The city of Bismarck now has PMS
A week ago, on October 26, 2020, the Bismarck City Commission met to decide on liquor licenses, zoning, and mask mandates.
Originally, the mask mandate was to be known as the Pandemic Mitigation Plan. It was changed to the Pandemic Mitigation Strategy (PMS) and took effect on November 1, 2020.
There's not enough Midol in the world to begin.
I know you can't have a double-blind study on mask effectiveness because people obviously know if they're wearing a mask. But then again, the way people are talking about them as if they are talismans, as if they are how you indicate respect and caring—maybe we can pull off a double blind study after all. Because they're not masks, anymore, they're our savior.
Don't believe me?
"We're sitting on the answer to our prayers, people," Commissioner Guy said during the meeting, referring to how masks will save the day. She also later said "We can control our community" and I think she'll be unpleasantly surprised about that.
Control Control Control! Yay!
If you saw Jurassic Park about 20 times in the theater like I did, you'd remember the scene.
John Hammond is sitting in the dining room, eating melting ice cream with Ellie Sattler. Dinosaurs are on the loose, lawyers are being ripped apart, kids are missing, and Dennis Nedry is foi gras.
John Hammond: [Eating several bowls of ice cream, which were melting] They were all melting.
Ellie Sattler: Malcom's okay for now, I gave him a shot of morphine.
John Hammond: They'll be fine. Who better to get the children through Jurassic Park than a dinosaur expert? You know the first [swallows] attraction I built when I came down from Scotland... was a flea circus. Petticoat Lane.Really..quite wonderful. We had uh...a wee trapeze, a merry-go-... carousel.Heh. And a see-saw. They all moved, motorized, of course, but people would say they could see the fleas, "Oh, mummy! I can see the fleas, can't you see the fleas?" Clown fleas, highwire fleas and fleas on parade. But with this place... I wanted to give them something that wasn't an illusion.Something that was real. Something they could see, and touch. An aim not devoid of merit.
Ellie Sattler: But you can't think through this one, John. You have to feel it.
John Hammond: You're right, you're absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that's obvious, we're over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now the next time, everything's correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it'll be flawless.
Ellie Sattler: It's still the flea circus! It's all an illusion.
John Hammond: When we have control again—
Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That's the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too. I didn't have enough respect for that power and it's out now. The only thing that matters now are the people we love. Alan and Lex and Tim...John,they're out there where people are dying. So...[takes a spoonful of ice cream;swallows] It's good.
John Hammond: Spared no expense.
Here we are, in 2020, thinking we're going to control the virus and sparing no expense.
Control is an illusion and if you don't think it is, there are going to be some really tough times in life. But this entire year has been based on thinking we can completely control a highly infectious virus by simply dialing up and down various mandates and restrictions.
We control the virus by controlling the people!
Our vaunted experts are adamant that the world is like their laboratory, that they have control and they simply need to adjust their experiement so that all the moving parts—the people, and therefore the virus—will move according to plan.
When things don't work, we blame and punish the people for some reason, instead of the whole false assumption. Faulty experiment failed? Blame the petri dishes.
What I saw at the city commission meeting is that we have an expert ruling class (which I'll be talking about) that has too many who:
- Don't seem appreciate or even admire the liberties the Constitution provides. They are the reason we have to constantly fight to keep what is ours, because every expert superior-feeling group that comes along thinks they are special enough that they should be allowed to take some of that from the people.
- Don't think very highly of the people they are supposed to be serving, and in some cases, almost seems to despise or mock them. I heard the implication (though I've had it said to me blatantly online by nurses) that people who don't agree with them on this should beg forgiveness if they need to see a doctor, as if we have to earn the right to medical treatment by being properly subservient.
- Seem to think they have rights that supercede the basic rights for all people, and that the messy overlap of where rights bump into each other is their property.
- Think they have the control over life and death.
That control is the key. These are the people who keep building Jurassic Parks 1-3, Jurassic World, and still think there's a chance to make it a solid family venue.
Control was the motivating theme running through the meeting that night, because they are all under the John Hammond illusion. They got seatbelt laws and smoking laws in place. This should be no different, amirite?
But it is.
Smoking has been proven to cause cancer. Seatbelts have proven to save lives. This was determined after years of intensive study (and, in some cases, whistleblowers, which we definitely need in the medical and pharmaceutical industry). Masks are not proven to do what they say they're going to do. They DON'T have a reliable correlation to anything.
Controlling people really seem to like looking out at a sea of covered faces as a signal that they are in power.
The Plebes Make A Stand
That meeting was probably the most plebeian I've ever felt in my life.
People took off work early to get a place in line to speak. Some had to stay outside of the building in the cold because of limited seating. There had been a public health meeting that was moved to a large room earlier in the week, but we were told by the mayor the state prohibited them from moving the main city meeting. I wonder, with all of the emergency powers and the abilitites to reduce room capacity and public attendance, if those same emergency powers couldn't work the other way, for the people, just once, and couldn't move the venue?
We lined up so close in the tiniest hallway, some standing up the staircase. There were about 25 of us, the air was hot, and I could smell a mix of bad breath. Once the doors were opened to get into the meeting room, we had to sit six a ridiculous six feet apart. We'd already been stacked on each other for half an hour. The deed was done. But nothing stops safety theater.
The meeting was opened with the pledge of allegiance, with the word liberty right there for the world to hear. Those on the Zoom call didn't have to say that dirty word, though. It was the people in the room, standing with hand over heart, that spoke it out loud.
Only two doctors came to speak. One breezed in at the last moment and left, but kudos to them for coming. All of the rest of our health experts, a very long slate of medical personnel, came down from Mt. Olympus to visit us via Zoom. They performed a completely perfect choreographed dance of refuting what each person had to say by listing their medical degrees, claiming ownership of over 150 studies that said we were wrong, informing us we were improperly exercising the Christian faith, and reassuring us that this was a complicated topic and we lay folk were probably not really able to understand it.
"You could've done that too!" Mayor Bakken sharply scolded a man who finally pointed out this strange seperation of Zoom experts and hallway covidized citizens.
Yes, I suppose if all of the public knew of the link to join, if they all had computers and the know-how to hop on Zoom, and if they thought for one moment that the natural state of things didn't require their physical presence to put pressure on leadership because our words would be ignored, sure. We could've done it. I'm sure the older military veteran who spoke has a sweet Macbook and internet setup at home, adept at hopping on Zoom.
I joke, but it really wasn't.
Several of us were texting each other quietly. We were shocked at the blatant visual of people coming up to speak at the podium passionately about why they didn't want a mask mandate to be followed by a medical professional who seemed either angry or patronizing, all following party line.
The mask mandate crowd wouldn't even come to the meeting, for the most part.
One doctor was allowed to speak twice, to rebut the accusation of what it meant that they couldn't even be bothered to come. The public sitting there wasn't allowed this same opportunity.
One man sitting in the meeting room, stocky with a flannel shirt, came up and was very blunt. He pointed out that there seemed to be this idea that if you don't have a post-secondary degree, you could be disregarded. He then said he had a post-secondary degree, and his daughter was a respiratory therapist.
The anger was only intensified by what seemed like a tightly planned shut down of public comment by lining up doctors to assure leaders they could disregard the folks at the podium. Not so much with proof and numbers—it was the public who came locked and loaded with charts, printouts, numbers, and data. No, the medical professionals did it by a pure appeal to authority. They never left the talking points. Not a one of them.
"You must trust us because we just know better than these people" was the gist of their argument.
The experts, sitting comfy and safe in their homes.
The plebes, waiting packed in a hallway for a chance to speak for three minutes and three minutes only.
Every once in a while one of them would forget to mute themselves and you could hear them try to rebut, just for a moment, a person at the podium. They were truly loaded in the queue just to shoot the people's comments down.
I think, hearing members from our medical community confused and angry and disgusted by all the talk of personal liberty, was the biggest moment of gestalt for me.
All of this, the whole setup, of realizing you're getting played, that all your effort was already dismissed before you got into that room and that a plan for shooting it down through public farce had already been arranged and was set to put into motion—that made people even more angry than the mask mandate itself.
The doctors on Zoom never got scolded. They were, either by lack of physical presence or who they are, treated with graciousness and allowance. I can't say that was always the case for some in the room.
It was truly a moment I won't forget.
You filthy virus-laden idiots who don't know what's good for you. We'll show you. We'll protect you from yourself. We're going to scold you for talking about personal liberty. You're just not smart enough to understand what you're talking about. So stop talking.
We have been listenting to the "experts" for 8 months. Their opinions are everywhere, and we have to fight not to be force-fed what they're telling us we must think.
It's a fluid situation, but just keep trusing us! they say. They promise more "tools" and mitigation will work.
Amazing how none of the experts we heard from that night, piped in via Zoom, were against masks.
I know they exist.
I know they exist here in Bismarck.
I know they exist here in Bismarck, in the Sanford system.
But they can't speak up or they could jeopardize their job.
I cannot reiterate enough how the public came with notes. They came with data. They came with research. They came ready. While we waited for the meeting to start, I saw many of them with pens in hand, going over their notes in their laps. These were not idiots. And the next day, many of them who were business owners were targeted online by nasty people.
We had the information. And then the experts provide nothing of the sort, just emotion and authority, and they are the ones heard.
One expert, a Dr. Mateo (who I actually didn't mind much, because he spoke plainly) admitted when it came to the hierarchy of data and information, expert opinion was at the bottom.
And yet, their words carried so much weight that they didn't even have to be physically present.
These Knuckleheads Don't Know Jack About The Constitution
During the meeting, I sat in the front, off to the side near where the city attorney and some other guy named Keith were sitting. I didn't catch Keith's last name, unfortunately.
Somewhere, around 8:10 pm when we had a short 5-minute break, I had the distinct pleasure of watching Janelle Combs, the Bismarck city attorney, joking with Keith and the Bismarck Police Chief. What joy filled my heart to see her eyes crinkle up in a smirk (couldn't see her mouth, it was masked, you know) as she laughed and dismissively referred to how many of us had talked about personal liberty.
"The Constitution doesn't give you the right to not wear masks," she said, rolling her eyes and laughing. The other two chuckled with her. I don't know if in agreement or just being polite.
You know, that sucks, hearing that from the legal counsel for our city.
Now they can deny it. But I heard it. I'd swear on a Bible I heard her say it as I looked right at her. I looked straight at the Police Chief as he walked by on his way out. I heard it. I told my friend about it right away. It happened.
Public health is the perfect vehicle to strip away rights. Fear over sickness crosses party lines and you can get just about anyone (as we've seen this year) to do things they'd never do if you wrap it in a public health emergency.
To extrapolate from what the city attorny said, if you don't have the Constitutional right to not wear a mask, because it's for the greater public health good, you don't have the right to not have a vaccine, to not be sterilized or killed if you had Down syndrome (hey, when they did it, it was the medical experts who said to and it was for the greater good!), to not do a lot of things because as we've discovered this year, there's been a lot determined to be bad for the public good.
Like church, for example.
Ask The City If You Can Have Communion
First off, I'm a little surprised there were no pastors at the city meeting. The original language in the Punish Yo' A** Pandemic Mitigation Plan woud have had significant restriction on church activities in its original form.
Between the city lawyer and Commissioner Guy, the church conundrum was no problem. Just present your safety plan to Environmental Services (i.e. the city) and they'd see if it was OK to give you permission.
Permission for what?
Commissioner Splonkowski expressed some concern about the attendance limitations and required distance from non-family members.
First, the attendance.
Then there's this bit.
Admittedly, in light of this, Commissioner Splonkowski was curious as to how he would be able to take communion during mass.
Combs, the city attorney, casually suggested they could just do it virutally online because that's what her church did. I'm not Catholic, but even my jaw dropped.
Pause. "That doesn't really work for Catholics," Splonkowski said.
No pastor came to the meeting and this language is what Commissioner Guy and Combs thought would be just fine, I guess. Is John MacArthur on call? We might need him on December 8th when this is potentially revisited.
I could make a more extensive joke here about wondering if this is California, but actually, one of the public commenters was a guy from California and he pointed out that he left there and came to North Dakota and what the heck was this now?
THE WORD IS COMMUNION. THINK ABOUT IT.
This is right about the moment where the ridiculous penalties for businesses and church restrictions gave a couple of waffling commissioners a chance to try to please everyone.
Before we go further, I want to remind you something I learned on the farm as well as read online several times leading up to the meeting:
|A compromise is still giving up ground.|
When the process began in which the commissioners began trying to turn a big disaster into a slightly smaller one, something interesting happened.
Commissioner Zenker wanted the language changed, allowing an exemption for churches. He even made a comment that wearing masks at church would change the experience. I sat in the front, and the large TV screen in front of me showed what Combs was typing on her computer to change the wording per the commissioner's request. I watched as she added in that masks in church were highly recommended. She wasn't told to put that in. When Zenker saw it, he said something like "oh...OK" and that was that. She got the language in.
You might think it small, but the city attorney put that in, on her own. (And yes, two other people there saw this happen too, and it struck them as notable).
Hey pastors. Where were you? Your church attendance was on the cutting board. Probably will be again, because it's clear there were two people in the room who'd really like to see it pushed behind a screen.
Tricky Shifting Fear Goal Posts
One thing I noticed was that during the commissioners discussion, there was a slight shift in what we were to be motivated by (i.e. afraid of). There was some talk about the hospitals, but the other fear was that there was fear the governor would shut down schools and businesses if the numbers got too high. They know a shutdown is the bigger motivator, the bigger fear, than the actual virus.
Let's drive public policy by fear over exceeding an arbitrary rate associated with colors that get to decide whether we can keep businesses open or not.
Regarding the hospitals, Commissioner Splonkowski made a very good point in that yes, hospitals have the beds but not the staff, and why is that? If a private for-profit hospital has high demand but low staff, what would a normal business do? They'd pay more to get more staff. Instead, we're going to punish the people, blaming them and insisting they wear useless masks to solve the problem, for a hospital's lack of planning and unwillingness to attract and keep staff.
Hospitals are run by MBAs. Bottom line is their concern. Traveling nurses, high patient census this time of year...these aren't unusual. And if they are, ABSOLUTELY NO DATA WAS PROVIDED to compare a normal year with this year. We did hear the shocking data, from a no-mask-mandate doctor who came to share, that the deaths in assisted living homes this year is no higher than any previous year.
You think about that.
We're just reporting each and every one.
Burleigh Public Health Officer Renae Moch was asked for some of these contextual numbers. She didn't have them, of course, because the experts only came with the numbers and information they had decided to share.
Context-free numbers are just one of the many tools public health has in its toolbox, I guess.
Toolboxes Have Tools For Machines
I don't want my doctor to have what is apparently the "toolbox" approach. Over and over I heard these experts say that masks are just one tool in the toolbox, as if we were machines with gears where various tools were applied in controlled and predictable situations for a fix.
If that's how they view life, no wonder so many people have real symptoms of various nature and, when doctors can't figure it out with their toolbox, are dismissed as either making it up or the symptoms being psychosomatic.
Masks are a tool, they kept saying.
Commissioner Guy asked Dr. Mateo how many people needed to wear masks to see an improvement. He said 75% of people were needed to flatten the curve, but 95% to start reducing it.
"So if we do that, we'll see improvement?"
"You do something now, that's the expectation," Dr. Mateo replied.
Listen there, folks. That's the tricky bit. "We aren't sure, but that's what we'd expect to see. Granted, we haven't seen that anywhere else and that data is out there, but this time, here in Bismarck, that's what we'd expect to see because if it hasn't worked anywhere else let's try it here."
Good luck getting 75% .
The Need For Constitutional Leaders At Every Level
Tonight, at the Bismarck city commission meeting, I saw a leader want punishment and control, I saw a couple of waffles, I saw a leader want the governor to do the dirty work, and a leader stand for liberty.
Luckily, the leader who stood for pure liberty was young, and is the future.
We need to stop electing people who are "good folks" and instead, elect people who truly and firmly believe in the rights provided in the Constitution. Because in moments like this as we've seen this year, down to the smallest levels a city and school boards and sheriff's departments, they can still make your life miserable and make you feel guilty for even demanding that you keep your personal liberty.
There is a hatred for freedom, you see.
We love the idea of it when we say the pledge and sing the anthem, but when it gets uncomfortable and bumps up against our fear, nope. We don't like it.
North Dakota's elite and ruling classes are full of an apparent disgust for the idea of free people roaming the prairie. We just think they aren't like that here because we're programmed to be nice and work hard and go to church as a tradition. But when something like this comes up, you suddenly get a real view. Fear and power have a way of exposing who people are.
Some of the businesses owners who spoke at the meeting were featured on the news in a way that has caused them to take heat. For simply asking for their freedoms to be preserved, they are now targeted. That's your news media. That's your fellow citizens. That's your leaders in government, organizations, and the community.
Ultimately, I left that meeting not surprised, somewhat angry, and absolutely resolved to not wear a mask.
Now, a week later, I'm less angry as I am disillusioned. You still gotta pray for your leaders. You can't see them as your enemy. But you get to the point where, after your leaders tell you you're uncaring and disrespectful and bad and the problem and not welcome in stores and angry that you want personal liberty and annoyed that you showed up to talk—you just start to check out of society.
You find your people. You save your money. You stop hearing them.
You don't forget.