Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping guide.
‘The FBI and Department of Justice — I Don’t Know. Maybe They Are Involved’
Sunday morning, President Trump called in to Maria Bartiromo’s program on Fox News and laid out his account of what happened in the 2020 presidential election:
A glitch is supposed to be when a machine breaks down. Well, no, we had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account. And these are glitches. So, they’re not glitches. They’re theft. They’re fraud, absolute fraud. And there were many of them, but, obviously, most of them tremendous amounts, got by without us catching. We got lucky to catch them. I think we caught four or five glitches of about 5,000 votes each, and different states. And, again, they’re not glitches . . . This election was over. And then they did dumps. They call them dumps, big, massive dumps, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and all over. If you take a look at — you just take a look at just about every state that we’re talking about, every swing state that we’re talking about. And they did these massive dumps of votes. And, all of a sudden, I went from winning by a lot to losing by a little.
. . . We’re talking — there are a lot of dead people that so-called voted in this election. But dead people were, in some cases, in many, many cases, thousands of cases, voted, but, also, dead people made application to vote. They were dead 10 years, 15 years, and they actually made application. This is total fraud. And how the FBI and Department of Justice — I don’t know. Maybe they are involved. But how people are allowed to get away from this stuff — with this stuff is unbelievable. This election was rigged. This election was a total fraud. And it continues to be, as they hide. And the problem we have, we go to judges, and people don’t want to get involved . . .
. . . they had judges making deals. And they had electoral officials making deals, like this character in Georgia, who is a disaster. And the governor’s done nothing. He’s done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him. But you — I look at what’s going on. It’s so terrible. They stuffed the ballot boxes. You know, I have been hearing that expression for many years. You have too, stuffed the ballot — they stuffed the ballot boxes. And they used COVID as a means to stuff the ballot boxes. Joe Biden did not get 16 million more votes than Barack Hussein Obama. He didn’t get it.
Since Election Day, President Trump has repeatedly insisted that the election was a fraud, rigged, or stolen, and that massive numbers of votes for him were secretly switched to Biden by the voting machines or by the officials running the elections in the counties. Yet his legal team has not made these assertions in court, nor have they presented any evidence in court that persuaded any judges. The legal team’s much more limited efforts, disputing much smaller numbers of votes, have almost entirely failed.
President Trump also wants his supporters to go out and vote for incumbent Republican Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the runoff elections in January. It is hard to see why. If Democrats, along with corrupt Republicans, along with every election official in the state, and every county official and local volunteer, and the management of the Dominion voting machines, and perhaps the Venezuelan government, and perhaps the Department of Justice and FBI and whatever other co-conspirators all worked together to steal the state from Trump . . . why would they not also steal the election for the Democrats running for Senate?
What is the point of voting if the elections are rigged, as the president insists?
If the president is telling the truth, why should Georgia Republicans participate in the charade of an election scheduled for January 5?
And if the president isn’t telling the truth . . . why shouldn’t Georgia Republicans — or anyone else — come out and say that he isn’t telling the truth?
China Hopes You Forget How This Whole Pandemic Thing Started
The Guardian notices that in China, “state media has been reporting intensively on coronavirus discovered on packaging of frozen food imports, not considered a significant vector of infection elsewhere, and research into possible cases of the disease found outside China’s borders before December 2019.” The Chinese government really wants the world to believe that the virus jumped into humans in some other country, was brought into China, and only then attracted attention with the outbreak in Wuhan.
That Guardian article pours cold water on a theory offered earlier this month that the coronavirus reached Italy months before the outbreak in Wuhan:
Reports of Covid circulating in Italy in autumn 2019, based on samples from a cancer unit, seem “weak”, said Prof Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London. “The serological data [from Italy] can most likely be explained by cross-reactive antibodies directed against other coronaviruses.” In other words, antibodies found in the cases in Italy had been triggered in individuals who had been infected by different coronaviruses, not those responsible for Covid-19.
You may recall that back in June, a study that had not yet been peer-reviewed suggested that SARS-CoV-2 had been found in the sewage of Barcelona way back in March 2019. I was skeptical then, and since June there has been almost no follow-up coverage or additional research, and the original study still hasn’t been peer reviewed. This thread from June lays out the evidence that the study’s testing either was not precise enough or had a false-positive testing result.
As the trail to the virus’s origin grows colder, what we’ve learned about the virus adds new complications to the hunt for that origin — and in Beijing, we’re already dealing with a dishonest authoritarian government that is determined to cover up anything that could reflect badly upon the country.
Right now, doctors believe that roughly 40 percent of people who catch SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic. If 40 percent of people consistently don’t develop symptoms across all populations, tracking down “Patient Zero” — the first human being to be infected — is even trickier. At some point, the virus jumped from an animal — probably a bat or pangolin — or animal tissue to a human being, creating Patient Zero. But there’s a roughly four in ten chance that patient zero never felt sick, didn’t know he (or she) had the virus, and went about his life . . . spreading the virus to someone else. And that person had a four in ten chance of being asymptomatic as well, and so on. (There’s also a decent possibility that an infected person only develops mild symptoms and thinks it’s a routine cold or the usual flu.) Authorities only learn about the existence of the virus when someone suffers from the virus badly enough to go to a hospital. The first onset of symptoms in the first hospitalized patient was December 1, 2019, according to The Lancet.
But Patient Zero may not know he is “patient zero,” because he never got sick.
For those who subscribe to the “lab accident” theory, those same odds apply to lab technicians as well. If someone mishandles biohazardous material . . . there’s a four in ten chance they didn’t develop symptoms. That person may not have even known they mishandled the material! And then that lab technician goes on to interact with other people, who interact with other people . . . until someone develops symptoms severe enough to go to the hospital.
Between the inherent challenges in tracking the spread of the virus, lack of cooperation from China, and the world’s seeming lack of interest in tracking down the origin, we may never definitively know where SARS-CoV-2 originated. And we will remain as vulnerable to another virus as we were to this one a year ago.
Cyber Monday Is upon Us
And you thought you didn’t like Christmas shopping at the malls before the pandemic!
Continuing the tradition from 2019 and 2018 and 2015 — I’m surprised I couldn’t find the links for the intervening years — here is your Cyber Monday shopping list, full of books written by my distinguished colleagues. I’m using the links to each book’s Amazon pages, but any of them can be found on BarnesandNoble.com, and if you prefer to support independent bookstores, there is always IndieBound.org and BookShop.org. Just about any bookshop will be happy to special-order you any book they don’t have in stock.
Let’s begin with several of my colleagues who aren’t afraid to provoke a fight with a sharp-elbowed argument. Kevin Williamson recently published Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the “Real America” — described as “remorselessly unsentimental, Kevin D. Williamson is a chronicler of American underclass dysfunction unlike any other. From the hollows of Eastern Kentucky to the adult business in Las Vegas, from the casinos of Atlantic City to the heroin rehabs of New Orleans, he depicts an often-brutal reality that does not fit nicely into any political narrative or comfort any partisan.”
Ross Douthat’s The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success lays out “what happens when a rich and powerful society ceases advancing — how the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of ‘sustainable decadence,’ a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.”
Yuval Levin may have had the most prescient book of 2020, warning that the leaders running America’s institutions had put their personal interests and agendas ahead of their responsibilities to the communities they allegedly serve, in government, academia, media, and other key parts of a functioning society. A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream is even more relevant and timely than when it was published in January.
Andy McCarthy’s Ball of Collusion is now in paperback. Rush Limbaugh himself declared, “This is exactly what the Mueller investigation should have been.”
I did not know until recently that our associate editor, Jessica Hornik, is a poet! Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, The New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and The Yale Review. Her book of poems, A Door on the River, was published in 2018.
Similarly, I had somehow missed that Rob Long gathered an entire book of memorable quotes from Donald Trump and arranged them in poetry form: Bigly: Donald Trump in Verse.
If none of those catch your fancy, try browsing the back catalogs of Rich Lowry, Kathryn Lopez, Richard Brookhiser, Jay Nordlinger, Ramesh Ponnuru, John J. Miller, Victor Davis Hanson, James Lileks, Michael Brendan Dougherty’s My Father Left Me Ireland, and Charles C. W. Cooke’s Conservatarian Manifesto . . . and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.
Between Two Scorpions, my first thriller, is now up to 195 mostly glowing reviews. It is recommended but not required reading for Hunting Four Horsemen, which is, so far, getting entirely glowing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. (It might be even better! Or . . . if people didn’t like the first one, they’re probably not picking up the second one.) If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for free.
If all of these options are enough to drive you to drink . . . did you know National Review has a wine club? Or, if you need to sober up, Black Rifle Coffee is a frequent sponsor of National Review’s podcasts. Use promo code “NR20” at checkout for an extra discount.
Finally, you could always gift someone a subscription to National Review — $24 for a year, $40 for a year of NRPlus digital — a dime a day! — or $52 for both, an entire dollar a week.
ADDENDUM: There’s a school of thought that every incoming administration, no matter how sharp or shrewd, has at least one cabinet nominee where the confirmation process goes terribly wrong. Donald Trump had Andy Puzder. Barack Obama had Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson. George W. Bush had Linda Chavez. Bill Clinton had Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood. Some have even joked that one nominee should be an unofficial “sacrifice to the nomination gods” — let the opposing party derail one not-so-necessary nomination so that the others sail through with little friction, and replace the derailed nominee with the figure who was the actual preferred option.
In other news, president-elect Joe Biden nominated Neera Tanden, chief executive of the Center for American Progress, to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. You may remember Tanden from stories about her blurting out the name of an anonymous sexual-harassment victim in an all-staff meeting, physically pushing someone for asking her about the Iraq War, and for declaring, “I would do whatever Hillary needs always. I owe her a lot. And I’m a loyal soldier” and “I don’t really think the issues matter” in emails revealed by WikiLeaks.
But hey, no incoming administration would really pick a nominee who really is a designated sacrifice to the nomination gods . . . would it?