Intermezzo Guest Blog: Will Vaccine Passports Control Your Daily Life?

Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips  March 29, 2021

Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”

Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”

“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”

Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”

2021-04-02 Vaccine PassportsA handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”

Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.

On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.

In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.

“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”

Evil Is Evident; Hell Is Authentic; Prepare or Perish.

This title is not stated as a threat or with any glee.  It is written with trembling knees, a heart full of prayer and sincere desire that anyone reading it may find Life and NOT perish.  The title is simply the statement of three facts which I will address in three blogs.  Though Jesus spoke much more about the Kingdom of Heaven, we would be remiss if we skipped these subjects that He and the Bible address.

Fairy Tales
2021-03-27 WickedSome would like us to believe in fairy tales; happily ever after endings without consequences for wrong behavior.  Or at least, let’s provide some context which makes wrong choices understandable and tolerable since the villain had it so rough.  So Wicked becomes a Disney retelling of Sleeping Beauty that makes Maleficent an unfortunate victim of her circumstances.  Romulans actually are nice guys, just with slightly different means of expressing the same values as Federation members.  Natasha Romanoff (or Black Widow) had a rough childhood; fortunately, she falls in love with a good guy and joins the Avengers.  Severus Snape, the epitome of evil with black cape, boots and a penchant for scaring Potter’s goodniks, turns out to be working for Dumbledore all along.  Another black-robed villain, Darth Vader is given reasons for his turn to the dark side.  And the Terminator turns out to be a misunderstood robot who just needed reprogramming.  Don’t we all?

So in this alternate universe Hitler would be mistreated by his dad and abused by a Jewish teacher.  Stalin was a nice kid who just got involved with the wrong crowd, and Pol Pot was very poor and had to steal food to survive as a child.

Unfortunately, alternate “universes” do not exist (with no apologies to Stephen Hawking).  By definition, universe means ”the totality of known or supposed objects throughout space; the cosmos.”  There cannot be another “universe” that contains that totality; that is an absurdity for which there is not a grain of evidence except in the minds of Star Trek viewers like Hawking.

Not Innocent, Only Incompetent
2021-03-27 Not Innocent Just IncompetentWe are the product of choices we make throughout life, beginning with infancy when we want the blocks the other baby has.  Shortly after most children master “Mama,” most also learn “Mine!”  Children are not innocent; they are simply incompetent.  Given the power, the mass of them would eliminate any opposition with a flick of Potter’s wand and simply kill anyone that prevents them from getting their way.

You and I were like that!  We had to be taught that there were better things than getting our own way all the time.  Most of those lessons were learnt through experience, the best teacher, but hardly the kindest.

In The Great Divorce, C.S.Lewis illustrates these choices among those who refuse Heaven because of what they want.  From the dishonest intellectual to a greedy materialist; from a religious hypocrite to a self-deprecating egomaniac; from a mother who preferred to drag her child into hell rather than forfeit control to a tragedian who loved his own misery rather than accept joy that was offered.  “Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven.” (Milton)

There are those who will choose their own way rather than God’s way even at the pain of death.  And from their choices will come every kind of evil from murdering unborn children to killing the elderly who no longer “contribute to society” to justifying what once were considered perverse lifestyles.  Like Lewis’ Ghosts they will couch their evil in beautiful sounding words like Social Security, Affordable Care, For The People, Toleration or Government Protection, but what they really want is selfish aggrandizement, physical comfort, control of others and power for themselves.

Can’t We All Just Be Nice?
2021-03-27 House on FireEvil is real and it does not go away just because we try to be “nice” to each other.  Real love is much harsher than the pablum pop psychology puts out today.  If a neighbor’s house is on fire, would we be “nice” and say, “Let’s not upset him; wait till it’s convenient to tell him?”  NO, the “loving thing” to do would be to bang on his door, disturb his “peace,” and warn him to get to safety!  So it is that if we fail to warn people of the reality of evil and its consequences, we are simply “nice neighbors” who do not care if our acquaintances die.

Trying to be nice to some people is like appeasement of Hitler just prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.  There was a madness sweeping Europe and the Fuhrer was simply its pawn.  This does not excuse him of the war’s atrocities, but remember he was as deceived as those he was deceiving (See 2 Timothy 3:12-13), an evil-doer going from bad to worse.

Paul had this to say to his protégé pastoring in Ephesus:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,  who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

And again some time later:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

Children of the Day
2021-03-27 Children Of The DayWe are called to be light in a darkening world, salt to a rotting, tasteless culture (Matthew 5:13-16).  The times will become darker yet, as political leaders lie more, as religious conviction becomes labeled “Hate Speech,” as bureaucratic alignments for economic and national interests bring together enemies of Israel, as whole societies call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:8-30)

However, though evil is real and becomes more evident, we are called “to walk in the Light, even as He is in the light.” (1 John 1:5-9)  We must stand distinctly apart from liars and deceivers who say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-15)  And we pray for the deceived that they may see the Truth (Ephesians 4:18-19)

The Children of the Day recorded this song back in 1979 based on 1 Thessalonians 5:5-9.
When your heart is dark and empty and new shadows start to fall;
When cluttered fears and sin are the writing on your wall;
Your confusion and your doubts are always lurking left and right,
Don’t try to drive the darkness out; you just turn on the light.

We’re the children of the light, and we’re the children of the day.
We need not always stumble in an ever darkening way.
Though the darkness will close in around with shadows everywhere,
Still Jesus Christ is in our life, the Light of the world is there.

Next week, , I will discuss what Jesus and the Apostles taught about hell.  It’s not pretty.

Can’t Congress Find Anything MORE Stupid To Do????

2021-03-13 DST AgainWell, it’s that time of the year again.  After a year of pandemics and elections, it is time for the US Congress to address one of the stupidest laws they have ever enacted!  And this is noted with full awareness of the ACA (aka Obamacare – “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”Nancy Pelosi, March 9. 2010).  This presupposes the For The People Act that centralizes elections, disenfranchises states and degrades the integrity of the elections by “the people” it supposedly is FOR.  It assumes you know about the $1,900,000,000.00 ($1.9 trillion) Covid Relief Package that has less than $1,900,000.00 ($1.9 billion) for covid relief, less than 1/10th of the bill.

Even with these boondoggles, the stupidest law the U.S. Congress has ever passed was the Daylight Saving Time Act of 1918!  Because of confusion over when states would adopt DST, it was codified into uniform compliance by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (unless states wanted to opt out, which Arizona, Hawaii and half of Indiana did).  Now Daylight Saving Time begins with “Spring Forward” at 2am on the second Sunday of March every year.  When 2am hits, we are supposed to move our clocks forward to 3am, skipping that hour.  Standard Time resumes with “Fall Back” at 2am on the first Sunday of November.  When 2am hits, we try to reverse the damage by moving the clocks backward to 1am, repeating the 1am hour over again.  Then we do it all again in the spring.

Now, let’s up the absurdity!  This year, again, a group of congresspeople and senators have proposed the Sunshine Protection Act which would make Daylight Saving Time PERMANENT, so that we do not have to change our clocks every other season.  After all, if the government does not protect the Sunshine, who will!?  A reasonable person might ask, WHYYYYY!?  If you are going to get up an hour earlier every day of the year, why not just leave the clocks alone and go with the Greenwich Meridian Time standard that the US adopted in November of 1883 and was standardized to the world in 1884?

Two stories to illustrate the asininity of this idea:2021-03-13 Capital Grille Lounge
One is the apocryphal tale of why DST was ever adopted. 
It seems some congressmen were concerned about getting reelected and felt they needed something to show their constituents that they were not just sitting around the Capitol lounge and gym smoking stogies, drinking martinis and getting tax-payer funded massages, even though that is exactly what they were doing
One suggested, “Why don’t we vote to give everyone an extra hour every day?  You know, to work longer and pay higher taxes, but we could say it was so they could spend more time with their families.” 
Everyone jumped on the bandwagon immediately exclaiming “Capital idea!” until a freshman congressman, who was unschooled in the finer arts of making laws, noted, “But that would wear out in about two weeks when people would be going to bed at sunup and rising at sundown.”
After some substantial grumbling about mouthy young upstarts needing to learn their place, one of the elder statesmen said, “Well we can just subtract the extra hour from the morning and that way everyone will get the extra hour without confusing the clock-makers who would have to make 25 hour clocks. Besides I don’t have that many voting clock-makers in my district.” 
The measure passed with full bi-partisan support and was signed into law by Woodrow Wilson, who was busy planning to catch the Spanish Flu when he attended the League of Nations meeting the next year, and could not get reelected for a third term if he had slowed down the earth’s rotation to actually give everyone an extra hour.

The second story is a true one about a secretary I once knew in an office in which I worked.  Spring was on the horizon and we were discussing the coming change of the clocks.  I noted that, “If it is really so important to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening, why can’t we just start and quit work an hour earlier?” 
The secretary looked aghast!  “Oh, C.A., I have to get up at 6am to get here by 8 as it is.  I could never get up at 5am.”
The befuddlement in my brain was difficult to speak through, but I finally managed to say, “But you ARE getting up at 5am; you’re just calling it 6am for the summer!”

I would like to suggest an alternative proposal that we set our clocks BACK five hours!  That way we could all sleep in until noon and miss the rush hour traffic going to work, right?  This proposal makes the same sense as “permanentizing” DST year-round.

2021-03-13 Congressional GymAnd so the idiocy we call Daylight Saving Time (and that many people mispronounce as Daylight SavingS Time) may not be going away any time soon.  In fact, if our brilliant congresspeople have anything to say about it, DST might not go away ever!  Just think of how much we will protect the sunshine and the time we will save THAT WAY!  Now I wonder what they will do while smoking stogies, sipping martinis and getting massages.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Science, Politics, and COVID: Will Truth Prevail?

This is a rather lengthy guest blog, over 3000 words, compared to my usual blogs of about 1000, but Dr. Atlas is well worth a little extra time to read.
by Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 18, 2021, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona.

Corona VirusThe COVID pandemic has been a tragedy, no doubt. But it has exposed profound issues in America that threaten the principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted.

First, I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March — issuing unilateral decrees, ordering the closure of businesses, churches, and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely basic freedoms. Second, I was and remain stunned — almost frightened — at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.

The pandemic also brought to the forefront things we have known existed and have tolerated for years: media bias, the decline of academic freedom on campuses, the heavy hand of Big Tech, and — now more obviously than ever — the politicization of science. Ultimately, the freedom of Americans to seek and state what they believe to be the truth is at risk.

Let me say at the outset that I, like all of us, acknowledge that the consequences of the COVID pandemic and its management have been enormous. Over 500,000 American deaths have been attributed to the virus; more will follow. Even after almost a year, the pandemic still paralyzes our country. And despite all efforts, there has been an undeniable failure to stop cases from escalating and to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

But there is also an unacknowledged reality: almost every state and major city in the U.S., with a handful of exceptions, have implemented severe restrictions for many months, including closures of businesses and in-person schools, mobility restrictions and curfews, quarantines, limits on group gatherings, and mask mandates dating back to at least last summer. And despite any myths to the contrary, social mobility tracking of Americans and data from Gallup, YouGov, the COVID-19 Consortium, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have all shown significant reductions of movement as well as a consistently high percentage of mask-wearing since the late summer, similar to the extent seen in Western Europe and approaching the extent seen in Asia.

With what results?
All legitimate policy scholars today should be reexamining the policies that have severely harmed America’s children and families, while failing to save the elderly. Numerous studies, including one from Stanford University’s infectious disease scientists and epidemiologists Benavid, Oh, Bhattacharya, and Ioannides have shown that the mitigating impact of the extraordinary measures used in almost every state was small at best — and usually harmful. President Biden himself openly admitted the lack of efficacy of these measures in his January 22 speech to the nation: “There is nothing we can do,” he said, “to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”

Bizarrely, though, many want to blame those who opposed lockdowns and mandates for the failure of the very lockdowns and mandates that were widely implemented.

Besides their limited value in containing the virus, lockdown policies have been extraordinarily harmful. The harms to children of suspending in-person schooling are dramatic, including poor learning, school dropouts, social isolation, and suicidal ideation, most of which are far worse for lower income groups. A recent study confirms that up to 78 percent of cancers were never detected due to missed screening over a three-month period. If one extrapolates to the entire country, 750,000 to over a million new cancer cases over a nine-month period will have gone undetected. That health disaster adds to missed critical surgeries, delayed presentations of pediatric illnesses, heart attack and stroke patients too afraid to go to the hospital, and others — all well documented.

Beyond hospital care, the CDC reported four-fold increases in depression, three-fold increases in anxiety symptoms, and a doubling of suicidal ideation, particularly among young adults after the first few months of lockdowns, echoing American Medical Association reports of drug overdoses and suicides. Domestic and child abuse have been skyrocketing due to the isolation and loss of jobs. Given that many schools have been closed, hundreds of thousands of abuse cases have gone unreported, since schools are commonly where abuse is noticed. Finally, the unemployment shock from lockdowns, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study, will generate a three percent increase in the mortality rate and a 0.5 percent drop in life expectancy over the next 15 years, disproportionately affecting African-Americans and women. That translates into what the study refers to as a “staggering” 890,000 additional U.S. deaths.

We know we have not yet seen the full extent of the damage from the lockdowns, because the effects will continue to be felt for decades. Perhaps that is why lockdowns were not recommended in previous pandemic response analyses, even for diseases with far higher death rates.

To determine the best path forward, shouldn’t policymakers objectively consider the impact both of the virus and of anti-virus policies to date? This points to the importance of health policy, my own particular field, which requires a broader scope than that of epidemiologists and basic scientists. In the case of COVID, it requires taking into account the fact that lockdowns and other significant restrictions on individuals have been extraordinarily harmful — even deadly — especially for the working class and the poor.

“There is a land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am.” — Mad Hatter
Optimistically, we should be seeing the light at the end of the long tunnel with the rollout of vaccines, now being administered at a rate of one million to 1.5 million per day. On the other hand, using logic that would appeal to Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, in many states the vaccines were initially administered more frequently to healthier and younger people than to those at greatest risk from the virus. The argument was made that children should be among the first to be vaccinated, although children are at extremely low risk from the virus and are proven not to be significant spreaders to adults. Likewise, we heard the Kafka-esque idea promoted that teachers must be vaccinated before teaching in person, when schools are one of the lowest risk environments and the vast majority of teachers are not high risk.

Worse, we hear so-called experts on TV warning that social distancing, masks, and other restrictions will still be necessary after people are vaccinated! All indications are that those in power have no intention of allowing Americans to live normally — which for Americans means to live freely — again.

And sadly, just as in Galileo’s time, the root of our problem lies in “the experts” and vested academic interests. At many universities — which are supposed to be America’s centers for critical thinking — those with views contrary to those of “the experts” currently in power find themselves intimidated. Many have become afraid to speak up.

But the suppression of academic freedom is not the extent of the problem on America’s campuses.

To take Stanford, where I work, as an example, some professors have resorted to toxic smears in opinion pieces and organized rebukes aimed at those of us who criticized the failed health policies of the past year and who dared to serve our country under a president they despised — the latter apparently being the ultimate transgression.

Defamatory attacks with malicious intent based on straw-man arguments and out-of-context distortions are not acceptable in American society, let alone in our universities. There has been an attempt to intimidate and discredit me using falsifications and misrepresentations. This violates Stanford’s Code of Conduct, damages the Stanford name, and abuses the trust that parents and society place in educators.

It is understandable that most Stanford professors are not experts in the field of health policy and are ignorant of the data about the COVID pandemic. But that does not excuse the fact that some called recommendations that I made “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science.” That was a lie, and no matter how often lies are repeated by politically-driven accusers, and regardless of how often those lies are echoed in biased media, lies will never be true.

We all must pray to God that the infamous claim attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels — “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” — never becomes operative in the United States of America.

All of the policies I recommended to President Trump were designed to reduce both the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable and the economic, health, and social harms of anti-COVID policies for those impacted the most — small businesses, the working class, and the poor. I was one of the first to push for increasing protections for those most at risk, particularly the elderly. At the same time, almost a year ago, I recognized that we must also consider the enormous harms to physical and mental health, as well as the deaths attributable to the draconian policies implemented to contain the infection. That is the goal of public health policy — to minimize all harms, not simply to stop a virus at all costs.

The claim in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) opinion piece by three Stanford professors that “nearly all public health experts were concerned that [Scott Atlas’s] recommendations could lead to tens of thousands (or more) of unnecessary deaths in the U.S. alone” is patently false and absurd on its face. As pointed out by Dr. Joel Zinberg in National Review, the Great Barrington Declaration — a proposal co-authored by medical scientists and epidemiologists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford — “is closer to the one condemned in the JAMA article than anything Atlas said.” Yet the Great Barrington Declaration has already been signed by over 50,000 medical and public health practitioners.

When critics display such ignorance about the scope of views held by experts, it exposes their bias and disqualifies their authority on these issues. Indeed, it is almost beyond parody that these same critics wrote that “professionalism demands honesty about what [experts] know and do not know.”

I have explained the fact that younger people have little risk from this infection, and I have explained the biological fact of herd immunity — just like Harvard epidemiologist Katherine Yih did. That is very different from proposing that people be deliberately exposed and infected — which I have never suggested, although I have been accused of doing so.

I have also been accused of “argu[ing] that many public health orders aimed at increasing social distancing could be forgone without ill effects.” To the contrary, I have repeatedly called for mitigation measures, including extra sanitization, social distancing, masks, group limits, testing, and other increased protections to limit the spread and damage from the coronavirus. I explicitly called for augmenting protection of those at risk—in dozens of on-the-record presentations, interviews, and written pieces.

My accusers have ignored my explicit, emphatic public denials about supporting the spread of the infection unchecked to achieve herd immunity — denials quoted widely in the media. Perhaps this is because my views are not the real object of their criticism. Perhaps it is because their true motive is to “cancel” anyone who accepted the call to serve America in the Trump administration.

For many months, I have been vilified after calling for opening in-person schools — in line with Harvard Professors Martin Kulldorf and Katherine Yih and Stanford Professor Jay Bhattacharya — but my policy recommendation has been corroborated repeatedly by the literature. The compelling case to open schools is now admitted even in publications like The Atlantic, which has noted: “Research from around the world has, since the beginning of the pandemic, indicated that people under 18, and especially younger kids, are less susceptible to infection, less likely to experience severe symptoms, and far less likely to be hospitalized or die.” The subhead of the article was even clearer: “We’ve known for months that young children are less susceptible to serious infection and less likely to transmit the coronavirus.”

When the JAMA accusers wrote that I “disputed the need for masks,” they misrepresented my words. My advice on mask usage has been consistent: “Wear a mask when you cannot socially distance.” At the time, this matched the published recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This past December, the WHO modified its recommendation: “In areas where the virus is circulating, masks should be worn when you’re in crowded settings, where you can’t be at least one meter [roughly three feet] from others, and in rooms with poor or unknown ventilation”—in other words, not at all times by everyone. This also matches the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health document Prevention and Prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 Infection: “When consistent distancing is not possible, face coverings may further reduce the spread of infectious droplets from individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection to others.”

Regarding universal masks, 38 states have implemented mask mandates, most of them since at least the summer, with almost all the rest having mandates in their major cities. Widespread, general population mask usage has shown little empirical utility in terms of preventing cases, even though citing or describing evidence against their utility has been censored. Denmark also performed a randomized controlled study that showed that widespread mask usage had only minimal impact.

This is the reality.
Those who insist that universal mask usage has absolutely proven effective at controlling the spread of the COVID virus and is universally recommended according to “the science” are deliberately ignoring the evidence to the contrary. It is they who are propagating false and misleading information.

Those who say it is unethical, even dangerous, to question broad population mask mandates must also explain why many top infectious disease scientists and public health organizations question the efficacy of general population masking. Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, for instance, wrote that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.” Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta says there is no need for masks unless one is elderly or high risk. Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya has said that “mask mandates are not supported by the scientific data. . . . There is no scientific evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease.”

Throughout this pandemic, the WHO’s “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19” has included the following statement: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” The CDC, in a review of influenza pandemics in May 2020, “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.” And until the WHO removed it on October 21, 2020 — soon after Twitter censored a tweet of mine highlighting the quote — the WHO had published the fact that “the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.”

My advice on masks all along has been based on scientific data and matched the advice of many of the top scientists and public health organizations throughout the world.

The Politicization of the Search For Truth
At this point, one could make a reasonable case that those who continue to push societal restrictions without acknowledging their failures and the serious harms they caused are themselves putting forth dangerous misinformation. Despite that, I will not call for their official rebuke or punishment. I will not try to cancel them. I will not try to extinguish their opinions. And I will not lie to distort their words and defame them. To do so would repeat the shameful stifling of discourse that is critical to educating the public and arriving at the scientific truths we desperately need.

If this shameful behavior continues, university mottos like Harvard’s “Truth, Stanford’s “The Winds of Freedom Blow,” and Yale’s “Light and Truth” will need major revision.

Big Tech has piled on with its own heavy hand to help eliminate discussion of conflicting evidence. Without permitting open debate and admission of errors, we might never be able to respond effectively to any future crisis. Indeed, open debate should be more than permitted — it should be encouraged.

As a health policy scholar for over 15 years and as a professor at elite universities for 30 years, I am shocked and dismayed that so many faculty members at these universities are now dangerously intolerant of opinions contrary to their favored narrative. Some even go further, distorting and misrepresenting words to delegitimize and even punish those of us willing to serve the country in the administration of a president they loathe. It is their own behavior, to quote the Stanford professors who have attacked me, that “violates the core values of [Stanford] faculty and the expectations under the Stanford Code of Conduct, which states that we all ‘are responsible for sustaining the high ethical standards of this institution.’” In addition to violating standards of ethical behavior among colleagues, this behavior falls short of simple human decency.

If academic leaders fail to renounce such unethical conduct, increasing numbers of academics will be unwilling to serve their country in contentious times. As educators, as parents, as fellow citizens, that would be the worst possible legacy to leave to our children.

I also fear that the idea of science as a search for truth — a search utilizing the empirical scientific method — has been seriously damaged. Even the world’s leading scientific journals — The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature — have been contaminated by politics. What is more concerning, many in the public and in the scientific community have become fatigued by the arguments — and fatigue will allow fallacy to triumph over truth.

With social media acting as the arbiter of allowable discussion, and with continued censorship and cancellation of those with views challenging the “accepted narrative,” the United States is on the verge of losing its cherished freedoms. It is not at all clear whether our democratic republic will survive — but it is clear it will not survive unless more people begin to step up in defense of freedom of thought and speech.
____________________________

2021-03-09 Dr. Scott AtlasScott W. Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served for 14 years as professor and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center. He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and his M.D. from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. An ad hoc member of the Nominating Committee for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, he was a senior health care advisor to a number of presidential candidates in 2008, 2012, and 2016. From July to December 2020, he served as Special Advisor to President Trump and as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He is the editor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain and Spine, now in its fifth edition, and is the author of several books, including Restoring Quality Health Care.

Intermezzo: Ode to Dr. Seuss on Dr. Seuss Day

I am certainly not the brilliant versifier that Dr. Seuss was, but here is my small and feeble attempt to pay homage to a man now being canceled for his crimes against the “woke.”

2021-03-02 Ode to Dr, Seuss

It must be a very very sad day
When people say that you cannot say
The very kind things in your mind today.
It must be a very sad sad day.

Poems so innocent and sweet
Intended for people to use to greet
Each other whenever their faces meet,
Instead are accused of a terrible deed.

Using words one should not teach
To children as they are beyond their reach
To understand what old folks preach
That some words should not be in your speech.

Maybe Babar boosts the Taliban.
Should Jack and Jill from our schools be banned?
Mother Goose may be a madam
And Father Christmas too much a man.

I guess the woke will get their say
To shut down any other way
Than what they allow in your essay,
But I say it is a sad sad day.

Cancel Culture in the USACancel Culture in the USA

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Dr. Victor Hanson on Biden’s Amerika

2021-02-15 Bidens AmerikaRazor wire and fences still surround the U.S. Capitol at sunrise. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

2021-02-15 Victor Davis HansonThe World Goes On While America Sleeps
Victor Davis Hanson /
/
Dr. Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.  You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com
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The Democrat-controlled Senate spends thousands of collective hours conducting an impeachment trial against a citizen who is no longer president.  The acquittal is predetermined, as in the first impeachment effort a year ago — and known to be so to the Democratic prosecutors.  The constitutionally mandated presiding judge — the chief justice of the Supreme Court — refused to show up.  Chief Justice John Roberts apparently believes an impeachment trial of a private citizen is either a waste of time or unconstitutional — or both.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is busy ferreting out purportedly extremist Republican House members.  For the first time in memory, one party now removes committee members of the other.  Yet for each Republican outlier, there is a corresponding Democratic firebrand member who has either called for violence or voiced anti-Semitic slurs — and yet will not be removed from House committees.  So the asymmetrical tit-for-tat continues.

The subtext to this madness is that the Democratic Congress, the new administration, the administrative state, and the political left are obsessed with dismembering the presidential corpse of now citizen Donald Trump.  Apparently they fear that one day he will rise from the infernal regions to wreak his revenge.  Meanwhile, life in America goes on.

Yet few of our leaders are very worried about the existential crises left unaddressed by their obsessions with the ghost of Trump.  Take the debt.  It is now nearly $28 trillion, and it is growing by almost $2 trillion a year.  No one in Washington talks about reducing the annual budget deficit.  Nor do officials find ways to balance the budget.  The idea of paying off the monstrous debt remains a fantasy.  Instead, our elected representatives argue over whether to borrow another $1 trillion, or more likely $2 trillion, without worry of where it comes from or how it will be repaid.

But money is not completely a construct.  We will eventually pay for our profligacy either with steeper taxes, higher inflation, 1970s-like stagflation, or permanent zero interest.  Or eventually America will renounce its debt and destroy the credibility of the U.S. government.  Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of once-productive labor are diverted to unproductive ideological censorship, career canceling, and indoctrination.

Our allies, such as democratic France, warn America that it is cannibalizing itself — and becoming dangerous to others.  Our enemies, such as the totalitarian Chinese, are delighted with our suicidal wokeness.  The cost is not just the expense of cleaning up the billions of dollars of destruction from the summer riots, the thousands of memorials and statues destroyed and defaced, and the hundreds of schools and buildings to be renamed.

Far more consequential is the suppression of creative thinking — from humanistic study to scientific research.  The Islamic world, as the historian Bernard Lewis once observed, stagnated in the 19th and 20th centuries once radical Islamists began squelching all free inquiry.  Humanities and science were perverted from 1932 to 1945 in Germany by the pollution of Nazi racial censors.  What was written or advanced in communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is largely discredited, given that commissar hacks determined the rules of publication and research.  Something similarly frightening is now occurring in the United States.

Scholars, journalists, artists, and educators feel they must mouth politically correct platitudes.  They constantly hedge their public discourse in fear of career cancellation.  They strain to synchronize their research with some approved woke ideology to save their livelihoods.  When professors must write “diversity statements” and hire, promote, and fire on the basis of race, the model is not the U.S. Constitution, but something out of contemporary China.

No one pays much attention that our capital is now weaponized with soldiers in camouflage and barbed wire.  Not since the Civil War has Washington resembled such a vast police state.  Ex-military officers who once warned Trump not to deploy federal troops to ensure the safety of the White House from Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators now are silent about a veritable army deployed in Washington.

President Joe Biden has signaled that all new pipeline construction is over.  Fracking on public lands is taboo.  The border is to become wide open.  Federal immigration law is now effectively nullified.  Americans may soon have to be tested for COVID-19 before flying into or out of the country.  But illegal immigrants will not be COVID-19-certified when — illegally — they cross the border.  Iran is bankrupt, isolated and roundly despised by most of the countries in the Middle East.  Now America is doing its best to resuscitate the most radical and anti-American regime in the world — at the expense of our allies in the Arab world, Israel, and America’s own interests.  While we are busy devouring each other, China is smiling because once-feared American capitalists have become laughable Keystone Cops.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com.

Intermezzo Blog: Prophetic Word for President Biden from Jonathan Cahn

An apology to my email followers: the other day I erroneously reposted the blog of January 21.  My old brain just seems to slip a cog every now and then, and it is too easy to click buttons on the computer.  But once the reposting went to your email there was no way to retract it.  This was the blog I intended to send.

2021-02-10 Jonathan CahnJonathan Cahn leads Hope of the World, a service to Gentiles and Jews examining issues of prophecy and end-time events.  While somewhat flamboyant (his website is a little ‘busy’ for my tastes), he is impressive as a Bible teacher in that he does not go beyond what the scripture says; no predictions of dates or even seasons; no announcements of “Look here is the Christ in the inner room!” (Matthew 24:23).  And he is very thorough and discreet in his exposition of what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus.

If you have 35 minutes, you may want to check out his YouTube of the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast for Barack Obama on March 11, 2013.  I suspect someone in the president’s staff thought, “Okay, here’s a Jewish rabbi who is also an evangelical Christian; we can kill two birds with one stone and have him speak, appealing to voters from both camps.”  Boy, did he get an education! 😄

Joking aside, this is Rabbi Cahn’s recent message to our new president, who we must acknowledge is in the position because of God’s will.  I, along with any other Christ-followers, am praying FOR President Biden that he will recognize Father’s voice when He speaks and respond appropriately to the grace of Jesus, winning for himself and our nation a reprieve from the disasters that the current divisions in our county portend.

Raspberry/Blueberry Custard Pie

IMG_1899There are lots of concerns with the new administration, from what will they do to promote abortion to how will they handle the ongoing leftist “protests” in Oregon that the mainstream media is finally willing to call “riots.”  And how is this any different from last summer?  It’s not.

But life goes on, even with the ongoing challenges that take me back to the ’60s when national guards were called out to the Watts riots in LA’s streets and students were shot on Kent State’s campus in Ohio.  And the USA is still the greatest nation in the world, where more people want to come than leave.  Wondering why some of the leftists in 2016 that said they would move to Canada if Trump was elected chose not to go?

Well, here in the hinterland where many of us deplorable conservatives live, there is nothing more patriotic that Red, White and Blue . . . well, off-white, anyway; kinda yellow as custard tends to be, but you get the idea.

Anyhow, Anita and I needed (? 🙄) a dessert as we had finished off the others I have baked and since I am enjoying my new-found “hobby” of baking, I decided to bake a pie with some fruit she had purchased on her last outing to the grocery store.  We both love custard, so I put together what I recently learnt about making this delicious dessert, added some fruit and voila, try this one.  It’s easy and hard to mess up!

Ingredients (which I always recommend you assemble before even turning on the oven)

IMG_1870

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 9″ pie crust
  • 1 cup milk (anything from skim to whole, your choice)
  • 3/4 cup cream (heavy, whipping, light, or half & half, your choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of raspberries/blueberries (~1/2 pound)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

To blind-bake (pre-bake) the pie crust, line the chilled crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans.  This prevents the crust from bubbling up and reducing the volume of filling you can put in it.  I used another pie tin weighted with a mixing bowl; worked like a charm.
Bake the crust at 375⁰F for 20 minutes.  Remove it from the oven, and gently remove the foil or parchment with the weights or beans.
Return the crust to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes, until it is very light golden brown all over.  If the edges of the crust start to become too brown, cover them with a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil.  Remove the crust from the oven and cool completely while you make the filling.

  • To make the filling: Start by thoroughly whisking together the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.

  • IMG_1873Combining the milk, cream, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat the mixture until small bubbles form around the edges, and steam starts to wisp from the surface; this is how you “scald” milk.
  • Pour about 1/4 of the hot milk/cream over the egg mixture, stirring well.  After this is mixed, pour the  egg mixture into the remaining hot milk/cream, stirring well.
  • Pour the custard through a sieve into another bowl to strain out any possible bits of cooked egg.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

  • Gently turn the raspberries and blueberries into the mix. Some like the fruit to be throughout the pie, not just on top.  If you want to use more fruit, be sure to reduce other items in the mix to avoid making too much filling, e.g., milk, sugar or egg.  I would stick with whole milk and heavy cream if you do this.
  • Pour the warm filling into the baked, cooled crust.  Sprinkle the nutmeg evenly over the top.

  • Cover the edges of the pie with a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.  If there is excess filling, use some silicone cupcake “tins” or a separate pie dish.  (Keep an eye on the extras as these will bake faster than the pie; how quickly depending on how much and whether you place them above or below the pie.)

  • Place the pie onto your oven’s middle rack and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes at 400⁰F, or until the custard is set at the edges but still a bit wobbly in the center. The temperature of the pie at the center should be between 170°F and 180°F.
  • Remove the pie from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool. Be careful if the pie is not fully set; this should be okay as it will stiffen as it cools.  When it’s completely cool, refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for several days.

Notes: the cornstarch will firm the custard up much better than recipes that lack this.  The heavy cream and 2% milk worked fine for me, but if you use lighter cream or milk, you may not get the more solid texture that Anita and I enjoy.
You can use 4 large eggs and more fruit, but you will need “extra” cups for the excess and cut the cornstarch by half or completely.  If you use a larger pie crust, you can adjust the time, but watch it closely toward the end, as the last few minutes the pie really firms up fast.  Over-baking it will make the custard slightly chalky and dry.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, next Saturday I plan to post THE MOST IMPORTANT BLOG I have ever written.  Hope you come back and check that one out.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Leninism 4.0

The Woke Movement is Leninism 4.0: Political Commentator Dr. James Lindsay
By Gary Du and Jan Jekielek

Dr. James Lindsay, an American-born author and political commentator, called the “woke” movement promoted by Black Lives Matter and other left-wing activists Leninism 4.0. Lindsay, author of six books on subjects ranging from religion, the philosophy of science, and postmodern theory, said he’s not a Trump fan or right-wing, but strives to uphold liberty.

“Now we have the attempt to apply Leninism to the American context, using corporations as part of the toolset, for example. And so we call this movement the ‘woke’ movement. We talked about woke capital with all the corporations … the woke movement is Leninism 4.0,” Lindsay told Jan Jekielek, host of The Epoch Times’ American Thoughts Leaders program on Jan. 13.

Lindsay explained that the first three versions or flavors of Leninism through Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, each tried to fix the problems from the previous version. The “woke” movement that has evolved today focuses on the issues of social and racial justice and has become a catchword used by Black Lives Matter activists on the streets.

Lindsay described the movement as “the idea is that you have some enlightened party of people who are probably part of what Marx would have identified as the bourgeoisie, who understand the problem of the proletariat better than the proletariat does and is going to shepherd them through the revolution that they need to have that’s for the greater good or in their best interest.”

For people on the left, being “woke” means siding with social justice advocates focused on contemporary political concerns, but for people on the right, it is often interpreted as an aspect of “political correctness” or “cancel culture.” Lindsay said he’s been studying “woke” culture and its historical and philosophical antecedents for a number of years.

“At present, what’s happening in the United States [is] we have ‘repressive tolerance’ at the end of a narrative, which is a significant difference [of] 4.0 versus 1.0. So we should point that out, at least for the moment, that the way that they are, you know, Lenin went around and killed dissidents, they are instead canceling dissidents here,” he said.

But he noted that there are some encouraging positive developments. “We’ve had attorneys general already file antitrust suits against these big tech companies. We’ve seen people pushing back in big legal ways that might have a significant impact to scare these big tech companies into rethinking the way that they’re operating,” Lindsay added.

The January 6th Incident
Lindsay said the people who broke into the Capitol building on January 6 might have had the “intention of some kind of insurrection,” but that video footage showed that they were “wandering around being interviewed by journalists” and did not have a plan of action. He doesn’t think President Donald Trump incited violence there and that the narrative that he did does not add up.

He warned against the “consensus view” built up on what happened at the Capitol and a “pseudo-reality” that misleads people. “Why is everything so fractured? Why is everything so polarized? We actually live in a world, at the moment, where we have two consensus views,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay also called out hypocrisy from the left as they try to get “sharp prison sentences threatened on these people [who broke into the Capitol]” and make them unemployable, even calling on Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to be removed from their offices. “You see Cori Bush calling for them to be removed and then we compare that to what we saw with Kamala Harris saying: here’s the link to bail people out of jail for the riots in June. We see Ocasia-Cortez saying repeatedly that the summer riots are necessary,” he said.

Lindsay offered advice to people who may feel confused about the current rapidly-changing narratives surrounding politics: “take a bit of a step back from the news. Try to regain your perspective. Try to regain your calm and then start asking questions. Be more skeptical. Start to perceive that maybe the thing you’re being shown is something that people want you to see rather than something that is actually happening.”

Note from c.a.: the Twitter link to one of the authors was here, but thanx to Twitter’s “cancel culture” attitude, I have left Twitter in the dust, and encourage everyone else to do so, unless there is a significant change of heart on Dorsey’s part. “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”  Benjamin Franklin

Intermezzo: Too little, too late, but better late than never . . . same for each of us!

President Trump delivers a positive and unifying message, a little late, but better now than never.
https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-calls-on-americans-to-promote-peace-amid-reports-of-planned-demonstrations_3655924.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-01-13-4

The president is not wise and often has done things that weaponized his opponents easily enough. This time, his January 6 speech gave them the ammunition to again engage in political theater of impeachment with no hope of conviction, and that, with only a few days away from his departure from office. Nancy Pelosi’s full-on hatred for the man who defied her “take it to the bank” predictions in 2016 only inflames her adversaries, which may be part of her “playbook.” (“Stir them up and maybe the deplorables will get rabid enough to attack again.”) There is nothing to be accomplished in pursuing this course of action while more important legislation gets cold on her desk . . . like removing biologically correct, but politically inconvenient language of “dad, mom, son, daughter, etc” from congressional matters. Okay, that one did not get cold; she made sure this “important piece” got voted on.

We have come to a sorry state in the USA in which our nation will soon not be a world leader. America must fade to the background as nations around “The Epicenter” take center stage and actors far removed from American ideals must play parts in an unfolding drama of literally Biblical proportions.

God does not force any person or nation to take a particular course of action, but from His eternal and all-wise vantage point, He knows exactly how this theater will all go. He did not write the script, any more than He chose what you would eat for breakfast this morning. But knowing what will happen, how you and I will choose within the framework of free will with which He endowed us, He has laid out little tidbits of information, “trailers” (if you will allow a movie metaphor to intrude on the theater one) which give us enough information to understand that He does know.

See Matthew 24, Daniel 11 and 12, and Revelation, beginning with chapter 4. However, do not become obsessed with “interpreting” these things with one eye on a newspaper and one of a blog about prophecy. Remember Jesus instruction that applies not only to its momentary application, but to all prophecy: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” (John 14:29)

His emphasis in all His parables about the end of time was simply “Be ready.” Are you?