When Doctors Considered Hand Washing A Baseless Conspiracy Theory

175 years ago, when the practices of western science were just starting to catch on, one rebel doctor proposed the novel idea of hand washing to his colleagues as a means of preventing infection from spreading throughout his hospital, in-turn making himself the most ridiculed pariah of his day. In this case, the infection that was spreading around was called Childbed Fever, and it was killing women in droves all over Europe. Mortality rates for new mothers in 1846 were horrific. In some areas the death rate was as high as 30%. Pregnant women would be healthy until the moment of delivery, then suddenly become ill with a worrying number of them dying directly thereafter. Nobody at the time felt the need to investigate this death streak until one “crackpot” obstetrician sought to prevent these unnecessary deaths through the unorthodox strategy of hand washing. He succeeded brilliantly in his efforts, lowering the death rate to nearly zero, only to be hated by the entire medical establishment as a result.

When Ignaz Semmelweis became the chief obstetrician in charge of two maternity clinics at the Vienna General Hospital, he couldn’t believe how many women had dropped dead immediately after childbirth. Unknown to him at the time, Vienna General would serve as the perfect test site for corroborating his hypothesis of infection control.

The primary clinic was a medical school where women were treated by experienced doctors and resident medical students. The second clinic, right next door to the first, offered free medical care to poor women who would often serve as midwives in return for the clinic’s charity.

Vienna General Hospital, 1793, Schaffer

Interestingly, Semmelweis immediately noticed there were considerably more deaths in the ward staffed by doctors and medical students than in the ward staffed by midwives. The lethal culprit was known to the doctors as as Childbed Fever or Puerperal Fever.

Childbed Fever burned through the primary clinic like an un-contained forest fire, but was mysteriously nonexistent in the charity clinic. But how could it be that women in the clinic staffed by experienced doctors and trained medical students died at a rate nearly five times higher than women in the midwives’ clinic?

After rumors began to inevitably reach the general public regarding these horrific mortality rates, women admitted to the primary clinic often begged their doctors for a transfer to the midwife clinic.

Though established medical consensus didn’t seem to think much of it at the time, Semmelweis felt strongly that childbirth should not be killing as many mothers as it was, given that the mortality rate at adjacent maternity ward was only 2%, or 1 in every 50. It wasn’t just hurting the reputation of the hospital, it was killing people who shouldn’t be dying if the doctors were doing their jobs properly.

After all, first, do no harm.

So why did the doctors’ clinic suffer a much higher death rate than the midwife clinic?

Confusingly, the charity clinic was far more crowded than the primary clinic, yet suffered fewer deaths from infection. Both clinics stood right next to each other, yet the infection wasn’t spreading into the charity clinic next door.

The only real difference he could find between the two clinics involved childbirth posture, i.e. women in the charity clinic gave birth on their side while women in the doctor’s hospital gave birth on their back. Semmelweis introduced the charity clinic’s procedure into the primary hospital, along with several other changes, to limit as many known variables as possible. Unfortunately, all of these initial measures had zero effect. Women were still dying in troubling numbers in the primary ward. All of the obvious alterations yielded inconclusive results, necessitating an even more thorough investigation.

Digging a bit deeper, Semmelweis observed how doctors in the primary clinic began their daily schedule in the morgue. They performed autopsies on corpses of women who had died the previous day and prepared those bodies for burial. Then they would move on to treating other patients with infections or diseases before finally arriving at the maternity ward to deliver babies. Semmelweis noticed how dirty their hands were following the morning morgue routine, and was appalled by the staff’s indifference toward filth generally. These doctors’ hands were so disgusting following autopsy that a fowl odor followed them around for the rest of the day, and they never washed their hands before examining other patients. Orthodox medical opinion at the time simply didn’t call for it.

But Semmelweis recognized what seems to us today a relatively obvious pattern, and began to notice how infection spreads patient to patient through physical contact. It seemed evident that the doctors must be carrying something around on their hands from handling dead bodies, and the cross contamination of that filth seemed to spell certain doom for healthy mothers.

But germ theory had not yet caught on in the medical community, so there was no established vocabulary upon which to lay down such outlandish claims. On top of that, the standard procedure at the time for treating Childbed Fever involved bleeding the patient, dramatically accelerating the decline of patients who were barely holding on. Women rarely survived the bleeding, but the doctors kept doing it anyway.

Semmelweis developed and implemented a strict policy of hand washing with disinfectant before every patient contact. He called a meeting to make the entire medical staff aware of his potentially life-saving hypothesis. He appealed to a sense of hygiene as well, urging doctors to simply wash their hands after working in the morgue and to to be more mindful of cleanliness in principle.

They all said he was crazy, but lo and behold, a miracle: the death rate of mothers in obstetrics plummeted to such a statistically significant degree that it constituted a revolution in science. After implementing these procedures the death rate dropped from one in 6, to one in 50. The proof was there for all to see. “Crazy” Dr. Semmelweis turned out to be 100% correct. The simple practice of washing hands and equipment between patients significantly reduced the hospital death rate to practically zero, and did so literally overnight. The cure was discovered. All you have to do is wash your hands.

But the medical fraternity was much less enthusiastic about this discovery. Some doctors felt deeply offended by the suggestion that their life-saving hands could possibly transmit fatal diseases. Semmelweis’ observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time, creating political friction within the institution. The other doctors became irritated with the unintended political consequences that this revolution in science created because it had the effect of removing the spotlight from them, and even vilified them.

Who did this tourist from Budapest think he was to embarrass the entire profession like this?

Semmelweis had crossed a line, and even though it was a line that needed crossing thus saving countless lives as a result, he paid for it dearly nonetheless. His perfectly reasonable suggestions were rejected and ridiculed by his contemporaries who considered antiseptic procedures unnecessarily extreme measures. When they pressed him for an acceptable scientific explanation for his findings, his hands-on evidence could never satisfy their unrelenting skepticism. The direct evidence was too anomalous for the medical bureaucracy, which required peer reviewed and authority approved white papers to be convinced that these drastic changes were indeed necesssary.

The evidence didn’t matter because what Semmelweis was proposing simply couldn’t be true. Tiny, invisible microorganisms were perceived as merely the delusions of crazy conspiracy theory types who will believe anything they hear. And appeals to ethics didn’t work either. Adherence to their Hippocratic oaths didn’t feel to them as though it could apply in this case. Ultimately, his contemporaries refused to believe him on the basis that they simply didn’t like him. He lacked tact and was often curt with others. He had violated laws, not of medicine, but of power.

The institution’s arrogance bewildered him. He couldn’t understand how professional healers could care less about their patients than they did their reputations and careers. An anger began to boil inside him, which only alienated him further. He became so enraged at the medical establishment’s failure to even consider a simple hand washing trial to save lives that he wrote venomous letters to medical journals accusing the doctors of murder, further isolating himself from his peers. In desperation he began passing out handbills in the street telling women to demand that their doctors wash their hands.

Semmelweis’ 1862 Open Letter to All Professors of Obstetrics

Semmelweis was able to finally provide proof of the connection between the morgue and the maternity rooms, albeit at a large cost. His friend and colleague Dr. Jakob Kolletschka was leading a medical student through autopsy procedures when the student accidentally punctured Jakob’s finger with a scalpel. Kolletschka subsequently came down with all of the hallmark symptoms of Childbed Fever before dying of septicemia a few days later. The connection was undeniable, and had cost the medical fraternity one of their own. The evidence seemed overwhelming in Ignaz’s favor.

But it didn’t matter. Ignaz had become a thorn in the profession’s side. He was fired and dismissed from the hospital for political reasons.

After making some very influential enemies, he lost his job and spent years as an unemployed activist trying to spread the wisdom about the effectiveness of hand washing and hygiene throughout the medical system. His advice was largely disregarded by medical authorities and Semmelweis began to deteriorate mentally, possibly from a disease like syphilis or Alzheimer’s, or possibly just from the strain of fighting for years to change a non-cooperative system. In any event, the other doctors returned to doing as they had always done, ignoring the temporarily adopted hand washing protocols between the morgue and obstetrics. And surprise, surprise, the number of mothers dying during childbirth again began to climb. But that didn’t matter to the other doctors and nurses. Dr. Semmelweis had embarrassed them, and filled them with jealousy, which turned out to be far more influential than the evidence right in front of their faces that he was absolutely right. What was true simply didn’t matter.

In 1865, nearly 20 years after his breakthrough, he was committed to an insane asylum in Vienna. He died two weeks later from a gangrenous wound on his right hand from a struggle with guards. Death caused by septicemia; sepsis; blood poisoning. The very disease he had spent his career trying to prevent. A disease typically caused by inadequate sanitation during medical procedures; is this perhaps the very definition of irony, or simply as George Carlin would call it, an “oddly poetic coincidence”?

As Thomas Kuhn has shown in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, an exact measurement of the extent of stupidity among the learned is provided by the fact that every scientific revolution seems to take a generation. This one-generation time-lag seems to be caused by the fact that elderly scientists hardly ever accept a new model, however good it is, and the revolution is only fully accomplished when a second generation, with less prejudice, examines both the new and old models objectively and determines that the new is more useful.

Hagbard Celine, The Abolition Of Stupidity

The affair feels reminiscent of the film Idiocracy, wherein our protagonist Joe explains to the Presidential cabinet of the future that their food crops are all failing because they’re watering them with a sports drink instead of water. The societal assumption of the day has institutionalized the idea that plants “crave” electrolytes, and over time minerals began to gradually build up in the soil until nothing would grow, resulting in a great dust bowl. Joe recognized the connection between the sports drink and the dust bowl, but couldn’t get anybody else to even entertain the idea. After all, everybody knows that the sports drink has “what plants crave.” But even though he was explicitly appointed to his position of fixing the dust bowl on the basis of being the smartest guy in the world, the idea of watering crops with only water just seemed a bridge too far. “Water?” They asked. “Like out of the toilet?” Since nobody had ever seen plants grow out of toilets, Joe’s ideas seemed absurd and offensive. So “after several hours, Joe finally gave up on logic and reason, and simply told the cabinet that he could talk to plants and that they wanted water.

The doctors of 175 years ago weren’t that different from the doctors of Idiocracy’s tomorrow. Most of them smugly assumed they knew what they were doing and expressed the same irrational hostility to new ideas as Semmelweis’ colleagues. The doctors and scientists of the nineteenth century dismissed hand washing as a practice because the invisible boogieman presented seemed ridiculous. Semmelweis’ reformations were interpreted not as necessary advancements in the field of medicine, but as unhinged attacks upon the prestige of the medical profession. This resentment toward innovation constitutes the very definition of an anti-scientific attitude, yet accurately describes the behavior of many scientific professionals.

Rupert Sheldrake exposed the materialist religion of Scientism as an ideology of ignorance that deliberately ignores important evidence to the benefit of multinational agendas and to the detriment of everyone else. Scientism is a belief system faithfully practiced through the lens of “I don’t believe in God, I believe in Science.”

Sheldrake elaborates:

The biggest scientific delusion of all is that science already knows the answers. The details still need working out but, in principle, the fundamental questions are settled.

Contemporary science is based on the claim that all reality is material or physical. There is no reality but material reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

These beliefs are powerful, not because most scientists think about them critically but because they don’t. The facts of science are real enough; so are the techniques that scientists use, and the technologies based on them. But the belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a nineteenth-century ideology…

For more than two hundred years, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex machines, minds are nothing but brain activity and nature is purposeless. Believers are sustained by the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance “promissory materialism” because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made.”

~Rupert Sheldrake, The Science Delusion (7, 9)

How far from its original intentions has science deviated that it ceases to practice the scientific method, instead opting to cherry-pick data and proclaim consensus on political bases?

We tend to fancy ourselves as enlightened, free of all of the stupidity of the past. Contemporary minds comfortably ridicule the idiots of yesteryear who simply lacked the enlightenment we enjoy today. The mindset of Scientism tends to reject novel observations, but many of us are unable to see the blatant politicization of science, at all points of history, through a media smokescreen that portrays our institutions as infallible organizations run by incorruptible heroes.

But the truth is that the arrogance of Western Scientism has always existed as an ever-present tax on the free thought of medical professionals. In the 1940’s and 50’s everybody knew that Camel brand cigarettes were recommended by the medical profession, because the advertising of the day proclaimed that “more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” Few questioned the consensus because it seemed inconceivable that the hallowed medical establishment might ever steer us wrong.

And we never seem to learn. Pharmaceutical companies convinced doctors throughout the 1980’s to prescribe methamphetamine for weight-loss, and still, few questioned the consensus.

Throughout the 20th Century, western popular culture hailed the scientific advancements of Monsanto as modern day miracles. And no matter how many people were injured or killed by PCBs, DDT, Roundup, et cetera, contemporary orthodox Scientific opinion consistently legitimized the industry while all third party studies were roundly dismissed by corporate medical journals as “junk science.” Publications that revealed this fact became labeled “fake news” outlets. The journalists and whistleblowers who stepped forward were labelled unhinged conspiracy theorists. Industry-funded studies will always claim that their products are safe because they need to make a profit. And if you want to feel good about using that product, industry cronies have co-opted our regulatory agencies and given themselves stamps of approval. This is how major corporations easily control the dissemination of scientific data to obfuscate obvious truths; with a confusing web of lawyerly lies.

The truth is that human beings as a species have almost always been wrong about almost every single thing that we ever thought was right, for the entirety of recorded human history. Wrong! Wrong! Oops! Fail! Missed again! Get ya next time! Wrong! Earth is flat! Burning witches! Slavery! Reefer madness! They thought Liberace was straight and Bruce Jenner was a man! Wrong! That should be inspiring. Occasionally here and again someone’s right about something, and they have a genius idea, and they’re right. And maybe you have a genius idea. So don’t be afraid to put it out there. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, because that’s what we do.”

~Doug Stanhope

The very idea that there could be an established medical consensus to begin with seems a fickle proposition. Learning has nothing to do with consensus because learning isn’t about agreement. Neither is the scientific method. Universal consensus would be inherently antithetical to the process of science itself, since any claim made by science is supposed to be made with the understanding that it might be falsifiable later, no matter how convinced we are at the time of any absolute or foolproof validity.

But the corporate monolith that has become Scientism deliberately ignores authentic studies performed in accordance with the scientific method because it believes it already has all of the answers, and if the studies don’t align with what the technocrats say is true, our modern establishment rejects them. As Semmelweis was rejected.

Scientism’s Myth of Progress assures us of how stupid people were in the past no matter what period of history it exists within. What’s interesting is how we seem to forget how this phenomenon of ever-present stupidity continues occurring around us all the time in the present moment without us ever noticing. We know that Erin Brockovich happened way back then, but don’t seem to notice the Alberta Tar Sands a few hundred miles to the north of us right now. Are the emotions, ambitions and delusions of laboratory laborers really any different today than they were in the time of Semmelweis, 175 years ago?

The hubris that dominates modern Scientism also echoes the fate of Galileo, when the ball of persecution was still in the Church’s court. His innovative discoveries were viewed by the Vatican as a challenge to political power and thus castigated as blasphemous heresy. And when it finally became obvious that his observations were simply fundamental, the pendulum of persecution started swinging the other direction, giving way to a subjugation and prejudice of an identical, but much more insidious nature. This new subjugation is that of Scientific Materialism, which transforms the method of free inquiry engendered in the original intentions of the scientific method into a dogmatic religion that denounces unpopular evidence that doesn’t align with lucrative political agendas.

The real shortcoming of Scientific Materialism is the belief in one and only one objective reality. A reality that exists “out there” and that we can all agree upon. Right-think. Just like every other fundamentalist religion that has ever existed, Scientism also proclaims itself to be the one true way. True believers of the Scientific dogma believe arrogantly that theirs is the only “correct view” and any perception that challenges or runs counter to this view is useless and laughable. Yet they are unable to see how their mentality is identical to the intolerance of religious fanaticism.

True believers tend to be ignorant, not in spite of their highly specialized training, but because of it. Patterns that seem obvious to many others are dismissed by the institution of almighty Scientism, which relies instead on the pathological neurosis of “coincidence theory” to explain away data that doesn’t fit the proper worldview. In another deviation from the scientific method, Scientism relies heavily upon confirmation bias, the tendency to notice and assign significance to observations that confirm our beliefs, while filtering out or rationalizing away observations that do not fit with our prior beliefs and expectations.

“I believe that the mechanical model for understanding nature is a metaphor that science has got stuck on : this prevailing idea that humans are machines, biological robots with computer-like brains. This belief will, to the advanced species that we are evolving into, seem as absurd as the flat-earth theories that we scoff at now… The time we live in now is similar, because the mechanistic, reductive dogma of “Scientism” – the belief that everything in the world can be explained using the scientific method – is about to be similarly overthrown. There are just too many questions unanswered and unanswerable. Consciousness, the consciousness that is now experiencing these words, has no explanation in science. Scientists believe that matter has no consciousness and that consciousness comes from matter, that 70 percent of the universe is made from dark matter, although they don’t know what that is, what it does, or anything. Just that it’s there. Science requires faith, the way religion does. Science requires acceptance of metaphor, just the way religion does.”
~Russell Brand, Revolution (48, 49)

Many readers are no doubt familiar with a slogan plastered across yard signs and T-shirts over the last few years which proudly proclaim “We believe in science.” But science is not a system compatible with belief. A cursory understanding of the scientific method reveals that science is a system of hypothesis and examination, a system that can only be perverted by such amorphous concepts as belief and faith. A more apt and encouraging slogan might be “We understand science.” However, anyone who drops cash on a sign proclaiming their “belief” in a system that is precisely intended to circumvent the need for belief, likely does not understand science. The slogan itself is inherently self defeating. Nevertheless, such badges are conspicuously displayed as a virtue signaling status symbol proudly proclaiming “My tribe is right.”

In fact, it seems a preexisting superiority complex characterizes those attracted towards materialism as a means to express a deep-seated disregard for others. This complex is attracted to the dogmatism of a Scientific religion as a means to condescend to those regarded as inferior and thus unable to argue with complicated terminology and specialized vernacular. Skeptics are regarded as lacking the superior mental faculties bestowed to our authorities by sanctimonious Scientism. Such individuals are prone to forget that the “Big Bang” is nothing more than another invention of the human imagination.

Terrence McKenna once proclaimed Science’s all-encompassing stance is “Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest,” with the miracle in this case signifying the spontaneous appearance of all existing matter, energy, phenomena and consciousness in a single instant from nothing. “If you can believe that,” Terrence said, “you can believe anything.” It cannot yet be proven, but to even hint at questioning its validity invites accusation of blasphemy against Holy Mother Science, after which you can anticipate ad hominem attacks against your character for going against the orthodox wisdom of the Scientific establishment; just like what happened to Semmelweis. If jealousy and vanity can influence science so readily, what other human follies can influence science?

What makes our society so perpetually certain that we have everything figured out this time?

Establishment hacks have never stopped dismissing people like Semmelweis as paranoid and delusional, even dangerous. Today he would be labeled as suffering from Illusory Pattern Perception, the modern DSM diagnosis for people who are making too many connections. Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars, and Bethany McLean’s The Smartest Guys In The Room were all based on publishing efforts that were roundly dismissed by establishment authorities as “baseless conspiracy theories.” But large numbers of people are now aware of American troops in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, the existence of JSOC, and the scandals of ENRON, only because of the courageous efforts of these three authors, respectively.

Three things cannot be long hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth. Although Semmelweis’ discoveries were persecuted during his own lifetime, his mark was likewise impossible to erase. Just a few years after his death, the practice of hand washing finally earned widespread acceptance when French microbiologist Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease. Building on the work of Semmelweis, Pasteur completed a comprehensive theory, couched in language that his colleagues could accept. Today we recognize Semmelweis as a pioneer and one of the founders of antiseptic procedures. But authorities at the time were convinced he was a kook.

If science as a discipline is to be practiced ethically, its initiates must retain an inherent suspicion of any and all forms of imposed authority. Experimental evidence shows that authorities throughout history regularly attempt to smear the character of anyone in possession of truths that are corrosive to the existing power structure. Countless innovative pioneers are silenced and ridiculed every day, ultimately on the same basis that Semmelweis was canceled from Vienna; not because they’re wrong, but because they’re unpopular with people at the top.

But sometimes it’s good to be unpopular with the authorities. Semmelweis saved so many lives that he became known to greater society as the “Savior of Mothers.” We don’t respect him because he followed the rules. We don’t remember his name because he fell in line and did as he was told. Today his face appears on coins and posters and his name on streets and libraries because he remained true to the Hippocratic Oath; because he exhibited courage by testing his hypothesis against existing dogma at the expense of his own reputation; because he gave his life in order that others might be saved. We could learn from Semmelweis’ example, put down the slogans and platitudes, question instead of believe, and stand up for what’s right, even if it costs us.

Semmelweis 50 Euro piece, introduced 2008, Austrian Mint

No wonder George Bernard Shaw proclaimed that all great truths begin as blasphemies. Doing what is right is not always popular and doing what is popular is not always right, but history tends to vindicate truth tellers. It wouldn’t kill us to lend an ear to controversial views that authorities deem as objectionable. Quite the contrary, our lives might very well depend on it. After all, according to Aristotle, it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without necessarily accepting it.

Ignaz Semmelweis

The Spirit Of Taking: Fat Cat Miser Nick Checota Attempts to Pull Himself Up By YOUR Bootstraps

Dissatisfied with crippling the local music scene, transplant millionaire Nick Checota now demands Missoula’s charity so he can remain affluent. He appeared in multiple media spots last week to finally concede at last what his TIF opponents saw coming over a year ago: the imminent, systemic financial collapse of the entertainment industry.

“The industry as a whole is in almost catastrophic state right now, said Checota. “And without some support, coming within the next 6-to-8 weeks, you’re going to see venues collapse all over the United States.”

Framing his own financial emergency as a community problem, Nick alleges that Missoula area businesses have collectively suffered an estimated $100 million in losses:

One-dollar on a ticket has $10 of restaurants, bars beverage merchandise — all those different pieces. All of that’s lost,” Checota said.And if you think of Logjam, I mean, we sold $10 million worth of tickets last year. And if you follow that logic it is a huge number that is now absent from the economy and total spending — in total, multiplier.”

But Nick’s self-serving math doesn’t quite add up. Last year local restaurants were shutting down in droves despite record concert sales by Nick’s Logjam Empire.

Long before the economic effects of the pandemic began to manifest, more than a dozen Missoula institutions were forced to shut down due to property tax increases. Those exploding taxes are a direct result of the City’s misuse and abuse of public funds with elaborate Tax Increment Financing schemes that enrich wealthy developers like Checota at the detriment to and expense of the Missoula community. So while readers may appreciate Nick’s simplistic logic, the claim that concert goers are critical to keeping restaurants alive is clearly bogus.

While Checota gloats about how he did a whopping $10 million just in ticket sales last year, he simultaneously implies that anything less than that is unacceptable. But most Missoula businesses didn’t pull in anything close to that kind of profit last year. $10 million is a lot of money in Montana. And that figure, massive as it is already, does not include alcohol sales, which is the real cash cow in Nick’s industry.

Checota’s losses do not equate to Missoula’s losses, no matter how indispensable he thinks he is to the local economy. On the contrary, they signal a possible return to normal. In the absence of high-priced events Missoula’s dwindling local music scene might potentially recover. Local bands could again reclaim a prominent position in the limited attention span of post-pandemic entertainment.

Checota’s insatiable greed has made him a laughingstock of Zoo Town

With every act Nick’s reputation dives lower and lower to the point that the only friends he seems to have left are the local propagandists he pays for his PR spots. Checota has, after all, made a lot of enemies since he arrived in Missoula, and not without good reason. He’s inflicted measurable harm on the Garden City. This harm includes a widely-publicized incident where Logjam literally destroyed the Osprey stadium turf with an overcrowded Mumford and Sons concert (and made Missoula taxpayers pay for the damage), thus prompting litigation by Big Sky Professional Baseball for severe financial losses. But more important and pernicious is the day-to-day metastasis of the Checota Empire and all its affiliate shell companies. Monopolizing Missoula’s live music scene was just the beginning.

Unlike every other venue in town, Checota snubbed local talent in his blind obsession to maximize short-term profits. No public figure is more directly responsible for the evisceration of Missoula’s local music scene than Nick Checota. Missoula used to be home to literally hundreds of bands from every part of the musical spectrum. In fact, Missoula hosted numerous music contests, including the Zoo Music Awards, Sean Kelly’s Top Of The Mic and KbandGA. It’s no coincidence that all of these competitions began to disappear following Checota’s acquisition of the Top Hat. The renovation of that venue transformed 134 Front Street from an iconic Missoula institution into the ominous headquarters for Nick’s pillaging of greater Missoula.

After purchasing the Top Hat in 2012, he bought the Wilma Theater and began driving out competing clubs and local bands. While many avid concertgoers justifiably welcomed the Checota-funded restoration of the crumbling Wilma Theater, the renovation of the historic concert space hasn’t been without drawbacks.

Articles in the Missoula Independent and Montana Kaimin allude to a consistent and annoying theme that emerged at Wilma concerts following Checota’s takeover. Performers, particularly opening acts, are forced to compete with the wall of sound from obnoxiously drunk and absurdly loud concertgoers who drown out the very performances they paid to see. The renovation of the theater space included an expansion and relocation of the bar, allowing concert attendees to get dangerously smashed without having to miss a note of the performance (except, of course, the notes that can’t be heard over their own raucous shouting).

From “Earning An Encore” by Dan Brooks, The Missoula Independent 18 AUG 2016

After the double-whammy of the Wilma and Top Hat put the pinch on various other downtown music venues, Logjam expanded its assault to include a direct offensive aimed at Big Sky Brewing’s limited concert placements. Checota built the Bonner Amphitheater to set his sights on gargantuan high-level touring acts and massive crowds, and when Big Sky expressed concern over Nick’s encroachment, he declared a boycott on Big Sky’s products. He deflected The Knitting Factory’s allegations of “anti-competitive practices” on shady legal technicalities. And on top of it all, he tried to extract more than $16 million from Missoula’s tax coffers to build yet another concert venue on top of his existing three.

And while he didn’t get his fancy events center, he did manage to convince Governor Bullock to give him a million dollars in “relief” this year. Checota’s behavior aligns with that of the super-rich nationwide as he attempts to fail upward. Another initiate of The Art of the Steal.

But perhaps the most revealing indication of Nick’s true feelings about the Missoula community comes through in his handling of our criticism. On facebook, Checota regularly bullies opponents of his projects, regardless of the validity of their concerns:

Life experience? Here’s betting Nick has never experienced the scourge of poverty.

And now Mr. Checota wants help from the community that he’s been fucking over ever since he slithered into town? Doesn’t he know he can’t go around antagonizing and threatening everyone without a single atonement and then ask us for help? Even Ebenezer Scrooge had to repent for his greed and cruelty before receiving redemption, and as you may recall from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s act of redemption was to SPEND money from his considerable fortune to help those around him; not stick his head out the window and demand even more money from a passing orphan.

The Missoula locals who expressed skepticism over the feasibility of the Riverfront Triangle were absolutely right in their appraisal of the situation last year. They warned that taxpayer-subsidized condos and theaters constitute the wrong direction in today’s volatile economic climate. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the wealthy to ignore that volatility any longer. Yet despite Nick Checota’s abysmal track record and detestable reputation, he still has the temerity to extend his hand out and beg for cash-strapped Missoulians to help line his silk pockets.

Be careful if you decide to drop a dollar in the Salvation Army’s bucket at the grocery store this Christmas. That fat bearded man ringing the bell for your charity could be Nick Checota in disguise.

Despite Logjam’s desperate attempts to depict itself as The Fountainhead at the top of Missoula’s trickle-down economy, of all the business closures in Missoula, Checota’s seems the least important – by far. After all, concerts are a luxury industry, particularly concerts for big-name acts. More to the point, while Nick whines about the music industry this holiday season, tens of millions of Americans are still staring down the barrel of foreclosures and evictions while millions more are packing into food banks just to feed their children. Call me crazy, but big-name concerts don’t seem to top the list of society’s priorities.

But even if all restrictions were lifted and concerts were suddenly allowed tomorrow, which bands are playing the Northwestern circuit right now? Why would any band tour when all the other venues around the country are likewise closing down? What exactly does this Tyrant of Tapas expect locals to do? Choke down some shit food at a dingy restaurant so he can stay in business? Elbow our way through an overcrowded bar so we can pay an absurd markup on locally brewed beers to further enrich this Miser of Moonshine? Drop a whole paycheck’s worth of our hard-earned cash on a single concert so Missoula’s smarmy Sultan of Sound can continue his corporate Jihad against the Missoula music scene? (In fairness, that “Sultan of Sound” joke might be a bit of a low blow, alluding as it does to the alleged shady origins of the Checota fortune from the scandalous activities of the Kuwaiti Finance House, but that’s a whole other Kettlehouse of fish.)

After everything this greedy Wisconsin millionaire has done we’re supposed to lend a generous ear and ask our representatives in Congress for an entertainment industry lifeline? That’s literally what Nick asked for on KPAX. This despite the fact that Checota already has more wealth than most of us could spend in a lifetime and it’s somehow never enough for him. He doesn’t care about the local music scene because he single-handedly kneecapped it. Like many big city types, Nick only cares about his precious money.

But Missoula is not a big city, no matter how much Checota and the other developers and their cronies in City Council want it to be. It’s still a small town. And in a small town, one cannot behave like a corporate scumfuck for very long before that reputation starts catching up with them.

And now, after years of unrepentant skullduggery, the shit chickens are finally coming home to roost. Could there be anyone less deserving of our charity and good will this holiday season than Mr. Checota?

Enjoy your retirement, Nick. Maybe it’s time you learned to code.

Sorry Ochenski: Biden Is Not Going To Save The Environment

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or part of the growing percentage of Americans who decline to identify themselves with either mainstream political party, it is important to remember that neither party could possibly be responsible for every one of our problems. And while Americans’ faith in the competence and honesty of their government representatives declines every year, blaming all the nation’s problems on the current Republican administration would be obtuse, myopic and stupid.

And yet that’s exactly what columnist George Ochenski did in The Missoulian this November 30th. In a piece titled, The damage done; a lesson for Republicans, Ochenski seems to insist that America’s environmental troubles stem from the Trump administration’s tearing up the environmental regulations, and that Biden will arrive on the scene like Captain Planet to save the world. One gets the feeling from this piece that the Berkeley Pitt itself was the doing of the Trump administration, and that Biden will transform Trump’s toxic tailings ponds into fine champagne. But if the Planeteers filling Biden’s cabinet are any indication, his administration won’t be fighting for the planet as much as for more corporate bailouts, unprecedented cuts to social security, and fresh new military interventions around the world.

Generally I’m skeptical of any argument that assumes a false binary. And there may be no greater example of dabbling in the delusion of duality than the act of waving pom-poms for either of America’s mainstream political polarities. The agendas of the banks and the military never shift regardless of who is in office because the role of the American president today is not to wield power, but to distract away from it.

Few real-life problems are simple and cut and dry, and yet even educated people often crave a simple solution. Similarly, educated people can often fall victim to the false-binary fairy tale and use it to justify grievous logical fallacies. In this case, the error involves assuming that all things Republican are automatically anti-environment.

Ochenski articulates his lessons for Republicans thusly:

“Make no mistake, it was battle royal to pass and enact, among a host of other foundational environmental laws, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and create the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to oversee the implementations of the regulations and use Superfund to address the worst of the nation’s environmental disasters.”

As George’s column indiscriminately waves a condescending finger at all Republicans, I couldn’t help but wonder whether he is aware of the fact that the regulatory agencies and reformations he mentions, such as Clean Air and Clean Water, were all put into place by one Richard Nixon – a Republican. Even the EPA itself was a creation of the Nixon administration.

And even though old George seems to think the only thing standing between us and a clean environment is Donald Trump, I remind Mr. Ochenski that it was W’s administration that nullified the Clean Water Act in 2005 – not Trump. It was called the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and included massive giveaways for some of the dirtiest industries on the planet. And a segment of that legislation has come to be known as the Halliburton Loophole because it provided Halliburton carte blanche to frack from sea to shining sea, thus nullifying whatever environmental gains were ostensibly made during said “battle royal”.

Vice President Cheney was Halliburton’s C.E.O. right up until the day he took office, and he arranged many lucrative contracts for his former company throughout his tenure on Capitol Hill, just like all the biggest companies in America do. Most politicians in D.C. cannot hear the pleas of the common people through the impenetrable cacophony thundering out of corporate America’s armies of lobbyists. Hence that Princeton study concluded scientifically and unequivocally in 2014 that America constitutes a textbook Oligarchy. Not a Republic, and certainly not a Democracy. Oligarchy.

Nevertheless, Ochenski further insults our intelligence by claiming that Biden is coming to rescue the environment from those evil Republicans:

“…no matter what a runaway Republican governor and legislature try to do in the way of environmental degradation, if they go too far, the Biden administration is certain to step in.”

Certain to step in? What makes old George so certain of that?

Biden was in the White House when the largest marine oil spill in history began to unfold à la Deepwater Horizon, and Obama’s DOJ netted zero prosecutions of those responsible. They could have gone after BP but they didn’t. Nor did they pursue litigation with Halliburton, the company responsible for deliberately fortifying the rigs with concrete mixtures that were known to be faulty. Did that “go too far”?

Remember when the Obama-Biden administration looked on while the oil industry assaulted water protectors with mercenaries at DAPL? Didn’t that go too far?

When Exxon’s Silvertip Pipeline leaked into the Yellowstone River in July of 2011, America was halfway into it’s third year of the Obama-Biden administration. Yet officials on the scene of the catastrophe told farmers who were directly affected by the spill that oil is organic so it was safe for livestock to eat, that oil is essentially a fertilizer, and that the grass would come back greener than ever. Was that too far?

Acting as though either mainstream political party has any agency apart from the agendas of their donors demonstrates intellectual laziness in the extreme.

If we really want to do something about the catastrophic damage done to the environment by the human species, we’d better do something about the illegal wars and military adventurism our imperial armadas wage on a daily basis around the world. There is no single facet of the American Empire that is more pollutionary than our military. And yet, there is no way for us to vote against military adventurism, is there? And in one of the most chilling draconian displays of military dominance imaginable, Obama-Biden prosecuted whistle blowers who revealed the horrifying extent of the war crimes perpetrated this empire, by inappropriately and repeatedly employing the Espionage Act to imprison them as de facto traitors. The Obama-Biden White House tortured Chelsea Manning and imprisoned John Kiriakou merely for revealing America’s crimes.

But somehow liberals weren’t able to perceive the countless crimes committed by the Obama administration because so many of them drifted off to sleep shortly after the 2008 election. The billion-dollar cult of personality hypnotized mainstream America into believing the second coming had finally arrived. Obama’s Wall Street cabinet went completely ignored by the mainstream media, who dismissed such revelations as “conspiracy theory”. We know today from Emails published by Wikileaks that Obama’s entire cabinet was chosen for him by Citigroup. And Biden’s cabinet is shaping up to be the exact same scenario all over again. Biden has already chosen a war profiteer who helped craft the Afghanistan surge to run the Pentagon under his administration.

The sad truth is that just about all of our presidential candidates are imperialists, including Bernie Sanders. If you need evidence of Bernie’s duplicity, simply take a look at his abysmal voting record on foreign policy, and compare that to the substance of his speeches. The sadder truth is that Obama-Biden took us from 2 wars to 7 (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan). And perhaps the saddest truth of all is that Obama’s Secretary of State actually laughed about the assassination of the democratically-elected leader of a sovereign nation in 2011, bragging that, “We Came, we saw, he died. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Conversely, I’m not aware of any new invasions perpetrated by the Trump administration during the past four years. On the contrary, Trump has actually reduced troop levels. Full withdrawal is not on the table for any administration, however, because forces far more powerful than the President want the imperialism to continue. Therefore it’s also important to remember that while it may be true that the Trump administration hasn’t started any new wars, it’s equally true that it has dramatically escalated the drone bombings.

Lee Camp explains just how dramatically:

“The Pentagon’s numbers show that during George W. Bush’s eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, which is 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama’s time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. And in Trump’s first year in office, he averaged 121 bombs dropped per day, for an annual total of 44,096.”

Again, it’s important to reiterate that yours truly is neither a Republican nor a Trump supporter. But you don’t have to be partisan to acknowledge what an absurd cartoon it is to paint either side of America’s political duopoly as hero or savior. That myth prevents well-meaning people from forming third parties, investigating high crimes, prosecuting criminals, or taking direct responsibility for our communities. Instead, we disempower ourselves by outsourcing the management of our communities to out-of-touch bureaucrats.

Why does it seem to escape so many voters that there may not be any “good guys” on Capitol Hill? Human morality is largely based on circumstance, and unless you’ve been tempted or threatened by the major players before, it’s truly difficult to understand just how corrupt America’s political system really is. They say that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but the truth of political life in America today is that positions of power have a strong tendency of attracting the corruptible. And in a system that prioritizes profit over everything else, sociopaths naturally rise to the top of our institutions and pervert the trajectory of our nation for their own interests. Hence the War on Drugs and the War of Terror march onward regardless of who is in office.

The problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is that both sides can set it up that way. Many of us are left wondering why evil is even on the ballot. That self-defeating paradigm has led many voters to the epiphany of the less effective evil. Hawish Hillary’s supporters didn’t seem to notice her bellicose words of warmongering that sent a shudder up the spine of America’s war fatigued troopers. Possibly the most damaging legacy of Pachydermic outrages in the Senate and White House is they afford the Democratic party the luxury of stonewalling an authentically progressive agenda in perpetuity by continuously decrying the boogeyman of Republican demagoguery. The same game will continue forever and ever, so long as a majority of us remain entranced by the spell. We cannot solve this problem with the same level of thinking that created it. We cannot vote our way out of this corporate nightmare.

Politicians are not going to save us, our economy, or the environment, and declaring any of them heroes only brands you as a propagandist at best, or a dunce at worst. It is possible that Ochenski has surrendered to the neurotoxic symptoms of Trump Derangement Syndrome. How else could he so flatly conclude that everything in the United States was going so perfectly for the environment during those eight years of Obama’s Neoliberal policies? After all, Obama’s EPA colluded with Monsanto in the age-old practice of rebranding toxic weapons as safe products. Owners got rich while workers got cancer, and mainstream America pretended it wasn’t happening.

As long as politicians can be bribed or intimidated into acting the way that big business wants them to act, the common people cannot trust them to be the harbingers of justice that newspaper columnists would otherwise have us believe they are. I don’t require the illegitimate “authority” of some criminal organization to give me permission to live my life however I see fit, and that includes both corrupt government agencies as well as the corporate forces who have seized control of them. And I sure as hell don’t care what sort of solutions these forces offer to counter the effects of their pillaging. They should be prosecuted and incarcerated.

You’d have to be bat-shit crazy to look for sound guidance or honest leadership from any of these mafia families, be they the Bush mafia, the Clinton mafia or the Trump mafia. Only criminals and sociopaths make it to the top of this imperialist ladder because it prioritizes profit and parasitism over the common good and common sense. Goldman Sachs and Raytheon fund both sides of the political aisle every four years, and always come out on top. Oligarchs win every time because the house always wins. Left and Right mean nothing in the twenty-first century. It’s just there to divide us and get us arguing with each other. It prevents the lower classes from realizing what Martin and Malcolm both knew to be true in their time; America’s great war is ultimately a class war.

Instead of fighting with each other we should focus on the people who profit from the status quo. Unfortunately they have a strong propaganda machine to make sure that never happens. And George Ochenski appears to have distinguished himself as another corporate deceiver, paid by the machine to divide the people along false ideological lines.

Like Stephen Colbert, Ochenski used to articulate truth. Prior to his employment with Lee Enterprises, he used to exercise skepticism of the powerful regardless of political persuasion. And he was once known for a nuanced perspective that didn’t paint either side of the political divide as a monolith. But like Colbert, he also seems to have sold his soul merely to remain employed.

Planet of the Propagandists

Mikey Moore has a new documentary out.

It’s a bit different than his last film, Where To Invade Next, which ended with a profound message of optimism for the future, and faith in humanity. This new documentary, Planet of the Humans, embraces nihilistic pessimism as the central mood, gently nudging the viewer toward the acceptance of mass genocide to solve humanity’s complex problems. It asks the wrong questions, leans on fossil fuel industry talking points, and omits critical details to every argument presented before finally positing an absolutely abominable “final solution” that would make any hardcore eugenicist proud. To that end, Planet of the Humans proves a brilliant piece of propaganda on par with Larry Diamond’s KONY 2012. It leaves us with the feeling that it will never be possible to crack the nut of renewable energy, so we might as well not even try. Instead, we’ll just have to kill half the population, so we all might as well just kill ourselves right now.

planet

To be fair, we shouldn’t refer to Planet of the Humans as a Michael Moore film, because it’s not. It’s a movie by first-time filmmaker Jeff Gibbs with Moore’s name attached to it as the Executive Producer.

The Michael Moore who shot and directed Where To Invade Next seems to be altogether missing from Planet of the Humans. Aside from the obvious absence of Michael’s voice or likeness anywhere on screen, one can’t help but wonder what happened to the Michael Moore who championed the manifestation of the impossible in Where To Invade Next? Where is the Michael Moore who reminded us that we can overcome impossible odds and change the world for the better?

The nonstop melancholy of Planet of the Humans is finally interrupted at the 37 minute mark during the rapid-fire “materials montage” that employs rapid flashes of time-lapse industrial footage and fast, unsettling music to jar the nervous system and disorient the viewer. The fast-paced montage seems like a welcome change at first, but it is designed to be so upsetting and unsettling as to weaken the viewer’s resistance to what follows, which are the most hopeless and nihilistic claims about human population itself being the intractable dilemma. The implied but just barely unstated solution the film prescribes to cut this Gordian Knot leaves us with a tragically depressing conclusion. In place of suggesting actual solutions, it shits on your heart, blaming you for being alive, during a pandemic. You’re told that your very existence is the problem, and continued life automatically makes everything worse no matter how hard we try because we’re obviously powerless and pathetic, so we should really just give up.

oh boy

Alongside the nihilism, Planet of the Humans also factually drops the ball at every turn on the subject of energy, while ignoring the massive waste that is inherent in the modern industrialized system.

A handful of well-publicized falsehoods (like the use of 12-year-old footage intended to portray the inefficiency of now-obsolete solar panels) fundamentally undermines the credibility of the documentary, leaving a bold asterisk beside every point it presents.

Beyond ignoring more than a decade of clean energy progress, we’re told that renewables can never replace fossil fuels, that solar panels require more energy to produce than they generate, and that fossil fuel “backups” will be forever required, in spite of abundant evidence to the contrary.

The film isn’t particularly informative, but rather, attempts to lower the viewer’s defenses with boredom and banality while simultaneously creating a laundry list of homework assignments for the astute. But keeping track of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies quickly becomes a dull chore of nauseating proportions.

For instance, the film dramatically dismisses ethanol as an inefficient fuel on the specious notion that “there’s just not enough corn in the world,” deliberately ignoring the well-known fact that corn-sourced ethanol is considered a joke in the world of biofuels. Every serious researcher and industry enthusiast aware of David Blume‘s work knows that ethanol can be made from a wide variety of easily-attainable sources, including agricultural waste, kelp, swamp reeds and a host of other sustainable plant sources that vary wildly depending on geographic location. How we decide which crops we should use for sourcing ethanol largely depends on what bioregion we live in. And it doesn’t take much energy to power a small still, especially if employing a rocket mass system, which may be one of the most energy-efficient stoves on the planet.

But such systems are best used on a small scale by individuals. As soon as we try to turn them into an industry, we push up against major limits and begin to encounter extraordinary problems. Burning logs in wood stoves is another example of an efficient and low-cost means of powering individual homes. But attempts to turn wood stoves into a massive industry invariably leads to catastrophic results, as chronicled by the film’s segment on biomass.

Turning to more industry to cure the problems of industry is fundamentally absurd. It’s like using vodka to ween off your addiction to whiskey.

And this is the central problem with Planet of the Humans: The filmmakers assume we can only power civilization with massive industrial projects that are highly destructive and which necessitate huge amounts of distribution networks over large tracts of land, i.e. the bulldozing of Joshua Tree forests to make room for a giant solar farm. It never occurs to anyone featured in the film that maybe solar panels could instead be installed on existing rooftops and individual residences. Wouldn’t that be a more efficient way to have our cake and eat it too? We could have the solar panels while also preserving the natural world. Seems logical. So why don’t we do it? Because it would hurt the energy companies.

Solar-panels-in-neighborhood

The minds responsible for producing Planet of the Humans failed miserably to do their due diligence in researching the subject of energy. They ask the wrong questions and arrive at backwards conclusions, universally ignoring the majoritarian evidence provided by authentic activist movements – movements that the film fails to mention at all. The reason renewables have failed to replace fossil fuels is not because they can’t match the efficiency. There’s simply no profit for the fossil fuel companies in empowering people.

The film completely ignores the well-documented fact that General Motors killed the original electric cars by acquiring patent ownership and eventually destroying every model ever built. Planet of the Humans also fails to mention any of the dynamos invented by private individuals who were either bribed, intimidated, or murdered for their technology by the energy monoliths. If we have an efficient technology which doesn’t require constant re-fueling, the energy companies lose all of their power. But if those energy companies are the only source for powering our lives, we become forever dependent upon them. And why would any company ever relinquish that kind of power?

But producing energy is only half the equation. The filmmakers give no mention whatsoever to the gigawatts of energy unnecessarily wasted by this obsolete consumerist system.

Giant screens on Times Square and Las Vegas Boulevard continue blasting advertisements at empty streets while everyone remains indoors. Couldn’t those behemoth screens be deactivated during the lockdown? Doesn’t it take a huge amount of energy to unnecessarily blare those ads all day and all night long? It does. But someone paid good money for those ads. So we’ll continue wasting the electricity regardless.

TimesSquareTHumberSite

Our system institutionalizes waste and inefficiency to the point that apples picked in England are shipped to South Africa to be washed and waxed before they’re shipped right back to England for sale. Tuna caught on America’s Pacific shores is shipped to Japan for canning, only to be shipped back to the U.S. and then trucked all around the nation for distribution. Products are designed for the dump, with deliberate obsolescence programmed right into them, ensuring that stuff breaks down as quickly as possible so that we have to throw things away and buy more of them. And all that garbage ends up somewhere, be it the landfills or the oceans.

And consider the outrageous energy consumption required to mine Bitcoin cryptocurrency. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), the Bitcoin industry currently consumes more than 7 gigawatts of electricity annually – more than the entire energy consumption of the country of Switzerland. This also means that Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than mining physical gold:

“Independent researchers Max Krause and Thabet Tolaymat calculated that it takes about 17 megajoules of computer power to generate US$1 in Bitcoin, even when the energy used for peripheral activities, such as cooling computers, is not factored in. By comparison, it takes 5 megajoules to mine US$1 in gold and 7 megajoules to mine an equivalent value of platinum. Aluminium-mining energy requirements, at 122 megajoules, topped the researchers’ list.”

We know the devices are bad for us, bad for the sweatshop workers making them, and bad for the planet. But it’s just a given that Apple Corporation should be able to continuously waste Earth’s finite resources to continuously manufacture slightly improved versions of their obsolete technologies in the most wasteful ways imaginable. Through the scarcity-driven mechanism of consumer capitalism, competing enterprises make slightly better versions of the same kind of gizmo, rapidly devouring rare earth minerals just to manufacture something destined to be tossed into a landfill a few months later. If the devices we’re addicted to for cat pictures and pornography are so bad for the environment, then maybe we need to find more wholesome ways of entertaining ourselves.

If there are too many tomatoes, we don’t distribute the excess to those who need them; we destroy them to manufacture scarcity and drive prices up. Just like Monsanto’s constant appeal that “we need GMO to feed the world” because “there’s just no other way to do it,” industry captains deliberately ignore the unthinkable waste inherent at every level of this system. Because waste and consumption drive the whole engine, and the creation of a different system would dethrone the present ruling oligarchs. When given the choice between making money or exercising ethics, the results are in for how multinationals  behave.

Our central problem has nothing to do with the number of people living on the planet. The problem is intentional inefficiency and unnecessary consumption. How much energy is wasted unnecessarily on a daily basis on truly nonessential activities like advertising, marketing, and war? How would the world be different if our our energy needs weren’t under the control of mercenaries and mafiosos?

Burning gasoline, for example, releases an ongoing toxic cocktail of chemicals that most of us are completely unaware of. As David Blume explains, ethanol is not only a more efficient fuel, it’s free from the plethora of unknown chemicals that prematurely wear down our engines, pollute the air, and compromise our health:

We all know what gas is; it’s a whole stew of byproducts –not primary products– from oil refineries. They make plastic. They make linoleum. They make pesticides. And then whatever is left over ends up being thrown together and they call it gasoline, and then they charge us to get rid of their toxic waste.”

ethanol

Ethanol does not pollute your engine the way gasoline does

Regardless of how many people there are, we cannot sustain our present trajectory on an oil economy without destroying the biosphere. Instead of focusing how many people must be purged for us to continue wasting resources and living irresponsibly, we should be slowing down the death-spiral of cyclical consumerism. We should be codifying “right to repair” protections to make it legal for individuals to repair and update their devices. We should be outlawing the obsolescence model of manufacturing.

America accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the world’s resources, maintaining a notorious reputation as the world’s least efficient nation. The question is not “How much energy will it take for the entire world to live like  industrialists?” The question is, “Why should the rest of the world embrace this industrialized model as the only correct one?”

Why can’t America simply lessen her energy consumption? To say we can’t eliminate waste or become more efficient with our energy use seems intellectually lazy. But to then advocate the genocide of half of Earth’s human population crosses the line into megalomaniacal insanity.

It’s not the humans that are the problem. It’s the sociopaths who have led the human race down these dead-end roads with their limitless greed and arrogant power struggles. And they’ve convinced some of us to condone blaming the poor and the powerless for actions made by the rich and the powerful. A few wealthy capitalists ruined “freedom” so now there’s no other choice than to force the rest of us into China-style tyranny.

Counter to the allegations of despots throughout history, the size of the human population has never been directly responsible for as many of our problems as we’re led to believe. Even when there were orders-of-magnitude fewer people, oligarchs of antiquity were insisting that “overpopulation” would be the death of everyone. What they’re really worried about is how they’re going to maintain their power amid growing opposition. Just how in the hell are they going to control an increasingly complex living system that’s suddenly becoming aware of itself and yearns to be free?

The follies of the billionaire class are projected onto the so-called consumers of this system, all of whom are blamed for demanding these toxic products and inefficient systems in the first place. The Market, we are told, merely responded to demand with supply. But poor kids in trailer parks aren’t responsible for permanently polluting America’s aquifers and watersheds with hydro-fracking. Inner-city children living in the projects didn’t spark America’s imperial wars around the world. The crimes of industry are not done for our benefit, but for investment gain and power accumulation at the top.

If we built an efficient civilization living in harmony with the rhythms of life, we wouldn’t be prioritizing entertainment and convenience over health and liberty. Just because we don’t have enough energy to run our video games and movie theaters and shopping malls and dance clubs without fossil fuels doesn’t mean we need to cull half the human population. It means we need to finally grow up and realize that perhaps we were being entertained to distract us away from what was being stolen from us. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we have all been living in a dream world for a long time. We’ve allowed ourselves to become a nation of infants in adult bodies, chasing ass and alcohol in a hazy bazaar of meaningless pursuits. Perhaps it’s finally time for industrial society to put down the devices and give Civilization a try.

The timing of this film almost seems like a coordinated effort to get us to all accept the outcomes planned for us by the unelected technocrats holding our civilization hostage. Planet of the Humans abdicates all responsibility from the populace, implying that only the elites can do anything of consequence, in order to produce a feeling of helplessness and resignation in the viewer. Funny this documentary should come out right as Bill Gates introduces his new microchip-laced snake oil.

But Planet of the Humans wasn’t completely horrible. It did make some legitimate points about Greenwashing; the feel-good, false-solutions of big industrial “green” practices. We’re shown how industry naturally games the system to continue operating as usual with little to no impact on their bottom line. Rebranding is cheaper and easier than real change and regulators are typically so captured by industry that doing so often bucks regulators and even prominent environmentalists off the industrialists backs.

And it’s refreshing to see the faux green movement get another facelift, as many so-called “green” organizations are completely corrupt and have been for a long time. The documentary Cowspiracy also exposed this reality in 2014, showing how major environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Sierra Club, 350.org, and many others, ignore the catastrophic pollution from industrialized animal agriculture. But even when compared with the downright depressing reality presented by Cowspiracy, the legitimate points made by Planet of the Humans seem needlessly hopeless and nihilistic in tone.

That the film sunk to dishonest lows in order to make these points created a wave of highly provocative indignation that seemed to make the necessary conversation even more pronounced. This technique is often utilized by the likes of Alex Jones and referred to as a “Meme War”. Both sides throw a mix of truth and lies onto an issue, like fuel onto a fire, to garner attention and outrage until a critical mass of irritated people get involved and sort the situation out. By again exposing the reality that there are no heroes coming to save us, Planet of the Humans lights a necessarily incendiary fire under the competing factions of the environmental movement and exposes inauthentic environmental organizations for what they are. In doing so, Moore ignites renewed gusto for the difficult conversations we need to have about energy, efficiency and waste, albeit dishonestly.

So if you decide to watch Planet of the Humans, be forewarned that it is notoriously imprecise, employing specious reasoning, defeatist hyperbole and a slew of outright lies with the seeming intention of undermining the entire environmental movement, and possibly even encouraging people to kill themselves by propagating a false message about the hopelessness of all existence. Watch at your own risk and with your bullshit detector turned up to “Fox News”.

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Hall-Monitor Hypochondriacs

Why it is easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they’ve been fooled?

The corporate media have driven many well-meaning and highly educated people into a Coronavirus-fueled, Obsessive-Compulsive frenzy. Literally overnight, countless citizens suddenly became Facebook-epidemiologists with pseudo-degrees in Medical Microbiology, policing their friends and neighbors about how they should behave, what they should wear and who they should be associating with. Fueling the hysteria are the Panic Patrol, ladling servings of distorted propaganda into our brain bowls, like the New York Post’s alarmist reports of “unprecedented” mass graves in New York City.

isle of tears

But as Elizabeth Nolan Brown explains in her piece, “No, NYC Is Not Running Out of Burial Space Due to COVID-19,” these graves are not new, nor are they anything to get excited about:

Century-and-a-half-old Bronx burial site sparks panic on social media. The COVID-19 death toll in New York City right now is chilling (more than 4,400 at last count). So are images of coffins being buried in mass graves. It’s hard to see things like that and not feel the weight of those numbers all the more viscerally—which makes it all the more imperative to contextualize and not sensationalize those images.

Unfortunately, a lot of professional media has been erring on the side of LOOK AT WHAT AMERICA HAS COME TO: THERE ARE SO MANY DEAD BODIES THEY HAVE TO START HIRING PEOPLE TO DIG MASS GRAVES. The city cemetary [sic] on Hart Island is indeed tragic. It has been for the past 151 years. ‘Since 1869, prison labor has been used to bury unclaimed and unidentified New Yorkers in mass graves of 150 adults or 1000 infants,’ states the Hart Island Project website…‘Since 1980, 68,955 people have been buried in mass graves on Hart Island,’ notes the Project, which is dedicated to telling stories of those laid to rest there.”

Funny how the New York Post divorces these 151-year-old mass graves from any historical context. In a city of millions, unclaimed bodies are a regular occurrence that hospitals have to do something with. But the Post deliberately framed this as a new development, omitting what are arguably the most important details of the story while accentuating the emotion of fear.

But the New York Post isn’t the only publication in the nation distorting the information. Most of the mainstream media are guilty of indulging in the temptation to sensationalize their stories for ratings. After all, they’ve got to generate advertising revenue somehow.

This is why it’s still largely unknown to most Americans that the number of people infected by Coronavirus is now estimated to be 50 to 80 TIMES higher than reported. This critical detail means that COVID-19 is far less deadly than the rumors that doomsayers might otherwise have us believe.

As reported by ABC News:

A critical question in the path towards the future is how many people actually have protective novel Coronavirus antibodies and possible immunity? Two research teams in California – backed by armies of dedicated volunteers – set out to answer this very question and the first set of results are in.

“Our findings suggest that there is somewhere between 50- and 80-fold more infections in our county than what’s known by the number of cases that are reported by our department of public health,” said Dr. Eran Bendavid, the associate professor of medicine at Stanford University who led the study, in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the Coronavirus Task Force himself admits this reality in the New England Journal of Medicine:

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%)”

There it is from the horse’s mouth, folks: severe seasonal influenza. Not the zombie apocalypse.

E.R. Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi corroborated this fact last week, illustrating how corporate media are dishonestly manipulating the raw data, blowing the statistics wildly out of proportion and exacerbating a public health crisis by unnecessarily quarantining healthy people.

Breaking down the data, Erickson demonstrates that Californians have a 0.03% chance of dying of COVID-19 with a 96% recovery rate, New Yorkers have a 0.1% chance of dying from COVID-19 with a 92% recovery rate, and Spaniards have a 0.05% chance of dying from COVID-19 with a 95% recovery rate.

Erickson et al

Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi

So as the media continue to broadcast a 24/7 message of fear, the science shows that while COVID-19 is very contagious, it is otherwise no different from models of the seasonal flu.

Furthermore, countless brave whistleblowers from the health care sector continue stepping forward to expose not only the Death Certificate fiasco that pressures doctors to designate fatalities as “caused by Coronavirus,” but also the Medicare shenanigans that rewarded hospitals with $39,000 for every ventilator they employed; a monetary incentive which may have actually harmed many patients.

Minnesota senator Scott Jensen, who is also a physician, revealed that hospitals actually get paid more if Medicare patients are listed as having COVID-19, and receive three times as much funding if said patients are put on a ventilator.

As reported by USA Today:

Jensen said, “Hospital administrators might well want to see COVID-19 attached to a discharge summary or a death certificate. Why? Because if it’s a straightforward, garden-variety pneumonia that a person is admitted to the hospital for – if they’re Medicare – typically, the diagnosis-related group lump sum payment would be $5,000. But if it’s COVID-19 pneumonia, then it’s $13,000, and if that COVID-19 pneumonia patient ends up on a ventilator, it goes up to $39,000.”

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Dr. Jensen’s sobering revelations remind us that the majority of our mainstream media cannot be trusted. And after decades of increasingly absurd propaganda, it should surprise no one that the  media’s spin doctors will only continue to betray the trust of their viewers, listeners and readers on a daily basis to further the agendas of their owners. What does seem surprising is the notion that there are still people who continue to purchase and partake of the corporate snake oil.

The corporate media have a long and disturbing history of lying to the American people. Facebook has a long and disturbing history of performing psychological experiments on unwitting users of social media platforms. And Bill Gates has a long and disturbing history of sterilizing millions of African women and paralyzing hundreds of thousands of Indian children with “life saving” vaccines. Are there really significant numbers among us who have any faith in these entities?

And since when does anyone trust the W.H.O.? Are the public really unaware of how many unbelievable scandals the organization is guilty of? Whether it’s protecting the nuclear industry from criticism following catastrophic meltdowns or ensuring the tobacco companies continue their toxic business unmolested, the W.H.O. are one of the most industry-captured “regulatory” organizations on the planet.

The most damning indictment of the W.H.O. may be Lilian Franck’s 2018 documentary trustWHO. Her work exposed how the W.H.O. helps the pharmaceutical companies and the nuclear energy industry more than the victims negatively affected by these institutions. As Oval Media puts it: “The WHO was created as a guardian of world health, but it has become the plaything of individual interests. … Lilian Franck shows a frightening portrayal of our present society, in which governmental politics is becoming obsolete.

In a vein effort to keep this incendiary information from spreading too rapidly, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that her platform will censor any video expressing criticism of the W.H.O. as such criticism now represents a violation of YouTube policies. As such, Dr. Erickson’s briefings as well as Franck’s sobering documentary now lay among the censorship casualties.

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

Remember how the so-called experts at the W.H.O. told us in March that ibuprofen worsens Coronavirus symptoms and lethality, before later walking those claims back and finally dismissing them altogether?

And remember how the so-called experts at the W.H.O. told us in early April that there is no need for healthy people to wear masks? They told us that unless we are exhibiting symptoms it does no good to wear a mask because doing so causes the wearer to constantly fiddle with it, thereby touching one’s face, thereby increasing one’s susceptibility to the virus. But now it’s suddenly becoming real important for everyone to wear masks, so much so that in some American cities you can be jailed for up to a year merely for stepping foot outside your home without one.

And did you know that director of the W.H.O., General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was leader of Ethiopia’s brutal minority party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and worked as minister of foreign affairs for the violently repressive regime from 2012 to 2016? Have you ever hear about his “mishandling” of cholera epidemics in Ethiopia and Sudan? Probably not.

General Ghebreyesus was recently accused of turning a “blind eye” to China’s culpability in the pandemic, tweeting in mid-January that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of Coronavirus.

With this kind of track record, how can anybody place any trust this organization at all? These people are supposed to be the go-to experts, but continuously reveal what doddering nincompoops they really are.

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WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

And speaking of people we automatically place confidence in based purely on credentialism, did you happen to catch those medical “professionals” engaging with the decidedly unprofessional behavior of filming synchronized dance videos amid the worst catastrophe in written history?

We’re told they were filming these dance routines for “stress relief” to boost morale,but how are the frightened peoples of the world supposed to interpret images of a masked mob dancing through the wards of the sick and dying? What kind of macabre message does such a broadcast, whether intended or not, send to the masses? This crisis is extremely horrific, a whole bunch of your neighbors just died, and the media is telling you that you and your family are next, so, let’s dance on the graves of the deceased and celebrate the impending holocaust”?

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Health care workers at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia performing their dance

If this were really the end-of-the-world disaster that justifies the authoritarian power-grabs currently locking our world down, wouldn’t it be profoundly disrespectful for health care workers to spend any time whatsoever practicing – let alone filming – synchronized dance videos? Wouldn’t someone realize how disastrous such a message might be to the credibility of western medicine? Doesn’t it seem inappropriate to engage in such frivolity during a global pandemic?

Furthermore, if the hospitals are as jammed up as we’re told they are, how on earth do any of those workers have the time to practice and shoot synchronized dance videos? Especially when health care workers are being laid off by the thousands right now? Kalispell Regional Medical Center alone recently announced 600 layoffs.

The official narrative doesn’t make any sense. And neither does our current obsession with masks. Wearing a piece of cloth over your face to shield you from virus particles is like surrounding your house with chicken wire to keep  mosquitoes away. The dastardly fiends fly straight through.

But there are hall-monitor hypochondriacs spreading fear like a debilitating virus who seem to entertain a delusional, eternal-life fantasy, believing they can protect themselves from death by covering their face, masking their human expressions, and rigidly policing their peers to do the same. Don’t we understand how our immune systems work yet? Are we not free to take some responsibility for our own bodies and health? How far do we have to go down this road before we see where it leads?

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Bill Gates doesn’t have a college degree in anything, let alone any significant background in virology, epidemiology or medicine. And while neither he nor his associate Fauci are lawmakers or legislators, their edicts are given the force of law with unconstitutional arrests, fines, regulations, incarcerations and protocols. All of it justified by the promise that this is necessary in order to keep us safe.

Frustratingly, all this paranoia and anxiety may prove utterly counterproductive, with countries like Sweden that did not shut down schools or businesses experiencing a comparable death rate to the United States, which, quite the contrary, instituted 50 shades of authoritarianism.

A recent study by professor Wilfred Reilly examines the eight US states that instituted no lockdown or quarantine protocols. Despite not having government shutdowns of businesses based on the pandemic, these Rocky-Mountain and Midwest states all recorded infection and death rates below the national average. Because these states are less-densely populated, professor Reilly adjusted for demographic differences state-to-state and concluded that a state’s lockdown procedures have no measurable affect on the spread of the virus.

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As Dr. Ron Paul further explains in this week’s Liberty Report:

“South Dakota has recorded a total of 7 Coronavirus deaths. Kentucky –a strict lockdown state– is 5 times more populated than South Dakota, yet it has some 20 times more Coronavirus deaths. If lockdown and house arrest are the answer, shouldn’t those numbers be reversed, with South Dakota seeing mass death while Kentucky dodges the Coronavirus bullet?”

So why are the corporate media so completely giving in to the hype, hysteria and hyperbole? Is it all just for ratings and ad revenue?  Why so conspicuously side-step such widely-available scientific evidence? Why would they intentionally provoke panic like this? Because these anxiety storms confuse and obscure the immense injustices that now threaten to run roughshod over the last vestiges of a formerly sovereign nation.

Whether we’re talking about the $6 trillion bailout rammed through congress that Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie referred to as the “largest wealth transfer from taxpayers to the super rich” in history, or America’s continued military hostilities in oil-rich Venezuela, or the sharp rise in the authoritarian measures, or sudden expansion in the  global surveillance Panopticon (that were designed to exact control over our lives long before the Coronavirus provided a new and perfect excuse to realize the totalitarian wet dreams of the elite), it seems absolutely clear that the owners who run and control this system are exploiting people’s deepest vulnerabilities and insecurities to reshape society into a grotesque nightmare that none of us consented to.

Disaster Capitalists do not plan to allow the opportunities provided by this crisis to “go to waste. Pirates and profiteers always see golden opportunities in exploiting the natural human fears of death and uncertainty. The Great 2020 Panic shows us that we cannot trust a corrupt cabal of cronies to ever do the right thing when there’s money to be made and power to be gained, and we certainly can’t expect them to ever tell us the truth about anything. They don’t care about our health or well-being. They only care about our obedience.

At this point, anyone who fails to understand that we’ve been deliberately lied to about the lethality of the Boogey-Bug known as COVID-19 is either unaware of the evidence, ignoring the evidence, or deliberately distorting the evidence. Those who willingly sell-out their neighbor’s civil liberties in the vein pursuit of obtaining an illusory feeling of temporary security are hereby declared authoritarian ignoramuses. We’ve all been lied to, and anyone who fails to understand this fundamental reality is either a paid liar or functionally illiterate.

It must also be kept in mind that the very people who are ordering this quarantine — the governors, senators, industrialists, and elite medical consultants — are not the ones who are feeling the pain of the lockdown-induced austerity.

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CNN Anchor Chris “Fredo” Cuomo (brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) has used his position to chastise those who want to go outside, hosting strangely narcissistic broadcasts from his basement, chronicling his biographical experience with the virus.

But while Cuomo insisted that “staying home saves lives” from his basement broadcasts, he failed to practice what he preaches, violating the quarantine he vehemently supported as soon as it inconvenienced him personally. Chris was caught in his own embarrassing lies this April when he got into a highly publicized altercation with a passing cyclist who knew about Cuomo’s basement broadcasts and keenly asked, “Shouldn’t you be in quarantine?

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi appeared on a television interview from her opulent mansion, bragging about her inexhaustible stash of gourmet chocolate ice cream loaded inside a refrigerator that’s worth more than most people’s cars. Such a tone-deaf blunder feels reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s infamous (and inaccurate) statement, “Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette never actually uttered the statement so infamously attributed to her, and even if she had, it certainly wasn’t filmed and broadcast for the entire world to see.

Even former president Obama demonstrated an unwillingness to lead by example when he violated the stay-at-home order to go golfing at the Robert Trent Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, which remains closed to regular golfers.

While the golf courses and the tennis courts remain open for the wealthy and the powerful, working class Americans are patronized with a chilling insinuation: “Let them eat ice cream.”

 

And While the Nancy Pelosis and Chris Cuomos of America suffer the burdens of choosing between gelato, sorbet and tortoni, millions of increasingly desperate Americans line food banks just to feed their families.

But the disconnect isn’t limited to national politics. In the face of a statewide eviction moratorium, Montana property management companies continue serving up eviction notices. The Montana Landlord Association is even suing Governor Steve Bullock for his order  suspending eviction actions during the statewide stay-at-home order. Even with our livelihoods and homes on the line, the governor’s order to stay home hasn’t stopped landlords from demanding we continue to pay rent with money we don’t have.

The wealthy and the powerful continue to castigate anyone who might be irritated about any of this. And the media demonize those irritated enough to protest the undeniable injustices taking place all around. And nothing epitomizes the profound disconnect from the citizenry and from reality than the mischaracterization of such protests as nothing more than the misguided cabin fever of a few hateful racists.

Maybe the government and media elites like Nancy Pelosi and Chris Cuomo are so insulated from the lives and stories of average working Americans that they can plead ignorance of these painful realities. But when they can no longer ignore criticism of their apathetic disregard, whether delivered by a “jackass loser fattire biker” or social media drama, they reveal their true callous indifference for the hoi polloi.

These pretentious performances are brought to you by the sociopaths who just can’t seem to grasp the concept of ethics.

No matter how many times the out-of-touch elites and their mouthpieces in the media criticize Americans for being impatient and stir-crazy, the fact remains that the central issue driving this civil unrest has nothing to do with boredom or cabin fever. Protests aren’t rising up all across the country just because a few racists are tired of being cooped up. The issue stems from the same root that lies at the heart of all our greatest crises: fundamental inequality.

When Occupy Wall Street protested inequality, the media painted them as drum-circle deadbeats. When COVID protesters react in kind to the same elemental force, the media portrays them as bored racists. It seems as though the media just don’t want to talk about inequality.

Any American who’s been anywhere near a TV, radio or internet device in the last three months has surely been subjected to the ubiquitous “protect your community” propaganda spewed all across the entire interlink. However, Americans still equipped with the capacity for independent thought and the attention span to compare sources are likely to smell a rat. Many prefer to err on the side of caution when facing the risk of spreading an allegedly deadly infection, but all of us should be very wary of social pressure to “just shut up and go along” in the face of such glaring chicanery.

If government and media didn’t have such a reliable track record of dishonesty, responsible citizens might be more willing to take one for the team; to lay back while civil liberties are temporarily abridged to permanently mitigate a crisis. But unfortunately, our government unremittingly demonstrates that any liberty we sacrifice on a “temporary” basis will never be returned. Case in point: 20 years after 9/11, the USA PATRIOT Act is still in effect, as is the “temporary” organization known as the TSA, as are all of the other corrosive elements we’ve allowed to erode away our civil liberties over the past few decades.

Perhaps lives could be saved if governments proved trustworthy enough to safeguard our liberties instead of constantly trying to undermine them. But since we all know that’s not the system we’re living in, the rights to freedom of assembly and the right to freely travel within society must be vigorously defended, which involves exercising said rights in direct violation of the dictates put in place by questionable and unelected, unaccountable groups like the W.H.O. and C.D.C.

Who really thinks that uncritical cooperation with authoritarian psychopaths can ever yield positive results?

Should protecting our rights by exercising them slightly exacerbate the epidemic and lead to a marginal increase in lives lost, the responsibility for those deaths lies not on the hands of the patriots who refuse to surrender to tyranny, but on the tyrants who made resistance necessary in the first place.

Given the fact that the medical impact of Coronavirus is comparable in many ways to the seasonal flu, but that the impact on the economy and civil liberties is totally unprecedented and completely out of keeping with the medical threat, vigilant citizens must at least entertain the possibility of ulterior motives on the part of industries and politicians who have pushed the lockdown as the only responsible solution to the pandemic.

They’ve taken our jobs, they’re taking our rights, they’ll be taking our homes soon, and then they’ll inhale the remaining crumbs before attempting to ram our bodies down the jaws of the New World Order’s blatant depopulation agenda, if we allow them to. We are bearing witness to the greatest crimes ever committed in human history, and we’re supposed to sit on the couch and eat ice cream while our children’s futures are flushed down the toilet?

If there’s going to be social pressure of any kind, it needs to be exerted upon the dim and lazy who refuse to acknowledge the mountains of evidence that confirm we’re all being lied to. Digging for the truth and having the courage to voice it might seem difficult, but what the oligarchs are proposing seems far worse.

Mass Solitary Confinement is the Psychological Torture of All Humanity

The fact that solitary confinement is a widely-recognized form of psychological torture, with measurable long-term physiological effects when the period of confinement lasts more than a few weeks, should concern everyone presently enduring the global house arrest of 2020.

Humans are social creatures, and the absence of love from our lives can literally be deadly. In fact, human touch is so fundamental to our survival that infant mortality increases measurably for new born babies that are ignored.

What cannot be ignored, however, is the rational response by both the Swedish and Taiwanese governments to the Covid Crisis. While neither country employed any of the brazen authoritarianism witnessed elsewhere around the world, both have exhibited statistically lower rates of pandemic deaths than other governments.

But that hasn’t stopped many locales from doubling down in their conviction that mass isolation is the appropriate default for ensuring public health, in spite of the evidence that it actually causes far greater harm.

Chronic social isolation is observed to create behavioral changes including increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar peers, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli, leading researchers to conclude that social isolation actually causes transformations to the brain

As evidenced by a 2007 UCLA study entitled “Loneliness Is A Molecule“, the social side-effects of prolonged lockdown are worse for our health than smoking, obesity and heart disease:

“Changes in the immune system may explain why social factors like loneliness are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections and cancer. It’s already known that a person’s social environment can affect their health, with those who are socially isolated–that is, lonely – suffering from higher mortality than people who are not. Now researchers have identified a distinct pattern of gene expression in immune cells from people who experience chronically high levels of loneliness. The findings suggest that feelings of social isolation are linked to alterations in the activity of genes that drive inflammation, the first response of the immune system.”

Award-winning scientist Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai who holds four degrees from MIT, including a PhD in biological engineering, emphasized the importance of this study last week:

“Fauci, who’s basically their front man for pharma [says], “Isolate yourself. Quarantine yourself. Don’t get any sun.” Let’s look at that: There are an infinite number of papers – landmark studies – that show when you isolate people you create a detrimental situation that’s worse than obesity; worse than heart disease; worse than smoking. You basically down-regulate genes which create anti-viral activity, and you up-regulate genes that create inflammatory response. So think about that. You’re basically destroying the immune system by social isolation.”

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We’re being collectively conditioned to view other human beings as a threat to our very existence when, in fact, the opposite is true.

Some communities are actually reporting more suicide deaths than CoViD-19 deaths. And suicide hotlines are getting slammed nationwide. Hotlines in Tennessee sustained an 800% spike in calls with similar trends occurring throughout the nation.

As reported by Bethany Ao:

A Los Angeles mental health clinic reported 1,800 COVID-19 related calls in March, compared with just 20 in February. Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services said it has seen calls double since March 13.

The most common measure taken by governments around the country and around the world ultimately amounts to institutionalized mass house arrest, dispensing added distress amid an already emergent national mental health emergency.

As with nearly every other peril in our society, the burden crushes our most vulnerable populations. For those with comfortable homes, ready access to outdoor recreation, and reliable at-home internet access, the nationwide quarantine may seem like a vacation. But for the millions of Americans who can’t afford such necessities, a stay-at-home order may feel much more like solitary confinement. Comedian and radio host Russell Brand elborates:

“I suppose this outbreak, more generally, helps us to recognize inequality; helps us to recognize that some privileged people are locked down in comfortable environments afforded to them by economic good fortune, whilst others are experiencing something much closer to incarceration. The metaphor of urbanization as a form of penitentiary is a well-worn one, i.e. we are all imprisoned by our economic roles, our social roles, and various other castings that we endure. … it’s a great prism for understanding inequality, for witnessing inequality. And I wonder what fluctuations we’ll observe if this goes on.”

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It should be noted that “lockdown” is a term borrowed from prison parlance. Societies everywhere are being invited to accept increasingly authoritarian rule, justifying the employment of draconian tyranny as a necessary evil for defeating the virus. Even in the face of a burgeoning global awakening toward community and compassion, the apparatus of fascism continues to reach for the stars.

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“Public Shaming” cage in Nepal for lockdown violators

In Nepal, quarantine violators are publicly caged.

Quarantine violators in the Philippines are shot on sight.

Both Panama and Peru have adopted gender separation rules, allowing men outside of their homes only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and allowing women outside only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with no one allowed outside on Sundays.

Throughout Spain, children are not allowed out of their homes under any circumstances.

Officials in Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam are using mobile data to construct an electronic fence that alerts authorities if you leave your home or switch off your phone, dispatching enforcers within 15 minutes.

Polish citizens in isolation are required to download a tracking app and take a compulsory selfie in their homes lest they risk a “wellness check” from the police.

The telecommunications industry now openly shares your location data with the governments of Austria, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the UK, inching toward open tracking of citizens as now taking place in South Korea, Iran and Israel.

Canadian authorities recently the passed the Quarantine Act, mobilizing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to visit homes and punish individuals who disobey with up to a $1-million levy and three years imprisonment.

In the United States, the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado has announced that authorities will begin punishing people with up to a year in jail for going outside without a mask.

Michigan officials have announced a “social distancing crackdown” allowing police to criminally charge citizens, while Flint becomes the first city in the state to institute a 9 PM to 6 AM curfew that punishes violators with up to 90 days in jail. And in Kent County, Michigan, a Chief Circuit Judge has empowered police to arrest anyone suspected of having the virus.

Washington, DC, residents face 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine just for leaving their homes during the outbreak. Similarly, residents of Maryland, Hawaii and Washington risk up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for violating the stay-at-home orders, with violators in Alaska similarly facing fines up to $25,000.

Kentucky residents are prohibited from traveling outside the state, with quarantine violators now legally subject to the administration of GPS ankle bracelets.

In Rhode Island, police have been instructed to pull over cars with New York license plates, commanding out-of-staters to self-quarantine for 14 days.

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Rhode Island National Guard checkpoint

South Carolina’s police are now empowered to break up any public gatherings of three people or more.

Authorities in Daytona Beach, Florida as well as Chula Vista, California are now employing talking drones to enforce social distancing protocols in the city’s beachfront parks and on hiking trails to “dissuade law-breakers while maintaining a safe distance amid the ongoing pandemic.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti publicly stated that “snitches” in his city will get “rewards” if they tattle on neighbors who could be violating the stay-at-home order.

Ford Motor Co. is currently piloting Social-Distancing Wristbands that vibrate when workers come within six feet of one another.SD wristband

 

Emirates announced this week they are proud to be the first airline to conduct mandatory blood tests on passengers to test for CoViD-19.

And President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner just created a task force that wants to create a real-time National Coronavirus Surveillance System. Edward Snowden has dubbed the coming surveillance panopticon the “architecture of oppression”. We are losing our freedoms, and mobile phone technology is the mechanism taking them away.

In a piece entitled “COVID-19: A Pretext for World Government” Kurt Nimmo warns:

The crazy thing about the COVID-19 “crisis” is how easy it is for the state and its media to frighten the public and manipulate ill-informed citizens into embracing economic and social decapitation.

Blinded by scary headlines based on irrational speculation—subsequently revised downward and published on page C-23 of corporate newspapers demanding a bailout—the American people have embraced authoritarian measures supposedly imposed to win a battle against an invisible enemy.

We are now beyond the point of no return. The inflicted economic and social damage has already taken a heavy toll and it will get worse the longer health bureaucrats, state governors, and a remarkably clueless president and his apparatchiks demand we stay imprisoned in our homes, frightened of a bug the state and its media have fictionally rendered as an insatiable and inescapable Gorgon of Doom.

The COVID-19 aggrandizement and propaganda campaign is not simply a public relations scheme for Big Pharma and its highly dubious—and often deadly—vaccines. It also serves as a cover for authoritarian measures the ruling elite have schemed to put in place for decades, measures designed to monitor and control everything you do.

And as a final dystopic cherry on top of the nightmare sundae, the City of Baltimore is attempting to keep tabs on its 600,000 residents by deploying a tactic previously used by the US military to surveil the populations of occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. The City is proposing the employment of private military contractor Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) to fly a heavily outfitted surveillance craft over the city. The drones employ an array of super high-definition cameras to surveil, record and catalogue every bit of outdoor activity citywide. If those indicators weren’t suspicious enough, PSS founder Ross McNutt has named this terrifying surveillance operation “Gorgon Stare”.

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But what the increasingly ubiquitous eyes in the sky still can’t see is what’s going on inside our homes. As the fear narrative and its accompanying outrages ratchet up worldwide, governments and NGOs are considering ways to address one of the most prevalent vectors for the spread of the disease: contagion among families.

When we get sick, who is it that takes care of us? In the case of people who live in family units, that duty often remains within the household. As anyone who has ever cared for a sick relative can testify, we run the risk of catching the illness ourselfs just by caring for one another until the virus has run its course.

But for whatever reason, the World Health Organization has decided that the compassionate act of caring for sick loved ones may pose a threat to civilization itself, and must be brought to heel by Orwellian means.

As reported by Tucker Carlson:

Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization, announced that in response to the spread of this virus, authorities may have to enter people’s homes and remove family members, presumably by force:

“In most parts of the world, due to lockdown, most of the transmission that’s actually happening in many countries now is happening in the household, at family level. In some sense, this transmission has been taken off the streets and pushed back into family units. Now we need to go and look in families to find those people who may be sick and remove them, and isolate them, in a safe and dignified manner.”

Just so you know, we’re coming to your house, seizing your children and “isolating them in a safe and dignified manner.” Whatever that means. Now that’s not something that, under normal circumstances, officials casually drop during briefings. It’s the kind of statement that might trigger violence. People don’t respond well when you threaten to take their kids. But Ryan said it like it was no big deal. And that’s how the media treated it. The threat didn’t make headlines in any of the major newspapers in this country. That’s the kind of moment we’re in.

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It’s encouraging to remember that while much of the world employs innumerable shades of unnecessary authoritarianism to “flatten the curve”, Sweden and Taiwan have both responded to this crisis rationally, instructing their citizens to stay home if exhibiting symptoms, and to otherwise simply be careful and practice mindfulness.

Both Sweden and Taiwan kept their schools and businesses open, yet both countries are somehow experiencing substantially lower infection rates and death rates than their quarantined neighbors. This suggests that lockdown measures are not only completely unnecessary; they’re wholly ineffective.

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Taiwan has a population of nearly 24 million people, and as of 13 April has only experienced 5 deaths with around 300 total diagnosed infections. In contrast, the US state of Montana has a population of 1 million people, having reported a total of 10 deaths at the time of this writing. Taiwan has over 20 times the population in less than 10% of the area. And due to the close physical proximity to China, Taiwan was one of the first places outside the mainland to face broad exposure to the virus, with daily flights from Wuhan landing in Taipei as the outbreak started.

Explaining the success of Taiwan’s limited response is difficult. One interesting, and likely relevant factor is that a trained epidemiologist currently serves as Taiwan’s Vice President. However, in light of their highly anomalous infection and death statistics, many skeptics insist that such a low statistic indicates manipulation, with authorities under-reporting deaths in order to prevent panic or to keep the economy open. However, those with an understanding of Taiwan’s history and government values understand how Taiwan’s culture and government are very western-facing.

Taiwan has always appealed to the broader international community for recognition as an independent nation, meaning they are culturally open to the West as part of a broad effort to distance themselves from Chinese rule.

The World Health Organization has been accused of exhibiting a pro-Chinese bias in their handling of Taiwan and their broad refusal to address questions about Taiwan’s response to the pandemic. A Hong Kong newscast featured an interview with WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward in which the interviewer attempted several times to question him about the WHO’s stance toward Taiwanese membership and his thoughts on Taiwan’s minimalist response to the virus.

Aylward consistently refused to even address the topic, at first saying he couldn’t hear the interviewer and asking to move on to the next question, then ending the call when she insisted on discussing Taiwan. When the call was reconnected, Aylward refused to field any questions about Taiwan, saying, “We’ve already talked about China.”

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Taiwan’s complicated relationship with China makes them a taboo subject for many global organizations. The People’s Republic of China is well known for extreme responses to media outlets and NGOs that undermine the “One China” policy. Taiwan is the dirty little secret of the international health community. Their response to the virus and its success have been deliberately ignored, in part because the WHO  considers Taiwan’s population in aggregate with China as a whole, which effectively erases their anomalous statistics altogether.

Additionally, were it widely known and discussed that a densely populated nation was continuing life as usual, with schools and businesses open and with gatherings unrestricted, other countries might have a more difficult time justifying their increasingly authoritarian responses.

For its part, Taiwan has voiced a willingness to share lessons learned from their handling of the pandemic. Should the international community find a way around the quagmire of China’s influence, they may find useful information in Taiwan’s decisive response to the virus. And for the many Americans and Europeans struggling with the crushing economic and psychological burden of a nationwide quarantine, the idea of a more measured response that both protects health without molesting our civil liberties may come as a breath of fresh air.

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Another country that provides a successful example of effective strategies absent totalitarian insticts is Sweden. Like Taiwan, Sweden has kept its schools and restaurants open and has not instituted a compulsory restriction on gatherings. Sweden instead relies on voluntary measures for social distancing, and self-quarantine in case of illness.

The Public Health Agency’s lead epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, indicated they were using a different approach than other governments but that the overall goal remained to slow the rate of infection and minimize death:

“Sweden has gone mostly for voluntary measures because that’s how we’re used to working. And we have a long tradition that it works rather well.”

Their efforts have produced a marked success, with a lower per-capita infection rate and death rate than most of Europe, all while avoiding the considerable economic and psychological detriments of authoritarian lockdown. Absent are the dystopic horror stories that have become all too common across the world. Also missing are the despair and desperation-inducing economic consequences of total economic shutdown.

Perhaps the condition of “life must go on” inoculates Sweden’s population against the worst ravages of the CoViD-19 pandemic. In most developed nations, economic factors are consistently one of the largest causes of stress and anxiety. It’s well-documented in the medical community that stress has an extremely detrimental influence on the healthy function of the body, especially the immune system.

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So can we take Sweden and Taiwan as proof that global lockdown does more harm than good?

The viruses of fear and poverty pose the greatest risk to those who are already compromised. Millions of families across the United States cannot weather a $500 disaster. Such loss can be catastrophic, potentially leading to a loss of home and employment, spiraling an already-tenuous situation further out of control and turning entire families into statistics.

Many Americans are already walking the razor’s edge of stress and anxiety, partially due to economic desperation, and partially due to the paralyzing epidemic of social media dependence that now directs our collective attention into the mainstream of paranoia. Mental health disorders continue to rise at an accelerating rate as the economic alarms bells of poverty and income inequality ring like never before.

Americans have been poised on the edge of a precipice for a generation. Hundreds of millions work their fingers to the bone with nothing to show for it. The fruits of their labors disappearing into the pockets of an increasingly opulent oligarchy who allow the population just enough wealth to continue working, but not enough to ever take a breath. As a result, the financial stressors of lockdown-austerity will likely kill far more people than the virus does after the despair of bankruptcy, foreclosure, eviction and homelessness has run its course.

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The sobering consequences of the lockdown beg us to question which  epidemic is worse: the CoViD-19 pandemic? Or the fear, isolation and torture used to “treat” it?

As the totalitarian conditions of the nationwide lockdown were introduced, we were all told that just by going outside, gathering together and holding our loved ones close, we might be putting others at risk. Our instinct to help was used against us, while the very conditions that abuse and deplete us were marketed as the panacea.

Tyranny by any other name still smells just as despotic. Indeed, it often goes by many other names: “Economic Stimulus”; “Common Good”; “Flatten the Curve”.

In short, Tyranny is called Safety.

By allowing our constitutional rights to be abridged and allowing our economy to be choked out of existence, we threaten the well-being of ourselves, our families and the greater community. We cannot trade our freedom for comfort lest we lose both entirely. We cannot assume that freedoms that are taken away will be automatically returned to us. We must never allow fear to corrupt our reason or rob us of our common sense. We must fight for our precious liberties while we still have them like our lives depend on it, because they do.