America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was possibly the most consequential public policy blunder in our history.
The enormous costs included $5 trillion or so in unproductive federal spending, inflation, reduction in our standard of living, and permanent economic damage that will be felt for generations to come.
There was massive learning loss and the specter of loved ones dying alone. The incidence of depression and drug addiction skyrocketed. Businesses were shuttered while many Americans seemingly lost their work ethic.
What happened? The short answer is that we panicked and listen to “experts” who vowed we could halt this virus if we were willing to sacrifice enough.
At first, with imperfect information around a deadly new phenomenon, projecting a worst-case scenario and drastic measures to prevent it made sense. However, more data and experience with the virus soon tended to support a strategy of containment (“stop the spread”).
Still the decision makers at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), doubled down on their zero-COVID based recommendations. Lockdowns ensued. We scoffed at cost-benefit analysis. “If only one life…” and “in an abundance of caution…” became the guiding standards of policymaking.
The American people mostly went along with it. Why wouldn’t they? They were provided little awareness of alternate approaches.
Once the narrative had been established that eradication was the only permissible strategy, opposing viewpoints were excluded to a degree any Third World dictator would have envied.
Dissenters were shamed and censored. Professional reputations were attacked. Dr. Fauci informed us that “I am the science” and thus all who disagreed were “science deniers.”
Consider the case of Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Professor of Health Policy at Stanford. He also directs Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. So, the doc isn’t exactly an empty suit. He was also a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), signed now by thousands of medical scientists and practitioners, which advocated for “focused protection” against COVID.
Since COVID is dangerous only to a relatively small proportion of the population, it was argued that the greatest efforts should be in protecting people most at risk, the chronically ill and elderly. This would focus resources where they do the most good, saving lives and money.
Agree or not, there is nothing looney about this notion that one-size-fits-all doesn’t make sense for COVID-19. It was mainstream common sense, advocated by highly qualified, non-political scientists.
Yet the blogosphere and leading scientific opinion channels exploded with vitriolic denunciations. The authors were accused of promoting infections among the young to achieve a cruel herd immunity strategy. The claimed the GBD was promoting a wholesale return to our pre-pandemic lives—that they were encouraging fringe groups who distrust health officials and prioritizing individual preference above public good.
None of it was true, but to the social media tyrants, that didn’t mean that Dr. Bhattacharya should be vigorously debated. It meant that he must be threatened and silenced.
We just recently learned that he was indeed censored and intentionally shadowbanned by Twitter. His account was tagged with a label of “Trends Blacklist.” He was censored before he tweeted a single message.
He had violated no rules. He spread no “misinformation.” He only defied the approved consensus. He was silenced by the mob at Twitter, none of whom had anything like his knowledge or experience.
The GBD authors were right, of course. None of the isolations, lockdowns, or school closures affected the eventual course of the virus. We received virtually no benefit from the massive self-inflicted harm.
It’s ironic in our supposedly modern, enlightened age that dogma won out over science. That is, we based our societal decisions on knowledge rooted in deemed authority, not the open inquiry of the scientific method.
We paid a big price for listening to the Fauci’s of the world with their refusal to balance benefit with cost. Dr. Fauci bragged of not caring about the cost of his demands.
They convinced our leaders to spend money we don’t have in a vain attempt to achieve the impossible.
Bad idea. We can’t afford to let it happen again.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
With one week left before Election Day, Twitter suspended Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and state representative candidate Christian Lamar.
Within hours of notifying Twitter’s new, free speech-friendly owner, Elon Musk, Finchem was reinstated. Musk changed his Twitter bio to read “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” around the same time. As of Tuesday morning, Lamar’s account was reinstated also.
Finchem, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, issued a call to action concerning his suspension via Truth Social and press releases.
“Twitter has blocked my account from speaking truth with one week left until the election. They are trying to put their thumb on the scales of this election. Tag Elon Musk and tell him to unban me right now. I am the Secretary of State nominee in a swing state running against the criminal Soros-funded candidate,” Finchem wrote.
Musk promised he was “looking into it,” after lawyer and Newsmax contributor Jenna Ellis tagged him. Minutes later, Finchem’s suspension was rescinded.
Finchem said that a “commie” Twitter employee was to blame for the suspension. He said that a tweet instructing Arizonans to boo former President Barack Obama at a campaign rally may have been the reason for his suspension. Twitter didn’t inform Finchem which tweet incurred punishment.
The publicity of the Twitter suspension and Musk’s involvement prompted a response from Adrian Fontes, Finchem’s opponent. Fontes insinuated that Musk reduced his reach on Twitter.
The Pima County Democratic Party deleted a tweet mocking Texas college students after a conservative pundit pointed out the flaw in their logic.
In the tweet, the Pima County Democrats observed there weren’t any women present among the group of University of North Texas (UNT) Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) members watching the newly-released, controversial documentary, “What Is a Woman?” by The Daily Wire, a conservative media company.
The conservative pundit and host behind the documentary, Matt Walsh, responded to the Pima County Democrats to ask how they would know there weren’t any women present, an allusion to the purpose of his controversial documentary: fleshing out the theory of biological sex advanced by transgender ideology and defended by most Democrats in which objective truth doesn’t exist.
Walsh’s response prompted the Pima County Democrats to delete their tweet. As of press time, they haven’t explained their rationale for retracting their remark.
In the documentary, Walsh travels internationally to interview various practitioners, activists, academics, and even an African tribe to discover the definition of “woman.” Those that support transgender ideology insist that no one definition of “woman” exists beyond what individuals who identify as women decide for themselves. In short, a circular definition rooted in relativism.
WARNING: spoiler ahead.
At the end of the documentary, Walsh returns home from his travels to ask his wife to define “woman.” Walsh’s wife responds with the objective truth.
This week, Twitter silenced another prominent conservative voice — this time, one relied on heavily by parents and older generations distant from today’s social media fads. Libs of TikTok, the social media account that offered parents insight on what the world was exposing to their children through educators and pop culture, was suspended for 12 hours on Twitter. The social media giant said that the account’s content violated rules on hateful conduct: promoting violence against, threatening, or harassing other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliatoin, age, disability, or serious disease.
Effectively, Twitter implemented its “account-level enforcement” of “placing an account in read-only mode.” Twitter noted that it saved these account-level tactics for “particularly egregious” or repeated violations of its rules.
The account launched in November 2020, reposting videos from the Chinese social media app TikTok in order to display a more comprehensive view of the left’s political ideology. It began to pick up more popularity last summer, jumping from under 100 likes to several hundred to thousands within months. The account owner’s identity remains anonymous, but virtual anonymous interviews revealed that the owner is female.
According to social media analyses, Libs of Tiktok’s most-used words included, in order: teacher, students, school, parents, and kids. At the time of her suspension, she had close to 612,000 followers. The highest number of retweets achieved on one tweet revealing that a school nurse was suspended over “transphobic comments” reached over 6,000, while the highest number of likes reached over 26,000 on a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson praising her work.
News of the account’s suspension came from Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee: a satire news company that was banned from Twitter. The satire site’s ban occurred after it published the story, “The Babylon Bee’s Man Of The Year Is Rachel Levine,” poking fun at the current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) assistant secretary of health.
As evident, the offending content of both Twitter accounts remain available. However, Twitter stipulated to The Babylon Bee that it must remove the offending tweet before it may access its account. Twitter placed no such stipulation on Libs of TikTok — the suspension functioned as a warning to moderate future content.
AZ Free News has relied on Libs of TikTok and even TikTok itself for our reporting. In October, we discovered that the teacher nominated by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for a national youth leadership award was pushing the vast majority of popular left-wing political ideologies in her elementary school classroom. Libs of TikTok helped notify Arizonans and the world of the three female students at Arizona State University (ASU) who harassed two fellow students for being white males with perceived conservative attire in their multicultural center.
Most recently, Libs of Tik Tok revealed an American government class at ASU telling students that state efforts to require voter ID, get rid of permanent early voting lists, restrict early voting, remove mail-in voting, and close primaries were forms of voter suppression.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, members of Congress’ ultra-progressive Squad, and the rest of the Democratic Party took offense to a meme video tweeted Sunday and deleted by Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04), characterizing it as violence. The video was a parody of the intro for a popular anime show, Attack on Titan, superimposing Gosar’s face onto the protagonist, Eren Yeager, with both Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) and President Joe Biden depicted as two villains that Gosar as Yager attacks.
The faces of Congresswomen Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO-03) were also superimposed onto protagonists, too – the only two other Republicans featured in the video were Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01) and former President Donald Trump. The video also incorporated clips of the border crisis and Border Patrol. Toward the end of the video, there are pictures of Gosar with his enemies: Biden, Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Pelosi called for the government and police to investigate Gosar for the meme as a threat of violence.
“Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated,” tweeted Pelosi. “@GOPLeader should join in condemning this horrific video and call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate.”
Pelosi’s remarks came the morning after the rallying cry of the Squad, a majority of whom tweeted similar condemnations in near-succession on Monday night.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) demanded that Republicans control Gosar.
“His party must reign him in. Fantasizing about killing a colleague is dangerous, deranged, and promotes violence,” wrote Tlaib.
Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO-01) called the meme “violent bigotry” that endangered people.
“Every day these white supremacists push the limits further and further to see how far they can go without consequences,” asserted Bush. “This puts lives in danger. Enough with the violent bigotry. Expel this white supremacist clown.”
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN-05) insinuated that Gosar should step down or be removed from his seat.
“This man should not serve in Congress. Fantasizing about violently attacking your colleagues has no place in our political discourse and society,” wrote Omar.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the video was a fantasy of a man who fundraises for Neo-Nazis killing her, and lamented that this was another attack on women of color that wouldn’t face consequences.
“So while I was en route to Glasgow, a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me. And he’ll face no consequences [because] @GOPLeader [Kevin McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses. Fun Monday! Well, back to work [because] institutions don’t protect [women of color.] Remember when [Republican Florida Congressman Ted] Yoho accosted me on the the Capitol and called me a f*****g b***h [?] Remember when Greene ran after me a few months ago screaming and reaching[?] Remember when she stalked my office the first time with insurrectionists & ppl locked inside[?] All at my job and nothing ever happens[.] Anyways, back to business[.] This dude is just a collection of wet toothpicks anyway. White supremacy is for extremely fragile people and sad men like him, whose self concept relies on the myth that he was born superior because deep down he knows he couldn’t open a pickle jar or read a whole book by himself.”
After the majority of the Democratic Party lobbed their condemnations against Gosar, the congressman tweeted another meme Tuesday morning alluding to left-wing reactions over the deleted video.
The meme featured two popular characters, “Crying Wojak” and “Yes Chad,” in a combination template called “Soyboy vs. Yes Chad.” The former character typically represents a frustrated male that is perceived as more woke, liberal, and soft – hence the term “soyboy.” In this meme, it’s supposed to represent the Democrats outraged by the meme.
The latter character typically represents a masculine man comfortable in his beliefs, depicted as more conservative, rational, and strong. In this case, Yes Chad represented Gosar.
“You’re [sic] cartoon scares me with your jet pack[,] flying[,] and light sabers [sic],” says the Soyboy, with the Yes Chad responding: “It’s a cartoon. Relax.”
This week marks a shift in public discourse over the meaning and significance of memes. On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) classified meme culture as “misinformation” that “poses an increasing danger” in newly-published guidance addressing COVID-19 information. The toolkit also alluded to satire as “misinformation.”