For those of you who doubt the dystopianism of life under the Covidocracy, check out this headline: “Aussie police spark outrage after barging into church and stopping mass to enforce COVID mask mandate.” (HT Tim Townsend) A slice:
Authorities were said to have arrived at the church after receiving a tip that worshippers were not following mask mandates.
One churchgoer named Matthew said that everyone in the church was “pretty surprised” and that it was “troubling to see the liturgy that you love being stopped by police.”
“It was pretty confronting,” he recalled.
Canada’s PM Trudeau: “Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop.”
Irony is dead and @JustinTrudeau killed it.
Lesson One: Free nations should never take their cues from tyrant regimes.
Whether through incompetence or intention, the Covid-19 pandemic was born in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—and so was the playbook for responding to the pandemic.
“It’s a communist one-party state … We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” as now-disgraced British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson recalls of the PRC’s response to Covid-19. “And then Italy did it. And we realized we could.”
Ferguson’s computer models terrified governments across the Free World into imitating the PRC and locking down. From Europe to America to Australia, there were different shades and gradations to the lockdowns, but all of them trampled upon individual liberty, human rights and the constitutional rule of law.
The Trump administration’s aforementioned strategy document, for instance, envisioned “social distancing,” “workplace controls,” “aggressive containment,” and “non-pharmaceutical interventions” at the federal, state, local and private-sector level. These would include “home isolation strategies,” “cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings,” “school closures,” and “stay-at-home directives for public and private organizations.”
It’s no surprise that tyrant regimes like the PRC pursued a “zero Covid” strategy, ordered lockdowns, ruled by executive decree, and limited freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and religious, economic and cultural activity—all for what those in power deemed “the greater good.” Dating to the time of Pharaoh, that’s what tyrants do. And that’s the very reason America’s Founders wrote a constitution that limits the power of government—even in times of crisis. President Eisenhower (in 1957-58) and President Johnson (who was stricken during the 1968-69 pandemic) respected those limits during past pandemics, and governors and mayors followed their lead. Sadly, the opposite happened in 2020-21.
But for the last two years we’ve been under siege from technocratic puritans, prudes who insist on moralizing every appetite, zealots who turn every disagreement into a series of cosmic struggles—science vs ignorance, democracy vs fascism, truth vs lies, everyone vs white-heteronormative men.
el gato malo riffs on the Biden administration’s newly announced push to have hospitals separate, in their accounting, patients who are in hospitals for reasons other than Covid but, when tested, are admitted for reasons other than Covid but then are discovered to have Covid from patients who use hospital facilities because they have Covid.
Robby Soave reports that America’s leading proponent of policies that prevent the quality schooling of children, Randi Weingarten, is reluctant to end the pointless, cruel, and harmful masking of schoolchildren. A slice:
Support for continued mask mandates is collapsing among previously mask militant Democrats and public health officials. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ending the state’s strict indoor mask mandate next week, and New Jersey and Connecticut will no longer require masks in schools. CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, who has flirted with some truly dystopian policies concerning the stigmatization of the unvaccinated, now sounds positively libertarian: This week she heralded the end of mandates as “a needed shift from government-imposed requirement to individual decision.”
Wen claims that “the science has changed.” In reality, little has changed in the last six months—the vaccines continue to be the only significant policy intervention to drastically prevent severe cases of COVID-19—except that many, many more people have caught and recovered from coronavirus. Case numbers fluctuate as more contagious variants run wild through the population—with masks and other measures doing little to deter them—but the vaccinated enjoy robust protection.
Still, Team Blue giving up on mask mandates is a welcomed development.
Not every member of the cautious coalition has jumped ship just yet, however. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten—whose significant influence over the Biden administration makes her the person most responsible for the education system’s failures during the pandemic—is still reluctant to let kids lose their masks. In an interview with MSNBC, she said she was theoretically in favor of a masking “off-ramp,” but only when “the spread [is] low enough so that there’s no dissemination or transmission in schools.”
But COVID-19 is not going away entirely anytime soon: There will always be the possibility of one student transmitting the disease to another.
Maud Maron hates the whole you-gotta-show-your-vaccine-passport-to-get-into-a-restaurant thing, and she thinks masking outdoors is atrocious, but this is bright blue New York City, so fine.
It’s just, “when Kathy Hochul” — the governor — “gets on the screen, talking about how she wants to protect us and keep the masks in schools, she doesn’t have a f—ing mask on her face, and I’m so sick of politicians who take the mask off their face to tell me to put the mask on my children — like how dare you?”
Anyway, that’s why she’s running for Congress.
We’re having tea around her kitchen island in her apartment in Soho. It’s big. There’s a ping-pong table, a foosball table, a swing bolted into a wooden beam. A bright red, toddler-sized race car. A tattered copy of “Romeo and Juliet.” Speech-therapy exercises are tacked to the wall. Her husband, who’s Argentinian, runs a private-equity shop. “When you shut down my kids’ schools and impose devastating mental-health effects on them — I don’t forgive anyone who did that,” Maron says.
A document published by the World Health Organisation in 2019 framed the results of these studies in no uncertain terms: “there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza”. It’s unsurprising, then, that when the CDC briefed reporters on the pandemic in February of 2020, masking was not even mentioned among the NPIs that might be deployed. The UK government, too, stated early in 2020 that there was no evidence to support masking.
After the CDC and other agencies revised their guidance in April 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, by then a staunch advocate of masks, claimed that he and other officials had discouraged the public from obtaining masks to ensure there were adequate supplies for health care workers. Ever since, promoters of masking have cited Fauci’s “noble lie” to account for the abrupt reversal of prior guidance. But as [Ian] Miller notes, it was not just during the early months of the pandemic that officials said masks were ineffective. They had said so for years, and Fauci had advised against masks not just in public statements but in private emails in early 2020.
The most disastrous failing of the experts has been their lack of curiosity about the actual results of the policies they have staked their reputations on. Mask mandates have been, in Miller’s phrase, “a population-wide experiment”, but few within the US scientific and medical establishment have seemed interested in parsing the resulting data, leaving that task to outsiders like Miller. Astonishingly, there have been just two randomised controlled trials on masking published since the pandemic began. One found no significant effect at all, while the other found a small effect of 11% for surgical masks and no significant effect for cloth ones. The first was largely ignored or dismissed, while the second was optimistically glossed as proving that masks work.
Moreover, even the most bullish case for the technical efficacy of at least some higher-quality masks does not constitute a case for mask mandates, a distinction that most commentary elides. The only way to measure the efficacy of mandates is to look at their actual track record. This is what Miller has done, and the result, he argues, is clear: “mask mandates have demonstrated very little impact, if any, on case curves throughout the United States and in many other international locations.”
It is not difficult to see why mask mandates proved irresistible to politicians. Masks are the perfect form of hygiene theatre, conveying an intuitive sense of safety regardless of demonstrable efficacy at scale. They also offload responsibility for controlling the pandemic to ordinary people. The overcrowding of ICUs can be blamed on the bad behavior of “anti-maskers”, rather than on the allocation of resources by governments and hospital CEOs. When cases and deaths spike, it is the fault of the citizenry, not the leadership.
The scientific and medical establishment’s uncritical support of masks and other dubious policies is just the latest manifestation of its lack of independence from political imperatives. After several years of finding themselves at the receiving end of rhetorical assaults from rising Right-wing populists, the experts seized on the pandemic as an opportunity to reassert their own status and authority — and that of the liberal-technocratic politicians with whom they are largely aligned.
Almost all leisure businesses in the self-governing region are now closed, with hair salons and houses of worship added to the list today. Public gatherings have been limited to two people, while private gatherings are limited to two families.
Hong Kong, like mainland China, is continuing with a draconian zero-Covid strategy even in the face of the more-infectious Omicron variant – imposing harsh restrictions aimed at eliminating the virus even as other countries begin living with it.
Hospitals in Hong Kong they are already being overwhelmed by the relatively low number of cases, owing to rules that mean anyone who tests positive has to quarantine inside a health facility – even if they have a mild or asymptomatic case.
Contrary to the media portrayal that we are all far-Right activists and crypto-Nazis, people from all backgrounds have been in attendance. In fact, many Eastern European immigrants who have escaped authoritarian regimes have been providing the truckers with food and support.
But unfortunately, the media decided to smear us, and focus on photos of two individuals who were carrying a Confederate Flag and a swastika flag. These two people, of whom we have a tiny number of photographs, do not represent an entire movement. There have been accusations from clout-chasing Twitter personalities that we are financed by billionaires, despite the fact that GoFundMe stole $9 million CDN in donations, most of which were donated by regular working people like me in small amounts of $20.
Meanwhile, organisations who represent actual billionaires that own large corporate trucking companies, such as the Canadian Trucking Alliance, fully support Trudeau’s policies and have denounced the Freedom Convoy. It’s all very convenient for the laptop class to engage in these attacks, nice and safe in their offices, while the truckers are out in the streets, enduring a harsh Canadian Winter and sleeping in their rigs. That said, this is what Canadian truckers and workers of all sorts do every winter — get out there into the cold and miserable conditions to keep our society functioning, while media naybobs and politicos stay warm.
Influence and narrative control appear to be of utmost importance to Trudeau, his government, and the compliant Canadian media to whom he has given lavish subsidies. Instead of spreading vicious and untrue rumours about the truckers, why won’t Trudeau’s people simply meet the organisers of The Convoy instead?
To the residents of Ottawa, who would like us to leave, I would submit to you that you ignore the liars and smear merchants in the media, talk to a trucker on your street, and then ask Trudeau to end the mandates. The rest of the world is opening up and choosing life; Canada must do the same.