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How Two Conflicting COVID Stories Shattered Society

How Two Conflicting COVID Stories Shattered Society

Authored by Gabrielle Bauer via The Brownstone Institute,

The story went like this:




How Two Conflicting COVID Stories Shattered Society

Authored by Gabrielle Bauer via The Brownstone Institute,

The story went like this:

There is a virus going around and it’s a bad one. It’s killing people indiscriminately and will kill many more. We must fight it with everything we’ve got. Closing businesses, closing schools, canceling all public events, staying home…whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. It’s a scientific problem with a scientific solution. We can do this!

There was another story simmering under the first one.

It went like this:

There is a virus going around. It’s nasty and unpredictable, but not a show stopper. We need to take action, but nothing so drastic as shutting down society or hiding out for years on end. Also: the virus is not going away. Let’s do our very best to protect those at higher risk. Sound good?

[Editor: this is an excerpt from Blindsight Is 2020, by Gabrielle Bauer, now available from Brownstone.]

The first story traveled far and wide in a very short time. People blasted it on the nightly news and shouted it to each other on Twitter. They pronounced it the right story, the righteous story, the true story. The second story traveled mainly underground. Those who aired it in public were told to shut up and follow the science. If they brought up the harms of closing down society, they were reminded that the soldiers in the World War 1 trenches had it much worse. If they objected to placing a disproportionate burden on children and youth, they were accused of not caring about old people. If they breathed a word about civil liberties, they were told that freedumbs had no place in a pandemic.

The first story was a war story: an invisible enemy had invaded our land and we had to pour all our resources into defeating it. Everything else—social life, economic life, spiritual life, happiness, human rights, all that jazz—could come later. The second story was an ecological story: a virus had entered and recalibrated our ecosystem. It looked like we couldn’t make it go away, so we had to find a way to live with it while preserving the social fabric.

The two stories continued to unfold in tandem, the gulf between them widening with each passing month. Beneath all the arguments about the science lay a fundamental difference in worldview, a divergent vision of the type of world needed to steer humanity through a pandemic: A world of alarm or equanimity? A world with more central authority or more personal choice? A world that keeps fighting to the bitter end or flexes with a force of nature?

This book is about the people who told the second story, the people driven to explore the question: Might there be a less drastic and destructive way to deal with all this? 

As a health and medical writer for the past 28 years, I have a basic familiarity with infectious disease science and an abiding interest in learning more. But my primary interest, as a journalist and a human taking my turn on the planet, lies in the social and psychological side of the pandemic—the forces that led the first story to take over and drove the second story underground.

Many smart people have told the second story: epidemiologists, public health experts, doctors, psychologists, cognitive scientists, historians, novelists, mathematicians, lawyers, comedians, and musicians. While they didn’t always agree on the fine points, they all took issue with the world’s single-minded focus on stamping out a virus and the hastily conceived means to this end.

I have selected 46 of these people to help bring the lockdown-skeptical perspective to life. Some of them are world famous. Others have a lower profile, but their fresh and powerful insights give them pride of place on my list. They lit up my own way as I stumbled through the lockdowns and the byzantine set of rules that followed, bewildered at what the world had become.

I see them as the true experts on the pandemic. They looked beyond the science and into the beating human heart. They looked at the lockdown policies holistically, considering not only the shape of the curve but the state of the world’s mental and spiritual health. Recognizing that a pandemic gives us only bad choices, they asked the tough questions about balancing priorities and harms.

Questions like these: Should the precautionary principle guide pandemic management? If so, for how long? Does the aim of stopping a virus supersede all other considerations? What is the common good, and who gets to define it? Where do human rights begin and end in a pandemic? When does government action become overreach? An article in the Financial Times puts it this way: “Is it wise or fair to impose radical limits on the freedom of all with no apparent limits in sight?” 

Now that three years have gone by, we understand that this virus doesn’t bend to our will. Serious studies (detailed in subsequent chapters) have called the benefits of the Covid policies into question while confirming their harms. We’ve entered the fifty shades of moral grey. We have the opportunity—and the obligation—to reflect on the world’s choice to run with the first story, despite the havoc it wreaked on society. 

I think of the parallel Covid stories as the two sides on a long-playing vinyl album (which tells you something about my age). Side A is the first story, the one with all the flashy tunes. Side B, the second story, has the quirky, rule-bending tracks that nobody wants to play at parties. Side B contains some angry songs, even rude ones. No surprise there: when everyone keeps telling you to shut up, you can’t be blamed for losing patience.

Had team A acknowledged the downsides of locking up the world and the difficulty of finding the right balance, team B might have felt a tad less resentful. Instead, the decision makers and their supporters ignored the skeptics’ early warnings and mocked their concerns, thereby fueling the very backlash they had hoped to avoid.

Side A has been dominating the airwaves for three years now, its bellicose tunes etched into our brains. We lost the war anyway and there’s a big mess to clean up. Side B surveys the damage.

Many books about Covid proceed in chronological order, from the lockdowns and vaccine rollout through the Delta and Omicron waves, offering analysis and insight at each stage. This book takes a different approach, with a structure informed by people and themes, rather than events.

Each chapter showcases one or more thought leaders converging on a specific theme, such as fear, freedom, social contagion, medical ethics, and institutional overreach. There’s oncologist and public health expert Vinay Prasad, who explains why science—even very good science—cannot be “followed.” Psychology professor Mattias Desmet describes the societal forces that led to Covid groupthink.

Jennifer Sey, whose principles cost her a CEO position and a million dollars, calls out the mistreatment of children in the name of Covid. Lionel Shriver, the salty novelist of We Need To Talk About Kevin fame, reminds us why freedom matters, even in a pandemic. Zuby, my personal candidate for world’s most eloquent rapper, calls out the hubris and harms of zero-risk culture in his pithy tweets. These and the other luminaries featured in the book help us understand the forces that shaped the dominant narrative and the places where it lost the plot.

Along with the featured 46, I’ve drawn from the writings of numerous other Covid commentators whose sharp observations cut through the noise. Even so, my list is far from exhaustive. In the interest of balancing perspectives from various disciplines, I’ve left out dozens of people I admire and no doubt hundreds more I don’t know about. My choices simply reflect the aims of the book and the serendipitous events that placed some important dissenting thinkers in my path. 

To maintain the book’s focus I’ve stepped away from a few subplots, notably the origin of the virus, early treatments, and vaccine side effects. These topics merit separate analyses by subject matter experts, so I respectfully cede the territory to them. And what they find under the hood, while obviously important, doesn’t alter the core arguments in this book. I also steer clear of speculations that the lockdown policies were part of a premeditated social experiment, being disinclined to attribute to malice what human folly can readily explain (which is not to say that malfeasance didn’t occur along the way).

In case it needs to be said, the book does not discount the human toll of the virus or the grief of people who lost loved ones to the disease. It simply argues that the path chosen, the Side A path, violated the social contract underpinning liberal democracies and came at an unacceptably high cost. If there’s a central theme running through the book, it’s exactly this. Even if lockdowns delayed the spread, at what cost? Even if closing schools made a dent in transmission, at what cost? Even if mandates increased compliance, at what cost? In this sense, the book is more about philosophy and human psychology than about science—about the trade-offs that must be considered during a crisis, but were swept aside with Covid. 

The book also calls out the presumption that lockdown skeptics “don’t take the virus seriously” or “don’t care.” This notion infused the narrative from the get-go, leading to some curious logical leaps. In the spring of 2020, when I shared my concerns about lockdowns with an old friend, the next words out of her mouth were: “So you think Covid is a hoax?” Some two years later, a colleague gave me a thumbs-up for hosting a woman from war-torn Ukraine, but not without adding that “I didn’t expect it from a lockdown skeptic.” (I give her points for honesty, if nothing else.)

You can take the virus seriously and oppose lockdowns. You can respect public health and decry the suspension of fundamental civil liberties during a pandemic. You can believe in saving lives and in safeguarding the things that make life worth living. You can care about today’s older people and feel strongly about putting children first. It’s not this or that, but this and that.

The pandemic is both a collective story and a collection of individual stories. You have your story and I have mine. My own story began in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis, known to locals as Floripa. I lived there for five months in 2018 and returned two years later to reconnect with the gaggle of friends I had made there. (It’s ridiculously easy to make friends in Brazil, even if you’re over 60 and have varicose veins.)

March was the perfect month to visit the island city, signaling the end of the summer rains and the retreat of the tourist invasion. I had a tight schedule: Basílico restaurant with Vinício on Monday, Daniela beach with Fabiana on Tuesday, group hike along the Naufragados trail on Wednesday, just about every day of the month packed with beaches and trails and people, people, people. 

Within three days of my arrival, Brazil declared a state of emergency and Floripa began folding in on itself. One after the other, my favorite hangouts closed up: Café Cultura, with its expansive sofas and full-length windows, Gato Mamado, my go-to place for feijão, Etiquetta Off, where I indulged my sartorial cravings… Beaches, parks, schools, all fell like dominoes, the world’s most social people now cut off from each other.

My friend Tereza, who had introduced me to ayahuasca two years earlier, offered to put me up in her house for the next month, amid her rabbits and dogs and assorted Buddhist and vegan lodgers. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted. But Prime Minister Trudeau and my husband were urging me to come home, and as much as I loved Brazil I couldn’t risk getting stranded there. I hopped on a plane to São Paulo, where I spent 48 hours awaiting the next available flight to Toronto.

When I finally got home and flung open the front door, Drew greeted me with his right arm stretched out in front of him, his hand facing me like a stop sign. “Sorry we can’t hug,” he said, fear traveling across his face. He pointed to the stairs to the basement. “See you in two weeks.” 

There wasn’t much natural light in the basement, but I did have my computer, which kept me abreast of the memes of the moment. Stay home, save lives. We’re all in this together. Don’t be a Covidiot. Keep your social distance. The old normal is gone. It felt alien and graceless and “off” to me, though I couldn’t yet put my finger on why. Ignoring my misgivings, I slapped a “stay home, save lives” banner on my Facebook page, right under my cover photo. A few hours later I took it down, unable to pretend my heart was in this.

Every once in a while I would go upstairs to get something to eat and find Drew washing fruits and vegetables, one by one. Lysol on the kitchen counter, Lysol in the hallway, paper towels everywhere. “Six feet,” he would mumble as he scrubbed.

The fourteen days of quarantine came and went, and I rejoined Drew at the dining table. On the face of it, the restrictions didn’t change my life much. I continued to work from home, as I had done for the past 25 years, writing health articles, patient information materials, medical newsletters, and white papers. All my clients wanted materials on Covid—Covid and diabetes, Covid and arthritis, Covid and mental health—so business was brisk.

Even so, the new culture forming around the virus troubled me mightily: the pedestrians leaping away if another human passed by, the taped-up park benches, the shaming, the snitching, the panic… My heart ached for the young people, including my own son and daughter in their dreary studio apartments, suddenly barred from the extracurricular activities and gigs that made university life tolerable for them. People said it was all part of the social contract, what we had to do to protect each other. But if we understand the social contract to include engaging with society, the new rules were also breaking the contract in profound ways.

Stay safe, stay safe, people muttered to each other, like the “praise be” in The Handmaid’s Tale. Two weeks of this strange new world, even two months, I could countenance. But two months were turning into the end of the year. Or maybe the year after that. As long as it takes. Really? No cost-benefit analysis? No discussion of alternative strategies? No regard for outcomes beyond the containment of a virus? 

People told me to adapt, but I already knew how to do that. Job loss, financial downturn, illness in the family—like most people, I put one foot in front of the other and powered through. The missing ingredient here was acquiescence, not adaptability.

I connected with an old-school psychiatrist who believed in conversation more than prescriptions, and scheduled a string of online sessions with him. I called him Dr. Zoom, though he was more of a philosopher than a medical man. Our shared quest to understand my despair took us through Plato and Foucault, deontology and utilitarianism, the trolley problem and the overcrowded lifeboat dilemma. (Thanks, Canadian taxpayers. I mean that sincerely.) 

And then, slowly, I found my tribe: scientists and public health experts and philosophy professors and lay people with a shared conviction that the world had lost its mind. Thousands and thousands of them, all over the planet. Some of them lived right in my city. I arranged a meetup, which grew into a 100-strong group we called “Questioning Lockdowns in Toronto,” or Q-LIT. We met in parks, on restaurant patios, at the beach, and between meetings stayed connected through a WhatsApp chat that never slept. Zoom therapy has its place, but there’s nothing more healing than learning you’re not alone.

To those who have traveled a similar path, I hope this book provides that same sense of affirmation. But I’ve also written it for the Side A people, for those who sincerely upheld the narrative and despaired at the skeptics. Wherever you fall along the spectrum of viewpoints, I invite you to read the book with a curious mind. If nothing else, you’ll meet some interesting and original thinkers. And if their voices help you understand Side B, even a little, we all win.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/29/2023 - 19:30

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Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,




Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

Imagine this.

A woman, for the sake of my story, is in a marriage with a partner who does not respect her. He insults her regularly, belittles her efforts to improve herself or her situation, and minimizes her feelings.

In fact, when she tries to stand up for herself, things get even worse. The partner calls into question her memories of the event. He dismisses the way things made her feel, calling the emotions “ridiculous” or “stupid.” He convinces her she’s overreacting and that he was only trying to do what was best for her. When she brings something up, he completely rewrites the event, causing her to doubt what actually happened because she’s in a vulnerable state due to the constant abuse.

In a situation like this, the abused partner often feels powerless, confused, and unable to leave the situation. They are at a disadvantage because they’ve been influenced to doubt their own reality. This leaves them trapped deeper and deeper in the abusive scenario. They feel unable to escape because they’re really not sure what actually happened. Were they blowing things out of proportion? Are they, in fact, stupid, forgetful, and inept?

Abusive relationships follow a pattern. There’s a period of breaking the victim down, isolating them from their support systems, and making them dependent on the abuser. Then, the abused partner is maneuvered into the belief that she can’t get by on her own.

This master manipulation is how people become trapped in abusive relationships.

And, as I’m about to show, not all abusive relationships are one-on-one romantic relationships.

What is gaslighting?

Medical News Today defines gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or as though they cannot trust themselves.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1944 classic film (and before that, the play), Gaslight. In the story, a husband tries to make his wife believe she is suffering from a mental illness. Starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, it’s well worth a watch.

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse. For a quick refresher on the definition of a narcissist and the techniques they use, go here.

Forbes offers the following signs you are being gaslit:

Signs to watch for include:

The “Twilight Zone” effect. Victims of gaslighting often report feeling like a situation is surreal—like it’s happening on a different plane from the rest of their life.

Language describing you or your behavior as crazy, irrational or overemotional. “When I asked women about their partners’ abusive tactics, they often described being called a ‘crazy bitch,’” Sweet writes in “The Sociology of Gaslighting” in American Sociological Review. “This phrase came up so frequently, I began to think of it as the literal discourse of gaslighting.”

Being told you’re exaggerating.

Feeling confused and powerless after leaving an interaction.

Isolation. Many gaslighters make efforts to isolate victims from friends, family and other support networks.

Tone policing. A gaslighter may criticize your tone of voice if you challenge them on something. This is a tactic used to flip the script and make you feel that you’re the one to blame, rather than your abuser.

A cycle of warm-cold behavior. To throw a victim off balance, a gaslighter may alternate between verbal abuse and praise, often even in the same conversation.

Gaslighting is a deliberate attempt to provoke self-doubt, confusion, and dependence.

How does someone gaslight another person?

Again, let’s look to the experts. Medical News Today provides these examples of how gaslighting might take place:

  • Countering: This is when someone questions a person’s memory. They may say things such as, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory,” or “I think you are forgetting what really happened.”
  • Withholding: This involves someone pretending they do not understand the conversation, or refusing to listen, to make a person doubt themselves. For example, they might say, “Now you are just confusing me,” or “I do not know what you are talking about.”
  • Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards how someone else feels. They may accuse them of being “too sensitive” or overreacting in response to valid and reasonable concerns.
  • Denial: Denial involves a person refusing to take responsibility for their actions. They may do this by pretending to forget what happened, saying they did not do it, or blaming their behavior on someone else.
  • Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion by questioning the other person’s credibility. For example, they might say, “That is just nonsense you read on the internet. It is not real.”
  • Stereotyping: An article in the American Sociological Review says that a person may intentionally use negative stereotypes about someone’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to gaslight them. For example, they may say that no one will believe a woman if she reports abuse.

After a period of time, this emotional barrage results in the target of the gaslighting suffering from confusion, doubt, and self-blame.

  • feeling uncertain of their perceptions
  • frequently questioning if they are remembering things correctly
  • believing they are irrational or “crazy”
  • feeling incompetent, unconfident, or worthless
  • constantly apologizing to the abusive person
  • defending the abusive person’s behavior to others
  • becoming withdrawn or isolated from others

The Forbes article offered these specific examples of gaslighting in romantic relationships.

“Ebony’s partner would steal her money and then tell her she was ‘careless’ about finances and had lost it herself.”

“Adriana’s boyfriend hid her phone and then told her she had lost it, in a dual effort to confuse her and prevent her from communicating with others.”

“Jenn described her ex-boyfriend as a ‘chameleon’ who made up small stories to confuse her, like lying about what color shirt he had worn the day before to make her feel disoriented.”

“Emily described her ex-husband stealing her keys so she could not leave the house and then insisting she had lost them ‘again.’”

But if you think this phenomenon is limited to women being abused by their husbands or boyfriends, you’d be wrong.

Gaslighting doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships.

Gaslighting is a complicated thing. While it’s common in abusive romantic relationships, it can also occur in unhealthy parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, or even workplaces. But that’s not all. It can also occur on a much broader scale.

Racial gaslighting

According to an article in Politics, Group, and Identities, racial gaslighting is when people apply gaslighting techniques to an entire racial or ethnic group in order to discredit them. For example, a person or institution may say that an activist campaigning for change is irrational or “crazy.”

Political gaslighting

Political gaslighting occurs when a political group or figure lies or manipulates information to control people, according to an article in the Buffalo Law Review.

For example, the person or political party may downplay things their administration has done, discredit their opponents, imply that critics are mentally unstable, or use controversy to deflect attention away from their mistakes.

Institutional gaslighting

Institutional gaslighting occurs within a company, organization, or institution, such as a hospital. For example, they may portray whistleblowers who report problems as irrational or incompetent, or deceive employees about their rights.

This often occurs to cover up a mistake that could result in the person who erred facing punitive consequences or to keep people “in their place.” It’s a control mechanism, pure and simple.

Have we been gaslit by our own government?

I don’t think it’s farfetched to say that we, the people of the United States of America, have been gaslit.

Does this sound familiar? Lockdowns that keep you away from friends and loved ones? Losing your income and becoming dependent on handouts doled out by the government? Being censored and mocked when you say anything that is not in line with the official narrative? Being treated like a crazy conspiracy theorist who should be punished because of the harm you’re causing to others if you refuse to go along?

When you look at it this way, it feels like the entire US government and media have colluded to abuse the people. Many of the Covid-related “truths” that were promoted by the government and the media that we were not allowed to dispute have now been proven to be false. Stories we couldn’t question about the origins of the pandemic have been proven false. In another incident of broad-scale gaslighting unrelated to the pandemic, a lot of evidence has been produced that shows the Biden family may have received money from influence-peddling, but the media tells us not to believe it.

And like good little victims, it seems like a hefty portion of the country is refusing to believe the evidence, instead believing in the good intentions of their abusers. They’ve been gaslit, brainwashed, and are unable to break free of the manipulation.

And it’s still going on.

Recently Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a scathing opinion of the US government’s handling of the Covid pandemic, saying that we “have experienced the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.”

“Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private. They closed churches even as they allowed casinos and other favored businesses to carry on. They threatened violators not just with civil penalties but with criminal sanctions too. They surveilled church parking lots, recorded license plates, and issued notices warning that attendance at even outdoor services satisfying all state social-distancing and hygiene requirements could amount to criminal conduct. They divided cities and neighborhoods into color-coded zones, forced individuals to fight for their freedoms in court on emergency timetables, and then changed their color-coded schemes when defeat in court seemed imminent,” he said.

At the federal level, he highlighted not only immigration decrees but vaccine mandates, the regulation of landlord-tenant relations and pressure on social media companies to suppress “misinformation.”

The gaslighting blowback was immediate, with breathlessly outraged headlines.

Slate eloquently opined, “Neil Gorsuch’s List of “Civil Liberties Intrusions” Is, Uh, Missing a Few Things.” making sure to throw plenty of insulting talking points into their introductory paragraph in their attempt to liken a Supreme Court Justice who was educated at Harvard Law, Oxford, Georgetown, and Columbia, to an ignorant relative one merely tolerates. And they insinuated he was a racist.

Gorsuch has long railed against such policies, and his opinions have taken on an increasingly shrill tone, like the Fox News–poisoned uncle who hectors you about the plandemic in 3,000-word Facebook comments. The justice’s rant in Arizona v. Mayorkas, however, hits a new low, moving beyond the usual yada-yada grievance parade to issue a thesis statement of sorts…

…As Vox’s Ian Millhiser quickly pointed out, this sweeping claim leaves out two “intrusions on civil liberties” that any person with a basic grasp of history and sanity would surely rank as worse than pandemic policies: slavery and Jim Crow.

An opinion piece published in the NY Times gasped, “Neil Gorsuch Has Given Himself Away,” made it seem as if the Justice was belittling every other civil rights mishap in the history of America while also blithely disregarding the folks who died during the pandemic.

The New Republic condescendingly liberal-splained to the rest of us “What Neil Gorsuch Got Wrong About the Pandemic,” stating that “The justice’s vision of the judiciary’s role in public health may be more dangerous than any Covid-era restriction.”

The site Above The Law literally said Gorsuch was stupid in the piece, “For An Originalist, Gorsuch Is Clearly Slacking On His Definitions And Their Historical Meanings.” The subheading reads, “Is what he said stupid? Yes. But let’s be technical here.”

Law and Crime website also played the race card and did so right in the headline: Neil Gorsuch implies COVID restrictions were worse than slavery and Jim Crow, and the internet noticed.

Let’s look at that definition of political gaslighting again…

For example, the person or political party may downplay things their administration has done, discredit their opponents, imply that critics are mentally unstable, or use controversy to deflect attention away from their mistakes.

Oof. If that textbook case of gaslighting isn’t embarrassing, it should be.  Then again, narcissists are rarely embarrassed.

The gaslighting will escalate.

Another thing about narcissists: they just get angry when they’re called out. They will respond by gaslighting you harder or seeking to “ruin” you. (source) They’ll punish you with a loss of “privileges,” money, material goods, and freedom. We’ve watched it happen again and again in our cancel culture media. Some of us have been unfortunate enough to have personal relationships with narcissists and learned this the hard way.

The only way to end narcissistic abuse and gaslighting is to recognize it and remove yourself from the situation as much as you can. Obviously, when it’s our entire government and society, that becomes complicated. You may be stuck with just recognizing it. But that in itself gives you a certain amount of freedom and personal power. It helps you get off the hamster wheel, and you begin to spot the manipulations more easily.

One thing we can be sure of is that this will escalate as more and more people say, “No, that’s not what happened.” This is something we can expect, and in some small way, maybe we can take comfort in the response. Perhaps we can smile to ourselves because we know those who were trying to manipulate us all are on the defensive.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 18:20

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The Great Silence

The Great Silence

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via,

The kids are two years behind in education. Inflation still rages. White-collar…



The Great Silence

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via,

The kids are two years behind in education. Inflation still rages. White-collar jobs are disappearing thanks to the reversal of Fed policy. Household finances are a wreck. The medical industry is in upheaval. Trust in government has never been lower.

Major media too is discredited. Young people are dying at levels never seen. Populations are still on the move from lockdown states to where it is less likely. Surveillance is everywhere, and so is political persecution. Public health is in a disastrous state, with substance abuse and obesity all at new records.

Each one of these, and many more besides, are continued fallout from the pandemic response that began in March 2020. And yet here we are 38 months later and we still don’t have honesty or truth about the experience.

Officials have resigned, politicians have tumbled out of office and lifetime civil servants have departed their posts, but they don’t cite the great disaster as the excuse. There is always some other reason.

This is the period of the great silence. We’ve all noticed it. The stories in the press recounting all the above are conventionally scrupulous about naming the pandemic response much less naming the individuals responsible.

Maybe there is a Freudian explanation: things so obviously terrible and in such recent memory are too painful to mentally process, so we just pretend it didn’t happen. Plenty in power like this solution.

Everyone in a position of influence knows the rules. Don’t talk about the lockdowns. Don’t talk about the mask mandates. Don’t talk about the vaccine mandates that proved useless and damaging and led to millions of professional upheavals.

Don’t talk about the economics of it. Don’t talk about collateral damage. When the topic comes up, just say, “We did the best we could with the knowledge we had,” even if that is an obvious lie.

Above all, don’t seek justice.

Where’s the National Commission?

There is this document intended to be the “Warren Commission” of COVID slapped together by the old gangsters who advocated for lockdowns. It is called Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report.

The authors are people like Michael Callahan (Massachusetts General Hospital), Gary Edson (former deputy national security adviser), Richard Hatchett (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), Marc Lipsitch (Harvard University), Carter Mecher (Veterans Affairs), and Rajeev Venkayya (former Gates Foundation and now Aerium Therapeutics).

If you have been following this disaster, you might know at least some of the names. Years before 2020, they were pushing lockdowns as the solution for infectious disease. Some claim credit for having invented pandemic planning. The years 2020–2022 were their experiment.

As it was ongoing, they became media stars, pushing compliance, condemning as disinformation and misinformation anyone who disagreed with them. They were at the heart of the coup d’etat, as engineers or champions of it, that replaced representative democracy with quasi-martial law run by the administrative state.

The first sentence of the report is a complaint:

We were supposed to lay the groundwork for a National COVID Commission. The COVID Crisis Group formed at the beginning of 2021, one year into the pandemic. We thought the U.S. government would soon create or facilitate a commission to study the biggest global crisis so far in the 21st century. It has not.

That is true. There is no National COVID Commission. You know why? Because they could never get away with it, not with legions of experts and passionate citizens who wouldn’t tolerate a coverup.

The public anger is too intense. Lawmakers would be flooded with emails, phone calls and daily expressions of disgust. It would be a disaster. An honest commission would demand answers that the ruling class is not prepared to give. An “official commission” perpetuating a bunch of baloney would be dead on arrival.

This by itself is a huge victory and a tribute to indefatigable critics.

‘We Didn’t Crack Down Hard Enough’

Instead, the “COVID Crisis Group” met with funding from the Rockefeller and Charles Koch foundations and slapped together this report. Despite being celebrated as definitive by The New York Times and The Washington Post, it has mostly had no impact at all.

It is far from obtaining the status of being some kind of canonical assessment. It reads like they were on deadline, fed up, typed lots of words and called it a day.

Of course it is whitewash.

It begins with a bang to denounce the U.S. policy response: “Our institutions did not meet the moment. They did not have adequate practical strategies or capabilities to prevent, to warn, to defend their communities or fight back in a coordinated way, in the United States and globally.”

Mistakes were made, as they say.

Of course the upshot of this kvetching is not to criticize what Justice Neil Gorsuch calls “the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.” They hardly mention those at all.

Instead they conclude that the U.S. should have surveilled more, locked down sooner (“We believe that on Jan. 28 the U.S. government should have started mobilizing for a possible COVID war”), directed more funds to this agency rather than that and centralized the response so that rogue states like South Dakota and Florida could not evade centralized authoritarian diktats next time.

The authors propose a series of lessons that are anodyne, bloodless and carefully crafted to be more-or-less true but ultimately structured to minimize the sheer radicalism and destructiveness of what they favored and did. The lessons are clichés such as we need “not just goals but road maps,” and next time we need more “situation awareness.”

There is no new information in the book that I could find, unless something is hidden therein that escaped my notice. It’s more interesting for what it does not say. Some words that never appear in the text: Sweden, ivermectin, ventilators, remdesivir and myocarditis.

‘Look, Lockdowns and Mandates Worked!’

Perhaps this gives you a sense of the book and its mission. And on matters of the lockdowns, readers are forced to endure claims such as “all of New England — Massachusetts, the city of Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine — seem to us to have done relatively well, including their ad hoc crisis management setups.”

Oh really! Boston destroyed thousands of small businesses and imposed vaccine passports, closed churches, persecuted people for holding house parties, and imposed travel restrictions. There is a reason why the authors don’t elaborate on such preposterous claims. They are simply unsustainable.

One amusing feature seems to me to be a foreshadowing of what is coming. They throw Anthony Fauci under the bus with sniffy dismissals: “Fauci was vulnerable to some attacks because he tried to cover the waterfront in briefing the press and public, stretching beyond his core expertise—and sometimes it showed.”

Ooooh, burn!

“Trump Was a Comorbidity”

This is very likely the future. At some point, Fauci will be scapegoated for the whole disaster. He will be assigned to take the fall for what is really the failure of the national security arm of the administrative bureaucracy, which in fact took charge of all rule-making from March 13, 2020, onward, along with their intellectual cheerleaders. The public health people were just there to provide cover.

Curious about the political bias of the book? It is summed up in this passing statement: “Trump was a comorbidity.”

Oh how highbrow! How clever! No political bias here!

Maybe this book by the Covid Crisis Group hopes to be the last word. This will never happen. We are only at the beginning of this. As the economic, social, cultural, and political problems mount, it will become impossible to ignore the incredibly obvious.

The masters of lockdowns are influential and well-connected but not even they can invent their own reality.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 16:00

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Spread & Containment

Kids missing school: Why it’s happening — and how to stop it

About 10 million US children are chronically absent from school.




Students who miss a lot of school are more likely to drop out. maroke/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Chronic absenteeism – defined as a student’s missing approximately 18 days of the school year – is on the rise. Compared with the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, almost three-quarters of U.S. public schools are now showing significant increases.

SciLine interviewed Dr. Joshua Childs, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Texas at Austin, who shared his thoughts on why students become chronically absent, the academic and social losses they incur by missing school, and the strategies available to boost student attendance, including the relationship between absenteeism and school athletics.

Dr. Joshua Childs discusses chronic absenteeism.

Below are some highlights from the discussion. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is chronic absenteeism?

Joshua Childs: Chronic absenteeism is missing 10% or more of the school year for any reason. That includes excused absences, like a doctor’s visit or a class field trip, and unexcused absences, such as skipping or being truant from school, and being expelled or suspended from school for behavioral reasons.

How common is chronic absenteeism?

Joshua Childs: On average, around 7.5 million to 8 million students are chronically absent each year. That’s a significant number of students who are missing school for a variety of reasons.

But since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, the latest national data from the U.S. Department of Education has shown that the number has increased to around 10 million students being identified as chronically absent from school.

How does missing lots of school affect kids?

Joshua Childs: Academically, we know that students who are chronically absent are more likely to drop out and less likely to graduate from high school.

Socially, for students who are chronically absent, they tend to feel less connected to the school and the overall school environment or community, less likely to build connections with the adults or educators within the school building, and also least likely to build connections with their peers.

Developmentally, we know that students who are chronically absent tend to fall behind academically from their peers, and tend to be behind when it comes to math and reading or language arts testing outcomes.

What barriers keep kids out of school?

Joshua Childs: When it comes to physical health, we know that asthma followed by obesity and dental issues are the leading cause for students to miss school. And so not having adequate access to health care to be able to address some of those physical ailments can lead to students’ missing school consistently.

Mental health issues and concerns, particularly or specifically since the pandemic, have increased for students and can lead to their missing school.

Next: the neighborhood context. Are there safe routes, safe transportation, adequate busing options for students to attend school? And attend school not only every day, but on time?

Then there’s the overall school environment. Is it welcoming and engaging for students? Is the school environment physically safe – not only in terms of interactions with peers and the adults, but are there issues with asbestos, or having adequate and reliable desks and textbooks and safe infrastructure within the school building? If not, that can lead to chronic absenteeism rates increasing.

And finally … the family. Do families feel connected and a part of the school environment? Is there constant communication about the importance of attending school and being engaged with the overall school community? Do families understand the value of what the school environment can do for their child, and how consistently showing up can lead to outcomes that are beneficial?

What’s the link between attendance and sports?

Joshua Childs: In many states, coaches have to be full-time employees of the district in which they’re coaching. And so many times coaches are teachers, whether it’s in science, history, math or reading. So they spend significant hours of the school day with students, and also before and after school and weekends over the summer due to the different types of sports that students could be involved in.

One of the most important aspects when it comes to improving student attendance is a connection that students make with adults, particularly those adults engaged with them on a daily basis. And so there’s a role for the coaches to play.

Watch the full interview to hear about how to reduce chronic absenteeism in schools.

SciLine is a free service based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science that helps journalists include scientific evidence and experts in their news stories.

Joshua Childs does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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