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COVID proved to be a bonfire of ‘expert’ credibility

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COVID proved to be a bonfire of 'expert' credibility

A year ago, Professor Tom Nichols of the Naval War College predicted that one of the most lasting consequences of COVID-19 would be a widespread “return to faith in serious experts.”

Well, so much for that.

Making these kinds of guesses is a mug’s game. Still, it’s difficult to think of a single opinion from last year that has aged as badly as Nichols’: From the hysteria-mongers predicting a second Black Death, with tens or even hundreds of millions of fatalities, to those who insisted that it would be impossible to rapidly develop a vaccine, very little about what experts told us has inspired confidence.

First, we heard that masks were not only pointless but actually bad, that no one should wear them. Then, we were told what might be politely described as the opposite, that not wearing them even outdoors was tantamount to murder. Instead of going out in the sunshine, people were encouraged to stay indoors, where the virus was most likely to be transmitted.

The latter remained the consensus until virtually the George Floyd killing, when suddenly large-scale gatherings became not only permissible but imperative. (Only a week earlier I had been lectured for allowing my children to play on a merry-go-round because I had not — no joke — brought along a bottle of disinfectant.)

When someone finally writes the history of this bizarre era, I hope the book’s cover photo is an image of a looter wearing a face mask, presumably because he doesn’t wish to spread the virus to those whose property he is stealing.

Now, in New York state, the same experts who introduced active COVID infections into nursing homes, resulting in thousands of deaths, have made it official policy that small children wear masks at daycares and summer camps. (After an outcry, they changed it from a mandate to a recommendation, which is still absurd.) The bureaucratic geniuses are kind enough to make exceptions for when the kids are sleeping or swimming.

The virus that poses no meaningful risk to kids’ health anyway understands that it’s nap time, just like it knows to stay away when you’re eating at your restaurant table — but not when you’re walking through the restaurant. Likewise, the virus knew that it was only allowed to come out at night, which is why New York bars were initially allowed to reopen on condition that they close before the nocturnal predator emerged.

Living in the rural Midwest, where common sense doesn’t allow us to stoop to such absurdities, I find it hard to imagine that children anywhere actually wear masks. My own kids have never done so, nor will they ever. They wouldn’t even if we told them to. Our gleefully naughty 3-year-old routinely removes his shoes and even his pants and shirt in public settings, including churches. The idea that he would keep a mask on for more than five seconds, much less wear it in accordance with guidelines that might make it effective (not touching or removing it, not using it as a sand pail or a slingshot), is risible.

Not only were the experts wrong about everything from masks to outdoor transmission to the risk posed to children and younger adults; they were also painfully naïve about the consequences of lockdowns. Last year’s increases in violent crime, sexual exploitation of children, addiction, drug overdoses and other so-called “deaths of despair” and unemployment were entirely predictable. Now the same people who couldn’t spot these evils on the horizon are absolving themselves of all responsibility.

This is why a year I can say with confidence that COVID-19 didn’t make me or anyone else more likely to trust experts. The virus has probably done more to discredit the cult of expertise than any event since the American invasion of Iraq of 2003, when virtually every major organ of opinion in this country accepted on the basis of no evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Add NAFTA’s devastation of American industry and the supposed impossibility of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, and it’s clear that the so-called adults in the room are the most childish of all of us.

Matthew Walther is editor of The Lamp magazine.

Twitter: @MatthewWalther

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Opinion

RuPaul is just getting started with more ‘Drag Race’ to come

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RuPaul is just getting started with more 'Drag Race' to come

All hail the reigning queen

Speaking with RuPaul is definitely not a drag.

Ru: “Oh, honey, my husband’s so f - - kin’ rich that I have no worries . . . I come from a f - - kin’ hillbilly father. Fans show up and I just f - - kin’ put it all on.

“I started in the late ’80s, in clubs when we all partied. I wasn’t hot then. I took off around ’92. Now my biggest competition’s myself and with all the Emmys I’ve gotten I have to stay interested. I just caught my second wind. For a while I took four years off and plain partied.

“I’m looking forever for more girls. The impetus is on color and fun. I’ve seen like 200 of them. But go find one f - - kin’ girl who works as hard as I do. I need to find someone I can actually stand to be around. You can tear all that makeup, wig-stuff and s - - t away but you got to be reborn. Let yourself go. Turn winter into summer. Your frequency has to shine. Some of those fat asses I’ve seen are like wood. And, listen, real celebrities are no different than my onstage queens. They’re all fake.

“Nobody talks about luck. Talent’s a help. But what makes anyone laugh is a great work ethic. Listen, I just open the door, then open a box of clothes and that’s it — bada bing.

“Jealousy is everybody. I’m now writing an autobiography. No bulls - - t. The real deal. I’ll tell all. I got nothing to hide. It’s a personal emotional story. I want to tell me. The true story. Life is pain. You can’t sidestep the pain of life.”

Miss Ru has another season of “Drag Race,” plus “All Stars,” plus a Paramount+ thing, plus she’s planning a movie, a game show and a New Zealand tour.

“And, y’know, I still have all my shmattas. I don’t want them on eBay. I’ll tour them. I’ll f - - kin’ put them in a museum.”

Get it booked

Read “The President’s Daughter.” Co-opting a VIP to grab another colorful background is so smart James Patterson should get a knighthood. And his co-author, a real unknown guy, Bill Clinton — his White House know-how is great. It’s an A-1 Father’s Day gift.

She’s a real gem

American Museum of Natural History president Ellen Futter just opened its new hall of minerals and gems and showed me its 5,000 bits of rock from nine countries. Little things like a 13-foot amethyst, 632-carat emerald, 600-pound Brazil topaz, upstate New York’s billion-year-old rock slab of garnet crystals, a half-ton stibnite crystal from China.

Ellen: “Our 200 in-house scientists, technicians, educators, designers look to produce specimens of Earth’s processes from the Big Bang, the creation of oxygen, the biodiversity of species, climate change, environmental things that threaten the Earth. We’re involved in different exhibitions throughout the world every eight days.”

Divorce’s final frontier?

What if anyone hitching an orbit ride gets married on Mars — what’s the jurisdiction? Forget promising the moon and stars — if they ever split, are they subject to New York matrimonial laws? Or is it like down the middle California? Or do they schlep in some judge from Saturn?

Questioning minds need to know.


With our pandemic, there’s now a plumber who won’t even make house calls.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York. 

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Opinion

Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

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Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

Pandemic journal: Wuhan Lab Was Batty

Despite the insistence of Peter Daszak — a “longtime partner of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and one of the most staunch and outspoken critics of the lab-leak theory” — the lab “did indeed have live bats within its walls,” reports National Review’s Jim Geraghty. Sky News Australia found May 2017 footage showing caged bats and one “hanging off the hat of” a researcher “wearing a mask and glasses but no other protective head covering.” The lab even “filed patents for bat cages.” Daszak, whose EcoHealth Alliance funneled government grants to the Wuhan lab, deleted tweets claiming it held no live bats but hasn’t “admitted he was wrong.” That lab “had more samples of bat viruses within its walls than any other building on earth,” yet Daszak and others claim the fact COVID originated in Wuhan “is simply coincidental.”

Libertarian: Biden’s Infrastructure Backfire

President Biden is focused on “all the money he plans to spend” on ­infrastructure, rather than on getting the biggest bang for the buck — which suggests he will be buying “a lot less infrastructure” than otherwise, argues Reason’s Christian Britschgi. The prez insists, for example, that jobs go to union workers, yet that could raise costs by as much as 22 percent. His team paused a Houston highway project on civil-rights grounds, possibly opening an “avenue for activists to slow” other projects. And the Bidenites are considering a rollback of Trump-era limits on environmental reviews. In the end, his team’s commitment to “outdated red tape” will “inevitably impede whatever it ends up trying to build.”

Border watch: Migrants’ COVID Threat

President Biden should have at least “waited until the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was over before reversing Trump’s border-security measures,” but he has instead enabled migrants to bring “the virus — including potentially dangerous variants — into the interior of the US,” laments Nolan Rappaport at The Hill. Team Biden excepted unaccompanied alien children from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary order permitting “the rapid expulsion of aliens who would otherwise be held in crowded areas while being processed.” While the coronavirus is “still killing more than 200 people a day in the US,” Biden is admitting newcomers from low-vaccination countries without so much as a COVID test. The president vowed to “follow the science” in fighting the pandemic, and “politicians should keep their campaign promises.”

From the left: Manchin’s Favor to Dems

For all liberals’ rage at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) “for opposing the For the People Act and for supporting the filibuster,” he may “be doing these liberal Democrats a favor,” contends John Judis at Talking Points Memo. The voting bill is a highly controversial and thus an unpopular “Christmas tree of progressive election measures” that includes “public funding of elections, . . . support for Congress being able to declare the District of Columbia a state and a panoply of regulations that would govern state elections — elections that are supposed to be the purview of states.” Meanwhile, “the presence of the filibuster forces Democrats in the Senate and the Biden administration to focus their efforts on popular economic measures,” since it makes it impossible to pass more culturally divisive ones that would harm the party’s candidates in 2022.

Conservative: Joe’s Smart Strategic Reshoring

Global supply chains have benefited consumers in the form of cheaper prices — but they have also “created new problems,” observes John Steele Gordon at Spectator USA. So kudos to Team Biden, which has “produced an important new report” seeking to address one main downside: America’s dependence on foreign powers for security-sensitive manufacturing needs. “The United States currently relies mostly on ­imports are of particular concern: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients and critical and strategic materials.” As the early pandemic’s mask shortage showed, “great powers . . . need to be able to produce strategically important products within their own borders.” By recognizing the problem, the Biden report is an important first step.

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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Opinion

Yet more bloodshed and bedlam in NYC — as voters turn to Eric Adams for help

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Yet more bloodshed and bedlam in NYC — as voters turn to Eric Adams for help

With bullets flying and predators and punks punching in the parks, it was another weekend of Big Apple bedlam and bloodshed — with summer yet to start.

The nearly two dozen people shot over the weekend, at least two fatally, join the surge in gunfire victims that began soon after state lawmakers ditched bail requirements for all but the most violent suspects even as the city ushered in its own pro-crime legislation. Shootings have soared 70 percent over 2020; murders are up 50 percent over the same period in 2019.

“They passed a series of criminal-justice reform laws and bail reform that have proven disastrous,” fumes ex-NYPD boss Bill Bratton. “Crime . . . was at all-time lows before [they] started messing with it.”

In Washington Square Park, cops turned a blind eye as out-of-control partiers trolled them, boozed it up and blasted music well past the midnight closing time — despite neighborhood complaints. A violent loon playing “The Joker” whacked a 38-year-old man. Thugs knifed two men and pushed a woman to the ground and kicked her. Another crazy threw a Washington Square Diner cook into a glass window.

“What curfew?” snarked Izel Van Epps, 20. Park party promoter David Ortiz told The Post neighbors should move if they don’t like the lawlessness.

“The perps run this town,” a disheartened NYPD source told The Post. Yet a clueless Mayor Bill de Blasio downplayed the mayhem Monday, claiming a “natural” resolution will somehow emerge.

A growing number of New Yorkers want to take back their city now — and they’re turning to the Democratic mayoral candidate most likely to help them do that: Eric Adams.

A WNBC/Telemundo poll shows Adams leading all other candidates as the first choice of 24 percent of likely voters. That echoes his 23 percent in a Pix 11/Emerson College poll and 22 percent in NY1/Ipsos survey.

Alas, de Blasio will still keep the job through Jan. 1 — and there’s little “political will” now, sighs Bratton, to deal with the chaos, all but ensuring “a long, hot, violent summer.”

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