Archive for October, 2021

Still More: Northern Virginians will decide next week’s election…

October 29, 2021

Education gets the headlines, but vax mandates may be the determining X-factor in next week’s gubernatorial election.

Here’s why & how…
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In a prior post, we highlighted the importance of Northern Virginia counties in national and statewide elections … especially this year, with McAuliffe vying with Youngkin for governor.

As James Freeman puts it in the WSJ:

Given the growth of the Beltway swamp, Virginia’s largely government-dependent voters now regularly vote for the leftwardmost major-party candidate in statewide elections.

Northern Virginia (NOVA) has aa large population with a commanding presence of government employees, federal contractors and an assortment of governmental leeches (e.g. lawyers, lobbyists, consultants).

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Usually, they’re a lock for big government and liberal Dem candidates.

But, this year, I’m wondering if these usually reliable government-dependent voters might sit out this year’s gubernatorial election or, god forbid, cast their secret ballots for Youngkin.

Yesterday, we posted that education issues (e.g. curriculum and “social environment”) are front and center … and may work to Youngkin’s advantage.

Today, let’s hit another potential X-factor: vaccine mandates.

In this case, it isn’t just about “vax or not” philosophy … it’s about the impact on and reaction of a couple of hundred thousand likely voters.

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The Federal Employees’ Mandate

On September 9, Biden ordered that all Executive Branch employees and all government contractors that conduct business with the federal government must be vaccinated.

Note: More than 1 million unionized postal employees were exempted from the order and “accommodations” were expected for legitimate health or religions reasons

There was to be no option for weekly testing for those impacted by the Executive Orders.

Get vaccinated. Period.

At the time, Biden indicated that Federal employees would have  75 days to comply. Source

Later clarified, Federal employees were given until Nov. 22 to be fully vaccinated in accordance with Biden’s mandate, Source

That deadline is bearing down on unvaccinated government employees.

How many?

Let’s run some numbers…

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DC area gov’t-related employment

Northern Virginia (NOVA) has aa large population (over 2 million)  with a commanding presence of government employees, federal contractors and an assortment of governmental leeches (e.g. lawyers, lobbyists, consultants).

How many of them are there?

As of 2017, the federal government directly employed 364,000 people in the D.C. area.

While Uncle Sam is the largest single employer in the region, D.C. is a very white-collar town, with “professional, business and other services” being the largest employer by industry.

All told, 960,500 area jobs fall into that category.  Source

Let’s update to 2021 and round up … and call it 1.5 million government-related employees … living in DC, Maryland and, oh yeah, Northern Virginia.

Let’s assume that they are spread evenly across the 3 locales.

That puts about 500,000 government-related employees living in Northern Virginia … all subjected to Biden’s vaccine mandate!

That’s about 1/4 of NOVA’s population (around 2 million) …  which is probably a low side estimate …but let’s go with it.

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How many vaccinated

You may have noticed that the Feds are reluctant to disclose how many of “their own” have been vaccinated.

Back in May, a congressional committee asked Fauci and  directors from the  CDC  and FDA how many of their employees were vaccinated.

Fauci said “a slim majority”, the FDA guy said “about the same”, and CDC Director Wolensky had no idea.

See: Fauci says slim majority of NIH employees have been vaxed

Surely that number is higher now.

Let’s assume that the number is 60%

That leaves about 200,000 unvaccinated employees living in Northern Virginia.

How many of them are pissed off?

By definition, all 200,000 have demonstrated vaccine hesitancy. Evidenced by the fact that they haven’t voluntarily gotten vaccinated.

What percentage of them are pissed off that they’re being forced to take a shot that they don’t want?

Let’s assume that it’s 50-50. … with half (of the 200,000) getting jabbed to keep their jobs and “moving on” … and  with the other half either pissed that they had no practical option and complied … or standing strong and facing termination.

That leaves about 100,000 government-related employees  living in Northern Virginia with a Biden placed chip on their shoulder.

Maybe they jump ship on the Dems this time.

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So what?

For reference, about 500,000 Northern Virginians voted in the 2017 gubernatorial election.

In stats-speak, that makes 100,000 votes  statistically significant.

Haircut that number in half and you still get the 10 point NOVA shift that alone vould propel Youngkin to victory.

That’s a material X-factor, but, it’s being obscured by the power of the education issue.

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Bottom line: In this tight race, and given the education and vaccine X-factors, the Northern Virginia counties (Loudoun and Fairfax) are likely to determine the election.

My bet: Youngkin wins decisively.

More: Northern Virginians will decide next week’s election…

October 28, 2021

Education is one of the  x-factors in next week’s gubernatorial election.
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In a prior post, we highlighted the importance of Northern Virginia counties in national and statewide elections … especially this year, with McAuliffe vying with Youngkin for governor.

As James Freeman puts it in the WSJ:

Given the growth of the Beltway swamp, Virginia’s largely government-dependent voters now regularly vote for the leftwardmost major-party candidate in statewide elections. 

For example, in 2020, Biden walked away with a 10 point win over Trump … easily carrying the predominantly Black precincts in southeast Virginia (Richmond , Virginia Beach) … and crushing Trump in Northern Virginia (Fairfax County by 40 points, Loudoun County by 20 points).

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We mused: If all non-NOVA counties vote along recent historical patterns and Youngkin slices, say, 10 points off the GOP 20 point disadvantage in Loudoun … and 10 points off its 40 point disadvantage in Fairfax Counties … then Younkin very likely pulls off the upset.

Sounds like a heavy lift, but it may be possible because of  2 electoral X-factors: education and vaccine mandates.

Today, let’s dig into the education issue…

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The Education X-factor

Unless you’re permanently glued to CNN-MSNBC you know that education has emerged as a hot-button issue in the VA gubernatorial election.

Initially, the central issue was the lack of in-person schooling during the pandemic … with many parents pushing to get their kids back in school.

Then, peering through the remote learning  window, parents got exposed to and engaged in their kids’ education. For many, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

Now, many parents are “concerned” about curriculum changes (e.g. CRT and “equity math”) … and schools’ “social experience” policies (e.g. masks and gender-mixed teams and bathrooms).

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Ground Zero

Loudoun County is ground zero for educational unrest.

In a flashpoint case, a self-proclaimed “gender-fluid”, biological male has been convicted of sexual assault for entering a girls’ bathroom wearing a skirt and sexually assaulting a 9th grade girl.  Source

The school board claimed no knowledge of the situation when confronted by the girl’s father … who was subsequently arrested.

But, an email trail revealed that the school board had been apprised of the situation but had taken no action, save for transferring the perpetrator to another school … where he/she is alleged to have committed a  similar crime.

Parents were outraged.

The parents’ level of “concern” got them labeled “domestic terrorists” by the National School Boards Association …  and put on an FBI watch list by AG Merrick Garland.

The NSBA subsequently admitted that: “There was no justification for some of the language included in the letter” … and they apologized “for the strain and stress this situation has caused”.

AG Garland has yet to retract his order and hasn’t told the FBI to stand down.  Source

Former President Obama — stumping for McAuliffe — called parents’ concerns “fake cultural issues”

That insensitive wisecrack energized Loudoun County parents  … and,  their children

Evidence: Walk-outs at several Loudoun County high schools.

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Specifically, the Washington Post reports that “More than 2500 students from at least 20 schools, including Riverside High School, Briar Woods High School and Lightridge High School, took part in walk-outs

For them, the issue is very real …a nd resonating.

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Calibrating the Concern

While Loudoun County (the fastest growing county in America) has gotten most of the headlines, parents’ concerns are also evident is Fairfax County (large population, immediately proximate to DC).

The evidence:

“Enrollment in Fairfax County’s public schools continues to dip, having now fallen more than 10,000 students since the onset of the pandemic.” Source

That’s a loss of about 5% of Fairfax County Public Schools’ student body, as parents move their kids to private schools (pricey and parochial) … or opt to home school them.

Those 10,000 or so parents have already voted once with their feet.

How many share their feelings?

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Bottom line: The education issue isn’t as former President Obama calls it: “a fake cultural issue”.

It’s real,  it’s emotional and it’s relatively broad-based in Virginia … even in Dem-friendly Northern Virginia.

We’ll see how that plays out next week.

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Tomorrow, the other NOVA x-factor vaccine mandates

Northern Virginians will decide next week’s election…

October 27, 2021

.. and, there are two X-factors that may sway their gubernatorial votes.
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Today, let’s set the context…

In a couple of recent marquee elections, GOP candidates were leading on election night as vote tallies rolled in … only to be swamped when the vote totals from Northern Virginia  got posted.

That was the case in the 2020 presidential race.

The vote totals were pretty even in prime time.

Trump was hanging in, then: boom!

Northern Virginia  votes were posted and Biden walked away with a 10 point statewide win … easily carrying the predominantly Black precincts in southeast Virginia (Richmond, Virginia Beach) … and crushing Trump in Northern Virginia (Fairfax County by 40 points, Loudoun County by 20 points).

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You see, Northern Virginia (NOVA) has aa large population with a commanding presence of government employees, federal contractors and an assortment of governmental leeches (e.g. lawyers, lobbyists, consultants).

Usually, they’re a lock for big government and liberal Dem candidates.

As James Freeman puts it in the WSJ:

Given the growth of the Beltway swamp, Virginia’s largely government-dependent voters now regularly vote for the leftwardmost major-party candidate in statewide elections.

It makes complete sense.

Why would elite government-dependent voters bite the hand that feeds them?

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But, this year, I’m wondering if these usually reliable government-dependent voters might sit out this year’s gubernatorial election or, god forbid, cast their secret ballots for Youngkin.

Cutting to the chase ..

The polls are saying that Black support for Biden still very high, but waning (from over 80% to under 70% in many polls)… and there’s little enthusiasm among Blacks for McAuliffe (think: turnout).  That’s why Obama, Harris, Abrams, Booker are all appearing in campaign cameos.

The many rural red counties are a lock for Younkin, but turnout may be an issue since Trump isn’t on the ballot (despite what Obama and McAuliffe are chanting).

So, it all boils down to Northern Virginia.

If Youngkin slices, say, 10 points off the GOP disadvantage in Loudoun County (narrowing the gap from 20 to 10 points) and Fairfax County (from 40 to 30 points) … then Younkin very likely pulls off an upset.

Sounds like a heavy lift, but it may be possible.

Why?

Because of  2 electoral X-factors: education and vaccine mandates.

I’ll cover these electoral X-factors separately, tomorrow and Friday…

Companies plan to keep raising prices…

October 26, 2021

P&G: “We have not seen any material reaction from consumers.” 
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That’s the conclusion from a WSJ survey of company execs and industry analysts…

A couple of my takeways…

> Companies are quickly passing along cost increases … with many “adding a little extra” to “get healthy” after the lockdowns.

Example: “Last week, P&G  announced a third round of price increases and told investors to expect profitability to accelerate as the year progresses.”

> The pandemic has left many (most?)  consumers “cash heavy” since they haven’t been traveling, dining out and, in some cases, not paying their rent …  so, many have banked their government stimulus checks.

Many consumers accumulated savings amid the pandemic and are benefiting from higher wages, leaving them with extra cash as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus keeps them home and lessens the appeal of dining out, staying in hotels and traveling by air.

> So, far, price increases have paid off as shoppers have continued buying — or even buying more to stock up in advance of likely future price increases or supply shortages  to big-name brands.

“We’re seeing price increases that are quite shocking, yet consumers have absorbed these prices without a dip in demand,” said Ben Reich, chief executive of Datasembly, which amasses granular pricing data on a range of consumer goods.

> But, some analysts caution that there’s a limit to how long and how high companies can keep jacking up prices.

As some of the stimulus fades and more price increases kick in, consumers will become increasingly pinched by inflation.

Pricing is going to be more of an issue for consumers, limiting companies’ pricing power.

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Bottom line: Expect prices to keep going up for awhile.

How to tell when the world has gone mad?

October 25, 2021

Great moments on TV: CNN host gets schooled.
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First, some background…

Bari Weiss was an op-ed editor for the NY Times from 2014 to 2017.

Her resignation letter made a pretty big splash in 2017.

It read, in part:

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago.

I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home.

The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that the paper didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election — lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society — have not been learned.

Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else. Full letter

Soon after she resigned from the New York Times, Weiss began a Substack newsletter called “Common Sense”, built on a straightforward premise:

There are tens of millions of Americans who aren’t on the hard left or the hard right who feel that the world has gone mad.

Obvious truths are dangerous to say out loud.

This newsletter is for those people.

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OK, now to the punch line…

Weiss was invited on a CNN show called Relative Sources with a sketchy host named Brian Stelter.

The how & why of the invitation is a mystery to me, but I figured the interview would be worth watching.

Was it ever.

A full takedown!

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Stelter dropped the puck by asking what turned out to be a loaded question:

“In what ways has the world gone mad?”

Weiss lowered the boom:

Where can I start?

Well, when you have the chief reporter on the beat of COVID for The New York Times talking about how questioning or pursuing the question of the lab leak is racist, the world has gone mad.

When you’re not able to say out loud and in public there are differences between men and women, the world has gone mad.

When we’re not allowed to acknowledge that rioting is rioting and it is bad and that silence is not violence, but violence is violence, the world has gone mad.

When you’re not able to say that stories like the Hunter Biden laptop is a story worth pursuing, the world has gone mad.

When, in the name of progress, young school children, as young as kindergarten, are being separated in public schools because of their race, and that is called progress instead of segregation, the world has gone mad.

There are dozens of examples.”

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Stelter then asked Weiss “who is to blame”?

People that work at networks like, frankly, like CNN – the one I’m speaking on right now.

They try to claim that it is racist to investigate certain topics.

CNN’s actions amount to “disinformation by omission.”

It’s delusional to think otherwise.

Well said, Ms. Weiss

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click to see a 2-minute video

Biden: “Say goodbye to your cars”

October 22, 2021

Shades of Hillary’s promise to “put coal miners out of business”
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First, some history…

In her book, “What Happened“, Hillary Clinton wrote that her biggest regret from her ill-fated presidential campaign was saying she would “put coal miners out of business.”

Clinton made the remark during a town hall in March 2016 when she touted her plan to replace fossil-fuel-based energy production with renewable alternatives.

The remark sparked a backlash against Clinton and haunted her throughout the campaign when it was widely interpreted as her being  non-empathetic to  the suffering of white working-class Americans with a particular focus on struggling coal miners.

She later lost every county in West Virginia — the country’s premier coal-mining state.  Source

Will history repeat?

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In a speech this week in Scranton, Biden tried to rally support for his Build Back Better Human Infrastructure Plan.

Included in the proposed $3.5 trillion  bill are climate change provisions intended to curtail fossil-fuel-based energy usage.

Sound familiar?

As part of that program, Biden told the audience: “Here’s the deal”…

“We will take, literally, millions of automobiles off the road. Off the road.”

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No joke, not kidding, the God’s truth, etc.

That may resonate among elite urbanites and folks in the Acela corridor… but, I’m not so sure that the idea (threat?) will play well in Middle America, rural communities (or even Scranton) … or among suburban soccer parents and people whose livelihood  depends on their cars & trucks.

Of course, Joe doesn’t have to worry about re-election but, with his job approval dipping below 40%, I wouldn’t think that poking folks in the eye is a way to win back love…

Shocker: Biden polls even with Trump…

October 21, 2021

… on favorability and head-to-head electability.
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According to the latest Quinnipiac poll

Biden’s job approval seems to have leveled off at a low level:

> 20% strongly approve (down 18 percentage points from Inauguration Day)

> 45% strongly disapprove (up 13 percentage points from Inauguration Day)

> Putting Biden currently underwater by 25 percentage points points.

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Drilling down…

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Biden Competence

> A majority (55%) think that Biden is not competent to do the job

> 2 out of 3 Independents think that Biden is not competent to do the job

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Hmm…

But at least he’s honest and and a nice guy, right?

Not exactly…

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Biden Honesty

> Only 42% think that Biden is honest; majority of those with an opinion think he’s not honest.

> 57% of Independents think he’s not honest.

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OK, he’s not competent nor honest, but he’s a nice guy, right?

What?

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Biden “Favorability”

Quinnipiac asked: Is your opinion of Joe Biden favorable, unfavorable?

Apparently, “nice guy” (if true) doesn’t neutralize low scores on competence and honesty.

> Only 40% view Biden favorably (down 14 percentage points since Inauguration Day)

> 50% view him unfavorably (up 12 percentage points since Inauguration Day)

> Putting Biden’s current favorability score underwater by 10 percentage points).

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If that isn’t bad enough…

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Trump’s Current “Favorability”

Here’s the ho-hum-crasher from the same Quinnipiac poll:

> Trump’s current favorability score is 41% (1 percentage point higher than Biden’s

> 52% view Trump unfavorably (only 2 percentage points more than Biden

> So, call it a tie … with both having majority unfavorable ratings

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So, a broadly despised, mean tweeting, media pummeled, twice-impeached one-term president is viewed as warmly (or coldly) after nine months than the guy who was elected to replace him.

Can it be?

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Better Off or Worse Off?

Quinnipiac also asked a variant of the question that Ronald Reagan popularized:

Overall, do you think that the country is better off or worse off today than it was a year ago?

Keep in mind, that a year ago, we were pre-vaccine and largely shutdown economically and socially.

And, the answer is:

> A majority (52%) thinks that the country is worse off now than a year ago

> There’s near-unanimity among Republicans (94%) that the country is worse off

> Only 74% of Dems think that the country is better off now than a year ago … not fully offsetting the strong Republican view.

> Most telling, 56% of Independents (many of whom voted for Biden) think that the country is worse off now .image

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Trump vs. Biden

To add a punctuation point to these survey results…

Pollsters from Grinnell (College) & Selzer Consulting conclude, based on their most recent survey:

> “If the 2024 presidential election were held today, the same percentage of likely voters would vote for former President Donald Trump (40%) as President Biden (40%)

> Among Independents, if a Trump – Biden election were held today, our poll shows former President Trump winning that group 45% to 28%.”

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The pieces all seem to tie together, folks.

Gallup: Americans sour on government agencies…

October 20, 2021

Yesterday, we posted that, according to Gallup, a majority of Americans say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.

Wonder why?

Well, another Gallup survey highlights the underlying reason why Americans want the Federal government to do less.

Bottom line: Americans do not think that most government agencies are doing a particularly good job … and. across the board, they think that the agencies’ performance is weakening,

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Takeaways

Based on people rating agencies’ performance positively, i.e.  as doing an excellent of good job…

> Only NASA is sustaining its rating … and that agency has outsourced much of its work to Bezos and Musk

> The performance ratings of ALL other agencies dropped between  2020 and 2021

> Only 3 agencies — NASA, USPS and the Secret Service — now get majority positive ratings.

> Both the USPS and Secret Service ratings dropped by double digits … 17 and 14 percentage points, respectively.

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Healthcare Agencies

> The CDC had the biggest drop … 24 percentage points … from 64% to a 40% rating the agency’s performance as excellent or good.

> Comparably, the FDA and VA are down to 40% and 36% respectively.

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Security & Law Enforcement

> In 2020: the FBI, DHS and CIA all had a majority rating their performance as excellent or good.

> But, all 3 of those agencies dropped by double digits between 2020 and 2021 … the CIA dropped 19 points (from 60% to 41%) … the FBI dropped 13 points (from 57% to 44%) … and DHS dropped 13 points (from 55% to 42%)

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Defense & State Depts.

> Neither Defense nor State were rated in 2020

> in 2021, the Defense Dept. performance was rated positively by 46%

> In 2021, the State Dept. rating was rated excellent of good by only 32% … putting the State Dept. last among the 15 key Federal agencies.

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Bottom Line

As the WSJ would say:

“If President Biden wants to understand why his $3.5 trillion entitlement spending plan is stalled in Congress, he might look at the new polls from Gallup.”

Seriously, what rational person would give a gang that can’t shoot straight a virtual blank check ($3.5 trillion) … and expect much good to happen.

Gallup – Majority now want gov’t “more hands off” …

October 19, 2021

A reversal since last year … when you-know-who was president
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Straight off the presses from Gallup

> A majority (52%) of Americans say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.

> The usual partisan divide is evident: 80% of Republicans think the gov’t is doing too many things; 78% of Dems think that the government is doing too little.

> That said, even Dems shifted 5 percentage points away from the notion that  “gov’t should be doing more”.

> The swing factor:  57% of independents now think that gov’t is doing too much … that’s up by 19 percentage points from Gallup’s 2020 survey.

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More specifically, 50% of Americans say that they prefer “less services & lower taxes” … 29% say to “keep taxes and services where they are now” … and only 19% prefer “more services & higher taxes”.

Gallup was silent on whether any of the 19% currently pay any income taxes … or if any of the 10% are willing themselves to pay higher taxes to pay for added services.

I’m betting the under on that one…

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The WSJ Take

The WSJ chalks the results up to buyer’s remorse

In his few months in office, the President has made clear the era of Big Government is back.

But now that Americans are getting a better look at what this entails — higher taxes, more regulation, more spending and inflation — they are having second thoughts.

…. and opines that the results clearly indicate why Biden’s “$3.5 trillion entitlement spending plan” is only gaining traction among Democratic loyalists.

“If President Biden wants to understand why his $3.5 trillion entitlement spending plan is stalled in Congress, he might look at the new poll from Gallup.”

You think?

A prof shreds Fauci’s “attacking me is attacking science” canard…

October 18, 2021

Last week, Rasmussen reported poling results that only 41% of American adults now have a favorable impression of the nation’s chief political-scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci.

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Not surprising,

Weeks ago, we posted:

A scientist shreds Fauci’s “attacking me is attacking science” canard…

In a WSJ op-ed, Gary Saul Morson — a Northwestern prof and co-author of “Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us” — takes his shot at Dr. Fauci and his brand of “partisan science”.

Morson makes 3 main points…

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1. Science operates by a process of criticism.

Some scientific statements prove false; that’s how science works.

For example, early last year we were treated to the delightful spectacle of Montana’s Glacier National Park removing signs that said its glaciers would be gone by 2020.

Science always contains some propositions less firmly grounded than others: on the frontier, newly discovered, based on experiments not readily replicated.

Those who claim that to doubt any part of the consensus is to be “antiscience” or “a denier” are themselves being unscientific.

Science operates by a process of criticism.

Scientists don’t experience divine revelations, they propose hypotheses that they and others test.

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2. Doubting a scientist is not to doubt science.

Dr. Fauci’s assertion of authority creates skepticism about all his assertions because the distinction between science and a particular scientist is essential.

The greater danger to the public’s trust in science comes not from the uneducated but from politicians and journalists who claim to speak in the name of science.

Still more, it comes from scientists themselves, either because of what they say publicly in the name of science

When reasonable people cease to trust science in one case, how will one persuade them in another?

Dr. Fauci admitted that he first stated that masks were ineffective in part because there was a shortage of masks and he wanted to preserve them for medical workers, who needed them most.

He doesn’t seem to have considered: Once a scientist shades the truth for a reason of policy, why shouldn’t reasonable people assume his other statements are based on policy considerations rather than science?

To the extent that scientific claims are informed by political considerations, they are no more well-founded than purely political ones.

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3. Beware “following the science”!

When a politician from any part of the political spectrum, claims he is only “following the science,” one can be sure that he isn’t.

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Still, Fauci is maintains a ubiquitous media presence.

Go figure…

Nums: The Virginia gubernatorial race…

October 15, 2021

Close race … Trump and education are on the ballot.
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Let’s look at the numbers…

According to a recent CBS-YouGov Poll, the Virginia governor’s race — pitting former governor and hard core Dem politico, Terry McAuliffe against a political novice, wealthy former private equity exec, Glenn Youngkin  — is within the margin of error.

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Independents lean to Youngkin by 9 percentage points.

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Party-affiliated likely voters are deeply entrenched … making relative turnout levels pivotal.

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Likely Youngkin voters are more enthusiastic about voting … suggesting a turnout advantage for Younkin.

Note: McAuliffe has enlisted Obama to campaign and rally the Dem-dependable black vote.

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Typical of off-year elections, to date, early voting totals are substantially lower than they were in the 2020 presidential election.

Note: Early voting is typically dominated by Dems … GOP voters tend to in-person voting, especially on election day.

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Based on the poll’s “internals”, CBS concludes:

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I agree that the race is tight, but the Dems have a history of winning the tight games in Virginia.

That said, I have a different slant on the “drivers”.

Hate is a very strong emotion, and Trump-hate is still rampant in Northern Virginia … which is dominated by Federal employees, government contractors and liberal elites.

Somethin to watch: Only a slim majority of Federal government employees were vaccinated before Biden’s mandate. Will there be a SWA-like backlash as enforcement date looms closer?

Loudoun County is ground zero for the education issue: Should parents have a role in their children’s education or are they “domestic terrorists” if they challenge school boards and teachers’ unions?

Something to watch: Loudoun County is the fastest growing county in the U.S.  Will the “school board moms” be large enough in numbers and compelling enough in message to rally educated suburban women to love their kids more than they hate Trump?

To that point…

Recently in a debate, McAuliffe declared: “I don’t think that parents should be telling schools what to teach”

According to a recent Trafalgar poll … 19.9% of Virginians “strongly agree” with McAuliffe … 45.7 “strongly disagree.  That’s a 25.8 percentage point gap!

This race will be interesting to watch … and, possibly a harbinger of things to come in 2020.

“Gamechanger”: Biden coaxes LA ports to work nights & weekends…

October 14, 2021

Why weren’t they doing that already?
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Let’s set the stage:

The ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S.

As of this Monday, there were 62 ships berthed at the two ports and 81 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

No question, the LA ports are a bottleneck in the U.S. supply chain.

So, after “months of negotiations with unions and local politicos”, President Biden flipped on his teleprompter and read to the nation:

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And, Biden boasted that the action is a “gamechanger” … and praised his crack team and his union vote-getters for their months of hard work making this bold action happen.

My initial reaction: Are you kidding me?

The broader consensus:

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Laggards playing catch-up

For openers, I was surprised that they’d been only doing two 8-hour shifts a day … Monday through Friday … no weekends.

Here’s my “anchoring point”…

One of my neighbors is a longshoreman at the Port of Baltimore.

He may be the hardest working guy I’ve ever met … always on call, lots of night shifts and 16 hour days, rugged physical work.

When I ask him why, his simple reply: “Gotta get the ships unloaded”.

I assumed that he was representative of all longshoremen.

Silly me.

To that point, WaPo reports  that “the extended hours the administration is touting represent something less than the full around-the-clock operations that are typical of the world’s most advanced cargo-moving facilities.”

But, not to worry.

“Leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have agreed to work longer hours, provided individual terminal operators pay up.”

And, it only took Team Biden a few months to get them to that point.

My question: Given Joe’s proclivities, why didn’t he just mandate 24/7 months ago?

Obvious answer: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union

Say no more…

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Moving the mongoose thru the python

Port operators say that “operational details are being discussed and still need to be worked out with the supply chain stakeholders.”

English translation:

“Similar delays await freight once it reaches the shore, where docks, rail yards and warehouses are jammed with goods” and truckers are few and far between.

Until the “labor force participation rate” bumps up, specifically for truckers, the problem will persist.

“All you do is move the logjam from sea to shore – and that can potentially make matters worse.”

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Getting FedEx, Walmart & Home Depot off their asses

This is downright laughable!

Biden is even claiming credit for getting Walmart, Home Depot, etc. to start working 24/7.

What the hell does he think they’ve been doing since the dawn of creation. It’s their lifeblood.

All of those operations have business models that move goods 24/7.

For example: Ian Jefferies, president of the American Railroad Association says indignantly:

“Major railroads “have long been 24/7 operations.”
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Role Modeling

Biden says that:

“The giant companies will set an example that will spur others to follow.”

But, he didn’t personally commit to working full days or weekends … and, of course, he didn’t take questions.

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My questions::

Do Joe and his crack team of amateurs have any idea how the economy works?

I’m betting the under on that one.

Where are the “exceptionally successful” military logistics forces?

If they’re so good, shouldn’t they be working this problem?

And, can you imagine if these sluggards had been in charge of vaccine development?

We wouldn’t be tussling over vax mandates now … because we wouldn’t have any vaccines.

Heaven help us…

More re: covid infection and immunization…

October 13, 2021

As we posted previously ……

In their original application for approvals, the vaccine companies cited clinical studies demonstrating very high protection from symptomatic infection.

in Pfizer’s recent application to get an Emergency Use Authorization for booster shots, the company submitted data indicating that effectiveness against infection starts high (90% immediately after the 2nd shot) …  but it wanes down to around 40% 6 months later.

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Source

The good news: Confirmation of symptomatic infection protection soon after getting vaccinated.

The bad news: A relatively quick waning of the infection protection.

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Consistent with the Pfizer data…

CNN reports two real-world studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, provide some data that complements Pfizer’s.

One study looked at actual infections among the  population of Qatar — a small Gulf nation that’s nearly fully vaccinated.

The conclusions:

> Protection against hospitalization and death builds quickly and stays at above 90%,

> Protection against infection:

  • Builds rapidly after the first dose
  • Peaks in the first month after the second dose
  • Wanes after the first month, gradually at first but …
  • Accelerating after the fourth month  down to approximately 20% in subsequent months.

Key point: Protection against infection drops more than Pfizer’s reported: 20% vs. 40%.

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A second study, in Israel, tracked 4,800 health care workers, measuring neutralizing antibodies — the immune system’s first line of defense against infection which correlates with protection against infection

The main conclusion:

Antibody levels wane rapidly after two doses of vaccine “especially among men, among persons 65 years of age or older, and among persons with immunosuppression.”

Key point: Protection against infection starts high but wanes quickly for high risk groups.

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In combination, Pfizer’s data and these 2 studies seem to indicate:

> Pfizer’s vaccine provides a very  high level of protection against severe covid disease, hospitalization and death … and, that the protection “remains strong” with minimal waning.

> And, while the vaccine does provide substantial protection against infection early-on, that protection wanes quickly after a couple of months … especially for seniors and people with immune system issues.

Biden: “No transmission if vaccinated’ … say, what?

October 12, 2021

Apparently, he didn’t read last week’s HomaFiles posts.
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I’ve been trying hard to understand the risk that I, a vaccinated person, have of getting infected and transmitting covid to, say, my grandkids.

Last week, we observed that:

> In their original EUA applications, the vaccine companies made no claims that the vaccines would prevent asymptomatic infections … they just claimed protection against symptomatic infections.

> Nonetheless, the CDC web site advised: “It is very rare for a vaccinated person to get infected and transmit the virus.”

See Fauci: CDC is flying blind on post-vax infections…

> More recently,, CDC Director Walensky clarified that:  “Though covid vaccines work “exceptionally well”  against hospitalization and death, they can’t prevent transmission anymore. So, we should expect thousands of breakthrough infections.”

See CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”

> And, Pfizer data indicates that vaccinations do provide roughly 90% protection against infection soon after being fully vaccinated … but, that the protection waned down to about 40% after 6 months.

See Still more vax math: What about booster shots?

Using the Pfizer data, we ballparked that about 1/2 of recent infections might be attributable to breakthrough infections and transmission by fully vaccinated people.

See Covid data: More about breakthrough infections and viral transmission…

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All of the above notwithstanding, last week President Biden veered off his teleprompter  and  declared that all healthcare workers should get vaccinated because doing so provides “certainty that the people providing your care … cannot spread it to you“.

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click to view

Doesn’t he know that his scientists (and their data) are saying that vaccinated people can still spread the virus.

As climate czar John Kerry might say: “The President was unaware” … or, or he was intentionally misinforming.

Competence or honesty?

And, some people wonder wonder why a majority of Americans (and 2 out of 3 of Independents) think Biden is either incompetent or dishonest.

Uh-oh, Joe: Majority think you’re incompetent…

October 11, 2021

… and your  job approval goes further underwater.
==============

Let’s start with the RCP poll-of-polls

> 43.3% approve of the job Joe’s doing …   52 disapprove … putting him underwater by 8.7 percentage points.

> Half of the polls have him underwater by double digits … only the Dem-dependable Reuters poll has him close to even

image

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The right-leaning Trafalgar Group has Biden’s job approval underwater by 16.4 percentage points (39.6% approve. 56.0% disapprove)…

… and puts his strong job approval underwater by a whopping 26.7 percentage points (fewer than 1 in 4 strongly approve of the job he’s doing, more than 1/2 strongly disapprove)

image

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Drilling down, a new (left-leaning) Quinnipiac poll says it all…

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Some details  from the Quinnipiac poll…

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Biden Job Approval

> Majority (53%) disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president.

> 60% of Independents disapprove

> 2 out of 3 Blacks still approve of the job Biden is doing, but

> Biden’s job approval has dropped 22 points among  Black Americans since April (according to the AP-NORC poll)

image

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Biden ”Strong” Job Approval

> Overall, consistent with the Trafalgar poll, Biden is underwater by 25 percentage points on strong job approval (or disapproval)

> Biden is underwater by 35 percentage points among Independents

> Biden is underwater by 23 percentage points among Hispanics

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Direction of Country

> Almost half (48%) are very dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

> Majority (54%) of Independents are very dissatisfied with the direction of the country

image

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Biden Competence

> As headlined, a majority (55%) think that Biden is not competent to do the job

> 2 out of 3 Independents think that Biden is not competent to do the job

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Biden Honesty

> Only 42% think that Biden is honest; majority of those with an opinion think he’s not honest.

> 57% of Independents think he’s not honest.

image

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Quinnipiac’s overall conclusion

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Hardly a mandate for transformational change, right?

Covid data: More about breakthrough infections and viral transmission…

October 8, 2021

As we posted yesterday ……

In its recent application to get an Emergency Use Authorization for booster shots, Pfizer submitted data indicating that effectiveness against infection starts high (90% immediately after the 2nd shot) …  but it wanes down to around 40% 6 months later.

image_thumb8
Source

From this data, we can infer some things about viral transmission … since infection is an obvious prerequisite to transmission.

Early on, soon after people get vaccinated, the risk of infection is very low, so the risk of transmission is very low.

But, as the vaccine’s protection from infection wanes, the transmission risk (among vaccinated people) increases.

The impact is, shall we say, statistically significant.

How significant?

Let’s run some numbers…

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How many transmitters?

In rough numbers that are good enough to calibrate the transmission impact, about 200 million people have been vaccinated and about 100 million haven’t been.

Using those ballpark numbers to determine the magnitude of effect …

In the spring, shortly after the first rush-to-get-vaccinated, there were about 100 million unvaccinated people who were vulnerable to infection and, thus, transmission.

At the same tome, 10% (the inverse of 90%) of the vaccinated people, about 20 million, were vulnerable to infection and transmission.

So, the total number of people vulnerable to infection and transmission was 120 million.

But, 6 months later, as the vaccinations aged & waned, 60% of the vaccinated people, about 120 million were vulnerable to infection and transmission.

So, the total number of people vulnerable to infection and transmission was 220 million … over half of whom were fully vaccinated.

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So what?

Everybody knows that cases started spiking this summer.

image

The culprits behind the spike: the Delta variant … and unvaccinated people.

Or, so we’ve been told,

Delta is guilty as charged, but …

Because of the aging of Spring vaccination shots … and the associated waning of infection protection … our rough-cut estimate is that, pre-booster shots, more than half of the people spreading the virus are probably vaccinated people whose infection protection has waned.

They’re unindicted (and unnamed) co-conspirators behind the spike in cases.

In stats-speak: Bayes is alive and well … but oft-overlooked.

More: About infection and transmission…

October 7, 2021

Earlier this week we posted

1. The CDC web site says that it is very rare for a vaccinated person to get infected and transmit the virus.

2. Fauci opined a similar view in a CNBC interview … but equivocated when confronted with some compelling anecdotal evidence and couldn’t brandish CDC data to the contrary.

3. CDC Director Walensky told CNN that we should expect “tens of thousands of breakthrough infections and hundreds of thousands of daily cases.”

Today, let’s try to square the circle of opinions with some data…
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Protection from Hospitalization & Death

In late 2020, when Pfizer applied for its original vaccine Emergency Use Authorization, the company presented clinical trial results that evidenced 90% or better protection against hospitalization and death.

Subsequently, when Pfizer applied for a booster shot EUA, the company presented data indicating that the efficacy of its vaccine in preventing hospitalization only wanes slightly … from around 90% shortly after 2nd shots to about 85% six months later.

Bottom line: high efficacy, slow waning with respect to hospitalizations & deaths.

image_thumb5
Source

That’s a strong commendation for the efficacy (and durability) of the vaccine … but, it’s a relatively weak case for boosters.

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Protection from Infection & Transmission

In 2020, when Pfizer applied for its original vaccine Emergency Use Authorization, the company was silent on protection against infection and transmission.

The simple reason: Their clinical trials didn’t measure whether the vaccines prevented infection and transmission.

Fast forward to 2021 …

In its recent application to get an Emergency Use Authorization for booster shots, Pfizer did submit data indicating that effectiveness against infection starts high (90% immediately after the 2nd shot) …  but it wanes down to around 40% six months later.

image_thumb8
Source

That’s both good news and bad news.

The high initial protection against infection (which is very good news) …  was common-sensically inferred by many … but there wasn’t data to prove it. Now, there’s confirmatory data!

But, there’s also some bad news:

There’s a relatively fast-paced waning of the infection protection (from 90% down to 40%).

That’s a pretty strong case for boosters since any infection brings with it (1) the threat of “long covid” complications (2) the accompanying risk of hospitalization and death (3) the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others.

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About Transmission

More specifically, the data is on point regarding viral transmission … since infection is an obvious prerequisite to transmission.

Early on, soon after people get vaccinated, the risk of infection is very low, so the risk of transmission is very low.

But, as the vaccine’s protection from infection wanes, the transmission risk (among vaccinated people) increases.

The impact is, shall we say, statistically significant.

Tomorrow, we’ll work the numbers….

Who to believe: Vax developers or Fauci or the CDC … or Rachel Maddow?

October 6, 2021

Earlier this week we posted

1. The CDC web site says that it is very rare for a vaccinated person to get infected and transmit the virus.

2. Fauci opined a similar view in a CNBC interview but backed down when confronted with some compelling anecdotal evidence and a dearth of CDC data to the contrary.

3. CDC Director Walensky told CNN that we should expect “tens of thousands of breakthrough infections and hundreds of thousands of daily cases.”

How to square this circle of opinions?

Let’s go back to the beginning…

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The Vax Companies

When the vax companies applied for Emergency Use Authorizations, they presented clinical trial results that evidenced 90% or better protection against symptomatic infections.

But, the companies were silent on protection against asymptomatic infections (now estimated as about 3 in 4 covid infections).

The simple reason: Their clinical trials didn’t measure asymptomatic infections.

So, little could be inferred from the data regarding transmission.

Perhaps the vax companies should have been even more loudly explicit about the limitations on their claims.

Why?

Because their silence provided misinformers a window of opportunity to, well, misinform.

==============

The Misinformers

Case in point: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — the font of truth for roughly half of the country.

Earlier this year, Maddow ironically — in a characteristic  rant about misinformation — preached to her devotees that “you are like 90% less likely to get infected and transmit to anybody else” … so get vaxxed or you might kill somebody.

Again, keep in mind that the clinical studies didn’t track asymptomatic infections … the 90% applied only to symptomatic (and test confirmed) cases.

click to view the priceless part of Maddow’s rant
image_thumb[2]

Maddow’s view was totally unsupported by any data  … but, it was emotionally supportive of the pro-vaccine narrative and caught on with other left-leaning amateur-scientific-influencers … who probably didn’t read the vax companies’ EUA applications or fret over the lack of supporting data.

Bottom line: Maddow’s admonition, albeit factless at the time, was compelling and contagious.

===========

Fauci

Apparently, Fauci bought into Maddow’s riff until CNBC’s Sarah Eisen asked for the data and he had to admit that the data was limited since the CDC hadn’t been doing surveillance studies to track asymptomatic infections..

See:  Fauci: CDC is flying blind on post-vax infections

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CDC Director Walensky

Walensky — while likely unaware of what the CDC was pitching on its web site — is probably trying to walk back to the more realistic view that the vaccines are highly effective … but their promised efficacy is limited to symptomatic and severe infections. … and that the total effectiveness against infections (including asymptomatic infections) wanes over time.

See: CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”

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So, who to believe?

CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”

October 5, 2021

Now, I’m officially confused.

Yesterday, we posted about a CNBC interview with chief political-scientist Anthony Fauci.

Fauci opined that vaccines prevent covid transmission rates … but when confronted with strong anecdotal evidence to the contrary and asked a pointed question, he conceded that the CDC lacked the data to support that conclusion … but, not to worry the data was likely coming.

New scientific method?

===============

Drilling down, the CNBC interviewer, Sarah Eisen, read to Fauci from the CDC web site:

“The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.

Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) far less often than unvaccinated people.”

That’s when Fauci conceded that the CDC didn’t have the supporting data.

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Despite Fauci’s admission that the CDC didn’t have much data on breakthrough infections, CDC Director Walensky took to the airwaves to proclaim that:

1. Though covid vaccines work “exceptionally well”  against hospitalization and death, they “can’t prevent transmission anymore”. and …

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2. We should expect thousands of breakthrough infections, and …

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3. We might potentially experience several hundred thousand cases a day!

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So, which is it?

> Fauci says not to worry about breakthrough infections if you’re vaccinated

> The CDC web site says not to worry because breakthrough infections are few and far between

> CDC Director Walensky says to expect tens of thousand breakthroughs and hundreds of thousands daily cases … hardly “rare” instances.

It’s hard to follow the science when data is scarce … and  the scientists, who are supposedly reading from the same hymnal, offer widely different “guidance”.

Confusing, right?

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P.S. Note that Walensky’s verbatim was ““can’t prevent transmission anymore”.

Wonder what she meant by “anymore” …

Hmmm

Fauci: CDC is flying blind on post-vax infections…

October 4, 2021

My bet: you know somebody who has been vaccinated and then tested positive for covid.

Even if not, you must have heard stories about public figures who have been victims of these are so-called “breakthrough infections”, e.g. Justice Kavanaugh, who tested positive last week despite being fully vaccinated.

Reasonable to ask: “What the hell is going on”.

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That’s the essence of a direct question that CNBC’s Sarah Eisen posed to our nation’s chief political-scientist Anthony Fauci.

image

For openers,  Eisen disclosed that she was recently infected with covid despite being fully vaccinated … as were  2 of her fully-vaccinated family members … and her 2 unvaccinated children.

Then, Eisen pointed out that, contrary to her family’s experience, the CDC website declares:

“The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.

Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) far less often than unvaccinated people.”

Then she intimated that the CDC was “too casual” about breakthrough infections … and asked pointedly if the CDC had data to support the conclusion that  COVID breakthrough infections are rare.

Fauci’s answer: “They’re working on it”:

Well in the past the CDC has not tracked real or asymptomatic infections.

The CDC is now scrambling to change this.

There are studies being done that would give the kind of breakthrough infections data you’re talking about.

English translation: No they don’t have the data.

Eisen pounced:

“How can the CDC keep saying COVID breakthrough infections are rare if they have no data? The bottom line is that we can still get it and transmit it, right?”

Flustered, Fauci just started shuffling shells around the table to play out the interview clock…

Oh my.

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click to view a 1-minute excerpt of the interview

Goldman Sachs weighs in on vax efficacy…

October 1, 2021

… by covid severity – average & by brand
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OK, Goldman Sachs is a financial institution … not a med-science organization.

But, it has a lot of smart people analyzing med-science data to inform the firm’s high stakes financial plays.

Said differently, GS has a strong economic interest in being “in the know”.

So, for clues (not necessarily conclusions), I take notice of what GS has to say …

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Vax Efficacy

Consistent with Pfizer’s booster application data, GS concludes that vax efficacy wanes over time.

On average (across all approved vaccines), GS estimates that protection against hospitalization starts high (95%) … and wanes slowly to 89% after 5 months.

Protection against both infection and symptoms start at about 85% …  it wanes to 68% after 5 months for symptomatic cases … and to 58% for total infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic).

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Key takeaway: Consistent with the Pfizer data, there’s minimal waning of protection against hospitalization …  protection against infection starts very high (unexpectedly high versus early-on expectations) but wanes significantly.

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Efficacy by Brand

For context, keep in mind that the vaccines are different:

> J&J is a viral vector DNA vaccine

> Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines, but each dose of Moderna roughly roughly 3 times the mRNA content as a Pfizer shot. Source

The GS compilation …

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Comparing brands, GS concludes that, as promised, all brands provide a high level of protection against hospitalization (the red bubbles) … slight edge to Moderna, least (but still good) for J&J.

On protection against infection, slight edge to Moderna and J&J.

Pfizer’s lower blue bubbles reflect reports that its vaccine elicits lower antibody levels in older adults (than in younger adults)

This underperformance against infection protection for older adults supports the apparent priority being given for a Pfizer booster shots … especially to seniors

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Herd Immunity

GS analysts estimate that 80% of the American population now has some form of immunity through either vaccination or infection.

Combined, that gives the U.S. an effective protection rate against infections of 60%

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Interesting cuts at the data …


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