Sunday, September 13, 2020


 Don’t make a vaccine mandatory

The surest way to create fear and resistance to a coronavirus vaccine is to make getting it mandatory. That’s what Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Norman Oliver said he plans to do, if and when a vaccine becomes available, under state law that can be invoked in a public health crisis. I personally believe the Food and Drug Administration and other authorities will not approve a vaccine before it is carefully tested for effectiveness and possible side effects. Still, it’s not surprising that people would be at least a little wary about a new vaccine that will be the fastest-developed one in human history.  These skeptics will be not reassured if they’re told that a giant pharmaceutical company says it’s safe and government bureaucrats demand they line up for a shot. It would be far wiser and more effective to engage in a campaign of public persuasion and let those eager to be vaccinated go first. Their experience and testimonials will be powerful endorsements during the many months in which the country is producing enough vaccine doses to immunize anyone who wants one. So why coerce people? We’ve got enough public paranoia out there already.

--Jim Geraghty,

 What a Biden economy would look like

*****If you’re wondering what a Biden presidency would mean for the economy, look to Biden’s last financial crisis. In 2009, as vice president, Biden approached the crisis from a middle-class, Rust Belt viewpoint, aggressively pushing for an auto bailout while championing tighter restrictions on banks and arguing against Wall Street in key debates. While today’s situation is obviously different from the Great Recession, Biden sees “common threads” that could help him pursue an agenda focused on addressing income inequality and promoting public works. His top priority is a massive $3.5 trillion infrastructure, manufacturing and clean-energy program that appears likely to grow substantially if he is elected. He plans to pay for the program by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent and increasing taxes on wealthy real-estate investors. In the wake of the pandemic, Biden has edged away from the moderate economic approach he advocated last year, but he is still not likely to embrace punitive demands from the Left.

--Jeffrey Taylor,

*****There is nothing moderate about Biden’s tax plan.  For taxpayers with income above $1 million, Biden wants to tax capital gains as ordinary income. Combined with an upper-income tax increase, that would make top capital gains tax surge from the current 20 percent to 43 percent, exceeding the rate in every one of the 10 largest economies. We are not going to compete with China by adopting tax policies that discourage those who are best able to invest, take risks, and start companies.

--Mark Bloomfield and Oscar Pollock, Wall Street Journal

*****Certain industries are sure to be in Biden’s crosshairs. Trump’s fight to lower drug prices will likely be carried on, meaning potential headwinds for Big Pharma. And energy and environment-sensitive industries such as oil and gas production could underperform under a Democratic administration. But the naming of Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential nominee might actually be good for Big Tech because of her ties to Silicon Valley.

--Anne Sraders, Fortune​.com

*****For the first time in a decade, Wall Street donors are actually giving more to Democrats than to Republicans.  Trump still has friends in finance, but many investors have soured on his management style, which makes it hard for them to make long-term plans.

--Jim Zarroli,

Deliberately accelerating climate change

Trump administration officials know they may only have a few months left in office so they’re doubling the pace of their efforts to despoil the environment and accelerate climate change. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt [has] announced he will open the pristine wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling—a goal long sought by the oil industry. The week before, the administration removed regulations on oil and gas companies’ leaks of methane—a very potent greenhouse gas—at drilling sites. These pro–carbon emissions policies come at a time when Earth’s climate is getting undeniably hotter, with soaring temperatures setting new records from Phoenix to Washington, D.C.

So why promote more emissions now? The lobbyists, grifters, and far-right ideologues who fill this administration’s top jobs are acutely aware they may be returning to oil companies and private industry come January, and are trying to do everything possible to advance their interests. If Trump loses, the 10 weeks between the election and the inauguration will probably bring a long list of horrors on the environment, as well as on immigration and health care. Reversing the damage done in this dark period may take a long time.

--Paul Waldman, Washington Post

QAnon: Now in the GOP mainstream

With racist conspiracy monger Marjorie Taylor Greene headed to Congress, Republicans are becoming the QAnon party, Greene won a House primary race last week in a deep-red Georgia district—making her a general election shoo-in—despite being an avowed follower of QAnon, an online “cult” that believes President Trump leads a secret effort to expose and imprison a network of “deep state” child sex traffickers. She’s spoken of a “global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles” and calls Q, a supposed U.S. intelligence official who posts anonymous clues on far-right message boards, a “patriot.” More than 50 congressional candidates promoted QAnon this year, including Jo Rae Perkins, Oregon’s GOP Senate nominee. After Greene’s victory, Trump called her “a future Republican star” and “a real WINNER!”

                                                                                              --Max Boot,

*****Most political parties have an outlandish fringe that marinates in paranoia. The spread of QAnon, however, “shows that the Trump-era GOP has weakened antibodies against kookery.” Q appeals to Trump supporters in particular because it promotes “a radical distrust of traditional sources of information.” Trump and his sons retweet QAnon accounts, and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn is a pledged member.

--Rich Lowry,

*****Greene’s nuttiness goes beyond Q. She’s an Islamophobe who insists Barack Obama is a Muslim; traffics in anti-Semitic tropes; and claims no plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. “Ultimately, Trump avoids disavowing QAnon fanatics” for the same reason liberals tolerate the anarchists attacking Portland and other cities: “They want the votes.”

--Jeremy Beaman,

 “The Mystery of Charles Dickens”

*****Charles Dickens was a knot of contradictions.  In A.N. Wilson’s new book, a “sprightly work of reinterpretation,” the great 19th-century novelist comes across as a man who, cramming multiple lifetimes into one, continually maneuvered between different identities. He co-founded a women’s charity but was monstrous to his wife. He never forgave his mother for forcing him into child labor but hid that personal history from his own children. Wilson, a prolific author himself, paints Dickens as a cruel, oversexed egotist but focuses on that dark side with the ardor of a fan. His aim is an examination of the mysteries of Dickens’ character, and the fundamental mystery for Wilson is how a man he finds atrocious could have spoken to him so deeply.”

--Jeremy Beaman,

*****As Wilson analyzes Dickens, he leads the reader by the hand, like one of the ghosts in “A Christmas Carol,” to visit various moments in the writer’s life. We see Dickens first on his dying day, which allows Wilson to build a circumstantial case that the 58-year-old’s heart failed during sex with his mistress before he was secretly transported home. We will also see him at 12, working in a shoe-polish factory while his parents are in debtor’s prison. We see him onstage at the height of his fame, ecstatically acting out the scene from Oliver Twist´when the burglar Bill Sikes beats a prostitute to death. Wilson invokes the term “a divided self” to explain Dickens, but the diagnosis is only partly satisfying.

 --Cordelia Jenkins, Financial TimesIIi

*****It’s the way the case is made that enthralls. In the final chapter, Wilson reveals that he first latched onto Dickens’ novels as a student regularly beaten by a sadistic boarding school headmaster who was aroused by the violence. Dickens wrote about such worlds, which made Wilson’s endurable. Because he has brought passion and a restless curiosity to this project, it often reads as more than a Dickens portrait; it reads often more like something written by Dickens.

--Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Spectator (U.K.)

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