☕️ REMEMBERIZING ☙ Thursday, January 11, 2024 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠
Human insect doesn't testify (much) before Congress; Republican debate notes; NYT Covidians scrape the cesspool; FDA approves Fla drug plan; Hunter crashes contempt hearing; free speech news; more.
Good morning, C&C, it’s Thursday! Welcome to the week’s backside. Your roundup today includes: human insect testifies before Congress in squeaky cockroach language that nobody can understand; two-candidate Republican debate accomplishes nothing but gets wide international press coverage; Covidians at the New York Times scrape the cesspool again looking for a new pandemic to worry about and give away the game; FDA approves Florida’s plan to help Americans save money with drugs from Canada, but there’s a catch; Hunter Biden crashes his own contempt hearing, but was he sober?; and disgraced ex-anchor Don Lemon makes big announcement about … free speech.
🗞💬 WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY 💬🗞
🪳 Now they tell us! The New York Post ran a story yesterday headlined, “COVID ‘6-feet’ social distancing ‘sort of just appeared,’ likely lacked scientific basis, Fauci admits.”
On Monday and Tuesday, Fauci, a very-well-preserved 83, testified for two full days before closed Coronavirus Committee meetings. Details are oozing out, similar to how Fauci oozed out of government right when things were heating up. I’m sorry to report that the former bureaucrat may be experiencing dementia, since the former NIAID head often — more than 100 times — “could not recall” important details about his words and actions during the most important and recent period of his life.
Maybe he needs vitamins or something.
Between Fauci’s not-remembering and his default instinct of shirking responsibility, very little progress was made over the two sessions. The good doctor continued insisting that he never closed a single school or business and only made itsy-bitsy suggestions — suggestions which people were free to take or leave, at their option. Nobody was forcing them.
Fauci can’t remember why all the schools did every single thing he “recommended.” Who knows.
On other topics, Fauci obstinately refused to admit he was wrong. Fauci simply doesn’t believe any students experienced learning loss from school lockdowns. Or at least it’s debatable. “It’s open for discussion,” he reportedly allowed, after the point was pressed. He also generously allowed there was room for debate about where covid came from, but suggested it was one of those mysteries that would probably remain unsolved forever. If he can help it.
Fauci struggled to defend some of his recommendations. When pushed, Fauci apparently admitted that the six-foot social distancing rule was completely made up; in other words, “likely not based on scientific data.” Likely not.
Please never ever forget how, when you questioned the six-foot-rule, they screamed at you to follow the science! and mocked you as a science denier. Remember when Fauci, in his scratchy Brooklyn accent, bragged “I am the science?” He was right. That’s all there was to most of it. Just a human cockroach in a lab coat.
More interesting was Stat News’ story about Fauci’s testimony headlined “After grilling Fauci on Covid origins, House Republicans want to consider new rules for foreign research.” Now we’re getting somewhere.
Not one to mince words, Representative Greene (R-Ga) said that, after his performance at the hearings, Fauci should go straight to jail:
I often agree with Marjorie, and it’s no different this time. Fauci might have forgotten, but we haven’t.
🔥 The Miami Herald’s editorial board published a scathing op-ed about last night’s Republican debates headlined, “DeSantis is forced to defend his Florida record in GOP debate. It’s about time.”
Yesterday’s major announcements included the unsurprising news that former Governor Chris Christie, whose invitation to last night’s debate was unfortunately misplaced (he didn’t make the cut), “suspended” his floundering presidential campaign to spend more time with his “family,” by which the Governor meant the staff at the Tremont Avenue Golden Corral.
Although poll-leading candidate Trump was unavoidably detained and couldn’t make it, again, the Des Moines, Iowa debate between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and some lady who talks really fast was widely covered by corporate media, who are also excited to cover the upcoming democrat debates, which will be held in 2047 on the dark side of the Moon.
Corporate media has been breathlessly reporting that Nikki Haley is now the number-two candidate, somehow, polling neck-and-neck with front-runner Trump, even though she can’t even fill a small diner (see above) while Trump is regularly packing folks in the thousands and DeSantis is also drawing respectable numbers to his Iowa events, where the Governor has strategically focused all his recent efforts.
The Iowa primary is January 15th, and will be the Governor’s make-or-break moment. While it is conceivable he could recover from a loss there, it’s not a practical option. He has to win. So if Trump wins, the intra-party debate will be resolved and we can get back to working together. If the Governor wins, things will be more … complicated.
The good news is we will have a lot more clarity in a few days.
💩 Question asked! The New York Times reporters are just obsessed with Americans’ bathroom habits. The Gray Lady ran a scatalogical story yesterday (non-paywalled!) headlined, “We Are in a Big Covid Wave. But Just How Big?”
(That’s what she said.)
It was another unintentionally hilarious feces-focus story, and in a sane world the conversation about wastewater testing as anything but a fetid fetish should be over. The sub-headline seemed to recognize the thin ice over the septic pond, admitting “Wastewater data has become perhaps the best metric to track the spread of the virus in the U.S., but it’s an imperfect tool.”
Bwahaha! Read the fine print under the chart again. I defy you to explain what on Earth this is supposed to mean:
Note: the C.D.C. calculates a viral activity level for each testing site as the number of standard deviations above a baseline, set at the 10th percentile of the normalized viral RNA concentration data. The national estimate is the median activity level for sites with at least six weeks of data.
Remember — the Covidians are clutching their wastewater data the way a hypochondriac hangs onto two months of carefully-collected stool samples. The article recognized this, acknowledging “For many who remain at higher risk from the virus — like those who are older, immunocompromised or already have a serious illness — it’s become a crucial tool helping them understand when to be particularly careful.” It’s all they have left! The other measurements have let them down. Disappointingly, as the article admitted, covid “hospitalizations and deaths have remained far lower than in previous years.”
So without wastewater estimates, it would be all over, time to take off the mask. Which is a terrifying nightmare for your average Covidian.
The sub-headline euphemistically called the viral-load estimates “imperfect.” How imperfect? Well, first — as that inscrutable disclaimer indicated — they lack data from everywhere. They only have it from a few testing sites. Just how many is a closely-guarded secret. Nobody’s saying how many sites are included; whatever that number is, it appears to change from week to week. That’s why they extrapolate the national figure.
Meaning, they’re guessing. Again.
But the, um, lack of precision gets even worse. Wastewater testing is doo-doo voodoo. Here are the various problems described at various points in the article, which I edited together:
(Wastewater testing is) an imperfect metric, useful primarily for identifying if there’s an acceleration of virus spread, not for telling you exactly how much virus is circulating. The data is often reported as normalized viral copies per milliliter or per gram, a number that is nearly impossible to translate into precise case counts. And the C.D.C. doesn’t show the actual concentration levels — its dashboard instead shows how much they have increased relative to when spread was low.
The amount of RNA in a sample will fluctuate depending on many factors, including the local population at any given time — think of a holiday influx into Miami or a college town emptying out for summer — and how much other material, such as industrial waste, is in the system. A peak in the data may not mean exactly the same thing this year as it did last year.
And nationwide estimates can be tricky. The data excludes people with septic tanks and cities with no wastewater testing. There can be data lapses, as when the C.D.C. switched contractors last year. Existing sites can stop testing, and new sites start up, as the network changes and expands.
Finally, there are changes to the virus itself that could make comparisons over time more difficult. Scientists say there are hints that this latest variant, JN.1, may be able to better replicate in the gut. It could mean that infected people shed more viral copies than they used to, (making the) same number of infections look like a lot more Covid.
Sounds great. By “great,” I mean completely unreliable. What does the Times suggest Covidians do with all these stinky problems that make wastewater testing look like a pile of BS? Here is the country’s top newspaper’s scientific suggestion:
Many experts who study this data recommend dropping any notion of precision and just squinting a little at the line’s recent trajectory.
Just squint at the wastewater data! No, not that much. If you squint just right, you might even start to believe.
It’s Science, so shut up.
💊 CNBC ran a story yesterday headlined, “Florida wins first FDA approval to import cheaper drugs from Canada.”
With great fanfare in 2021, with media praising him as some kind of big-corporation-battling, pharma-defying revolutionary, Biden signed an executive order directing the FDA to work with states to allow importing the exact same drugs from Canada that are sold to Americans for ten times as much. Florida invested a huge amount of work “applying” with the FDA and now, three years later, the FDA has responded with a conditional approval.
It’s a Biden deal, which means don’t hold your breath.
Among a long, bizarre chain of restrictions, Florida must be the middleman. Americans are too dumb to order their own drugs from Canada. And before Florida may distribute any Canadian drugs, the Sunshine State must first send the FDA a mountain of detail on each and every drug it plans to import, to “ensure that those treatments are not counterfeit or ineffective.” Florida then has to “relabel those drugs to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.”
Sounds like a lot of work.
There’s more. Once it starts, Florida has to submit quarterly reports to the FDA showing all the cost savings and reporting any potential safety issues, among another long list of required data. And after all that, the FDA’s approval only lets Florida import drugs for two years, and then the state must re-apply.
In other words, the FDA is making sure nobody can legally get cheap Canadian drugs. Or maybe I’m just being cynical again and the Biden plan will actually work great. Any betters out there?
🔥 CNBC ran another remarkable story yesterday headlined, “House panels approve Hunter Biden contempt finding after president's son crashes hearing.” The short version is, two House committees passed a contempt resolution yesterday that will now go to the full House for a vote. Hunter, who refuses to show up for a deposition, unexpectedly popped up with his posse of lawyers in the visitor’s gallery at one of the hearings. He didn’t stay long. He stormed out when Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) began speaking to him.
Hunter and his lawyer then grandstanded in the hallway outside, which appears to have been more informative and entertaining than the contempt hearing. In the above clip, a reporter can be heard asking Hunter, “Mr Biden! What kind of crack do you smoke?” I pondered whether the question was hilarious or tragic, but I’ve come down on the side of hilarious.
House oversight committee chair Jim Comer expressed how I think we all feel:
Democrats are desperately trying to split hairs to avoid a politically-awkward contempt order that the DOJ will never enforce. Dems have “offered” for Hunter to testify, but with conditions they know the Republicans will reject. This allows them to play the victim: he was willing to comply, he just wanted a teensy-weensy accommodation.
Jonathan Turley wrote a prescient piece warning of the dangers of this type of stunt. Turley pointed out Democrats are, once again, rewriting the rules for their immediate benefit without considering the long term cost, like when they ended the century-old filibuster rule for judicial nominees and then Republicans easily rolled through three Supreme Court justices.
I’m more cynical than Turley. I think Democrats know exactly what they are doing. Making Congressional subpoenas unenforceable is just one part of the controlled demolition of the U.S. Congress.
🔥 Disgraced ex-CNN anchor Don Lemon, fired last year after a confidential internal investigation found mysterious “misconduct” that was not specifically identified, but had whiffs of MeToo-ism, announced yesterday he is rebooting his career. On Twitter (X)!
I’m old enough to remember back when liberals vowed to delete their Twitter accounts after Elon Musk bought the platform, unleashed misinformation, and opened up “blue checks” to everyone with a credit card. Gosh, back in those days the liberals were fleeing Twitter to their own highly-censored, invitation-only platforms like BlueSky (no MAGA wackos or conservatives allowed) and teasing us by promising never to return.
Now, liberal ex-anchor Lemon just lauded Twitter as “the biggest place for free speech in the world.” I guess their heavily-moderated private club wasn’t as much fun or something?
Now, apparently, free speech is good again. Progress!
Have a terrific Thursday! Don’t be like forgetful Fauci; instead, remember to come back tomorrow morning for more delicious Coffee & Covid.
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