Peikoff & Chayes: Democrats Using Big Tech To Control ‘Misinformation’ Is Totalitarian

Write Peikoff and Chayes on this issue in Democrats Using Big Tech To Control ‘Misinformation’ Is Totalitarian (The Federalist):

Not so long ago, a “Ministry of Information” was an institution unique to socialist “utopias,” which required rigorous establishment and enforcement of official truth to maintain state power. As absurd as such an institution may have once seemed to us in the West, we are unfortunately seeing signs that it can indeed happen here.

The authors examine how the bill might work — banning open discussion on “settled topics” and replacing it with “the party line”, and concluding:

In times of fear and insecurity, the pull to appeal to authority might feel irresistible. But if we keep our wits about us, we will recall that we in the West have largely resisted this fallacious approach, both in science and politics, since the time the Catholic Church censored Galileo. (As if Socrates being forced to drink hemlock wasn’t enough!)

Are we now ready to feign amnesia once again and to obediently accept a truth proclaimed from the top down? Or is intense debate and controversy — ah, those uncomfortable disagreements that we experience in abundance in a pluralist society — an integral component of the scientific mindset, and approach which has brought us unprecedented wellbeing?

[…]

Government officials telling private companies to censor disfavored viewpoints on vital issues is the stuff of totalitarian regimes, not of a free country built on the homage of reason.

The entire article is required reading.

The recently proposed “Health Misinformation Act” can serve as a stepping stone for a total “Misinformation Act” once the principle is accepted that it is the government’s job to determine the “official truth.”

It must be opposed on principle.

There is no “no-man’s land” between opposite principles, no “middle of the road” which is untouched by either or shaped equally by both. The fact is that man cannot escape the rule of some kind of principles; as a conceptual being, he cannot act without the guidance of some fundamental integrations. And just as, in economics, bad money drives out good, so, in morality, bad principles drive out good. To try to combine a rational principle with its antithesis is to eliminate the rational as your guide and establish the irrational. If, like Faust, you try to make a deal with the devil, then you lose to him completely. “In any compromise between food and poison,” Ayn Rand observes, “it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.” [Leonard Peikoff, Why Should One Act on Principle?]

 

United Nations: “A Hotbed of Undemocratic, Unaccountable Far-Left Activism”

  • World

Writes Donna Laframboise on the moral status of the United Nations:

“Pardon me, but the UN has no right to tell any of us what we must do. UN officials aren’t elected by the public. They’re bureaucrats. Careerists who hop from one UN post to another. Even more to the point: they are a special, protected class. Their diplomatic immunity renders them untouchable – wholly unaccountable for their actions.

“UN personnel have no skin in the game. They pay no price when they mess up. The UN was supposed to help rebuild Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. It failed miserably. Then it made matters worse. UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to that already-traumatized nation. As 10,000 cholera deaths followed, the UN spent years denying responsibility.

“We the people have no mechanism by which to unseat UN officials – even when their incompetence kills. We have no way of turfing them from office – even when they promote harmful public policy. One day humans may achieve fulfilling lives without the aid of fossil fuels. But that day is not yet here. Much of the world is still struggling to feed itself, to access clean drinking water and medical services. Those basics depend on affordable, reliable energy – the kind that fossil fuels provide.

[…]”It’s time we ended our absurd naivety about the UN. This is a hotbed of undemocratic, unaccountable far-left activism. Its reports are best ignored.” [“Code Red Climate Hype“]


Related:

 

WSJ: The Return of ‘America Held Hostage’

  • World

From the WSJ, The Return of ‘America Held Hostage’:

“As Taliban forces consolidate their control of Kabul, the nature of the new regime remains somewhat veiled. On the positive side, the jihadist group issued a general pardon to all government workers, some female broadcasters have returned to the air, and prominent ex-officials like former President Hamid Karzai appear to have elected to remain in the country. On the other side of the ledger, Taliban spokesmen would say only that Afghan women will enjoy their full rights under Shariah; girls’ schools have been shut down in parts of the country; teenage girls have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters; and residents report that armed soldiers are searching apartments and taking names. A widely circulated video purports to show the jihadist group’s soldiers executing 22 unarmed Afghan army commandos after their surrender.

“One thing, however, is clear: The Taliban hold the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens—and the future of the Biden administration—in their hands. The collapse of the Ghani government left as many as 15,000 Americans and permanent residents along with an unknown number of other Westerners and foreigners trapped behind Taliban lines. Tens of thousands of Afghans employed by the old government, allied military commands and Western-oriented nonprofits are, with their family members, also desperate to leave. While U.S. forces control the Kabul airport, American citizens—and Afghans with U.S. visas—must run a gantlet of Taliban roadblocks and checkpoints to reach the American perimeter.

“As for the thousands of Americans, citizens of allied nations and endangered Afghan nationals stranded in other parts of the country, at press time U.S. officials had no plan in place to bring them to safety. Congressional offices report being deluged with pleas for help from Americans behind enemy lines and from veterans seeking help for Afghan contacts and friends.”

The White House did release this tweet:

Shouldn’t this discussion have occurred before the U.S. military pulled out?

High school students could have planned this better:

“Shouldn’t we get our friends before we bail?”

(Well at least the ones not hyper-focused on “structural racism” and the forthcoming “environmental apocalypse.”)

There seems to be more strategic planning in the dreadful Kathleen Kennedy/JJ Abrahms/non-George Lucas Star Wars sequels (and there was apparently “no plan”) than in the Biden Administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

The Book Club: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand with Professor Eric Daniels

  • Books

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, named by readers in 1991 as the most influential book after the Bible, is a novelized warning about the allure and evils of socialism. What happens when the most productive members in society give up? How much can be asked of them before they do? Who is left to support the rest? Michael Knowles and Eric Daniels take you through Rand’s prophetic masterpiece.

Mossoff: Sonos Win in Patent Battle Against Google is a Victory for Intellectual Property Rights

In a tweet commenting on “Sonos Scores Legal Win in Patent Battle With Google“, legal philosopher and intellectual property expert Adam Mossoff noted that Google being “held accountable for its predatory infringement of @Sonos patented technology” is an “important win for innovative startups against the deliberate piracy of their disruptive technology. The [U.S. International Trade Commission] has long been attacked by Google & other predatory infringers (& by their policy activist proxies). With this latest ITC decision, expect another round of attacks in the press & in DC pushing the ‘patent troll’ narrative & calling for so-called ‘reform’ of the ITC.”

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Atlantic: Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy

  • World

George Packer at The Atlantic in remarking on how “Veterans, with their code of leaving no one behind on the battlefield, have been among the most passionate advocates for Afghan interpreters,” tells the heart-wrenching story of the fate of interpreters who worked with the U.S. and were trapped in Afghanistan and how the “chaos produced by the Biden administration’s delays has given an outsize role to sheer randomness, as twists of fate save one Afghan and doom another.”

Writes Packer:

“[O]ur abandonment of the Afghans who helped us, counted on us, staked their lives on us, is a final, gratuitous shame that we could have avoided. The Biden administration failed to heed the warnings on Afghanistan, failed to act with urgency—and its failure has left tens of thousands of Afghans to a terrible fate. This betrayal will live in infamy.”

[…]

“Today, the U.S. government is more focused on saving our own than on saving the Afghans who counted on us. For many of them, time is running out. For some, it already has.”

“All of this was foreseeable—all of it was foreseen. For months, members of Congress and advocates in refugee, veteran, and human-rights organizations have been urging the Biden administration to evacuate America’s Afghan allies on an emergency basis. For months, dire warnings have appeared in the press. The administration’s answers were never adequate: We’re waiting for Congress to streamline the application process. Half the interpreters we’ve given visas don’t want to leave. We don’t want to panic the Afghan people and cause the government in Kabul to collapse. Evacuation to a U.S. territory like Guam could lead to legal problems, so we’re looking for third-country hosts in the region. Most of the interpreters are in Kabul, and Kabul won’t fall for at least six months.”

Read the rest of Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy.

Peikoff & Chayes: Can Trump’s Lawsuits Prevent Big Tech from Becoming Big Brother?

“Never-Trumpers” Amy Peikoff & Benjamin Chayes have an interesting article on the Trump Lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; the application and scope of Section 230 (“while correct in principle, has, according to Justice Clarence Thomas and others, been applied in an overbroad manner”); and the government pressuring private companies to behave as state actors (fascism). Write the pair in Real Clear Politics:

“In its rebuttal to The Social Dilemma, Facebook insisted that, contrary to the documentary, it does work to remove “misinformation” and “hate speech.” In multiple hearings before legislators, Facebook and other platforms were warned that they must remove more such content — or else. And now, after revoking former President Donald Trump’s executive action concerning the legal protections for online platforms in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, it seems the Biden Administration is calling in the favor by encouraging Facebook and other platforms to remove coronavirus “misinformation.” Yet the removal of some of this content — and the de-platforming of some who posted it — forms the basis for Mr. Trump’s lawsuits. Why? Because much of this content is, however baseless or offensive, nonetheless legal, and therefore protected by the First Amendment against censorship by state actors.”

[…]

Our politicians, unfortunately, seem to approve of this arrangement, so long as they get credit for pressuring the platforms to remove content they and their “base” find undesirable. And the tech companies seem happy to continue the charade, self-identifying as private actors operating in a free market.

Read the rest.

Dr. Amesh Adalja Communicates with Clarity on Vaccines and COVID-19

Amesh Adalja communicates with clarity the relationship between COVID-19, vaccines, and vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (“breakthrough infections”):

“One of the biggest misunderstandings that persists is regarding rare breakthrough infections that occur and their importance. These rare events were always expected but perhaps poorly communicated, as no vaccine is 100 percent efficacious. Vaccines are not bug-zappers or “forcefields.”

What a vaccine does accomplish is remarkable: A vaccine primes the immune system to spring into action upon exposure to the virus and derail an infection before it has the chance to be as productive, to cause as many symptoms or to cause as much damage as it would have in the absence of this immunity. (Natural immunity also operates this way and is important.)

“The early steps of the thwarted infection are what alert the immune system to the intruder, and the aftereffects of the incident are a boost to immunity.

[…] “The goal is not to achieve some fantastical “COVID zero” status but to deny the virus the ability to cause serious disease, with hospitalization and death on a scale that could threaten hospital capacity. In states where vaccination rates are high, the vaccines we have in the U.S. are performing tremendously. Vaccines are taming the virus by relegating to the status of other respiratory viruses we deal with year in and year out. This was largely achieved by vaccinating those at highest risk for hospitalization.

[…] “Attesting to the power of the available vaccines, virtually everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 currently is unvaccinated. This is true even in states with low vaccination numbers.

[…] “The virus treats a vaccinated person very differently than an unvaccinated or non-immune person and, therefore, others should treat them differently because they are not the same COVID-19 threat.”

Read the rest of “COVID-19 news is confusing — but vaccination is still the answer” at The Hill.

How Would Judge Narragansett in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” Fix The U.S. Constitution?

How would Judge Narragansett in Ayn Rand’s best-selling novel “Atlas Shrugged” perfect the U.S. Constitution by removing the “contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction”?

Professor Brian Simpson has some ideas.

According to Simpson, “One clause that I repeal from the Constitution is the Commerce Clause. This clause allows, among other things, Congress to regulate commerce among the several states.”

Quoting his book, A Declaration and Constitution for a Free Society, he writes:

“To have a proper understanding of why this clause must be eliminated, one must understand what it means for the government to regulate.  Regulation in this context refers to the government interfering in the market by initiating physical force to change some outcome that government officials do not like.  Regulation is not the same as protecting individual rights.  When the government protects rights, it bans the initiation of physical force, such as when it protects people from fraud.  When the government regulates, it violates individual rights because it initiates physical force.  The government regulates for many reasons, including to forcibly change the wages workers can earn in the market (through minimum wage laws), to impose laws based on environmental ideology (through the Environmental Protection Agency), and to impose drug safety and efficacy rules on drug manufacturers (through the Food and Drug Administration).”

You can learn more about the book on his website.

WSJ: Jan 6th Was No Coup d’état

From the WSJ:

“The chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, claimed in his opening remarks Tuesday that “the rioters came dangerously close to succeeding” in their effort to “upend American democracy.” This is in service of Mrs. Pelosi’s political narrative that Mr. Trump conspired with a mob to stage a coup d’état. She wants to run against Mr. Trump again in 2022.

“This gives the mob far too much credit. Rioters believed Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election, and some of them apparently thought they might stop Congress’s certification of the electoral votes. But that was an impossible fantasy. The Electoral College had already voted. Vice President Mike Pence had concluded, correctly and bravely, that he had no authority to reject the results. The rioters had no apparent leader and no coherent plan.

“Even if they’d managed to steal or destroy the official Electoral College certificates, do Democrats think some knucklehead in face paint and a fur hat could have simply declared the election void? The public and the courts wouldn’t have stood for a rabble overturning the 2020 result. Mr. Trump didn’t have the military on his side, or even most of his own Administration. The investigations so far have turned up no guiding cabal. Rioters have been arrested and many will go to prison.

“The riot was a disgrace, and it’s a stain on Mr. Trump’s Presidency. The police officers who testified Tuesday are heroes for holding the line and giving Vice President Pence and Congress time to evacuate.” [Two False Narratives About the Capitol Riot, July 28, 2021]

Related:

Lying To The Public For Their Own “Good”: “Noble Lies” and COVID-19

Kerrington Powell and Vinay Prasad make some important points on Fauci and the government’s “Noble Lies” surrounding COVID-19:

“When experts or agencies deliver information to the public that they consider possibly or definitively false to further a larger, often well-meaning agenda, they are telling what is called a noble lie. Although the teller’s intentions may be pure—for example, a feeling of urgency that behavioral change is needed among the lay public—the consequences can undermine not only those intentions but also public trust in experts and science.”

[…]

“Experts on infectious diseases are not necessarily experts on social behavior. Even if we accept Fauci’s claim that he downplayed the importance of wearing masks because he didn’t want to unleash a run on masks, we might wonder how he knew that his noble lie would be more effective than simply being honest and explaining to people why it was important to assure an adequate supply of masks for medical workers.”

[…]

“We worry that vaccine policy among supporters of vaccines is increasingly anchored to the irrational views of those who oppose them—by always pursuing the opposite. Exaggerating the risk of the virus in the moment and failing to explore middle ground positions appear to be the antithesis of the anti-vax movement, which is an extremist effort to refuse vaccination. This seems a reflexive attempt to vaccinate at all costs—by creating fear in the public (despite falling adolescent rates) and pushing the notion that two doses of mRNA at the current dose level or nothing at all are the only two choices—a logical error called the fallacy of the excluded middle.”

[…]

“Public health messaging is predicated on trust, which overcomes the enormous complexity of the scientific literature, creating an opportunity to communicate initiatives effectively. Still, violation of this trust renders the communication unreliable. When trust is shattered, messaging is no longer clear and straightforward, and instead results in the audience trying to reverse-engineer the statement based on their view of the speaker’s intent. Simply put, noble lies can rob confidence from the public, leading to confusion, a loss of credibility, conspiracy theories, and obfuscated policy.” [The Noble Lies of COVID-19Slate, July 28, 2021.]

Such lies, no matter the motive for them, always come back to bite you, as reality is a whole. “All facts are interconnected.” To cover up one lie, one must create another, or reveal the truth one should have made in the first place.