Seven weeks ago, on March 1st, I republished a seventeen-year-old column of mine from the SARS outbreak:
The appearance of the virus itself was a surprise but everything since has been, to some extent, predictable. Because totalitarian regimes lie, China denied there was any problem for three months, and thereafter downplayed the extent of it. Because UN agencies are unduly deferential to dictatorships, the World Health Organization accepted Beijing's lies. This enabled SARS to wiggle free of China's borders before anyone knew about it. I mentioned all this three weeks ago, but only in the last couple of days has the People's Republic decided to come clean -- or, at any rate, marginally less unclean -- about what's going on.
Replace the word "SARS" with "Covid-19" and that's exactly what happened here. It is profoundly depressing - on CNN, the BBC, CBC, etc - to hear the credibility their reporters still give to ChiCom/WHO propaganda.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me thrice? Death on me.
~From Professor Jeffrey E Harris of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a new paper:
New York City's multitentacled subway system was a major disseminator â€“ if not the principal transmission vehicle â€“ of coronavirus infection during the initial takeoff of the massive epidemic that became evident throughout the city during March 2020. The near shutoff of subway ridership in Manhattan â€“ down by over 90 percent at the end of March â€“ correlates strongly with the substantial increase in the doubling time of new cases in this borough. Maps of subway station turnstile entries, superimposed upon zip code-level maps of reported coronavirus incidence, are strongly consistent with subway-facilitated disease propagation.
A subway car is the opposite of social distancing: With each jolt of the train, the petite strap-hanging blonde has her nose pressed deeper into the chest hair of the sweaty corpulent guy she doesn't know. Professor Harris makes the point that reducing service, as both New York and London have done, doesn't really help with that - because it's better to have a thousand people spread out over three different trains rather than wedged into one.
The density of great cities is such that it would not be possible for everyone who works there to drive into Manhattan unless you converted every skyscraper from offices into a parking garage, which would defeat the point. Fair enough. Yet we live in an age where the stated object of New Green Dealers is to force the citizens of medium and small towns onto buses and trains. If, as the experts are now saying, Covid-19 and Covid 2.0 and whatever's next are with us forever, why are New Green Dealers forcing us onto the 7.49 SuperSpreader stopping service?
After 9/11, Bill Maher wrote a polemic arguing that the average American's gasoline consumption had vastly enriched the Islamic world sufficiently to be able to wage 24/7 jihad against us. He titled his book When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden.
Okay. But When You Ride Together, You Ride with the WuFlu.
~I was sorry to see that one of Chicago's legendary criminal defense attorneys has died, not of the Coronavirus but of cancer. Ed Genson represented mobsters, depraved celebrities and dodgy governors. I described his modus operandi here:
Take another celebrated Genson client, R&B star R. Kelly, of the blockbuster inspirational anthem 'I Believe I Can Fly'. When a 27-minute video purporting to show Mr. Kelly urinating on a 14-year-old girl turned up, the client took the position that it wasn't him in the video, while the attorney took the position that, regardless of who was doing the urinating, the girl was over 18. The first is an absolute defence: I Believe That's Not My Fly. The second is more qualified: I Believe This'll Fly With The Jury. Ed Genson is a veteran defender of gangland ne'er-do-wells and, faced with clients of no redeeming virtue, his trick is to drag everything into the grey murk of "reasonable doubt." He does this very disarmingly: he's a big tousle-haired bobbleheaded old charmer in a motorized wheelchair whose apparently chaotic courtroom manner can often be lethally effective.
Unfortunately it wasn't so effective on behalf of my old boss, Conrad Black. Lord Black, although eventually pardoned by President Trump, will never recover from the number that the dirty rotten stinking corrupt federal "justice" system did on him - to the point where he's been reduced to joining me on the third annual Mark Steyn Cruise (if the CoronagruppenfĂĽhrers ever permit us to sail, Conrad is scheduled to join me in candy-striped blazer and straw hat for the soft-shoe finale). So how did milord end up with R Kelly's shyster? He was supposed to be represented by DC bigshot Brendan Sullivan. But on the eve of trial Sullivan demanded $10 million upfront. Conrad figured he'd use the proceeds of the sale of his Park Avenue condo, only to find that the US Government had seized said proceeds. (The bastards eventually lost in court on every charge relating to the apartment, but, last I heard, were still keeping the dough. [UPDATE FROM CB: They've given it back.])
That's standard operating procedure at the Department of Justice: Deny the defendant the means to fund his defense.
So Conrad asked his old friend, a great Canadian barrister, Eddie Greenspan, QC, if he'd be willing to help out, and Eddie said sure, but, under the rules in Illinois, he'd still need a local counsel, and he didn't really know any except some guy Eddie's daughter had once interned for - Ed Genson. They weren't anybody's idea of a "dream team": in fact, I called them the dreaming team, for their habit, not unusual in a stuffy windowless courtroom as the day draws on, of reliably dozing off every afternoon, to the amusement of the jury.
Ed Genson was always very amiable in the courthouse corridor during the innumerable recesses, but, like so many high-priced American attorneys, he was winging it a lot of the time:
Genson seems to think scripts are for hidebound, uptight squares, so he improvises his way through everything in a rambly manner intended to disarm the witness into making mistakes. Along the way, he makes quite a few himself. For me, the first alarm bell rang during his opening statementâ€”not what passed for his defence of his client, which Barbara Amiel [Lady Black] described to me as "backing into every point," often to complete incomprehensibility, but something that should have been easier to pull off: a visual party piece Genson had deployed many times before to illustrate that there are two sides to every story.
He holds up his palm to the jury and says "Can you see my hand?" When they nod, he says, "No, you can't," and flips it around to show the back. "Now you can see my hand." But even this set piece was garbled so that its effect was diminished: it wasn't an encouraging sign to see a lawyer bungle the stuff he's done a gazillion times before. And, for anyone paying attention, you couldn't help noticing that, if there were two sides to every story, Genson seemed to be in no hurry to provide the B-side to the government's version of events.
He got close to one when he said that what happened at Hollinger was not "a theft by Conrad Black but a theft from Conrad Black" - which is true: his life's work was destroyed by a malign combination of lawyers, regulators and usurpers, and all his great titles - The Daily Telegraph, The Chicago Sun-Times, The National Post - are the worse for it. You could make something of a narrative like that, but Genson's line was a mere aside to which he never returned. He got into some trouble with Bar Association types a year or two back for conceding publicly that R Kelly was "guilty as hell". But his long acquaintanceship with such characters led Genson to favor equivocal defenses that conceded a lot of the turf:
In his opening remarks to the jury, he addressed some of Conrad's more ornate utterancesâ€”"I am not prepared to re-enact the French revolutionary renunciation of the rights of nobility," etc. "Yes, he's snotty," Genson told the jurors. "And arrogant," he continued, warming to his theme. Afterwards, Barbara asked me what I thought of this character evisceration, and I said I assumed he was engaging in a cunning lowering of expectations...
At dinner one night, Conrad returned to his lawyer's opening remarks. "This nonsense about me being 'arrogant,' " he said, taking a swig of Chardonnay.
I took a deep breath. "Well," I began, choosing my words with care, "the difference between your media caricature and Barbara's"â€”power-crazed partygoing Zionist trophy clothes-horse bitchâ€”"is that yours is grounded in a, er, kind of reality..."
"Yes, yes," he said. "But 'snotty' isn't the right word. Genson has an inadequate vocabulary."
Very true. To the right client, Ed Genson was the guy's best shot. At other times, he bumbled along to no effect. Rest in peace.
~Thank you for your kind words about our new Coronacopia audio format for The Mark Steyn Show. Guy Anderson, a First Fortnight Steyn Club Member from Texas, writes:
I am only a few minutes in but your continued updates to the lyrics [of "Kung Flu Fighting"] are wonderful! Reminiscent of America Alone no one does Doom and Gloom with more laughs! Thank you for your efforts to keep us smiling.
Thank you, Guy. Opinion remains divided on the retooled show, but we'll keep going awhile yet. Tune in tomorrow.
Oh, and please join me this evening for the latest episode in our current all too timely Tale for Our Time - Daniel Defoe's classic, A Journal of the Plague Year.
Tales for Our Time is made with the support of members of The Mark Steyn Club. I am very grateful to all our members around the world, from London, England to London, Ontario to London, Kiribati. If the quarantine is already beginning to chafe, we hope you'll have a think about joining our ranks and exploring in your imagination the boundless horizons of Conan Doyle, Jack London, L M Montgomery and more. For more information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.