In the midst of so much social hysteria and propaganda of fear, it is a pleasure to find some serenity and common sense in the statements of some doctors about the benefits of tobacco. According to recent studies, smokers may be more resistant to the new plague. This is a wonderful discovery for tobacco lovers, who have suffered decades of jihadist prosecution for their virtuous vices.
Many doctors recoil in shock when checking the statistics of those infected, whether the patients are smokers or not. We are already with the mathematical strip-tease: “Statistics are like bikinis: What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.”
In the New World, a paradise without a mania for overdressing, the pantheistic Indians already knew about the healing powers of tobacco and considered their holy smoke a communion of man with the divine. The art of smoking soon spread throughout Spain, thanks to Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, who had accompanied Christopher Columbus. In England the smoking ambassador was Sir Walter Raleigh, gallant pirate and man of letters who lost his head with that first anti-tobacco Taliban that was James I. In France Catherine de’ Medici (always curious about poisons and elixirs) was tobacco’s great supporter, thanks to the wise advice of doctor Jean Nicot, who considered the new plant a panacea and patented alkaloid nicotine with his name.
Since its American export to the rest of the planet, most artists, priests, and doctors have been great fans of tobacco. Only in the Anglo-Saxon world did it go from love to hate. During Victoria’s long reign, tobacco was so frowned upon that the French ambassador had to lie down on the floor and stick his head into the fireplace in order to take a drag. Then came her son Edward, who fortunately was a bon vivant, a lover of peace and the joys of life. His first order was a generous “Gentlemen, you may smoke.”
Recent studies by La Pitié-Salpêtrière French hospital refer to the fact that cells impregnated with nicotine can fight more effectively against the coronavirus. If only Donald Trump would have recommended a good smoke or a powerful whiskey instead of disinfectant to his compatriots, he would have proved to be up to date with science and would have gained popularity as well as a bonus for the next elections. Perhaps the American president should surround himself with more smokers and fewer housewives.
Of course, the international medical community has screamed bloody murder for studies favorable to tobacco. It is a revolution! (But it may be a gentle one for once.) Anti-smoking campaigns have invested billions on hysterical slogans. Progressive governments (which often have little to do with progress) have violated the private ownership of bars and restaurants, placed the most aberrant advertising in tobacco packages, and demonized smokers as creatures without rights for their bad habits.
But it was not always like this. For centuries, tobacco has been praised not only by doctors but by the best poets, painters, and musicians throughout the world. (In a recent interview on ABC, David Hockney confessed that he has had four doctors younger than he is, and all of them warned him about the evils of smoking. Now they are all dead while Hockney continues to smoke and paint wonderfully at 82.)
The actual war began with greed and too many tobacco companies adding artificial ingredients to their cigarettes, making them much more addictive than nicotine. Such additives are very harmful, but have nothing to do with the sacred plant.
Today merciful doctors and scientists who honor the truth rather than dogma have dared to highlight data that shows a positive quality to tobacco, and they are starting to test nicotine patches as a possible preventive. They even consider the tobacco plant as fundamental to the discovery of a vaccine.
Perhaps this will change the fashion of demonizing tobacco. Make your vices work for you.
(The article in its original Spanish immediately follows.)
En medio de tanta histeria y propaganda del miedo es un placer encontrar algo de serenidad y sentido común en las declaraciones de unos médicos galos sobre las bondades del tabaco. Sus investigaciones indican que los fumadores podrían ser más resistentes a la nueva peste. Eso es algo maravilloso para los amantes del tabaco, que llevan decenios de persecución yihadista por sus virtuosos vicios.
Muchos doctores se llevan las manos a la cabeza al comprobar la variante estadística de enfermos, según sean fumadores o no. Ya estamos con el strip-tease matemático: “Las estadísticas son como un bikini: muestran algo importante pero esconden lo más interesante.”
En el Nuevo Mundo, paraíso que no pecaba de ir demasiado vestido, los indios panteístas ya sabían de los poderes curativos del tabaco y consideraban su fuma como una comunión del ser humano con los divinos elementos. El arte de fumar se extendió muy pronto por España, gracias a Rodrigo de Jerez y Luis de Torres, quienes habían acompañado a Cristóbal Colón. En Inglaterra su gran embajador fue sir Walter Raleigh, pirata galante y hombre de letras que perdió su cabeza con ese primer talibán anti-tabaco que fue Jacobo I. En Francia fue Catalina de Médici (experta en venenos y elixires) su gran valedora, gracias a los consejos del médico Jean Nicot, quien consideraba al tabaco como una panacea. Por cierto que el Dr. Nicot patentó con su nombre el alcaloide nicotina.
Desde su exportación americana la mayoría de artistas, sacerdotes y médicos del resto del mundo fueron siempre grandes aficionados al tabaco. Solo en el mundo anglosajón se pasaba del amor al odio fácilmente. Durante el largo reinado de Victoria, el tabaco estaba tan mal visto que el embajador francés tenía que tumbarse en el suelo y meter la cabeza dentro de la chimenea para poder echar una calada. Luego vino su hijo Eduardo, que afortunadamente era un bon-vivant amante de la paz y los placeres de la vida. Su primera orden fue un amable permiso: “Caballeros, ya pueden ustedes fumar.”
Los recientes estudios del hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière hacen referencia a que las células impregnadas con la nicotina pueden luchar con más efectividad contra el coronavirus. Ah, ¡si Donald Trump hubiera recomendado a sus compatriotas una buena fumada o un potente whisky en lugar de desinfectante! Hubiera demostrado estar al día de la ciencia y habría ganado un plus de popularidad irresistible para las próximas elecciones. Tal vez el presidente americano debiera rodearse de más fumadores y menos amas de casa.
Por supuesto que la comunidad médica internacional ha puesto el grito en el cielo por tales estudios favorables al tabaco. ¡Es una revolución! (pero una amable, para variar). La campaña anti-smoking lleva invertidos miles de millones con histéricos eslóganes. Los gobiernos progresistas (a menudo poco tienen que ver con el progreso) han vulnerado la propiedad privada de bares y restaurantes, colocan la más aberrante publicidad sobre su consumo en los paquetes de tabaco y demonizan a los fumadores como criaturas sin derechos de salud por sus malos hábitos.
Pero no siempre fue así. Durante siglos el tabaco ha sido cantado no solo por médicos sino por los mejores poetas, pintores y músicos a lo ancho del mundo. (En una entrevista a ABC el pintor David Hockney cuenta que ha tenido cuatro médicos, todos más jóvenes que él, recomendándole dejar de fumar. Hockney los ha sobrevivido a todos y sigue fumando y pintando a sus 84 años.)
La guerra se inició al descubrir la codicia de demasiadas compañías tabaqueras que añadían a sus cigarrillos ingredientes artificiales mucho más adictivos que la nicotina. Tales añadidos son muy dañinos, pero nada tienen que ver con la sagrada plata solanácea.
Y ahora unos médicos misericordiosos, científicos que hacen honor a la verdad antes que al dogma, se atreven a dar unos datos que resaltan una cualidad positiva del tabaco. ¡Ya empiezan a probar parches de nicotina como posible preventivo! ¡Ya consideran a la planta del tabaco como fundamental en el descubrimiento de una vacuna!
Tal vez así cambie la moda que demoniza al tabaco. Make your vices work for you.
As you can well imagine, my mailbox has been overflowing with questions about the coronavirus from precisely ZERO readers. So I decided to write my own questions. I know this is what you would be asking if you were not standing in line, outside, 6 feet apart, to purchase a quart of milk.
What do you think of the media’s coverage of the Wuhan virus?
It’s like a nonstop “War of the Worlds” broadcast, which in 1938 panicked more than a million Americans into believing Martians had landed in New Jersey, sending people fleeing to the mountains, loading their shotguns and barricading their homes. And that was a single radio broadcast!
Today we have nearly all of media — which I notice are doing fantastically well during the crisis — terrifying the public about an apparently indestructible, omnipresent virus.
You don’t think the China virus is as dangerous as they say?
Well, it is a virus capable of eliminating all human life, which would be bad, but not all bad because then you’d never have to see another TV commercial with some company saying they consider you “family.”
So you think it’s safe to start lifting the stay-at-home orders?
Of course. I ask again: What was the purpose of telling everyone to stay home? Aren’t we all Wuhan-free now? More than 90 percent of the country has been self-quarantining for more than a month. Either we had it and didn’t know it, or never had it at all. But in any event we don’t have it now.
Or was that whole stay-at-home mandate just for fun?
What about threats of a resurgence?
Luckily the hospitals are half-empty, waiting for the gusher of coronavirus patients.
So we do nothing?
No, not at all, but now that 90 percent of us are Wuhan-free, these are the only things we need to do:
1) A real immigration moratorium, like this country had from 1924 to 1965. (I’d also recommend that the other 49 states shut down flights from New York, but I’ll leave that up to them);
2) Concentrate all protections on the elderly/immunocompromised;
3) No more handshaking, and liberal use of surgical masks in confined spaces.
Other than that, WE’RE DONE NOW.
But we know virtually nothing about this virus: why it kills, what stops it, how it’s transmitted.
Actually, we know one very important thing: By total serendipity, the Wuhan virus mostly kills people over the age of 70. Nearly 80 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are of people over 70 years old.
What about Italy?
About 80 percent of the dead were over 70.
That sounds a little callous.
Not at all. It’s a stroke of good luck! We’d be lucky if the virus targeted any specific group — the nearsighted, left-handers, golfers — because that would allow us to concentrate protections on that one group.
But it’s doubly good news because the Wuhan targets people who are mostly out of the workforce anyway. And we already have their names and addresses! How about the feds send a box of masks along with Social Security checks every month?
How will you get Democratic governors to go along with that?
Liberals can triple down on all their fascist stuff — as long as it’s limited to the vulnerable.
Over 65? You need a note from the governor to leave your home!
Fine! But let the rest of us get back to work.
Why haven’t they done this already?
Because that wouldn’t have the effect of wrecking the economy before the election.
Apart from the election, why would the media want to impoverish the nation?
1) Reporting on disasters is fun!
2) Their ratings are terrific — and, of course, they’re still being paid.
3) Liberals enjoy controlling people, especially with enragingly nonsensical rules.
I thought Trump was the authoritarian!
No, he’s the lazy, narcissistic blowhard. Liberals are the authoritarians.
The shutdown is airport security for the whole country. Nineteen Muslim immigrants flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and suddenly little old ladies from Oklahoma had to be goosed at airports. We have to be safe!
A horrible Chinese virus sweeps the planet, which is devastating to older people but virtually harmless to the young — and the entire country has to be shut down. We have to be safe!
What about polls showing a majority of Americans want to keep the restrictions in place?
The media have frightened gullible suburban woman into a state of hysteria. (Talk about whipping up your ignorant base!) Kids could basically mainline coronavirus and they’d be fine. But soccer moms don’t want their kids going back to school.
Whether it’s rational or not, people aren’t going to go out like they used to.
My entire life, liberals have said, “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.” “Don’t like pornography? Don’t look at it.” And so on.
I say: “Don’t want to leave your home? Don’t leave your home!”
So you recommend going out again?
Sure, what’s the worst that could happen? Sure, you could die, but you probably won’t.
When faced with a new conundrum with no certain answer, the single most valuable political principle is precisely what many people simply can’t abide at this moment: freedom of speech.
During the novel coronavirus crisis, when nobody has proved infallible, we need, more than ever, an open marketplace of ideas in which opposing strategies are fiercely debated.
For example, on March 31, New York City intensive care unit doctor Cameron Kyle-Sidell posted a landmark video of his resignation from working in the emergency room because he couldn’t in good conscience put so many people on ventilators. He explained that the protocols calling for frequent intubation of COVID-19 patients were doing more harm than good:
I believe we are treating the wrong disease and that we must change what we are doing if we want to save as many lives as possible…. It is highly likely that the high pressures we’re using are damaging the lungs of the patients we are putting the breathing tubes in. It’s not our fault. We didn’t know.
By later April the consensus had shifted among emergency room doctors in Kyle-Sidell’s direction. Ventilators seldom saved lives, with 88% of resolved ventilations ending in death in one New York hospital chain.
Instead, less intrusive oxygen and having patients lie on their stomachs appeared to be at least no more ineffective and far less demanding of nursing resources. The public was advised to purchase pulse oximeters and monitor the oxygen levels in their blood so they could get to the hospital early for nonintrusive treatment before their lungs were severely damaged.
Kyle-Sidell refusing to shut up about this discovery meant that the biggest fear about the current pandemic—that hospitals would be overwhelmed by coronavirus, leaving patients with conventional ailments such as heart attacks and strokes to die in the parking lot—was less realistic than had been feared.
Flattening the curve has so far proved surprisingly feasible in most American cities outside New York, where the stress on the hospital system, which peaked around April 7, has likely sextupled total deaths and contributed to an infection fatality rate approaching one percent. But much of the country has seen its hospitals far less slammed than was predicted.
Despite this example of the usefulness of open debate, censorship is growing, along with elite enthusiasm for making emergency rules permanent. Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Google subsidiary YouTube and the main force in the firing of James Damore, said that YouTube will be stifling:
Anything that would go against World Health Organisation recommendations would be a violation of our policy.
Of course, the World Health Organization has thus far not distinguished themselves for their wisdom. For example, WHO supremo Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared in March:
Stigma, to be honest, is more dangerous than the virus itself. Let’s really underline that. Stigma is the most dangerous enemy.
That was almost as memorably stupid as when General George Casey, the U.S. Army’s top officer, announced after Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered thirteen people in an Islamist frenzy:
Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.
Meanwhile, numerous influential thinkers are proclaiming that the coronavirus catastrophe is, when you stop and think about it, kind of a good thing because it is accelerating certain needed changes, such as junking the First Amendment.
For example, in The Atlantic, law professors Andrew Keane Woods and Jack Goldsmith (who is best known for a recent book arguing that his stepfather didn’t actually murder Jimmy Hoffa the way people keep insinuating) crow:
Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal: In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.
In reality, the case for free speech is stronger now than ever. Both the scientific and the economic questions at hand are unprecedented, so our Kyle-Sidell-style freethinkers are of peak value. For instance, is telling people to shelter indoors wise, or would they be better off spending some time outdoors in the wind and sun?
At present, there is a huge spat over whether local governments should allow citizens to go to the beach during heat waves. You might think that Blue America, with its abundant coastline, would be more liberal about beach-going than mostly inland Red America. But back in March, most of the beaches that were warm enough for fun in the sun were in states with Republican governors, such as Florida, so Democrats have since become obsessed with their prejudice that citizens frolicking on beaches would be the doom of us all (when, in reality, mass transit, especially the New York subway, appears instead to have been the worst vector).
The scientific evidence, such as it is, vaguely suggests that ocean breezes and vitamin D are not bad in the current crisis. But who cares about science when Science can be trusted to tell us our partisan foes are Bad and we are Good?
Seriously, we don’t yet have much of a clue how long the economy ought to be kept locked down (if at all), nor how best to nurture it back to life again. Some of the government shutdowns of low-risk businesses, such as of golf courses, have obviously depressed the economy needlessly, but will dentists’ offices and tourism come back before the danger is lessened?
But, precisely because in this unprecedented situation nobody knows for sure what to do, many Americans find dissent distressing, much like Germans in 1933 found the Führerprinzip an appealing alternative to all that arguing in the Reichstag.
Many now wish everybody who disagrees with them could be forced to shut up and do as they are told. After all, they have, whatever their views, Science on their side and their enemies do not.
Unfortunately, scientists and doctors have so far not covered themselves in glory. For example, we still don’t know for sure if this new virus is spread more by touching objects, as in a store, or by talking to people, as in a bar. Obviously, that’s an important question in restarting the economy, but the public health establishment early on bet most of their chips, perhaps wrongly, on Touching Things as the big danger, which justified their obsession with handwashing and their dismissal of facial masks.
This is not to say that washing your hands is bad, just that it turned out not to be the talisman to protect your health that you were assured it would be in February and March.
Granted, one of the reasons we were told, over and over, that Science proves we shouldn’t wear masks was out of a Machiavellian but rational desire to preserve the shamefully few facial masks in stock for doctors.
And a few deep thinkers in the Establishment might have been worried that the Chinese shutdown of exports of medical masks might raise awkward questions about the wisdom of globalization. And there might even have been some profound pundits who realized that the inevitable resentment of the Chinese in America who methodically stripped all the N95s from the shelves of American retailers and mailed them home to China would be bad for their politicians…if anybody noticed, which almost nobody has.
But, mostly, respected sources had somehow convinced themselves years ago that Americans are too stupid to wear a mask effectively. This is one of those counterintuitive views that members of an elite hold in part because you have to be a member of the elite to believe something so dumb. It’s a fraternity handshake that shows you took a public health course in grad school.
Similarly, public health experts in the West were all taught that Science had proved that travel restrictions and quarantines couldn’t possibly help, so of course Trump’s late-January quasi-ban on Chinese arrivals was racist stupidity. Unfortunately, the screams from the woke over this mild measure seemed to convince Trump that he’d done more than could be expected, so he proceeded to waste February.
Nationally, up through April 4, excess deaths were about twice official coronavirus deaths in the U.S., so we are likely up to 100,000 deaths by now.
On the other hand, the number of “quality-adjusted life years” lost per coronavirus death is likely strikingly low. Thus, in the Washington Post article about recent excess deaths not being counted as due to COVID-19, their featured example is the passing of a 99-year-old man.
So…are we doing the right things?
I don’t know.
Let’s argue about it.
That’s why we have a First Amendment.
I call it “FrankenCovid”—the theory that Covid-19 was created by scientists in a Wuhan lab and released either on purpose or by accident. Adherents hold that the proven sequence of events that led to SARS and MERS (bat to intermediary to human) is, for unexplained reasons, not the path taken by Covid, even though scientists believe it is.
FrankenCovid is all the rage on the right, which is unfortunate. Leftists have been protecting the barbaric Chinese wet markets by screaming “racist” at all who dare call attention to those disease-hatching abominations. But thanks to FrankenCovid mania, rightists, rather than standing up to the left’s racial demagoguery, are allying with the left to absolve the wet markets.
How’d that happen?
China-born Kathy Zhu is the Miss Michigan who became a conservative darling after she supposedly lost her crown for supporting Trump. A panda of little brain, Zhu quickly established herself as a typical big-tent Charlie Kirk “staple green cards to the diplomas” neocon. She accumulated an impressive social media following, and clashed frequently with alt-rightists and “groypers.”
On Jan. 23, Zhu tweeted her theory of Covid’s origin: The “wet markets” were framed! Chinese culinary practices are blameless; the disease came from a commie lab:
I’m Chinese. I’ve eaten a lot of crazy stuff because I love experiencing life. Do NOT blame innocent Chinese people for this virus. Sorry I don’t eat processed “chicken” nuggets that isn’t even chicken. The CN gov is trying to cover up the fact that a biolab with the world’s most hazardous viruses opened months before the virus outbreak. It’s sad that you guys are falling for the CN gov’s words. They blame innocent Chinese people rather than themselves. Blame the gov, not the people.
Zhu’s theory, based on a lie (the Wuhan Virology Institute’s BSL-4 lab began trial operations in 2015, not “months before the outbreak”), was intended to counter the “racist” claim that Chinese culinary practices, which have a rich history of birthing zoonotic diseases, had birthed a zoonotic disease. Zhu was skewered by “groypers,” who (correctly) pointed out that she’d crafted a “conspiracy theory” to deflect from a pandemic caused by her beloved bushmeat.
Turns out Zhu was ahead of her time. Three months after her tweet, there was Steve Bannon on Fox News, regurgitating Zhu’s talking points. After being asked by Maria Bartiromo if Covid was a “deliberate” biolab release, Bannon responded:
Let’s go back to knowingly responsible. And let’s be precise. This is not the Chinese people and this is not China. The Chinese people, the decent, hardworking people of China, are the single biggest victims here. This is about the Chinese Communist Party, and they are knowingly responsible for what happened.
What the hell? How did the “wet markets were framed by mad scientists” theory go from a complete invention concocted by an ethnocentric bimbo Chinawoman to a talking point espoused on national TV by Steve Bannon? It certainly has nothing to do with evidence; the theory is as unfounded now as when Zhu first presented it, and when I debunked it earlier this month.
Generally, conspiracy theories begin when people (rightly or wrongly) perceive an anomaly. “You can’t fire a bolt-action rifle that many times in so few seconds.” “Skyscrapers don’t collapse from fire.” The perceived anomaly sparks a fishing expedition for “the real truth.” But with Covid, there’s no anomaly. The Chinese gave the world the third plague pandemic (15,000,000 dead), the Spanish flu (50,000,000 dead), the 1900 San Francisco Chinatown bubonic plague epidemic, the 1957 Asian flu (2,000,000 dead), the 1968 China-born Hong Kong flu (2,000,000 dead), the 1977 Russian flu (originated in Northern China; 700,000 dead), the 1986 Yunnan bubonic plague epidemic, and SARS.
Given that history, what kind of dipstick would look at a deadly pandemic from China and say, “Hmm…this is out of the ordinary. Must be the work of a mad scientist!”
After SARS ran its course, experts warned that the Chinese wet markets and exotic-animal trade would produce another, worse pandemic. The Chinese government tried to shutter the markets, but the Chinese people demanded their return. And again, scientists in America, Europe, and Asia predicted a new zoonotic pandemic.
A 2017 study by scientists from the University of New South Wales and the University of Texas, Austin, specifically identified Wuhan as a “high risk area” for zoonotic pandemics because of its wet markets. The study recommended the closure of Wuhan’s live-animal markets, but the authors admitted that such actions would meet “public disapproval” (a reference to the Chinese public’s revolt against government attempts to shutter the markets after SARS).
In February of this year, The New York Times declared that it’s racist to blame the wet markets for Covid (while acknowledging that the wet markets probably were to blame), and in March and April, two identically worded (by different authors) wet-market defense pieces appeared in Bloomberg and the L.A. Times…so identically worded, it’s impossible to read them without sensing the invisible hand of CCP propagandists. The New York Times also attacked trade czar Peter Navarro for calling China a “disease incubator” in his 2006 book The Coming China Wars. In fact, in that book Navarro specifically predicted that a major zoonotic pandemic would emerge from China’s animal markets.
Navarro predicted it in 2006. But last week he told Fox News that Covid came from a lab. His evidence? “The ground zero for this virus was within a few miles of that lab”…a complete lie (the virology institute is thirty minutes away—and on the other side of the Yangtze—from the initial infection cluster). Pardon my language, but…what the fuck? When has a politician ever refused a victory lap for a bullseye prediction? Politicians lie every day, but never to avoid taking credit for calling something right.
The Chinese aptitude for birthing pandemics offers one of the best possible rationales for immigration restriction, which makes it baffling that some immigration hawks are shying away from that talking point. Spanish flu spread to the West via Chinese labor. A hundred thousand Chinese laborers were brought to Europe to work for the Allies. In 1917 those laborers, many of whom were carriers of the flu that would soon devastate the world, sailed to Vancouver, and were sent to Halifax via sealed trains (inadvertently saving the Canadian interior from early infection). From Halifax, they sailed to Europe.
Imagine if the Chinese Exclusion Act had not been in effect in the U.S. at that time, and if we’d been routinely importing tens of thousands of Chinese laborers ourselves. The U.S. still suffered many Spanish flu casualties (due to servicemen returning home), but in theory we could’ve been ground zero had we been a prime destination for Chinese laborers (as it is, we got a bubonic plague epidemic from the Chinese we already had).
Had we stayed out of Europe’s pointless war, we could’ve avoided the Spanish flu if not entirely, at least largely.
Immigration restriction and nonintervention…the two lessons of Spanish flu.
We take constant upbraiding from leftists about our “racist” immigration history without countering that imported Chinese labor damn near killed half the world. Banning such immigration was the right move back then, and banning immigration from all nations where pandemics continue to gestate is the right move now.
But no, let’s let the Chinese off the hook. It wasn’t them; it was Frankenstein. Hey—here’s a video of Liberians who refuse to stop eating bushmeat during an Ebola resurgence because they don’t believe in foodborne zoonotic diseases; they blame government conspiracies instead. Bannon, Navarro, and Tucker Carlson are spouting the same line as literal monkey-eating Africans. A proud moment for the right.
To be fair, some rightists are under the mistaken impression that the lab theory makes the Chinese more liable in a legal sense. Carlson said as much last week: A wet-market origin would not categorize Covid as “man-made,” but the lab scenario would. He’s dead wrong. SARS was man-made because zoonotic reservoir animals were crammed together in unsanitary conditions for food consumption. If a restaurant unhygienically stores and handles food, and customers get sick, that’s a man-made outbreak. If the restaurant had done it before, and, ignoring all warnings, did it again, that’s criminal.
The wet-market origin makes the Chinese more culpable. Lab accidents happen in civilized nations; wet markets don’t. The wet-market origin is uniquely Chinese and uniquely Third World. Vice is already arguing for federal hate-crimes charges for anyone who publicly tars Chinese culinary practices, and at least one police department has suggested it might make arrests to that effect. Which points to another possible reason FrankenCovid is so popular: Conservatives can avoid being called racist. There’ll be no hate-crime charge for pinning Covid on Doctor Moreau.
The popularity of FrankenCovid on the right demonstrates that even among immigration hawks, there’s still a huge reluctance to blame “a people” or make value judgments about cultures and ethnicities. And that’s why immigration restrictionism is likely doomed in the long run. Values-neutral nativism is a fool’s quest. If the West isn’t superior and the Third World inferior, if no one is primitive and nothing is barbaric, if it’s always the government and never the people, then why restrict immigration? To protect jobs? Okay, then what’ll your reason be once the economy recovers?
If we can’t condemn China for a century of epidemics and pandemics, we can’t condemn anything.
To be clear, once the virus began to spread, the CCP did plenty of foul things. And if we want to sanction China for its government’s actions in response to the pandemic, fine. But if those sanctions are based on the unfounded theory that the Wuhan lab caused the pandemic, then all China will need to do is show that the lab—which has always hosted international observers and scientists—is clean and secure, and those sanctions will lose their raison d’être. Meanwhile, the problem of China’s zoonotic outbreaks will go unaddressed, to the delight of Chinese officials happy to avoid the pushback that greeted the SARS market closures, and cowardly U.S. politicians and pundits who don’t want to appear racist.
“America First” Steve Bannon declaring that the Chinese are “the single biggest victims here” lays bare the emptiness of that catchphrase. FrankenCovid evangelists believe that Covid is lab-mutated SARS, and nobody denies that we only have SARS because of perverse Chinese animal consumption. So not even FrankenCovid acolytes should claim that the Chinese people are bigger victims than the millions of Americans whose lives have been ruined by this pandemic. Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson continues to churn out lies in defense of Chinese barbarity, stating on April 17 that the wet markets couldn’t possibly have birthed Covid because they don’t sell mammals—arguably the most blatant untruth uttered on any cable news show all year (and that’s saying a lot).
Covid-19 kills people, but the right’s response is killing reputations…and exposing the true priorities of supposed America Firsters.
Is America, in lockdown, with 26 million unemployed and entering a new depression, up for a confrontation and Cold War with China?
For that appears to be where the GOP wishes to lead us.
According to Politico, a 57-page memo from Mitch McConnell’s senatorial committee instructs GOP candidates to blame the coronavirus pandemic on China, commit to stand up to China, end U.S. dependence on Chinese manufacturing and tell voters “my opponent is soft on China.”
“China is not an ally, and they’re not just a rival — they are an adversary and the Chinese Communist Party is our enemy,” reads one of the talking points.
Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas echoed the memo, charging that China’s leaders wanted the coronavirus to spread because they “did not want to see their relative power and standing in the world decline.”
Cotton went on: “It’s a scandal to me that we have trained so many of the Chinese communists. If Chinese students want to come here and learn Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers — that’s what they need to learn from America; they don’t need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence from America.”
The Wall Street Journal ran back-to-back editorials last week urging a more confrontational stance toward Beijing and endorsing GOP plans for new defense spending on U.S. air and naval forces in the Western Pacific.
Cotton and the Journal are not wrong in their characterization of China’s behavior. It is belligerent toward its neighbors and hostile toward the United States.
China has indeed sent student-spies to study at U.S. universities.
Under cover of the coronavirus crisis, Beijing is moving to strip the 7 million people of Hong Kong of the rights they were guaranteed when the British departed. The Uighurs of Xinjiang are being persecuted and coercively cleansed of their cultural and religious beliefs.
The Peoples Liberation Army seeks to intimidate Taiwan by sending military aircraft near the island. China’s warships have harassed Vietnamese, Malaysian, Philippine and Indonesian commercial vessels to assert its claim to the entire South China Sea.
Chinese propagandists have accused the U.S. of creating the coronavirus crisis that broke out in Wuhan last winter.
JFK may have been inexact when he observed: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
But that is an accurate description of how China has conducted itself since it unleashed the Wuhan virus upon the world.
But why did Americans, after a 40-year struggle with another “Evil Empire,” ever believe differently about the Communist Party of China?
Under the code of that party, the morality of an act is determined by whether it advances or retards the goals of the regime: expansion, conquest and domination.
As President Ronald Reagan undiplomatically observed in an early press conference, Communists reserve to themselves “the right to lie, cheat and steal,” which is pretty much how the Chinese Communists have been behaving toward us since we reengaged with them in 1972.
What course does the Journal recommend that we pursue?
“Freedom of navigation exercises” by U.S. naval and air forces are “not enough to secure the Western Pacific from Chinese domination.”
Instead, the Journal says the U.S. “may need to start recognizing claims of countries like Vietnam to make China pay a price for further expansion. The U.S. should also try to maintain its defense pact with the Philippines’ mercurial President Rodrigo Duterte.”
The Journal seems to be suggesting that we formally recognize and back Vietnam’s claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea. None of these islands belongs to us?
Why should the U.S. Navy risk a clash at sea by making us a party to these latest quarrels halfway around the world?
Vietnam is a country of 95 million people. Like China, it is also Communist. The Philippines have more than 7,000 islands and 100 million people. Indonesia has 17,000 to 18,000 islands and is the fourth-most populous nation on earth with 267 million citizens.
Cannot the nations that share the South China Sea with China acquire coastal navies to defend their own waters? Why is the Journal volunteering the U.S. as Coast Guard of the South China Sea?
The Journal argues that with Chinese nationalism rising under Xi Jinping, “It’s more important than ever for the U.S. to signal that it considers the independence of Pacific states a vital interest and isn’t retreating.”
The independence and borders of these states is undeniably vital to them. But how is that vital to us, 8,000 miles away, on the other side of the Pacific? This is power politics, pure and simple.
Ellen DeGeneres was born with this face, and that’s the plain truth. If you think there’s any more nuanced or complicated reason beyond that for why she “became” a lesbian, I strongly beg to differ.
She was “born that way” only in the sense that she was born with a bird’s face rather than a female human’s, which predetermined her to be physically unappealing to human males throughout her mating years, leaving disgruntled and maladjusted women as her only sexual option. She is therefore a lesbian not by choice, but by necessity. According to a sob story she repeatedly tells, her stepfather found her attractive enough to molest in her mid-teens, but beyond that, I find little evidence or reason to think she ever had much of a problem rebuffing male advances, because I doubt there were many such advances, if any.
Sure, she’s able to find beautiful women who are willing to sleep with her, but would that be the case if she were a part-time French-fry chef at Wendy’s? There are plenty of women who are willing to do almost anything if you dangle a half-billion smackers in front of their snatches.
As unfunny as she is homely, Ellen also enjoys a level of fame that is so wildly out of proportion to any discernible talent, it is highly suspicious. She has won 20 People’s Choice awards—more than anyone else. In 2019 she raked in over $80 million, making her the world’s highest-paid comedian. She hangs out with presidents and ex-presidents and, despite a gaping lack of any notable film appearances, she has hosted the Oscars twice. She even has more Twitter followers than Donald Trump does.
No one has ever been rewarded so richly for their lesbianism as Ellen. Since this canary-faced Sapphite’s only skill lies in “being a lesbian,” my suspicion is that she became the world’s preeminent Lesbo Mogul because she was hand-picked to play a role, just like the similarly untalented billionaire Oprah Winfrey. Whereas Winfrey’s role was to soften up the fat white female man-haters who watch daytime TV to the point where they eagerly embrace shameless black identity politics, Ellen’s role was to make lesbians appear “relatable” and “normal” and even “kind.”
Since I’ve done my best to ignore her, I was unaware that Ellen—who, like Oprah, is so famous that you don’t even need a last name to know who I’m talking about—ends every one of her shows with the admonition to “be kind.” She even sells merchandise—including anti-coronavirus face masks—with this insipid phrase on it. Her entire public persona—beyond the aggressive muff-diving—is based on public displays of kindness and public displays of charity.
Despite her lesbianism—scratch that, primarily because of it so long as it’s tethered to an endlessly loud shtick of kindness and generosity and “relatability”—Americans have eagerly embraced Ellen during her lifelong string of bad haircuts. Just like Oprah, she’s provided listless and unemployed American females with all sorts of reasons to feel great about who they are and to feel seething contempt for all things straight and white and male.
Predictably, people are now acting shocked to learn that by many accounts, Ellen is neither kind nor generous. Forgive me for crowing, but I could have told you this. No one who makes that much of a point of being kind is actually kind, or they wouldn’t feel the nagging urge to keep making such a point about it. Same thing goes for anyone who makes such a grand public display of being charitable.
In March on Twitter, an alleged comedian and confirmed “podcast host” named Kevin T. Porter mentioned Ellen’s “kindness” shtick and how it clashed with ubiquitous Hollywood rumors that she’s “notoriously one of the meanest people alive.” An “Ellen is a Cunt megathread” emerged on Reddit in response to Porter’s tweet that included this nugget:
She’s well known in the TV production world as the most horrible human alive. Literally anyone who works in talk shows either has had a direct run-in with her or knows people that have. It’s not even a secret. She’s really really awful….
There were hundreds of responses to Porter’s request to share stories about Ellen’s alleged cuntiness—the majority being second- and third-hand accounts—but when there’s that much smoke, one tends to suspect that there’s at least a little bit of fire behind it. For example, I’ve never seen anyone call Betty White a cunt.
One of the major themes that kept emerging was the allegation that she forbids everyone on her staff from even making eye contact with her, under threat of termination or at least a thorough public tongue-lashing. She also seems to get a sadistic kick out of scaring her own employees.
She has no qualms about publicly humiliating audience members who dared to take more than one piece of the “free” swag her show offers.
She puts the shrieking obese flyover-country hetero hausfraus who adore her through such humiliating motions for cash and prizes, it reminds me of SCTV’s classic fake game show Wacky World of Poverty. And now she hosts a regular game show where she sadistically cackles while contestants clumsily plod through one potentially injurious athletic feat after the next.
Others told of her publicly humiliating someone who gave her a bad haircut—even criticizing the poor girl’s looks, which takes tremendous moxie when you look like Ellen—and trying to get a waitress fired for the crime of having chipped nail polish.
There are also multiple accounts of her either publicly screaming at her wife Portia or embarrassing her by acting tyrannically toward random pissants.
Naturally, none of this is good PR for the lesbian community.
And now comes news that the Queen of Kindness has used scab labor to avoid paying her regular crew to stream her show during the COVID-19 crisis. Of her core stage crew of 30+ employees—some of whom have been with her during the show’s 17-year run—only four have been retained to help her film the show at home. The rest have been hired from elsewhere. The regulars have also been informed that they’re receiving a 60% pay cut while Ellen whines thusly from her $27-million mansion:
Being in quarantine is like being in jail. It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for ten days and everyone here is gay.
Maybe she is still plagued with guilt that her first love died in a car crash immediately after arguing with Ellen.
Maybe she’s still furious that her parents initially rejected her when she came out of the closet.
Maybe she’s still bitter that her stepdad molested her. Or maybe she’s even more bitter that more men didn’t try. Like they say, if there’s one thing women hate more than unwanted attention, it’s not getting the attention they want.
Anyone who has spent any time with lesbians, whether in laboratory settings or in their natural element as they cavort unbathed in the wild, knows they are fundamentally nasty creatures. Of COURSE Ellen is mean. She’s a lesbian. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by every man on Earth except her pervert stepdad.
The Week’s Most Pneumonic, Teutonic, and Demonic Headlines
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: WORKERS OF THE WORLD, STOP WORKING!
Are we the first to notice how much the shovel-faced communist Congresslady Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez resembles the dueling, enigmatic, black-and-white secret agents in Mad magazine’s long-running comic strip Spy vs. Spy?
It’s common knowledge that although Cortez fetishizes poverty as if it were a high-priced pet Chihuahua, she grew up in a cushy and almost entirely white New York suburb and has lapped at luxury’s teat ever since she shot cannonball-like from ’twixt her mama’s legs. And like any rich person with a guilt complex which they try to expunge through Marxism, Cortez not only claims that she represents workers, but that she understands them. She recently encouraged low-income workers—who are being the most economically savaged by this crisis—to stage a general strike and NOT return to work once the shutdowns are lifted:
When we talk about this idea of reopening society, you know, only in America does the president — when the president tweets about liberation — does he mean go back to work. When we have this discussion about going back or reopening, I think a lot people should just say ‘no’ — we’re not going back to that. We’re not going back to working 70-hour weeks just so that we could put food on the table and not even feel any sort of semblance of security in our lives.
The only thing this broad has ever spent 70 hours a week doing is taking selfies.
Anyone who actually understand what it’s like to be a member of the working class—in other words, someone who’s felt the grip of anxiety knowing if they mess up for even a month, they’ll be hungry or homeless—would jump at the chance for employment when this New Great Depression finally ends. They also know that if they took Cortez’s dubious advice, they’d be replaced by machines before AOC could fix her lipstick.
“RACIST” DRAWING OF INJUN WOMAN TRAGICALLY WIPED FROM BUTTER PACKAGING
If you’re a young American male who lived at any time from 1921 to the current year, you likely are intimately familiar with the “boob trick” you can do by taking a box of Land O’Lakes butter and bending the cardboard so that the Indian maiden’s exposed kneecaps are where her breasts would be—voila!—instant porn. Most of us who’ve enjoyed doing this trick for our friends, and sometimes even in quiet places all by ourselves, felt warmer toward Native American women as a result. It did not encourage racial hatred; to the contrary, it made bagging a squaw look like a goal worth pursuing.
That will all come crashing to an end this year as Land O’Lakes is effectively murdering “Mia”—the name of the painted Injun maiden with the voluptuous kneecaps—and instead replacing her with a boring image of a tranquil lake. Supposedly it’s racist to make a Native American woman look more attractive and slim than they usually tend to be.
This makes us even sadder than we were when we learned that Iron Eyes Cody was Italian. If murdering “Mia” doesn’t constitute Native American genocide, what does?
VATICAN CENSORS POPE’S JOKE ABOUT WHISKEY BEING THE “REAL HOLY WATER”
We’ve kidded the Pope before—even questioned whether he’s Catholic—but every once in an Islamic crescent moon, he reminds us that he’s “human” just like the rest of us and likes to “cut loose” with “the boys” every once in a while, only to be stuffed back into a glass cage by his handlers.
Scottish people are known for talking funny and drinking too much. As part of an upcoming documentary about a group of Scottish seminarians—sounds like a real humdinger—they filmed the young lads bequeathing a bottle of Oban malt to the Pontiff. According to the movie’s director:
We filmed the students meeting with the Pope in the Apostolic Palace. One of them was tasked with giving the Pope a bottle of malt, because they know he likes whisky. He was really down to Earth with them all and when they handed him the bottle, instead of just handing it to his assistant as he normally would with a gift, he held it up and said ‘Questa e la vera acqua santa’, which means ‘This is the real holy water.’
But once the surplice-wearing killjoys at the Vatican caught wind of the Pope’s comment, they insisted it be excised from the film as if it were a demon inhabiting Linda Blair’s body.
It’s gotta be hard being the Pope, so what’s so bad if he wants to get shitfaced every so often?
STUDENT ACTIVIST ACCUSED OF MAKING RACIALLY MOTIVATED THREATS AGAINST HERSELF
There have been so many hate-crime hoaxes over the years that the temptation is to believe that the general public now understands such fiascos are regular occurrences, but yea, we say unto you that we should not sleep at this late hour because such hoaxes constitute prolonged psychological warfare against the majority population and must be resisted with such ferocity that people will be too terrified to ever wrap a noose around their own necks and call themselves “nigger” again.
Anayeli Dominguez Peña is a 25-year-old former student of someplace called the University of La Verne, and judging from her mug shot, the only requirement for admission there is to be overweight. This week she will appear in court on felony charges of fabricating hate crimes against herself and her stupid radical student organization last year. Apparently she even placed a “backpack emitting smoke” into her own vehicle to make everything look extra-terroristic. She faces up to eight years in prison, where we at least hope she is able to lose some weight.
COVID-19 ROUNDUP: PUBLIC FLOGGINGS, DEAD DAD, STIMULUS PORN, CHINESE RACISM, AND FREDO CUOMO
As the novel coronavirus eats its way across planet Earth, human nature shows no signs of improving.
It’s likely that fewer than one in ten people can identify Indonesia as the world’s largest Muslim nation. In this hummus-slurping amalgamation of 17,000 islands straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the only province that practices full-blown Sharia law is Aceh, which was struck particularly hard by 2004’s tsunami because God clearly isn’t a Muslim. It is in Aceh where the local imams say that public floggings must continue despite social-distancing rules related to coronavirus. At a recent public whipping—yes, they actually have them there, which immediately places Aceh on our bucket list—about a dozen rubberneckers watched four men each receive 40 lashes for drinking alcohol and an unmarried couple get caned for practicing carnal indiscretions in a motel room. If anyone has even a smartphone recording of this, please contact us. Let’s deal.
We recently covered the case of a rabbi who said COVID-19 was God’s punishment for homosexuality, only for the raging fag to come down with the disease. In other “should have kept your mouth shut, or we wouldn’t be gloating now” news, an Ohio man who called “bullshit” on the entire pandemic has died of this bullshit virus. John W. McDaniel, 60, responded on social media in mid-March to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order thusly:
If what I’m hearing is true, that DeWine has ordered all bars and restaurants to be closed, I say bullshit! He doesn’t have that authority. If you are paranoid about getting sick just don’t go out. It shouldn’t keep those of us from living our lives. The madness has to stop….Does anybody have the guts to say this Covid19 is a political ploy? Asking for a friend. Prove me wrong.
OK, well, now you’re dead of COVID-19. What more proof do you need?
As the $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks start dribbling out across America, many citizens are blowing the dough on drugs and porn.
According to a survey by WalletHub—no, we’ve never heard of them, either, so take it all with a shaker of salt—an estimated 24 million Americans have spent at least some of their “stimulus” money to stimulate themselves with alcohol, tobacco, and weed. And according to the live-model porn site Cams.com, they’ve experienced a 22% spike in usage ever since the stimulus checks started rollin’ into the masturbators’ grubby hands. In Washington State, which has been especially hard hit by the virus, cam rentals surged over 200%.
As unfortunate as it sounds, even the ancient Roman elders knew that a public that is numbed on intoxicants and sex is far less likely to riot. Sexual stimulation may have been the point of these stimulus checks after all. Never forget that at the end of the day, our rulers understand what animals we really are.
Everyone who knows how icy-cold Asians can be realizes that when China gets done with Africa, King Leopold will look like Mister Rogers by comparison. That’s why it comes as no surprise to hear that in China—the place where this new Chinese Virus originated—African migrants are complaining of discrimination and even a McDonald’s that has a sign reading “black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.” Our only takeaway from this is to wonder how a native Chinese speaker would pronounce the English phrase “black people”—would it sound anything like what we imagine the Japanese pronunciation would be, which is along the lines of “brack peeper”?
Last summer we mentioned how Chris Cuomo tried to bully some New York douchebag at a bar, only proving what a mega-douchebag Cuomo is in the process. In his eternal quest to out-douche himself, Cuomo recently took to livestreaming from his own basement, claiming he was being quarantined from his own family due to testing positive for novel coronavirus. The “quarantine” was a hoax—Cuomo was found about a week ago rubbing elbows in East Hampton without a mask and referring to someone as a “jackass loser fat-tire biker” for being intrepid enough to ask about what happened with the whole “quarantine” shtick. Showing that he is clearly a member of a protected and insurgent La Cosa Nostra syndicate that threatens to hijack the US presidency if it is not stopped in its tracks NOW, Cuomo informed the chubby biker that “I can do what I want.”
Not in America, Fredo. You are surrounded on every side by jackass loser fat-tire bikers.
The front page of the New York Post on the 20th of April, 2020, said it all: a large crowd in front of a Brooklyn barbershop being dispersed by police after a riotous party. There was no social distancing, just glum faces full of aggression and contempt for the fuzz. There was not a single white face among them. So far, so bad. Let’s skip now to remarks by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both are calling the epidemic a historical injustice, with a flawed health system designed to help the rich. The Queens Congress lassie, as opportunistic as Fagin of Oliver Twist fame, is demanding reparations for “racism and discrimination built into public policies that make the pandemic worse for blacks.”
Demands for slavery reparations have been around for some time, but in the beginning no serious person took them very seriously. But race hustlers smelled a good one early on and kept clamoring. Reparations for slavery became a subject for debate, and Sulzberger minions followed the Führer’s orders and gave the subject lots of space and approval in the NY Times. Suddenly even late arrivals from Africa were demanding moola and claiming family connections to those shipped over by Arabs 400 years ago.
Now we have the virus, and boy, does this open up opportunities for the Al Sharptons of this world to get their mitts on federal funds. Which brings me back to the cover photo of the New York Post. The crowd was either black or Hispanic, mostly young, and had been partying all night. Perhaps more than fifty crowded into a small barbershop, drinking, sniffing, and smoking pot. Do any of these individuals deserve reparations because the virus is obviously racist and discriminates against them twice as much as it does against white? I would answer in the affirmative, but not for the reasons Jesse or Alexandria might think. I would afford them reparations for being among the dumbest on earth, because stupidity can be as lethal as the Chinese virus, and from the looks of it, stupidity is raging among blacks and Hispanics in the boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx in the great state of New York.
Mind you, Jewish people have never been accused of being stupid, but there are recent examples right here in the Empire State as well, where the Hasidic community tried to emulate their black and brown cousins by disregarding the laws of social distancing even more blatantly than their reparations-seeking relatives. When the fuzz ordered a large group of Hasids to disperse at a funeral, the cops were spat upon. In fact, a firefighter by the name of Omar Sattar, a Muslim—I know, it’s a contradiction in terms, Muslims prefer to set fires rather than to fight them—was attacked by three members of the Hasidic sect and spat upon, coming down with the virus as a result. The police did not follow up, and I don’t really blame them. The Hasids are as famous for their hygiene as Puerto Ricans are overrepresented in the Almanach de Gotha.
Never mind. Such are the joys of race and religious hustling by the usual suspects. As the economy—which is the sum of all our livelihoods—goes down Swanee, the race hustlers will up their demands for reparations. America is now a totally different country from the one I first fell in love with back in the late ’40s. First of all it looks very different, especially if one lives in an American city. At times it almost feels third-world. More freebie than free enterprise. A couple of years ago I had back-to-back lunches with Steve Bannon, who had just left the Trump administration. Steve is a straight shooter. He dismissed all my complaints and fears about immigration by telling me they were secondary to the threat China posed to the free world. As it turns out, Steve Bannon was right. This epidemic should help China inch ahead of Uncle Sam, which is the great Chinese dream since always. I’m only glad that at least Donald Trump listened to Steve. We shall see what we shall see. Perhaps living under a Chinese superpower will not be as bad as Steve says. Sleepy Joe Biden will read us stories at night from the White House and make us all feel better.
Interviewed recently about COVID-19, a subject on which I am now, like only 1,500,000,000 others in the world, an expert, I was asked as a last question whether I thought that any good would come of it. I am afraid I was not quick enough (I am getting on in age) to answer, “The end of mass tourism.”
Now of course I understand that my answer, if I had given it, would have sounded callow and snobbish. I believe that tourism is one of the largest industries in the world, if not the largest, and millions of people must therefore depend on it for a living. For them, the end of tourism would be a personal catastrophe. But the fact remains that, as far as I am concerned, most places worth going to are not worth going to because of the numbers of people who go to them. A crowd can turn a paradise into a hell.
No one can be certain of what the future will bring, and one must never underestimate the power and effect of amnesia in human affairs: What obsesses us now may be forgotten tomorrow, and insofar as lessons are learned from experience, they are often the wrong ones. But for the moment it does seem as if air travel in its pre-COVID incarnation is unlikely to resume precisely as before. The middle seats of rows may be removed; cheap flights, which made it as cheap to cross half the world as to take a taxi to the airport, will be a thing of the past. Airports that had passing through them every year the equivalent of the population of a fairly large country will be much less crowded or frequented, and no future passenger will be much the unhappier for it. I have met no one who said, “I am really looking forward to going to the airport because it has such a lovely atmosphere and it is delightful to mix with such crowds of people.”
I have always found mass tourism a little puzzling. To go to the effort of traveling, which is increasingly onerous and unpleasant, and then to demand the same kind of food as you have at home seems distinctly odd to me. Cultural tourism is a bit odd too. People who don’t give a moment’s thought to the visual arts for, say, three hundred and fifty days a year suddenly experience an urge to join a procession, a bit like those caterpillars that congregate by the million and devastate the countryside, through a famous art gallery, say the Louvre. They make a beeline for the pictures they have been told to make a beeline for, and when they get there they can’t see them for all the others who are doing the same. It can’t be enjoyable; it is more like performing a bureaucratic duty, like ticking off a box on some footling form devised by a committee of bureaucrats. Compared with this, coal-mining must be fun.
I was once alerted to the absurdity of mass cultural tourism by something I noticed in the Prado in Madrid, which is my favorite of all the large art galleries. When El Coloso was thought to have been by Goya, large and reverent crowds of people gathered before it and tried to have exquisite feelings, as they were supposed to have whenever they found themselves in front of a certified masterpiece.
But then art historians at the Prado made a discovery: that El Coloso was not by Goya after all, but by an inferior follower of his. Not only did the art historians discover this important fact, but they said that the picture was obviously not by Goya—though, apparently, it had not been obvious to anyone for two hundred years. Obviousness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Having been demoted to an inferior status, the picture was physically removed from its place of honor to a more modest location in a corner, where it then attracted no attention whatever. No more did crowds stand before it reverently, having sublime feelings. On the contrary, people walked past it as if it were no longer worthy of the slightest notice. It had been taken off the list of things to see, so to speak.
This strange change in the picture’s fortunes, or status, naturally caused me to wonder what had drawn such crowds to the picture in the first place. Of course, it is a dramatic, even melodramatic, work of a kind to attract the salacious or even the vicious. But if that had been its principal attraction, it would still be just as attractive, for the picture itself had not changed. What had changed was the withdrawal of its good housekeeping seal of quality. It was no longer on the list of things that one must see before leaving the Prado, Madrid, Spain, or Europe.
Poor tourists (of the Prado-visiting kind)! They are not really enjoying themselves at all; their tourism is but the extension of office work by other means. If the increase in airfares consequent upon the epidemic releases them from their terrible duty to perform sightseeing duties so far from home, at such great effort and with neither pleasure nor instruction to show for it, the virus will at least have done some slight good for human welfare, infinitesimal as it may be by comparison with the devastation it, or our response to it, has caused.
There has been a lot of slightly unctuous commentary recently about how the lockdown has taught us that many of the things that we previously thought were essential to our lives were actually of no importance whatever. From now on we shall live more simply, they say, our values will be better and less materialistic, etc., etc.; in short that, were Pascal to return, he would no longer be able to say that the problems of the world derived from our inability to stay quietly in a room, because we are now perfectly able to do so thanks to our recent experience of isolation. I don’t really believe it. Nothing, especially improvement, is forever, and most things aren’t even for very long. Mass tourism will one day be back—alas.
“War is the health of the state,” wrote the progressive Randolph Bourne during the First World War, after which he succumbed to the Spanish flu.
America’s war on the coronavirus pandemic promises to be no exception to the axiom. However long this war requires, the gargantuan state will almost surely emerge triumphant.
Currently, the major expenditures of the U.S. government, as well as a growing share of total federal spending, are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
None of these programs will be curtailed or reduced this year or next. And if the Democrats win in November, the nation will likely take a great leap forward – toward national health insurance.
Republicans are calling for a suspension until 2021 of payroll taxes used to finance Social Security and Medicare. While that would provide an economic stimulus, it would also blow a huge hole in federal revenue and further enlarge the deficit and national debt.
Even before the virus struck with full force in March, that deficit was projected at or near $1 trillion — not only for fiscal year 2020 but for every year of the new decade.
The next major item of the budget is defense, considered untouchable to the Republican Party. Hence a confident prediction: This generation will never again see a budget deficit smaller than $1 trillion.
Indeed, the $2 trillion lately voted on to save businesses and keep paychecks going to workers will lift the deficit for 2020 above $3 trillion.
As of March 1, 2020, the nation was at full employment, with the lowest jobless rates among women and minorities in our history.
Less than two months later, 26 million Americans are out of work.
These workers will soon begin picking up unemployment checks, a new burden on the federal budget, to which will be added the cost of expanding food stamps, rent supplements and welfare payments.
Though Harvard, with its $41 billion endowment, was shamed into returning the $8.7 million in bailout money coming its way, does anyone believe the stream of U.S. revenue going into higher education will ever fall back to what it was before the pandemic?
As for that $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, is it more likely that vast sum will be paid back by those who incurred the debt, or that it will be piled atop the federal debt?
Congress has already voted to bail out our stressed hospitals.
Now, standing patiently in line for their bailouts, are the states — and America’s cities and counties. These governmental units are virtually all certain to face falling tax revenue and expanded social demands, leading to exploding deficits.
Their case: You bailed out the businesses and the hospitals. What about us? When does our turn come?
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, anticipating the mammoth bill for bailing out states and cities, has suggested that governments be allowed to use bankruptcy laws to write down and write off their debts.
Probably not going to happen.
Recall what happened when President Gerald Ford told New York City that Uncle Sam was not going to bail out the Big Apple. “Ford to City: Drop Dead!” was the famous headline splashed across the front page of the New York Daily News.
Ford recanted but did not recover. His perceived callousness in the face of New York City’s crisis — though that fiscal crisis was entirely of the city’s own making — factored into his defeat by Jimmy Carter.
Donald Trump is not going to give Red State governors facing gaping budget deficits because of the coronavirus crisis the wet mitten across the face. For his political future will be decided by those states.
Still, the cost of bailing them out promises to be enormous and to create a precedent for bailouts without end.
Then there is the clamor, already begun, from, and on behalf of, the Third World. The IMF, World Bank and the West, it is said, have a moral obligation to replace revenue shortfalls these nations are facing from lost remittances from their workers in the developed world.
There is talk of hundreds of billions of dollars in monetary transfers from the world’s North to the world’s South.
Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist once famously declared: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
What is more likely to be drowned in that bathtub is the philosophy: “That government governs best which governs least.”
What is more likely to be drowned in that bathtub is the philosophy that champions small government, the primacy of the private sector, a belief in “pay as you go,” and that “balanced budgets” are the ideal.
Call it Robert Taft conservatism. Today, it appears irrelevant.
Indeed, the one certain victor in the coronavirus pandemic war will likely be Big Government. As John Donne wrote, “No winter shall abate this spring’s increase.”