The Evil of Coerced Medicine

the-evil-of-coerced-medicine

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The following is an adapted excerpt from my book “The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State” from Regnery Publishing.

In their understandable enthusiasm to roll out the novel covid vaccines as widely and quickly as possible in early 2021, the public health establishment succumbed to two dangerous temptations: Propaganda and coercion.

That their approach deployed these with the common good in mind (achieving herd immunity) and with good intentions (ending the pandemic as quickly as possible) does not alter the fact that such approaches were deeply misguided and represented deeply disturbing trends in public policy. Public pronouncements in the name of science could not be questioned, and behavioral outcomes could be achieved by any means necessary.

Coercive covid vaccination mandates rested on several unproven postulates, which mainstream opinion took to be axiomatic and unassailable: (1) the vaccines were safe for everyone; (2) the vaccines were necessary for everyone; therefore, (3) any vaccine hesitancy is a public relations problem that must be overcome.

The “needle in every arm” goal was set in advance; the only deliberation permitted was about the most efficient means toward this predetermined end. Any scientist, physician, or policymaker who broke ranks to question one or more of these axioms was at best a nuisance or at worst dangerous — someone to be ignored as backward or dismissed as a threat to public health. People who asked inconvenient questions were labeled with the dismissive “anti-vax” epithet, a term that functioned to exclude them from the realm of reasonable discourse.

Some of the vaccine propaganda would have been laughable if it wasn’t so clearly displaying sanctimonious contempt for its audience. Consider a televised public service announcement from Ohio’s Department of Health: a friendly immunologist clears up misinformation about what’s in a covid vaccine by explaining, “There are just a few simple ingredients: water, sugar, salt, fat, and most importantly, a building block for protein. … That’s less stuff than a candy bar or a can of pop.” 

The absurd message suggests that vaccine risks are no different from the risks of eating a candy bar or drinking a soda — clearly government-sponsored misinformation if that word means anything. The condescension on display also tells you all you need to know about what Ohio’s public health officials think of the intelligence of the average citizen.

Aside from what was said, the most egregious form of propaganda was the vaccine-related information that was deliberately withheld or deemphasized. As mentioned earlier, the New York Times reported in February 2022: “Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency [the CDC] has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected.” 

For example, when the agency “published the first significant data on the effectiveness of boosters in adults younger than 65 … it left out the numbers for a huge portion of that population: 18- to 49-year-olds, the group least likely to benefit from extra shots.” The CDC’s stated reason for withholding much of its data was that it did not want to increase vaccine hesitancy.

The result was messaging from public health officials that sounded indistinguishable from the marketing departments of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Granted, public health communications must be simplified for broad consumption; but there is a key difference between simplifying information for the layperson and dumbing it down to manipulate the masses, or deliberately suppressing information that might undermine a predetermined public policy. 

This was not public education but a manipulative effort at behavioral control. In the most precise meaning of the term, it was propaganda. Large swaths of the public who were not hypnotized by the repetition of memes could sense, even if they could not explain, that they were subjected to manipulation.

As vaccination rates approached 50% in the United States, vaccine updates slowed by April 2021. Reports began to emerge of serious side effects, and studies from Israel, which started its mass vaccination campaign before the US, suggested that vaccine efficacy waned rapidly. 

Public health efforts pivoted from propaganda to heavy-handed nudges and bribes. Several states entered vaccinated citizens into lotteries awarding cash prizes of $1 million or more. Other states and cities launched promotions for vaccination ranging from free beer in New Jersey to raffles for full-ride college scholarships in New York and Ohio to a free marijuana joint in Washington for those who took the jab. (The latter brought to, naturally, by people who sincerely care about your health.)

When these nudges didn’t work, officials simply mandated the vaccines, with severe penalties for those who declined. As my own institution, the University of California, prepared to issue its vaccine mandate, I argued publicly in the pagesof the Wall Street Journal in June 2021 that university vaccine mandates violated foundational principles of medical ethics, including the principle of informed consent. 

Although the minimal conditions for justifying vaccine mandates were never close to being met, institutions embraced these misguided policies with little meaningful public discussion and no debate.

Article republished via the Brownstone Institute.

The Confinement of the Healthy

the-confinement-of-the-healthy

Take a breath. Release the tension in your body. Place attention on your physical heart. Breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

COVID-19 represents the first time in the history of pandemics that we confined healthy populations. While the ancients did not understand the mechanisms of infectious disease—they knew nothing of viruses and bacteria—they nevertheless figured out many ways to mitigate the spread of contagion during epidemics. These time-tested measures ranged from quarantining symptomatic patients to enlisting those with natural immunity, who had recovered from the illness, to care for the sick.

From the lepers in the Old Testament to the plague of Justinian in Ancient Rome to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, lockdowns were never part of conventional public health measures. The concept of lockdowns arose in part from a public health apparatus that had become militarized over the previous two decades. We now routinely hear of “countermeasures,” but doctors and nurses never use that word, which is a term of spycraft and soldiering. 

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In 1968, while an estimated one to four million people died in the H3N2 influenza pandemic, businesses and schools stayed open and large events were never cancelled. Until 2020 we had not previously locked down entire populations, because that strategy does not work. In 2020 we had zero empirical evidence that lockdowns would save lives, only flawed mathematical models whose predications were not just slightly off, but wildly exaggerated by orders of magnitude.

When Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, leading the president’s coronavirus task force, decided in February 2020 that lockdowns were the way to go, the New York Times was tasked with explaining this approach to Americans. On February 27, the Times published a podcast in which science reporter Donald McNeil explained that civil rights had to be suspended if we were going to stop the spread of COVID. The following day, the Times published McNeil’s article, “To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It.”

The piece did not give enough credit to Medieval society, which sometimes locked the gates of walled cities or closed borders during epidemics, but never ordered people to stay in their homes, never stopped people from plying their trade, and never isolated asymptomatic individuals from others in the community. 

No, Mr. McNeil, lockdowns were not a Medieval throwback but a wholly modern invention. In March of 2020, pandemic lockdowns were an entirely de novo experiment, untested on human populations.

Although these measures were unprecedented, there was virtually no public conversation or debate about lockdown policies. Wise solutions to vexing policy questions always involve prudential judgments that no single epidemiological model can provide. 

Our politicians abdicated responsibility by hiding behind “The Science” or “The Experts,” as though these trademarked phrases conjured a single monolithic table of all-encompassing data. They should have considered the various complex risks and harms—not to mention a thousand other imponderables—of decisions like lockdowns or mask mandates.

This term “lockdown” originated not in medicine or public health but the penal system. Prisons go into lockdown to restore order when prisoners riot. When the most tightly controlled and surveilled environment on the planet erupts into chaos, order is restored by asserting swift and complete control of the entire prison population by force. Only strictly surveilled confinement can keep the dangerous and unruly population in check. Prisoners cannot be permitted to riot; inmates cannot run the asylum.

In February of 2020 our society believed that chaos was coming, and we embraced the idea that this penal solution was the right, indeed the only sensible, response. Lockdowns met remarkably little resistance when initially implemented. “Fifteen days to flatten the curve” seemed reasonable to most people. One after another in rapid succession, governors ordered us to stay at home. 

We readily obeyed. To refuse, we were told, was to recklessly court death. Any small pockets of resistance were swiftly stigmatized. As one journalist described it, “Appeals to science were weaponized to enforce conformity, and the media portrayed anti-lockdown protesters as backwards, astroturfed white nationalists bent on endangering the public.” Who wanted to be classed in that camp?

Reports about COVID had already mesmerized the world for a few months leading up to lockdowns. We stayed glued to screens, watching case counts rise as we tracked coronavirus deaths in foreign countries. Not yet seeing cases in the US and UK, we relied for guidance on mathematical modeling. 

Because we were primed for panic, the model chosen was not one of the many sober statistical predictions, but the terrifying numbers published by Neil Ferguson’s group at the Imperial College London, which predicted 40 million deaths in 2020. We conveniently ignored Ferguson’s dismal track record of wildly overestimated predictions in prior epidemics, and sidelined critics like the legendary biostatistician John Ioannidis of Stanford, who warned that the Imperial College model was grounded in seriously faulty assumptions.

No matter—this time, surely, Ferguson’s dire prophecies would be vindicated. As it turned out, the model was proven more wildly wrong than any of the other leading models on offer. The Imperial College model predicted that if it did not lock down, Sweden would have 80,000 deaths by the end of June. 

It remained one of the few countries that did not lock down and had 20,000 deaths, even using methods resulting in overcounting. Ferguson’s model was testable and was clearly proven wrong, but that fact did nothing to shift our trajectory.

It’s hard to overstate the novelty and folly of what happened worldwide in March of 2020. What descended upon us was not just a novel virus but a novel mode of social organization and control—the beginnings of a new biomedical security state that I describe in my book, The New Abnormal.

Article published via  The New Abnormal.

Uncovering the Army of Federal Censors

uncovering-the-army-of-federal-censors

I’ve recently posted twice on the case of Missouri v. Biden, in which the states of Missouri and Louisiana — along with four private plaintiffs (Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, the non-profit Health Freedom Louisiana, and yours truly) represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance — are suing the Biden Administration for alleged free speech violations.

Specifically, the executive branch of the federal government has been colluding with social media to censor any content on social media platforms — Twitter, YouTube (owned by Google), and LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft), Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Meta) — any content that questions, challenges, or contradicts the government’s covid policies.

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While private companies might arguably choose to censor content on their platforms, the government cannot pressure or coerce private companies to censor disfavored content. Any such action is clearly a violation of the free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

As we articulate in our latest legal brief:

“Under the First Amendment, the federal Government should have no role in policing private speech or picking winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas. But that is what federal officials are doing, on a massive scale.”

Our joint statement on discovery disputes legal brief, filed with the court and made public today, revealsscores of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies have secretly communicated with social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech federal officials disfavor.

This unlawful enterprise has been wildly successful. Here are just a few excerpts from this document, which includes attachments of hundreds of pages of emails and other governmental and Big Tech internal communications as supporting evidence. These documents were obtained after we requested the following information on discovery:

Plaintiffs served interrogatories and document requests upon the Government Defendants seeking the identity of federal officials who have been and are communicating with social-media platforms about disinformation, misinformation, malinformation, and/or any censorship or suppression of speech on social media, including the nature and content of those communications. Plaintiffs also served third-party subpoenas on five major social-media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Meta), YouTube, and LinkedIn. On August 17, 2022, the Government Defendants provided objections and responses to the Plaintiff States’ discovery requests, and began a rolling production of documents that was completed on August 26, 2022. 

Here’s some of what we found so far in the documents that have been turned over, as described in our latest legal filing to the court:

Secretary Mayorkas of DHS [Department of Homeland Security] commented that the federal Government’s efforts to police private speech on social media are occurring “across the federal enterprise.” Doc. 45, ¶ 233. It turns out that this statement is true, on a scale beyond what Plaintiffs could ever have anticipated. The limited discovery produced so far provides a tantalizing snapshot into a massive, sprawling federal “Censorship Enterprise,” which includes dozens of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies and components identified so far, who communicate with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, and the suppression of private speech on social media—all with the intent and effect of pressuring social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech that federal officials disfavor.

The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency], the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the US Election Assistance Commission. And it rises to the highest levels of the US Government, including numerous White House officials. More discovery is needed to uncover the full scope of this “Censorship Enterprise,” and thus allow Plaintiffs the opportunity to achieve fully effective injunctive relief. Defendants have objected to producing some of the most relevant and probative information in their possession—i.e., the identities, and nature and content of communications, of White House officials and officials at other federal agencies who are not yet Defendants in this case because they were unknown when Plaintiffs served their discovery six weeks ago. Defendants have objected to producing discovery that would reveal both the height and the breadth of the federal “Censorship Enterprise.” The Court should overrule these objections and order Defendants to provide this highly relevant, responsive, and probative information.

Our brief continues:

First, the breadth and extent of the federal Defendants’ censorship activities is massive. In their initial response to interrogatories, Defendants initially identified forty-five federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all within only two federal agencies, DHS and HHS), who communicate with social-media platforms about misinformation and censorship. Ex. 1 (Defendants’ Redacted Interrogatory Responses), at 15-18.

[…]

The third-party social-media platforms, moreover, have revealed that more federal agencies are involved. Meta, for example, has disclosed that at least 32 federal officials—including senior officials at the FDA, the US Election Assistance Commission, and the White House—have communicated with Meta about content moderation on its platforms, many of whom were not disclosed in response to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories to Defendants. YouTube disclosed eleven federal officials engaged in such communications, including officials at the Census Bureau and the White House, many of whom were also not disclosed by Defendants. Twitter disclosed nine federal officials, including senior officials at the State Department who were not previously disclosed by Defendants.

As I will write about more in a future post, the government is protecting Anthony Fauci and other high level officials by refusing to reveal documents related to their involvement. Stay tuned for more on that issue. For now, as our brief explains here, those implicated include many officials at the highest level of the current administration:

Second, these federal censorship activities include very senior officials within the US Government, i.e., “members of our senior staff,” in former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s words. Doc. 42, ¶ 174. Defendants have steadfastly refused to respond to any interrogatories or document requests directed to the White House officials, such as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in his capacity as Chief Medical Advisor to the President. But their own document production provides a glimpse into the involvement of several senior White House officials in communications with social-media platforms about censorship – including White House Senior Covid-19 Advisor Andrew Slavitt, Deputy Assistant to the President Rob Flaherty, White House Covid-19 Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement Courtney Rowe, White House Digital Director for the Covid-19 Response Team Clarke Humphrey, among others. See Ex. 3.

Further, the social-media platforms have independently disclosed the identities of senior White House officials involved in such communications. For example, Meta has disclosed the involvement of additional White House officials as White House Counsel Dana Remus and White House Partnerships Manager Aisha Shah, as well as Deputy Assistant to the President Rob Flaherty. YouTube has disclosed the involvement of White House officials such as Rob Flaherty and Benjamin Wakana, the Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement at the White House COVID-19 Response Team. Twitter has disclosed the involvement of Andrew Slavitt.

Our lawyers then cite a few examples of how this government censorship regime has been functioning, as revealed by internal communications:

The limited communications produced so far from these high-level officials are particularly relevant and probative, because they provide revealing glimpses into the intensive oversight and pressure to censor that senior federal officials placed on social-media platforms. For example, after President Biden publicly stated (about Facebook) on July 16, 2021, that “They’re killing people,” a very senior executive at Meta (Facebook and Instagram) reached out to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to engage in damage control and appease the President’s wrath. Ex. 4, at 1. Soon thereafter, the same Meta executive sent a text message to Surgeon General Murthy, noting that “it’s not great to be accused of killing people,” and expressing that he was “keen to find a way to deescalate and work together collaboratively.” Ex. 5, at 1.

Such “deescalation” and “working together collaboratively,” naturally, involved increasing censorship on Meta’s platforms. One week after President Biden’s public accusation, on July 23, 2021, that a senior Meta executive sent an email to Surgeon General Murthy stating, “I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation, as well as steps taken to further address the ‘disinfo dozen’: we removed 17 additional Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts tied to the disinfo dozen….” Ex. 3, at 2. Again, on August 20, 2021, the same Meta executive emailed Murthy to assure him that Facebook “will shortly be expanding our COVID policies to further reduce the spread of potentially harmful content on our platform. These changes will apply across Facebook and Instagram,” and they included “increasing the strength of our demotions for COVID and vaccine-related content,” and “making it easier to have Pages/Groups/Accounts demoted for sharing COVID and vaccine-related misinformation.” Ex. 4, at 3. In addition, that senior Meta executive sent a “Facebook bi-weekly covid content report” to Surgeon General Murthy to White House official Andrew Slavitt, evidently to reassure these federal officials that Facebook’s suppression of COVID-19 “misinformation” was aggressive enough for their preferences. Ex. 4, at 6-19.

The brief then goes on to explain how this amounts to more than just collaboration or cooperation between government and Big Tech, but coercive use of power dynamics to pressure Big Tech to do the government’s bidding:

Such communications from the White House impose maximal pressure on social-media companies, and they clearly get results when it comes to censorship. And federal officials are fully aware that such pressure is necessary to induce social-media platforms to increase censorship. CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] Director Jen Easterly, for example, texted with another CISA official about “trying to get us in a place where Fed can work with platforms to better understand the mis/dis trends so relevant agencies can try to prebunk/debunk as useful,” and complained about the Government’s need to overcome the social-media platforms’ “hesitation” to working with the government: “Platforms have got to get more comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain.” Ex. 5, at 4 (emphasis added).

Perhaps these companies were hesitant because they knew that the government pressure and coercion was clearly unlawful, not to mention the fact that private companies and publishers don’t want to be told what to publish and don’t want their policies dictated by government officials. Our legal brief goes on:

In fact, such pressures from government officials on social-media companies, along with the many public statements alleged in the Complaint, have succeeded on a grand scale. Discovery received so far indicates that a veritable army of federal bureaucrats are involved in censorship activities “across the federal enterprise.” They include the 45 key custodians identified in Plaintiffs’ interrogatory responses so far, 32 federal officials identified by Facebook so far, eleven officials identified by YouTube, and nine identified by Twitter (many of which do not overlap, either with each other or Defendants’ disclosures). And Defendants have not yet received interrogatory responses reflecting Defendants’ knowledge of federal officials at other agencies who communicate with social-media platforms about censorship — but apparently there are many. So many, in fact, that CISA Director Jen Easterly and another CISA official apparently complained, in an internal text messages, that “chaos” would result if all federal officials were “independently” contacting social-media platforms about so-called misinformation: “Not our mission but was looking to play a coord role so not every D/A is independently reaching out to platforms which could cause a lot of chaos.” Ex. 5, at 4.

These federal bureaucrats are deeply embedded in a joint enterprise with social-media companies to procure the censorship of social-media speech. Officials at HHS routinely flag content for censorship, for example, by organizing weekly “Be On The Lookout” meetings to flag disfavored content, Ex. 6; sending lengthy lists of examples of disfavored posts to be censored, Ex. 6, at 21-22; serving as privileged “fact checkers” whom social-media platforms consult about censoring private speech, Ex. 7; and receiving detailed reports from social-media companies about so-called “misinformation” and “disinformation” activities online, Ex. 4; among others. CISA, likewise, has aggressively embraced its “evolved mission” of screening complaints of social-media disinformation and then “routing disinformation concerns” to social-media platforms, Doc. 45, ¶¶ 250-251. CISA routinely receives reports of perceived “disinformation” and forwards them to social-media companies, placing the considerable weight of its authority as a federal national-security agency behind other parties’ demands for suppression of private speech. Ex. 8.

Moreover, many of these substantive communications from federal officials flagging specific posts and content for censorship seem to occur through alternative channels of communication that Plaintiffs have not yet obtained (as the third-party social-media platforms contend they are shielded from discovery by the Stored Communications Act). For example, Facebook trained CDC and Census Bureau officials on how to use a “Facebook misinfo reporting channel.” Ex. 9. Twitter offered federal officials a privileged channel for flagging misinformation through a “Partner Support Portal.” Ex. 9, at 69. YouTube has disclosed that it granted “trusted flagger” status to Census Bureau officials, which allows privileged and expedited consideration of their claims that content should be censored.

In the face of these and many other disclosures, Defendants are refusing to provide some of the most relevant and most probative evidence of the most egregious First Amendment violations.

Our legal team will continue to press for full disclosure of the requested content that the government still refuses to hand over to the court. And yes, we brought the receipts for all these allegations — the entire document is available here, and the supporting evidence is included on pages 142 – 711 for those who want to dig into the gruesome details. For those who want the shorter version, the NCLA press release is available here.

I suspected all this was happening but didn’t imagine the sheer scope — the breadth, depth, and coordination — suggested by the evidence that our legal team has uncovered so far during the discovery phase of the legal proceedings. To see this evidence on the page, which we know is just the tip of the iceberg, is simply shocking — and I’m not an easy person to shock. Likewise, the deep involvement of many of our national security agencies is revealing and disturbing, even for this author who just wrote a book with the subtitle, “The Rise of the Biomedical Security State.”

Hyperbole and exaggeration have been common features on both sides of covid policy disputes. But I can say with all soberness and circumspection (and you, kind readers, will correct me if I am wrong here): this evidence suggests we are uncovering the most serious, coordinated, and large-scale violation of First Amendment free speech rights by the federal government’s executive branch in US history. Period, full stop. Even wartime propaganda efforts never reached this level of censorship, nor did the government in days past have the power of today’s social media at its disposal. 

Stay tuned for more updates as this case unfolds.

Republished from the author’s Substack

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