By Charlie Johnston
If you have been driving long enough, you have probably had a rock hit your windshield and make a small crack – a crack that, over time, starts creeping across the window. Every week or so, you notice it has gone a little farther. When it grows into a bona fide fracture, it starts speeding up. Besides the initial instability, each progressive extension makes it a little more unstable. Finally, you figure out that you better get that windshield replaced or pretty soon it is going to fall in on you – and God forbid it should get hit by another rock. The City of God never cracks. The City of Man is fracturing catastrophically before our eyes. Some thoughts as the fracture grows…
The week before last week the Justice Dept. dropped all charges against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn after newly obtained documents proved he was framed and railroaded as part of a massive conspiracy on the part of the FBI and other federal agencies to overthrow Pres. Donald Trump. Even worse, the documents showed that these agencies acted at the instigation and direction of former President Barack Obama.
In the same week, all the transcripts of the confidential testimony on the Russia Collusion Hoax were released. It stunningly revealed that there was never ANY evidence of collusion – and that the officials populating television news saying there was hard evidence admitted, under oath, behind closed doors, that they were lying in their public statements.
Just thirty years ago – and maybe only twenty – officials caught in such a massive conspiracy would have hung their heads in shame, been expelled from any office of public trust, been prosecuted for the obvious acts of sedition, and would have been shunned in polite society. Now, though, they just double down on brazenness. Astonishingly, the usual suspects have been claiming that Flynn’s vindication is a miscarriage of justice. Obama himself said, in a purposefully leaked phone call, that the vindication of Flynn is a threat to the “rule of law.” If your definition of justice is a Stalinesque assertion that when partisans have framed and railroaded you, you should darned well stay framed and railroaded, I suppose that is so. Presiding judge Emmet Sullivan is trying to uphold that Stalinesque principle – at more risk than he probably realizes. But if you subscribe to a more prosaic definition of justice as an objective assessment of guilt or innocence, justice has finally begun. It won’t be complete until the conspirators are tried and convicted.
I have always opposed the trial and jailing of former presidents. It is too destabilizing and can inject the smell of banana republics into the body politic. When a former president, however, mounts a coup attempt against his successor and the permanent bureaucracy follows his lead instead of that of their legitimate boss, that is banana republic-style destabilization. Obama and all of his minions should be tried, convicted and jailed. If, like Napoleon, Obama was exiled to our equivalent of the island of Elba, I would be content. What is certain is that punishment should be swift and sure to prevent any cabal from ever using their office to seek to overthrow a lawful, Constitutional government again.
Choose Your Destructor
In more rational times we would come up with a way to deal with a serious problem that was somewhere between a reckless charge and a defensive crouch. But these are not rational times. For some reason, we decided that the best way to get rid of termites was to burn the house down. Insane partisanship has led some of those opposed to the burning to declare that termites are not a problem at all, while those who favor the burning shriekingly accuse those who want to save the house of being pro-termite. Lost in the din is any sense of reason or proportion.
Covid-19 has turned out not to be anywhere near as deadly as it was originally feared to be. It is significantly more serious than the average flu, though. Most significantly, it does not behave as most viruses we have seen before do. When dealing with something new that behaves counter to what we expect, there is good cause to behave with great circumspection until we have assessed it accurately and well. Covid-19 seems to silently starve people of oxygen without their knowing it. The critical thing seems to be to keep it from getting to the crisis stage. Before reaching crisis (called the cytokine storm), the infection seems milder than most – so mild that it is often not even noticed by the one infected by it. If it is allowed to proceed to the crisis stage, it is murderously hard to turn back, in part because the blood has been quietly depleted of oxygen, making the system an easier target – and is much more deadly than the average virus. Logically, that means that managing the symptoms early is key to preventing death. That also means that those who have fought the use of hydroxychloroquine early on are almost criminally negligent or malicious. Yet we should not rest easy until there is a good understanding of all the properties of this virus that acts in counter-intuitive ways, for there may be more surprises lurking.
How it came to be thought that shutting everything in the world down was the best way to handle this is a triumph of irrational thinking. It made sense to quarantine the sick and, even, vulnerable populations as it became known who was most at risk. I don’t know anyone who has died of Covid-19. I do have a dear friend whose brother died of despair a couple of weeks back as his world collapsed and his hopes for a future vanished. I don’t want people to die unnecessarily from either a virus or of despair and want in a rapidly collapsing economy. This is not a binary choice between black plague and Venezuela style economic collapse – unless our irrationality makes it so.
I get particularly irritated at those who ominously warn of a second wave. There is ALWAYS a second wave – usually much weaker than the first unless something has happened to impede development of herd immunity or unless, like the Spanish Flu of a hundred years ago, the first mutation is more deadly than the original. That is freakishly rare. Once a virus enters the wild, it is there permanently until the herd immunity becomes so great that the virus, itself, is eradicated. Vaccines are NOT cures; they are the injection of a weakened form of the virus to artificially speed up development of herd immunity. These are the raw basics of the field, similar to what multiplication tables are to mathematics. You don’t need to be a mathematician to know the multiplication tables – and you don’t need to be an epidemiologist to know the basics of virology. Anyone who pretends otherwise is ignorant or vested in creating panic.
The extreme social distancing and quarantines we have adopted are likely to impede the development of herd immunity and make it more likely that a second wave will be particularly virulent. As a matter of fact, we should want our healthiest segments of the population to be infected to speed along the development of herd immunity, with the proviso that treatments to manage the symptoms should be adopted as soon as symptoms show. That is actual science, rather than #science – and will be shown to be accurate once the next virus season begins. Sweden, which relied on common sense precautions, will win the second wave.
I Went to the Witch Doctor…
Over the centuries, many unscrupulous men have cloaked their irreligious schemes and assertions in the language of faith – because saying some nonsense was the “Christian” belief was a convenient means of shutting down conversation and examination of their assertions. People were intimidated by the idea of being called anti-Christian. Over time, the absurdities so justified by this practice led to faith, itself, falling into disrepute. Low men of little learning and vast ambitions have replaced faith with science as the means to shut down conversation and examination of their assertions. Over time, if unchecked, this will lead the whole concept of science into disrepute.
Many honored public scientists are little more than “Monster Shouters,” amassing failed apocalyptic predictions around their necks like Mardi Gras beads – and are still taken seriously. Why on earth did governments around the world shut down everything at the behest of Neil Ferguson of London’s Imperial College? In 2005 Ferguson breathlessly warned that some 200 million people worldwide were likely to die from that season’s Bird Flu. He was off by a factor of a million – only a few hundred people worldwide died. In 2009 he insisted that the Swine Flu would kill 65,000 people in England. In reality, 457 people died of it in England. This time he was only off by a factor of 150, so I guess officials thought he was zeroing in on some semblance of accuracy. He was also responsible for England’s horrific mismanagement of Mad Cow disease at the turn of the millennium. We must do better than to form policy at the behest of a serial fabulist.
It turns out the World Health Organization (WHO) is NOT about science, but about parroting whatever lies China tells it to and barring open democracies from participating with it. Dr. Deborah Birx has reportedly claimed that she can’t trust anything that comes out of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) these days. Frankly, a witch doctor who was as far off the mark as prominent public health authorities these days would be forced by his tribe to surrender his rattle. Why, in heavens name, are we treating the word of doctors who don’t treat any patients and ignoring that of those who do?
Both faith and science are means of approaching the throne of wisdom. Each will – and should – stand the test of examination. The scientific method, in fact, demands that one test and prove all things, rather than taking anything on mere assertion of authority.
Finding real wisdom is hard and fraught with both peril and error. Any who are honestly mature understand that. For public authorities to appeal to the authority of science to make assertions of certainty that are regularly not just wrong, but catastrophically so, is not to honor science, but to dishonor and leave it in disrepute. Just as those who once labeled their ignorant assertions “Christianity” to shut down examination, so modern sophists label their hysterical assertions “science” for the same reason. These types know little of science and less of faith. Let us then, with faithful humility, reason honestly with each other and abandon these childishly malicious parodies of faith and science.
You Will Be Like Gods
Godly men seek knowledge in order that they may serve truth with more fidelity. Ungodly men seek for knowledge to serve them in their mad grasp for power. In our benighted age, willfully ignorant men make stupid stuff up, call it knowledge, and demand power because of it – and they are taken seriously instead of chased off the stage with pitchforks and torches. It is the oldest satanic seduction in the universe; that with a little knowledge you will be like gods and can impose your will on others. It was used to topple empires, to justify genocide, to build the death camps. Those who fall prey to this seduction are always remembered as history’s great monsters. Yet, at the time they are making their reach for power and crushing all who oppose them, they imagine themselves to be noble idealists. Some are the devil’s willing accomplices, others the devil’s self-deluded dupes. Either way, the devil takes delight in destroying them when their usefulness expires.
The petty tyrants of the anti-God left are opportunistic. Their aim is to amass arbitrary power to themselves – and everything they do is intended to support that central aim. This public health scare accomplished what environmental alarmism and cries of racism, sexism, et al no longer could: it motivated otherwise free people to abrogate their own moral agency and obey arbitrary diktats from an ignorant, arrogant elite class of officials.
Thankfully, across the land, real blowback has begun and seems to be picking up steam. Some serious public thinkers are calling the lockdowns the greatest public policy blunder in history. A lot of governors and mayors, drunk with the exercise of arbitrary and capricious power over the citizens they consider their subjects, are battling a growing number of lawsuits.
I have been telling friends for over a month that I could not imagine a better strategy for turning blue states red than for Democratic officials to continue to call their own citizens selfish for wanting to work and not to be crushed by draconian government policies that are unrelated to the threat of this virus. Sure enough, earlier this month, Republican Mike Garcia won the special election in a Los Angeles district to replace disgraced Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill. And he didn’t win in a squeaker. It was a 12-point landslide (a “landslide” victory is usually defined as a win by 10 or more points). This in a California district that had gone for Hillary Clinton by seven points. It is starting to unnerve Democrats – but they have a gift for explaining away inconvenient actual facts and evidence, particularly while fluttering under the narcotic of a bona fide power trip.
Leftist officials across the country continue to fight their own citizens, convinced that destroying people’s lives and shuttering their livelihoods is surely the way to win elections forever. Besides, it is so much fun for them. I regret that a few weeks ago I thought – and said – that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo might be taking a reasonable approach to all this, an approach that put a premium on his citizens’ safety. I did not know, at the time, that he had ordered all nursing homes in his state to accept Covid-infected patients or lose all funding. The nursing homes buckled and, of course, became perhaps the greatest transmission hotspot for transmission of the virus. Since then, Cuomo has ruled that any volunteers who came to help out New York for more than two weeks during the crisis must pay New York state income taxes. He says he can’t afford to “subsidize” these folks. No, he didn’t give or pay them anything, (which is the definition of “subsidize” for people who are neither insane nor drunk with power). He begged them to come. Come they did, and now he will charge them for the privilege of having helped during New York’s time of need. If you saw someone stranded and helped him change a tire, you would probably refuse his offer to pay you for what you did – but you would be incensed if they tried to charge YOU for the privilege of helping THEM. That is exactly what Cuomo is doing here – and I imagine he will be hard-pressed to draw many people to help out in future crises.
Of course, the media is busy covering for Cuomo. They imagine he might be their replacement presidential candidate for the badly faltering Joe Biden. The media is busily trying to strong-arm out of existence any facts and evidence that contradict their preferred narrative. Youtube is removing all videos that express opinions – or facts and evidence – that contradict the World Health Organization’s (WHO) China-driven propaganda. Facebook and Twitter are eagerly taking down information on protests against lockdowns and of any opinion that is to the right of Josef Stalin. The great Victor Davis Hanson questions whether the media even exist anymore.
In a macabre way, the media’s execrable, dishonest, constant gaslighting of the public is funny. If reporters were actually smart instead of pretend smart, they would know that one of the first things authoritarian movements do after taking power is to imprison or execute their ALLIES who have an independent platform from which the new imperators might be challenged. Those pathetic useful idiots always go to their doom screaming that they are on their destructors’ side. I know that if the left were successful in taking dictatorial power, the likes of Chuck Todd, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper would all likely be taken to the gulag before I would. It is the only thing that, occasionally, makes me smile about the prospect of a leftist anti-God takeover.
Sadly, crisis brings out the eager Vichy collaborators – those who eagerly inform on their neighbors and find meaning in becoming willing lackeys to those who abuse power. In my work over the decades, I have operated under my own “70 percent” rule – that is that, with effective leadership, when you are running at peak effectiveness, 70 percent of the people will do what is right and noble. But no matter how well you lead, 30 percent will remain Vichy collaborators. There are times when, through complacency, neglect or timidity, darkness has its moment. Sometimes that moment is very destructive – as with Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism, and the ongoing saga of the hostile takeover of Chinese culture by communists. Whenever the hour of darkness comes, it always finds plenty of willing accomplices – some of whom even think themselves to be idealists, now with the power to crush their opponents. These also always end up being history’s misshapen monstrosities, from whom we draw back and shudder at in revulsion. The hour of darkness has surely come upon the world. But it will not prevail. Spare a little pity for those who ally with darkness and seek to destroy us. It is themselves they will destroy after wreaking some havoc. Those who fall prey to the seduction to become “like gods” ever end in their own destruction. And the devil chortles with malevolent mirth at the spectacle.
The Church Dilettante
I decided at the beginning of all this that I would give a mulligan to religious leaders for what they decide throughout this spring. This came upon us all of a sudden, with little warning. Initially, the precautions seemed plausible, even if likely overblown to a skeptic like me. Once public officials went from taking perhaps prudent precautions to exercising vast, unconstitutional, arbitrary power that had little or no relation to the threat, it was clear that religion was being specifically targeted for “special treatment,” a euphemism used from time immemorial by tyrants concerning their intended victims. If religious leaders’ responses are largely timid, I can understand that many of them believe if they just appease secular authorities well enough, all serious trouble can be avoided.
Part of my tolerance for religious authorities’ responses was borne of an intense fatalism. When the offering to the pagan goddess, Pachamama, was accepted by the Pope on the altar of Jesus Christ at the Amazon Synod, I was terrified that the “abomination which makes desolate” had come to pass. (Many call this the abomination of desolation, but in Daniel 12:11-12, where it is first prophesied, it is called the abomination which makes desolate – and speaks of the consequences of such a blasphemous act – that it will make our altars desolate). I hoped that, after a few days, the Pope would explain that he had not known what it was and just thought it was a nice offering. Instead, it became clear that he knew exactly what it was and thought it was either no big deal or was right that it should sit upon the altar of Christ’s sacrifice. This was a fundamental break in the hierarchy, a break that only God can heal. But God is not mocked: it will not be healed until we have reaped the consequences of what we have sown.
The way I interpreted this (and I wrote briefly at the time about how deadly seriously I took it, though not of my expectations) was that full-blown crisis would come very soon and would threaten the very foundations of the faith. I did not expect that it would come in the form of a virus that will not even rank among the 10 most deadly in American history – and maybe not even in the top 20. It was not the virus that was the cause of the crisis, any more than the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand was the cause of World War I. Both were mere catalysts which released the destructive power of disorders that had already built up to the breaking point. Our hysterical over-reaction was what caused it, shutting down the entire world except for Sweden (which is doing just fine, thank you very much). We had clearly lost our sense of self-reliance, our can-do spirit, and our faith that prudent precautions are all we can manage and must leave the rest to God – not to the government. I cringe every time I hear someone say the “government didn’t protect us.” The government is only supposed to protect us from external attack and internal crime (actual crime – not going to work without papers). On all else, we are responsible for ourselves.
Now the demons have been loosed – and they will not be easily bottled up again. Aspiring tyrants (both petty and major) have learned that if they can whip up enough irrational fear, they can move closer to their dream of comprehensive power. Even now, as fear of Covid recedes, those tyrants are busy concocting their next big scare, whether it is a “second wave,” murder hornets, or flying monkeys of death. It is coming – and all the “experts” will be there to assure us that this time, if we don’t knuckle under, we are all going to die.
As a Catholic, I have been embarrassed to see many of our Evangelical leaders doing a much better job of defending the faith than most Catholic leaders. Yet, there is an institutional inertia inherent there, too. If an Evangelical Church makes an imprudent maneuver, it pretty much only affects the particular church involved. If Catholic authorities make a seriously imprudent move, it can have serious consequences for all Catholic Churches and for Christianity, itself. I understand that the stakes are higher.
I am grateful that I have found a Church which does have real Masses. It is much further from home than I would prefer, but except for blocking off every other row of pews, it is a completely normal Mass. You can wear masks or not (I have trouble breathing in those things), you can receive in the hand or on the tongue. I am told that if vulnerable parishioners there have concerns, they will send out Extraordinary Ministers to their home to provide them with the Eucharist in a completely sanitized fashion. I just cannot bring myself to treat televised Masses or parking lot Masses where you listen in on your cell phone as an honest alternative, barring a much more serious crisis than the one we shut down for.
I have always thought that events would unfold in a manner that would reveal everything and force each of us to choose Who we will serve. This crisis is the penultimate revelation of who we have become. The Pachamama abomination forces all to choose, both laymen and clerics. It is by our fidelity to God’s revelation through Scripture and the Magisterium that the faith will be purified and renewed. For a very long time, some men have used Holy Orders as a fig leaf to cover over their worldly ambition and preening desire for social standing. Some of these have even done some creditable work – but only so far as it advances their interests. Now, I do believe God calls us all to account, both laymen and clerics. We either choose to be “all in” or He will leave us “all out.”
The breach in the hierarchical order does NOT relieve us of our duty to obey the lawful orders of our superiors. You may have noticed that, since the Pachamama debacle, I have taken pains to differentiate between lawful and unlawful orders. A lawful order is within the sphere of a cleric’s legitimate authority and does not obviously contradict either Scripture or the Magisterium. There are plenty of clerics around who, like Archbishop Pierre Couchon (who presided over the judicial murder of St. Joan of Arc) use their office to try to enhance their political standing rather than to please God. Even from one of these, I would obey a lawful order while resisting the depredations of his unlawful ones. It is Christ, Himself, who set up the hierarchical structure.
Right now, it is impossible for me to differentiate between those clerics who are mere temporal social climbers and those who honestly, but mistakenly, think there is some level of appeasing mammon that will set us free. Hence, everyone gets a mulligan. Make no mistake, though. Insidious secular authorities hate the faith more than they hate Republicans. Many Republicans can be coopted or intimidated. While the same can be said of many clerical leaders, the anti-God left knows there is no negotiating with God. His word is implacable and impervious to His enemies demands. Even when, as with Abraham, God does bargain, it is not that He changes His mind, but that He is nurturing the same yearning compassion in His servants as He has – and winnowing them away from raw vengeance. As much as leftists try to re-interpret Scripture to mean the exact opposite of what it says, as hard as they try to pretend that evil is good and good is evil, they know that as long as there are people who call on the name of the Lord, their power can never be secure. So they are determined to wipe out faith altogether, whether by patiently chipping away at it or destroying it in one fell swoop. God will win, of course, but if we want to be counted among His friends, we will have to make our stand.
I pray that our clerical leaders are seriously preparing to make that stand. For whether there is a second wave of the virus that is worse than the first or not, there will be a second wave of draconian restrictions attempted by petty, little men who are short on humility and long on ambition to shut down the faith and destroy liberty. Then we will have to make our stand. I would prefer to follow our leaders, but I will stand, regardless. No mulligans next time.
Dream a Little Dream With Me
I have been inundated with people telling me of their strange and intense dreams these days. In times of great stress, we tend to dream more intensely, in part to relieve that stress. In the last three weeks of a major political campaign, I dream so intensely and vividly that sometimes it is a relief to wake up and rest a little from the dreams for a while. But dreams serve another very useful purpose in such times. Our subconscious often highlights things that we may have missed in the crush of the day, things that we may need to pay attention to. In fact, when I am in the midst of the crush of intense dreams, I sometimes go to sleep to recruit my subconscious to give me insight to help me deal with the problems of the moment.
I think prophetic dreams are very rare. At least for me they are. In fact, there is only one I have had that I think to be clearly prophetic – and I didn’t make that assessment until nearly a decade later. It came in the mid-60’s. I dreamed vividly that a friend of mine and I had been taken by his mother (a Dutch woman who had been swept up by the Nazis when they came through Holland – and lived to tell about it) to the Museum of Science and Industry on Chicago’s south side. All was well until a loud screaming went up all around the museum. His Mom found us and, terrified, hid us under the canopy of a table. We asked her what was happening. She told us that we needed to be quiet because they were “putting children to the knife.” I told her she should call the police. She responded that the police were helping them. This dream caused me to tremble for days afterward. But it was over a decade later that I came to think of it as a foreshadowing of the abortion regime.
I figure that if a dream is actually prophetic, it will become clear to me in God’s own time. Yet if I look restlessly for prophecy in dreams, I am likely to miss the genuine insight into broad matters of the day that is normally found in them. Once, I was looking for a spot on an old-fashioned map. I couldn’t find it. I searched restlessly through the tiniest type of each location. Still it wasn’t there. After giving up, as I pulled my eyes away, there in large pale-blue type was what I had been looking for. It was literally a case where I was so focused on each tree that I entirely missed the forest right in front of me. Over-analysis can impede, rather than help, your search for insight.
Now I am glad that St. Joseph did not have my attitude and chose to act immediately on what he dreamed. But he seems an eminently practical man. He clearly did not get up and act on everything he ever dreamed. I suspect that God had a special way of showing him what was genuinely prophetic and what was just a dream. Take the insight that dreams bring and trust God to show you, in His own good time, what you need from them.
I sympathize with all of you. Intense unending dreams can be very disconcerting. I have been dreaming like I do in the last three weeks of a campaign for the last five years. It can be exhausting – but it is often very helpful in a plain, ordinary way.
The Shape of Things to Come
We are not going to get out of this without a fight. That is not based on supernatural prophecy. It is simply hard, temporal analysis based on the facts that everyone has at hand. It is the sort of analysis I used to get paid for by politicians and officials. I wasn’t always right – but was right in improbable circumstances enough that officials vied to recruit me to their staff. The Majority Leader in the Illinois House once told me that they monitored me – that when I made normal predictions I was better than average, but not shockingly astute. But if I said something that seemed so wildly improbable that no one else had even thought of it, you could usually take it to the bank. We all make assessments from the sum total of our life experiences, the known facts, and our extrapolations of how people will behave under particular circumstances.
As I said above, leftist authoritarians are pragmatically opportunistic. They use what works for them in their frantic pursuit of raw power. Shoot, they use things that worked once and have never worked again. They now have a brand new toy: ginning up fear to critical, fantastic levels to justify their usurpation of power that is not vested in them. They hate two things passionately: religious faith and independent liberty. They cannot be content to live and let live. They have no joy unless they are forcing others to do what they want. If you think that they will not use this new toy to try to wipe out the two main impediments to their ambition – faith and liberty – you just have not been paying attention. We are not getting out of this without a fight. We will have to make our stand. There can be no compromise between those who want to enslave and destroy others and those who want to live and let live, minding their own business. One side must win and the other must lose. Those are the stakes now.
I am working busily to meet both the trials that are upon us and those that loom ahead. The City of God never falters, even though it is often under assault. The City of Man, no matter how intimidating it sometimes looks, is a fragile thing that crumbles when it assaults the City of God. I have told you from the beginning that you need not do anything extraordinary to participate in God’s victory, which is sure. Rather, you just need to do what is right in front of you with great fidelity and great love, according to your station in life. What I said from the start is the key to everything that lies before us: Acknowledge God, Take the Next Right Step, and Be a Sign of Hope to Those Around You. The victory is entirely His, but our great God wants us to be His recruits and share in the great victory He is preparing for us.