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Jeffrey A. Tucker

Facebook Is Dead Unless You Post Something That Does Not Matter

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Since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, it’s been quite a wild ride. Thousands of doctors and scientists have been unbanned and are now speaking. Same with journalists. Accounts that posted against Covid restrictions and mandates are now unthrottled. Brownstone’s account is now at 31K and my own personal reach is up some 175 percent. 

Of course, this is also infuriating. When we needed these voices the most was during the biggest attacks on liberty in our lifetime. Now that the powers that be have been forced by public opinion to dial back their oppressions, these voices can speak again. It’s good that the truth is getting out there but imagine the kind of difference it would have made for these 33 months if there had been no blocks on information from the start? 

It’s a creepy feeling to know based on disclosures so far that I was certainly throttled. It did not matter what I posted, it got no traction. The censors – meaning certainly the government – learned over time that there might be too much provocation associated with outright bans. Turning down the dial on reach was a better way. 

Of course during this entire period, the same platform also invited you to pay for reach. Throw them a few bucks and they will give you some eyeballs. When the money runs out, you are back to where you were. You couldn’t prove the throttling. You just sensed it in your bones but when you complained about it, people would throw it back at you: you just fail to admit that your content is unworthy!
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The Censorious Scott Gottlieb Was a Major Influence on Lockdowns

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The latest of the Twitter Files is reported by Alex Berenson, who was granted access to messaging systems from the times before Elon Musk took over. His first round of reporting concerns the role of Scott Gottlieb, who is a perfect example of an influencer who is technically outside of government but might as well be a powerful official within it. 

Gottlieb’s main gig now is as a senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, but he also serves as a board member of Pfizer. Before joining AEI and Pfizer, he headed the Food and Drug Administration under Trump from 2017 to 2019. Before that, he was at Health and Human Services as a member of its Federal Health IT Policy Committee from 2013 to 2017. 

You probably know him from TV because he has been a ubiquitous presence since the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, defending the government’s actions and pushing the vaccines from the company whose board he serves. 

In August 2021, he wrote Twitter to complain about a tweet from his successor at the FDA, Brett Giroir. Giroir wrote to report the results of a study in Israel that clearly demonstrated what most anyone could have known even without the study: natural immunity is superior to vaccinated immunity.
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How an Occupied Twitter Ruined Countless Lives

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From the beginning of the Covid panic, it felt that something was very wrong. Never had a pandemic, much less a seasonal pathogenic wave, been treated as a quasi-military emergency requiring the upending of all freedoms and rights. 

What made it more bizarre was how alone those of us who objected felt until very recently when Elon Musk finally bought the platform Twitter, fired all the embedded federal agents, and has started to release the files. 

As Elon said, every conspiracy theory about Twitter was true and then some. And what applies at Twitter pertains equally to Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all platforms associated with those companies (YouTube, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp). 

The proof is all there. These platforms colluded with the federal government’s administrative arm to craft a particular Covid narrative, throttling and censoring dissidents and boosting any credentialled expert who was willing to toe the line.
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We Are Still Locked Down

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Consider just how fortunate we are to have the Twitter Files. Every few days, we are seeing dumps of documents from the operations of Twitter before Elon Musk took over. This weekend’s release was especially shocking. It revealed a close and symbiotic relationship between the company’s management and the FBI, which employs 80 people to police social networks and flag posts. They aren’t looking for crime. They were focused on wrongthink on matters of politics. 

In other words, all our worst suspicions have been confirmed. We still await the Covid files but let there be no doubt about what they will show in grim detail. Twitter worked with government to throttle the reach and searchability of accounts that took issue with the main messaging of the CDC/HHS from early in lockdowns to the present. We already knew that Facebook had deleted 7 million posts in the second quarter of 2020. Twitter pulled some 10,000 accounts down. 

Twitter is now mostly open, for now. The rest of the venues remain wholly controlled. Brownstone has posts tagged, throttled, and sometimes deleted from LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and it is a constant struggle to avoid Google’s own push against our content. Even ridiculous sites with no credibility or reach appear high in search engines when our content is searched. This is not an algorithm at work. 

On this basis alone, it is fair to say that we are still in lockdown nearly three years later. The point of such top-down censorship is not only to control the public mind. It is also to keep all of us from finding each other. It truly did work for a very long time. It took nearly a year for the group that we now know as the anti-lockdown movement to form. Even when Brownstone was founded, I had not known about Justin Hart’s Rational Ground. Now of course we work closely together.
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What Is CISA and Why Does It Matter?

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On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk fired Vijaya Gadde from her job at Twitter where she was general counsel and the head of legal, policy, and trust. It became quickly obvious to him and others on his team that it was she who drove the censorship policy within the company, including that which blocked all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election and otherwise shut down critics of government Covid policy.
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They Will Lock You Down Again

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The lords of lockdown barely escaped their worst possible fate, namely that the topic would become the national and international source of scandal that it should be. And let’s add the vaccine mandates here too: even if such had been morally justified, which they were not, there is absolutely no practical reason for them at all. 

To have imposed both of these within the course of one year – with zero evidence that they achieved anything for public health and vast amounts of unfolding evidence that they ruined life quality for countless millions – qualifies as a scandal for the ages. It was in the US but also in nearly every country in the world but a few. 

Might that have huge political implications? One would suppose so. And yet today it appears that truth and justice are further off than ever. The most passionate of the anti-lockdown governors – those who never locked down or opened earlier than the rest of the country – won on their record. Most of the rest joined the entire political establishment in pretending that all of this is a non-issue. Tragically, this tactic seems to have worked better than it should have. 

Meanwhile, a few points to consider:

The US government, through the Transportation Safety Administration, has signed yet another order extending the ban on unvaccinated international visitors until January 8, 2023. This means that no person who has managed to refuse the shot is allowed to come to the US for any reason. This is 30% of the world’s population, banned even to enter the US on their own dime. Something like this would have been inconceivably illiberal three years ago, and been a source of enormous controversy and outrage. Today, the extension hardly made the news.
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No Amnesty for Lockdowners

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Now that we can talk to our friends and neighbors about it, the reality is sinking in. What our public-health experts and politicians did to this country was egregious. Inspired by the totalitarian lockdowns in Wuhan, China, and urged to replicate that policy by the World Health Organization in a report that Fauci’s National Institutes of Health approved, all constitutional rights were thrown out.
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Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

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It’s been more than obvious since April 2020 that lockdowns were far too costly for individuals and society and could never earn a rational public-health defense. And the evidence was rolling in from one year later that the vaccine mandates were similarly indefensible.

Both tactics had in common the enormous use of state coercion that flew in the face of every principle of civilized government.

As we are constantly told, both people and government were panicked, and needlessly so. As it turns out, the infection fatality rate was not 2-3 percent, as the WHO had said early on, or 1 percent as Fauci told the Senate in March 2020, but rather 0.035 percent for anyone under the age of 60 (which is 94 percent of the population).

Covid has been highly transmissible and with it the resulting protection of natural immunity. The correct policy should have been to maintain all social and market functioning while the actual vulnerable population protected itself as it awaited widespread immunity. That’s how every generation for 100 years has handled infectious disease: as a medical and not political matter.
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Jared Kushner and the Mystery of the First US Lockdown

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The possibility of US lockdowns – never attempted on this scale in the history of pandemics – was already in the air in early March 2020. The theory of lockdown had been floating around for 15 years but now China was first to try it, and claim enormous success, however fraudulently. 

Incredibly, the US was set to try it out too but getting Trump on board was going to take some doing. The federal government had the quarantine power since 1944. That much we knew. But just how expansive could its exercise be? Would they dare quarantine the well with the sick? How far would this go?

Thanks to several journalistic accounts, we have a better idea of what went on in the White House before the dreadful March 16, 2020, press conference of Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, and Deborah Birx in which the lockdowns were announced. Along with that came a flier with tiny print about which the ever-trusting Trump apparently knew nothing: “bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.”

Read those words again. Has anything like this ever been issued by any government in the history of the world, before China did it? I cannot think of a case. It shuts not only the places where people do “congregate” but also everywhere where they might congregate. Churches. AA meetings. Civic clubs. Libraries. Museums. Homes! And this happened under Trump’s watch right here in the US! There ought to be a word to describe something more extreme than totalitarian.
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How To Tame a Bureaucracy? Get Rid of It

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Any serious effort to end the crisis must deal with the problem of the administrative state and the bureaucratic power thereof. Without that focus, no reform effort can get anywhere. That is surely a main takeaway from the trauma of our times.

The solution has to be drastic and it has to work. The reason is simple: a free and functioning society cannot coexist with an undemocratic beast like this on the loose, making its own laws and running roughshod over rights and liberties with zero oversight from elected leaders. Until the administrative state is defanged and disempowered, there will be no representative government and no hope for change.

It’s obvious that the bureaucracies will not reform themselves. In promising an overhaul of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, Rochelle Walensky emphasized better communication and less confusing messaging to the public. This is the appearance of an apology: “I’m sorry you’re upset.” The reform will be the same: cosmetic without reality. It will not deal with the central problem as plainly stated by Harvey Risch: “industry subservience and epidemiologic incompetence.”

The agency wants another chance. Maybe it does not deserve one. Still, let us reflect on how reform happens in the real world outside of government.
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