Why COVID-19 kills some people and spares others. Here’s what scientists are finding.

COVID-19 seems to hit some people harder than others, with some people experiencing only mild symptoms and others being hospitalized and requiring ventilation. Though scientists at first thought age was the dominant factor, with young people avoiding the worst outcomes, new research has revealed a suite of features impacting disease severity. These influences could explain why some perfectly healthy 20-year-old with the disease is in dire straits, while an older 70-year-old dodges the need for critical interventions.

These risk factors include:
Age
Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
Heart disease and hypertension
Smoking
Blood type
Obesity
Genetic factors

Age

About 8 out of 10 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the U.S. have occurred in adults ages 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk of dying from the infection, and the likelihood of requiring hospitalization or intensive medical care, increases significantly with age. For instance, adults ages 65-84 make up an estimated 4-11% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S, while adults ages 85 and above make up 10-27%. 

The trend may be due, in part, to the fact that many elderly people have chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, that can exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC. The ability of the immune system to fight off pathogens also declines with age, leaving elderly people vulnerable to severe viral infections, Stat News reported.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSEVolume 0%PLAY SOUND

Related: Coronavirus in the US: Latest COVID-19 news and case counts

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus — a group of diseases that result in harmful high blood sugar levels — also seems to be linked to risk of more severe COVID-19 infections. 

The most common form in the U.S. is type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body’s cells don’t respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the sugar that would otherwise move from the bloodstream into cells to be used as energy just builds up in the bloodstream. (When the pancreas makes little to no insulin in the first place, the condition is called type 1 diabetes.)

In a review of 13 relevant studies, scientists found that people with diabetes were nearly 3.7 times more likely to have a critical case of COVID-19 or to die from the disease compared with COVID-19 patients without any underlying health conditions (including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or respiratory disease), they reported online April 23 in the Journal of Infection.

Even so, scientists don’t know whether diabetes is directly increasing severity or whether other health conditions that seem to tag along with diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney conditions, are to blame. 

That fits with what researchers have seen with other infections and diabetes. For instance, flu and pneumonia are more common and more serious in older individuals with type 2 diabetes, scientists reported online April 9 in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. In a literature search of relevant studies looking at the link between COVID-19 and diabetes, the authors of that paper found a few possible mechanisms to explain why a person with diabetes might fare worse when infected with COVID-19. These mechanisms include: “Chronic inflammation, increased coagulation activity, immune response impairment and potential direct pancreatic damage by SARS-CoV-2.”

Related: 13 coronavirus myths busted by science

Mounting research has shown the progression of type 2 diabetes is tied to changes in the body’s immune system. This link could also play a role in poorer outcomes in a person with diabetes exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

No research has looked at this particular virus and immune response in patients with diabetes; however, in a study published in 2018 in the Journal of Diabetes Research, scientists found through a review of past research that patients with obesity or diabetes showed immune systems that were out of whack, with an impairment of white blood cells called Natural Killer (NK) cells and B cells, both of which help the body fight off infections. The research also showed that these patients had an increase in the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. When the immune system secretes too many cytokines,a so-called “cytokine storm” can erupt and damage the body’s organs. Some research has suggested that cytokine storms may be responsible for causing serious complications in people with COVID-19, Live Science previously reported. Overall, type 2 diabetes has been linked with impairment of the very system in the body that helps to fight off infections like COVID-19 and could explain why a person with diabetes is at high risk for a severe infection.

Not all people with type 2 diabetes are at the same risk, though: A study published May 1 in the journal Cell Metabolism found that people with diabetes who keep their blood sugar levels in a tighter range were much less likely to have a severe disease course than those with more fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. 

Scientists aren’t sure whether this elevated risk of a severe COVID-19 infection also applies to people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). A study coordinated by T1D Exchange — a nonprofit research organization focused on therapies for those with type 1 diabetes — launched in April to study the outcomes of T1D patients infected with COVID-19. When a person with T1D gets an infection, their blood sugar levels tend to spike to dangerous levels and they can have a buildup of acid in the blood, something called diabetic ketoacidosis. As such, any infection can be dangerous for someone with type 1 diabetes.

Heart disease and hypertension

People with conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, such as heart disease and hypertension, generally suffer worse complications from COVID-19 than those with no preexisting conditions, according to the American Heart Association. That said, historically healthy people can also suffer heart damage from the viral infection. 

The first reported coronavirus death in the U.S., for instance, occurred when the virus somehow damaged a woman’s heart muscle, eventually causing it to burst, Live Science reported. The 57-year-old maintained good health and exercised regularly before becoming infected, and she reportedly had a healthy heart of “normal size and weight.” A study of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, found that more than 1 in 5 patients developed heart damage — some of the sampled patients had existing heart conditions, and some did not. 

In seeing these patterns emerge, scientists developed several theories as to why COVID-19 might hurt both damaged hearts and healthy ones, according to a Live Science report

In one scenario, by attacking the lungs directly, the virus might deplete the body’s supply of oxygen to the point that the heart must work harder to pump oxygenated blood through the body. The virus might also attack the heart directly, as cardiac tissue contains angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) — a molecule that the virus plugs into to infect cells. In some individuals, COVID-19 can also kickstart an overblown immune response known as a cytokine storm, wherein the body becomes severely inflamed and the heart could suffer damage as a result.

Smoking

People who smoke cigarettes may be prone to severe COVID-19 infections, meaning they face a heightened risk of developing pneumonia, suffering organ damage and requiring breathing support. A study of more than 1,000 patients in China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, illustrates this trend: 12.3% of current smokers included in the study were admitted to an ICU, were placed on a ventilator or died, as compared with 4.7% of nonsmokers. 

Cigarette smoke might render the body vulnerable to the coronavirus in several ways, according to a recent Live Science report. At baseline, smokers may be vulnerable to catching viral infections because smoke exposure dampens the immune system over time, damages tissues of the respiratory tract and triggers chronic inflammation. Smoking is also associated with a multitude of medical conditions, such as emphysema and atherosclerosis, which could exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19.

A recent study, posted March 31 to the preprint database bioRxiv, proposed a more speculative explanation as to why COVID-19 hits smokers harder. The preliminary research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but early interpretations of the data suggest that smoke exposure increases the number of ACE2 receptors in the lungs — the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 plugs into to infect cells. 

Many of the receptors appear on so-called goblet and club cells, which secrete a mucus-like fluid to protect respiratory tissues from pathogens, debris and toxins. It’s well-established that these cells grow in number the longer a person smokes, but scientists don’t know whether the subsequent boost in ACE2 receptors directly translates to worse COVID-19 symptoms. What’s more, it’s unknown whether high ACE2 levels are relatively unique to smokers, or common among people with chronic lung conditions.

Obesity

Several early studies have suggested a link between obesity and more severe COVID-19 disease in people. One study, which analyzed a group of COVID-19 patients who were younger than the age of 60 in New York City, found that those who were obese were twice as likely as non-obese individuals to be hospitalized and were 1.8 times as likely to be admitted into critical care. 

“This has important and practical implications” in a country like the U.S. where nearly 40% of adults are obese, the authors wrote in the study, which was accepted into the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases but not yet peer-reviewed or published. Similarly, another preliminary study that hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed found that the two biggest risk factors for being hospitalized from the coronavirus are age and obesity. This study, published in medRxiv looked at data from thousands of COVID-19 patients in New York City, but studies from other cities around the world found similar results, as reported by The New York Times.

A preliminary study from Shenzhen, China, which also hasn’t been peer-reviewed, found that obese COVID-19 patients were more than twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia as compared with patients who were normal weight, according to the report published as a preprint online in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Those who were overweight, but not obese, had an 86% higher risk of developing severe pneumonia than did people of “normal” weight, the authors reported. Another study, accepted into the journal Obesity and peer-reviewed, found that nearly half of 124 COVID-19 patients admitted to an intensive care unit in Lille, France, were obese.

It’s not clear why obesity is linked to more hospitalizations and more severe COVID-19 disease, but there are several possibilities, the authors wrote in the study. Obesity is generally thought of as a risk factor for severe infection. For example, those who are obese had longer and more severe disease during the swine flu epidemic, the authors wrote. Obese patients might also have reduced lung capacity or increased inflammation in the body. A greater number of inflammatory molecules circulating in the body might cause harmful immune responses and lead to severe disease.

Blood type

Blood type seems to be a predictor of how susceptible a person is to contracting SARS-CoV-2, though scientists haven’t found a link between blood type per se and severity of disease.

Jiao Zhao, of The Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, and colleagues looked at blood types of 2,173 patients with COVID-19 in three hospitals in Wuhan, China, as well as blood types of more than 23,000 non-COVID-19 individuals in Wuhan and Shenzhen. They found that individuals with blood types in the A group (A-positive, A-negative and AB-positive, AB-negative) were at a higher risk of contracting the disease compared with non-A-group types. People with O blood types (O-negative and O-positive) had a lower risk of getting the infection compared with non-O blood types, the scientists wrote in the preprint database medRxiv on March 27; the study has yet to be reviewed by peers in the field.

In a more recent study of blood type and COVID-19, published online April 11 to medRxiv, scientists looked at 1,559 people tested for SARS-CoV-2 at New York Presbyterian hospital; of those, 682 tested positive. Individuals with A blood types (A-positive and A-negative) were 33% more likely to test positive than other blood types and both O-negative and O-positive blood types were less likely to test positive than other blood groups. (There’s a 95% chance that the increase in risk ranges from 7% to 67% more likely.) Though only 68 individuals with an AB blood type were included, the results showed this group was also less likely than others to test positive for COVID-19. 

The researchers considered associations between blood type and risk factors for COVID-19, including age, sex, whether a person was overweight, other underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Some of these factors are linked to blood type, they found, with a link between diabetes and B and A-negative blood types, between overweight status and O-positive blood groups, for instance, among others. When they accounted for these links, the researchers still found an association between blood type and COVID-19 susceptibility. When the researchers pooled their data with the research by Zhao and colleagues out of China, they found similar results as well as a significant drop in positive COVID-19 cases among blood type B individuals.

Why blood type might increase or decrease a person’s risk of getting SARS-CoV-2 is not known. A person’s blood type indicates what kind of certain antigens cover the surfaces of their blood cells; These antigens produce certain antibodies to help fight off a pathogen. Past research has suggested that at least in the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), anti-A antibodies helped to inhibit the virus; that could be the same mechanism with SARS-CoV-2, helping blood group O individuals to keep out the virus, according to Zhao’s team.

Genetic factors

Many medical conditions can worsen the symptoms of COVID-19, but why do historically healthy people sometimes fall dangerously ill or die from the virus? Scientists suspect that certain genetic factors may leave some people especially susceptible to the disease, and many research groups aim to pinpoint exactly where those vulnerabilities lie in our genetic code. 

In one scenario, the genes that instruct cells to build ACE2 receptors may differ between people who contract severe infections and those who hardly develop any symptoms at all, Science magazine reported. Alternatively, differences may lie in genes that help rally the immune system against invasive pathogens, according to a recent Live Science report.

For instance, a study published April 17 in the Journal of Virology suggests that specific combinations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes, which train immune cells to recognize germs, may be protective against SARS-CoV-2, while other combinations leave the body open to attack. HLAs represent just one cog in our immune system machinery, though, so their relative influence over COVID-19 infection remains unclear. Additionally, the Journal of Virology study only used computer models to simulate HLA activity against the coronavirus; clinical and genetic data from COVID-19 patients would be needed to flesh out the role of HLAs in real-life immune responses.

Originally published on Live Science.  

https://www.livescience.com/why-covid-19-coronavirus-deadly-for-some-people.html

Libertarians have become pawns of the progressive left in America?

Libertarians are handing America over to socialists. That’s not what they want, but that’s what’s happening. How can this be? After all, if you want limited government, you’re a libertarian. So where’s the problem?

The problem, as John Rogers alludes to in his unforgettable quote, is with the “real world.” In the real world, America is a two party system, and if a strong libertarian candidate shows up, they take votes away from other candidates who also – despite all their other impurities – oppose socialist candidates.

When the anti-socialist vote is split, the socialist wins.

In the real world, we have nations so that people with a common culture and heritage can govern themselves. This necessitates the existence of governments, laws, regulations, taxes, public spending, and a host of other nasty things. To oppose overreaching laws, bad regulations, high taxes, excess spending, wasteful spending, or inappropriate spending, is the duty of any fiscal conservative. But the role of government is to protect a national culture, not to just get out of the way so corporate multinationals can commoditize the world.

This ought to be embarrassingly self-evident, but libertarians don’t seem to understand the implications of these real world constraints on their ideals.

Thank God the libertarian presidential candidate in 2016 was a befuddled stoner. And pray to God their presidential candidate in 2020 is equally problematic.

Libertarian Influence is Harming America

The Libertarian Party hasn’t yet swung an American presidential election, but their influence is felt everywhere. And while their overall message – limited government – is far better than its opposite, but in its extreme that message can also cause grievous harm. One glaring example concerns the interdependent politics of immigration and welfare.

Libertarians, along with plenty of Republicans, are fond of quoting Milton Friedman, who once said “You can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” Yet libertarians, if they are true to their principles, favor open borders. All the while, they insist that of course they’re also opposed to state welfare.

How many Republicans in the House of Representatives, influenced by libertarian donors, have to-date resisted legislation that would enforce America’s borders, whether through sanctioning employers who hire undocumented workers, or by funding more effective border security?

Other glaring examples include opposition to the war on drugs, where libertarians tend to think it’s just fine to let an entire generation of Americans marinate themselves in a pharmacological stupor, and foreign policy, where wishful thinking libertarians reject the reality of rising nations filling the vacuum wherever Americans withdraw.

When it comes to trade, powerful libertarian donors have actually worked to destroy Republican incumbents who recognize that selling America to the Chinese because that’s “free trade” is a recipe for national destruction, and if tariffs are the only way to get their attention, so be it.

And shall any of these issues be discussed openly on the most powerful means of communication ever known, the internet? Well, maybe. But not too openly. Progressives run the companies that monopolize the online platforms for search and social media, they exercise blatant censorship of views that threaten the progressive narrative, and libertarians applaud.

The Unwitting Libertarian Support for Unpleasant, Unaffordable Housing

Moving beyond the obvious, it is in the area of housing and infrastructure where libertarians also exert a destructive influence. The influence of libertarians in these areas is harder to immediately see, but it is causing, if anything, even greater long term damage to America.

It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that libertarians are against a free market where land developers can easily navigate their way through a streamlined, discounted permitting process so more homes can go onto the market which will lower prices. And indeed, libertarians are calling for those sorts of reforms. But these libertarians are ignoring the most critical variable – expanding the footprint of cities.

Instead of recognizing that housing cannot possibly become affordable unless new construction spreads outside the boundaries of existing urban centers, libertarians are, by default, joining with progressives who want to stack and pack all new residences into already established neighborhoods. The implications of this policy are cruel and far reaching.

Not only is it much harder, if not impossible, to increase the supply of homes enough to lower prices if the only new homes allowed have to be built inside existing cities, but when that happens the quality of life in these cities is tragically diminished. In Oregon, new legislation now permits multi-family dwellings to be constructed in any residential neighborhood, regardless of current zoning laws, in any city of more than 25,000 residents. Similar legislation is pending in California.

It may not be a “libertarian” concept to have zoning laws, but they exist for a good reason. People invest their life savings into a home purchase, relying on zoning laws to ensure the neighborhood where they expect to spend the rest of their lives is going to stay reasonably intact. Clearly this can’t always be the case, sometimes neighborhoods get in the path of dense urbanization, but it is a principle worth defending.

This nuance – how cities are permitted to increase their population – is far more profound than it may appear at first glance. As America’s population grows from an estimated 334 million in 2020 to an estimated 417 million by 2060, the progressive vision is to cram nearly all of those 83 million new Americans into existing cities. They want to do this despite the fact that the lower 48 states in America are only 3.7 percent urbanized, and despite the fact that such a policy will make a detached single family home with a yard unattainable to all but the most affluent Americans.

The libertarian position on urban containment is similar to their position on immigration. Just as they effectively support immigration but ineffectively oppose the welfare state, they effectively support making it easier to get permits to build homes but ineffectively oppose urban containment. The problem, again, is that accomplishing one out of two is not sufficient.

The de facto result is libertarians are offering substantial support to the progressive goal of turning American cities and suburbs into socially engineered, unaffordable, extremely high-density warrens.

Libertarians Prevent Vital Enabling Infrastructure

In a perfect libertarian world, every time you set foot off your personal property onto so-called public space, a meter starts running. The principle at work here is that you only pay at the rate you consume, rewarding the private interests who constructed – presumably at lower cost – social amenities such as roads.

Unfortunately, this sort of thinking plays into the hands of progressives who want to monitor and ration everything, at the same time as it benefits the high-tech companies and manufacturing corporations who sell “connected” appliances that are overly complex, high maintenance, expensive, and rarely perform as well as legacy products. But start the meter. Let the market work.

If forcing consumers to pay the government and their private partners for every vehicle mile traveled were the only innovation where progressives and libertarians affect infrastructure, that would be bad enough. But libertarians often oppose new roads from even getting built, regardless of the funding model. Instead of just letting the government blast new interstate highways and connector roads into rural areas where spacious new cities could be built, some libertarians have begun to reflexively oppose these projects because they don’t want taxpayers to “subsidize the automobile.”

And yes, in the drive to no longer “subsidize the automobile,” there is a whiff of “climate change” hysteria beginning to emanate from more than a few establishment libertarian think tanks.

What libertarians ought to be doing with respect to roads and other enabling infrastructure is fighting to reduce the regulations and environmental legislation that, at the least, has more than doubled the price and more than quadrupled the time it takes to build public infrastructure. Instead they fight against any new infrastructure that might consume public funds, playing into the hands of the progressive environmentalists who don’t want to build any new infrastructure, anywhere.

Libertarians have become pawns of the progressive left in America, and in an ironic twist, both of them have been coopted by globalist corporate interests. When everything is privatized, rationed and metered, corporate rent seekers gain new revenue streams.

When progressives put punitive regulations onto virtually all forms of land and resource development, existing holders of those resources enjoy artificial asset appreciation at the same time as emerging competitors lack the financial depth to survive.

In cities densified by urban containment, land values and rent soar to stratospheric levels, driving out independent businesses and turning every commercial district into a generic multinational corporate slurb.

And of course, when progressives cheer as hordes of unskilled immigrants pour across the U.S. border, libertarian donors applaud the free movement of people and goods – while paying impotent lip service to welfare reform.

The Libertarian Party has never been a serious contender in American politics. But their influence should not be underestimated, nor their role in tilting the political balance in favor of the progressive agenda across a host of important national issues.

The value of libertarianism is to remind us that the private sector performs most functions in a society more efficiently than the government, while preserving more individual freedom. But that’s as far as it goes. The real world is complicated, and culture is not a commodity.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Golden State Lockdown: Bay Area Extends Its Shelter-In-Place Order

On Wednesday, Bay Area health officials extended shelter-in-place orders through May, bringing their duration to 11 weeks. The new orders very minimally loosen restrictions to allow construction and some outdoor shops and activities, but most businesses remain closed. The announcement comes as California’s Covid-19 situation is looking better, in terms of infections, while the economic, social, and even health repercussions of its stay-at-home orders mounts. A rational cost-benefit analysis of the public-health response should encourage California and the Bay Area to begin a phased reopening.

The health situation in the Bay Area, and California as a whole, appears far from dire. Data on new Covid-19 cases show a clear flattening of the curve. The number of patients hospitalized for Covid-19 in the Bay Area has dropped almost every day for a week. According to the website rt.live, the effective reproduction number (known as Rt or Re) in California, and in almost every other state, is below 1, indicating a decline in infections. The seven-day average for new infections in the Bay Area is the lowest in a month. California’s 16 northernmost counties, with a population of more than 1 million, have seen only 181 confirmed cases — a lower known infection rate than South Korea’s.

Meantime, some 26 million people have filed for unemployment nationally over the past month, including 3.2 million in California, a crushing tide of layoffs that dwarfs prior job-loss records. Almost one-third of Americans did not pay their rent this month. Businesses everywhere are struggling, with small businesses faring the worst and museums and nonprofits in jeopardy, too. Transit agencies face enormous financial losses because of lost riders. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has said that the economy is deteriorating “with alarming speed.” In a tragic irony, hospitals that worried about an overflow of Covid-19 patients are now laying off workers due to cancellation of elective surgeries and also, perhaps, sick people avoiding treatment for fear of infection. Lines at food banks are staggering. People talk openly not just of recession but depression.

Luckily, recovery should be easier than from a typical recession, since this one is a forced abnormality. Millions of people could have their jobs back tomorrow if shelter-in-place orders were eased — and as the impact of the virus wanes, it makes sense to begin lifting them, as European nations such as Norway and Austria are doing, and as Texas has begun to do. Even New York, far harder hit than California, has tentatively scheduled an end to its statewide “pause” on May 15.

Yet California shows no inclination to ease up. The statewide order has no end date. Governor Gavin Newsom refuses to set one, saying only that the end is “weeks away.” Newsom has outlined criteria to lift the order, but some of his requirements—such as sufficient hospital capacity and progress toward a treatment—are unnecessary or unrealistic. The state’s 5,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations represent a small fraction of its approximately 75,000 staffed beds. A vaccine could be more than a year away and like the swine flu virus, Covid-19 may never even get a silver-bullet cure. Neither the Bay Area nor California have put together a clear plan for reopening.

Newsom is not the only one taking a hard line. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has stated that there “is no cost that is too high to save any one precious life.” Some infectious-disease specialists argue that restrictions should remain in place until the infection rate is nearly zero. These are impossible standards to meet, and not applied to any other danger or disease. Governor Murphy has never ordered streets and highways closed despite more than one life lost each day in New Jersey car crashes. According to the CDC, swine flu has continued to kill about 7,500 Americans each year since the outbreak in 2009. We must accept that Covid-19 will probably never go away entirely.

For some observers, the idea of quantifying human life in economic terms sounds heartless. Yet we perform such cost-benefit analyses all the time, both as individuals—when we choose between riding a motorcycle or a station wagon—and as societies—when we choose whether to put more money into cancer research or into studies of rarer diseases. Every developed nation maintains value of statistical life (VSL) measures, for use in planning, transportation, and health policies.

There are social as well as economic costs. The effects of job losses and recession fall hardest on the poor and working class. People living paycheck-to-paycheck, or without savings, are suffering most. As the economy sinks, it takes with it the livelihoods and aspirations of tens of millions of Californians. It is reasonable to argue that we cannot destroy the economy trying to stop every possible Covid-19 death. When people can’t eat, that’s a health problem, too.

There are even direct health reasons to reopen. After six weeks of shelter-in-place, cracks are appearing in California. San Francisco police broke up an illegal nightclub, surely not the only infraction. More people are circulating outside, and the size of the groups suggests that it’s no longer just roommates walking together. People are more likely to take risks the longer their confinement lasts. Far better to begin a gradual reopening, with a highly publicized campaign to encourage mitigation measures, such as wearing masks.

Another public health reason to begin to lift restrictions is that if stay-at-home orders ruin the lives of millions, they will be much harder to implement in the future. A future disease could be worse than Covid-19—the fatality rate of SARS, in 2003, was 11 percent—but resentment over a “Covid recession” might make it much harder to get people to cooperate next time.

California led the nation in shutting down, but the state is lagging the country, and the world, in opening back up. New Zealand planned its successful lockdown on the scientific basis of two incubation cycles, or 28 days. The sequence lasted slightly longer, but after 33 days, the country began a phased reopening this week. Operating on the same parameters, California could have started lifting restrictions last week. Instead of waiting four more weeks, it should start a phased reopening now.

The stay-at-home orders have been very successful and given California a relatively low infection rate despite one of the earliest exposures. Most people have complied, and local officials should trust them to behave responsibly as restrictions lift, rather than trying to micromanage their activity. And all phases of reopening would include continuing effective mitigation measures—washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, self-isolation of at-risk people, and tracking and quarantining of those testing positive for Covid-19.

Each region of the United States has experienced the pandemic differently; a phased reopening would work differently in each place. The current approach—where largely healthy Northern California lives under the same restrictions as harder-hit Los Angeles—is not tenable. It’s time to begin the gradual lifting of shelter-in-place orders before these orders do more damage than the illness they were issued to fight.

Phillip Sprincin is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Any COVID Response Excluding Herd Immunity Doomed For Failure

A cursory study of diseases shows that defeating COVID-19 through social distancing, mass testing, and a hoped-for vaccination is impractical, and has no expiration date.

There is no practical “exit strategy” to Democrats’ shut-down measures

Any health care response that excludes exposure to and surviving COVID-19 – the same way hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans, contract and recover from influenza each year – is incomplete. If this is a “war against an invisible enemy,” as President Trump declares, then young, healthy people need to “serve” in this national crusade by contracting and recovering from COVID-19 to build “herd immunity,” for their own future safety and to weaken COVID-19’s deadly impact when it assuredly returns some day. “Herd immunity” simply describes strengthening one’s own, personal immune system, which naturally fights diseases such as COVID-19, while also benefiting society as a whole.

President Trump needs to fire germophobes Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx and get a “second opinion” by hiring new health care advisers who recognize this reality.

So far, the argument against the extreme social distancing mandates required by the nation’s almost overwhelmingly Democratic governors has been that the economic and societal catastrophe created will be far worse than the impact of COVID-19 to the population. But now more than six weeks into this nightmare of restricted liberties and quarantine edicts, the country ought to open for business as soon as possible for health reasons, too.

Social distancing and all the other precautions to avoiding contracting COVID-19 have merit, but can’t alone succeed even if Democratic governors would rule by executive order indefinitely. This is where the dishonesty begins: There is no practical “exit strategy” to Democrats’ shut-down measures.

Despite vaccinations, flu kills 30,000 to 60,000 Americans each year

Even if a vaccination were discovered tomorrow to combat coronavirus, it’s unlikely that it would eradicate COVID-19 forever based on what we already know about other viruses, such as the flu, which is that they mutate and continue to kill even with vaccinations.

Despite vaccinations, flu kills 30,000 to 60,000 Americans each year and we do not shut the economy for the flu. What we do is vaccinate vulnerable elderly people and children and hope for the best. And when one considers that it took decades of research and testing to find cures for viral diseases such as polio, measles and chicken pox, we don’t have that time to wait, while our country falls apart and people’s businesses and lives are ruined.

Both COVID-19 and influenza cause lower respiratory illness that leads to death, sometimes from pneumonia. Others who die from COVID-19 had heart disease or diabetes. The point is that it’s not so simple to determine a cause of death.

Closing elementary schools and colleges in the United States to combat COVID-19 was a big mistake. Young people are the least likely to die from COVID 19, and would have greatly contributed to developing “herd immunity.” This alone cannot solve the problem of COVID-19 transmission, but would greatly contribute to reducing the number of “hosts” in which the virus could “live.”

Viruses can’t survive without a host, and the more people possessing coronavirus antibodies, the sooner COVID-19 will “die”

The death data so far show that the overwhelming number of the people “killed” by COVID-19 had compromised immune systems or were older and sick, and that nearly no children have died. Once children and young adults survive COVID-19, they likely will have the antibodies to protect them in the future when COVID-19 or another coronavirus returns.

Viruses can’t survive without a host, and the more people possessing coronavirus antibodies, the sooner COVID-19 will “die,” even though it’s not technically “alive” from a scientific perspective.

Everything in this article was gleaned from well-known, mainstream disease-combating websites, such as from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The “I’m no doctor” line comes from a comedian Brian Regan skit about visiting a hospital and being asked stupid questions by the staff about why he was there.

We were told at the beginning that social distancing was to “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm the health care system with COVID-19 cases. However, that has morphed into we cannot open the economy until we have testing and a vaccine, which frankly will never be adequate to the Democrats who want to defeat President Trump this November, hence the politics of this “crisis.”

The media tells us that COVID-19 is “really bad,” and “much worse than the flu.” It may be worse, but they are Fake News and a mouthpiece of the Democratic National Committee. It is a partisan press, the same way that it was at the beginning of the country, and no American ought to take the Washington Post, or the New York Times, or CNN seriously on any topic.

We are alive, but we are not living

Right now, we don’t have to care whether the number of COVID-19 deaths has been exaggerated or whether the Chinese created it as part of biological warfare. There will be time for that later, but we do have to have a plan that works, which we do not have now.

We cannot ignore the Democrats and Deep State motivation to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency, and their obvious delight that COVID-19 and their draconian response to it presents them with their latest, best opportunity to do so, but which will also fail. In this regard, the Democrats and the Deep State are Wiley E. Coyote to Donald Trump’s Roadrunner.

We are alive, but we are not living. In New York City, people wait in line to enter grocery stores; all the concrete “parks” are closed to street basketball. Even so, yesterday, I saw two Dominican teen boys hop the fence to play.

Everybody has to do their part in this “war” against the pandemic: People have to get the virus and survive it and build herd immunity. Boris Johnson, the prime minister of England, contracted COVID-19 and recovered, everyone else can and ought to as well.

There is more to life than trying to avoid getting sick

Doctors are great; the whole “white lab coat” thing. But there is more to life than trying to avoid getting sick, and that’s what we are doing right now. That’s not sustainable or even desirable.

We need to stop telling people to “stay safe,” but rather “be smart.” We need healthy people, including children, to become infected and recover and develop the antibodies to minimize their future susceptibility of contracting the disease and using those antibodies to discover an effective vaccine. As said before, healthy people who survive will likely experience minimum to less severe symptoms while they become immune to hosting the virus.

We are not South Korea, which has a homogeneous population and culture, and can require a complete lock down of their country to combat COVID-19. In the United States, we have individual liberties. We have to be smart and solve this with American ingenuity. There is no solution in social distancing without opening the economy, protecting the vulnerable, developing herd immunity, while waiting for a vaccine that may or not arrive soon. And even then, people are doing to die, like they have for time immemorial, because that’s the nature of life on Earth. And it is a twisted, dystopian ideology to think that “hunkering down” and hoping for an as-yet-undiscovered vaccine can save all of us. It can’t.

https://canadafreepress.com/article/any-covid-response-excluding-herd-immunity-doomed-for-failure

Now Democrats Want to Give Coronavirus Money to Illegal Aliens

Now Democrats Want to Give Coronavirus Money to Illegal Aliens

Illegal Immigration: Many Selfish Actors Benefit | National Review

Unsurprisingly, Democrats are again prioritizing non-Americans over the welfare of our citizens.

The latest outrage was introduced by California (where else?) Rep. Lou Correa who led two fellow Democrats by introducing the so-called “Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act.”

Latest: Democrats ‘Want The Federal Government To Take Over Elections’

The bill would allow people in this country illegally to apply for coronavirus relief funding.

However, these funds only go to taxpayers who have filed tax returns with the IRS and have a valid Social Security number (or any of the other legal identification numbers). That naturally leaves illegals out of the equation.

These provisions are now being called “racist” by Democrats looking to further pander to illegals.

Indeed, California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu insisted that the virus does not care about tax status.

“I was appalled to learn hardworking, taxpaying immigrants were left out of the $2 trillion CARES Act,” the hard-core leftist said in his Friday press release.

“By casting out immigrants, we are placing some of our most vulnerable residents in grave danger. Every individual taxpayer, irrespective of citizenship status, needs government assistance now,” he added.

Correa was referring to the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that Trump signed last week. The bill, of course, contains a $1,200 payment to individual citizens with a maximum of $2,400 per couple. The payments will also include $500 per child.

“This virus does not care about immigration status. It does not discriminate, and neither should we. Immigrants own businesses and homes, support families, and pay rent, and contribute to their communities,” Chu said last week.

“Making it impossible for them to receive the same benefit we are sending to everyone else just means those immigrants will have a harder time affording food or rent, and that leaves us all worse off. I hope to see this corrected in the next relief package,” she said. https://godfatherpolitics.com/now-democrats-want-to-give-coronavirus-money-to-illegal-aliens/

Australia lab may have found Covid-19 cure Queensland University to launch human trials of two-drug treatment that has apparently cured virus-infected patients

Stanford University School of Medicine reported on Friday that a former  malaria treatment known as chloroquine may have been effective in treating the disease in China and Singapore.

There is also anecdotal evidence that the redundant AIDS drug remdesivir may have worked in treating patients in China, the initial epicenter of the now global pandemic. )

SYDNEY – Australian researchers have been given the green light to start human trials of a promising drug treatment for the novel coronavirus after raising funds from donors in a remarkable global appeal. 

Covid-19 patients will be given two drugs previously used to treat AIDS and malaria at about 50 hospitals in Australia, with tests expected to start by the end of this month. The drugs reportedly eradicated the virus in lab tests.

“There have already been patients treated with these in Australia and there’s been successful outcomes, but it hasn’t been done in a controlled or comparative way,” said David Paterson, director of the Center for Clinical Research at Queensland University, which is leading the trials.

“What we want to do at the moment is a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals, and what we’re going to compare is one drug versus another drug, versus the combination of the two drugs,” he said.

Stanford University School of Medicine reported on Friday that a former  malaria treatment known as chloroquine may have been effective in treating the disease in China and Singapore.

There is also anecdotal evidence that the redundant AIDS drug remdesivir may have worked in treating patients in China, the initial epicenter of the now global pandemic.

Trial data of the drug’s use, however, has not been made available by China. Scientists have dismissed a widely quoted online report that about 12,000 patients have been completely cured of Covid-19 in China after taking chloroquine.

Paterson said laboratory tests using a combination of the two drugs had indicated that they might provide a “cure” from the virus.

“It’s a potentially effective treatment. Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy,” he said.

The March 18 decision to go ahead with the human tests was only made after the researchers made an extraordinary global appeal for donations to cover the funding cost, estimated at A$750,000 (US$451,415).

There is an urgent push to develop effective Covid-19 treatments because a vaccine for widespread use is not expected to be developed for at least 18 months.

More than 30 academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies are collaborating in the search for a vaccine under a program coordinated by the Oslo-based non-profit group the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness.

Labs in Australia, the US and the United Kingdom are already testing the first batches of vaccine “candidates” on animals, using some “prototype” pathogen platforms that were developed for severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) outbreaks in 2002-04 and 2012.

However, they were ultimately not needed to treat those diseases.

The Seattle-based Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute began human trials of a possible vaccine on March 16, and two other research programs, at the University of Queensland and Imperial College London, expect to start trials on patients within weeks.

Three or four potential vaccines will be developed, with the most promising version to be chosen for distribution. 

Research efforts received a boost on March 17 when Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity announced it had succeeded in mapping how the body’s immune system fights back against the virus.

Published in the monthly peer-reviewed Nature Medicine journal, the research revealed that victims are recovering from the illness in the same way they would from the flu.

“This [discovery] is important because it is the first time where we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus,”  said Katherine Kedzierska, who co-authored the journal article.

The team tracked the recovery of a 47-year-old woman from Wuhan, the original hotspot of the virus in China, who had mild-to-moderate symptoms from the virus and had no pre-existing health issues. She was admitted to a hospital in Australia and fully recovered within two weeks.

Kedzierska said that specific cells identified with influenza patients were spotted in her bloodstream three days before her health began to improve.

“We found in this patient at three days we could see emergence of immune cells in the blood. The immune cell populations we have seen emerging before patients recover are the same cells we see in influenza.

“Based on our experience with patients with influenza, we could predict recovery and that’s exactly what happened in Covid-19,” she said.

“This information will allow us to evaluate any vaccine candidate, as in an ideal world the vaccine should mimic our body’s immune response.”

Researchers are keen to isolate immune responses because these were a key factor in fighting SARS. Having blood markers will enable hospitals to screen out the 20% of patients who present with more severe symptoms.

“Then you could say upfront, this would be a severe case, or this will probably be a milder case,” said Doherty researcher Carolien van de Sandt. “Then you could alter their care to what the patient might need.”

The center has been given additional funding, some contributed by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, to expand the immune mapping to a bigger pool of patients, in part to monitor later phases of the recovery process.

“We know we can generate immune responses to the virus,” Kedzierska said. “The next question is whether that immune response gives people immunity for weeks or months or years so we are protected.”

The study’s findings are being shared with other research laboratories, she said.

10 Reasons to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment:

  1. The vague, poorly written language of the ERA does not allow any distinction to be made between men and women – even when it makes sense to do so based on their biological differences.

As a result, the ERA will harm women AND their unborn children by overturning laws and programs that benefit them.

Harm to unborn children:

  1. The ERA would be used to overturn all restrictions on abortion (including the partial birth abortion ban, 3rd-trimester abortion ban and parental notice of minors seeking an abortion).
  2. The ERA would be used to mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions.
Stop ERA

In both New Mexico and Connecticut, their state ERAs were used in the courts to overturn restrictions on abortions and mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions with the rationale that since abortion is unique to women, restricting abortions is a form of sex discrimination. ” (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998; and Doe v. Maher, 515 A.2d 134 [Conn Super. Ct. 1986])

Harm to women

  1. The ERA would overturn laws and practices that benefit women because they would be viewed as showing preferential treatment to women.  The laws and practices that would be overturned include:
    • Workplace laws that provide special accommodations for pregnant women
    • State labor laws and guidelines which benefit women who do heavy, manual work
    • Government programs that support women as mothers such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutritional program (WIC)
    • Social Security benefits for stay-at-home mothers based on their spouse’s income.  Justice Ginsberg claims that the current gender neutral benefit language is still a violation of the equality principle because it encourages women to stay out of the workforce, and as such she would overturn the benefit.
    • Exemption of women from the military draft and front-line combat. Currently, women who feel they are physically able can choose to enlist in the military. The ERA, however, would require that all women be drafted and placed on front-line combat in equal ratios to men.
    • Laws and presumptions that support women in the areas of alimony, child support, and requirements of husbands to pay for their dependent wives’ medical bills.  The ERA will also wipe out state laws that exempt a wife from having to pay her husband’s debts even if he deserts her with children to support.
    • All other laws that provide preferential treatment for women
  1. ERA would impact the privacy and safety of women and girls by removing gender designations for bathrooms, locker rooms, jails and hospital rooms.
  2. The ERA will not give women any more rights than they currently have. Women already have claim to equal rights through the 14th Amendment (section 1) as well as numerous other laws in virtually all areas of American life – employment (including equal pay), education, credit eligibility, housing, public accommodations, etc. The US Supreme Court has already applied the 14th Amendment to women’s issues (United States v. Virginia518 U.S. 515 (1996)).
  3. ERA won’t erase the gender wage gap. Women are already guaranteed equal pay through the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and can seek remediation through the EEOC.  The currently quoted wage gap between men and women is a misunderstood statistic in which the average wages of all full-time working men and women are compared in one lump sum of men to women across all occupations and education levels.  This doesn’t allow for an equal pay comparison.  When we compare the wages of men and women within the same career, in similar positions, at the same age, the wage gap narrows to 98 cents for women compared to a dollar for men. Even when we compare within career fields, key factors such as years worked, the level of education, and time flexibility of job, etc. are not factored into the comparison (see “An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women” U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2009).
  4. The ERA would also transfer large amounts of legislative power from the states to Congress creating a greater imbalance of power and placing sensitive issues under the less responsive federal government.

Section 2 of the ERA requires that Congress be given the power to enact the provisions of the ERA.As a result, states would lose their legislative abilities in regards to family law (marriage, divorce, alimony, custody, adoption, and property), sex crime laws, public and private schools, insurance, prison regulations and any other areas of law impacted by gender.

  1. It’s clear that ERA sponsors intended for the ERA to overturn all restrictions on abortion.

Efforts to soften the extreme nature of the ERA via amendments were rejected by the supporters of the ERA when the ERA was being drafted in Congress. Courts will look to this legislative history for legislative intent as they interpret the ERA. The sample amendment below that was rejected shows that the supporters intended the applications of the ERA to be extreme and without any protection for women or their unborn children:

This amending language for the ERA was rejected by the supporters: “The provisions of this article shall not impair the validity, however, of any laws of the United States or any State which exempt women from compulsory military service, or from service in combat units of the Armed Forces; or extend protections or exemptions for wives, mothers, or widows; or impose upon fathers responsibility for the support of children; or secure privacy to men or women, or boys or girls; or make punishable as crimes rape, seduction, or other sexual offenses” (Cong. Rec., pp. S9538–S9540).

The following amendment was also proposed to make the ERA-abortion neutral, but it was repeatedly rejected by ERA supporters: “Nothing in this Article shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.”  It’s clear they intended for the ERA to overturn all restrictions on abortion.

  1. The accepted time limit for ratification of Constitutional amendments is 7 years. ERA failed in 1979. Five states voted to rescind their earlier approval of ERA. Any vote for ERA today is null and void and would be an embarrassment to the state. https://eagleforum.org/topics/era/10-reasons-to-oppose-equal-rights-amendment.html

Obama Common Core: A Failed ‘Grand Experiment’

Image result for Obama core

Top Republican presidential contenders cite Common Core in their stump speeches, seeking political capital and earning audible cheers by referring to Common Core as a “disaster” that must end, or calling for the “repeal [of] every word of Common Core.” The Democratic contenders are far quieter on the issue, focusing instead on college and university access.

The call to action is clear. As a failed grand experiment in school reform — and a costly one, with a nationwide price tag some estimate at $80 billion for teacher training, materials development and purchase, and implementation (from an initial nationwide estimate of $17 billion) — states must actively reconsider their commitment to Common Core.

With ‘war stories’ from embattled educators now commonplace, what is painfully clear is that Common Core, which sets standards for K-12 in English language arts (ELA)/literacy and mathematics, has gone horribly, terribly wrong. Each day these demonstrably failed standards remain in place, we betray the trust of U.S. public schoolchildren, parents, teachers, principals, and administrators tethered to flawed, federalized education reform.

Common Core skepticism is on the rise, with concerns from lawmakers, scholars, educators, parents, students, and others that include:

  • Growing opposition to Common Core among teachers and the general public, with a 2015 EdNext poll on school reform showing marked gains in opposition from 2013-2015. In a two-year period, teachers’ opposition rose from 12 percent to 50 percent (a more than four-fold gain), while public opposition rose from 13 percent to 35 percent (nearly tripled).

In a live Daily Caller poll, 80 percent of respondents say that Common Core should be repealed in every state (late March).School systems caught in a Common Core crossroads, including high-priced curricula and textbooks that claim to be Common Core aligned, but appear rushed-to-market, resulting in erratic (and unverified) quality.A distortion of the teaching and learning process, in which teachers must set pedagogical skill aside and “teach to the test.”Indecipherable math problems (see Alec Torres’ “The Ten Dumbest Common Core Problems”) with frustrated parents and guardians posting sample ‘unsolvable’ problems online.A “dramatic collapse of test scores,” according to research professor Diane Ravitch, in many states a drop of about 30 percent in passing rates, with such ‘questionable’ outcomes tied to high-stakes evaluations of teachers.

Broadly identified as architects of the standards, while the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and Achieve deny that the federal government was involved in standards development, such denial may be far from the truth. Few ‘insiders’ deny that the standards are a thinly veiled form of federal overreach; others go further, characterizing the standards as conspiratorial. Hastily drafted and improperly vetted, the standards were further hampered by a non-existent implementation strategy.

Simply put, Common Core is a one-size-fits-all federal “reform” that grossly misses the mark. Through the mechanism of appointed and elected school boards, it is citizen control over public education policy that empowers our nation’s grassroots democracy and educational system. States’ responsibility for education means that career and college-ready standards that ready students to graduate high school “prepared to success in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses, and workforce training programs” are best developed at local — not federal — levels, with adequate time for academic and public review.

Many in the education community justly accuse the Department of Education and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of taking steps to end local control through the de facto creation of a national school board. There is perhaps no better example of federal overreach gone awry than the Administration’s reauthorization of federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act, with the equally heavy-handed and ill-conceived Race to the Top.

Flawed on many levels, Race to the Top fails to improve public education, requiring highly trained teachers to set aside their training and judgment to teach to the test, causing many skilled teachers to leave the profession while also stunting the recruitment pipeline. Race to the Top also promotes the redeployment of limited taxpayer dollars toward private schools, an outcome that erodes existing (and already strained) infrastructure and risks re-segregating schools. Such harsh realities fail America’s youth, particularly those living in poverty who must — for the well-being, economic prosperity and future global competitiveness of our nation — gain equal access to high-quality education.

Though the tally has yet to catch up with on-the-ground realities, support for Common Core is waning. At present, leaders of the standards initiative state that 42 states and the District of Columbia have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with them, numbers that fail to account for a growing body of state detractors. (Early non-adopters were Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota [adopted ELA/literacy only, not mathematics], Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.) A growing body of states are developing state-level alternatives to Common Core — for example, California, Louisiana and Tennessee. Further, key political leaders across the nation, key among them former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — all former Republican presidential contenders — have gone on-record in strong opposition to Common Core.

With federal control of education a failed model, influential lawmakers, key among them Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), led the call for legislation aimed at putting the brakes on the growing federalization of public education. This bipartisan leadership effort resulted in the December 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA, the long-awaited overhaul of federal education law, significantly narrows the federal government’s role in elementary and secondary education, restricting its ability “to coerce states in the adoption of school standards, such as Common Core.” Newly flanked by ESSA, states such as Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and others that unsuccessfully attempted to repeal Common Core may gain a second wind.

The question becomes, with ESSA passage in place that establishes and protects states’ control of elementary and secondary education, how long will flawed and failed Common Core standards remain standing? With student outcomes top of mind, how — and when — will states act on this important responsibility?

David A. Pickler, J.D., is president of the American Public Education Foundation, a past president of the National School Boards Association, and Vice-Chair of the Tennessee Academic Standards Recommendation Committee for Mathematics and English Language Arts formed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and other state officials.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/common-core-a-failed-gran_b_9612082

Deterrence is Peace Through Strength, BRINGING BACK THE PUNITIVE EXPEDITION

Bringing Back the Punitive Expedition

Because ends exist only in the imagination, they can be infinite. . . . Means, though, are stubbornly finite…Ends and means have to connect if anything is to happen. They’re never, however, interchangeable.

— John Lewis Gaddis, On Grand Strategy

In October 2019 we marked the eighteenth anniversary of the start of operations in Afghanistan—and with each year, the “Forever War” label applied by some pundits becomes more difficult to argue with. After eighteen years of conflict, lost lives and expended treasure it is past time to consider other options for action in the Department of Defense range of ways to more effectively employ military power. The range of military responses offered to a president who must do something in response to an incident sufficiently jarring to the national psyche must include punitive expeditions.

Given the scope of poorly governed and ungoverned spaces on the planet and the “stubbornly finite” means that Gaddis describes, a carefully crafted punitive-expedition option establishes a measured response to the action of a foe, is within the scope of existing laws of land warfare, and offers focus for military action taken in support of a policy objective. It is time to reconsider the military’s use of them. Including a punitive-expedition option when developing use-of-force options for policy makers fits into the absolute requirement to connect policy ends to the finite means of both military forces and sustaining the support of the people for a desired policy objective.

Application of Punitive Measures

Bearing in mind the Clausewitzian trinity—enmity, chance, and reason—and the effort required to sustain the will of the nation, the military must resurrect the option of the punitive expedition. After an attack like the one on 9/11 the demand for action will be irresistible. The Clausewitzian definition of war reminds us of the purpose of deciding to use force. “War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”

Another reason to bear Clausewitz in mind is his rejoinder regarding bloodshed and the use of force:

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst. The maximum use of force is in no way incompatible with the simultaneous use of the intellect.

A punitive expedition results in a measured, relatively swift, focused response. It can be of some duration but only long enough to achieve the policy ends of punishing the group that threatened US interests or caused US casualties. There is no regime change, no re-ordering of the existing power structure in a region. A punitive expedition demonstrates the will and ability of the US government to act with violence. Especially when striking into ungoverned areas there is no Phase V (enable civil authority) as there is no civil authority to reestablish. The purpose of the punitive expedition is to act with violence and return to home station. The linkage to policy is straightforward. In ungoverned or poorly governed spaces, a punitive expedition is measured, focused, and not open-ended. A punitive expedition acts with diplomatic and informational efforts, each reinforcing the other. Indeed strategists and planners must bear in mind the political object irrespective of the development of use of force options. Again we return to Clausewitz: “The political object—the original motive for the war—will thus determine both the military objective to be reached and the amount of effort it requires.”

A punitive expedition is not the “easy button”; rather, it is a more difficult operation to conceive because it requires a recognition of the limits of force. The need to bear in mind the policy end at which the use of force is aimed remains paramount prior to and during the operation. Moreover, the ability to cease, escalate, or deviate operations will need to be as dynamic as the political climate demanding action. The dialogue between the senior civilian policymakers and the military requires constant engagement—and, I offer, more effort on the part of the military. Planners and military decision makers must develop a range of response options conforming to an understanding of the need to do something now with an equal understanding of the conditions driving policy. And policy will change as conditions change, polls measure the limits of public support, and social media observations turn into developing and competing narratives. These conditions act as limits on the utility of using force.

Beginning with the End in Mind

The multi-phased approach to planning conflicts remains useful in order to structure and synchronize the dynamic and daunting tasks of accomplishing military objectives that achieve political conditions favorable to the United States. Again, the successful execution of any strategy demands a recognition of the ever-balancing Clausewitzian trinity: enmity, chance, and reason. The government, purveyor of reason, must remain engaged in the conduct of the war while sustaining the passion of the people to support the war.

Short of declaring war, which is apparently antiquated in this modern age, and even asking the legislative branch to remain engaged by reviewing and updating the authorization for the use of military force, it falls on the military to bear in mind framing the war upon which the nation enters. As Clausewitz wrote,

The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something alien to its nature. (Emphasis added.)

The statesman and the commander must understand and agree to the kind of war upon which they are embarking—or in other words, the use of force as an extension of policy they are going to conduct. This is why it is so important that military people know how to speak to politicians and policymakers in a language they understand—not merely talking in terms of “body bags and trips to Dover,” but a clear understanding of and the ability to convey what the use of force can and, significantly, cannot do. As a quote attributed to Talleyrand goes, “you can do anything you like with bayonets, except sit on them.”

This is not to say the military is bloodthirsty and desires combat, but to acknowledge that the determination to use force as an extension of policy carries with it the fact people will die and property will be destroyed. The decision to use force must be made with a mind open to loss and the repercussions of loss in the Information Age of social media and twenty-four-hour news and political-commentary cycles.

Violence is Not an End within Itself

Punitive expeditions are merely the physical stimulant for changing behavior and only enable a greater effort to achieve decisive results within the psychological aspects of diplomatic and economic competition.

There are recent incidents wherein the threat of force gained policy objects without a shot being fired: Libya giving up its nuclear weapons in 2004, for example, and the Russian conquest of Crimea. Perspectives on these incidents abound but here again On War provides the ultimate observation:

Combat is the only effective force in war; its aim is to destroy the enemy’s forces as a means to a further end. That holds good even if no actual fighting occurs, because the outcome rests on the assumption that if it came to fighting, the enemy would be destroyed. (Emphasis added.)

As John Lewis Gaddis points out, connecting the means to the ends is difficult but vital. This ability must be in the military strategist’s intellectual toolkit. Including a punitive expedition into the proposed range of military responses to an enemy action can satisfy the need to act relatively swiftly and can assist in crafting a policy end within the ability of the applied means to achieve. A punitive expedition does not close the door on other options. A punitive expedition as a response option is also not a substitute for a strategy. But it can fit well into the conditions around which policy and strategy are developed and refined as conditions change—and strategists know conditions will change.

The narrative accompanying action must also be considered as a part of both the government policy and the supporting strategy. Playing well in Peoria is important, but a consideration of how the narrative plays in Paktia province and Paris must also be incorporated into both thinking and action. As Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley suggested during the 2019 Association of the US Army convention, whoever wins the narrative of the first battle may well win the war.

The purpose of the punitive expedition is to act with violence and return to home station. The linkage to policy is straightforward as execution of these types of expeditions will serve to demonstrate that the United States will reach out and take action to destroy a foe who threatens vital national interests and American lives. In ungoverned spaces, a punitive expedition is measured, focused, and not open-ended. A punitive expedition must act in coordination with diplomatic and informational efforts, each reinforcing the other. Indeed strategists and planners must bear in mind the political object irrespective of the development of use-of-force options.

It is time to return to consideration of punitive expeditions.

Col. (ret) Kevin Benson, PhD, commanded from company to battalion level and served as a general staff officer from corps to field army. He was the CFLCC J5 (Plans) at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the director of the School of Advanced Military Studies. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Author’s note: I wish to thank Lt. Col. Mark Lavin for his review and comments. All quotations from On War, Carl von Clausewitz. Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976. https://mwi.usma.edu/bringing-back-punitive-expedition/

Why Puberty Blockers Are A Clear Danger To Children’s Health:

Image result for boy and girl

I have written (see here and here) about physicians who push the boundaries of ethical practice by administering untested medical treatments to children and adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria (or transgender patients). Such treatments include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and so-called sex-reassignment surgery.

Citing guidelines issued by the political advocacy group World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), these physicians admit that the effects of cross-sex hormones are generally irreversible. Vulnerable patients who agree to this treatment are thus crossing the Rubicon into permanent bodily impairment.

However, most doctors insist that puberty blockers are safe and fully reversible, so that patients who decide not to continue with the “transition” can get their healthy bodies back. But mounting medical evidence shows the fallacy of the cavalier implication that puberty blockers are as harmless as aspirin and can be discontinued with as little effect.

Time To ‘Explore Their Identity,’ But At What Cost?

One of the puberty blockers frequently administered to girls who identify as boys (female-to-male, or FtM) is called Lupron. Lupron belongs to a class of drugs called gonadotrophin hormone-releasing (GnRH) agonists and is used to suppress estrogen production, thereby delaying the physical changes of puberty in a pre-pubescent female patient.

The argument is that this will give the girl more time to “explore her identity,” an easier path to physical transitioning before her body matures, and a chance to decide if she wants to pursue more serious measures such as cross-sex hormones and surgery. (More on that later.) The first claim is that Lupron is safe. But thousands of patients who have been treated with Lupron for non-sex-related conditions would disagree.

Lupron was originally Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to treat prostate cancer, but it’s now routinely prescribed for other conditions such as endometriosis and “precocious puberty” — i.e., puberty that begins too early (generally considered under age eight for girls, under age nine for boys). Many of these patients have experienced extreme side effects that shattered their health and their lives, including severe joint pain, osteoporosis, compromised immune systems, and mental health issues such as severe depression and even suicidal ideation. The FDA has received 24,000 reports of adverse reactions, about half of which the agency has deemed serious.

Lupron manufacturer AbbVie has been fighting lawsuits over the drug for years. In one case pending in federal court in Illinois, 60-year-old Terry Paulsen claims she has endured severe medical problems related to receiving two injections of Lupron for endometriosis 14 years ago. “My body is on fire,” she said. “My joints have arthritis everywhere.” Since her Lupron treatment, Paulsen has suffered not only constant pain but strange rashes, severe osteoporosis, and multiple surgeries.

In another lawsuit, gynecologist David Redwine testified as an expert witness about the adverse effects of Lupron he has observed over 31 years of medical practice. Noting that Lupron’s suppression of the pituitary-gonadal system may affect a body’s immune response, Redwine concluded that the plaintiff in that case suffered extreme bone density loss and other symptoms as a result of being administered Lupron beginning at the age of 17.

Many Patients Suffer From Lupron-Related Side Effects

Tragically, many other young patients have endured similar adverse effects. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on a younger patient’s trauma after receiving Lupron treatment for precocious puberty. Now 22, Brooklyn Harbin was injected with Lupron at the age of 10, and soon found herself in such severe pain that she ended up a wheelchair while still in fifth grade.

Dr. Ken Sinervo, an Atlanta-area gynecologist who specializes in endometriosis surgery, reports having seen many women suffering memory loss and joint pain after Lupron treatment. He was quoted as warning that “Lupron or any of the similar types of medications should never be used in someone under the age of 21.”

But of course, all gender dysphoric patients who might be placed on Lupron to delay puberty are years younger than 21. Plus, there’s a serious added danger to using Lupron merely to stop normal puberty in a gender dysphoric child. Such treatment is “off label,” meaning the FDA hasn’t approved the drug for this purpose, nor is there reliable research showing the safety of such use.

The research and consulting firm Hayes, Inc. warned that “the literature is too sparse and the studies [that exist are] too limited to suggest conclusions” about safety and effectiveness of using Lupron and other GnRH agonists on healthy children to prevent normal puberty. The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) points out that puberty blockers alter a patient’s body in myriad ways:

In addition to preventing the development of secondary sex characteristics, GnRH agonists arrest bone growth, decrease bone accretion, prevent the sex-steroid dependent organization and maturation of the adolescent brain, and inhibit fertility by preventing the development of gonadal tissue and mature gametes for the duration of treatment.

Are Lupron’s Effects Really Reversible?

Despite all these warning flags about administering these drugs to healthy children, ideologues such as Dr. Stephen Rosenthal (who receives federal tax dollars to produce research supporting transgender-affirming treatment) see no problem with this experimentation. Rosenthal declares himself a “firm believer” in using GnRH agonists to stop normal body development in gender-confused children.

Rosenthal also insists that the effects of Lupron and other such drugs are “100 percent reversible,” a claim the true believers at WPATH support. Is this true? Mounting evidence suggests the answer is no.

The thousands of complaints about Lupron, mentioned above, show that many adverse side effects can be long-lasting, if not permanent. But even in a patient who doesn’t suffer those effects––that is, when the drug simply delays puberty without causing additional harm––the effect may not be fully reversible.

Reversibility must be considered from both a physical and a psychological perspective. Physically, a particularly problematic result is the direct effect on the pituitary gland. Redwine, the expert witness on the dangers of Lupron mentioned above, cited a study of impaired pituitary function: “The most important finding of this review comes from study M84-042. The study provides the evidence that 62.5% of patients [treated with Lupron for endometriosis] had not regained baseline estrogen levels by one year after stopping Lupron.”

In other words, the effect on the pituitary was not reversible for the majority of those patients. Endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw also warns that bone density may never recover from use of puberty blockers:

There is an exquisitely timed release and change of multiple hormones during normal puberty. Among these are growth hormone and the sex hormones which account for the growth spurt including bone growth and development. It has been shown that puberty blockers interfere with the expected increase in bone density in adolescence such that the bones are not as strong as they would be had normal pubertal development been allowed. This is due to the effect of dropping sex hormone levels to subnormal levels. These lost years of bone development cannot be regained.

Outgrowing Dysphoria Naturally

If this weren’t enough reason for parents to refuse such treatment for their minor children, Laidlaw says that “what parents should find truly terrifying is the psychological effect of this medication.” Under the traditional treatment for gender dysphoria, which involves “watchful waiting or pursuit of family and individual psychotherapy,” between 80 and 95 percent of adolescent patients outgrow their dysphoria naturally.

In other words, only 5 to 10 percent of those children remain dysphoric and go on to request further treatments. But a major study of dysphoric children who were administered puberty blockers found that 100 percent went on to request cross-sex hormones.

Why would a child whose normal puberty is short-circuited be more likely to move on to radical treatment with cross-sex hormones and perhaps surgery? Laidlaw attributes this phenomenon to “a very strong psychologically addictive component to this medication, so that once children begin taking these blockers, they never leave the road of high-dose synthetic hormones and irreversible surgeries.”

ACPeds agrees, offering a theory grounded in neuroscience and social science:

There is an obvious self-fulfilling nature to encouraging a young child with GD to socially impersonate the opposite sex and then institute pubertal suppression. Purely from a social learning point of view, the repeated behavior of impersonating and being treated as the opposite sex will make identity alignment with the child’s biologic sex less likely. This, together with the suppression of puberty that prevents further endogenous masculinization or feminization of the entire body and brain, causes the child to remain either a gender non-conforming pre-pubertal boy disguised as a pre-pubertal girl, or the reverse. Since their peers develop normally into young men or young women, these children are left psychosocially isolated. They will be less able to identify as being the biological male or female they actually are.

ACPeds concludes: “A protocol of impersonation and pubertal suppression that sets into motion a single inevitable outcome (transgender identification) that requires lifelong use of toxic synthetic hormones, resulting in infertility, is neither fully reversible nor harmless.”

Rosenthal, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, and the other medical ideologues who plow ahead with these therapies haven’t refuted these concerns. They seem to simply ignore them. That such behavior is allowed by the medical establishment, and even funded by federal tax dollars, is a travesty. Can we sink any lower than to sacrifice children to political ideology? https://thefederalist.com/2018/12/14/puberty-blockers-clear-danger-childrens-health/