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A cargo cult is a Melanesian millenarian movement encompassing a diverse range of practices and occurring in the wake of contact with the commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth – “Cargo”  – Infogalactic article Ever notice how for […]

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These People Know This is America, Right?

 

Recent observations and exchanges on Twitter have demonstrated to me that many people, often progressive “elites,” are completely astonished and outraged that a large number of Americans don’t like to be told what to do by the government. This seemingly visceral reaction is not really dependent on what those instructions are. They will grudgingly go along with it for a while if convinced there is an urgent need to do so, but that doesn’t mean they will like it, or comply blindly and unquestionably. Now to me, Americans distrust of government and dislike of governmental overreach is a perk, not a bug, but man does it upset busybody elite leftists who feel like they are superior to the average citizen and, by extension, so is the government they enable and support.

A journalist recently tweeted about a barbershop in Mobile, AL, that dared to open his own business without governmental permission. In fact, the owner chose to pay a $500 fine for violating the order to close and was shown cutting hair wearing a mask and gloves, seeming to still take his customers’ health and safety seriously. Oh lord, that was not enough for the hysterical responses to this story.

It became obvious to me that the problem most of these people had with the situation had little to do with the health of the barber or his customers. It was primarily along the lines of: “How dare he not obey the instructions of the all-knowing government and stay home like he was told!” Oh yeah, they also referred to his American flag mask as a MAGA mask because “Orange man bad” or whatever. Forget the fact that it is his business, as in “they should mind their own.” There were also complaints in the story that the police were nowhere to be seen and conspiratorially mentioned that the owner was known to have a good relationship with law enforcement. How dare he?!

I’m not necessarily making a pro or con position on the opening of this barbershop. Seems to me it should be his decision to try to figure out how to operate his business safely and his customers’ decisions on their individual risk. I do however support the rebellious, independent spirit of Americans (even the ones highlighted in “Tiger King”). That characteristic is in large part what allowed us to become a nation in the first place! Blind obedience of government is anti-American, no matter how angry it makes our progressive “betters.” Maybe we should start referring to them as Tories or Loyalists….

Prufrock: A Rebuttal

 

If you’ll check the member feed, you’ll find @KentForrester’s excellent analysis of T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece of the poetic form “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I’m an American literature teacher myself, so I was quite excited to see literary criticism on Ricochet, so I quickly read the post. Kent makes some excellent points about the source material. However, there are some points within the poem where I have rather profound disagreements regarding his interpretation of the poem. Rather than clutter up his comments section with an abbreviated counter-criticism, I offer the readers of Ricochet one of my own. I hope you enjoy both pieces.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“If I thought that my reply were given to anyone who might return to the world, this flame would stand forever still; but since never from this deep place has anyone returned alive, if what I hear is true, without fear of infamy I answer thee.”

Before we begin, we should first look at the prescript of the poem, where Eliot employs one of his first allusions–Dante. From The Inferno, we find Dante speaking with a living flame in hell. The flame tells Dante that, normally, he would tell anyone his story because of shameful acts that put him here. But, since no one leaves hell alive, the flame feels comfortable to Dante, who the flame believes is just as trapped as he is. Remember this as the poem proceeds.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

Here I have my first departure from Kent, who asserts that Prufrock was from a middle-class background. Close reading of the text reveals quite the opposite. Prufrock begins his journey from the slums, “half-deserted” streets full of muttering men, prostitutes (one-night cheap hotels), and restaurants with oyster-shells to make the vomit less slippery. This is the oldest part of an old European city, with narrow, crooked streets built before the advent of automobiles. For Prufrock, this is home. But where, exactly is he going? What question does he not want us to ask?

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Eliot instantly transports us across town, to an undisclosed room. This is where Prufrock is going. A room on the other side of town, a part of town populated by perfume, soirees, and conversations about high art and culture. But why is he going there? What question must be asked?

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

Back in the red-light district, Eliot draws our attention to Prufrock’s environment, the grimy, yellow fog draping the industrial buildings all around him. In the form of a cat, Eliot anthropomorphizes the yellow fog as a looming presence over the whole scene.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

Here we get our first glimpse at Prufrock’s personality: cautious to the point of paralysis, indecisive, weak.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The women still await Prufrock, on the other side of town.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

Here we get a more complete picture of Prufrock the man. From his painful self-consciousness (the fear that the uptown women will mock his thin legs and balding head) to his euphemisms to hide his relative poverty (calling his necktie “modest” instead of cheap). Prufrock is so consumed by self-doubt that he feels that the very act of going across town to ask this question is at odds with the natural order of the universe.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

I lump these three stanzas together because they all point toward Prufrock’s tendency toward self-destructive metacognition, to over-analyze his future, and assume the worst possible outcome. In his mind, these women have already scrutinized him and found him wanting.  The pivotal line, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” speaks to Prufrock being a prisoner in his own self-doubt. He doesn’t live life; he merely measures out each day until death.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

Should I tell the truth? Seriously? What would they think? I am not worthy of this room or these people; I am a crustacean [paging Jordan Peterson] curling my tail beneath me on the bottom of the ocean.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

This is a chronically misunderstood stanza. First of all, it functions as something of a daydream. Prufrock has already chosen to not ask the question (the nature of that question is still unclear), yet he imagines what life would be like if he had been like if he’d had the strength to see it to the end (smoothed by long fingers). Unfortunately, his strength abandons him. (Note the subtle nod to John the Baptist).

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

Again, we see Prufrock’s staggering regret that he was unable to summon the courage to ask the question. He alludes to Lazarus, the man that was able to defy all odds, but at some level, Prufrock knows he is no hero. We also get our first real concrete hint at the nature of the question: “That’s not what I meant at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

And now the cat is out of the bag. “The Sunsets, dooryards, teacups, and skirts that trail along the floor all allude to marriage. Now we know what the question was. Prufrock, a poor guy from the wrong side of the tracks, is in love with girl from the nice side of town. He wants to propose, but the fear of rejection–not just rejection but humiliation–keeps him from even asking the question. At this point, the poem (and to a great extent Prufrock’s life) is essentially over. What comes next is a different poem, the ravings of an old man that failed in his greatest mission.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

Prufrock has come to grips with the fact that he is a bit player in the grand drama of life. He’s not Hamlet, a man of action that puts it on the line to chase the best of all possible results. No, he’s Polonius, or worse yet, Yorick: dead and forgotten.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

This is perhaps the most painful thing to read in all of western literature. Prufrock is so terrified of living that he doubts whether or not he is able to withstand the full flavor of a peach. He turns perfunctory, rote tasks into life or death choices. Truly sad. Weak. Low-energy.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

The “wind blows the water white and black” line clearly implies the aging process. Prufrock is, without a doubt, an old man by the end of the poem.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

To me, this is the most interesting stanza in the poem. Note how the point of view suddenly shifts. For the vast majority of the poem, Prufrock spoke exclusively about himself, even if you were along for the ride. Now, he’s switched to the plural first-person pronoun (we). Why? The reason is that this journey, from hope, to self-doubt, and ending in destruction is a journey that Western Civilization is on. Eliot very much believed that the fate of our society tied in our willingness to ask tough questions and see them through. Thus, Prufrock has actually been talking not about himself but about the very fate of our culture.

That’s why he’s willing to tell you this story. Remember the prescript? The flame was willing to talk to Dante because they were both in hell. Prufrock is in his own little hell, but you and I are right there with him. But we have “lingered” in this state of self-doubt and shame for so long that we don’t even notice the flames. That is, until “human voices wake us.” Then the flames become all too real.

Day 94: COVID-19 Lather, Rinse, Repeat

 

I am at a loss for words. Each day I try to focus on something interesting or useful in the progress of the epidemic, but more and more I seem to just have the same thoughts repeating through my head that have been reflected in past posts. Government has imposed a health strategy on most of its citizens. Compliance is pretty good although somewhat blind in the sense that we don’t quite know what and why we are doing it. Are washing hands good? Of course, it has the benefit of reducing the spread of all sorts of things totally aside from the effect it has in retarding the spread of infection for COVID-19. Is physical distancing good? Well, most of the time unless someone needs a hug. But are we endangering lives when we hug? If so, by how much? In other words: the low hanging fruit of public health has been reinforced and is providing benefits at the margin. These benefits are general and non-specific to the epidemic.

Then we move on to the things that are truly targeted at this epidemic: shuttering businesses, banning gatherings, and demanding people stay home unless its to go to a place of concentrated viral risk such as the grocery store. Sundance has an interesting commentary on the permitted traffic to grocery stores.

If the #1 at risk industry has operated, essentially without disruption and with almost zero substantive mitigation, while carrying the largest population exposure rate, then all other less-exposed business operations would have significantly less operational risk.

And I come back to why? It is at this point that I am caught up in the “lather, rinse, repeat” cycle. The epidemic is supposed to be a health problem, not a political strategy. But we are fed narratives, not provided answers. It’s like a nation of drivers all waiting on the side of the road for our mandatory blood-alcohol tests and to find out whether we will be permitted to drive on down the road or have our vehicles impounded. Shut up until the officer comes by to administer the test. Be patient, we don’t care if you have somewhere to go. Public safety demands it.

[Note: Links to all my CoVID-19 posts can be found here.]

Overlooked Series for TV or Movie Adaptation

 

The Game of Thrones book series is nihilistic nonsensical bilge.  But it makes for “good” television because that sort of mess seems to be popular in today’s culture, what with all the sex, sorcery, and savagery.  As an actual story though?  It’s terrible.  Which is probably why George R.R. Martin could never finish it – it had no real logical “out”, no escape from its cycles of violence and revenge, save what the HBO writers could force together.  Until HBO picked it up, though, it was unlikely fare for Hollywood treatment – Hollywood typically shies away from overly long fantasy cycles simply because such things are very expensive to cast and produce well, to say nothing of finding good writers to translate novels into scripts you can actually film.  For all the awfulness of its story, I do give full credit to HBO for the solid work they put into the project over nearly a decade – one can deplore the story but still admire the brilliant and extremely skilled craftwork involved in telling it, and (more importantly) sticking with it at that high level for so long.  Would that The Hobbit had been given that same dedication.

And now it seems we are to receive another attempt at telling the story of Dune.  I am not excited at the prospect.  The David Lynch film of the 80s was terrible.  The SciFi Channel’s miniseries of 20 years ago was much better.  But why Dune?  Why yet another attempt?  If Hollywood is looking for that next “big epic”, surely there are other and better stories to tell?  Dune, the first book, is interesting, but has its weaknesses, while the rest of the series gets rather strange.  Haven’t other authors written better and more compelling fantasy or science-fiction epics?  Or must we continually return to just a few “classics”, like Amazon is trying to do with its pending Tolkien series?  I would like to propose a few other authors and series that Hollywood should consider instead, and would invite you to make your own suggestions as well.

Jack VanceLyonesse – You have all the vying factions and warring kingdoms, spies, betrayals, magic, pending doom, adventures, and quests that people loved in GoT, but series is more tightly told, not predicated on the nonsense of centuries of cultural and technological stasis, and its story arcs and overall narrative have definite beginnings, middles, and ends.  The characters are also far more human, and thus more clever, and more fallible at the same time.  Vance is not afraid to kill off characters, but does not do so because the Plot Wheel® demands it.  Vance’s other works, from his Dying Earth stories to his science fiction, would also make good candidates – they are character driven tales in vivid worlds, but the worlds are ultimately only backdrops for the people in them.

Susan Cooper – The Dark Is Rising – Yes this is a children’s series, and yes Hollywood did, in its Harry-Potter enthusiasms, already put out a film, but it was dreadful (almost Lynch-Dune dreadful at that), and we should put it aside and start over.  The series is a modern blending with ancient Anglo-Celtic mythology, and as such is very richly told.  

Cornelia Funke – Inkheart – Like with Susan Cooper, Hollywood tried this one and blew it once already, in no small part because they could not decide whether it was a children’s story with some mature hints, or a more mature story as witnessed by a child, and of course they Americanized it.  Andrew Klavan’s Another Kingdom series deals with some similar concepts as Funke, so if you enjoyed Klavan you would find this series familiar in some respects.  Inkheart is a story series about our own world intersecting with a very rich and complicated parallel magical world, through the eyes of a young woman growing up in both.

What would you like to see made?  What authors or series have been either unfairly overlooked, or badly mangled and worth another shot?

Or are there series (say, like Dune) that you think ought to be put out to pasture just on principle at this point?  

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Off-mic rant captured in the White House Press Briefing room before the arrival of the President: “I was told there would be no math……or statistics, science, biology, immunology, economics or common sense. I never took any of those classes at (redacted) and now it’s just cruel. That’s why I ended up going to journalism school! […]

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Member Post

 

Who could possibly want to die in a year such as 2020? Even if the year itself has been slightly confining, surely there is plenty to do – or at least do virtually. Anybody who’s anybody didn’t live this long to die now! Dying is probably boring, and, if it isn’t, then it’s most likely […]

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A Pretty Obvious Question About Social Distancing

 

We’ve been encouraged and/or compelled to adopt several behaviors, all of which are intended to help one avoid catching the Wuhan virus or, if one already has it, avoid sharing it with others. These behaviors, most of which are subsumed under the too-broad label of “social distancing,” include:

  • wearing a mask when out in public,
  • staying six feet away from others,
  • avoiding large gatherings,
  • washing hands frequently,
  • working from home, and
  • closing “non-essential” businesses.

The last of those is literally destroying the economy and literally impoverishing millions. The rest of them are, in comparison, inconveniences.

So here’s a question that I haven’t seen asked, but the answer to which seems critical to me:

Given that doing all of those things appears to effectively deter the uncontrolled spread of the virus, what proportion of the deterrent effect is achieved by the first five items absent the last, economy-destroying activity?

Because if we can get 80% of the benefit without destroying the economy… or 70%… or maybe 60%… then that suggests a pretty obvious strategy for moving forward. If we can do everything short of destroying the economy, and still avoid overflowing our hospitals, then we should get right on that. So it would be good to know the answer, at least approximately.

From a Lab or a Wet Market?

 

Sen. Tom Cotton has been beating the drum for months, stating that much information is known that suggests COVID-19 was leaked from a Chinese lab. Media outlets, such as CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times have attacked him for claiming that the Chinese were working on a bioweapon. He didn’t. Here are parts of what he actually said in an interview with Martha McCallum on “The Story”:

He also brought up the ‘questions’ surrounding the biosafety level 4 ‘super laboratory’ in Wuhan, the city where the virus is believed to have originated.

‘We know it didn’t originate in the Wuhan food market based on the study of Chinese scientists … I’m not saying where it started, I don’t know. We don’t know because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won’t open up to international experts,’ Cotton said. ‘That’s what we need to do so they can get to the bottom of where the virus originated and hopefully can effect a diagnostic test and vaccine for it.’

One biology professor also disagreed with Sen. Cotton:

Cotton also pushed back against critics, specifically Rutgers University chemical biology professor Richard Ebright, who said he found no indication in the genome sequence of the virus to indicate it was engineered.

‘Let’s take the professor,’ Cotton said. ‘He was …in fact today cited in the Asia Times saying that it was quite possible that it was a laboratory incident.’

I’m sick and tired of the political left not only defaming people they don’t like, but discrediting and misrepresenting their statements and intentions. Literally, when lives all over the world are being threatened by COVID-19, it is immoral and an act against humanity when people attack those who are fighting for the truth.

Sen. Cotton also had an impressive op-ed piece in the WSJ on the Chinese deceptions:

Beijing has claimed that the virus originated in a Wuhan ‘wet market,’ where wild animals were sold. But evidence to counter this theory emerged in January. Chinese researchers reported in the Lancet Jan. 24 that the first known cases had no contact with the market, and Chinese state media acknowledged the finding. There’s no evidence the market sold bats or pangolins, the animals from which the virus is thought to have jumped to humans. And the bat species that carries it isn’t found within 100 miles of Wuhan.

Finally, observe how balanced yet forceful Sen. Cotton has been in pressing this issue. He doesn’t claim to have the truth, but he believes no one has that. He doesn’t use hyperbole or attack individuals. His tone is firm and intense. He suggests many different ways the virus may have leaked but doesn’t profess to know the truth. He is calling for an investigation that many powerful people with their many agendas including industry, Congress, and other organizations intertwined with and benefiting from a relationship with China may prefer to ignore.

Of course, the Chinese continue to deny outsiders access to their facilities and to their data. They also deny several other facts about their role in this pandemic.

We must discover the Chinese role for a number of reasons. We already know they have lied to us in the past, but this time they put millions of lives at risk. The Chinese claim that they have detained “only” 1 million Uighurs in “education” camps but the estimate is likely closer to 3 million. That’s Three. Million. People. So the welfare of humanity is clearly not a priority to them.

We know that they are working to become the most powerful country in the world; they have said this publicly. We must have access to valid information.

We must stop doing deals with the Chinese.

We must do it for ourselves and for the world.

A Perspective on Risk from the 1890s

 

The picture is of the 1891 Bowdoin College varsity Tug-of-War team that I stumbled upon while web-surfing amidst the sheer boredom of the Great Closing.

The sport was an Olympic event until controversy at the 1920 games persuaded the Committee to drop the sport. The no-sleeve or one-sleeve look was probably quite a jock style statement.

Unlike college athletes in 2020, those young men presumably completed their competitive season without shutdowns even though the overall health risks that year were vastly greater than we currently experience even in the midst of a “pandemic.”

In the 1890s, an outbreak of bubonic plague (The Third Pandemic) killed an estimated 10 million in Asia and thousands elsewhere, even some in the USA. Hundreds of thousands still died in Europe and the Americas from smallpox every year. As many as five thousand children in the US died from whooping cough every year. Chicago experienced a flu outbreak that doubled the city’s normal death rate in the summer of 1890. Tuberculosis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, dysentery from various causes, and “intermittent fever” killed many Americans (especially children) every year. Going outside on a city street or just drinking a glass of water was a risky adventure that we moderns would never undertake without precautions.

But life persisted somehow. Have we lost perspective about risks? Do we think that we are no longer subject to them and hide when reminded of their existence? An event that, at its worst, will not add more than a fraction of a percentage point to the nation’s death rate has driven us into hiding and obeisance to some of the most mediocre people our society has ever produced. We may have “herd immunity” to diseases that used to kill millions but have we become a herd in the process?

‘Prufrock’ in a Nutshell

 

You love to read literary criticism, don’t you? Of course, you do. It’s why you come to Ricochet. So let me offer you a small diversion this morning by analyzing one of the staples of the British literary canon, T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I think I can do this by focusing our attention on only three lines from the poem.

If you remember, Love Song is a portrait of an upper-middle-class Englishman, perhaps a banker (like T. S. Eliot himself was for a time), a little twit, anxious and afraid of life, who comes to an understanding of what he is during the course of the poem. Here, then, is the first sentence I’d like to consider.

In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo.”

These simple two lines appear abruptly, seeming to have nothing to do with their previous and succeeding lines. So Eliot forces us to use our imagination if we’re going to make any sense whatsoever of them.

So let’s jump in. First, the lines seem to suggest that the ladies, probably upper-middle-class (Prufrock’s class), are in an art gallery — perhaps a reception of some kind is going on — where their conversation is about Michelangelo.

But Eliot, it seems to me, has bigger game in mind than setting a scene. You see, by juxtaposing these two particular images in the same sentence — the chattering British women with the powerful artist who painted the story of mankind’s salvation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — Eliot gently satirizes the small, pretentious lives of the women. (Eliot uses the same kind of ironic juxtaposition in the title of the poem, where he sets off the romantic phrase “Love Song” with the prissy and decidedly unromantic name of “J. Alfred Prufrock.”)

For my second quote, I have chosen Prufrock’s own assessment of himself:

I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.”

Now that is a dreadful summation of one’s life. There are various ways a person can measure out his life: in the bloody gauze patches a nurse uses to staunch soldiers’ wounds, in the tears a mother sheds as she tends to her brain-damaged child, in the calluses that form on a working man’s hands over the years. But Prufrock measures out his petty life in the spoons of the teas and luncheons he attends. Prufrock is coming to know himself, and it’s not a pretty picture. 

Finally, in the last major image of the poem, Prufrock’s ultimate judgment on his life:

”I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each./ I do not think that they will sing to me.”

Mermaids, figures out of the world of myth and imagination, stand in contrast with the small and ordinary drawing rooms and tea rooms of Prufrock’s world. He knows he will never hear the song of the mermaids. After all, Prufrock’s a man who agonizes, as he says himself, over whether he should part his hair in the back, a man who timidly asks, “Do I dare to eat a peach?” Prufrock hasn’t lived a life worthy of the mermaid’s song, so he knows they will never sing to him.

So there, in a three-quote nutshell, is T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I’ve assumed quite a bit and used a little imagination in my analysis — perhaps more than you prefer. But that’s the way we lit-crit roll. We’re the warm fuzzies of the university. We think an algorithm is a tap dance done by the onetime Vice President.

Postscript: My wife Marie actually grimaced in pain as she read this post. She didn’t care for it at all. She still remembers the angst she felt when she was asked, in an English class long ago, to write a paper on the imagery and symbols in D. H. Lawrence’s Odour of Chrysanthemums. So for those of you who suffered like my wife as you worked your way through my post, here’s a little reward, a photo of Bob taking his afternoon nap. It’s a little revealing, but we’re all sophisticated adults here, aren’t we?

Government Suppression to Reshape America

 

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but there was a point between the national lockdown and the first wave of unemployment numbers when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped being about the virus and became about fundamentally reshaping America.

Policymakers have taken advantage of a time of vulnerability to offer safety in exchange for our individual liberty, all in the name of “public health.” Harnessing this pandemic-induced fear is the perfect opportunity to reshape American life and create a “new normal” in which the state is the final arbiter of truth and we the people must abide by their new rules.

Bureaucrats and the governing class see a citizenry captive at home, watching the news 24/7. In between sewing masks and waiting for Amazon packages, their eyes are bugged out on death-toll tickers prominently displayed alongside somber-faced reporters now warning of second-wave outbreaks. The #OpenAmerica rallies are colored as mobs of people who put their “selfish” desire to work and feeding their families ahead of the lives of their neighbors.

Our emotions are manipulated as already overstressed families are inundated with stories of infections and death rates, while the historically long lines at food banks are barely mentioned. Concealing information, including the distorted models used by government officials, is a useful tool to prevent people from making informed decisions about their own lives.

The buzz-phrase governors and unelected policymakers and advisors use to justify their actions are exercising an “abundance of caution.” It’s Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s defense against anyone questioning his stay-at-home policy. It sounds like he’s working to protect people, but it’s too vague to pin him on any of his specific policy decisions. I think he found it in A Pantywaist’s Guide to Governing.

Public service announcements are reminding us we shouldn’t let our guard down. The Corona Killer is right around the corner and it will take a united community to defeat this enemy at all costs. For the good of all! It strikes me as eerily close to the slogans delivered to the people of Oceania in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

People in New York City are encouraged to report anyone not abiding by the (police) state to the tattle-line. Even here in little Bloomington, MN, the city established a Park Response Team (PRT). People are encouraged to call the message line if they see “activity in your neighborhood park that you believe is not consistent with CDC guidelines for social distancing.” If offenders fail to comply, the PRT will contact the Bloomington Police Department. This warning was even prominently displayed at my neighborhood dog park.

City of San Clemente, CA, fills skate park with 37 tons of sand.

What’s even worse about leveraging fear to turn people against each other, is the political class who seize this opportunity to fundamentally change our way of life. We should be skeptical of anyone who implements policies for our own good. How can someone in Washington, DC, know what’s best for me in Minnesota, or Bob in Montana, or Greg in Arkansas? As the author and sociologist Frank Furedi explains in his book, Why Borders Matter, men and women in power will expand their power in order to ensure control.

They insist the only path to safety is to accept the mantra of TINA – There Is No Alternative. This shuts down any discussion or debate. Just like the kid who is expelled for eating his Pop-Tart in the shape of a gun, officials are instituting nonsensical “zero-tolerance” policies to counter any dissent. A skate park in San Clemente, CA, was filled with sand to prevent kids from using it against state orders. Anyone who dares question authority is deemed a pariah or heretic in the religion of science. We’ve seen this used for decades as it applies to climate change. Now we are seeing it in the escalating war on private- and home-schooling.

Skepticism is treated as a problem to be dealt with and is often met with an excuse to crack down on any dissent. This may work in places such as China or North Korea, where fear of the government keeps the people enslaved. It is our duty to voice skepticism in matters of government overreach. This is the lifeblood of our republic. We have to resist the imposition of a new normal: conformity by dehumanizing – in which human contact is a sin, masks are used to cover our emotions, and our social gatherings are a criminal act.

For enforcers, individualism is a fire that must be extinguished because it hinders the dogma “for the good of the community” and leads to an unaccountable state. Once a freedom is taken away, nothing short of revolution will be necessary to get it back. It’s been almost 20 years since 9/11. Does it really make us any safer to take our shoes off before boarding a flight at the airport? Yet we have accepted it as the new normal. Now imagine police drones making sure we all keep our requisite six-foot personal space zones.

If we don’t take action to hold our government accountable to the people, we risk losing our liberties. Mission creep is a term often used to describe a gradual or incremental expansion of (usually military) an end goal beyond its initial point of action. It’s commonly used to describe military missions or campaigns, but it’s applicable to civilian endeavors. Take the March of Dimes. The organization was originally founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat polio. Fortunately for children worldwide, the efforts to find a cure were successful. Unfortunately for the organization, it would mean disbandment and those involved would be out of a job. The solution? Pivot the goal and take on a broader mission. Eighty-two years later, the organization has become bloated from a large bureaucracy, and its convoluted mission resulted in a Charity Navigator rating of two stars out of four. (Charity Navigator quantifies the effectiveness of charities, taking into account financial accountability and transparency.) Sound familiar? It’s startling to go from initial reports that we must comply with the lockdown to “flatten the curve” to now justifying extending the lockdown to prevent just one death.

How long will we endure this lockdown for “our own good” before we accept it as just part of American life? I’m not willing to find out, because when if we wake up and find ourselves slaves to bureaucratic whims held up by fear-mongering politicians and their media accomplices, it will be too late.

This Is Why No One Trusts the Media

 

While I’m drinking my coconut and vanilla tea this morning, I typed “Kentucky COVID tests” into my browser and here’s what I got:

What you see are three nearly identical headlines pushing the exact same narrative on the exact same day. When you actually click on the articles, there’s not a shred of proof that: 1) any of the protesters are infected with COVID-19, or 2) they infected anyone else with COVID-19.

Instead, you get hearsay and innuendo posing as news. From the International Business Times:

“The question that some are asking: Are the spike in cases and the protests connected in any way? [. . .] An actual link tying the protesters to the following spike would support those who fear easing the pandemic prevention measures too early might cause more outbreaks or a second wave of infections to areas hit hard by the initial wave. Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, appears to be one of several governors who take this view.”

Note that the author is actually rooting for the protesters to be infected. And who are the “some” that are asking?

From Yahoo News:

“Now, it seems that those protests, which appear to lack social distancing efforts, may have lead to a projected increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Again, there is no evidence that this is the case. This is simply blind accusation bordering on slander.

None of the stories bother to mention that Kentucky has had a surge in testing since the protest, which most likely led to the sudden increase in cases. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Kentucky has been lagging behind other states on the amounts of tests made available to citizens. Only in the wake of protests did Gov. Beshear bother to push for more testing. Perhaps those headlines should have said something like: “Beshear increases the amount of testing in an effort to smear protesters.”

That at least has the ring of honesty.

The Pro-Shutdown Crowd Shifts to Bad Analogies and Memes

 

The debate over whether to continue lockdowns well into summer or immediately phase-in a cautious reopening based on CDC and other recommendations has shifted to bad analogies and memes. Like the one below. Dr. Kevin Folta is a plant biologist from Florida whom I respect and usually agree with on food biotechnology issues.

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His analogy fails mostly because its predicates are completely false. Then it gets worse. I’ll let you figure it out.

I’m especially offended suggesting that shutting down over 22+ million jobs and the businesses that created them is somehow “uncomfortable treatment.” Tell that to the 31-year-old husband and father of a toddler or two who, along with his spouse, have lost their jobs and incomes while staring mortgages and car payments (and more) in the face. Uncomfortable, indeed. I suspect that Dr. Folta is still getting a paycheck.

A better analogy might be that you’ve come down with a communicable disease that is dangerous to others, and your livelihood has to be put on hold while you recover and shelter in place. And for everyone with the disease — 96% of whom will recover — 385 others have to stop their livelihoods and shelter in place at the same time, even if they’re not sick (or have recovered). That’s the ratio of our population to confirmed cases. The ratio of newly unemployed (over the past four to five weeks — and wait until the report on Friday, April 23) to confirmed cases is 26:1.

But there are other flawed analogies making their way on to social media. I’ll let one of my favorite blog sites share examples and explain the obvious flaws with them.

Nancy Pelosi, Dry Ice, and Hostages

 

Nancy Pelosi displaying her $24K refrigerator packed with gourmet ice cream, as she was holding small businesses hostage while she was at home sheltering in place gives you a pretty good idea exactly what she thinks of the “little people.”

Ms. Pelosi has always been rather shameless. From theological lectures to listing all the people she prays for every day. One of my biggest disappointments was that I thought she had become an Episcopalian. It’s not that I have any malice towards Episcopalians, I just assumed she had left the Catholic Church when she washed feet on Maundy Thursday in an Episcopalian Church. I suppose it was one more virtue signaling photo-op. She was probably trying to redeem herself after a rebuke, and no photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI in February of 2009.

From the Catholic News Agency:

House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.

No photo of Nancy Pelosi and the Pope will be forthcoming, since the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room in the Vatican just after the Pope’s weekly public audience.
Immediately after the meeting, the Holy See’s press office released a statement saying, “following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.”

“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

Although the Catholic Church is for saints and sinners, when you’re a Catholic on the wrong side of the line when it comes to heresy, schism, and scandal, a photo-op with an Episcopalian bishop will have to do. Well, at least you were not going to get a photo-op with Pope Benedict. This brings me to dry ice and hostages of a different sort.

I suppose Nancy’s ice cream was shipped with dry ice, but one night a police officer found another use for dry ice. We had our own hostages on that long-ago night. Before there was Antifa, we dealt with anarchists. One night they decided to demonstrate, and we had reached our bag limit by filling one city bus with zip-tied miscreants. We called for a second bus.

One young anarchist decided to take a U-shaped bicycle lock and attached himself to the center span of one of the drawbridges that crossed the Willamette River. He tossed the key into the river. He was rather smug about the whole thing, but there was a solution. A towel and dry ice found its way to the center span. After a brief period of tapping the lock broke, and we had one more hostage.

The night ended when a warm and fuzzy Lt. negotiated a deal with our anarchists. A sergeant delivered the message: “Lt. Hug and Release says that we have to release our hostages.” Everybody went home happy.

Coming Soon to a Political Ad Near You

 

The Port of Long Beach China scandal will soon become a political issue again. Obama gifted China the second-largest container port in the United States — strategically placed next to the largest, the Port of Los Angeles. But Trump undid it before the pandemic while Dems frantically tried to impeach him. Orange man bad?

Under a long-term deal sealed by the Obama administration, a Chinese Communist company was set to control the second-busiest container port in the United States. In an unreported Trump administration victory, the Communists are out after a drawn-out national security review forced a unit of China-based COSCO Shipping Holdings Co. (Orient Overseas Container Line—OOCL) to sell the cherished container terminal business, which handles among the largest freight of imports into the U.S.

It all started with a 40-year container terminal lease between the Port of Long Beach in southern California and Hong Kong. The Obama administration proudly signed the agreement in 2012 giving China control of America’s second-largest container port behind the nearby Port of Los Angeles. One of the Trump administration’s first big moves was to get the Communists out of the Port of Long Beach. After a national security review and federal intervention, the Long Beach terminal business, which handles millions of containers annually, is finally being sold to an Australian company called Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. That essentially kills China’s decades-long contract with the Obama administration.

Where was the obligatory orange man racist MSM denunciation for undoing the good works of St. Barack? You would think someone would have noticed. But, of course, only a madman would suggest Xi unleashed a pandemic in a mad fit of revenge over a real estate deal that went pear-shaped. That would be crazy talk.

Justice Was Delivered at 1,100 Feet per Second

 

RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson

Justice was delayed for the victims and their survivors in the mass Nova Scotia shooting for about 14 hours, but it did come, albeit too late for 23 victims of his senseless rampage. There will be some that will agonize over the shooter’s motive. I will not be one of them. I redacted the shooter’s name from the news article that is contained in this essay. Good and evil exists.

The only voices that really matter will be those who lost their loved ones in Nova Scotia. They have the right to express their grief, they have the right to be heard. The only names that should be mentioned are the names of the victims in this horrific attack.

From the NY Post:

Neighbors of [name of the killer redacted] in the rural town of Portapique told the Globe and Mail that the madman was a millionaire who struggled with alcohol.

The killer appeared to have started out with “an initial motivation’’ that “turned to randomness,’’ RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told the CBC. The mass murderer — who had been obsessed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police since high school — wore an RCMP uniform and drove around in a decommissioned cop car for part of his siege, officials said.

Authorities said he drove around that night knocking on residents’ doors and pulling over drivers to find victims.
Given his cop uniform, [name of the killer redacted] — most of whom were quarantined in their homes because of the coronavirus — “would have trusted him’’ enough to open the door, a source told the Sun.

Those killed included “a mom and dad [shot dead] in front of their own children,’’ a police source told the Sun.

They also included RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, a married mother of two, a 23-year veteran of Canada’s famed police force, who at one point rammed her cruiser into the shooters vehicle to try to stop him, sources told the Sun.
The shooter then “shot her in the chest with a bunch of rounds,’’ a source said.

Then he “pulled her out of the car and executed her point-blank . . . took her gun and [ammo], burned his own car and took her car,’’ the source said.

Rest in peace, Constable Stevenson.

He carjacked several other vehicles in a bid to elude cops, officials said.

The killer was finally cornered at a gas station in a nearby town and whipped out what is believed to have been Stevenson’s gun before being shot dead in a hail of police bullets, a source told the Sun.

Justice was delivered 14 hours after an evil rampage began in Nova Scotia, at a gas station, at 1,100 feet per second.

May all those families who lost someone they loved find peace someday.

Member Post

 

I’ve held these in long enough. Now I’m contaminating the Internet with them. On Protests:  It seems fine to assemble in vehicles to make a point. I am with the objections to heavy-handedness, such as the encouragement to report on neighbors in some districts, as well as some of the heavier restrictions that don’t necessarily […]

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Member Post

 

As many of y’all know, I’m a pediatric RN in the emergency department at a large children’s hospital. When this all started, I was going to do a post on my experiences as a pediatric ER nurse; maybe even make it a series, a micro-journal to compliment @rodin‘s excellent daily macro-report. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I really […]

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Gov. Whitmer (D-MI) Exposed Awarding COVID Contract to Democrat Consulting Firm

 

UpdateThe contract has been as abruptly cancelled as it was abruptly awarded, according to numerous news outlets.

Michigan Governor Whitmer awarded a COVID contact tracing contract to Dem consulting firm NGP Van. I guess awarding this contract in the midst of a public health emergency in no way violates HIPPA

From the press release:

MDHHS is contracting with Great Lakes Community Engagement, a firm that specializes in outreach campaigns to engage citizens, and Every Action VAN, a voter/individual contact platform used by non-profits, to provide software to help organize remote phone banking and track information and contacts.

Every Action VAN is a part of Democratic data behemoth NGP VAN, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Never let a crisis go to waste as they say, in this case, use a crisis to collect private data on Michigan citizens.

Check your news to see if this makes the cut tonight. My bet is that it doesn’t because:

Lower Than a Snake’s Belly

 

There are scam artists, and there are scam artists. It sounds like this latest crew is lower than a snake’s belly, targeting veterans who are on federal food assistance who hold an EBT card (food debit card). They appear to be doing so by hijacking the good name and good works of a legendary American entertainer and a veterans’ charity organization.

I had a conversation with a Veterans of Foreign Wars life member after calling into our local VFW post. I happened to be there to take care of back-office business. The veteran called seeking more information about a grant with Charlie Daniels’ name attached. He read a snippet of the web-based pitch, something along the lines of: “Get out your EBT card and get ready to receive four months of living expenses.”

Immediately, I alerted on “EBT card.” I told this combat veteran that it was almost certainly a scam. He did not know what EBT was, so I explained: “It is the food stamp card.” “Oh! But they have Charlie Daniels’ picture and name right on top of this page.”

“Yes,” I said, “the scammers are out in force and exploiting the coronavirus situation to try to get people’s debit card information.” “Thanks,” he said, with some disappointment. I did a quick search and found two pages that helped paint the likely picture. The first was from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

FRAUD ALERT: USDA Warns of Scams Targeting SNAP Recipients
FNS Communications: fnspress@usda.gov

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2020 – Be on the lookout for potential scammers using the COVID-19 situation to steal personal information, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warned Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants today. USDA is issuing this warning after receiving reports of several possible SNAP fraud attempts.

“While many organizations are seeking to help communities respond to COVID-19, SNAP participants should be suspicious of any unknown individual or organization that requests their confidential information,” said Brandon Lipps, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, which administers the SNAP program at the federal level. “This is a difficult time for us all, and we certainly don’t want to see bad actors taking advantage of those in need.”

Examples of confidential information include social security number, bank information, or a participant’s SNAP EBT card or PIN number. In one potential scam, a website asked SNAP recipients to enter their personal and bank account information to qualify for COVID-related monetary assistance.

If SNAP participants are unsure if a request for information is legitimate, USDA advises they contact their local SNAP office. If they do not know their local SNAP office, participants should contact their state agency. State contact information is available at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-directory.

To stay on top of potential scams, please visit USDA’s SNAP scam alert webpage at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/scam-alerts.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, contact your local police department regarding procedures for filing a report. You may also file a consumer complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftc.gov. FTC is the federal agency responsible for protecting consumers from identity theft scams.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

So, the alert was out a month ago about scam artists exploiting vulnerable people with EBT cards. Now add in the extra lowdown twist of exploiting a real charitable relief effort:

CHARLIE DANIELS AND THE JOURNEY HOME PROJECT JOIN FORCES WITH CODE OF VETS TO AID VETERANS AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Nashville, Tenn. (April 20, 2020) — Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels and his veterans non-profit The Journey Home Project (TJHP) are joining forces with another non-profit group, Code of Vets, to aid former U.S. servicemen and women who are suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the country music and southern rock icon announced the partnership between the two organizations. Their collective mission is a call to action to seek public donations for vets suffering from economic hardships as well as those who have contracted the virus.

“Gretchen Smith and the folks at Code of Vets cover the guys below the radar, the ones with immediate needs and no place to turn, with a rapid deployment type response to veterans in desperate circumstances,” says Daniels. “These are same veterans who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. Our nation is pretty distracted by the Coronavirus pandemic we’re all dealing with, but the need in the veterans world goes on, and the urgent need for funds is truly critical. I would ask you to join The Journey Home Project in supporting Code of Vets in providing for the needs of our most worthy citizens.”

There are many stories from Americans during the COVID-19 crisis but for weeks there has been a group suffering in silence: our veterans. Most days these men and women battle PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), hunger, homelessness and unemployment, but do their best to stay afloat. Code of Vets, a 501c3, has been on the front lines assisting a large number of veterans and their families, finding those in need of even the most basic items such as food, running water and electricity. Some have been infected with the virus itself.
“We are operating under emergency conditions with this alarming spike of veterans in crisis,” explains Code of Vets Founder Gretchen Smith. “Please donate to assist with basic needs like food, housing and utilities. Our veterans matter. Every dollar matters. It is on us to take care of our own.”

“I’ve watched the amazing work that Gretchen and her team have done over the past year,” notes TJHP co-founder and Daniels’ manager David Corlew. “It’s a natural fit for us to team with Code of Vets during a critical time such as this. Our Veterans need us. They fought for us so it’s time for us to return the service. We can do this.”

In pre-COVID-19 times Code of Vets assisted veterans with mental health crisis, unemployment, housing and transportation, among others, but they are now encountering dire situations that they never expected. Pressing issues include:

  • 75 requests for food assistance in the last five days — four within one hour
  • Veterans with no electricity or water because bills cannot be paid
  • Code of Vets is spending hours on the phone with much higher number of suicidal vets who cannot properly process the pandemic
  • Eleven veterans in CA were recently lifted from homelessness by raising enough funds to pay for room and board at a veteran’s board and care — these veterans have all lost their jobs and we are scrambling to find funding for their food and board
  • Many veterans living in motels/extended stay hotels who have lost jobs and cannot pay their upcoming bills — rent and mortgage relief programs do not apply to them
  • Many veterans are finding their mortgage companies are not deferring payments and cannot pay mortgage due to layoffs
  • Veterans unable to afford even gas and car payments — it is imperative to keep vehicles so they can reach the VA for necessary mental health appointments
  • This is only a glimpse into COVID-19’s effect on the veteran community.

“It is no longer business as usual. The urgency of these needs require all of our resources all of the time and we need more Americans to step up for our veterans as they did for them,” adds Smith.

Daniels and The Journey Home Project urge the public to donate to Code of Vets during this trying time for our nation’s military heroes. Donations can be made at codeofvets.com.

Notice there is not one word there about EBT cards. Looking at the Code of Vets and at The Journey Home Project confirms they too are not talking about EBT cards. Naturally. There are scammers and then there are scammers. Some are just lower than a snake’s belly. I’m thinking this particular crew is lower than whale dung.

Member Post

 

Time for some perspective and common sense (uncommon knowledge) … 1957-58 Asian Flu:       USA 116,000 deaths,            population 171 million 1968 Hong Kong Flu:  USA 100,000 deaths,            population 200 million 2020 covid 19:              USA 45,000 deaths (so far), population 330 million  

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‘Let Them Eat Ice Cream’

 

Nancy Pelosi, second-time Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency, gave two truly clueless interviews. Was it the Botox or the brain freeze from her favorite ice cream? Pelosi stood in front of a refrigerator that could easily be looked up. The price tag: $24,000. She opened the freezer section and gushed over pints of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, $12 a pint at their online store.*

On the same day, Nancy Pelosi boasted to MSNBC about blocking the refill of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and their employees. She spoke to MSNBC while standing in front of that luxury refrigerator, stuffed full of very expensive ice cream.

Nancy Pelosi opened the door and the Donald J. Trump campaign walked right in:

The advertisement is so devastating that the Democrats running Google/YouTube apparently replaced the title with question mark characters. The title was “Let them eat ice cream.” — Nancy Antoinette. Messing with the display title did not change search results, as the ad shows up at or near the top when you search YouTube for “let them eat ice cream.”

The Hill has several streaming news and commentary shows. Their morning show is Rising, cohosted by Krystal Ball** and Saagar Enjeti. Their left-of-center analysis is devastating, showing evidence that the ad was exactly on point, that it points to the deeper rot in the Swamp, where millionaires continue business as usual amongst themselves.


* The Late Late Show with James Corden ran a “Show & Tell” segment with Nancy Pelosi on April 14:

** Don’t laugh too hard. Her physicist father got to name her after her mom named her two older sisters. Krystal Ball’s father’s dissertation was on crystals. While Krystal is a committed leftist, she also has been a CPA, so she actually understands business finances.

The China Has Been Broken. Now We Have to Clean Up the Mess.

 

The Democratic Party pro-Chinese propaganda line is now:

The reason that we are in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did, not because of anything the WHO did, it’s because of what this president did: Senator Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) said Tuesday.

Here is the truth:

There is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, though not as a bioweapon but as part of China’s attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China’s government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News.

This may be the “costliest government cover-up of all time,” one of the sources said.

The sources believe the initial transmission of the virus – a naturally occurring strain that was being studied there – was bat-to-human and that “patient zero” worked at the laboratory, then went into the population in Wuhan.

…What all of the sources agree about is the extensive cover-up of data and information about COVID-19 orchestrated by the Chinese government.

Documents detail early efforts by doctors at the lab and early efforts at containment. The Wuhan wet market initially identified as a possible point of origin never sold bats, and the sources tell Fox News that blaming the wet market was an effort by China to deflect blame from the laboratory …

U.S. Embassy officials warned in January 2018 about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab and passed on information about scientists conducting risky research on coronavirus from bats, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

..Sources point to the structure of the virus, in saying the genome mapping specifically shows it was not genetically altered.

…On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry pushed back on the suspicion that the virus escaped from the facility, by citing statements from the World Health Organization that there is no evidence the coronavirus came from a laboratory.

…China “100 percent” suppressed data and changed data, the sources tell Fox News. Samples were destroyed, contaminated areas scrubbed, some early reports erased, and academic articles stifled.

There were doctors and journalists who were “disappeared” warning of the spread of the virus and its contagious nature and human to human transmission. China moved quickly to shut down travel domestically from Wuhan to the rest of China, but did not stop international flights from Wuhan.

Additionally, the sources tell Fox News the World Health Organization (WHO) was complicit from the beginning in helping China cover its tracks.

We have done this to ourselves:

New Chinese export restrictions are exacerbating the chronic shortage of protective gear in the U.S. Face masks, test kits and other medical equipment bound for the U.S. are sitting in warehouses across China unable to receive necessary official clearances, some suppliers and brokers told The Wall Street Journal.

Chinese officials have said the policies, instituted this month, are intended to ensure the quality of exported medical products and to make sure needed goods aren’t being shipped out of China. They have created bottlenecks at a time of urgent need, according to the suppliers, brokers and the State Department memos.

I don’t want you to think that my conclusion about the Chinese Communist Regime is driven solely by their misbehavior about releasing COVID-19 into human populations and then lying about what happened. No, it is dozens of items. Here are just a few:

1. Espionage against the United States: Dozens of incidents such as the hacking of US government confidential personnel records. Suborning employees of US defense contractors to steal plans for US weapons systems. Spying on Chinese students at American universities. Stealing trade secrets of American businesses.

2. Leveraging US investments in China to mute criticisms of China by Americans. Most famously, pressuring the NBA to silence an executive of the Houston Rockets who had posted on social media his support for protestors in Hong Kong. Systematically expelling American journalists from China when the wrote stories the regime did not like.

3. Suborning freedom of expression and the rule of law in Hong Kong in violation of the treaty under which Hong Kong was surrendered to the Regime. And violently suppressing protestors against those actions.

4. Systematically destroying the culture and religion of Tibet. And attempting to displace the Tibetan people with Han Chinese. Going so far as to claim that regime has the power to appoint the next Dalai Lama. A task heretofore performed by Buddha.

5. Using gulags and systematic deprivations of human rights to destroy the religion and culture of the Uyghur people. Using them as slave labor in gulags.

6. Claiming that the South China Sea is Chinese territory. A claim that was decisively rejected by the World Court. A judgment that the Regime has simply thumbed its nose at. (Consider this when you listen to their protestations of support for WHO), And threatening US Navy ships exercising the right of innocent passage through those waters.

7. China has caused drought and the destruction of fisheries in the Mekong river valley by damming its headwaters. This has caused poverty and environmental damage in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. China has also caused flooding by unannounced releases of massive quantities of water from its dams. Nice.

8. Backed by armed Chinese Coast Guard ships, Chinese fishing fleets have been raiding Indonesia’s territorial fishing grounds. Chinese trawlers scrape the bottom of the sea, destroying other marine life. So not only does the Chinese trawling breach maritime borders, it also leaves a lifeless seascape in its wake. Indonesian officials have played down incursions by Chinese fishing boats, trying to avoid conflict with Beijing over China’s sprawling claims in these waters.

9. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and refuses to respect the right of Taiwan’s people to determine their own future. China threatens Taiwan with violence if it continues to behave like an independent nation. “The world has entered an eventful period, during which Taiwan is ineligible to play an active role,” China’s state-run Global Times thundered in its anti-Taiwan editorial on Friday, 10 Apr. 2020. “Rash moves made by Taiwan will likely turn the Taiwan Straits into a flashpoint that will severely impact the world order in the post-pandemic era,” … “The island will face real danger at that time.”

10. China has used its “Belt and Road” plan to reduce recipients of its aid like Sri Lanka and Djibouti into debt peonage.

The bill of particulars could go on and on. The conclusion is clear China is imperialistic, arrogant, racist, oppressive, violent, bullying, and the enemy of freedom and the liberal international order. It is time we started treating China the way we treated Russia in the 1950s, as an aggressor and enemy. They are conducting a cold war against us. We need to fight back.