of that political hot potato, and, if as I am starting to hear, the Senate flips, then this will never see the light of day. Besides, as far as a lot of the Democrats are concerned, these guys are like Ned Broy, the sympathetic Dublin Metropolitan Police officer who acted as Michael Collins’ double agent within that agency, and David Neligan, who acted as his spy within MI5, enabling targeted assassinations of detectives and intelligence officers, all in the good cause of an independent Ireland. They actually both went on to become legitimate officials in the new regime in Ireland, and most Irish and Irish-Americans think they are heroes. This cause is a far greater one, the bringing down of Donald Trump, so these guys are bigger heroes – they sacrificed their careers and reputations to try to stop Trump, just like RBG cashed in her legacy early to try to prevent him from becoming president.

        The thing is, it’s one thing to laud police officials who turned on the regime they pledged to serve almost a century ago, in another country, in a cause that’s been romanticized here, which a lot of people, here won’t accept even the mildest criticism of, and will even get violent about. I’ve never been totally comfortable with it, because, unlike the folks in the American Revolution, the folks involved in the whole Irish independence conflict look a little too similar to folks you’d see today, and it’s a little too easy to visualize what they did happening today. It’s a little too easy for folks today to forget that a lot of what went on then was extremely disruptive, that a lot of ordinary folks paid the price for their lofty ideals, and that any kind of day to day order or ability to trust your own government was out the window. One group of people with one set of ideas was shoving that set of ideas ahead by force, and if you disagreed, you might well find yourself or your family in their sights.

        We’re not yet at the point where are being targeted for murder, but we are at the point where one set of people, determined to shove their own agenda ahead whatever anyone else thinks, whatever the process, have or had confirmed moles at the highest levels of the agencies charged with enforcing the laws of this country. They have abused their access to sabotage an incoming administration and made it almost impossible for that administration to do its job effectively. They have deliberately deceived officials to stop them from knowing things they need to know. They have also abused the justice system to destroy those they deemed to be in their way.

        Make no mistake of this, and I don’t give a damn how you feel, it’s a fact that if things had played differently almost a hundred years ago, Michael Collins would have faced a firing squad, and Broy and Neligan would have been hung as traitors. What else do you call police and intelligence officers who pass classified information to enemies of the government they serve with the intention that it be used against them? They were damn lucky that the UK was tired of war and found it difficult to respond to their terrorist tactics without making things worse. They were also damn lucky that the UK had turned the population against themselves with the 1916 executions. It still wasn’t enough to save Collins, who was assassinated by radicals within the movement he had started. Forgive me if I say he got what he deserved, or at least that the wheel went around on him.

        I see no reason these former officials shouldn’t be charged with treason and face the SPIKE. I also won’t hesitate to say that if the parties were reversed here, and some years ago high officials in the government had been shown to have been trying to sabotage Obama’s ability to govern, the same people who said pause Trump’s presidency (thank you, Charles Blow) or “resist” ad nauseum would have been screaming for those officials to be executed yesterday as racist traitors. These are the people who want you to elect them. Need I say more?

    • It seems to me that Obamagate is more of a scandal than a crime. But people might be forgiven for thinking it’s a crime because we’ve spent the last few years acting as if Trump’s call to Ukraine was a crime, and i think that’s a relative parallel to Obamagate.

      People were using their positions in the government to force an FBI investigation on a political rival with obviously insufficient grounds to do so in order to effect the 2016 election, and then in an attempt to overturn it. All the buzzwords we’ve been hearing for years attributed to Trump and Russia could, in my opinion, be more fairly levelled at Obama and the FBI. Collusion, Election Interference, misuse of Government Resources, it’s almost comical the level of projection that was in play with hindsight.

      What is the crime? To start, at the very least, 18 US Code Section 798 – Disclosure of Classified Information. We basically knew the entirety of the Mueller report before it was released because Comey was by design treating FBI data retention like a colander. The Mueller report, however, had redactions in part because some of that information was classified. I would argue, strongly, that America has an interest in figuring out how many of our spooks are incabable of data retention.

      That doesn’t reach Obama though. I think you’d be able to make an argument about ethics violations, particularly in the misuse of Government resources for political gain. If Trump asking Ukraine to open an investigation into Hunter Biden was inappropriate, then Obama overseeing an investigation into his political opponents is cannot possibly be.

      Especially considering that in the case of Biden, the corruption and influence peddling was obvious (The alternative being that a Multi-billion dollar company that operated in China and Ukraine hired an uneducated, inexperienced, unqualified cocaine addict who didn’t speak Chinese or Ukranian for a seven figure position, and that person just so happened to be the son of the Vice President they were currently negotiating a trade deal with), and in the case of Flynn, the FBI knew that they had nothing prosecutable, so they set up a perjury trap.

      • The Manhattan Contrarian has done a nice piece on what if any statutes have been violated and would provide a basis for charges being filed. This may be Durham’s problem with his investigation.

  3. Headlines from yesterday’s hearing:

    “At Senate Hearing, Government Experts Paint Bleak Picture of the Pandemic”

    One of these government experts admits to not filling 30 authorized positions at the CDC and not implementing the funded early warning systems at nursing homes. I call that inept not expert.

    “Trump ignores new warning signs in push to re-open the country”

    NBC draws its conclusions based on internal government data they offer as proof. They do not mention that an greater number of areas – Georgia included – are showing decreasing or stable rates of infection. Another problem is that growth rates are functionally useless here without a base rate and a constant universe of test subjects. They highlight the following:

    “The 10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4 percent or greater over a seven-day period compared to the previous week, according to a set of tables produced for the task force by its data and analytics unit. They include Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; and — atop the list, with a 650 percent increase — Central City, Kentucky.”

    A surge of 72.4 % can be 1724 new cases when the prior week was only 1000 or it can be 172.4 new cases when the prior week was 100 or it can be 17.2 new cases when the week before was only ten. If the week before only tested 1000 people, 100 people, 10 people or fewer respectively but this week they tested 200% more people it is possible that the infection rate went down. You cannot compare relative virulence if you keep increasing the universe of tested persons. This is no different than thinking you are twice as wealthy when your salary doubles and at the same time all prices triple.

    The fact that journalists produce this Pablum is the best reason for schools to reopen. We cannot afford to have the next generation’s intellect retarded by those who cannot or will not apply basic math skills to actual problems.

  4. We have to recall the entire POINT of all of this was to “not overwhelm hospitals”. The hospitals have spent the last few weeks getting ready for this and now the reason to stay closed, remember, to not overwhelm hospitals, is past. If, as we reopen, it’s shown that we need to run back to our homes, to not stress our medical facilities, ok, but this idea that we will somehow “save lives” by not reopening is pageantry speech. We save lives by not overwhelming our hospitals. The virus isn’t going away. When everyone understands that this virus strain is something we will be dealing with forever, we’ll all be better off.

  5. Pointing out that the virus models have been more wrong than right, Dr. Paul said that in his home state of Kentucky there have been fewer deaths (so far) from the Wuhan virus than from an average flu season.

    Wrong correlation. There have been fewer “average flu” cases, period, probably entirely due to the mask-wearing, distance-keeping, self-isolating, symptom-watching, WuFlu- fearing populace.

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