URLs du Jour

2022-01-12

  • Bubbleheads interviewing bureaucrats, what could go wrong? Allahpundit has more information about the fake news you might have briefly believed: Here's what the CDC chief actually told ABC about COVID deaths and comorbidities.

    ABC is partly to blame for the confusion about this yesterday. Only partly, let me stress: Anti-vaxxers and the media ecosystem that caters to them seized on the clip in bad faith because it seemed that Rochelle Walensky had confirmed all of their suspicions about the pandemic, appearing to say that only those who were already at death’s door with four or more comorbidities are at any risk of dying from COVID. The RNC’s cut of the interview, for instance, omitted all context by not even including the question Walensky was responding to:

    [Tweet elided]

    But ABC screwed up too — and they quietly erased the evidence of that screw-up overnight by replacing the video of their interview with Walensky (which happened last Friday) with a new, updated video that now includes her entire answer. […]

    Click for the video, and see if it aligns with your reality. Also on that topic is the Dispatch Fact Checker, Alec Dent. I found his last paragraph had interesting information:

    The latest provisional data from the CDC shows that 95 percent of individuals with COVID listed on their death certificate had at least one underlying risk factor. [Kathleen Conley, a spokesperson for Walensky] did not respond to a request for information on what percent of the general and unvaccinated population who passed away had four or more comorbidities. 

    Did not respond? Don't you think that might be good to know?


  • Do you think it might be a good idea to have at-home COVID-19 tests cheaper and easier to find? If you're a libertarian, you probably saw this coming, as detailed by Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Biden's Plan To Make At-Home COVID-19 Tests More Expensive and Harder To Find

    Seriously? With a new plan for at-home COVID-19 testing, the U.S. continues to embrace the most convoluted and costly approach to health care. On Monday, the Biden administration announced that health insurance plans must cover at least eight at-home tests per member per month.

    In some countries, COVID-19 test approval has been swift and many companies have been allowed to make tests, spurring robust competition and driving down prices while ensuring there are plenty of tests to go around. Other countries have made free tests available directly from government sources—a plan not exactly desirable from a fiscal or free market standpoint, but at least theoretically capable of making sure people actually have access to tests.

    In contrast, the U.S. has chosen the worst of all worlds, in effect making COVID-19 tests both limited and expensive. While at-home rapid tests in many countries are plentiful and cost as little as a few dollars per test, here they remain hard to find and about $24 or more for a two-pack. Why? Because our government was slow, overcautious, and obscenely selective when approving tests for market, making companies jump through complicated and costly hoops to be allowed to sell tests here and thus ensuring that those allowed are expensive and scarce. The U.S. has faced serious issues with testing since the start of the pandemic and—two years in—demand for tests continues to drastically outpace supply.

    This is, of course, government's first instinct: we need to be perceived to be "doing something". Letting the market work does not accomplish that goal.


  • Finding it tough to wade through a bunch of tedious new movies looking for gems? There might be a reason for that. Bari Weiss hosts Peter Kiefer and Peter Savodnik, who detail Hollywood's New Rules.

    A few years ago, the editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter pitched a story to the newsroom. He had just come back from lunch with a well-known agent, who had suggested the paper take a look at the unintended consequences of Hollywood’s efforts to diversify. Those white men who had spent decades writing scripts—which had been turned into blockbuster movies and hit television shows—were no longer getting hired. 

    The newsroom blew up. The reporters, especially the younger ones, mocked the idea that white men were on the outs. The editor-in-chief, normally self-assured, immediately backtracked. He looked rattled.

    It was a missed opportunity. The story wasn’t just about white guys not getting jobs. Nor was it really about the economics of Hollywood. It was about the stories Hollywood told and distributed and streamed on screens around the globe every day. It was about this massively lucrative industry that had been birthed by outsiders and emerged, out of lemon groves, into a glamorous, glitzy mosh pit teeming with chutzpah and broken hearts and unbelievable success stories that had made the American Dream a real, pulsating thing—for Americans and billions of other people who thought that if you could imagine something, anything, you could will it into being. It was a story about who we aspired to be.

    After the meeting, a reporter approached another editor about pursuing it. The editor told the reporter to drop it. No one, he said, at The Hollywood Reporter—one of a handful of trade publications that covers the ins and outs of the entertainment industry—was going to risk blowing up their career over this. 

    Well, there's always old Cary Grant flicks.


  • Railroaded? Arnold Kling has an interesting take on the recently convicted Elizabeth Holmes

    The WSJ reports,

    jurors in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes seized on what one juror described as two “smoking guns” that sealed the fate of the Theranos Inc. founder.

    …a report Theranos gave investors that Ms. Holmes altered to make it look like it was an endorsement from Pfizer Inc. For Ms. Stefanek, the second was a document of financial projections. . .

    The 2014 document projected $40 million in annual revenue from drug companies, though jurors had heard from government witnesses that Theranos had no such contracts at the time.

    I’ve invested in some start-ups as an angel investor. I was told much worse lies than those.

    I can’t think of a single founder who could not have been convicted of fraud by this jury’s standards. Founders always make outlandish financial projections. They always exaggerate intangible assets, such as having an “inside track” with a major potential customer.

    So maybe she was railroaded by getting caught in the media spotlight? Plausible.


  • Thanks a lot, Jim. James Freeman writes on the fifth(!) anniversary: James Comey and Our Poisoned Politics.

    This week marks the fifth anniversary of perhaps the greatest media scandal of our age. Outlets like CNN and BuzzFeed flogged a bogus dossier of salacious claims funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign, even while admitting they didn’t know whether the dossier’s allegations against Donald Trump were true or false. It wasn’t necessarily that reporters had mistaken fake news for the real stuff—they simply didn’t care or acknowledge that they had an obligation to vet anti-Trump claims before disseminating them.

    The pathetic media excuse for running with the story was that important people in the government were talking about it. And no one wanted to talk about it more than the FBI’s then-director, James Comey. He kept talking about it even after his department had failed to corroborate it, and even though the CIA viewed it as mere “Internet rumor.”

    Goodness knows, I was no Trump fan. I'm still not a Trump fan. But imagine a world where Comey and the media were more circumspect about circulating "Internet rumors". Would Trump have acted as outrageous as he did, if not being investigated based on made-up disinformation? Maybe, maybe not.

The Edge of Seventeen

[3.5 stars] [IMDB Link] [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

I thought Hailee Steinfeld was great in the Hawkeye miniseries. (I don't report on miniseries here, but I liked it a lot.) And I thought she was pretty good in that True Grit remake back in 2011. So when this showed up free-to-me on Netflix, I decided to bite.

It's IMDB genre-icized as Comedy/Drama. Accurate! It's funny in spots, but it's not one of those teen movie raunchfests. Teenager Nadine (Ms. Steinfeld) is very smart, very funny, and very pretty. This should be a recipe for high school success, but she's damaged goods. She's burdened by a flibbertigibbet mother (Kyra Sedgwick), the traumatic death of her father, a can-do-no-wrong handsome jock brother.

Fortunately, she has a steadfast friend, Krista. But (oh oh) Krista gets involved with Nadine's brother, causing that friendship to self-destruct. (Nadine's dysfunctional that way.) There's also a supportive teacher (Woody Harrelson, great). And a geeky just-friends-for-now, Erwin. And bad boy Nick, who's the object of Nadine's fantasies.

Bottom line: a decent movie to watch. R-rated (for "sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens"), but nothing I was too embarrassed to watch with Mrs. Salad. Ms. Steinfeld, to repeat, is outstanding.