I know propaganda. As a mother grizzly knows her cubs, I know propaganda. And what I have in recent days witnessed is propaganda of the type that raises the hair at the back of my neck!
There are among us those who are attempting to destroy the very fabric of our nation. The propaganda they create is sleight of hand worthy of praise from the 20th century master of the trade, Joseph Goebbels.
I shall not follow their lead. Nor is it for me to judge. God alone owns that task. You and I, however, can and should reveal that which may lead us and others on a path to self-destruction. Allow me, then, to expose what others have concealed in a current video series. This series is The Family, a recent Netflix offering.
The Family is billed as a documentary. If it is a documentary, it is both incomplete and ill-informed. By choice? You decide.
Let’s begin with the Netflix description of The Family. “An enigmatic conservative Christian group known as the Family wields enormous influence in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of its global ambitions. Investigative journalists expose The Fellowship, a Christian fundamentalist organization quietly operating in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.”
Here is my characterization of The Family. This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President.
With that, let’s move to specifics. More than once a narrator makes a convoluted reference to Jesus and power. One such example: “Jesus says you must go to those who are in positions of power.”
Truth: Jesus said no such thing! Go ahead. Challenge me on that! What is the sole source for what Jesus did say? In fact, Jesus consistently modeled weakness, not power, as God’s preference for human behavior. “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Another example: “If you are chosen (by God), it doesn’t matter what you do.”
Truth: This demonstrates complete ignorance of what the Bible records. Check Psalm 51 and ask yourself why David found those words necessary!
One more: “Who God cares about most is not the everyday people.”
Truth: This statement is absurd. It reflects nothing found within the Bible. A single reading of the Beatitudes refutes this moronic and demonic utterance.
Not yet convinced that Netflix is playing fast and loose with the Bible? Notice this from Episode 4:
“And it’s all scripturally based, Uh, Acts 9:15, you know, “Take my name, Jesus, to the Kings.”
Really? Let’s compare that quote to what the Bible actually says in Acts 9:15:
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Those who read the Bible will know that “this man” spoken of here is Saul shortly before he became the Apostle Paul. So Netflix scores a zero on Bible accuracy!
Before we continue, let’s review hallmarks of propaganda. Propaganda uses half-truth, omission of truth, and suppression of contrary views and actions to achieve its ends. To be most effective, propaganda uses just enough truth to mislead.
The Family features all of this, and more. We see both omission and suppression in this next example. In one episode – in an effort to reveal hypocrisy – the film reports details of two “fallen” political leaders. Two Republicans, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada U. S. Senator John Ensign, had both been revealed in sensational extramarital scandals.
These two cases receive abundant attention in The Family. To be fair, yes, the Bible itself reveals not a few such examples of “fallen” leaders. Moses killed. David was an adulterer and arranged the killing of Uriah. The first human parents were given a single rule. This they promptly violated. One of their sons murdered the other. The list goes on. Diligent Bible readers do not shirk the negative.
Omitted from the Netflix film, however, are the cases of North Carolina U.S. Senator John Edwards and U.S. President Bill Clinton, both Democrats. Edwards’ case was particularly egregious given his infidelity to his wife, Elizabeth, who was a terminally ill cancer patient. Clinton’s case besmirched not only his wife but the White House itself.
Yet, neither of these two Democrat “leaders” were mentioned in The Family ostensibly owing to their lack of participation in the Fellowship. This despite the fact that both had attended The National Prayer Breakfast, a centerpiece of this documentary on the Fellowship.
Netflix continues it erroneous reporting on the content of the Bible. Consider this example:
“I remember hearing them asking, what if Christ came not for the sheep but for the wolves? This becomes more articulated in this parable of the wolf king. The idea is that the leader of the pack is the most powerful figure. And you can go to the most powerful figure and you can pry open that door and say, let’s come alongside you. The movement sought out wolf kings around the world.”
Truth: The Bible has no “parable of the wolf king.” But that fact does not deter the Netflix narrative which states, “Doug Coe preaches a parable of the Wolf King.” Then they move right on to connect this non-existent parable to President Donald Trump:
“Now at last Trump, the wolf king, has arrived at home. And it doesn’t matter that he’s a believer. The wolf king likes strength and you’re going to put your strength alongside his.”
Truth: The Bible does record Paul speaking of wolves. Alert readers will recall this from Acts 20:
28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number, men will rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them.
Are Paul’s words here prophetic? You decide.
In another instance, Netflix got the Bible quote almost correct yet still strikes a target other than truth. In this case by omission.
A quote attributed to Jeff Sessions: “I would cite Romans 13: “Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government.”
I checked 29 translations of the Bible and came up with this from NIV:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The Netflix production shows itself more than a few times to be specifically disturbed by the words “established” or “ordained” by God. Is this because some of today’s Christians choose to see President Trump as so ordained?
In this case, both Netflix and some Christians arrive at erroneous conclusions. Why? Because both fail to read Scripture with a Paul Harvey “rest of the story” approach.
Were they to do so, they might discover this. In the absence of evil there is no reason for free will! Evil regimes present the need for humans to make choices. Shall we trust God’s sovereignty, or do we consider ourselves as His equal? Hence, God permits, even encourages, evil leaders, as He did with Pharaoh of the time of Moses.
If we read the entirety of Romans 13 (to which Sessions refers) and all of Romans 9, we would discover that God clearly demands that we recognize His sovereignty!
Notice this from Romans 9:
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
The Netflix production does not take into account this factor of God’s sovereignty. Yes, God – clearly shown within the Bible – ordains leaders. His choice, His will, His sovereignty! And, yes, some of those so chosen will be or become evil.
So, back to the concept of free will. We humans have that gift, all of us. Why? We have it so that we can freely choose whether and how to respond to God and acknowledge both His love and
And this is precisely where the Netflix “Family” production reveals itself as propaganda. It selects from the Bible only what advances its cause.
In like fashion, a Netflix-granted interview with Religion News Service uses juxtaposition (one person in physical proximity to another) to suggest evil intent.
(Photo caption) Russians Mariia Butina and Alexander Torshin at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. President Trump later spoke from the podium in the background.
‘Spoke from the podium’? Surely, we see the problem here, right? President Trump did something potentially evil because he used the same podium two Russians used?
Now consider the portrayal of Doug Coe. One Religion News Service writer tells us, “Coe was the longtime head of the International Foundation, a secretive Christian organization known as The Fellowship and The Family, that was responsible for bringing together politicians, diplomats and presidents since Dwight Eisenhower to Washington each year on the first Thursday in February.”
That straightforward description – aside from the word ‘secretive’ – is counterbalanced by this description of Coe, “We see a man who is kind and we are willing to look away from a well-documented record of a person who, given the choice between power and a witness to the faith, chose power every single time.”
Here, the interviewer avoids mention that Coe’s “witness to the faith” is equally likely to be not a quest for power but a result of his adherence to this from Matthew 28:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….”
Truth? Again, you decide!
If Doug Coe’s goal was the accumulation of power, and given that he was successful –witness the National Prayer Breakfast – how is it that the record of his life shows no application of that power? The Netflix “Family” series does not address this omission!
Before concluding, allow me to offer a bit of icing to the cake. In researching this production, I came across an interview by Religion News Service Editor-in-Chief Bob Smietana. Being curious by nature, and having never heard of RNS, I decided to explore. I examined writers, articles, and, yes, a page identifying the organization’s Board of Managers.
Of the six identified members of the board of Religion News Service, only one includes the word “Christianity” in the biographic statements. One board member states he “also serves as Communications Director for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.”
My curiosity radar activated itself. What, pray tell, is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for which this Religion News Service board member is communications director?
So I visited that web site. The result? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) are Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908).
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, I learned, claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus Christ as foretold by the Prophet Muhammad. This “Muslim Messiah” explains how the original teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other world religions eventually converge into true Islam. Christianity converge into Islam?
So, what has all this to do with the Netflix “Family” series?
In fairness, I suppose the Religion News Service interview of the Netflix director of the series has as much to do with the “Family” as did President Trump speaking from a podium earlier used by two Russians at the National Prayer Breakfast. Am I, like Netflix, using “guilt” by proximity? You decide!
Finally, let’s return now to Episode 1 where our narrator tells us that the “Family” was a “group with tentacles around the world.” The words “vine” or “branch” would have served as well. But “tentacles” has a more sinister ring to it. That choice is another of the tools of propaganda. The tool? Connotation. Right out of Joseph Goebbels’ toolbox! Connotation changes a neutral word into a potentially negative one.
Now you may see why early in this article, I said: This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President. Both the Bible and the President are seriously abused by this Netflix production.
Need more convincing? Netflix frequently speaks of secrecy as if everything secret is worthy of suspicion. Go ahead! Count the words “secret” and “secretive” within the series.
By my definition “The Family” is propaganda.
Christ is alive, He is living today
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” – John 21:25
The Season of Easter is the high point of the Christian Church year. Traditionally, worshipers participate in an extended feast wherein the paschal candle is lit at every service as a sign of the risen Christ. Scripture readings highlight every Christian’s connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture readings proclaim the power of the resurrection that gives strength in suffering, unity in diversity, consolation in sorrow, perseverance in adversity and faith in times of doubt. On this, the holiest day of the year and for the entire Season of Easter, many Christian’s greet each other with the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”
Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.
If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). The essential New Testament revelation balances on this as a historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). Christ also clearly prophesied his resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). Thus we can preach that Jesus is alive; that He has risen as He said He would and that He is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Christ is alive! He is living today.
The Bible informs us that Jesus did appear many times after his death and resurrection:
- The empty tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-9.
- To Mary Magdalene at the garden – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 9-11, John 20: 11-18.
- To other women, “the other Mary,” Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 9-10.
- To Simon Peter alone – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 34, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
- To the two disciples going to Emmaus – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 12-13, Luke 24: 13-32.
- To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 36-43, John 20: 19-25.
- To the disciples again (Thomas being present) – Following Sunday – Mark 16: 14, John 20: 26-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
- To seven disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee – sometime later – John 21: 1-23.
- To the eleven at an appointed place in Galilee – sometime later – Matthew 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18.
- More than 500 brethren – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 6.
- To James, but under unknown circumstances – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 7.
- To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and there they saw him ascend “till a cloud received him out of their sight” – Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 24: 44-49, Acts 1: 3-8.
In addition to the above appearances, Christ will return by way of vision and appear to Stephen, several times to Paul, and finally to John to give him the final Revelation:
- Paul at Damascus, speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior – several years later – Acts 9: 1-19, 22: 3-16, 26: 9-18, 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15: 8.
- Paul tells us in Galatians 1:17 that he went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus and three years after his transforming vision of Jesus, he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. During Paul’s 3 years in Arabia he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). He made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not permitted to reveal. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.
- Stephen in his dying vision saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” – sometime later – Acts 7: 55-56.
- John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in Revelation – many years later – Revelation 1: 12-20.
It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.
2 Corinthians 13 cites that, “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word shall be established.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been established as fact. The scriptures tell us of the many appearances of Christ and the witnesses who experienced the events encompassing the resurrection. In Christ we can be confident of our salvation and in Christ we can be confident of our own resurrection.
The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We should find the assurance of our salvation in the truth of God’s Word. We should have trust that we are saved based on the promises God has declared.
A final note: Ephesians 5:13-15
Children of Light
13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
The Governor, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Constitution
In the struggle against COVID-19, policymakers are balancing the health of the people they serve against other important things: work, family life, education, social gatherings, religious worship, and liberty. These things, while they are not life itself, are, to most, at least part of what gives life its joy and flavor. They are the things that liberty, which was at the heart of the Revolution that gave us the Commonwealth of Virginia, serve and make possible.
On Tuesday of last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53, which he augmented with Executive Order 55 on Monday of this week. Together these efforts represent his Administration’s balance between liberty and the spread of a communicable disease.
His orders ban both public and private gatherings of more than ten people and ban leaving the house except for certain approved purposes. He makes violations of these orders punishable by fines and jail time. In doing so, he exempts some gatherings from the decrees, declaring them “essential.” While his list of “essential” activities includes the operations of the media and the government, it does not include religious services.
Virginia is now living in a strange reality where, by two strokes of his pen, the governor has essentially criminalized the everyday life of Virginians. Work, family gatherings, education, graduations, and the worship of Almighty God, could get you fined or thrown in jail. Virginians should think long and hard about that.
One thing that most Virginians will be quick to realize is that such threats are overkill. The vast majority of people (including me) have accepted that the pandemic has made social distancing a prudent course of action for a time, until conditions are more favorable to combat the disease, and are willing to accept the guidance of experts on the matter. Most religious congregations, including my own, are strictly following these guidelines and have canceled public in-person gatherings. Even the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are heeding the advice of public health experts and are closing, with their owners and employees remaining at home.
Most Virginians, however, will sense that something more than just overkill is in play, and they would be correct. In Virginia, which was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty, and is governed according to a Constitution that protects our personal liberty, the Governor cannot go as far as he has. It is not possible to reconcile these Orders with the text of the Constitution they invoke, which protects the right to peaceably assemble (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 12) and the free exercise of religion (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 16).
The most a government that respects its constitutional limitations can do is offer a strong recommendation, back it up with compelling arguments grounded in the best learning on the topic, and repeat it. It crosses a bright ontological line—one that people have died to draw—to go from offering a recommendation to issuing an order, one that the Executive will enforce with fines and jail time. This is especially the case when there is no need for imposing such measures on people who are behaving this way anyway.
Instead, with these orders, the Governor has needlessly complicated his response to the pandemic by taking reasonable, life-saving health guidance and turning it into a crusade against civil society. He has heaped both a constitutional and moral crisis on top of the existing health and economic crises. He has created a necessity for vigilant citizens to work to defend the constitution while trying to stay healthy and financially solvent.
When our forefathers enshrined in the Constitution the freedom to peaceably assemble and the right to the Free Exercise of religion, they did so knowing that these freedoms would come under attack, and had wisdom deep enough to know that this was most likely to occur during a crisis. Where there is tension between measures intended to protect life and the liberty to enjoy it, our Constitution has already struck a clear balance. It does not guarantee us perfect health or freedom from disease; it guarantees us liberty. If that is unsatisfactory to some, they must change the Constitution.
Hopefully reason will prevail with the Governor, and he will revise his approach. If he does not, the people will have an obligation to work to reverse his decrees.
A health crisis, however severe, is no excuse to trample the Constitution. In some respects, the willingness of Virginians to take the measures necessary to protect their health makes this an easy case. If the Governor does not readjust his approach, however, the situation will escalate, causing unnecessary controversy and risk. The Governor has an obligation to work harder to strike a balance that heeds the Constitution.
Scott Lloyd is an attorney from Front Royal, Virginia.
There has been a lot of criticism over the President’s use of the term “Chinese virus” and rightfully so. Names have not always been an accurate way of identifying ground zero for any disease. Health leaders have named this current virus COVID-19. You cannot call this coronavirus because that is a blanket term that covers any type of upper respiratory infection. Also, COVID-19 does not mean the 19th Chinese-originated viral infectious disease this year; it simply stands for Corona Virus Disease 19. Historically speaking we have seen that naming a disease after a region is not always accurate.
With the last great pandemic, the name Spanish Flu is completely inaccurate. The 1918 flu that killed around 50 million worldwide actually is now believed to have begun in Kansas. Yes, the Spanish Flu is actually the Kansas Flu. When Kansans first started going to the doctor, they were treated for the flu, but it was not seen as anything different. At first the problem was not big enough to raise attention and doctors had no good way to report. As the flu spread it did start to receive notice from health and government officials, but coming on the heels of the tragedy of WWI, the governments of the Allied powers tried to stop panic and keep up moral. The disease did not become well known until it hit Spain. Spain was neutral in the War and so not part of the Allies. When the King of Spain came down with the new flu, the Spanish media was free to report it. With the Spanish media being the only ones discussing the new disease, it became known as the Spanish Flu.
The flu hit Europe hard. Large concentrations of troops still there for the War and the troops and the people were worn out and prime for a contagious virus. With so many getting sick and dying and the Spanish press reporting, Allied nations could no longer contain the story. The outbreak in America had not taken off from the original infection, so as troops began arriving from home they brought it from Europe with them.
The idea was that Americans, because of early contact, may have been immune, but those theories were discarded when the virus mutated in the fall and Boston became one of the epicenters. By September, 85,000 Bostonians had the flu and, just south of them in Philadelphia, hundreds were dying a day. It got so bad in the City of Brotherly Love that they ran out of caskets and the manpower to bury the dead. It got so bad in San Francisco that citizens were asked to stop using the phone. No one could reach medical help because lines were tied up and operators were sick. In many ways the Spanish Flu created a situation that is starting to happen now–the streets are empty and everyone’s wearing masks.
A couple of lessons we can learn from the Spanish Flu. First, it came in three waves. Hopefully that will not happen with COVID-19. It started in the spring of 1918 but hit one of its small peaks in June. I know there is hope that COVID-19 will fade out during the warm summer months, but we see that this type of disease can have some peaks then. The largest of the flu’s peaks did come in the colder months of October and November of 1918, followed by another small peak in March the next year.
Secondly, in 1918 it was widely reported that the use of masks was responsible for the containment. This caused a huge run on masks. However, this has been proven as false. One historian, Alfred W. Crosby, who has studied the Spanish Flu, wrote, “People could and did honestly believe that a few layers of gauze would keep out flu bugs, just as screens kept the flies off the front porch.” Crosby credits the flu vaccine for the decline and not masks. The use of masks and the vaccine just happened to start at the same time.
A third possible lesson is to wait and see when and how the disease started. There is some suggestion that COVID-19 may have been in the U.S. long before it was reported. As in 1918, COVID-19 was first regarded as the flu, but now, looking back, health officials are investigating the chance that COVID-19 made it to America in November or December. These cases have not been confirmed, but understanding the Spanish Flu tells us that it is possible.
Lastly, we learn that distancing works, but ultimately a vaccine is needed. If not, we could be isolating ourselves in our homes for much longer than we might expect.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
Coronavirus: Case for eradication of stupidity, not case for war
Suppose I told you our current coronavirus pandemic can be traced to Wuhan, China. “Old news,” you might say.
Suppose I added that four published academic journals dating from 2007 reveal research on this virus. “So what?” you might say.
Suppose I added that ten staff members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have contributed to the coronavirus research. “Sounds reasonable,” you add.
Suppose I added that working with the University of North Carolina staff members was Zhengli-Li Shi of the Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Will you still say, “Sounds reasonable”?
And if you are ready now to question what sounds reasonable, let’s add one more tidbit. Suppose I added that this same Zhengli-Li Shi of China secured a Chinese grant to jointly fund this research and at least one other such study mentioned in this article.
A Chinese grant?
Now is a good time to introduce ourselves to Professor Francis Boyle.
“What might Boyle contribute to the discussion?” you might ask.
Quite a bit, actually. Boyle knows all that’s worth knowing about biological warfare. He is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.
And what does he say about today’s coronavirus?
He says China “bought” our science (remember the grant?) and took it back to China.
Boyle calls what China bought “a turbo-charged biological weapon.” Science calls it a “gain of function.” In brief, add genetic engineering to SARS and HIV to make a more potent biological weapon.
We should recall before proceeding further that biological warfare is nothing new. And because some nations pursue such weapons, others must devise defensive measures. In this article, I am not proposing that the United States has been attacked. Yet.
More likely, given where and when this coronavirus originated, I believe it to be more likely that a mishap in Wuhan might account for our present pandemic. What nation would test its biological weapon on its own citizens before deploying it as a weapon?
But Professor Boyle, in his video update on coronavirus bioweapon video, does reveal his concerns over more lethal, more infectious (gain of function) weapons being “studied.”
I will later offer relevant quotations from some of those studies. We will see the why of Boyle’s concerns.
But for now, let’s go back to September 11, 2001. There is a troublesome similarity between that attack and our current “coronavirus” pandemic. It is clear that we have not learned the lessons of that horrific attack.
The similarity? In the 9/11 attack, our enemy used us to attack us. Terrorists had used our country – lived among us. They used our flight training schools. They used our own aircraft as weapons.
From the standpoint of post-attack analysis, we are forced to credit our 9/11 enemy with excellent planning, excellent preparation, excellent mission accomplishment.
So, why do we now fail to detect that our enemy “uses us” in preparation to attack us?
Sure, we can argue that we all benefit from shared research and that our research is dedicated to finding and preventing yet more lethal virus variations.
But now, keep an eye out for how many times the name Zhengli-Li Shi of China is associated with biological research within the United States. Notice the grants from China. Notice shared information. Ask yourself, have we failed to learn the lessons of 9/11?
I’ll conclude with selected quotations from the four published studies I’ve consulted. I encourage you to seek out those studies, or others, with an eye to the thin line between biological research and biological warfare.
Some revealing quotations:
“Since furin is highly expressed in the lungs, and enveloped virus that infects the respiratory tract may successfully exploit this.” (2)
“ …may provide a gain-of-function to the 2019-nCoV for efficient spreading in the human population.” (2)
“…plasmids encoding bat and human ACE2s were infected with pseudovirus HIV/BJ01-S. Infectivity was determined by measuring the activity of reporter luciferase as described…” (3)
“…these viruses may become infectious to humans if they undergo N-terminal sequence variation, for example, through recombination with other CoVs, which in turn might lead to a productive interaction with ACE2 or other surface proteins on human cells. (4)
“Using this approach, we characterized CoV infection mediated by the SHC014 spike protein in primary human airway cells….” (5)
“To extend these findings, primary human airway epithelial (HAE) cultures were infected and showed robust replication of both viruses (Fig. 1d). Together, the data confirm the ability of viruses with the SHC014 spike to infect human airway cells and underscore the potential threat of cross-species transmission of SHC014-CoV.” (5)
Even at a glance, with these quotations we can see – if not completely understand the science – why it is we need to be applying the lessons we ought to have learned from the 9/11 attack.
We are sharing, giving away, and selling (via grants) that allow others to “use us to defeat us.”
- Prof. Francis Boyle Update on Coronavirus Bioweapon
Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.
- The spike glycoprotein of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins of different bat species confer variable susceptibility to SARS-CoV entry.
- The difference in Receptor Usage between Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus and SARS-Like Coronavirus of Bat Origin American Society for Microbiology, Journal of Virology, 12 December 2007 Vol 82-4.
- An sARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronavirus pose a threat for human emergence
The National Library of Medicine National Medical 2016, April 22.
A response to “Better Safe than Sorry”
I’m confused by the letter to Editor from Mr. Bianchini titled ‘Better Safe than Sorry? ‘ because many know that he is a Reporter/Editor FOR the Royal Examiner. Actually, I thought that the opinions of Editors were Editorials and represented the definitive point of view of a paper. However, I know that the ‘Better Safe…..” letter wasn’t an Editorial because the Editor in Chief of the Examiner had clearly indicated that his opinion virtually mirrored the sentiments I expressed in my ‘COVID-19, Gov’t Help or Hinderance’ letter. I recommend not spending much time trying to make sense of an Editor penning a letter to himself though or you’ll end up needing a couple of aspirins or a stiff drink. I think if the truth was known, there may be an underlying issue of philosophical difference here between a more progressive individual and one with a more conservative-leaning.
With that said, the Better Safe… letter alleges that my comments are based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis. Plus, that indictment is used to suggest that many other observations I made in my March 20 letter should be summarily discredited as a result. Since I always attempt to be objective and pragmatic and being concerned that his statements damaged my credibility as a community advocate, I felt the need to pen this response.
Mr. Bianchini states that my criticism of the Governor’s order limiting public access to restaurants and gyms was evidence of my partisan bias. However, I never mentioned the political persuasion of the Governor and would have made the same criticism if a Republican had acted the same way. The fact that his order was consistent with actions by other state governors and supported by respected scientists in the health field was not a basis for justifying the Governor’s order, in my opinion, because I felt the officials were solely focused on health issues with no consideration of economic issues. In all of the media presentations I watched on the pandemic, and there were many, not once did I hear a health official comment on any economic impact associated with the virus mitigations they recommended. Plus, each state has had varying experiences with the virus so I expected our Governor to be an independent thinker and make decisions based on circumstances that existed solely within our boundaries. When the Governor issued his restrictions there was minimal virus impact in Virginia. Additionally, I opined that social distancing occurred in both the placement of restaurant tables and gym equipment under normal conditions and thus the Governor’s 10 patron limit accomplished virtually nothing except causing many of those businesses to close and jobs to be lost.
Mr. Bianchini said that I defended President Trump when Democrats called him out on saying the virus was a hoax. Clearly, anyone paying attention to media reports would have heard the term was used to describe the Democrat and media response to the President’s actions and statements on the crisis rather than him suggesting the virus itself was a hoax. My defense was also supposed to relate to the President restricting European flights except for two countries where the President owns golf courses. That theory is ridiculous on its face. After entering office, the President gave up management of all of his companies, donated his full salary to the country and has more money than he could spend in several lifetimes. Additionally, wouldn’t it make better sense that the travel exemptions could have been based on the fact that those affected countries (England and Ireland I believe) were geographically separated from other European countries and did not have the volume of virus cases other European countries had? No evidence was included in the ‘Better Safe….” letter that golf courses had any influence on the President’s decision. Strangely enough though, very shortly after those countries were exempted from the travel restriction, they themselves were included in the ban because their virus experience increased significantly.
My claim that ‘the cure was more damaging than the disease’ was based on facts about other serious diseases where government actions were NOT taken that caused a negative impact on our economy. It is estimated that the typical flu will kill 50,000 Americans this year alone and society seems to take that death rate in stride without alarm or precautions which cause a great disruption to our economy. In 2009, the swine flu killed more than 10,000 Americans and a national emergency wasn’t even declared by the President then until 1,000 deaths had occurred. As of the morning of March 23, approximately 42,000 Americans had tested positive for Coronavirus and slightly more than 500 had died but the mitigation recommendations from health scientists have contributed to the virtual economic collapse that affects everyone.
Mr. Bianchini’s March 20, letter to himself asserted that time was needed to determine the impacts on the economy and small businesses. However, there is already overwhelming evidence that the economy is in free-fall with no end in sight. Fact, the stock market has lost over 35% of its value in just several weeks from an all-time high of over 29,000 and trillions of dollars have been lost in Americans’ 401Ks. Fact, the Federal Reserve reduced the interest rate by 100 basis points to .25 percent several days ago in an unprecedented action. The FED has taken other unusual quantitative easing steps to ensure liquidity as well. Fact, our Treasury Secretary projected the unemployment rate could jump above 20% when a couple of weeks ago it was the lowest (3.5) in over 50 years. Fact, a multitude of respected financial institutions have predicted the US Gross Domestic Product will decline by more than 20% in the second quarter of this year. Fact, small businesses have been closing, employees have been furloughed or fired and respected economists have predicted over 2 million jobs could be lost. Considering the above, only an individual with their head in the sand would question whether our economy is in severe distress yet!
The information presented above provides a basis for increasing the validity of other comments I made in the March 20 letter rather than reducing their credibility.
- Students and parents are being terribly affected by school closings.
- The oil supply conflict between Russia and the Saudi’s is exacerbating an already bad situation and the President should use sanctions if necessary to convince them to behave differently.
- Stimulus payments should be targeted to individuals that lost jobs and income rather than broad-based.
- Bail-outs to big corporations should come with limitations on stock buy-backs and executive bonuses.
- A balance needs to be struck between protecting the health of a limited at-risk population and maintaining economic prosperity.
- Critical products such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, electronics, etc. should be manufactured in the US vs China who is an adversary and is using trade imbalance profits to build a military that we may one day have to address with force.
- Congress possibly approving a stimulus package of an obscene amount (trillions! )and increasing our national debt is not fiscally responsible behavior. How selfish is it that we want future citizens to pay for debt we create to address today’s problems?
In conclusion, my presentation here should dispel any claims made in the ‘Better Safe….’ letter that my opinions were based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis, critical thinking and common sense. The truth is that I have substantial criticisms of the President’s behavior and character shortcomings while still being grateful for his Administration’s accomplishments that have benefited virtually all levels of the American public. Plus, the basis for my March 20 letter to the Editor is that I disagreed with the government’s actions because I felt they caused more damage than the virus had. Finally, I am not a member of either major political party and consider myself a Libertarian. Thus, if there is any partisan ideology or bias being represented in recent letters to the Editor, I leave it to you to judge whose it is.
Front Royal, Virginia
If your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign
The first premise for Town Council to consider: if your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign. Then, the question. “What does the Town Council seem to be and/or actually do?”
The answer is that our governance unit has members who are offenders by a legal definition of an offense, some are opossums for playing dead to the Interim Town Manager and the offenders; one active person, and one too new perhaps to help. What have they allowed for the past few months?
They have ignored dealing with offenders who were part of firing people who advanced the economic well being of our town. Those who do nothing about the offenders and the offenders themselves go to fire the best help—people who did not make mistakes fired by people who do. Does that suggest party loyalty over nonpartisan commitment which is the standard in our Town Charter?
The gauntlet has been thrown down: if a person will not act on wrongdoing, then that person is condoning or complicit in the wrongful act. There are personnel complaints. The Town Council is not known to have dealt with any of the complaints. Act to discipline or get out of governance.
What does the Town Council plan to do? Who knows?
In the meantime, thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for taking up the cause of the Visitor Center to ensure accurate information about it is reported.
Front Royal, Virginia