Good Friday Morning, Happy New Year! And welcome to 2021! I tried flipping through the various channels doing New Years Eve celebrations and found most of them uninteresting. Either it was all in-studio, pre-recorded, and therefore boring, or it was just celebrity banter. I switched it over to college basketball and am currently listening to the booms of fireworks echoing across the valley where I live.
This week, I’m doing a retrospective look at my 2020 writing, and hitting some of the major storylines of the year, with the exception being the election. The big three non-election stories for me were the impeachment of Trump, COVID-19, and the shooting of George Floyd. I’m only hitting the highlights because of the sheer volume of things I write in a given year. Two columns a week and one newsletter means around 150 columns/essays a year, not including special items I’ve pitched.
Where you can find me this week
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Fauci, health experts lie about COVID-19 herd immunity – The Conservative Institute.
The true heroes of 2020 don’t hide in basements – The Conservative Institute.
Looking back at 2020
At the end of each year, I like taking a stroll through memory lane and revisit columns and essays throughout the year. It’s helpful to see what I was focused on and writing throughout the year because it shows broader trendlines. 2020 began with me enjoying a weeklong vacation, hosting a best friend from law school around Nashville, and playing tourist. A couple of months later, we joked that she was on the last train out of Dodge, with everything getting shut down due to COVID-19.
The year that we know as 2020 began, storyline-wise, back in September of 2019. That’s when we got the three big stories that would end up dominating political news for the first part of 2020. The first was Donald Trump’s impeachment. The second was the coronavirus, which appeared sometime in November, and the third was the Democratic primaries. To that end, I wrote three essays for the Dispatch on these topics (some of you are new subscribers due to these essays, for which I’m grateful).
- March 4: Autopsy of an Impeachment – How and why the Democrats failed. – The Dispatch.
- March 18: Bernie Sanders and the Rise of Woke Marxism: He brought socialism to the forefront of our politics, but his vision is not the future of the movement. – The Dispatch.
- April 4: How the U.S. Can Rein in the World Health Organization: It has boosted China’s bogus coronavirus numbers as truth, among other problems. – The Dispatch.
I stand by all three pieces. I’d consider the essay on impeachment to be one of the better things I’ve ever written. I re-read it and still agree with all the analysis within it. In my Bernie Sanders piece, published right after he dropped out, I wrote about how AOC and Stacey Abrams represented the new version of socialism that would take over in the wake of Bernie’s failure. The caveat I put on them is that I didn’t consider them political winners. They underperformed in races across the board.
That ended up being right in 2020, as AOC and her so-called “squad” all underperformed in deeply blue districts. Stacey Abrams is trying to claim she’s why Biden won Georgia, but there’s scant evidence of that fact. The new socialists are here to stay, but that’s probably to the benefit of Republicans long-term.
And finally, the coronavirus pandemic. My essay on needing to rein in the World Health Organization was one of the first prominently written articles on the subject. The day the Dispatch published this piece, a few hours later, Donald Trump leaked that he was considering removing funding from the WHO entirely. Big Republican names shared and read that article everywhere, including a long-time political idol of mine, Karl Rove.
If you read my thoughts on this or Jim Geraghty at National Review (who wrote one of the first and most devastating timelines blaming China for this), you’d be well ahead of the curve. I say that because CNN recently published an in-depth piece claiming to finally place the light on China’s lies during this time. It’s a great piece. It even calls it the Wuhan virus, which is pretty close to Trump’s name, “China virus.” But it’s also ten months too late, and going purely off what we know regarding China, we already knew everything in that piece.
With Trump’s loss, it’s safe to run negative stories on China or the WHO. Speaking of the coronavirus, I was well ahead of most pundits on this story. I was curious when COVID-19 started making its way into my writing/newsletter. I first started linking to news articles in the links section on the coronavirus outbreak in China on January 30, which is the day Trump banned travel to and from China because of the virus. I laughed at the two things I linked:
The flu is much deadlier than the Chinese coronavirus. Why we panic about coronavirus, but not the flu: If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards. – Bob Herman, Axios
State Department warns against travel to China amid coronavirus outbreak: There are nearly 9,700 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in China, with 213 deaths, Chinese health officials said. – NBCNews
That’s a helpful reminder of where the press was during this time: Donald Trump and Republican Senator Tom Cotton were saying the virus was an issue during this period, so the media, with no evidence whatsoever, was running stories saying COVID-19 wasn’t a threat. Look at everything we’ve learned about this virus in nearly a year now, and how much we still don’t know. Those kinds of headlines on the flu versus the coronavirus were wrong on every front, yet the media ran with it.
I’m going to return to that media point here in a second.
The first time I wrote about the virus was in the newsletter, right here, on February 6, a week after those links. For accountability, here’s what I said in a bullet point quick hits section:
The coronavirus in China is a fascinating story. I’m not concerned right now with the disease jumping to the United States. The death rate for coronavirus outside China is 0.17%, which is very low. In China, that jumps up, significantly, to around 2% — and that’s if you believe any of China’s numbers (I don’t — they’ve lied about their economic numbers for decades, no reason to believe them here). In other provinces, that number jumps to 2.8%. I suspect the infection and death rates are higher since China has started using war-time powers against its people — the NYTimes reporting is astonishing. People like throwing around the 1918 Spanish Flu, but we’re nowhere near that territory. That disease killed 10-20% of everyone infected, and it infected around 500 million and killed closed to 50 million, impacting close to 3-6% of the entire global population. The coronavirus is revealing what a disaster China’s health and sanitation services are for the people. The communist government has propped itself up through lies — and now a virus is loose among the people. For China, this is worse than the trade war — which is why they’ve dropped tariffs with the U.S. This disease will cripple them economically, and could if they can’t control it, lead to an uprising among the people. We’re a ways off from that kind of scenario, but after only three weeks of being in the public light (obviously much longer behind closed doors), China is looking desperate.
I still think the death rates out of China are likely much higher. We know the rest of the industrialized world struggles to contain the virus. Why would we believe China, Russia, and other authoritarian nations handled it better? The information we have out of there is sketchy at best, outright lies at worst. And we know China jailed or killed medical doctors who tried warning the rest of the country and world.
For reference to my point on the Spanish Flu of 1918, Wikipedia provides the following numbers:
In the U.S., about 28% of the population of 105 million became infected, and 500,000 to 850,000 died (0.48 to 0.81 percent of the population). Native American tribes were particularly hard hit. In the Four Corners area, there were 3,293 registered deaths among Native Americans. Entire Inuit and Alaskan Native village communities died in Alaska. In Canada, 50,000 died.
If these vaccines work as planned, we should be under those numbers in terms of raw numbers. If the new variations on COVID-19 change the impact of the vaccines, then all bets are off. If you measure according to a percentage of the population, I think we’re doing far better than the 1918-20 United States healthcare system. According to the COVID Tracking Project, we currently have about 333,000 deaths from the virus, so the raw numbers are closer. As a percentage of the overall population, however, we’re doing much better.
Anyway, I said we’d return to the lousy media coverage. I said that for a reason because that was the very first topic in my first COVID-19 columns:
- March 2: National media fails, local reports win on COVID-19. “But the media coverage of this outbreak is far more tinged by politics than a real concern for ensuring that people follow proper protocols. And in a potential pandemic situation, that amounts to gross malpractice by those tasked with disseminating information.”
The incapacity of the national media to report clearly on the virus and what people needed to know has driven me mad for nearly a year. It was always political, and always negative. This isn’t just me making this point, there’s a working research paper that found that 91% of all COVID-19 news coverage in American media was negative. That figure far outpaces all other countries. It’s also remarkably unhelpful and has contributed to people not taking the virus seriously.
The other point I repeatedly made early on was the need to stop fear-mongering/scare-mongering over the virus:
- March 9: Be prepared, not scared, for COVID-19
- March 20: Stop scaring people with COVID-19 models. Focus on real data.
- April 13: COVID-19 models aren’t right or wrong, they’re just less uncertain.
I could probably spend a whole newsletter going through all the things I’ve written on the virus. I won’t do that. There are other storylines in 2020. I want to share one other thing on the virus, though, an email I wrote to a very close friend. The second to last week of February, the things the U.S. government started saying about the virus started alarming me enough that I began to purchase cleaning supplies and building up supplies at home in the event I’d end up stuck there.
During this time, unrelated to the virus, my gym closed. Before February, I’d go to the gym every day. But my gym owners couldn’t afford the rent demanded by their landlords. So they closed shop, and my last week was the second to last week of the month (a blessing in disguise looking back). And I started privately warning friends they needed to take it seriously too. One of them asked me what I’d do to prepared, and I wrote this to that person on February 25, 2020 (I wrote this quickly, on a phone):
Overview: think along the lines of if you had to work from home for a month. What would you need from work to do that — and then what would you need from home without going out much?
I. Work items. Anything you’d need to bring home from work to do your job. List here. Idk if you need anything tbh. Just noting it
Immunity boosters (Airbourne, etc.). Best bang for the buck is powders. But any will do.
Cold/flu symptom relief
Hand sanitizer / antibacterial soap
Masks (not-necessary, but if they have it, get. check paint/home goods dept if store out)
Hurricane style prep. Non-perishables for long term. Basically, just get food that gets you through a few weeks.
Water to round out hurricane prep
Cleaning supplies to wash/clean germs away. You have this I’m guessing. Just check supplies.
A couple of weeks later, I went into the Wal-Mart across from my gym, and they were all out of cleaning supplies. One reason for that is because we had a massive tornado sweep through the area during the first week of March. But it was also due to the virus arriving in Tennessee that week. The prepper side of my brain has taken far more prominence in my thinking moving forward in any event.
I’m also never paying attention to what the government says I do and do not need in advance of a crisis. It’s better to be more prepared than not. I remember standing in a Wal-Mart in that period looking at a pack of N-95 masks and deciding against buying them because of some national press coverage and government officials saying not to purchase them. This advice was before they were like gold.
One more storyline from 2020, not election-related, that dominated the year was George Floyd’s death and protests that came afterward. I tend to occupy a different ground on the issue of race than most conservatives. I don’t reflexively defend police and believe that changes need to get made in this area (in June, I wrote about my political beliefs and how the current moment drives me insane).
On George Floyd and the broader issue of policing and racism, I wrote a pair of newsletters on the topic:
- May 28: Conservative Ideas on fixing the policing problem.
- June 4: Black Lives Matter until they don’t.
The first one went through distinct ideas that I think could reduce bad policing in general, which would help remove the number of racially charged incidents around policing. The second one goes through how the focus on policing undermines other ways the political system, particularly Democrats, treats blacks.
Finally, the best essay I wrote all year was on the subject of race:
I originally pitched this to The Dispatch, who accepted it before turning it down. The topic was too controversial for them. Fortunately, one of their editors got me into contact with Arc Digital, who jumped at the chance to run this essay. It was probably my most high-profile piece of the year. It got a lot of interaction from people tweeting it, retweeting it, and messaging me about it.
Conservativism, in general, has a lot to do to win back minority voters, especially blacks. The 2020 election results show that there’s plenty of room to grow there. If Donald Trump can make inroads, that should prove the Romney-McCain political consultancy class saying there was no hope with the GOP and minority voters.
Those are some of the highlights from my 2020 writing. It wouldn’t be possible without the continued readership, support, feedback, and sharing of readers like you. And for that, I’m grateful. Here’s to 2021! Hopefully, it’s better than 2020!
Links of the week
Hawley faces heat from Senate Republicans over Electoral College plans: The Missouri senator missed a Thursday call where Mitch McConnell asked him to explain his plans, emailing colleagues later instead. – Politico
When There Wasn’t Enough Hand Sanitizer, Distilleries Stepped Up. Now They’re Facing $14,060 FDA Fees: Distilleries just learned that to cap off a brutal year, the FDA is charging them a fee normally reserved for drug manufacturing facilities. – Reason Magazine
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
New Calvinist Video Game Just 40 Hours Of Non-Interactive Cutscenes – The Babylon Bee
Trump Confirms There Will Be No Presidential Pardon For Rian Johnson – The Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!