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With several controversial SCOTUS rulings addressing divisive issues like gun rights and abortion, an exchange between Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Dr. Debra Birx during a congressional hearing on Thursday escaped scrutiny. However, if a power-hungry politician, university, or employer compelled you or someone you love to receive an experimental vaccine in the last two years, it may make you furious. And Birx should be ashamed of herself for not speaking out earlier.
The House Oversight and Reform Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing with Birx Thursday morning. Jordan questioned Birx on the United States’ participation in and funding of the World Health Organization and gain-of-function research. Birx was candid, saying that the United States should withhold funding from the WHO until needed reforms occur. She also said that the U.S. should not participate in some gain-of-function research, such as any in China.
But it was Jordan’s questions about the Biden administration’s messaging on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness that should shock the conscience. Jordan asked Birx if the government was lying or guessing when it told the public that people who received the vaccination couldn’t get COVID. Birx responded that she did not know. However, she continued, “All I know is there was evidence from the global pandemic that natural reinfection was occurring. Since the vaccine was based on natural immunity, you cannot make the conclusion that the vaccine will do better than natural infection. Although it can often do slightly better.” [Emphasis added]
Why didn’t she speak up about this while still in office? Public health “experts” like Dr. Anthony Fauci actively tried to convince Americans that natural immunity was inferior to the jabs. It’s not clear what large numbers of reinfections Birx was referring to since most positive post-infection tests were reported in asymptomatic people. One study in preprint finds that the spike protein, the part of the virus the tests detect, can remain in a recovered patient’s body for up to 12 months post-infection. How this could affect post-recovery testing in asymptomatic patients is unknown.
Jordan went on to challenge Birx about what the government knew and when. “You were part of this effort when you were in the previous administration. And you’re saying in this administration that you can’t rule out the fact that our government was lying to us when they told us the vaccinated could not get the virus,” he charged.
Birx responded, “I don’t know about their discussions that they had in the task force. So I can’t tell you that.” Then, as she often did on the Trump task force, she traded on her personal situation. “I can tell you as a family member who had individuals that were susceptible, of course, we got everybody vaccinated. But we still used layered protection during surges.”
So, why was Dr. Birx vaccinated and masked? She continued: “Because I knew potentially vaccine immunity would wane like natural immunity waned. There was evidence that every four months, reinfection was occurring in South Africa.” Huh. That seems like it should have been part of informed consent before Americans decided to take an experimental vaccine or give it to their children. Four months of coverage seems like a risk-benefit ratio Americans should have been able to calculate for themselves.
Jordan continued, “When the government told us that the vaccinated couldn’t transmit it, was that a lie or is it a guess? Or is it the same answer?” Remember when the anchors on CNN and members of the administration told you to “trust the science”? Do you recall all the accomplished clinicians and researchers who have been silenced and unpersoned over their COVID-19 comments? If so, Birx’s response may infuriate you. “I think it was hoped that the vaccine would work in that way,” she said.
Hope is not a strategy, and it certainly isn’t science. Birx said that is why public health officials should always be clear about what they know and what they don’t.
If she believes scientists and researchers should have a seat at the table, why didn’t she waddle up to it and ask what the heck the officials were doing? She was able to get media hits to market her book, of course — that was all in good Trump-bashing fun. Perhaps that is all Dr. Birx is suitable for, as far as the press is concerned. It’s possible, since all that the hearing coverage highlights is her anti-Trump sentiments. Even the committee’s summary is titled, “At Hearing, Dr. Deborah Birx Tells Select Subcommittee that ‘Dangerous Ideas’ Undermined Trump Administration Coronavirus Response.”
Jordan concluded, “So what we do know is, it wasn’t the truth. So they were either guessing, lying, or hoping and communicating that to the citizens of this country.” And they did not just communicate the claim. When team Biden took the lead, Dr. Anthony Fauci became the primary advisor on the COVID-19 response. The goal quickly became a needle in every arm.
By September, President Biden was well down the path of blaming unvaccinated Americans for the Delta wave. Even those who had recovered from COVID-19 were responsible for a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” This divisive message continued as late as the announcement of his vaccine mandate on September 9, 2021. By then, it was clear that vaccinated individuals were transmitting the Delta variant and becoming symptomatically ill. Still, to the unvaccinated, Biden said, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”
Yet, according to Birx, health experts knew that recovered Americans had nearly the same protection from infection as the vaccinated. The data on a four-month reinfection cycle was also available. All Americans should have had that information when deciding whether to vaccinate themselves and their children.
The left simply lost the intellectual and political fight over the direction of the Supreme Court but can’t bear to admit it.
Progressives tell themselves instead that they’ve been undone by a series of dirty deeds, including the alleged deceit of conservative justices who lied to the US Senate about their commitment to preserving Roe v. Wade.
What the perjury case against the justices in the Dobbs majority lacks is any evidence of assurances made under oath or otherwise they would vote to uphold a precedent of the court that had, justly, been under withering assault since it was handed down 50 years ago.
This shouldn’t have been hard to figure out. Any judge who considers himself or herself an originalist was going to believe that Roe is bad law because there wasn’t remotely colorable warrant for it under the Constitution. There might have been varying views on what deference was owed to precedent or other tactical questions; there wasn’t any meaningful disagreement on the core matter.
The dance that went on is that Democrats would try to get conservative nominees to say that Roe had been a precedent for a long time. The nominees would agree while not going any further. They’d often cite — correctly — the refusal to comment on contested questions going back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation hearings.
Typical was an exchange between Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Amy Coney Barrett during her hearings. Klobuchar pressed Barrett on whether Roe was a “super precedent,” or a ruling that no one thinks is in play anymore. Barrett demurred: “I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category.”
This wasn’t deception — it was clearly saying, if obliquely, that Roe was vulnerable to challenge. I’d prefer if nominees were less lawyerly, but they are lawyers and the long-standing politicization of the confirmation process puts a premium on indirection.
The Times story doesn’t say that Collins asked Kavanaugh directly if he’d overturn Roe — presumably for good reason. The senator would have known such a question would have been highly improper. In fact, she praised Neil Gorsuch during his 2017 confirmation for saying he would have left the room if someone asked him for a commitment to overturn Roe.
It is doubtful that Kavanaugh told Collins anything in private that he didn’t say in his sworn public testimony as well. If he was playing some sort of double game, Collins should have felt an obligation to call Kavanaugh out on it. She didn’t. In fact, she gladly voted for him.
It is true that in his hearings Kavanaugh leaned heavily on the notion that Roe was precedent and that it had been reaffirmed in Casey, so it was “precedent upon precedent.” Yet other Roe supporters didn’t mistake his meaning. As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) told Kavanaugh during the hearings, “Your own words make clear you do not really believe Roe v. Wade is settled law since the court, as you said, ‘can always overrule its precedent.’”
In her dramatic floor statement supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination, Collins made it clear that she also understood that his commitment to precedent was not absolute. It would give way, she explained, “in those rare circumstances where a decision is ‘grievously wrong’ or ‘deeply inconsistent with the law.’”
The court held in Dobbs that Roe was, indeed, egregiously wrong. Collins might be disappointed, but she shouldn’t feel ill-used.
Roe never deserved to be written into law in the first place. The conservative justices never said they would preserve it, and it would have been an egregious breach of their duty if they had.
As the United States faces skyrocketing oil, gas and electricity prices, the obvious solution is to drill for more oil and gas and build more generating plants. Naturally, that’s off the table because the people who are being hurt most aren’t the ones who set the agenda.
High prices hurt everyone to a degree, but they’re hardest on the working classes. Most Americans drive to work, and even in most places with mass transit there are far more jobs within a 30-minute drive than there are within a 30-minute bus or train ride. Cars also make it easier to take kids to school, shop for groceries in a wider variety of places and stay in touch with family and friends.
With gas prices having more than doubled since January 2021, the cost of doing all these things has also more than doubled. For a family that’s stretched tight already, twice as much money for gas means less money for other things, like food, clothing or education. (And it doesn’t help that prices for those things are also skyrocketing.)
Nonetheless, environmentalists seem happy with these changes. And before he started backpedaling after seeing the polls, President Joe Biden praised high gas prices as part of an “incredible transition” to electric cars and other “green” technologies. (Now, of course, seeing how the political winds blow, he’s calling for a gas-tax “holiday” to take the pressure off voters, at least until after the coming midterms. In the meantime, if you’re too poor to afford gasoline, the administration’s advice is to buy an expensive electric car.)
The reason the environmental faction favors high energy prices is that it wants to force people to switch to renewables. That such a switch leaves most people worse off leaves the environmentalists unmoved. That’s because they’ve always been an elitist movement with no concern for the working class or minorities.
California environmental lawyer Jennifer Hernandez calls the results of that state’s policies “Green Jim Crow.” High energy costs and strict building regulations keep poor people concentrated in poor neighborhoods, while protecting wealthy white enclaves like Marin County. And strict environmental rules crush or keep out industrial jobs that have traditionally provided a leg up for the working class. She observes: “What the soaring environmental rhetoric of the state’s affluent, largely White technocratic leadership disguises is a kludge of climate policies that will only, under the best of circumstances, partially decarbonize the state’s economy while deepening the state’s shameful legacy of racial injustice.”
But that’s been the history of environmental activism from the beginning: rich white people doing well at the expense of the lower classes. In a 1977 Harper’s article, William Tucker explored the history of what’s regarded as the first big environmental movement in America: the opposition to Con Edison’s Storm King pumped-storage project. The project was designed to save energy costs and make it easier for Con Ed to handle summertime peak demand. It would also have provided a lot of jobs in a depressed area.
The catch is, it would have spoiled the views from rich people’s estates in the nearby mountains. As Tucker reports at length, those affluent landowners constructed an entire edifice of opposition to Storm King, for the most selfish of reasons. He quotes a local mayor, who was told by one of the landowners, “We’ve got it nice and peaceful up here, why do you want to spoil it?” The mayor reported, “I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything, but what I wanted to say was ‘What about all the little people down there in the village who need this plant? Did you ever think about them?’” No.
Hiring big law firms and elite PR firms, along with enlisting celebrities like Pete Seeger, who wrote a song about the mountain, the landowners managed to turn a selfish desire not to have to look at electric power lines that would benefit millions into a quasi-religious crusade on behalf of Nature. The plant was stopped, property values were protected and only the little people suffered.
Today, as gas and energy prices soar while the well-off warn us about climate change via private jet, nothing’s different. No one is thinking about the little people. Why should they? Who’s going to make them?
Radical pro-abortion activists are reportedly using an interactive map developed by two University of Georgia professors to plan their violent attacks on pregnancy resource centers.
These centers, which typically offer pregnancy tests and counseling services from a pro-life perspective, have been vandalized, smashed, and set on fire in growing numbers across the country in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
While these centers’ locations are public knowledge, perpetrators have been using online tools that collect and organize this information in a way that makes it easier for them to find the next target.
One of such tools is the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map, a project led by Andrea Swartzendruber and Danielle Lambert, both professors at the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. The interactive map identifies the exact street addresses of over 2,500 pro-life clinics.
The stated purpose of the map is “to provide location information about all of the crisis pregnancy centers operating in the U.S.” The website also refers to these centers as “fake women’s health centers” primarily aimed to “prevent people from having abortions.”
“There’s reason to think that people seeking health services may not know exactly what these centers are and the services they offer,” Swartzendruber said in 2018 when the CPC map first went online.
According to Fox News, far-left extremists are using the map to mark their next targets while trying to refrain from explicitly calling for violence.
Puget Sound Anarchists, an Antifa-affiliated group operating out of Washington state, included the CPC map in a post celebrating the vandalism of a pro-life clinic in the state by another radical group. The group itself in May publicly claimed responsibility for vandalizing four different churches in Olympia, Washington, because of their supposed ties to pregnancy resource centers.
“You can find your nearest fake abortion clinic on the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map,” the post read.
In Minnesota, left-wing anti-police group Twin Cities Encampment Responders posted a link to the map shortly after the release of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“A map of anti-abortion fake clinics, including dozens around the Twin Cities area … you know, just because information is power,” the group wrote in the post, which has since been shared hundreds of times.
Colorado Springs Antifa, a group known for doxxing people affiliated with right-wing groups, shared a Twitter post containing a link to the CPC map alongside the message, “For the night owls.”
A graphic accompanying the original post reads, “Your local crisis pregnancy center tonight. Mask up. Stay dangerous.”
One of the latest attacks on pregnancy resource centers took place on Saturday morning in Longmont, a northern suburb of Denver. According to the police, the building was set ablaze and covered with graffiti messages such as “Bans off our bodies” and “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you.”
The facility is run by Life Choices, a Christian non-profit organization that offers free services related to pregnancy and sexual health. In a statement, Life Choices Executive Director Kathy Roberts said the center is “devastated and stunned by this frightening act of vandalism.”
“What we hope the perpetrators of this act understand is that an attack on Life Choices is ultimately not an attack on a political party or act of,” Roberts said. “It is an attack on those who walk through our doors every day in need of diapers, pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, clothing, financial and parenting classes, support, and so much more. It is an attack on a place that is supposed to be safe for women, men, and their families.”