You Have the Right to Remain Stupid

The vicious contagion presents perhaps the most significant personal opportunity for change in our lifetimes.  That’s because the bustle has broken down.  The pursuit of money, sex, power, and other magnets are all on hold. We are now apart from the daily machine that can grind us into unthinking, callous people.  At least most of us are.
So, how about some introspection?  Some inward evaluation.  An honest appraisal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe we start with the country and then we’ll get to what’s really important – our own selves – as the country singers might say.
An essential question for me is: how did this country get so hateful?  

If you are following the contagion news, you know the blame game has kicked in.  It’s the ‘Trump virus,’ according to a New York Times columnist. Another far left writer in that liberal journal (it no longer meets the standards of a newspaper) says the virus is enabled by ultra-religious Christians who ‘deny science.’  Of course, she ties that into the climate change debate as well as President Trump.

On the right, some loons accuse China of weaponizing the contagion without a shred of evidence to back up the claim.
With so much craziness available on the net, often disseminated by corporate media, the divisive atmosphere has fueled a unique kind of American loathing.  Many of us actively despise those with whom we disagree.
Thus, in our newfound downtime, we might think about whether we are a part of the loathing movement and if we are, whether that is enhancing our individual lives.
And then there is ‘what your country can do for you.’ President Kennedy rejected that sentiment, but today the concept is warmly embraced by millions of Americans who firmly believe in the Bernie Sanders doctrine: that the government should provide.  No need for self-reliance, that’s for fools.  A vast central power structure will dictate what Americans can and cannot have.  We the people are not the deciders.  Bernie and his comrades would be.
It is simply incredible to me, a son of the Cold War, that socialism is on the rise in America.  Perhaps during the contagion we can think hard about our individual freedoms which are under assault from the virus.  Do you like being told how to live and where you can go?  How about you, Democratic Party, are you embracing the restrictions we are seeing?  They are obviously necessary.  But they are also a vivid message. This is what can happen all the time when big government totalitarians rule.
On the social front, are you a due process denier?  Do you condemn neighbors based on gossip?  Are you supportive of the trend that all allegations are convictions?  When Brett Kavanaugh was almost destroyed, it was an accusation, not hard facts, that brought him to the brink.  One brave woman, Senator Susan Collins, saved him.  Hundreds of our elected officials embraced the noose.
Finally, what about you?  Do you fear the virus?  Why?  Are you afraid to die?  Do you fear giving the contagion to people you love? Are strangers part of the equation?  Do you feel for the suffering and dying?  Do you pray for them?  Do you pray at all?
All throughout history the world has suffered as it is suffering now.  Those who see the big picture understand that dreadful plagues, wars, natural disasters, and human atrocities are all part of earthly existence.  
People who accept that and learn from the viral calamity, are likely to prosper in the aftermath.
People who see themselves as victims and who lament the loss of individual pursuits, will stay in place.  And, in America, we still have that right – to remain selfish and even more harshly – to remain stupid.

Some Coronavirus Ramblings After a Week Off

I’ll begin this column by thanking some readers who noticed that I didn’t put out a piece last week, and were wondering if my family and I were doing okay during this health crisis.

The answer is yes… or so we assume. So far, the Dalys have only experienced the occasional phantom symptom — one of those brief onsets of a dry throat, cough, or peculiar ache that half-convinces us that things are about to get crazy…before it just sort of disappears on its own. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who’ve gone through this exercise over the past several days.

The reason I didn’t write anything last week (including for my next book) is that it was my children’s spring break. We wanted to do some fun things together as a family, even though our choices were limited by mass closures and social distancing. This included playing games (including a Lego competition that I’m pretty sure I won), watching movies, going on some hikes, and building up some driving hours for my 15-year-old son.

The latter was particularly productive, being that the roads are less traveled than usual, and the small-town destinations we hit — even in normal times — aren’t exactly overflowing with people:


View this post on Instagram


A little filter fun. #Briggsdale #Colorado

A post shared by John A. Daly (@johndalybooks) on

But like lots of others right now, most of our time has been spent at home (where we’ll all be working or doing school work for at least the next month), and truth be told, we’ve probably been more cautious than most people.

For readers who’ve been with me a while, you may remember that my aforementioned son had major spine surgery a couple years ago to fix his scoliosis. Though the surgery was a major success, the damage previously caused by his curved spine left him with some permanently diminished lung capacity. So, while young people are faring this virus better than anyone, we’d rather not put our young person, who has one of those existing conditions we’ve been hearing about, to the test.

For us it adds an extra level of anxiety to this very anxious time in world history, but there are plenty of others who are already dealing with the direct results of the coronavirus. I’m talking about the infected, some of whom are currently fighting for their lives. I’m talking about the families of those who are suffering or have already lost their lives. And I’m talking about the heroic medical workers who are placing their own health at risk every day to treat patients in overcrowded, chaotic environments; we owe them a debt of gratitude that we’ll never be able to pay.

There are also those suffering indirectly from the coronavirus — victims of the incremental shutdown of economic sectors across the globe: the business owners who can’t afford to close down operations, even for a week or two; the workers who are sitting at home or filing for unemployment while their bills begin to pile up; the workers who are having to perform their jobs in risky environments; and those who were about to retire but now can’t.

The economic impact is nothing short of devastating, and things will continue to get worse before they get better. But top medical professionals and the statistics they present make it clear that until we get the spread of this highly contagious disease on a downward slope, the lives of our people and the viability of our medical institutions must be our top concern. In the meantime, we must plan, as Yuval Levin puts it, for a “soft start” following this “hard pause.”

Along with the anxiety and the suffering is anger. And there are plenty of people to be angry at.

First and foremost is the Chinese government, whose extensive cover-up of the seriousness of the disease and its rapid spread led to this global pandemic. According to a study from the University of Southampton, early intervention by Chinese authorities could have reduced the number of infected by as much as 95%. And they continue to suppress information and even rewrite history by suggesting that the disease originated here in America. China will have to face some serious, international consequences for what they’ve done.

Bureaucratic failures in our federal institutions and response procedures will also come under sharp scrutiny once this crisis is over. The CDC came out of the gate very slowly, especially in regard to testing. Our country lagged behind several others (and still does on some fronts), and that cost us valuable time in our efforts to contain and mitigate the virus here within our borders.

Then, there are our political leaders…

Only now, as Congress works with the president on a massive stimulus package, are we recognizing (“remembering” is perhaps the better word) how breathtakingly irresponsible it was to run up huge federal deficits, on top of an already enormous national debt, during a time of economic expansion. Fiscal conservatives (what few are left) had it right; the tribes had it wrong.

In regard to the president, his loyalists will make excuses and tout his leadership all day long, but the truth is that he and his conservative-media echo chamber rhetorically downplayed the threat for weeks. While some good moves were made on travel restrictions, Trump and his minions essentially repeated China’s propagandist, politically helpful picture of what was happening instead of conveying what the top scientists and medical professionals in the world (including those in Trump’s own administration) were saying both privately and publicly. This needlessly fueled conspiracy-driven beliefs that the threat of a global pandemic was a political or media concoction — a sentiment that sadly and dangerously still exists despite the clear reality of the situation.

Even now that Trump has accepted the pandemic for what it is, recently referring to himself as a “war-time president,” he has continued to overstate and over-promise remedies and timelines that people like Dr. Tony Fauci, in the interest of public safety and candor, have repeatedly had to correct the record on (sometimes just minutes later). Conflicting messages at a time like this do not instill trust in our government. And right now, we need to be able to trust our leaders.

Our elected representatives on the left, at least at the federal level, have disgraced themselves well. Taking a page out of Rahm “Never allow a crisis to go to waste” Emanuel’s playbook, congressional Democrats have been delaying the coronavirus relief bill with all sorts of non-coronavrius demands, including collective bargaining powers for unions, increased fuel emission standards for airlines, the expansion of solar and wind tax credits, and Planned Parenthood funding. It’s as if they don’t understand or care about the incredibly serious situation at hand. This is a global pandemic, not a Christmas party.

And of course, the liberal media (who’ve been handling this better than many on the right are willing to give them credit for) are cheapening their coverage by latching on to stupid things. This includes the perceived political incorrectness of labeling the coronavirus after its country of origin, and blaming the president for the death of a man who foolishly ingested fish tank cleaner, because it contained an ingredient that Trump has been promoting (in its medication form) as a possible deterrent against coronavirus symptoms.

It’s all pretty maddening, but anger isn’t going to solve much right now. It’s best that we look forward. And in looking forward, perhaps we also need to narrow our view.

Honestly, at this point in this crisis, I think it’s best that people limit their news intake to maybe a half-hour each day, and perhaps just watch their local news channels instead of the national networks (especially the cable news networks). You’re going to get the same amount of pertinent information locally without all the obsessive, partisan nonsense. And frankly, state governors seem to have as good of a handle on managing this crisis as anyone. Their press conferences have been much more productive than anything I’m seeing at the federal level, and that includes the far-left governor of my own state who I don’t agree with, politically, on anything.

For now, just for the state of minds, I’d suggest that people focus on keeping themselves and those they care about safe (which in some cases means staying away from them), helping out the small businesses in their community (by buying gift cards, carry-out food, etc.), and — if possible — maybe even picking up some new interests or hobbies.

We’re going through a very hard time right now. Surrounding ourselves with noise for hours on end isn’t going to make it any easier.

Suggestions for This Difficult Time

Since we are all stuck at home for weeks, here are some suggestions to help you and help America.

Watch less news. Interview and opinion shows on TV and talk radio shows that add to one’s understanding of the situation can be valuable. But watching depressing, panic-inducing news about COVID-19 24/7 will only make you jittery, anxious and depressed. It’s good for the news networks’ ratings, but it’s bad for your mental health.

Instead, you can read, talk to friends, watch movies, learn a language, listen to music, start a journal, walk outside, garden or engage in hobbies. Do that project you’ve never had time to get to. In short, don’t preoccupy yourself with the virus. My wife and I watched a James Bond movie a few nights ago, and I loved the total escape it provided. And I’m getting more work done on the third volume of my Torah commentary (“The Rational Bible”) than I could have under normal circumstances.

Make sure to stay in touch via phone or video with anyone you know to be alone. For such people, social isolation is close to being in solitary confinement. After two weeks of you and them remaining asymptomatic, I would also suggest visiting such people or having them visit you. Being alone for weeks is likely to be much more hazardous to a person’s health than the relatively small possibility of contracting, let alone dying from, the new coronavirus.

Decide to be happy. As Lincoln said, “We are as happy as we decide to be.” You owe it to those living under house arrest with you — in fact, you are morally obligated — to be as easy to live with as possible during this miserable time. Calibrating your mood now, when it’s tough, will set a great example for your family that could pay big dividends in the future. I could imagine your kids saying decades hence, “Remember how our parent(s) stayed upbeat during the coronavirus scare?” What a wonderful legacy that would be.

If you have kids at home — from as early as fifth grade through graduate school — watch PragerU videos with them. They are all just five minutes long, highly educational and very entertaining. Professors from major universities of the Western world, four Pulitzer Prize winners, three former prime ministers and some of the finest minds in the world offer these courses. There are 400 such videos. They will engender spirited discussion and take your mind off the virus and quarantine. They are all free, so I have no hesitation recommending something I am affiliated with.

Order as many meals as possible from local restaurants. Most Americans will get their food from supermarkets. If you can afford it — and I suspect most readers of this column can — try to get most of your meals from a local restaurant through takeout orders. We need to do everything possible to keep local restaurants in business.

Order online items. During this quarantine, Americans are purchasing more and more items through the internet. Try to order from vendors other than Amazon as much as possible. The purpose is not to hurt Amazon; Amazon is a remarkable company. The purpose is to keep as many internet vendors in business as possible. It takes only an additional minute or two to order from another site.

Don’t look to food for too much comfort. As it is, most people will be moving around far less than normally. When that is added to a lot of junk food, the results will not be pretty. It’s been reported that sales of cookies and chips have gone up significantly in the last few weeks. The last thing you want to do now is weaken your immune system. Eat as healthy as you can. Getting some exercise is also important. Going for a walk every day is a good place to start.

King Solomon, the story goes, asked his wise men (in the ancient world, they emphasized wisdom; people today emphasize knowledge) to make him a magic ring. This ring would lift up his spirits if he got depressed and bring him back down to earth if he got euphoric. The wise men returned with a ring in which the Hebrew words “gam zu ya’avor” were inscribed: “This, too, shall pass.” Keep in mind that this awful period will pass. The human psyche is programmed to think that whatever is happening now — happy or sad — will go on indefinitely.

Nothing does.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Mar 23, 2020 18:10:24 -0700

The Contagion Chronicles

Terrorists all over the world are watching the world panic closely.  Biological warfare has been a reality for decades.  You may remember that Saddam Hussein expelled weapons inspectors from the United Nations after the 9/11 terror attack, which led to the Iraq war.  Saddam’s terror thugs, the Mukhabarat, had indeed developed biological agents but secretly destroyed the program before the fighting began – completely fooling allied intelligence services.
Today, many nations have developed virus weaponry and terrorists would love to acquire the lethal bugs.  COVID from China (sorry race-baiters) has succeeded in severely damaging the worldwide economy and will eventually kill more than one million people. There will, I believe, be a vaccine soon that will ease the disaster, but more viruses are coming.
Some have speculated that Chinese researchers actually spread the virus after it escaped from a lab near Wuhan.  But my investigation says that is false.
In October, 2007, clinical micro-biologists at the University of Hong Kong released a report entitled “SARS-CoV as an agent of Emerging/Re-emerging Infection.”  The paper clearly states the danger:
“Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks.  The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb … therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.”
But that warning was ignored.  Because governments are rarely proactive.  Most countries owe enormous amounts of money and the USA leads the league.  Once we get out of this plague, America will owe close to $25 trillion dollars.  Few countries spend money on medical theories because they simply can’t afford it.
So respirators and virus test kits were not stockpiled. Disease threats from the backwaters of China went largely unknown. And now the contagion rages.
Corona will change many things in America, here are just a few.

The Second Amendment will be strengthened as self-protection rises.

Socialism in America will be crippled as the vital virus vaccine will likely emerge from private drug companies, the ones demonized by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
America’s partisan media will lose even more credibility over foolish and distorted reporting designed not to inform the public, but to engender panic and disillusionment in order to harm the powers that be in Washington.
Trust in the financial markets will plummet. Folks will not only hoard paper supplies, they’ll lockbox cash.
Summing up: many people will suffer in many ways because primitive fools ate infected bats in China.  The damage is severe with evil people taking measure.

Why the Remedy May Be Worse Than the Disease

As of this writing, 6,400 people all over the world have died from the coronavirus. In the United States, 68 people have died.

Some perspective:

Chinese deaths (3,217) account for half of the worldwide total. If you add Italy (1,441) and Iran (724), two countries where many Chinese were allowed in until recently, that totals another 2,165. In other words, outside of China, Italy and Iran — with 5,382 deaths collectively — 1,018 people have died. There are 7.8 billion people in the world.

Regarding Italy, the Jerusalem Post of March 16 reported that according to Nobel Prize-winning chemist Michael Levitt, “Italy’s higher death rate was likely due to the fact that elderly people make up a greater percentage of the population than they do in other countries such as China or France.” As former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson further explained: “Italy has the oldest population in Europe and more elderly per capita than the U.S. Most of the Italian deaths are in patients in their 80s and 90s. In addition, Italy has a great number of direct China contacts. Italy was the first to join China’s ‘silk road’ economic partnership project … (Italy’s) deaths are out of a population of 60 million people.”

Regarding Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 11:

“Iranian officials trace the origins of the country’s coronavirus epidemic to the holy city of Qom, home to … a number of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects built by scores of workers and technicians from China … ‘(China has) turned into a very toxic bomb,’ said Sanam Vakil, deputy Middle East director at Chatham House, a think tank in London.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced a ban on flights from China on Jan. 31 — for which he was denounced by leading Democrats and throughout the left. The very next day, presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden declared, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering.” On Feb. 2, the American Civil Liberties Union announced, “These measures are extraordinary incursions on liberty and fly in the face of considerable evidence that travel bans and quarantines can do more harm than good.”

The current consensus favors near total social isolation, or “social distancing,” as it is now called. The thinking is that we must shut down the Western world to prevent the exponential growth of the virus. If we don’t, our hospital systems will be overwhelmed. Many thousands, maybe more, would die, as doctors have to make grisly triage decisions as to who gets care and who doesn’t. This latter scenario is reported to have already happened in Italy.

Though there is no longer an exponential growth in the United States, they may otherwise be right.

Is this thinking correct? The truth is we don’t know.

We have no idea how many people carry the COVID-19 coronavirus. Therefore, the rates of either critical illness or death are completely unknown. Perhaps millions of people have the virus and nothing serious develops, in which case we would have rates of death similar to (or even below) the flu virus. On the other hand, perhaps not many people carry the virus, but the rates of illness demanding intensive care and of death are much greater than those of the flu.

We can only be certain that shutting down virtually every part of society will result in a large number of people economically ruined, life savings depleted, decades of work building a restaurant or some other small business destroyed. As if that were not bad enough, the ancillary effects would include increased depression and divorce and other personal tragedies. The effects of closing schools for weeks or months will include family chaos, vast numbers of bored young people, health care providers who will have to stay home and more. Yet young people are the least likely people to become ill from the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this statement regarding closing schools:

“Available modeling data indicate … that other mitigation efforts (e.g., handwashing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who (sic) closed school (e.g., Hong Kong) have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not (e.g., Singapore).”

But the longer-term ripple effects are potentially far worse. Economic disasters rarely remain only economic disasters. To give a particularly dramatic example, the Nazis came to power because of economics more than any other single reason, including Germany’s defeat in World War I, the Versailles Treaty or anti-Semitism. Nazi success at the polls was almost entirely related to the Weimar economy. Communist parties don’t fare well in robust economies, but they’re very tempting when people are in dire economic straits. Only God knows what economic dislocation the shutting down of American and other Western economies will lead to. I am not predicting a Nazi or communist ascendancy, but economic and political disaster may be as likely, or even more likely, than a health disaster.

But here is a prediction: If the government can order society to cease functioning, from restaurants and other businesses to schools, due to a possible health disaster, it is highly likely that a Democratic president and Congress will similarly declare emergency and assert authoritarian rule in order to prevent what they consider the even greater “existential threat” to human life posed by global warming.

The dam has been broken. Maybe it was necessary. But when dams break, flooding follows.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Mar 16, 2020 18:16:45 -0700