Missouri v. Biden: Putting America’s Lysenko Under Oath

Trofim Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935. Public Domain.
Trofim Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935. Public Domain.

Missouri v. Biden, a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, cites a previous action (Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia Univ.) to this effect:

“A private entity violates the First Amendment ‘if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint.”

The plaintiffs say “That is exactly what has occurred over the past several years, beginning with express and implied threats from government officials and culminating in the Biden Administration’s open and explicit censorship programs.”

The suit was filed in May, but is only now proceeding to its deposition and discovery phases.  Among those to be deposed: Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The judge in the case notes that “there are compelling reasons that suggest Dr. Fauci has acted through intermediaries, and acted on behalf of others, in procuring the social-media censorship of credible scientific opinions.”

After nearly three years of stamping unjustified  endorsements from “SCIENCE!” on pure, undiluted authoritarian political measures, Fauci will now have to explain himself under oath.

The “under oath” part is important, given Fauci’s recent campaign to shift responsibility for the political implementations of his own statements and actions, throwing others under the bus so as not to call into question his claim: “I represent science.”

Trofim Lysenko, head of the Soviet Union’s Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, imposed a “Marxist-Leninist” line on biological research. He “represented science” in the USSR, and actual scientists who disagreed with him were censored, suppressed, even imprisoned and executed.

Fortunately, we never got to the imprisonment/execution stage with the COVID-19 pandemic. What we did get was suppression of actual science and actual scientists in support of a politically driven line on everything from masking to school closures to vaccine mandates.

From his perch atop NIAID, Fauci set himself up as, effectively, America’s Lysenko.

As the highest-paid (and among the longest tenured) employee of the federal government, he lied to us — and endorsed lies to us — about the efficacy of masking and vaccination, the advisability of school closures, and numerous other issues.

He also willfully participated in efforts to discredit, and even suppress public discussion of, actual science on the subject, as when he endorsed National Institutes of Health director Frances Collins’s call for a  “devastating takedown” of the Great Barrington Declaration, in which actual scientists cited actual science on behalf of a “focused protection” strategy versus the  NIAID/NIH/CDC’s rights-violating, economically damaging, non-science-supported “zero COVID” approach. That latter approach still enjoys a (thankfully dwindling) cult following and will likely slow down our return to normalcy for years to come.

Lysenko was eventually removed from his post in disgrace. Fauci hopes to retire with honors.

Hopefully Fauci’s deposition will go a long way toward shifting the stain on science’s reputation to his own reputation and those of his co-conspirators, where it belongs. Lysenkoism is too deadly to leave undiscredited.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Musk, Twitter, and Friedman’s Social Responsibility Observation

Elon Musk Twitter Interview at TED 2022. Photo by Steve Jurvetson. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Elon Musk Twitter Interview at TED 2022. Photo by Steve Jurvetson. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

As the October 28 deadline to complete his acquisition of Twitter approached, Elon Musk used the platform to send an open letter to its advertisers.

Why did Musk buy Twitter? “I didn’t do it to make more money,” he writes. “I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.”

That might seem an odd approach toward the people who use Twitter to make more money, and of course there’s always the question of whether to believe him. But he sets out a vision that those advertisers should find attractive.

He reassures them that he doesn’t plan to turn the platform into “a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

Rather, he wants a platform that’s “warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences.” He wants to deliver ads that are highly relevant  (“actually content!”) rather than irrelevant (“spam”) to those preferences … so that it “strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.”

He wants to serve the advertisers by serving the users. That sounds like a pretty smart business plan.

People using social media to create “silos” in which they’re only (or at least mostly) exposed to ideas they agree with isn’t something that’s going away.

Twitter’s approach of driving people away to other platforms (by banning, “shadow-banning,” etc.) over their  political views, wasn’t a smart business plan.

It intentionally took money out of Twitter’s pockets by driving advertisers to those other platforms as well — even though Twitter’s follow/block tools were up to the job of letting users “silo” themselves instead of leaving, so that advertisers could find and court them right there.

Perhaps Musk really isn’t buying Twitter “to make more money.” But he still seems to be following the late economist Milton Friedman’s dictum:

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

The rule of the social media game is: Sell users to advertisers.

Sending users away when it’s possible to keep them there and expose them to relevant ads (but not irrelevant ones) fails the users, the advertisers … and the platform’s owner(s). To the extent Musk serves the first two, he also serves the last — himself.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Older Politicians Aren’t Necessarily Wiser Politicians

Alzheimer's disease brain comparison. Public domain.
Alzheimer’s disease brain comparison. Public domain.

“It’s passed,” US president Joe Biden said of his student loan forgiveness plan at a recent forum. “I got it passed by a vote or two.” But he didn’t “get it passed,” nor were there any votes. He issued an executive order.

“Where’s Jackie?” Biden asked at a conference in September, scanning the crowd for US Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN). “I thought she was going to be here.” The month before, he’d pronounced himself “shocked and saddened” by Walorski’s death in an automobile accident.

I am not a doctor. I do not play a doctor on TV, or on the Internet.  You’re probably not a doctor, either. But our lack of credentials to issue medical diagnoses doesn’t prevent us from noticing, and making plausible inferences from, visible signs of (likely age-related) mental decline.

Joe Biden just ain’t right in the head. He’s not remembering and understanding things that people with normal mental function remember and understand. He’s living, at least some of the time, in an alternate reality.

Nor is he the first. Ronald Reagan is now acknowledged to have been in the early stages of Alzheimer’s during the last years of his presidency. Donald Trump seems incapable of opening his mouth without saying something bizarrely disconnected from reality, though whether that’s down to age, mental illness, dishonesty, or some combination of the three in any given case is open to question.

It’s not just the presidency, either. Over the last few years, we’ve watched several older members of Congress descend during floor speech and debate into the kind of rambling incoherence that would result in normal people being gently led back to their rooms at the nursing homes where they’re living out their final days.

Is it time to set upper age limits on tenure in political office?

Just to be clear, I don’t believe that age and infirmity explain why government “doesn’t work.” It doesn’t work because it CAN’T work, at least if we define working in terms of maximizing peace and prosperity while reducing or eliminating aggression.

But there are different kinds of not working, and some of them are more dangerous than others. If politicians living in perpetual brain fog aren’t inherently more dangerous than their younger counterparts, their handlers and puppet-masters probably are, if for no other reason than that those handlers are, due to their near invisibility, even less accountable to the public.

The US Constitution mandates that US Representatives be at least 25 years of age, US Senators at least 30, and US presidents at least 35.

At the time the Constitution was ratified, the life expectancy for white males (the only people permitted to exercise political power) was about 35. We didn’t have a big problem with senile politicians back then because most people didn’t live long enough to develop dementia.

If we’re going to continue trusting people with political power — I say again, we shouldn’t! — it’s time for a constitutional amendment setting an upper limit to match those lower limits. How does 70 years old sound?

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.