Saturday 30 May 2020

Sweden's Covid-19 death toll per capita is now 4 times bigger than Denmark's and 8 times bigger than Norway's

I decided about a month ago, based on comparisons between Sweden and Denmark, that as a very rough rule of thumb deaths with, not by any means necessarily of, the virus would have been three times higher without a lockdown, the average age of the decreased being eighty. I also saw that having taken care with care homes would have reduced the number considerably.

A month ago Sweden had three times more Covid-19 deaths than Denmark. She now has four times more but Sweden has eight times more deaths per capita than Norway, which is a much, much bigger difference. 

It's the reason why the last Swedish State Epidemiologist, who had backed her successor's policy, has recently changed her mind about it. 

Does this change my mind about lockdowns?

Not for Sweden, because the purpose of lockdowns was to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed and in Sweden they were not. 

Nor will huge numbers of people die in Sweden. The number dead with the virus in Sweden is very unlikely to exceed 5,000 out of 10 million. Many of these deaths were not caused BY the virus and many or most could have been prevented had care homes been isolated and care home workers properly equipped and guided as to what to do. 

Half the people in Sweden who died were eighty or over, as in many countries (but not in the USA where the median age is 70). In Sweden about two thirds were in care homes, much more than in France where half were or Britain where a third were. (Swedes were certainly very negligent about old people's homes but it might also mean the Swedes record deaths in care homes more accurately or it might mean they count too many deaths as with COVID-19.)

Fraser Myers in Spiked says:
Originally, the aim of lockdown was to ‘flatten the curve’ — that is, slow the spread of the virus sufficiently to avoid overwhelming hospital capacity. This horror scenario was the key justification for the suspension of civil liberties and the decimation of our economies. But in Sweden, this has not happened.
However, since the lockdowns began, the goalposts have been moved. Now lockdowns are promoted as a means for reducing cases and deaths outright. And even on these dishonest new terms, Sweden’s results are pretty average: whether in terms of raw numbers or taken per capita, it currently falls below the UK, France, Italy and Spain, all of which had lockdowns. At the time of writing, just over 4,000 people have died.

In fact, the head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), now recognises that Norway should not have had a lockdown.

But since eight times more people have died with the virus in Sweden than in Norway, does this mean eight times more people would have died in other countries that had lockdowns had they copied the Swedish model? That would mean over 300,000 deaths in the UK and 800,000 deaths in the USA.

I do not think so, for these reasons. First although Sweden has eight times more deaths per capita she has four times as many as Denmark. Then Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford has shown that the peak of the UK’s infections came a full week before Boris Johnson initiated lockdown on March 23rd. Incidentally, Lyman Stone has shown that infections with the virus also began to fall in France and Spain before the lockdown. 

300,000 in the UK would exceed the estimate by Professor Ferguson of 250,000 deaths if a lockdown were not imposed. He added that two thirds of those people would have died anyway.

I think it is helpful to consider deaths in old people's homes and elsewhere separately and find out how each country has dealt with each category. Sweden, where eugenics was so popular until fairly recently, and New York City were very careless about lives in old people's homes. 

It's not Lutheranism that's to blame for Swedish laissez-faire attitudes. The Norwegians have been much more careful and caring. 

I thought Sweden provided a slam-dunk argument against lockdowns, but it is all much more complicated than it seemed a month ago.

Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis (TNT)

The Daily Telegraph in December published an interview with Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the 1980s party girl now turned devout Catholic. She is friends with Pope Benedict XVI and Steve Bannon. Her views shock the man interviewing her, who I am sure is not a Catholic and presume isn't a conservative.
She believes, for example, that abortion is murder and that the State should pay a living wage to women who stay at home to have, and bring up, children - and the more children they have, the more money they should get. She believes not that there are too many people on the planet but too few, and is doubtful of the existence of man-made climate change. And, of course, she believes that the European Union is a 'Godless Tower of Babel' and, as such, doomed to collapse.
... Western civilisation is "on the brink of collapse", she tells me, because it has trashed Christian values. "We don't worship any more. We've beaten the cold, darkness, hunger, disease. We have everything and don't seem to need God any more. And as soon as we stop worshipping, we start eating ourselves up, just like the serpent that eats his own tail."


“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” Dr. Marcia Angell, NY Review of Books, January 15, 2009, “Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption"

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness…

“The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of ‘significance’ pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale…Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent…” Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief, The Lancet, in The Lancet, 11 April, 2015, Vol 385, “Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma?”

'Hysterical safety-ism is the mark of a society that has passed its peak. The West has subsided to a geriatric phase of high anxiety and low expectations.' Lionel Shriver, this week's Spectator

'We have sought truth, and sometimes perhaps found it. But have we had any fun?' Marginalia by Dr Benjamin Jowett ('All there is to know I know it.')

"crudelis ubique luctus, ubique pavor et plurima mortis imago. (Everywhere there is harsh tragedy, everywhere fear and countless visions of death.)" The Aeneid, Book 2, line 369, acknowledgments Laudator Temporis Acti

"I want to go to Europe, Alyosha, I'll go straight from here. Of course I know that I will only be going to a graveyard, but to the most, the most precious graveyard, that's the thing! The precious dead lie there, each stone over them speaks of such ardent past life, of such passionate faith in their deeds, their truth, their struggle, and their science, that I—this I know beforehand—will fall to the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them—being wholeheartedly convinced, at the same time, that it has all long been a graveyard and nothing more." Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), The Brothers Karamazov, Book V, Chapter 3, Acknowledgments Laudator Temporis Acti

"We do not believe in artificial borders. We have a vision of unrestricted immigration and emigration, where people have the right to live and work wherever they please… We want Sweden to become an international role model by producing a plan to implement unrestricted immigration." Swedish Green Party website, 2010. 

"His unjust contempt for foreigners was, indeed, extreme. One evening, at Old Slaughter's Coffee-house, when a number of them were talking loud about little matters, he said 'Does not this confirm old Meynell's observation, For any thing I see, foreigners are fools?'"  James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

"est generosius, in sua quidquid sede gignitur; insitum alienae terrae in id quo alitur, natura vertente se, degenerat.
(Whatever grows in its own soil has greater excellence; transplanted to another soil, its nature being modified to suit that in which it grows, it loses its virtue.)" Livy 38.17.13 , acknowledgments Laudator Temporis Acti

Friday 29 May 2020

European Christian civilisation is in rather advanced decay

Fourteen bishops of the Church of England have condemned Dominic Cummings for driving his little son and sick wife to Country Durham where they could be cared for if his wife turned out to have Covid 19. She did and so did Mr Cummings

Yet no bishop said a word about the Prime Minister becoming father to a child born out of wedlock a few weeks ago, while married until a few days earlier to a woman whom he had deserted. 

Not even journalists who dislike Mr Johnson a great deal, and they really really do, so much as mentioned it. Only the Indian press mentioned the divorce and they did so because Mrs Johnson is half Indian.

The reality behind the attack on Mr Cummings is that it is an attack on Brexit, for which many filmgoers and others think he was responsible. Perhaps he was too. This is why bishops should be very careful before getting involved in politics, but they prefer talking about politics to talking about sin. 

You'd have thought the deaths from Covid 19 would have led to sermons about the four last things (death, judgment, hell and heaven, in case you'd forgotten). I am not in England but I doubt if there were many sermons on this theme. 

The left-wing but pro-Brexit clergyman-journalist the Rev Giles Fraser says the bishops are treating Mr Cummings in a most un-Christian way.

Zoom meetings reinforce heteronormativity

'On May 14, Michigan State University published an article highlighting claims from MSU Professor Amy Bonomi and University of Colorado Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Nelia Viveiros that there exists an “unconscious bias” in video conferencing meetings.

'The pair argues that these settings are a particularly ripe environment for people to unintentionally practice prejudice or stereotyping.
'Viveiros and Bomoni claim that common vessels for “bias” during video conference calls are virtual meeting backgrounds such as family photos, or icebreaker questions that can serve to reinforce dominant social norms or minoritize coworkers. Bonomi adds that microaggressions are now communicated in virtual meetings just as they are in in-person meetings.

'Unconscious bias includes using language, symbolism and nonverbal cues that reinforce normative social identities with respect to gender, race, sexual preference, and socioeconomic status,” said Bonomi. “For example, when the virtual background of a Zoom meeting attendee has pictures of his or her wedding, it unintentionally reinforces the idea that marriage is most fitting between opposite sexes.'

That's in America. I wonder how many Protestant or Catholic bishops complain about this sort of thing and say married couples consisting of a man and a woman are normal and admirable. They find time to talk a lot about climate change and refugees.

You see why the novelist Ruth Dudley Edwards has given up writing satirical novels. She said it is literally impossible to write satire any more. 

Twitter responds to Trump's executive order making it liable as a publisher for tweets

This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible. Learn more

It's all theatre, to distract people from reality, at least on Donald Trump's part. Twitter is serious about hating him..

The media war against Donald Trump is mirrored by another media war against the very liberal Dominic Cummings in the UK, who is blamed for Brexit, but in the latter war Twitter and Facebook seem to be neutral, as far as I can see.

Twitter doesn't need to be biased as their users are, heavily. In America 77% of Twitter users describe themselves as left-of-centre or extreme left. It might be the same in the UK, and might reflect the well known fact that left-wing people usually advertise their politics and right-wing people often keep quiet about theirs.

Why this is is an interesting question. It is partly because right-wingers are thought of by the left as snobby, shallow, selfish people, motivated by narrow economic interests. And also not very bright. Right-wingers, by contrast, who are much less judgmental, just think left-wingers misguided and very annoying, not wicked.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Harvard economics professor expects world economy to boom again this year carries the most cheerful news story I have read since Coronavirus, at first a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, came to cover the sky in darkness.

Professor Jason Furman of Harvard, a leading economist in the Obama administration thinks the US economy will quickly bounce back.

He thinks the data point to the kind of recovery that happens after a hurricane or similar catastrophe. (This is exactly what I have been saying, providing the lockdowns end quickly.)

This good news has gravely worried leading Democrats.

“This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”
Nobody believes the official spokesman but everyone believes the anonymous source. This anonymous source continued:

“Trump beats Biden on the economy even right now! This is going to be extremely difficult no matter what. It’s existential that we figure it out. In any of these economic scenarios Democrats are going to have to win the argument that our public health and economy are much worse off because of Donald Trump’s failure of leadership.”

“Even today when we are at over 20 million unemployed Trump gets high marks on the economy, so I can’t imagine what it looks like when things go in the other direction. I don’t think this is a challenge for the Biden campaign. This is the challenge for the Biden campaign. If they can’t figure this out they should all just go home.”

This is much of the reason why the Democrats continue to advocate lockdowns, to blame Republicans for ending them and to blame Donald Trump for not having stopped flights from China and Europe much sooner (policies they opposed as reactionary, but then they did not have the information the President had).

If the lockdowns look unnecessary, Democrat governors like Cuomo are accused of being responsible for unnecessary deaths in old people's homes and the economy surges, the Biden campaign is in big trouble, without even discussing Mr Biden himself, who unfortunately but unmistakably is in the early stages of senility.

Wednesday 27 May 2020

I completely agree, as always, with Dr John Lee in the Spectator

'While there’s plenty we don’t know about Covid, the big-picture science has been settled for some time already. As epidemics go it’s not that bad. It kills mainly the very old and infirm; children and fit people under 60ish often get away with mild or asymptomatic infection. Those who become ill do not, in fact, die like flies. About 99 per cent of them get better quite quickly.

'....That we have now fully embarked on a phase of politics masquerading as science may be harder to spot. Nothing demonstrates it better than the Dominic Cummings story. I’m not really interested here in the rights or wrongs of what he did with respect to the 'rules'. The point is that if lockdown and social distancing actually have any effect at all on the virus, it is difficult to see how driving to a different, empty house could realistically spread it. Social distancing and lockdown are supposed to be the measures 'protecting' us from the virus. So if you move to another location in a socially distanced manner – in the bubble of your car for instance – and lock down once there, how can you have significantly contributed to viral spread?

'....Surely the relevant questions in this case, are not about the whys and wherefores of one individual, but about why on earth we are still continuing with measures that are massively harmful in their own right.

'....What we have been living through is not so much an epidemic, as a crisis of awareness. After 75 years of blessed peace and increasing prosperity, we were suddenly faced with something that took many out of their comfort zone. They were suddenly confronted with the potential of unavoidable death on a large scale, amplified dramatically in the echo-chamber of a largely uncritical media. The reality, fortunately, was different this time. But how did we respond? With fortitude and common sense? Unfortunately not. We responded with perhaps the biggest own goal in our recent history. And when our over-reaction had been clear for several weeks, what did we do then? Did we change course in a reasoned and timely manner? No. We devoted several days to hounding someone who tried to look after his family, at a time when each day longer on this path costs billions in economic loss and directly increases the lockdown-related morbidity and death toll.'

It all goes back to Douglas Murray's point about the West, but not Eastern Europe, having lost 'the tragic sense of life'. Instead of the tragic sense of life we have a pathetic and sentimental sense of life.

Emily Maitlis must be fired, not Dominic Cummings

The BBC says a monologue by Emily Maitlis on the Dominic Cummings affair last night on Newsnight

 "did not meet our standards of due impartiality".

She opened last night's Newsnight programme with the words: 

"Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot.”

She went to my college, after my time, and she reminds me a lot of annoying women I knew at Cambridge, but in my undergraduate days and for years afterwards I was open minded about leftists and admired them for eschewing convention. A Tory Cambridge woman friend however was right when she said the left-wingers were just as conventional in their own way. In fact they are more so - very closed minded, very hive minded.

My Cambridge Tory friend made it to a big house in Belgravia but ended as the most moaning of Remoaners. She voted Liberal Democrat in the last election.

Miss Maitlis behaved appallingly to the sainted Rod Liddle and the admirable Hungarian Foreign Minister. For these performances and her words about Dominic Cummings she should be fired

She also gave a touching but clearly left-wing speech about inequality and the virus, but the right seem to have accepted that inequality is for some reason a bad thing.

Ann Coulter told her less than 24 hours before the US presidential election in 2016 that Donald Trump was the only candidate who was standing up to the ruling class at his rallies. Miss Maitlis asked, with the patient look of someone trying to understand the mating habits of an unfamiliar species of grasshoppers, if it was the personality of Trump which made him an attractive option to voters.

Ann Coulter: 

“I think I just said the exact opposite. I’m talking about his issues. No-one is voting for Trump because of his personality.”

US media is desperate to turn good COVID-19 news into bad

Why is the left in favour of lockdowns? Why?

Some on the right are too, but everyone is on the left. In America the reason is that they want to use lockdowns to help defeat Donald Trump, who never believed in them and wants to end them (it's not in his power though).

Anti-Trump journalists (that is to say, almost all American journalists) convinced themselves that the virus and his chaotic response to it will make Mr. Trump unelectable. The contrary is much more likely. 

The public will remember with gratitude that he originally dismissed the virus as just a flu and later argued for ending lockdowns. In between he was scared by the virus, as everyone was.

Once the American quality papers were trustworthy, factual and very dull. Not any more. An article in the Spectator American edition about the way the American media distorts the virus news like everything else reader makes very funny reading. I quote.

On May 17, the New York Times crushed its competition with the most audacious effort yet to turn good news into bad. ‘NEW CASES IN US SLOW, POSING RISK OF COMPLACENCY,’ read the lead headline in the print edition. Sub headlines further limned the gloomy picture: ‘TRAJECTORY UNCERTAIN,’ ‘Spikes Feared As the Very Steps That Curbed the Virus Are Lifted.’ Do not stop being fearful, in other words. While the virus risk may go down, complacency risk replaces it, leaving us as threatened as before. The only proper posture is to shelter in place permanently.

The body of the Times’s story drove home the dangerous new reality. The nation had reached a ‘perilous moment,’ the paper alleged, since businesses were reopening ‘despite the risk of a resurgence.’ So it is ‘perilous’ when cases rise, and ‘perilous’ when they fall. One of the Times’s preferred epidemiologists, Columbia University’s Jeffrey Shaman, conceded that the decline ‘is something good to see.’ But what we are also seeing, Shaman said, is a ‘lot of places right on the edge of controlling the disease.’ The fact that some jurisdictions are registering sharp case declines while others are registering less or no decline is hardly a reason for fear. Differing points on the curve at any given time are to be expected.

The Times managed to eke out another cause for concern: communities that have succeeded in controlling their cases ‘have little idea how long [that success] will last.’ Ignorance of the future is the condition of all non-omniscient beings. Now, however, uncertainty about the future is a further reason that the reopenings were premature.

It wasn’t until the article was wrapping up that the Times got around to reporting that, oh, by the way, daily deaths are also declining. Deaths are the criterion that people care most about and one that is not influenced by testing rates. For the Times’s reporters, however, that drop is an afterthought.

The case against lockdowns must be won so that they never happen again

‘Our assessment now... is that we could possibly have achieved the same effects and avoided some of the unfortunate impacts by not locking down, but by instead keeping open but with infection control measures.’ Camilla Stoltenberg, the head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health

The Norwegian public health authority has published a report concluding the virus was never spreading as fast as feared and was on the way out before the lockdown was ordered. ‘It looks as if the effective reproduction rate had already dropped to around 1.1 when the most comprehensive measures were implemented on 12 March, and it would not take much to push it down below 1… We have seen in retrospect that the infection was on its way out.’

In other words the lockdown was unnecessary. We know that the virus was also on the way out in Italy and Spain before the lockdown started.
What is essential is that when this is over the world recognises that lockdowns were a tragic mistake that must never happen again. 

Who is to decide this? The World Health Organisation would be the obvious body except they are responsible for this terrible tragedy.

The reason most of the world (but not the Far East outside China) went into lockdown is because the virus started in China, the Chinese Communists ordered a draconian lockdown and the Chinese lapdog, the the WHO, praised China for doing so on January 29th.

China had not imposed a travel ban till January 23rd, after possibly five million people had left Wuhan to spend the Chinese New Year elsewhere. 

According to the Chinese the epidemic was penned into the province of Hubei. This is obviously a lie, but if very large numbers had died across China presumably we'd have heard. Of the foreigners deported from Wuhan, quarantined in their respective countries and then tested only 0.6% tested positive.

What does this mean? That the virus was not nearly as contagious as we thought. It leapt from country to country quickly but did not spread in an exponential fashion, what we feared at the start.

Places that locked down late or ended lockdowns early like Georgia in the USA did not see big numbers of deaths. In Sweden the number of daily deaths is falling and Sweden never had a lockdown. The total number of deaths in Sweden will be no more than five thousand, out of a population of ten million, which proves lockdowns were unnecessary. 

It would be much lower had the Swedes isolated their old people's homes. It would be much lower in New York had the Governor of New York ensured this was done. Yet Governor Cuomo is a hero.That's how politics works.

I quote Toby White in a debate about the lockdown in the American edition of the Spectator (not to be confused with the American Spectator): now looks almost certain that the outbreak in Germany, which Angela Merkel described as the worst crisis to afflict the country since the Second World War, will kill fewer people than flu did in Germany in 2017-18.

One reason COVID-19 has killed far fewer people in Germany than the UK in spite of it having a larger population is because the Germans have been better at protecting elderly people, particularly nursing home residents. That’s also one of the reasons Florida has fewer COVID fatalities per 100,000 than New York.

Unlike Andrew Cuomo, Ron DeSantis did not sanction discharging COVID patients back into care homes without testing them first to make sure they were negative. That practice has been widespread and the blame partly lies with epidemiologists touting apocalyptic computer models showing healthcare systems being overwhelmed. To give just one example, the shonky computer model cooked up by Professor Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College predicted that demand for critical care in Sweden would exceed supply fortyfold if the country didn’t shut down. As you know, Sweden never locked up its citizens and the healthcare system still hasn’t been overwhelmed.
I think your President will turn out to have got more calls right during this crisis than our Prime Minister, including singing the praises of hydroxychloroquine. His gut instincts about the virus — not that bad — and the shutdown — needless act of self-harm — are right.
 Toby Young is right on that last point. 

Cummings is thrashed

Dominic Cummings is best known to people outside the British Isles for being the man portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film Brexit: The Uncivil War as the architect of the victory by Leave in the Brexit referendum.  A Romanian data consultant told me it was essential viewing to discover the power of data and the uses that can be made of it. 

To some extent Dominic Cummings is the architect of the Leave victory, along with Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Angela Merkel and that now forgotten figure David Cameron. In the UK Dominic Cummings is therefore hated not only by the left but by the Remain establishment that rules the country.

He is now in very hot water for travelling 260 miles with his wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield, and their son to leave them at a cottage near his sister who had offered to look after the boy, because his mother showed symptoms of Covid-19. 

This is within the British lockdown rules. The deputy chief medical officer for England said from the start of the lockdown that ill parents with a small child created “exceptional circumstances” which justified leaving the house, which obviously must be right, but the media is out to get Dominic Cummings and has got much of the public on its side.

Dominic Cummings and his wife both went down badly with Covid-19. The strange thing is that had they driven four miles to leave their son with his aunt no-one would have cared, but 260 miles in the privacy of their car for some reason makes this a grave offence.

We learnt from Dominic Cummings' very nervous interview with the media in the rose garden at No 10 Downing St that he was always in favour of the lockdown, not opposed as the media had falsely claimed. This shows the media in a bad light and him in a bad one too.

What should be clear to everyone, in all parties, is that at this moment Dominic Cummings is badly needed. We saw how few talents the government has when Boris went into hospital. 

In the current emergency this is no time to make political capital but of course political journalists who have been forced to try and largely fail to understand epidemiology for months want a crisis to get their teeth into.

What matters when all this is over is that the lockdown is shown to have been a terrible mistake. Otherwise we shall have more lockdowns when more epidemics appear. Instead, the British seem to have a lust for enforcing lockdowns, spiced with chippiness and class prejudice.

An unknown junior minister at the Scotland Office resigned yesterday because Dominic Cumming's view of the lockdown rules was 'not shared by the vast majority of people'. He had backed Remain, of course. 35 Tory MPs have called on Cummings to consider his position but one told the Spectator they will not get rid of him until at least 70 do. 

I said when the father of the lockdown, Prof. Neal Ferguson, was caught breaking the lockdown to visit someone else's wife that that wouldn't matter if he were a useful government adviser (he wasn't and unlike Mr Cummings he broke the rules). I hope for the country's sake that Mr Cummings stays, but Tories are terrified of being considered elitists who consider they are exempt from the rules with which they bind ordinary people.

The “head of site integrity” at Twitter

Washington (CNN Business):
For the first time, Twitter called tweets from Donald Trump "potentially misleading" — a decision that prompted the president to accuse the social media platform of election meddling. 
On Tuesday, Twitter highlighted two of Trump's tweets that falsely claimed mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud, appending a message the company has introduced to combat misinformation and disputed or unverified claims.
"Get the facts about mail-in ballots," read the message beneath each tweet. It linked to a curated fact-check page the platform had created filled with further links and summaries of news articles debunking the assertion.
Reading the international press from 2016 onwards or listening to the BBC you would think raising questions about postal ballot voter fraud is wicked demagoguery on the part of Donald Trump, intended to 'suppress voting' by non-whites and other Democrats. In fact, voter fraud does happen with postal votes in the USA and the UK. It is a very big problem, as is the way Twitter deals with conservative opinions. 

Donald Trump is not just fighting the media, academia, Wall St and Hollywood, he is also fighting the social media. The left's weapon, whose effectiveness is proven, is to accuse the right of racism or sexism or other forms of discrimination. Instead of fighting this the right retaliates by accusing the left of those things too, which is not a good strategy.

Mr Roth is now being accused by someone on Twitter of sending racist tweets. And so it goes.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Illegal immigration and national security

"The crisis caused by mass immigration has a decisive effect on Hungary's security. The crisis has made it clear that unexpected, uncontrolled, mass and illegal migration is a new type of challenge that can even jeopardize the security and stability of the European continent, while posing a range of risks to national security, public safety and public health. Given global processes, the challenge must be met in the long run." Hungary's newly published National Security Strategy

My Syrian refugee friends, who are Christians, told me years ago that refugees are the biggest threat to European security. I wrote about this in 2015 and quote from the article I wrote.

Admiral Christopher Parry, one of the Royal Navy’s cleverest strategists, warned in a paper in 2006 that Britain and Europe faced being overrun by mass migration from the Third World within 30 years, because of population growth and environmental destruction. The Internet, cheap flights and free international phone calls would hinder assimilation. (Is there anything left to assimilate to, nowadays?)
He compared the plight of the West to that of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. The Blair Government liked to encourage senior public servants to indulge in blue sky thinking but Admiral Parry had taken it too far. He was silenced and accused of racism.

Monday 25 May 2020

Aris Roussinos on the man who predicted 2020

I forgot to recommend this essay in Unherd about a leading intellectual of the French New Right of whom I had scarcely heard called Guillaume Faye. One of his books was on Michael Gove's shelf, alongside a David Irving book which incensed leftists on Twitter. How unpleasant, sanctimonious and vindictive much of the Left is. 

I have quit the Augean stables of Twitter. It is useful, I suppose, but very depressing to realise how many fools there are in the world. I quit Facebook too, which is the thief of time.

In case you don't click on the rather long article here are some key quotations.
'Actively supporting Third World national liberation movements, decrying globalisation for its homogenising effects, and sounding urgent warnings of looming ecological collapse, de Benoist and Faye anticipated the anti-globalisation movement of the millennium, before it petered out into commodified pseudo-protest.

Sweden now has highest daily number of Covid-19 deaths in the world

Sweden which did not have a lockdown now has the highest daily number of deaths of people who have the Covid-19 virus. What is more important is the total number is not unacceptably high (under 4,000 for a country of 10 million inhabitants) and the number of daily deaths from Covid-19 is falling. 

Anglo-Swedish journalist Pelle Neroth Taylor tells me:
Swedish deaths are falling, though maybe not quite as fast as the lockdown countries. About a 50 day died [last] week, which is maybe half the April figure. If you scale up it's about 300 at UK Italy pop levels. The point is if you add up all these deaths during the period of decline it won't add up to much on total numbers, even if it is higher for the next three weeks than rest of Europe. Doesn't invalidate the case against lockdown. Wittkowski and the sceptics are more is less right. It comes and goes in about six weeks or eight weeks and that's it.

When I first blogged about Knut Wittkowski I did not do so because I thought he was right but simply because I thought he was interesting. In fact at one point weeks later I worried that his interesting ideas might be dangerous and I considered archiving the post about him, which attracted a lot of clicks. I don't think he is right about everything now, but it is now obvious to me that he is certainly a lot closer to the truth than the newspapers. 

Adevarul makes a good point today when it says:
The problem with the “Swedish model” was not that citizens were able to take to the streets freely, but that officials did not properly train nursing home staff, did and still do too few tests, and were wrong when they decided not to place in quarantine tourists returning to the country from skiing in March. The consequence of these decisions was a higher number of deaths, according to an analysis by the newspaper Expressen, based on the opinions of Swedish experts.

By the way, Knut Wittkowski would strongly agree about nursing homes. He has made the same point about the USA.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Adrian Tirca on the Serbian roots of Wallachian architecture

'The roots of the Wallachian style of architecture are Serbian. In Romania it is generally regarded as Byzantine, but Byzantine architecture had many flavours and adaptations. The one that made it to the Principality of Wallachia was the Serbo-Byzantine variant, imported probably also along with several Serbian monks and craftsmen after the fall of the Serbian Empire (the most famous of whom is Nicodemus of Tismana).

'The earliest Orthodox church in the Principality of Wallachia, which is still extant, is St Nicholas of the Princely Court in Curtea de Argeș, built in the 1350s. It is built in the Serbo-Byzantine style and it set the standard from which the subsequent Wallachian style developed, with the added veranda and the steeples stylized in Armenian-Georgian fashion.

'It is perhaps natural that the locus of prestige for Wallachian architecture was the Serbian Empire, since it started in the 1350s when the Byzantine Empire had been reduced to a small territory around Constantinople and the Bulgarian Empire was just being broken into fiefdoms by the Ottoman advance. It was in that brief period that the Orthodox hegemon was Serbia, since the Russian principalities were under the Golden Horde and the Byzantine and Bulgarian empires were crumbling to the Ottomans.'


"Eternity is not the very ancient, which existed before time began, but the entirely other, which is related to every passing age as its today and is really contemporary with it; it is not barred off into a 'before' and 'after'; it is much more the power of the present in all time." Pope Benedict XVI

“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” Oscar Wilde's last words

"No man should marry who does not expect to propagate intelligence." Dr. Johnson

“I didn’t think it would take only three months for me to be proved absolutely right.” Jeremy Corbyn, who thinks the Conservative government's spending plans to cope with Coronavirus have vindicated his spending plans at the general election

Two more professors think lockdowns have been useless or worse

"I think the epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country, so I think [the infection fatality rate] would definitely be less than 1 in 1,000 (0.1%) and probably closer to 1 in 10,000 (0.01%)." 
So said Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford about the virus in the United Kingdom. She thinks the lockdown was unwise to start with and should now be abandoned immediately.
"The Government's defence is that [Professor Neal Ferguson's projected number of deaths] was a plausible worst case scenario. I agree it was a plausible – or at least a possible – worst case scenario. The question is, should we act on a possible worst case scenario, given the costs of lockdown? It seems to me that, given that the costs of lockdown are mounting, that case is becoming more and more fragile.

"I would say that it is more likely that the pathogen arrived earlier than we think it did, that it had already spread substantially through the population by the time lockdown was put in place. I think there's a chance we might have done better by doing nothing at all."
The British papers have reported Professor Ferguson's old enemy Professor Gupta throughout the crisis, but suddenly they also report Nobel Prize winning chemist Professor Michael Levitt of Stanford University, who correctly predicted the initial trajectory of the pandemic. 

He said on March 14 that Professor Ferguson had over-estimated the potential death toll by "10 or 12 times", which started a "panic virus", and that Covid-19 would cause around an extra month of excess deaths this year in Europe. 
"I think lockdown saved no lives. I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few road accident lives - things like that - but social damage - domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism - has been extreme. And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions."
"...In Europe, I don't think that anything actually stopped the virus other than some kind of burnout. There's a huge number of people who are asymptomatic so I would seriously imagine that by the time lockdown was finally introduced in the UK the virus was already widely spread. They could have just stayed open like Sweden by that stage and nothing would have happened."
"...When I saw the briefing (from Prof Ferguson) I was shocked. I had a run-in with him when I actually saw that Ferguson's death rate was a year's worth - doubling the normal death rate. I saw that and said immediately that's completely wrong. I think Ferguson over-estimated 10 or 12 times. We should have seen from China that a virus never grows exponentially. From the very first case you see, exponential growth actually slows down very dramatically.
"The problem with epidemiologists is that they feel their job is to frighten people into lockdown, social distancing. So you say 'there's going to be a million deaths' and when there are only 25,000 you say 'it's good you listened to my advice'. This happened with Ebola and bird flu. It's just part of the madness."
Dr. Knut Wittkowski was kept out of the mainstream media until he was interviewed on Fox News on Monday, when he said
“What we see in Europe is among all the different countries, with the exception of Britain where it took a bit longer for the virus to get in, all the other countries in Europe, the course is more or less the same and it doesn’t

Saturday 23 May 2020

If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg

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I share Churchill's admiration for Robert E. Lee. I am always attracted to lost causes.

In an article written in the 1930s Churchill writes as a historian in an imaginary world in which the Confederates won the US Civil War, reflecting on what might have happened had they not. 
I read it with delight when I was 8, in a bound copy of several issues of a history magazine which I bought cheap at a market.

Last time I looked only extracts were on the net but and by chance I just found that it is now available complete. 

It is a very clever exercise in imaginary history and a perfectly plausible one. Reading it now in 2020 I see it contains lines which would almost certainly not be published in a respectable magazine these days.
There is practically no doubt at this stage that the basic principle upon which the colour question in the Southern States of America has been so happily settled owed its origin mainly to Gladstonian ingenuity and to the long statecraft of Britain in dealing with alien and more primitive populations. There was not only the need to declare the new fundamental relationship between master and servant, but the creation for the liberated slaves of institutions suited to their own cultural development and capable of affording them a different yet honourable status in a common wealth, destined eventually to become almost world-wide.
Let us only think what would have happened supposing the liberation of the slaves had at that time been followed immediately by some idiotic assertion of racial equality, and even by attempts to graft white democratic institutions upon the simple, gifted African race belonging to a much earlier chapter in human history. We might have seen the whole of the Southern States invaded by gangs of carpet-bagging politicians exploiting the ignorant and untutored coloured vote against the white inhabitants and bringing the time-honoured forms of parliamentary government into unmerited disrepute. We might have seen the sorry farce of black legislatures attempting to govern their former masters. Upon the rebound from this there must inevitably have been a strong reassertion of local white supremacy. By one device or another the franchises accorded to the negroes would have been taken from them. The constitutional principles of the Republic would have been proclaimed, only to be evaded or subverted; and many a warm-hearted philanthropist would have found his sojourn in the South no better than “A Fool’s Errand.”

Churchill was always an Edwardian progressive and imperialist and therefore certainly was a racist by the standards of his own day, as Andrew Roberts pointed out in his wonderful essay on Churchill's immigration policy in Eminent Churchillians

By the way, Andrew Roberts quotes (from Harold Macmillan's diary) Churchill saying in cabinet in January 1955
Keep England white - that would be a good election slogan.
However, thinking the Confederate cause was right is not racist. To me it is simply common sense and humanity. I think it was unforgivable that Lincoln launched a war that cost 700,000 lives to keep the South in the USA against its will. It should not be forgiven him, at any rate. Slavery is one of the sins on which the USA is built, but the bloody subjugation of the South by the North is another. It was the moment when the USA ceased to be a republic, except in form, and became an empire. Everything changed after that.


'Economics are the method: the object is to change the soul'. Margaret Thatcher talking to the Sunday Times on 1 May 1981

'The profound thing that Cardinal Manning said to me was this: all human conflict is ultimately theological.' Belloc

'All philosophy is disguised psychology.' Nietzsche

'Politics, as opposed to science, does not reward the correction of
mistakes, given that correcting a mistake also entails admitting to

Friday 22 May 2020

The end of the strangest period in world history since when?

The terraces reopen in Romania on Monday week, June 1. On June 15, the interiors of restaurants will re-open with special rules about distancing. The madness is coming to an end.

The numbers of infections and deaths are falling almost everywhere, whether or not they have lockdowns.

Interestingly, the US states that haven’t imposed lockdowns - there are 5 of them, I think - are coming clear of the virus at pretty much the same rate and at the same time as those that did.

The number of reported cases (an unreliable statistic in any country) only continues to increase by more than 2% per day in the Indian sub-continent, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico. We shall see what happens there.

It may be that in the end the loathed and derided President Bolsonaro of Brazil will look justified in his attempt to prevent his country having a lockdown (the states imposed one anyway).

In some ways allocating blame for the Corona-19 panic is pointless, but it is also necessary to understand how this folly, worthy of the ironic pen of Gibbon, happened. 

The people most to blame for this world catastrophe, even more than the Chinese Communists, are the WHO, which idiotically and unforgivably said the virus in Wuhan had a 3% mortality rate, and the Western media which simply refused to report distinguished epidemologists and others who dissented from the need for lockdown.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Another quiz

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Here is another quiz. This is Bucharest this afternoon. The biggest building in Europe is on the horizon and you can just make out a cupola of the half-built cathedral. Can you spot the spaceman?

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Gad Saad is a Canadian evolutionary psychologist and philosopher

The Political Refugee from the Global Village's (post-)lockdown quiz

I was invited to a virtual pub quiz on SKYPE on Sunday. Everyone was British except one American Anglophile and the questions were weighted accordingly. 

We all had to find and ask the others ten questions. These were mine. 

If you want to do the quiz please do so and please don't Google. I'll give the answers in 24 hours.

1. What is the only word in the English language of Lithuanian origin?

2. When the painter Whistler was told that he and Velasquez were the two greatest painters in history, what was his reply?

3. Which American general advised always be polite, be professional and have a plan for killing everybody in the room?

4. Which three British prime ministers have written and published novels?

5. What do Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Edward G Robinson have in common, apart from being Hollywood film stars from long ago?

6. Which famous world leader deflowered Zsa Zsa Gabor, so she said?

7. Prince Charles is the second oldest heir to the throne in English history. Which heir to the throne was older than he is now?

8. Had Napoleon invaded England who would have commanded the British army that confronted him - and who would have been second in command?

9. Who was the last British king to lead troops into battle?

10. Who was the last European king to lead troops into battle?

I tried to make them about as hard as University Challenge in 1984 but was told they are harder. The others scored pretty badly on my round. I scored badly on theirs which asked questions like who was in Oasis. Only the American asked civilised University Challenge type questions. Quizes have become more democratic since 1984, like Jermyn St, Savile Row and, I am told, handbags.

I remember Bamber Gascoigne telling me that general knowledge was a very narrow field but I think it has morphed and is less about kings and Greek gods than in 1984. Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni, as we used to say on University Challenge when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister consule Planco.

One is not a monarchist for reasons

'A monarchy is its own ideology.' Mark Steyn

One is not a monarchist for reasons. Monarchists despise reasons just as no-one has a reason for loving sunsets or the paintings of Claude Lorrain. But practical reasons for a monarchy are as many as the grains of Libyan sands. If you exhaust all the others, Romania supplies another desertful.

Monday 18 May 2020


The city lies sleeping;
The morn, to deplore it,
May dawn on it weeping:
Sullenly, slowly,
The black plague flew o'er it,—

Thousands lie lowly;
Tens of thousands shall perish—
The living shall fly from
The sick they should cherish:

The future is Belgian

Lord Curzon said that without India England would be a greater Belgium. A greater Belgium sounds to me very like modern Europe.

Julie Burchill in the early 1980s said Britain tried being Belgium and didn't like it. But even after Brexit we and every European country are headed towards cantonisation between different ethnic groups. At least Great Britain has a strong culture which will absorb incomers, which Belgium lacks.