Sunday, August 02, 2020
BY TYLER O'NEIL
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying before Congress (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pressed Dr. Anthony Fauci on whether the government should restrict the massive Black Lives Matter protests across the country in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Fauci admitted that crowds full of people not wearing masks would likely spread the virus, but he refused to say whether or not protests would do so. He also refused to make any recommendations on limiting protests, even though he had made many recommendations in the past.
At one point, Fauci even insisted that “there’s no inconsistency” in preventing people from going to work, going to church, and going to school but allowing them to gather in massive crowds to protest.
“Dr. Fauci, do protests increase the spread of the virus?” Jordan began.
Fauci said he could only make a “general statement” about crowds.
“Well, half a million protesters on June 6 alone, I’m just asking, that number of people, does it increase the spread of the virus?” Jordan pressed.
“Crowding together, particularly when you’re not wearing a mask, contributes to the spread of the virus,” Fauci responded.
“Should we limit the protesting?” Jordan pressed.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” Fauci responded.
“Should government limit the protesting?” the congressman clarified.
Fauci stuttered, “I- I- I don’t think that’s relevant to…”
“Well, you just said, it increases the spread of the virus. I’m just asking, should we limit it?” Jordan insisted.
“Well, I’m not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way,” the doctor said.
Jordan noted that Fauci has made “all kinds of recommendations” on subjects such as baseball, dating on Tinder, and government-mandated lockdowns. Fauci recently said there would likely be “no need” for a second coronavirus lockdown.
When it comes to protests, however, Dr. Fauci refused to take a position. “No, I think I would leave that to people who have more of a position to do that,” he said.
“Government’s stopping people from going to church, Dr. Fauci,” Jordan noted. He referenced the Calvary Chapel case, in which the Supreme Court recently allowed a Nevada ban to remain in place. Jordan quoted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s dissent in the case.
“‘There’s no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesar’s Palace over Calvary Chapel.’ I’m just asking, is there a world where the Constitution says you can favor one First Amendment liberty, protesting, over another, practicing your faith?” Jordan asked.
“I’m not favoring anybody over anybody. I’m just making a statement that’s a broad statement. Avoid crowds of any type, no matter where you are,” Fauci insisted. “I don’t judge one crowd versus another crowd.”
Yet Jordan noted that violent riots have broken out at protests. “There’s been no violence I can see at church. I haven’t seen people at a church service go out and harm police officers and burn buildings,” he said. “But for 63 days, nine weeks, it’s been happening in Portland. One night in Chicago, 49 officers were injured.”
Jordan also noted that New Jersey cops arrested gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti for violating a lockdown order by operating their business. “Ian Smith, Frank Trumbetti were arrested for trying to open their gym,” he said. “But my bet is if these two individuals who owned this gym were outside, just in front of their gym, and all the people who were working out in their gym had been outside protesting, they would have been just fine. But because they were in the gym working out, actually running their business, they got arrested. You think that’s okay?”
“I’m not going to opine,” Fauci said.
“But do you see the inconsistency?” the congressman pressed.
“There’s no inconsistency, Congressman,” Fauci said.
“So you’re allowed to protest, millions of people in one day, in crowds, yelling, screaming, but you try to run your business, you get arrested? And if you stood right outside that building and protested, you wouldn’t get arrested? You don’t see any inconsistency there?”
Fauci again dodged the question. “I don’t understand what you’re asking me,” he said, refusing to opine on “who should get arrested.”
“You’ve advocated for certain businesses to be shut down. I’m just asking your position on the protest,” Jordan insisted. “We’ve heard a lot about hair salons. I haven’t seen one hairstylist, who, between haircuts, goes out and attacks police or sets something on fire. But we’ve seen all kinds of that stuff during protests. And we know the protest actually increases the spread of the virus.”
Yet Fauci refused to even admit that protests increase eh spread of the virus. “I said crowds. I didn’t say specifically. I didn’t say protests do anything,” he insisted.
“But do you understand Americans’ concern? Protesting, particularly according to the Democrats, is just fine, but you can’t go to work, you can’t go to school, you can’t go to church,” Jordan noted.
Later in the hearing, Jordan returned to the issue of consistency.
“I think all the First Amendment is important. Democrats seem to think it’s just the right to protest,” he said. Yet the First Amendment lists five freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
“The very first one the Founders mentioned was the right to practice your faith, but government’s putting all kinds of limits on Americans’ ability to do that, and Democrats are just fine with it,” Jordan said. ” I want consistency, that’s what I want.”
“Kids can’t go get what they need to put them on the path to achieving the American dream, but boy, they can protest,” he warned. “The ability to engage in your livelihood, the ability to have your kids get an education, the ability to practice your faith are just as important, in my mind, as protesting.”
Fauci may not have meant to encourage the disgusting inconsistency of arresting people for going to work or going to church but not for protesting, but he did say, “there’s no inconsistency, Congressman.”
Such a statement is absurd on its face. Of course, there is an inconsistency in this position. Jordan is right: gym owners, hairstylists, and parishioners do not take breaks from their business and worship just to engage in violent attacks on police officers and federal courthouses, but the Black Lives Matter protests — particularly in Portland — have provided cover for just that.
Fauci’s unwillingness to even admit that the protests would spread the coronavirus is shameful. His blanket insistence that “there’s no inconsistency” is even worse. This seems reminiscent of Fauci’s ridiculous claim that New York responded “properly” and “correctly” to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said this of New York, which served as the epicenter for the spread of the virus. He said this of New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) forced nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients from hospitals, likely exposing elderly New Yorkers, who are more vulnerable to the virus. This may have cost upwards of 10,000 lives. He said this of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who did not cooperate with Cuomo and delayed issuing a lockdown, allowing New York City to become the epicenter for the virus in America.
Fauci needs to clarify his position — and withdraw his ridiculous statement that there is “no inconsistency” on lockdowns.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.
Bill de Blasio Threatens to ‘Permanently’ Close Churches, Synagogues if They Meet During Coronavirus
Saturday, August 01, 2020
By Scott Johnson | POWERLINE
Kevin Williams reviews Thomas Sowell’s new book on charter schools in the July 27 issue of National Review. The review is published under the headline The Collapsing Case against Charter Schools.” The review opens:
Thomas Sowell — who will have just turned 90 when this review is published — could have retired by now. He could be publishing the memoirs of a celebrated intellectual or the late-career tracts of an éminence grise. What does he give us, instead? A methodologically rigorous, closely argued, data-driven case for charter schools, with very little high-flown rhetoric (I noted one exclamation point) and 94 pages of data tables. Charter Schools and Their Enemies is a bloodbath for Sowell’s intellectual opponents, and it ought to be a neutron bomb in the middle of the school-reform debate. But Thomas Sowell has been giving the reading public and the policymaking class some of the most intelligent advice to be had for many decades — why would they start listening to him now?
Much of Charter Schools and Their Enemies is dedicated to the seemingly simple — but not simple — project of comparing educational outcomes at charter schools with those at conventional public schools. He begins with an illustrative case that will be familiar to many conservatives: The Texas–Iowa public-school comparison. If you judged simply by scores on standardized tests, you would conclude that Iowa has much better public schools than does Texas. But there’s a wrinkle: White students in Texas outperform white students in Iowa, Hispanic students in Texas outperform Hispanic students in Iowa, and black students in Texas outperform black students in Iowa. But Iowa is very, very white, and Texas is not. The source of the disparity in standardized-test outcomes for white, black, and Hispanic students is of course the subject of some controversy, but those disparities are longstanding, they are similar in many cities and states and from urban to rural areas, and they are slow to change — with one important exception: in charter schools. In conventional public schools, the majority of the students are white or Asian; in charter schools, the majority of the students are black or Hispanic. Studies finding that charter schools perform only about as well as conventional schools actually tell us something very interesting: that in charter schools the racial gap in achievement has been significantly diminished and in many places eliminated, while in public schools it has not.
Sowell’s major analysis considers the overwhelmingly black and Hispanic student populations in both charters and conventional public schools in New York City. Why these students? For one thing, Sowell has gone to great lengths here to compare students who are very similar to one another. In fact, Sowell’s main study is limited to charter-school students attending class in the same building as conventional public-school students in the same grade, in schools that are majority-black and -Hispanic, with a special focus on the charter-school networks that meet in five or more buildings, meaning the biggest charter groups: KIPP, Success Academy, Explore, Uncommon, and Achievement First. Focusing on these New York City students has a couple of added benefits: New York keeps track of students by ethnicity and socioeconomic status, facilitating a better apples-to-apples comparison, and — crucially, for the purposes of this kind of study — it assigns children to charter schools through a lottery. Parents have to nominate their children for a spot, and there is presumably some difference between the parents who bother and the parents who don’t, but the charter schools are not able to cherry-pick the best students and thereby pad out their performance numbers.
And the numbers? That’s the bloodbath I mentioned.
There is, as one would expect, significant variability in the performance of the charter schools, just as there is significant variability in the performance of the conventional public schools. (And here it bears underscoring: Charter schools are public schools, publicly funded and serving public-school students; the difference is that charter schools are relieved of some of the constraints imposed on conventional schools by public-sector unions, their financial interests, and the political interests built atop those financial interests.) In almost every case, the charter schools — including the worst of them — outperformed the conventional public schools operating in the same buildings, in the same neighborhoods, serving very similar students. In most cases, the share of charter-school students achieving proficiency or better on standardized tests was a multiple of the number of the conventional public-school students doing so; similarly, in most cases the number of conventional public-school students receiving the lowest classification on those same tests was some multiple of the number of charter-school students doing so. Sowell lets the data speak for themselves, reporting the high and low English and math figures for each of his comparison sets.
(Sowell’s convention is to group the grade levels the charters and conventional public schools have in common in each of the buildings they have in common; so, for example, if a charter school has four grades in common with public schools in five buildings, that produces 20 grade levels for comparison. It looks a little weird at first, but it makes sense.)
For the charter schools, the data are a litany of triumph, and for the conventional public schools, they are a lamentation….
Williamson concludes his review on a bitter if realistic note: “Our political culture is sick, and many of our institutions are corrupt. Many of them would not be capable of acting on what they could learn from Charter Schools and Their Enemies even if they were so inclined, which they aren’t. Thomas Sowell is a national treasure in a nation that does not entirely deserve him.” The review makes for compelling reading. I wanted to bring it to the attention of readers along with Sowell’s new book.
Mark Levin devoted a recent episode of Life, Liberty & Levin to an interview with Sowell about the book. I can’t find a video of that interview online, but Peter Robinson got there first last month just after Sowell had turned 90 (video below).
Thomas Sowell: A legend at 90