• COVID Runs the 9/11 Playbook (Against You)(Again)

    April 10, 2021 // 1 Comment »

    After fanning COVID panic for a year, Democratic newsletter Salon admits it was all for partisan purposes: “Americans have been sucked into an all-or-nothing approach, with your choice of all or nothing depending largely on your partisan identity.”

    Salon continues “Trump’s rejection of sensible precautions caused many of his political opponents to run hard in the opposite direction, embracing the lockdowns as if they were a point of personal virtue and inherent good, instead of a temporary and deeply unpleasant measure necessary to contain the virus. Worse, liberals were so protective of lockdowns that even sensible criticisms were ignored, and liberals often acted like, well, cops. They often appeared more interested in lecturing people rather than empowering them through education. There was a lot of social media shaming for any social activity, no matter how safe it was. And in behaving this way, a lot of well-intentioned people made the pandemic much worse.”

    The Hill came to the same conclusion, confessing recently “Lockdowns don’t work: Remember 15 days to slow the spread? Well, since those fateful words were uttered, we have had a year of various efforts to slow down a virus that has an infection fatality rate of less than one percent. And what we have learned is that viruses are gonna virus. California, the United Kingdom, Florida and Sweden show the futility of lockdowns.” The Hill adds “The media is complicit in furthering the Panic… how you could die tomorrow, from a virus that kills virtually nobody healthy under the age of 70.”

    A study found no correlation between NYC subway ridership and COVID spikes. In other words, few people got sick riding in a poorly-ventilated metal tube with strangers, masked and unmasked, an admission that many of the so-called lifesaving precautions were mostly health theatre, rituals based on fear. It was easier to order people to stay home than to see if the woods really had bears in them.

    NY Magazine, after a year of scare stories about scary COVID variants taking over the world, now is running articles headlined “Maybe the Variants Aren’t So Scary After All.”

    The Atlantic wrote a year into the pandemic “Traditional and social media have been caught up in a cycle of shaming—made worse by being so unscientific and misguided.” They point out the nonsense of the response: “Cities closed parks even as they kept open indoor dining and gyms. Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts banned students from taking even solitary walks… pictures of people outdoors without masks draw reprimands, insults, and confident predictions of super-spreading—and yet few note when super-spreading fails to follow.”

    All but the most serf-like now know the response was partisan, on purpose. We know lockdowns have little effect on transmission even as they devaste people economically and psychologically. The response by government, unscientific and misguided, was encouraged by a media that correlated suffering with virtue, and pain with progress. The draconian measures taken were somewhere between merely ineffective and worse than the disease. If only somehow we could have known this a year ago and used it as a guide toward more prudent, focused, and balanced responses.

    If only we’d been able to see the disease wasn’t the hoax, the response was.

     

    As America reprogrammed into one big Crisis News Network, with every story reported with a flashlight held under the announcer’s chin, I first wrote on March 5, 2020 how COVID fear was being used to manipulate people. I said the reaction to the virus will result in long term damage to the nation well beyond the health effects of the virus. I wrote on March 10, 2020 how many of the same COVID-era tricks to create fear to drive policy were used when AIDS broke into the mainstream. On March 26, 2020 I explained how the same playbook (terrify the American people for partisan goals) was run on us after 9/11. I wrote a second article on how the “cure” of lockdown was going to be worse than the disease on March 31.

    I’m not bragging. The information was as obvious as you wanted it to be. For example, in October 2020 a group of infectious disease epidemiologists wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, laying out”grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of prevailing COVID policies” such as sweeping lockdowns. They were largely ignored, though US News found time to call them arrogant and recklessness in calling for “focused protection.” The nation was as intolerant of COVID dissent as it was of anti-war dissent in 2001.

    The playbook run against Americans with COVID (and 9/11, and AIDS, and…) goes back as far as 1984, the book, not the year. Orwell envisioned the need for a massive Ministry of Truth to create a state of fear among Americans, and then manipulate that fear into specific support and policy. In fact in 2020 all it took was an initial handful of deaths, some of what Orwell labeled prolefeed — worthless entertainment for the masses about whether calling COVID “Chinese flu” was racism — and a dash of sky-is-falling articles that piled on to existing anti-Trump night terrors.
    The goal is always to make fear of something the problem and then empowering government becomes the solution. You have to give things up for a safe society. It just is no longer practical to try to have freedom and security, you will have to choose. If you don’t wear a mask, you’re selfish; you’ve committed a crime against society. You purposely have endangered your masked, compliant neighbors. Substitute in “terrorism” if you like at this point.
    Fear is a powerful a tool for manipulation. It rubs raw on the fight or flight part of our lizard brain, especially when you involve family members as potential spreaders who want to kill grandma or as victims (grandma again.) Fear is also self-reinforcing. We feel embarrassed when we’ve been fooled into over-reacting, like when our friend made us jump, springing from his hiding place at a party. So after you sold off your stocks at a huge loss in March 2020 fearing a global depression that never came, you were ready with self-reinforcing gab instead of admitting fear drove you into a dumb financial decision. “Well, at least I had peace of mind” said many trying to justify a needless 30 percent capital loss.
    Fear of the virus can be shaped into fear Trump would find a way via incompetence to kill us all somehow. That made it easier to believe he would seriously suggest you inject bleach. The MSM told us the vaccines, the scientific answer to the virus, were being rushed through, that Trump would manipulate the approval process for political gain and release dangerous untested drugs. The MSM throttled the black community with racist claims about the vaccine, invoking the 1943 syphilis experiments during last year’s Summer of Racism. Of course none of the media admit blame for today’s resistance to the vaccine.
    The COVID fear playbook is nearly identical to the post-9/11 playbook, though kudos to those Bush officials who pulled it off in 2001 without the help of social media and only 3,000 dead. They turned Americans into such fearful creatures they stopped traveling, signed off on multiple wars, a torture regime, and the effective end of privacy in American life. We were conditioned to new precedents of control over personal decisions, civil life, freedom of movement and assembly, whole city lockdowns, education, and an increasing role for government and the military in health care. We became trained that when we saw something, we said something. Not unlike our modern mask patrols, rent-a-cops, and Karens demanding everyone stay back six feet, driven by things such as the Washington Post, which wrote “Every viewer who trusts the words of Earhardt or Hannity could well become a walking, breathing, droplet-spewing threat to the public.”

    It will be hard for people to let go of their fear; folks will be wearing masks for a long time because there is no end game. We learned that when lockdowns went from until the curve flattens to until the vaccine until, well, forever. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said  “Unless and until everyone in the world is vaccinated, then no one is really fully safe, because if the virus is out there and continuing to proliferate, it’s also going to be mutating.” COVID fear mongering will be around as long as it is a political asset and gone before it becomes a political liability.

    Too many good people died of COVID. Many of us have a personal tale of a friend or loved one. The news is still so full of COVID porn you’d think they were trying to convince us of something. But as we grieve equally all deaths, we must understand death was not invented in 2020. Hospitals are sadly full of people dying painfully every day. COVID deaths will soon enough be down to a mere fraction of the current count. Deaths from heart attacks, cancer, and car wrecks will not. We just won’t talk about them and we certainly won’t blame one political party over another for them.

    But if drama is indeed a currency in the pandemic, let me spend some. I have physically visited with my relatives and hugged them for the past year. Not only are we all still COVID-free, we have the honor of saying the government did not tell us how to live and love each other. It was Orwell himself who wrote “They’re afraid of love, ’cause love makes a world they can’t control.”

    Remember that for the next time. No government should be allowed to create a world of fear and isolation for its citizens, and no citizen should willingly demand that from a government.

     

     

    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    FARA: Freedom of the Press, But On the Government’s Terms

    March 31, 2018 // 21 Comments »



    A bipartisan group of lawmakers called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate if Al Jazeera, the news outlet connected to the Qatari government, should register with the Justice Department as an agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA.)

    This has broad implications for our First Amendment, our access to dissenting opinions, and in how the rest of the world views us.


    The lawmakers claim Al Jazeera “directly undermines American interests” and broadcasts “anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel” material. Al Jazeera would join Russian outlets RT and Radio Sputnik, Japan’s Cosmomedia, the Korean Broadcasting System, and the China Daily in registering as foreign state propaganda outlets. DOJ has also been asked to look into a range of other Chinese media.

    Ironically, the bipartisan request to force Al Jazeera to register comes amid a controversy over the network’s filming of a documentary critical of pro-Israel lobbying in the U.S. The network used an undercover operative to secure footage revealing possibly illegal interactions between advocacy groups and lawmakers.

    The Foreign Agents Registration Act was never intended to regulate journalism. The legislation in fact includes finely-worded exemptions for approved journalists, scholars, artists, and the like, who are not required to announce themselves as “agents of a foreign principal” regardless of what they create. The law was created in 1938 in response to German propaganda, specifically Nazi officials and those they employed to make pacifist speeches in then-neutral America and to organize sympathetic German-Americans. By requiring those working for the Nazis to register, and report their finances and spending, U.S. counterespionage authorities could more easily keep track of their activities.

    FARA law doesn’t even prohibit straight up propagandizing, though it seeks to limit the influence of foreign agents by labeling their work, apparently to help out Americans who otherwise would not be able to tell the difference on their own. The law specifically says “Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents.” Indeed, the Atlantic Council claims these actions “do not suppress freedom of speech; instead, it serves the First Amendment by supplementing information available to the public.”

    Here’s a use of FARA in line with the law’s original intent: the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, whose job is to lobby Americans on behalf of a foreign government, in this case, to take vacations in Abu Dhabi, is a FARA registrant. You know who is up to what when the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority says they have decent beaches you should visit. Other typical registrants might include an American lawyer hired by Saudi Arabia to lobby Congress in favor of more arms sales. Being a foreign agent is happily legal and very popular with former Congresspeople and government bureaucrats; you just need to announce your employer.


    But FARA can also serve a more nefarious purpose, as a Catch-22 prosecution (a “compliance statute”) for those the U.S. wants to declare as foreign agents but who resist; if the feds want to taint you as a foreign agent, you either agree and register, or face jail.

    That is what happened in the case of RT and Radio Sputnik. Following the 2016 election, frightened officials demanded the Russian news organizations register as propaganda agents. RT’s editor-in-chief maintained her network was an independent news outlet, but chose to comply rather than face criminal proceedings, adding “we congratulate the American freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it.” Critics then swung RT’s snarky comment on free speech into “proof” it unfairly criticizes America.

    The use of FARA to allow the government to declare which foreign media outlets produce “news” and which produce “fake news” and propaganda is “a shift in how the law has been applied in recent decades,” said the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We’re uncomfortable with governments’ deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”


    As the Justice Department wields the FARA weapon against journalists, here’s what they will face.

    Designation under FARA requires a media outlet label its reporting “with a conspicuous statement that the information is disseminated by the agents on behalf of the foreign principal,” a nutritional label for journalism. It also means the outlet must open its finances to the Department of Justice. It means Americans who choose to watch that media, or participate in its talk shows, or who work legally for those outlets, open themselves to accusations of “treason” (one political staffer was fired after being interviewed by Radio Sputnik.) It adds credence to the muddy cries of “fake news” used to shut out dissenting opinions. It gives credibility to groups like PropOrNot, which lists websites it “determines” are Russian propaganda, and Hamilton 68, which does the same for Twitter.

    Subjecting journalists to FARA sends a message about America. It encourages foreign governments to impose restrictions (Russia has already passed a law requiring outlets like CNN to register as foreign agents.) It uses the full authority of the American government to declare Al Jazeera, a network which reaches 310 million people in more than 160 countries, has no equal place within a free press because its broadcasts are “anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel.” In the specific case of Al Jazeera, it seemingly extends America law to cover anti-Israeli propaganda as well. As with attempts to claim Wikileaks is espionage and not journalism, this use of FARA says the U.S. will use its laws to harass those with “un-American” opinions.

    The use of FARA to restrict foreign journalists also adds to rising sense among too many already frightened Americans that our freedoms are being used against us. “The U.S. is at a huge strategic disadvantage when it comes to the New Media Wars because our information environment is so open and rich,” said one former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. Perhaps too many dissenting voices isn’t a good idea. The Internet is just too much freedom for the First Amendment to responsibly allow. Maybe the government should become more involved in what we say, hear, watch, and read, as Facebook and Twitter (who banned RT from advertising) do now, you know, for our own protection. Our open society is a vulnerability, not a strength.


    The roots of our most basic rights flow from the freedom of the press written into the First Amendment. The press must be unfettered in reporting so citizens can make informed decisions when voting, protesting, and petitioning their government. Government should play no role in designating good journalists from bad, licensing who can report, or otherwise interfering with access to a broad range of ideas. Sorting out the marketplace of ideas — opposing opinions, bias exposed and hidden — is supposed to be our job as an informed citizenry anyway.



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    My Oath is to the Constitution, Not Hillary

    April 28, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    My thanks to Ryan, who I don’t know and have never met, for putting together this inspiring video making clear the difference between being a government drone and pretending your oath of allegiance is to some political boss, and standing up for the fact that the oath is to the Constitution.

    There is a difference between obedience to authority, which is required in an autocracy above all else, and loyalty to one’s Oath, which is required of patriots.

    Watch it now:





    (If the video is not embedded above, see it on YouTube)



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    Battle Buddies

    March 24, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    (This article originally appeared on the blog, Ranger Against War)

    We have many friends and acquaintances her at RangerAgainstWar whom we have never met, save in the ether world. Among these is one each, Peter Van Buren, a true American patriot and razor sharp thinker.

    We first heard Mr. Van Buren in his NPR interview regarding his book, We Meant Well, and were impressed with his cogency and wit. It convinced us that at least one person in the State Department uses his head as something other than a hat rack. To their shame, he seems to be in the minority.

    Peter was fired by State this week in a confusing welter of accusations suggesting improper leaks, but it looks like a simple case of bullying an employee for exercising his right of free speech — Oh, yeah, that thing the U.S. was supposedly spreading with those Provisional Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) which Peter helped lead. He has laid the situation and players out well over the past several weeks @ WeMeantWell.com.

    Bottom line: The State Department (DoS) cannot brook free speech, and in that way is unlike the Department of Defense (DoD), or any federal agency. So the U.S. spends Trillions of dollars exporting fanciful democratic ideals, all the while stomping on those very same concepts here in The Homeland ™.

    The treatment of the Branch Davidians during the Clinton White House might reveal Secretary of State Clinton’s proclivities when dealing with a DoS whistleblower. She will attempt to roll over him like an Engineer Assault vehicle crushing the Branch Davidian compound. Peter needs our support if that still has relevance in our democratic scheme.

    His case is similar to Bradley Manning’s in many respects, except Manning (being in DoD) has less rights. At least Van Buren has not been charged with espionage (at least, not yet!)

    Ranger finds it curious that there at least three Constitutions: One for domestic consumption, one for export, and one for DoD and DoS. We just presume that the military does not have free speech because they cannot criticize the Commander in Chief and Chain of Command (even if what they say is correct and factual.) If Van Buren is fired (following appeal), then free speech will not be tolerated in any government office, obviating the need for federal whistleblower laws.

    Men who march in lock step to their next promotion talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, and sadly, they will be the ones judging men like Van Buren. Screw the War on Terror — let’s defend freedom over here.

    Our best wishes go out to Peter van Buren who is stuck out on point without a battle buddy.



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    Freedom of the Press Fail in Iraq

    January 27, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    The goal of a democratic Iraq propelled the US through almost nine years of occupation, and still serves as part of the hilarious justification for maintaining the World’s Largest Most Expensive Embassy (c) there. Thank you, soldiers, for your service.

    Democracy has many moving parts; an earlier blog post showed that implementing the rule of law in Iraq has fallen apart faster than a Chinese-made Rolex. Bought in West Africa. In the rain. And the guy selling it gives you a special friendship price. And you drop it. In that rain, so it gets rusty.

    Family Guy asides aside, a key pillar of democracy is freedom of the press, the right to air different opinions, criticize the government, even say rude shit about Thomas Jefferson if you want, that kind of thing. As it is said, “The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them.”

    The nice people at Reporters Without Borders track the way different countries implement this freedom, or not, and produce yearly rankings.

    Sadly, the US comes in at number 47. Iraq, however, trolls the pathetic mid-ranks at 152, having fallen 22 places as the US war of terror packed up and left the country. That places freedom of the press in Iraq below that of such inviting democratic hot spots as Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Venezuela. Quite an accomplishment given the resources the US poured into establishing new media as part of the reconstruction of Iraq.

    Here’s some specifics on press freedom in Iraq from Reporters Without Borders:

    The threat to Iraqi media staff today comes above all from the authorities or political figures that block them from gaining access to certain areas. Abusive measures and legal proceedings against newspapers for “defamation” have become commonplace. Even media that are considered to be pro-government cannot escape this pressure.

    Alongside court proceedings and the resulting heaving fines, there has been an upsurge in threats to the safety and physical wellbeing of some independent journalists. Armed groups, but also Iraqi police and the authorities responsible for law and order have all threatened or committed acts of violence against them.

    Though possessing only at best a tenuous grasp of the concept of irony, I could not find any comments from the World’s Most Expensive Embassy (c) on Reporters Without Borders’ announcement.



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    State Department and Free Speech?

    October 10, 2011 // Comments Off on State Department and Free Speech?

    From an inteview with RT.com television:

    Peter Van Buren is being investigated by the US Department of State, whom he works for. What did he do? He blogged. Van Buren posted a link to a publically available WikiLeaks diplomatic cable. He also wrote a book.

    “Two years ago I served 12 months in Iraq as a Foreign Service Officer, leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team. I had been with the State Department for some 21 years at that point, serving mostly in Asia, but after what I saw in the desert — the waste, the lack of guidance, the failure to really do anything positive for the country we had invaded in 2003 — I started writing a book.”





    If the video embed is not showing on your screen, follow this link to watch.



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Post-Constitution America