Vengeance vs. Freedom

Vengeance vs. Freedom

One of this week's articles makes the obvious comparison between the 20-year frenzy of imperialist aggression in response to a terrorist attack that killed 2,977 Americans versus the grudging response to a pandemic that has killed nearly 660,000 officially and probably over a million people all told.

It strikes me that one can make a similar point regarding civil liberties. After 9/11 half the Bill of Rights got flushed straight down the toilet – people were imprisoned indefinitely and even assassinated without due process (including American citizens), the government tortured thousands, set up dragnet surveillance programs, and on and on. To this day we all have to take our shoes off at the airport because of some goofy attempted attack that didn't even come close to working. Heavily-armed police are a routine presence at any kind of public event.

Living in America doesn't feel particularly free.

Yet today, when President Biden sets up a mildly coercive requirement to get a safe, effective vaccine and thus save hundreds of thousands of lives (which is undoubtedly constitutional even without using any of the post-9/11 loopholes), conservatives start shrieking about liberty. It's no surprise at this point, but it illustrates what they mean by "freedom" – i.e., conservatives get to do whatever they want at all times, and they also get to force everyone else (particularly ethnic minorities or immigrants) to do what they want at all times. It's oppositional defiant disorder made into a political movement.

Typical items: Subscribe to this newsletter here if you like, and check out my latest podcast episode here. On to the articles!

First, we've got a 9/11 retrospective:

Most tellingly of all, at time of writing, the official toll of Americans killed by COVID-19 stood at over 656,000. Given that a study published in May estimated that the true toll was over 905,000 (thanks to many COVID deaths being missed), it is likely that COVID has claimed the lives of something like 1.1 million Americans so far, with no sign we are anywhere close to the end yet. That means the pandemic has killed somewhere between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of the American population — roughly between a 190 and 310 times greater share of the population as died on 9/11.

Second, Substack contrarians are out of their gourds on ivermectin:

If somebody wants to make a podcast or a YouTube show where they discuss the latest coronavirus science with legitimate experts who know what they are talking about (including ivermectin data), they would be fine. People do this all the time! But it's a lot easier to get attention and subscribers if you pretend like murderously irresponsible cranks are the victims of Big Tech censorship, and cover your behind by claiming you're just asking questions you never bother to actually answer. That is the reason Weinstein and all the other anti-vaccine conservative crackpots are pushing ivermectin, and it's the reason there was a similar frenzy about hydroxychloroquine last year.

Third, we need more superdole:

Rule of thumb: A program to address an emergency should last at least as long as the emergency itself. If it was necessary to pass a pandemic rescue back on March 11 when there were about 55,000 coronavirus cases per day, it stands to reason that we should still need those same rescue programs when cases are running about 160,000 per day. If Democrats had any sense, they would add an extension of pandemic benefits to the reconciliation package currently under discussion, and pass it immediately.

Fourth, Joe Manchin is running interference for corporate interests while America burns:

That said, Manchin's op-ed is still blatantly dishonest. He complains about inflation that is happening almost entirely because of temporary bottlenecks in a handful of industries. He complains about deficits that a.) are not a problem and b.) will not increase anyway because of the tax increases. He complains that "I can't explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion," regarding a bill that has been discussed in minute detail for months in negotiations that have revolved around him personally.

Finally, the Republican position on abortion (ban it under all circumstances) is very unpopular:

Now, polling on abortion is highly sensitive to question wording, because a large plurality of people are morally conflicted about it. A long-running Gallup poll finds that reliably about a third of Americans support abortion under any circumstance, while about half think it should be legal but with some restrictions. A recent NBC poll found 31 percent for "always legal," another 23 percent for "legal most of the time," and a further 34 percent for "illegal, with some exceptions."
But no matter the wording, banning abortion entirely is wildly unpopular. Gallup's three-option poll found just 19 percent support for a total ban, while the NBC poll that mentioned rape and incest specifically only found eight percent support for a total ban.

See you next week!

Subscribe to Ryan Cooper

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.