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OUT: FOLLOW THE SCIENCE. IN: FOLLOW THE MONEY AND INFLUENCE. Cochrane Review the latest scientific institution ruined by COVID ideology.

A few months back a controversy burst onto the scene with the now infamous Cochrane Review analysis that demonstrated that masking is useless as a population-level non-pharmaceutical intervention to address the COVID pandemic. There simply is no evidence that masking reduces the burden of disease and plenty of evidence that they don’t in large populations.

When the review dropped it caused quite a stir for the most obvious of reasons: it popped a bubble that should never have been allowed to inflate. It has been well known for a century that whatever their virtues, masks simply do not work to stop the spread of respiratory viruses in large groups over any extended period of time. This was a consensus position–one that Anthony Fauci himself endorsed before COVID changed the messaging suddenly.

Cochrane Review is widely held as a gold standard for medical information, and its findings are based upon meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials done by researchers across the world. These reviews do not rely on one study but on tens or hundreds using different methods in different places, with the goal of sorting out the signal from the noise that will always be found in any particular study.

When the analysis dropped the world seemed to explode. To have Cochrane Review debunk the mask narrative was unacceptable, and like a ton of bricks, the criticism poured in.

The editor apparently panicked. A quick addendum was attached to the analysis suggesting that it was not dispositive–and that addendum has been used ever since to claim that the review was flawed or even retracted. That is not and never was the case, and it is clear that the editor simply buckled to criticism.

Paul Thacker has done a deep dive into what happened and why, and the story is dispiriting. A study that was based upon extensive analysis, peer-reviewed, and based on the best evidence available was undermined by an editor with no relevant experience in a matter of hours, for the simple reason that she was scared by criticism from news organizations such as the New York Times.

Cochrane’s bending the knee to the mask mob has created a crisis of confidence in the research world. Not only do medical professionals rely on Cochrane to be utterly dedicated to the evidence above all else, but the scientists involved in producing the research can’t have a politically-motivated editor simply wiping out their research based on a hasty political decision driven by an inquiry from a newspaper.

Many people have been led to believe that the Cochrane study has been “debunked” or “retracted,” but neither is the case. The sole purpose of the note attached to the study is to create the impression that it has been retracted while it has not. The research stands; the political impression is the opposite, as intended.

To give you an idea how slapdash the editor’s response was, consider this: Soares-Weiser got an email from the New York Times and hastily responded, undermining the scientists–without even making an attempt to speak with them. She implied that the study was wrong without even seeking comment from the people who did the study, on a subject with which she was utterly unfamiliar.

This is science in the modern world.

Fire her and blacken her name as an enemy of science.

FIGHT THE POWER: NCLA Responds in SEC v. Cochran.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance today filed an early response to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s March 11 petition for a writ of certiorari in SEC v. Michelle Cochran. NCLA argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should reject the government’s request to hold the Cochran case pending a decision in Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. FTC; instead, it should grant plenary review in Cochran and consolidate the case with Axon for argument next fall.

NCLA’s December 2021 victory in Cochran at the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit created a circuit split as to whether the scheme of administrative and judicial review in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 implicitly strips federal district courts of jurisdiction to hear structural constitutional claims challenging SEC administrative proceedings. The Fifth Circuit correctly held that Congress did not “implicitly strip[] district courts of jurisdiction to hear structural constructional claims.”

Three weeks after the Fifth Circuit’s momentous decision—the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Axon, which presents the same jurisdiction-stripping question in the context of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act. The Court’s resolution of that question, however, would not necessarily resolve the circuit split, which has arisen in the context of SEC’s distinct statutory scheme. Aside from granting a summary affirmance in Cochran, granting plenary review and hearing the case alongside Axon is the only way to ensure that the Court can fully resolve the circuit split that has closed federal courthouse doors to the constitutional claims of SEC defendants for far too long. Plenary review will also forestall otherwise inevitable spin-off litigation that would accompany an FTC-specific decision in Axon. Such ancillary litigation would add insult to injury for a litigant like Michelle Cochran, who already has been fighting for years for her day in court to present her structural constitutional claims.

By filing a petition for certiorari in this case, the government conceded that this question merits Supreme Court review. The fact that so many circuits—including those hearing the lion’s share of securities enforcement actions—have already weighed in on this issue underscores its national significance. The issue will not subside until the Court addresses the SEC statutory scheme directly.

Judicial issues should be resolved by courts, not by bureaucrats sitting as courts.

JOHN COCHRANE: Low Interest Rates and Government Debt. “Default is not impossible, just because the US and eurozone print our own currencies. Imagine my scenario and add policy chaos. The US is just getting going on political chaos. Bond markets are demanding 5% or 10%. Are the US Congress and Administration, really going to put interest payments to the Chinese central bank, ‘the rich,’ and ‘Wall Street’ ahead of writing checks to needy Americans? Don’t bet on it. It won’t be a simple default. It will be a complex restructuring, as it always is. T bills may get forcibly rolled over to low-coupon long term debt for example.”

Related: My thoughts: “Right now, yearly deficits are going up, but the debt — essentially the sum of all previous deficits — is skyrocketing. It has done that for a decade, except for a couple of years when it briefly leveled off due to the influence of the Tea Party movement. I’m sorry to say I’ve kind of given up talking about it because nobody seems to care, and I’m afraid the politicians in both parties will kick the can down the road until something really drastic happens. I’m guessing that might happen in the next decade, but although the rule is something that can’t go on forever, won’t, there’s no guarantee as to when it will stop. I feel safe in predicting, though, that it won’t stop due to a sudden infusion of virtue and self-control into our political class.”

NEW FROM PETER GRANT:  The Pride of the Damned (Cochrane’s Company Book 3).

The shadow war started as a simple contract to defend a system against asteroid thieves. The harder Andrew Cochrane and Hawkwood Security fought, the worse things became. Now they find themselves embroiled in an interstellar war with an entire mafia!

Worse yet, the proceedings are so profitable – not to mention bloody – that they’ve attracted the attention of some of the worst criminal organizations in the galaxy. If Hawkwood is to survive, it’ll need all the wits, cunning and ingenuity it can muster – and the unwavering courage and dedication of its people.

The galaxy’s not big enough for both sides. One or the other will go to the wall.

PETER GRANT HAS A NEW BOOK!  An Airless Storm: Cochrane’s Company: Book Two.

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!

IN THE EMAIL FROM PETER GRANT: The Stones of Silence: Cochrane’s Company: Book One.

The secret is out – the Mycenae system is the hottest new mineral find in the spiral arm. Now it’s about to become ground zero in a gold rush by every crooked company and asteroid thief in the galaxy.

Andrew Cochrane, with his crew of the finest veterans and cunning rogues, have an even better scheme. They’ve conned the owner into hiring them as a mercenary security company to defend the system. With no oversight but their own, Cochrane’s Company plans to seize the richest pickings for themselves.

But nothing ever comes easy. If they want to keep their loot, they’re going to have to outwit and outfight every smuggler, bandit and renegade after the same prize – and their boss, too!


JOHN COCHRANE: Sclerotic growth is the overriding economic issue of our time.

From 1950 to 2000 the US economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% per year. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate, 1.7%. From the bottom of the great recession in 2009, usually a time of super-fast catch-up growth, it has only grown at two percent per year. Two percent, or less, is starting to look like the new normal.

Small percentages hide a large reality. The average American is more than three times better off than his or her counterpart in 1950. Real GDP per person has risen from $16,000 in 1952 to over $50,000 today, both measured in 2009 dollars. Many pundits seem to remember the 1950s fondly, but $16,000 per person is a lot less than $50,000!

If the US economy had grown at 2% rather than 3.5% since 1950, income per person by 2000 would have been $23,000 not $50,000. That’s a huge difference. Nowhere in economic policy are we even talking about events that will double, or halve, the average American’s living standards in the next generation.

Even these large numbers understate reality. GDP per capita does not capture the increase in lifespan—nearly 10 years—in health, in environmental quality, security and quality of life that we have experienced. The average American today lives far better than a 1950s American would if he or she had three rather than one 1950s cars, TVs, telephones, encyclopedias (in place of internet), or three annual visits to a 1950s doctor.

But even these less quantified benefits flow from economic growth. Only wealthy countries can afford environmental protection and advanced healthcare.

Yes, but policies that produce strong economic growth produce insufficient opportunities for graft, and our political class — which controls the policies — values opportunities for graft above all else.

REMEMBER, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TALKED THIS GUY INTO RUNNING AGAIN: Thad Cochran Gets Lost In Capitol. “Cochran didn’t seem to realize he was in the wrong place until someone in the room asked him if he was planning to join the Democrats for lunch.”

Reminder: If I recall correctly, Mark Foley, whose text-message scandal was the tipping point for the GOP in 2006, didn’t want to run for another term and was talked into it by Karl Rove.

MISSISSIPPI: Eliana Johnson: Tea Party Forces A Runoff. Given that Cochran didn’t really want to run this time, and that a runoff just helps the Dems, stepping down would probably be the noble thing to do. Will he do it?

POLITICAL HACKS VOTE AGAINST BAN ON HACKDOM: “Republican Sens. Bob Bennett (UT), Thad Cochran (MS), Susan Collins (ME), Jim Inhofe (OK), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Richard Shelby (AL), and George Voinovich (OH) all just voted against an amendment in the Senate that would have banned Congressional earmarks.”

UPDATE: “It’s all rigged.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader James Hicks writes that Richard Lugar voted against the earmark ban, too: “I’ll certainly donate to his opponent. His no vote is an act of contempt for the voters. Time for him to go.”

IN THE MAIL: From John Ringo and Julie Cochrane, Honor of the Clan. The latest in Ringo’s Posleen series.

OVER AT THE COUNTERTERRORISM BLOG, Andrew Cochran writes on the New York Times’ reporting of leaked excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate:

The American people deserve to know, to the maximum extent possible, the actual findings and conclusions in this NIE and not depend on partial reports and leaks, which could be driven by all sorts of hidden agendas. The White House and DNI Negroponte should ask the members of the 9/11 Commission to independently review the NIE and release an unclassified version or summary of the report as soon as possible.

Hidden agendas? Surely not.

OVER AT THE COUNTER-TERRORISM BLOG, Andy Cochran was moblogging the evacuation via his Blackberry. Posts here and here.

UPDATE: Timeline here.

GOOD: A few schools mandated masks. Conservatives hit back hard.

Note the article’s claim that “Mask mandates were instrumental in controlling the spread of the coronavirus during the peak of the pandemic.” Uh, no. The science says that mask mandates don’t work.

Even Fauci has backed down: “Recently, Cochrane validated this, and found no evidence to support masking adults. Yet, all these years, Anthony Fauci repeatedly went on TV, and falsely claimed masking works, including cloth masks—which demonstrably don’t work, contradicted by multiple randomized trials. Now, on CNN, Fauci is challenged. Please watch this amazing 1 minute video, link below. Fauci is directly confronted with the recent Cochrane review. Then consider his answer. . . . Fauci’s answer is that masks work for individuals, but not at the population level. But this is bizarre. He advocated for mask mandates at the population level. If he knew they did not work, why did he encourage them for populations? Moreover, even this week, he continues to advocate for them— at a population level.”

Follow the science, indeed.