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Jeffrey A. Tucker

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas’s Masterpiece on the Covid Disaster

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I’m a voracious reader of Covid books but nothing could have prepared me for Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, a full and mind-blowing account of the famed scientist’s personal experience with the Covid era and a luridly detailed account of his time at the White House. The book is hot fire, from page one to the last, and will permanently affect your view of not only this pandemic and the policy response but also the workings of public health in general. 

Atlas’s book has exposed a scandal for the ages. It is enormously valuable because it fully blows up what seems to be an emerging fake story involving a supposedly Covid-denying president who did nothing vs. heroic scientists in the White House who urged compulsory mitigating measures consistent with prevailing scientific opinion. Not one word of that is true. Atlas’s book, I hope, makes it impossible to tell such tall tales without embarrassment. 

Anyone who tells you this fictional story (including Deborah Birx) deserves to have this highly credible treatise tossed in his direction. The book is about the war between real science (and genuine public health), with Atlas as the voice for reason both before and during his time in the White House, vs. the enactment of brutal policies that never stood any chance of controlling the virus while causing tremendous damage to the people, to human liberty, to children in particular, but also to billions of people around the world.
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Dr. Deborah Birx’s Failed Attempt to Flip the Script

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Every report we have, from journalists and from first-hand accounts from people who were there, reveal that Dr. Deborah Birx – White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator – had a primary influence on President Donald Trump in his decisions to lockdown the economy. She is culpable for initiating one of the biggest fails in the history of public health, wrecking the lives of countless numbers of people.
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The Truth About Tyranny

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In the simple model of tyranny we learned as school kids, there is a bad guy on top, or perhaps several because he needs advisors, and then there is everyone else suffering under his yoke. The job of freedom is to overthrow the powerful bad guy and set everyone free. 

I say the simple model, but I’m pretty sure that I believed this all my life. And there is more than a grain of truth in this. The biggest conflicts in world history always pit the government against the people. This is for the simple reason long highlighted by the liberal tradition: government uniquely enjoys the legal privilege of threatening and imposing violence. That power is subject to abuse. 

And yet there is more going on here. I recall reading The Black Book of Communism when it came out in 1999. The chapter on China I found most riveting. It described the terrifying force called The Red Guard. It was what we call today a non-government organization. Terrorists more precisely. They were more convinced of Mao’s teachings than Mao himself. They were blinded by Red ideology and prepared to kill for it. They did. Many millions died.
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Is This Becoming a General Strike?

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Never in our lifetimes has a federal mandate created such cultural and economic havoc. Did the Biden administration really imagine that it could outright force its way into the bloodstream of every American, simply by demanding it in a press conference? 

Talk about the personalization of compulsion! People take their health seriously, especially when it involves the coercive injection of a tax-funded substance about which people know next to nothing and which has not been shown even to prevent or even reduce the infection or spread of a virus it was advertised to stop. 

Doubt is the inevitable result of exaggerated promises and underperforming results. Resentment is what you breed when you smother those doubts under threats of fines and firings. And the timing cannot be worse: the jobs report was grim and inflation is outpacing wage increases. It is understandable why American workers are feeling caged in on all sides with mask and jab mandates. 

Like lockdowns, the vaccine mandate utterly fails to account for risk levels and demographic heterogeneity, for a virus that impacts people based strongly on age and health. The mandate treats everyone in a geographic jurisdiction as an identical collective whereas people think and act only as individuals, especially when it comes to medical and health matters.
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Why Masks? Control, Power, and Revenue

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Some people say they don’t mind masks. I do. 

In regular settings of commercial life, they rob people of their personalities and overt signs of human differences. They take away a major part of non-verbal communication. For that matter, they throttle verbal connections between people. I’ve spent a year and a half trying vaguely to make out the meaning of mumbles through masks, and straining my own vocal chords by talking through paper. Put a sheet of plexiglass up and it all becomes nearly impossible. 

I thought I saw someone in the airport whom I recognized but couldn’t tell for sure based on ears, hair, height, and clothing alone. What to do? I tapped him on the shoulder and pulled down my mask: “Do you recognize me?” The slightly alarmed person shook his head no and kept moving. Oh well. 

It’s all crazy. All in the name of virus control but 20 months of experience all over the world has failed to turn up evidence that any of it means anything.
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Science Denied: The Biden Vaccine Mandate

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President Biden has decided to go hard on the virus. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Sadly for him, those tiny little pathogens don’t pay taxes, don’t vote, don’t have Social Security numbers, can’t be drafted, and don’t answer phone calls from poll takers, which is to say that he and his agencies cannot really control them. That must be frustrating, poor man.
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Biden’s Other Unwinnable War

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Joe Biden’s speech following the Afghanistan debacle made for compelling television for one main reason: here is a government official – the man who holds the office once called the “leader of the free world” – recognizing the limits of government. 

No matter how long the US stayed, no matter how many troops the US deploys, no matter how much blood and treasure are expanded on this war, the US could not accomplish its ends. “How many more lives, American lives, is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery? I’m clear on my answer,” he asked. 

“Despite the fact that we spent 20 years and tens of billions of dollars to give the best equipment, the best training and the best capacity to the Afghan security forces, we could not give them the will and they ultimately decided that they would not fight for Kabul and they would not fight for the country,” added his national security advisor. 

As I listened, I began to replace one set of words for another. Taliban equal SARS-CoV-2. Lives and fortune lost equal collateral damage of lockdowns. The dream of a free and democratic Afghanistan equals a nation without the pathogen that causes Covid. Lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, and other mitigation measures all equal the measures deployed for 20 years to achieve the unachievable.
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The Totalitarian Ideology of Lockdownism

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Every political ideology has three elements: a vision of hell with an enemy that needs to be crushed, a vision of a more perfect world, and a plan for transitioning from one to the other. The means of transition usually involve the takeover and deployment of society’s most powerful tool: the state. 

For this reason, political ideologies trend totalitarian. They depend fundamentally on overriding people’s preferences and choices and replacing them with scripted and planned belief systems and behaviors.

An obvious case is communism. Capitalism is the enemy, while worker control and the end of private property is the heaven, and the means to achieve the goal is violent expropriation. Socialism is a softer version of the same: in the Fabian tradition, you get there through piecemeal economic planning. Every step toward more control is rendered as progress.

This is a paradigmatic case but hardly the only one. Fascism imagines global trade, individualism, and immigration to be the enemy while a mighty nationalism is heaven: the means of change is a great leader. You can observe the same about certain brands of theocratic religious traditionalism: there is only one way to heaven and everyone needs to accept it, and view heretics as forestalling the drawn of piety. The ideology of racism posits something different. The hell is ethnic integration and race mixing, the heaven is racial homogeneity, and the means of change is the marginalization or killing off of some races.
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The CDC Is a Threat to Science

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I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the astonishing shift from the CDC on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. It is not just that the CDC is re-recommending masks for people indoors in many parts of the country, which could include your neighborhood or not, and this could change tomorrow. (Hint: right now, it disportionately affects red states.) 

Whether and to what extent you “protect” yourself from disease with a paper strapped to your mouth and nose is now wholly contingent on data reporting and interpretation. It might feel like science but it has a better name: arbitrary power. Out with the Constitution. Out of traditions of law. Out with legislatures and the will of the people. 

What’s even stranger was the rationale that the CDC cited to claim that the Delta variant renders the vaccines – the ones that have been hyped with unrelenting propaganda for many months, including stigmatization and demonization of those who refuse – substantially less effective for stopping infection than President Biden was touting just last week.

Our thinking on the subject is supposed to mutate at the same pace as the virus itself. It’s exhausting and triggers anyone’s BS detector. How in the world does the CDC expect anyone to believe anything it says in the future?
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The CDC's Hysterical Delta Flip-Flop Might Be Its Final Undoing

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The crazy, convoluted, mixed up messaging from the CDC – it's been this way from the beginning of the pandemic until now – has taken yet another turn. Now the CDC is recommending masks not just for the unvaccinated but for the vaccinated too. This is supposedly because of the discovery that the variant known as Delta is making an end-run around the vaccines, causing not only infections but infectious spread. 

So we have an odd situation developing. The layperson’s understanding of a vaccine is that it protects a person against infection, like measles or smallpox. In other words, you won’t get Covid, exactly as President Biden accidentally and apparently inaccurately said in a press conference last week. That is apparently untrue in this case. That realization seemed to dawn on people only a few weeks ago, as reports from Israel revealed that half the new infections listed were with people who had been fully vaccinated. 

I pity anyone who took a few weeks’ vacation from the news during this period. We went from believing that the whole point of the vaccines was to protect against infection to realizing that this was not the case. You can still get the bug. The point of the vaccines, we were newly told, is to protect against severe outcomes. Okay, that’s reasonable enough except that we know the demographics of severe outcomes, and hence the question presents itself: why is the policy priority near-universal vaccination? 

None of this makes sense – if you are still looking for policies to make sense, which you probably gave up on long ago.
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