Make Democrats Defend Their Abortion Extremism

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

The modern left isn’t pro-choice anymore.

Senator Lindsey Graham has introduced the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act” which would limit abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill includes exceptions for rape and incest, offers protections for the woman’s life, and prohibits the prosecution of those seeking abortions. By any objective historical standard, it’s a moderate bill. And yes, it’s also just a political stunt meant to highlight the Democrats’ intractable position on the issue. Good.

According to WPA Intelligence, a GOP political consulting firm, “battleground state voters” say Republicans are more extreme on abortion than Democrats by a 51 to 32 percent margin. It’s unsurprising. For one thing, panicky Republicans are cowardly and ineffective at making the pro-life case. For another, the media not only avoid accurately defining the left’s maximalist position – abortion on demand, for any reason, until the moment of birth, funded by taxpayers – but they would rather write risible “fact” “checks” obscuring that reality than ask a Democrat to defend it. And it’s never going to change.

So let Democrats treat a Republican bill that’s more permissive than abortion laws in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain, as the coming of the Republic of Gilead. Within the European Union, only Sweden (at 18 weeks) and the Netherlands (at 22) feature laws more lenient than the one Senate Republicans are proposing. But, of course, it’s not as if Democrats would accept Swedish or Dutch limits, either.

Of course, Democrats have opposed 20-week heartbeat bills in the Senate on three occasions. The left supports no limits on terminating a pregnancy—not at the detection of a heartbeat, not at viability, and sometimes, not even after birth. Not long after then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northman infamously described the negligent homicide of an unwanted child, Senate Democrats blocked Ben Sasse’s unanimous consent on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act – a bill that did nothing to limit abortion but simply protected babies lucky enough to survive the procedure. Not a single coherent argument for opposing the specifics of the bill was offered.

These days, Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, are peddling odious legislation like “The Stop Anti-Abortion Discrimination Act,” which would crack down on crisis pregnancy centers, and charities that offer women material, emotional, and mental health services. The law would fine centers, which have become targets of vandalism and fire-bombings since the Dobbs decision, $100,000 or half their total revenue, for spreading disinformation” related to abortion—a political euphemism for disagreeing with progressives. The bill isn’t only an attack on decency, but the First Amendment, as well.

“Today, Senator Graham introduced a national ban on abortion which would strip away women’s rights in all 50 states,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed. “This bill is wildly out of step with what Americans believe.” Is it? Pollsters love to ask irrelevant questions aimed at the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as if voters have contemplated its constitutional dimensions. But whenever pollsters bother to ask voters specifics about the procedure, things become complicated. And nearly every poll that’s bothered to ask voters about post-first trimester bans finds more support than opposition. Which is why Democrats (and many journalists) have taken to calling Graham’s bill a “federal abortion ban” rather than a “15-week abortion ban.” If the ban was as deeply unpopular as Democrats claim, they wouldn’t need to do this.

The left likes to claim that post-15-week abortions are incredibly rare, and that when they do occur they are mostly to support women whose lives are in danger. Graham’s bill doesn’t ban abortion for women experiencing “a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.” What it does is close Roe’s allowance for late-term abortion due to emotional “distress.” These abortions might be a small percentage of the whole, but they are not rare. There are likely around 10,000 viable or nearly viable unborn aborted every year and probably around 50,000 after 15 weeks. Those abortions are not predominately about health. As the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute once found (it avoids the topic nowadays), a majority of women who seek these abortions “do not do so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute also found that medical literature shows that a majority of late-term procedures are not performed for “maternal health complications or lethal fetal anomalies discovered late in pregnancy.”

Not that the American left has shown any inclination to limit or even discourage the termination of the viable unborn for convenience’s sake. The modern left isn’t pro-choice anymore. It’s pro-abortion. Make them own it.

*****

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

The Psychology of Totalitarianism

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

At the end of February 2020, the global village began to shake on its foundations. The world was presented with a foreboding crisis, the consequences of which were incalculable. In a matter of weeks, everyone was gripped by the story of a virus—a story that was undoubtedly based on facts. But on which ones? 

We caught a first glimpse of “the facts” via footage from China. A virus forced the Chinese government to take the most draconian measures. Entire cities were quarantined, new hospitals were built hastily, and individuals in white suits disinfected public spaces. Here and there, rumors emerged that the totalitarian Chinese government was overreacting and that the new virus was no worse than the flu. Opposite opinions were also floating around: that it must be much worse than it looked because otherwise, no government would take such radical measures. At that point, everything still felt far removed from our shores and we assumed that the story did not allow us to gauge the full extent of the facts.

Until the moment that the virus arrived in Europe. We then began recording infections and deaths for ourselves. We saw images of overcrowded emergency rooms in Italy, convoys of army vehicles transporting corpses, and morgues full of coffins. The renowned scientists at Imperial College confidently predicted that without the most drastic measures, the virus would claim tens of millions of lives. In Bergamo, sirens blared day and night, silencing any voice in a public space that dared to doubt the emerging narrative. From then on, story and facts seemed to merge and uncertainty gave way to certainty.

The unimaginable became reality: we witnessed the abrupt pivot of nearly every country on earth to follow China’s example and place huge populations of people under de facto house arrest, a situation for which the term “lockdown” was coined. An eerie silence descended—ominous and liberating at the same time. The sky without airplanes, traffic arteries without vehicles; dust settling on the standstill of billions of people’s individual pursuits and desires. In India, the air became so pure that, for the first time in thirty years, in some places the Himalayas became once more visible against the horizon.

It didn’t stop there. We also saw a remarkable transfer of power. Expert virologists were called upon as Orwell’s pigs—the smartest animals on the farm—to replace the unreliable politicians. They would run the animal farm with accurate (“scientific”) information. But these experts soon turned out to have quite a few common, human flaws. In their statistics and graphs they made mistakes that even “ordinary” people would not easily make. It went so far that, at one point, they counted all deaths as corona deaths, including people who had died of, say, heart attacks. 

Nor did they live up to their promises. These experts pledged that the Gates to Freedom would re-open after two doses of the vaccine, but then they contrived the need for a third.  Like Orwell’s pigs, they changed the rules overnight. First, the animals had to comply with the measures because the number of sick people could not exceed the capacity of the health care system (flatten the curve). But one day, everyone woke up to discover writing on the walls stating that the measures were being extended because the virus had to be eradicated (crush the curve). Eventually, the rules changed so often that only the pigs seemed to know them. And even the pigs weren’t so sure.

Some people began to nurture suspicions. How is it possible that these experts make mistakes that even laymen wouldn’t make? Aren’t they scientists, the kind of people who took us to the moon and gave us the internet? They can’t be that stupid, can they? What is their endgame? Their recommendations take us further down the road in the same direction: with each new step, we lose more of our freedoms, until we reach a final destination where human beings are reduced to QR codes in a large technocratic medical experiment.

That’s how most people eventually became certain. Very certain. But of diametrically opposed viewpoints. Some people became certain that we were dealing with a killer virus, that would kill millions. Others became certain that it was nothing more than the seasonal flu. Still others became certain that the virus did not even exist and that we were dealing with a worldwide conspiracy. And there were also a few who continued to tolerate uncertainty and kept asking themselves: how can we adequately understand what is going on?

At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, I found myself making a choice—I would speak out. Before the crisis, I frequently lectured at University and I presented at academic conferences worldwide. When the crisis started, I intuitively decided that I would speak out in public space, this time not addressing the academic world, but society in general. I would speak out and try to bring to peoples’ attention that there was something dangerous out there, not “the virus” itself so much as the fear and technocratic–totalitarian social dynamics it was stirring up.

I was in a good position to warn of the psychological risks of the corona narrative. I could draw on my knowledge of individual psychological processes (I am a lecturing professor at Ghent University, Belgium); my Ph.D. on the dramatically poor quality of academic research which taught me that we can never take “science” for granted; my master’s degree in statistics which allowed me to see through statistical deception and illusions; my knowledge of mass psychology; my philosophical explorations of the limits and destructive psychological effects of the mechanist-rationalist view on man and the world; and last but not least, my investigations into the effects of speech on the human being and the quintessential importance of “Truth Speech” in particular.

In the first week of the crisis, March 2020, I published an opinion paper titled “The Fear of the Virus Is More Dangerous Than the Virus Itself.” I had analyzed the statistics and mathematical models on which the coronavirus narrative was based and immediately saw that they all dramatically overrated the dangerousness of the virus. A few months later, by the end of May 2020, this impression had been confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt. There were no countries, including those that didn’t go into lockdown, in which the virus claimed the enormous number of casualties the models predicted it would. Sweden was perhaps the best example. According to the models, at least 60,000 people would die if the country didn’t go into lockdown. It didn’t, and only 6,000 people died.

As much as I (and others) tried to bring this to the attention of society, it didn’t have much effect. People continued to go along with the narrative. That was the moment when I decided to focus on something else, namely on the psychological processes that were at work in society and that could explain how people can become so radically blind and continued to buy into a narrative so utterly absurd. It took me a few months to realize that what was going on in society was a worldwide process of mass formation.

In the summer of 2020, I wrote an opinion paper about this phenomenon which soon became well known in Holland and Belgium. About one year later (summer 2021) Reiner Fuellmich invited me onto Corona Ausschuss, a weekly live-stream discussion between lawyers and both experts and witnesses about the coronavirus crisis, to explain about mass formation. From there, my theory spread to the rest of Europe and the United States, where it was picked up by such people as Dr. Robert Malone, Dr. Peter McCullough, Michael Yeadon, Eric Clapton, and Robert Kennedy.

After Robert Malone talked about mass formation on the Joe Rogan Experience, the term became a buzzword and for a few days was the most searched for term on Twitter. Since then, my theory has met with enthusiasm but also with harsh criticism.

What is mass formation actually? It’s a specific kind of group formation that makes people radically blind to everything that goes against what the group believes in. In this way, they take the most absurd beliefs for granted. To give one example, during the Iran revolution in 1979, a mass formation emerged and people started to believe that the portrait of their leader—Ayatollah Khomeini—was visible on the surface of the moon. Each time there was a full moon in the sky, people in the street would point at it, showing each other where exactly Khomeini’s face could be seen.

A second characteristic of an individual in the grip of mass formation is that they become willing to radically sacrifice individual interests for the sake of the collective. The communist leaders who were sentenced to death by Stalin—usually innocent of the charges against them—accepted their sentences, sometimes with statements such as, “If that is what I can do for the Communist Party, I will do it with pleasure.”

Thirdly, individuals in mass formation become radically intolerant for dissonant voices. In the ultimate stage of mass formation, they will typically commit atrocities toward those who do not go along with the masses. And even more characteristic: they will do so as if it is their ethical duty. To refer to the revolution in Iran again: I’ve spoken with an Iranian woman who had seen with her own eyes how a mother reported her son to the state and hung the noose with her own hands around his neck when he was on the scaffold. And after he was killed, she claimed to be a heroine for doing what she did.

Those are the effects of mass formation. Such processes can emerge in different ways. It can emerge spontaneously (as happened in Nazi Germany), or it can be intentionally provoked through indoctrination and propaganda (as happened in the Soviet Union). But if it is not constantly supported by indoctrination and propaganda disseminated through mass media, it will usually be short-lived and will not develop into a full-fledged totalitarian state. Whether it initially emerged spontaneously or was provoked intentionally from the beginning, no mass formation, however, can continue to exist for any length of time unless it is constantly fed by indoctrination and propaganda disseminated through mass media. If this happens, mass formation becomes the basis of an entirely new kind of state that emerged for the first time in the beginning of the twentieth century: the totalitarian state. This kind of state has an extremely destructive impact on the population because it doesn’t only control public and political space—as classical dictatorships do—but also private space. It can do the latter because it has a huge secret police at its disposal: this part of the population that is in the grip of the mass formation and that fanatically believes in the narratives distributed by the elite through mass media. In this way, totalitarianism is always based on “a diabolic pact between the masses and the elite” (see Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism).

I second an intuition articulated by Hannah Arendt in 1951: new totalitarianism is emerging in our society. Not a communist or fascist totalitarianism but technocratic totalitarianism. A kind of totalitarianism that is not led by “a gang leader” such as Stalin or Hitler but by dull bureaucrats and technocrats. As always, a certain part of the population will resist and won’t fall prey to the mass formation. If this part of the population makes the right choices, it will ultimately be victorious. If it makes the wrong choices, it will perish. To see what the right choices are, we have to start with a profound and accurate analysis of the nature of the phenomenon of mass formation. If we do so, we will clearly see what the right choices are, both at the strategic and ethical levels. That’s what my book The Psychology of Totalitarianism presents: a historical–psychological analysis of the rise of the masses throughout the last few hundred years as it led to the emergence of totalitarianism.

The coronavirus crisis did not come out of the blue. It fits into a series of increasingly desperate and self-destructive societal responses to objects of fear: terrorists, global warming, coronavirus. Whenever a new object of fear arises in a society, there is only one response: increased control. Meanwhile, human beings can only tolerate a certain amount of control. Coercive control leads to fear and fear leads to more coercive control. In this way, society falls victim to a vicious cycle that leads inevitably to totalitarianism (i.e., extreme government control) and ends in the radical destruction of both the psychological and physical integrity of human beings.

We have to consider the current fear and psychological discomfort to be a problem in itself, a problem that cannot be reduced to a virus or any other “object of threat.” Our fear originates on a completely different level—that of the failure of the Grand Narrative of our society. This is the narrative of mechanistic science, in which man is reduced to a biological organism. A narrative that ignores the psychological, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of human beings and thereby has a devastating effect on the level of human relationships. Something in this narrative causes man to become isolated from his fellow man, and from nature. Something in it causes man to stop resonating with the world around him. Something in it turns human beings into atomized subjects. It is precisely this atomized subject that, according to Hannah Arendt, is the elementary building block of the totalitarian state.

At the level of the population, the mechanist ideology created the conditions that make people vulnerable to mass formation. It disconnected people from their natural and social environment, created experiences of radical absence of meaning and purpose in life, and it led to extremely high levels of so-called “free-floating” anxiety, frustration, and aggression, meaning anxiety, frustration, and aggression that is not connected with a mental representation; anxiety, frustration, and aggression in which people don’t know what they feel anxious, frustrated, and aggressive about. It is in this state that people become vulnerable to mass formation.

The mechanist ideology also had a specific effect at the level of the “elite”—it changed their psychological characteristics. Before the Enlightenment, society was led by noblemen and clergy (the “ancien régime”). This elite imposed its will on the masses in an overt way through its authority. This authority was granted by the religious Grand Narratives that held a firm grip on people’s minds. As the religious narratives lost their grip and modern democratic ideology emerged, this changed. The leaders now had to be elected by the masses. And in order to be elected by the masses, they had to find out what the masses wanted and more or less give it to them. Hence, the leaders actually became followers.

This problem was met in a rather predictable but pernicious way. If the masses cannot be commanded, they have to be manipulated. That’s where modern indoctrination and propaganda were born, as is described in the works of people such as Lippman, Trotter, and Bernays. We will go through the work of the founding fathers of propaganda in order to fully grasp the societal function and impact of propaganda on society. Indoctrination and propaganda are usually associated with totalitarian states such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or the People’s Republic of China. But it is easy to show that from the beginning of the twentieth century, indoctrination and propaganda were also constantly used in virtually every “democratic” state worldwide. Besides these two, we will describe other techniques of mass manipulation, such as brainwashing and psychological warfare.

In modern times, the explosive proliferation of mass surveillance technology led to new and previously unimaginable means for the manipulation of the masses. And emerging technological advances promise a completely new set of manipulation techniques, where the mind is materially manipulated through technological devices inserted in the human body and brain. At least that’s the plan. It’s not clear yet to what extent the mind will cooperate.

Totalitarianism is not a historical coincidence. It is the logical consequence of mechanistic thinking and the delusional belief in the omnipotence of human rationality. As such, totalitarianism is a defining feature of the Enlightenment tradition. Several authors have postulated this, but it hasn’t yet been subjected to psychological analysis. I decided to try to fill this gap, which is why I wrote The Psychology of Totalitarianism. It analyzes the psychology of totalitarianism and situates it within the broader context of the social phenomena of which it forms a part.

It is not my aim with the book to focus on that which is usually associated with totalitarianism—concentration camps, indoctrination, propaganda—but rather on the broader cultural-historical processes from which totalitarianism emerges. This approach allows us to focus on what matters most: the conditions that surround us in our daily lives, from which totalitarianism takes root, grows, and thrives.

Ultimately, my book explores the possibilities of finding a way out of the current cultural impasse in which we appear to be stuck. The escalating social crises of the early twenty-first century are the manifestation of an underlying psychological and ideological upheaval—a shift of the tectonic plates on which a worldview rests. We are experiencing the moment in which an old ideology rears up in power, one last time, before collapsing. Each attempt to remediate the current social problems, whatever they may be, on the basis of the old ideology will only make things worse. One cannot solve a problem using the same mindset that created it. The solution to our fear and uncertainty does not lie in the increase of (technological) control. The real task facing us as individuals and as a society is to envision a new view of humankind and the world, to find a new foundation for our identity, formulate new principles for living together with others, and reclaim a timely human capacity—Truth Speech.

*****

This article was published by the Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Arizona AG’S Office Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Tucson

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Tucson over its COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

The Attorney General’s office says the city violated Arizona law and discriminated against Tucson employees by not honoring religious and disability-related medical exemptions to the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.

The Attorney General’s office says that several city employees reached out to make the same complaint. As a result, the Arizona Civil Rights Division filed a divisional charge alleging Tucson “discriminated against its employees based on religion or disability and retaliated against its employees who engaged in protected activity under the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA),” according to a press release from the Attorney General’s office.

Tucson dictated a widespread vaccine mandate without regard to its impact on the liberties and civil rights of its employees,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in the press release. “Many of those affected are first responders, and it’s our turn to be there for them. The city’s misguided vaccine mandate is an ugly example of government overreach that we must vigorously oppose.”

In August last year, Tucson enacted a coronavirus vaccine mandate for its more than 4,000 employees. They could also apply for a religious or medical exemption if they chose.

“Tucson purposefully and punitively implemented a mandatory vaccine requirement for all of its employees, putting their employment in jeopardy, in a malicious effort to head off impending Arizona legislation that would have prohibited Tucson’s efforts to require the COVID-19 vaccine,” the Attorney General’s office wrote in its press release.

The lawsuit alleges that the city planned to give employees three business days to get vaccinated or to submit an exemption or accommodation request. The city ended up extending the deadline but placed the unvaccinated on unpaid suspension “regardless of whether their accommodation or exemption requests were pending or approved,” according to the press release. 

The lawsuit also says the city issued 40-hour or 60-hour unpaid suspensions to employees. It says most of them were employed by the police and fire departments. The Attorney General’s office adds that those departments “had been or were engaging in an interactive process, alleging that the unpaid suspension was warranted because it was insubordinate of them to miss the initial yet arbitrary deadline.”

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Tucson “imposed adverse, retaliatory actions against its employees who engaged in protected activities and limited, segregated, and classified them due to their religion or disability,” according to the press release.

“Tucson claimed the adverse terms and conditions were ‘incentives’ for vaccination, but Tucson knew and admitted that the employees who had approved accommodations based on religion, medical condition, or disability would not be incentivized to get a vaccine,” the press release says.

The Arizona Attorney General’s office urges those who feel as though their civil rights have been violated to contact the AGO’s Civil Rights Division in Phoenix at (602) 542-5263, Tucson at (520) 628-6500, or toll-free (877) 491-5742 or fill out an intake questionnaire at AGO’s civil rights online intake questionnaire.

A spokesperson for the city of Tucson could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

*****

This article was published by Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

 

 

There Was No Pandemic Mastermind

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

There is a lot of celebratory football-spiking going on in COVID response-skeptic social media circles.

When two groups of people are diametrically opposed to one another on a singular issue, and the beliefs of one of those groups is validated by events, the other group may just wish to slink away and “put everything behind them.”

I think this is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic. After years of misleading, politically-driven information campaigns designed to increase vaccine uptake, the CDC has finally admitted something that everyone knew, but most couldn’t say: that SARS-CoV-2 infection-acquired immunity protects against severe disease upon reinfection just as well or even better than vaccination.

The problem wasn’t just the messaging on protective immunity. From pushing damaging and unsustainable lockdowns to contriving a false consensus on masks to massively inflating risks of COVID-19 in children and schools, the CDC’s record has been utterly dismal.

After the reality-mugging of the last two and a half years, I’m sure many people in the CDC and other government agencies would like to quietly move on, much as the rest of the world already has.

But that can’t happen just yet. Some very tough and pointed questions need to be asked about the decisions that led to shutdowns and mandates and who made, influenced, and benefited from those decisions. The pandemic exposed a dysfunctional, politicized and risk-averse health bureaucracy with little incentive to act beyond its own naked self-interests. A bright and continuous spotlight on the systemic failures of government agencies is only the first step to meaningful reform. But it has to happen.

The temptation to place the blame for these failures on a single person or a small, yet powerful group of people will be irresistible. The concept of an evil mastermind or a sinister cabal of deep-state Illuminati pulling all the strings to shut down the world, hurt working-class people, and keep poor children out of school has been a reflexive way for many people to make sense of the messy world we’ve lived in since March 2020.

There are some problems with this way of thinking. The fact that most Western governments acted in a very similar manner—initially trying to reassure the public, then panicking and issuing lockdowns and other damaging policies and blaming the people when they didn’t work—raises an important question. How could a single person or group of people orchestrate all that so quickly?

When people are angry about so much needless destruction and waste, they want to put a face to that anger, to identify a target. They need someone to blame, someone to put on trial, condemn and cancel. It’s much more difficult to put institutions, systems, or culture on trial, and much less satisfying.

There were certainly many people who took advantage of pandemic chaos in rather dubious ways. They stockpiled masks or drugs to resell at huge profits, were compromised by ties to pharmaceutical companies, or gained notoriety by feeding the media’s insatiable appetite for sensationalized predictions of doom. Those representing special interests lined up to use the crisis to their advantage, and when they were successful, lobbied for more. This misbehavior should certainly not be ignored.

Yet if all the blame for the disastrous pandemic response is successfully put on one person or a group of people, it ensures there will be a scapegoat and only that. They might be put on trial, demonized, and canceled, a process that many of us would enjoy watching. But the systems and culture that incentivized them to behave badly will remain in place.

The CDC has already started the process of rebranding itself in light of its admitted failures. Predictably, it involves some cosmetic reorganization yet otherwise increases institutional power and reach. With these superficial changes, the ossified, dysfunctional culture will continue to balloon and lumber on, consuming more and more resources with an ever-decreasing net benefit, waiting to be exposed again by another crisis. Rinse and repeat.

Accepting the CDC’s faux contrition and bogus pledge of reform would be a mistake. The organization is in need of a serious overhaul. The conflict of interest that results when government organizations make policy recommendations and fund research to support those recommendations needs to be removed by separating both functions. Positions should not be guaranteed for life, but subject to periodic renewal, and easier to terminate. The power of permanent bureaucrats to micromanage national health policy should be minimized as much as possible.

Most skeptical readers will read the above and say, “Yeah, right. Not gonna happen,” and I would tend to agree with that. In fact, I think the problem is even more intractable than just institutional reform. After all, as many people in the CDC and other government agencies liked to remind us during the pandemic, they only make recommendations. They didn’t force the federal government, states, and cities to implement and enforce mandates. All of those places did so on their own, unfortunately with great energy and enthusiasm. For many aspiring totalitarians, CDC recommendations were merely a convenient foil for increasing their own power and influence.

Perhaps the most important question is, where would leaders get the idea that all of this behavior was, not only acceptable but commendable?

The answer is—they got the idea from us. The public long ago accepted that government organizations like the CDC have assumed responsibility for their well-being, during normal times and in times of crisis. If the CDC can’t protect us and provide the absolute certainty we demand during times of crisis, then what are they good for? An excellent question.

The pandemic has shown that government agencies cannot, in fact, do those things very well at all. Even if they could protect people and provide them with absolute certainty, they wouldn’t be incentivized to do so. Instead, in a crisis government agencies will follow the path of least resistance, in this case providing an illusion of safety, security, and control for politicians and the public. All one had to do was believe the illusion. Because of the absolute terror of the unknown and complete ignorance of the risks of severe disease and death, most people were more than willing to take comfort in CDC recommendations and subsequent government mandates without the slightest hint of skepticism or protest. A pervasive safety-at-all costs culture enabled all of it.

By all means, we need to take a very long and hard look at the leaders and bureaucrats that took the easiest, yet the most damaging path of lockdowns and mandates. We need to expose all of their corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy. It’s going to be a huge task that will take a considerable amount of time, and it has to happen.

Yet ultimately, when looking for someone to blame for the disastrous pandemic response, the most important place we need to look is in the mirror.

 

Steve Templeton is Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Indiana University School of Medicine – Terre Haute. Formerly CDC/NIOSH. Immunology of Infectious Disease.

*****

This article was published by the Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Goodbye, Anthony Fauci

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

When Anthony Fauci announced his retirement, a deluge of fawning coverage about his career immediately appeared in mainstream media outlets. This praise was both expected and deeply disturbing. Yasmeen Abutaleb of the Washington Post described him as the “nation’s preeminent infectious-disease expert who achieved unprecedented fame while enduring withering political attacks.” President Biden joined the chorus, commenting that “His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity”.

On the surface, Fauci’s career looks impressive. He is one of the most cited scientists of all time, serving seven Presidents in various roles while working at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Health. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His career, while lengthy, hardly deserves the unmitigated praise it’s currently getting. Instead, it exemplifies the problems that quickly emerge under technocratic rule. Dr. Fauci receives one of the highest salaries ever paid by the Federal Government (reportedly $434,312 in 2020), and commands more authority than any other career bureaucrat in recent memory. We can now purchase everything from Fauci bobbleheads to Fauci prayer candles. Some have even decorated their bodies with Fauci Tattoos. And why not? “I represent science,” he famously said. He believed it, and the US bought it.

That a career bureaucrat would become a phenomenon is one of the most interesting outcomes of the last two years. Since the start of the pandemic, few names are as recognizable to the general public as his.

The Bureaucrat’s Bureaucrat

Dr. Fauci’s career has been one of maximizing budgets and influence for his agencies and himself, all the while handling multiple public health crises with less than stellar outcomes. Economist Gordon Tullock in his book The Politics of Bureaucracy observed that the primary characteristic of a successful bureaucrat is “a desire to rise” and only secondarily does intelligence or competence impact the success of a bureaucrat. This understanding of success within bureaucratic systems is further illustrated by Friedrich Hayek in Chapter 10 of Road to Serfdom,  “Why the Worst Get on Top.” While Hayek’s work focuses on tyrannical politicians, the logic clearly applies to government bureaucrats. Indeed Dr. Fauci’s career demonstrates both these realities simultaneously. Far from the neutral expert concerned only with the best outcomes, Dr.  Fauci’s career is one of ambition and even “failing upwards.”

Dr. Fauci first rose to public attention in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. In a 1983 Journal of the American Medical Association article, he speculated that AIDS could be spread through household contact. This resulted in widespread coverage from media outlets, who, citing Fauci’s work, stoked widespread alarm about AIDS transmission while raising his profile significantly. Two months later, Dr. Fauci avoided culpability for promoting the egregious claim by entirely reversing his stance, stating in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, “It is absolutely preposterous to suggest that AIDS can be contracted through normal social contact like being in the same room with someone or sitting on a bus with them. The poor gays have received a very raw deal on this.”

Unfortunately, the social harm from his irresponsible speculation was already done, and his reversed stance only advantaged his own career. His actions during the AIDS epidemic read like a masterclass in ambition and self-preservation.

From the beginning of his career, Dr. Fauci has embodied Tullock’s “successful bureaucrat,” gradually rising through the federal bureaucracy while expanding his own influence and that of the agencies he worked for. By the time he became the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, his star was formed. Over the rest of his career, despite contributing to a number of public health failures, Dr. Fauci grew into a powerful figure in Washington. Prior to his retirement, he commanded influence over a budget in the tens of billions.

His career came to a head during the COVID-19 pandemic and response. When it was to his and his agency’s advantage, he publicly called for nationwide school closureslockdownsforced masking, and vaccine mandates, only to later deflect when concerns were raised by the public and elected officials, stating at a Senate hearing, “everything that I have said has been in support of the CDC guidelines.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, his contradictions and changing narratives have resulted in confusion and an erosion of confidence in public health. Still, through it all, he has remained at the top of not just his agency but also in influence and public adoration. 

Maintaining that influence and adoration led Fauci to declare that he is the embodiment of science itself when questions were raised about his handling of the pandemic. In June 2021, he stated, “Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.” in November he doubled down:

But if they get up and aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people can recognize there’s a person there. So it’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science, because I represent science. That’s dangerous.

And, just when you thought he could go no further, recently, at an award ceremony at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Fauci added that a whole generation of aspiring researchers follow his footsteps, because of “‘the Fauci effect’…people go to medical school and go into science…because I symbolize, integrity, and truth”

If only all of that were true.

*****

This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

The Straw that Broke Twitter’s Back

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editors’ Note: The legal status of social media may be changing. Now that Alex Berenson has established that the Biden Administration pressured and colluded with Twitter and Facebook to suppress free speech about Covid, the constitutional issues change. The First Amendment applies to the government, not private parties. But when private parties, willingly or under threat of coercion suppress speech on behalf of the government, then the First Amendment may well apply to them as well. They become agents of the government. Constitutional legalities aside, the fact that the internet, sold initially as an international platform where free speech and the free expression of ideas would flourish, has been determined to be a tool of government, is frightening. Recent revelations that TikTok, a Chinese-held and administered website frequented by American youth, is not only collecting data but planning election and political coverage in the US, demonstrates that foreign hostile governments can also use “social media” as a third column within the US. Do these companies qualify as “private companies” when in reality they are conduits of government propaganda and speech abridgment?

 

I want my words back.

That includes the words I borrowed from The Wall Street Journal that got me permanently suspended from Twitter, the micro-blogging platform and virtual battlefront of American social and political life.

Who am I? No one special. Just a Midwestern mom with a few college degrees who can write a sentence. For two-plus years, I posted data, analysis, opinions, and questions about the legality and effectiveness of pandemic-response policies on Twitter. I used a literary pen name – Emma Woodhouse – though I never kept my real identity a secret. I created the account in spring 2020 and accrued a modest 38,000 followers before the end.

It wasn’t until July 2021, when President Biden said Big Tech was “killing people” by not doing more to remove content that encouraged vaccine hesitancy, that some of my posts were deemed harmful.

First, it was a data-verified claim about the low risk that Covid poses to nearly every child. Then it was a critique of the public health messaging that vaccines and masks provide equivalent protection against the virus. Next, I was dinged for questioning the CDC’s motives in applying a different standard to defining “vaccine breakthrough” Covid cases than to other cases. Later, it was an expression of distrust in any pediatrician who wouldn’t be honest about the risk of myocarditis from vaccination versus infection in teen boys.

The straw that broke the Blue Bird’s back was my post of a Wall Street Journal article by Allysia Finley on July 5, 2022. I quoted her directly, “The FDA conspicuously lowered its standards to approve covid vaccines for toddlers. Why?” and linked her piece. The next day, my account was locked and removed from public view. Twitter denied my appeal and won’t restore the account.

I understand Twitter is a private company, ergo, my First Amendment rights don’t apply. But with evidence of the Biden Administration pressuring Twitter, I have to wonder whether the same strategy was applied to me.

I was a relentless critic not only of the CDC, but also of my Governor J.B. Pritzker’s pandemic-response policies and pet projects. I called him the most destructive, tyrannical, anti-child governor in Illinois history. I poked holes in state and local health departments’ data spin. I highlighted his hypocrisy. I scolded him for closing schools and bowing to union interests. I didn’t swear or threaten his physical safety, but not long before my Twitter termination, I pledged to do everything in my power to keep him from being reelected in November. He is, in my view, as “unfit to be the ruler of a free people,” like the Declaration of Independence signatories told their tyrant king.

I’ve always assumed I can say all of this, and more, about any elected official, under the Constitution. This is why I was loath to consider a connection between my Tweets being flagged, and my speaking against Mr. Pritzker.

Granted, I had nowhere near the following of other accounts in which the Biden administration apparently took interest. But “Emma Woodhouse” exceeded the follower counts of most Chicagoland news reporters and radio hosts. When average, passionate citizens gain influence in forums or among people that government would prefer are dominated by its own narratives, it’s not hard to imagine the government taking steps to make sure those people’s words are suppressed.

Twitter’s own Covid-19 misleading information policy gives all users reason to wonder whether they could suffer the same fate. Methods for reviewing violations include not only reports from fellow users and internal algorithms, but also “close coordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities, NGOs, & governments.”

If Twitter trusts these entities – some of which pressured both Twitter and other social media companies to make sure certain views and data don’t get traction – then it’s reasonable to assume that the leaders who are supposed to be protecting my rights may have been key players in silencing my voice. Deterring dissension by stopping the squeakiest wheel from making a sound isn’t new.

Luckily for Twitter, they don’t have to tell me exactly which part of the Covid policy my Tweets allegedly breached, or whether a “trusted partner” flagged the Tweet.

Lucky for those trusted partners too.

Right now, no one can see my Tweets except me. I can’t retrieve the archive of posts, so when Twitter eventually deletes the account altogether, there will be no record of the 64,000 messages I sent into the public sphere.

If that’s what the company wanted, fine. It’s the risk I took in using the service of a capricious corporation whose understanding of democratic principles is different from mine.

If it’s what the government wanted, I have no words – except to say I want mine back, where I put them, for all to see.

*****

This article was published by The Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Mandatory Mis-Remembering on Natural Immunity

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” ― George Orwell, 1984

 

Releasing new pandemic guidelines last week, the CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti divulged to reporters what many experts have long been saying: there is no difference between a COVID-19 vaccine and prior infection.

“Both prior infection and vaccination confer some protection against severe illness,” Massetti told reporters. “And so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time.”

Major media outlets such as NPR, CNN, Washington Post, and the New York Times, dutifully repeated back new statements from CDC officials, without noting they had reported the complete opposite last year: COVID-19 vaccines provided much better protection than prior infection. See this CNN interview last August, for example, where Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy allegedly shot down an “antivaxxer’s claim” about natural immunity.

“We are seeing more and more data that tells us, that while you get some protection from natural protection, it’s not nearly as strong as what you get from the vaccine,” Dr. Murthy told CNN at the time.

CNN Murthy

While the natural immunity versus vaccination debate has been controversial over the last year, what is not debatable is that midterm elections are coming this November. And with a majority of Americans unhappy with the President’s pandemic policies, perhaps the CDC is relying on “midterm science” to guide their new appreciation for natural immunity.

The media’s forgetfulness of what they reported just last year on vaccines and prior infection is part of the pandemic’s Great Misremembering, collective amnesia where we march in step with government messaging while failing to recall prior statements and moments of glaring contradiction. For example when the media reported that the NIH’s Anthony Fauci was fully vaccinated and still got COVID-19, and then they misremembered to report his prior statement, “When people are vaccinated, they can feel safe that they are not going to get infected.”

“CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur, though they are generally mild,” the agency now says in new guidelines. To help everyone join the Great Misremembering, here are some incidents you must fail to recall.

Mother Jones early out the gate

In the first few confusing months of the pandemic, when and researchers were still trying to understand the outbreak, Mother Jones crack reporter Kiera Butler already figured out the greatest threat to pandemic science: the ubiquitous “antivaxxers” pushing a dangerous “theory” called natural immunity. Note the scare quotes in the title around natural immunity.

dangerous natural immunity

According to Butler, this “dangerous theory” just might go mainstream. She ended her article quoting an expert who warned that if the natural immunity idea takes hold, it could persist even after the coronavirus pandemic dies down. “Those of us in this field will be cleaning up these messes for years to come,” Butler’s expert told her.

This “mess” now includes the CDC’s latest guidance.

John Snow Memorandum

Late in the pandemic’s first year, a group of researchers released a statement called the “John Snow Memorandum” that helped to shape American policy, as many of the signers had large social media followings. Among the signatories was Rochelle Walensky, then a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and now the Director of the CDC. “Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed,” reads the statement signed by the current CDC Director.

You know nothing Jon Snow

Yes, the very same person who runs the CDC that now tells us to not differentiate between the vaccine and natural infection warned us early in the pandemic that any pandemic policy that relies on natural infection is flawed.

As you read the CDC’s new guidance, please remember to misremember the memorandum previously signed by the current CDC Director.

CNN’s Maggie Fox: reliable press release journalism

Few reporters worked harder on behalf of vaccine manufacturers and the federal government to give full-throated support to vaccines than CNN’s Maggie Fox. As I previously reported, CDC Director Walensky divulged earlier this year that she had been overly optimistic about the efficacy of Pfizer’s vaccine after she saw a report on CNN. When I tracked down CNN’s article, I found that it had been written by Maggie Fox and was little more than a regurgitation of Pfizer’s own press release that had gone out earlier on the same day of her story.

In short, Pfizer’s press release became CNN headline, eventually becoming the CDC’s optimistic vaccine pandemic policy.

Shortly after the COVID-19 vaccines became available, Science Magazine published a study that found lasting immunity after recovery from infection. “Several months ago, our studies showed that natural infection induced a strong response, and this study now shows that the responses last,” the study’s lead author told the National Institutes of Health. “We are hopeful that a similar pattern of responses lasting over time will also emerge for the vaccine-induced responses.”

Further evidence accumulated in May when researchers published a study in Nature that concluded, “Overall, our results indicate that mild infection with SARS-CoV-2 induces robust antigen-specific, long-lived humoral immune memory in humans.”

Proceeding with little caution, CNN’s Maggie Fox tweeted the following July, “No valid scientific study has found that natural immunity protects better than vaccination does.” She then went on to write several stories throughout 2021 that continued to promote the notion that vaccination was superior to natural immunity.

Meg Fox

Fox left CNN sometime around the end of the year, and wrote this January on her personal website:

But vaccinated people have more protection against severe disease than people who are unvaccinated – including those who have been infected once or more already. That’s because vaccines boost the immune system better than natural infection does.

With CDC guidelines that “no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status” I tweeted to Fox asking if she wanted to update her previous opinion that seemed to ignore relevant science on natural immunity.

Finding some disparity in the meaning between “difference” and “differentiate”—the first is a noun, the second a verb—Fox tweeted back that I was trolling and attacking her, and that the CDC did not state what it stated.

Meg Fox 2

COVID fact checks, of course

No aspect of the Great Misremembering would be complete without being careful to forget all the amazing fact checks out there. They function, of course, by carefully choosing the most extreme statement to carefully pick apart, and then implying that anyone even remotely associated with such thinking is a complete nutter.

So it’s not surprising to find some nitpicking at both LeadStories and Health Feedback.

LeadStories is funded by both Facebook and a Chinese company cited by the U.S. government for national security concerns. Writers at the website recently falsely attacked researchers for using a database on vaccine safety that they didn’t actually use.

Last August, LeadStories posted one of their typical fact checks that is difficult to follow and cherry picks information to come out in support of vaccines.

fact check, oh no!

Since the CDC now says to not differentiate between prior infections and vaccination, one wonders if LeadStories is going to now fact-checking the federal government.

Health Feedback is a Facebook fact-checking service run by Emmanuel Vincent, who has been hiding throughout Paris to avoid appearing in court for possibly colluding with the U.S. federal government to ban people from social media and deny them their First Amendment rights. This fact check appeared just a few months ago, in April, and one wonders if they are going to update it to reflect the CDC’s new guidance.

freedom works

Don’t hold your breath!

How will we forget the Twitter experts?

Ryan Marino is a medical toxicologist and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, who has been making a name for himself as a “pro science” communicator when reporters need an expert to quote in some pointless, nutty story like Lyme Disease is not an “intergalactic substance.”

Ry Marino

And here

Ry Marino Two

After making a name for himself debunking Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, Canada-famous law professor Timothy Caulfield pivoted to position himself as a COVID-19 expert, and quickly dismissed as a “conspiracy” the idea that the pandemic could have started from a lab. Caulfield almost never upsets powerful corporations in biomedicine, and managed to do so again by promoting vaccines.

Timmy Caulfield

And of course, Twitter’s very online resident gynecologist, Jen Gunter, who rarely misses an opportunity to jump into the middle of a controversy—any controversy. With a typical lack of self-restraint, Gunter slapped down a critic who pointed to the importance to natural immunity some months back.

“Vaccine induced immunity is superior,” the gynecologist tweeted. “So yeah, maybe come at me with a different argument.”

JenJen Gunter

That different argument would be the new CDC guidelines, of course. But let us all forget.

*****

This article was published by The Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Monkeypox And The Face Of Gay Promiscuity

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

Promiscuous gay German man’s nose nearly rots off from monkeypox. He also had advanced syphilis and HIV, but didn’t know it

That’s a pretty horrible picture, isn’t it? It’s a 40-year-old German monkeypox patient whose nose began to rot off after he caught the disease. Turns out that he was HIV-positive and didn’t know, plus was infected with advanced syphilis — also a surprise to him. He told doctors he had never been tested for a sexually transmitted infection. There he was, celebrating diversity like a champ, and now his nose is partially rotted off. Heaven knows who he passed along HIV, syphilis, and monkeypox to along the way.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is so far going ahead with its big Labor Day weekend Southern Decadence festival, an LGBT event that draws 275,000 to the French Quarter for six days of sex, dancing, and debauchery. Decadence was canceled the past two years because of Covid, but not over monkeypox, though it is certain to be a superspreader event.

I will never be able to understand the death wish of a culture in which a man like the anonymous German exists. Take a look at this collection of articles from medical journals, compiled by Joseph Sciambra (once a promiscuous gay man, now a chaste Christian), testifying to the shocking health realities of gay male culture. For example, according to the CDC in 2017, 60 percent of syphilis cases were found in only two percent of the population: gay men.

I remember being told by the media that gay men were vastly more promiscuous than straight men because society compelled them to be. Normalize homosexuality and grant same-sex marriage, and that would change. I never believed it because I knew perfectly well that gay men were insanely promiscuous not because they were gay, but because they were men. An ordinary male unrestrained by religious or moral scruple, and faced with a wide variety of willing partners who demand no emotional commitment, or even to know one’s name, before having sex — that man will likely behave exactly as most gay men do. Until now, at least, heterosexual men have had to cope with a culture of restraint imposed by women. Randy Shilts, the gay journalist who wrote And The Band Played On (and who later died of AIDS), made this very same point in his book. He said that straight men he’d spoken to expressed envy that gay men could have such a bounty of sexual experiences because they didn’t live with the restraining factor of women. There was always, always somebody — and usually many somebody — willing to say “yes” to anything you wanted, any time you wanted.

In the United States, we have had legal same-sex marriage from coast to coast for seven years now. Of course, the culture of debauchery has not changed. It never was going to change. And look, if the horrors of AIDS didn’t change it, why should monkeypox?

If all this is normative behavior in the gay male community (note well: I’m not talking about lesbians), then what chance does a young gay male have of not being caught up in it? We live in a culture where, for better or for worse, homosexuality has been largely destigmatized. It seems plausible that if a young gay man wanted to have a normal, “vanilla” lifestyle of dating, courting, and gay marriage, it would be possible. I wonder, though, how likely it is when the cultural norms within the gay male community are so debauched. Seriously, gay male readers, what advice would you give an adolescent gay male if he wanted to avoid falling into that gutter? If you don’t have the ability to use the comments section, email me at rod — at — amconmag — dot — com, and put COMMENT in the subject line.

In the late 1980s, during the height of the AIDS crisis, a New Orleans friend who is very liberal and pro-gay, though a heterosexual woman, told me a story about being out on the streets on Mardi Gras day. She said that she and her boyfriend were crossing lower Bourbon Street, the heart of the city’s gay community, when they saw a teenage boy, couldn’t have been a day over 17, staggering drunk (or drugged) and naked through the crowd of men. He had blood and feces running down his leg from his rectum. He had likely been raped. Nobody in the crowd was trying to help him. He was lost and wandering. He disappeared into the crowd of nearly-naked gay men partying in the street. My friend said the sight of that poor kid, who may well have been infected with HIV that day, upset her so much that she asked her boyfriend to take her home, that her day was done.

We never talk about stuff like that. It violates the Narrative. But it happens. It’s not the whole story about gay male culture here, but it’s a part of the story.

UPDATE: Along these lines, here’s a strong essay by Bridget Phetasy about her regret over being a “slut”. Excerpt:

But if I’m honest with myself, of the dozens of men I’ve been with (at least the ones I remember), I can only think of a handful I don’t regret. The rest I would put in the category of “casual,” which I would define as sex that is either meaningless or mediocre (or both). If I get really honest with myself, I’d say most of these usually drunken encounters left me feeling empty and demoralized. And worthless.

I wouldn’t have said that at the time, though. At the time, I would have told you I was “liberated” even while I tried to drink away the sick feeling of rejection when my most recent hook-up didn’t call me back. At the time, I would have said one-night stands made me feel “emboldened.” But in reality, I was using sex like a drug; trying unsuccessfully to fill a hole inside me with men. (Pun intended.)

I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a “slut” and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care.

I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety.

The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered.

Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.

Yeah, me too. I was never any kind of “slut,” if that word can be applied to men. But it took me a while to work out that what the world (meaning popular culture) told me about sex was a lie. I was not especially sexually active in my pre-Christian years, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. What slowed me down was the misery I felt after doing the deed. Everything was clear after that: the lies I told the women, and myself, about what we were doing. I loved sex, but more than that, I really did want it to be about love, real love. I kept trying to tell myself that it was fine for it to be meaningless because that’s what I was supposed to think. It was a lie. It was only after my conversion and learning the value of chastity, that I was able to see the true meaning of sex. It kept me away from surrendering my life to Christ for years because I thought — I had been told — that it was my birthright to enjoy commitment-free sexual pleasure. Hadn’t we put away the hypocrisy of our parent’s generation? Weren’t we, you know, liberated? I believed that with my mind, but my heart, and my body, said otherwise.

For me, the truth came with the suddenly real prospect that I might have made a woman I had been with after a drunken hook-up pregnant and that if she was, and had an abortion (as she defiantly told me she would when I told her that I would stay with her and help her raise the baby), my opposition to the abortion would in no way eliminate the moral guilt I would bear because of my foolishness. Then I had to face the ugly reality of the life I had chosen. It was a moment of moral reckoning for me. I had to think back to the woman I had been involved with the year before, who had really thought I loved her because I said so with my body; when I broke up with her, she was devastated. Many years later, I found her online and asked for her forgiveness. I didn’t know what I was doing. Mostly. But deep down, of course, I knew, but I did it anyway because I didn’t want to be some kind of Christian freak.

That man above, with his hideous nose, bears an outer sign of an inward reality. I never had a disfigurement, an STD, or anything like that. But inwardly, I was diseased. And I regretted it. I got to the point, in 1992, of realizing that I wanted the truth, and Christ, more than I wanted my desires. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the liars in church who told me that my latent Christian scruples were old-fashioned and could be cast aside were deceivers. I had a difficult four years of struggling with chastity between my conversion and my marriage, but in that time in the desert, I matured spiritually and was able to feel in my body the truth of what I had accepted with my mind at my conversion.

Promiscuous gay male culture is the epitome of the Sexual Revolution. But they are not the only guilty ones, not by a long shot.

UPDATE.2: From NBC News:

Since the outset of the global monkeypox outbreak in May, public health and infectious disease experts have told the public that the virus is largely transmitting through skin-to-skin contact, in particular during sex between men.

Now, however, an expanding cadre of experts has come to believe that sex between men itself — both anal as well as oral intercourse — is likely the main driver of global monkeypox transmission. The skin contact that comes with sex, these experts say, is probably much less of a risk factor.

In recent weeks, a growing body of scientific evidence — including a trio of studies published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as reports from nationalregional and global health authorities — has suggested that experts may have framed monkeypox’s typical transmission route precisely backward.

Imagine that: monkeypox is a gay STD, but public health experts chose to lean heavily into the explanation that did not stigmatize gay male promiscuity, because reasons. Ah, the Holy Narrative! Never, ever, ever stigmatize sexual liberation, especially gay sexual liberation, because #LoveWins, or some bullshit. Meanwhile, people’s noses are rotting off, and they are suffering in excruciating pain, especially on their penis and anus, all because they can’t keep their pants up.

UPDATE.3: Comments from readers emailed to me below. Here’s reader Brad:

I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog, first time commenting, but I feel I have something to say on your ask of what to tell young gay men facing “the community”.
First, a brief background. Been with my husband for 20 yrs. “legal” for 7. Prior to getting legally married we owned houses together and when you own debt you are together for better or worse. I called it the “gay man’s marriage license”. I officially came out when I was in my early 20’s and having to do it again all over as a small “c” conservative. This second coming out has been much worse and harder. My husband and I have lost friends and gained new ones in this journey.
I would tell young gay men to steer clear of the official “community” there’s nothing for you there of any meaning. We have few gay friends, because for a lot of gays, that part of their identity is all consuming. We are both more than just that one facet. I would tell that person to live their life, meet friends from all over, but don’t look to the gay community exclusively to welcome you with open arms. Most of those gays are “happy” on the surface but look deeper and you see people who are damaged either because of being exploited themselves by the community or rejected from their family of origin. The level of nihilism and just plain recklessness is insane.
Not sure if that’s a real answer, but I’ve found life to be very happy and fulfilled and that’s because I haven’t spent all my time surrounded by professional gays but live life with people from all walks of life.

Reader Jonathan:

I’m a 41 year old guy living in Northern California, engaged and monogamous for the last 5 years. Before that I went through a protracted period in my late twenties and thirties of dating and online hookups, although it was probably a comparatively mild experience and more consonant with what I think an average straight guy experiences who dates serially. Experimentation but nothing super crazy. Mostly what I found fun was meeting guys and discovering what my type was, what I really wanted out of life. The sexual stuff was fun, of course, but I never completely fell into the “notches on the bedpost” philosophy that many gay men find so difficult to resist. And I was always very cautious about STDs. I’d be lying if I said I never felt the pull of that mindset, though. I’m a late bloomer, a real introvert, so maybe those tempered me. Or maybe I was just lucky.  In the end though I think it’s really about learning balance in life and the value of cultivating deeper forms of happiness: artistic, spiritual, intellectual, moral, romantic.

Realistically, I think what we should hope for is that young gay men will follow a similar path to straight men who themselves usually date, have a period of exploration, and then eventually settle down. And in my opinion, it’s no secret how you do this. We’ve known for thousands of years going back to the classical systems. Even if you adopt a philosophical hedonism as your ethical system (a la say Epicurus), the value of moderation is of central importance to the very essence of pleasure.

I believe studies have shown for example that high achieving, highly intelligent straight men not only attract more beautiful women but also hew more closely to a monogamous lifestyle than their less competitive peers. This is no doubt because they can also sublimate themselves in their work, career, interests, etc. The problem in our society is that sublimation has a bad name. So instead call it balance or moderation. You can enjoy a few things in excess or many in moderation. And it’s always seemed to me that the happiest people are of the latter type. You know, variety-is-the-spice-of-life kind of thing. As we see, though, people can easily get carried away in one direction with that!

I’m not a religious person though, and have a more pragmatist ethics than most Christians. I read your blog because you seem like a real person with real concerns willing to say what he thinks. I respect that. For me monogamy is more of an ideal that people often don’t live up to rather than a strict existential requirement. But it’s still an ideal, still real in that sense of being a real ideal. That power of ideas and philosophical reflection has always been a part of my life, so maybe I’m not the most representative gay person out there.

Open relationships are indeed somewhat common in the gay male world, or least a common phase for many. And I’ve seen some signs in the zeitgeist that it might be rubbing off on straights. Who knows what the future holds, but I think humans will always have to balance their pleasures against one another. There’s no escaping the basic question of what exactly we should be doing with our time here on Earth. Because I’m not religious, I look for life’s meaning mostly in books. I’ve never given up on the idea that there’s some deeper way of living, whether spiritual, aesthetic, philosophical.

And so about the only advice one can give is to raise children with a deeper sense of what pleasures in life await them outside the sexual: intellectual understanding, the joy of helping others, genuine spiritual searching, aesthetic or artistic satisfaction. Young people, like everyone else really, are less likely to turn to extreme forms of pleasure seeking (drugs, sex addiction) if they grow up learning how to cultivate lasting happiness through larger social, intellectual, and moral connections.

These are good. Keep ’em coming.

UPDATE.4: Reader T writes:

This might sound like a dumb thing to say, but as a guy tempted toward all the ways guys can deprave one another, your monkey pox columns help disuade me from it. If it ever feels like you’re shouting into the void, you aren’t, you’re helping those of us on the edge get pulled back into center.

Not a dumb thing to say at all. Thank you!

Reader B:

The questions you pose are good ones. My best thought for young gay men who aren’t interested in promiscuity: be the change you wish to see in the world, and be unapologetically so. Leaving the party and sex culture will be hard and lonely (I’m on my own journey there, spurred by finding monogamous love). But attitudes are shifting generationally, it’s just going to take more time, bravery, and authenticity.
I think too we can start as gay men by asking ourselves what motivates this promiscuity if we can’t set it aside for our health and safety? I am opposed to the guilt and shame Puritanism heaps on us for appreciating bodily pleasures, but everything in moderation. Does the spread of monkeypox show we are not able to moderate this aspect of our lives? If so, could promiscuity be not only a personal but cultural addiction? And regardless of the original cause of our sexualized culture, do we not have a collective responsibility to face an addiction and imagine and work toward a healthier future.
I don’t have the answers. But as a community, I believe we need to be asking more questions about this topic, discussing them openly and honestly, and thinking deeply about our answers.

A reader who hasn’t written me for seven years dropped me this line:

It has been a while, but I have been reading your blog regularly.
On the issue of young gay men and the “lifestyle”.  My middle son came out to me and my wife about the time of our previous exchange. He was still in (Catholic) High School.  It came up a few times after that, but it was never in our face.  He had a good group of friends and we used to wonder if any was his boyfriend.  (None were).  He went away to college about 6 hours away and came home for holidays and summer vacation.  Aside from attending Pride Parades with his straight friends there was no indication that he was headed that way.  During his last semester he started seeing ‘Rich’.  Not much was said, about him, but we figured that it was going to happen.
At some point, my daughter let it slip that ‘Rich’ was 53 years old.  Now this was concerning.  Then our son asked if they could both come on our annual family vacation.  The kids have brought friends, romantic or otherwise before.  We were apprehensive, but said “sure”.
“Rich” it turns out is a very nice, quiet, thoughtful person.  You wouldn’t meet either one of them and assume they were gay.  I know how that makes me sound.
They seem to have a very quiet life and a good amount of friends, gay and straight.  I guess my hope for my son was to avoid the lifestyle and have a good quiet life, and it seems that is what he has.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that bother us about the relationship, but I can’t say a hetero relationship would have been different in some regards.
We love our son and tell him often.  We never pushed him away because of this.  So, I don’t know how he avoided the kind of debauchery you read about, maybe he didn’t fully.  We are a short train ride to NYC, so it was available to him.
I like to tell myself that our acceptance of him as he is was a factor.  We did not, and still do not celebrate it.  There are no pride flags at our house.  I guess we treat it like my other son’s excessive tattoos.  That’s who he is.

*****

This article was published in The American Conservative and is reproduced by permission.

Photo credit: Boesecke, C., Monin, M.B., van Bremen, K. et al.

Report: 44 Percent of Pregnant Women in Pfizer Trial Lost Their Babies; FDA and CDC Recommended Jabs For Expectant Mothers Anyway

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

More than 40 percent of pregnant women who participated in Pfizer’s mRNA COVID vaccine trial suffered miscarriages, according to internal Pfizer documents, recently released under court order. Despite this, Pfizer, and the Biden administration insisted that the vaccines were safe for pregnant women. Out of 50 pregnant women, 22 of them lost their babies, according to an analysis of the documents.

In a January court ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release around 12,000 documents immediately, and then 55,000 pages a month until all documents were released, totaling more than 300,000 pages.

The nonprofit group, Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency, sued the FDA last September, after the agency denied its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to expedite the release of mRNA vaccine review documents. In a November 2021 joint status report, the FDA proposed releasing only 500 pages of the documents a month, which would have taken up to 75 years.

Trial documents released in April revealed that Pfizer had to hire 1,800 additional full-time employees in the first half of 2021 to deal with “the large increase” of adverse reactions to its COVID vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was made available under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11, 2020. By February of 2021, the company was seeing so many safety signals, including in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it had to immediately hire 600 employees to process the data.

*****

Continue reading this article at American Greatness.

Where Did $800 Billion Go?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Our various governments allocate money. Then the money goes into a black hole. Readers of this column know I tried to find out where Los Angeles City spent $1 billion on homelessness in a recent year and hit a brick wall. As you know our federal government has allocated amounts in the trillions and we never find out where the money goes. Remember President Obama’s “shovel-ready jobs?” Where did that money go?

There is now a study on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), so I decided to dig into it.

The study is available here.

The study was performed by a team at the National Bureau of [Economic] Research (NBER) headquartered in Cambridge Mass. The study was headed by David Autor who is MIT’S Ford Professor of Economics. Professor Autor was initially responsive especially after I sent him a misrepresentation of the program from a Left-wing author. Unlike the errant Leftist, I have intimate knowledge of the program as I helped some clients make applications and answered hundreds of their questions.

I found fault with the study from the beginning since it did not adequately explain the genesis of the program. The study did identify that it was a completely new program that was envisioned to work through our banking system (banks did the loan package review) with final approval of the loans by the SBA. The study properly cites there were initially some unanswered questions. Considering that the program was new, the amount of unanswered initial questions were minor. The biggest one was whether there would be federal loan relief with proof of proper fund usage. It was determined that the loans would be relieved.

Overview of the program: In 2020, the federal government decided they would do a shutdown of businesses with the idea that it would stem the pandemic. The idea of the program was to provide funds for small businesses to stay alive and keep their workforces intact so that when the pandemic subsided the businesses would be able to gear up quickly and not cause major economic upheaval. The employees would be kept in place and off unemployment. Of course, COVID was not as short-term as initially believed, but the U.S. was only in an economic downturn for two months and PPP helped steady business owners through an uncertain time.

The study stated, “The program deserves high marks for timeliness.” Other systems were in place to deliver money to people, “but these systems struggled to handle the flood of initial unemployment insurance claims.” “Despite obstacles, PPP succeeded in delivering a staggering sum of money over a two-month period in the spring of 2020.”

The study produced some bizarre (unexplained) statistics. It stated that the per job preserved cost was between $170,000 and $257,000 each. Since the program was aimed toward eight weeks of payroll and the most it could cover of any employee’s salary was based on an annual amount of $100,000 — or $15,384+ related payroll taxes — the authors’ calculation of cost per job saved made no sense.

The authors stated the program had a 94% participation rate. With an estimated 31.7 million small businesses as per the Small Business Administration (SBA), that made no sense either because 30 million businesses did not participate. The authors also stated 66% to 77% of the PPP funding did not go to wages. It is a mystery how they came to that conclusion since to get loan relief you had to prove that you spent 60% of money on wages.

Why certain small businesses got funded while others did not is something the authors correctly questioned. These are small businesses that generally do not carry significant in-house accounting staffs geared to applying for such programs. The companies that had relationships with outside consultants (like CPAs) that could perform the calculations quickly were able to get their loan packages in promptly and get approval in the first group of loans. Other owners who were not as astute were left without funding in the initial group of loans. By the time they woke up, they were able to get funding in the second group of loans in 2020.

Also, the fact some businesses had strong banking relationships helped to grease the wheels during the loan process. Others who did not know their banker faced greater challenges. Listen up: know your banker.

The authors criticized the program because banks largely processed loans from their existing clientele (thus shutting out others) due to the volume of loans requested. This turned out to be a godsend for protecting the integrity of the program. Since the banks were largely dealing with existing clientele, it cut significantly into the fraudulent outlays experienced in other programs due to funding “faceless” people (i.e., unknown) during this period of upheaval.

The authors did draw a conclusion with which I wholeheartedly concur. There was a third release of PPP loans in 2021 which was based on requirements of reduced levels of revenues in 2020 for the applying businesses. This aspect of funding was largely unnecessary since the economy had already bounced back and the stimulus was overkill.

The authors came to two conclusions showing their true colors which were either left-of-center universities or the federal reserve (quasi-governmental employees). The first conclusion was that “building U.S. administrative capacity prior to the next pandemic” would be an enhancement to the program. No, it would not. It would just add layers of government employees that have no sense of urgency to administer a program. These employees would be there waiting for another pandemic while we paid them for doing nothing. It is a nonsensical recommendation. The program as designed turned out to be genius. Experienced professionals working through the existing banking system reviewed loan packages of largely pre-existing relationships cutting down time and assuring the integrity of the applications. No, we do not need more government employees.

The authors also concluded that the unemployment system payments went more directly to households, so they believed that the program was more successful in distributing money to lower-income individuals. That may be correct in small regard because it was getting money to people that were now unemployed because their employers had been crushed by the government-mandated operational shutdowns. The authors did not mention the overwhelming amount of fraud in this program, estimated at a $20 billion minimum in California alone. The GAO estimated the 2021 fraud in the program nationally was $78 billion. Yet the authors suggested the unemployment system was more effective than PPP.

The other aspect the authors left out was that the people trying to receive the benefits faced an unemployment benefit bureaucracy that during good times is largely unresponsive. During the pandemic, it was simply overwhelmed with increased applications while the government employees worked out of their homes with inadequate computers and communication systems.

The overarching conclusion in reviewing the study is to not rely on studies like these. The authors had no firsthand experience with the program. In fact, they probably have never had firsthand experience with any program. They create complicated formulas with biased outcomes toward governmental-run programs because that is what they understand.

PPP — except for the unnecessary funds laid out in the second year of the program — was remarkably successful in keeping small businesses in place and the economy running. It was successful because it was designed by people who had real-world experience as opposed to lifelong government wonks or think tank eggheads. Did it have flaws? Yes. Considering it was developed on the fly in the middle of a unique crisis it worked out pretty darn well with a minimum of fraud.

*****

This article was published by FlashReport and is reproduced with permission from the author.