Death By Lockdown

NOT WORKING FROM HOME by Emad Hajjaj, Alaraby Aljadeed newspaper, London

According to the US Census and the Department of Health and Human Services, approx 40 million people live in deep poverty and roughly 78% of those that do not live paycheck to paycheck. Poverty related deaths are estimated at roughly 2 million people per year in the US.

With 20 million additional people, 78% of which have no savings are now thrust into deep poverty. This is a plague far worse than the Coronavirus that could easily, based on existing economic factors not getting worse, lead to an additional 2,000,000 poverty related deaths in the US within the next year.

With the projected death toll of the Coronavirus at approx 66,000 and no cure available (meaning this is likely to be sustained year over year), the ratio of indirect poverty related deaths caused by the government response to the pandemic verses the direct deaths caused by the pandemic itself is 1000:33.

Let that sink in. For every thirty-three people who we lose to the virus, our collective response to the threat kills another 1000 people over the course of a year. While also causing an even larger portion of the population to develop health problems that would put them in risk groups for epidemic or pandemic diseases.

Now it goes without saying that the entire reason the government’s solution exists is to cover the governments own inadequacies in it’s ability to respond to a pandemic and shutting down the economy, thrusting people into poverty was it’s only viable solution to flatten the curve of the infection rate to stay within the existing capacity and subsequently prevent a higher death rate, which could have been catastrophically worse (e.g. it could have easily been an inverse model of 33:1000). While that remains a fact, it is important for everyone to understand that while social distancing can help flatten the curve, economic isolation exponentially increases the mortality rate of this pandemic at a catastrophic rate.

If the current economic trend continues, we will enter an economic depression unlike anything experienced in this countries history, and as will the world. By this time next month, it is highly possible, that if the economy is not reopened soon, the unemployment rate will double to somewhere around 15%. That ratio then jumps to 33:10,000, with a potential indirect death rate from the pandemic of over 4 million people per year and that’s not including increases in things like abortion, child mortality rate as well as decreases in quality of life.

Protecting public health is not just addressing the immediate outcome of a disease but doing so in a manner that does not endanger the long-term outcome of circumstances created by the short-term solutions driven by fear.

We need to keep slowing the curve but we also need not do it at the cost of our future. We can both slow the curve and work. That means more people will die directly from the virus but far fewer will die from the indirect causes of poverty due to an irrational overreaction. We can adapt rational aspects of social distancing that weigh these two factors rather than only valuing prevention of direct causes of death while at the same time accepting the economic cost of those social distancing measures as both life saving and necessary.

People should not be shamed as “putting people at risk” for wanting to work, participate in public gatherings, attend church, freely associate with others, even protest or petition their government. These are fundamental human rights which the government should not limit.

Relative Privation and False Moral Equivalancy

To be good, it is not enough to be better than the worst. ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Recently, Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Donald J. Trump on Fox News’s, ‘The O’Reilly Factor’. As part of that interview, O’Reilly asserted that Putin was a killer. Trump’s response, included a statement that the media and political opponents were quick to jump on. Watch it for yourself… (video content removed by YOUTUBE.COM… because they banned O’Reilly’s show).

“What, do you think our country’s so innocent?” ~ Donald Trump

The sum of the attack against Trump is to criticize him for making an unjust and untrue statement that establishes a moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. His political opposition from the establishment right attempts to create the inference that Trump created this “false moral equivalency” through what he said by issuing responses that deny the existence of such an equivalence.

Broadcast media such as CNN and MSNBC were quick to jump on the bandwagon of Republican’s criticizing Trump for challenging the traditional establishment view of American Exceptionalism. However, moral relativism and moral equivalency accusations are both absolutely false because they depend on accepting a logical fallacy as being true.

Relative Privation: The “not as bad as” fallacy, also known as the fallacy of relative privation, asserts that if something is worse than the problem currently being discussed, then the problem currently being discussed isn’t that important at all. In other words: nothing matters if it’s not literally the worst thing happening. It’s popular with people who know perfectly well they’re doing something wrong. Since they are fully aware that they’re doing something wrong, they feel compelled to attempt to justify it and do so by pointing to other (usually worse) actions.

What Trump acknowledges in his statements is clearly that the U.S. has not always acted with absolute moral authority and in adherence to it’s espoused moral superiority. In essence, this is a fundamental criticism of the moral justification for the Iraq War and the Bush Administration which is held by the Republican establishment and frequently challenged by Trump.

This acknowledgement probably more recently stems from the recent military action approved by Donald Trump in Yemen that resulted in the death of Nawar Al-Awlaki, the eight year old daughter of American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, targeted and killed in a hellfire missile from a US drone strike by the Obama administration in Sept. of 2011 for being. The 2011 drone strike also killed Anwar’s American 16 year old son, Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki which in concert with his father’s status as an American born citizen prompted claims of civil rights violations by Obama for denying the Al-Awlaki’s due process under the constitution.

“The United States is not at war in Yemen, and the government doesn’t have a blank check to kill terrorism suspects wherever they are in the world. Among the arguments we’ll be making is that, outside actual war zones, the authority to use lethal force is narrowly circumscribed, and preserving the rule of law depends on keeping this authority narrow.”  ~ Jameel Jaffer, ACLU

While I would not assume to know what’s in Trump’s mind or heart, I would find it hard to believe that any man, especially a new president, who has ordered his very first military action under his authority which resulted in the death of not only a seal team member but also the death of a U.S. citizen who is also a child. It would take, a truly monstrous person to be unaffected by such an action. When then just days later asked about the questionable morality of Russian leader Vladamir Putin and labeling him a ‘killer’, it might not be surprising that Trump would draw a moral equivalence between his own recent actions and killing. Any person with a conscience would do that in his situation.

Trump is not so innocent anymore. He has real blood on his hands.

Just because Trump is not innocent or American is not innocent of having committed immoral actions does not mean that someone else hasn’t done worse. Just because someone has done worse doesn’t mean that there is no immorality in the actions we have, collectively, committed.

The truth is, neither is our country. However, just because we are not innocent doesn’t mean we are equivalent either. That’s where the false equivalency becomes a false accusation and an invalid, logical fallacy. America, in it’s foreign policy has both made mistakes and done things that they knew were wrong. As a country, we are also not morally equivalent to an oppressive, dictatorial, fascist tyrannical government such as Russia. Trump did not create such an equivalency in his statement and one should not be illogically inferred. Those two things are not mutually exclusive ideas but the press will do whatever it can to convince the public that Trump made that equivalency when he in fact did not because it helps to perpetuate the narrative of demagoguery they have resorted to.

They can’t allow him to have a conscience.

To acknowledge that Trump holds a negative view of previous Republican administration foreign policy would require them to acknowledge that they share even the most remote view in common with a man whom they believe to be the incarnation of pure evil.

How the “Muslim Ban” Hurts America

On Friday, January 27th, 2017, President Donald Trump issued “Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” which, principally, prohibits citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days and bars travel from Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Shortly thereafter, Vox Media, a D.C. based new media company released an article by Mateen Mokalla, who’s official title at Vox is “Managing Producer for Facebook Video”, declaring the executive order a “Muslim Ban.” As best as I can tell, this was the first article openly attack Trumps order. It wasn’t too long before the mainstream media followed suit with the NY Times, The Hill, The Guardian, Mother Jones, NBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and many more.

For the next two days the media hammered at every possible angle to demagogue Donald Trump and the executive order. Unsurprisingly, by Sunday, protests had formed at international airports around the nation as reports came in that people were being detained. Despite the denial by the White House that the executive order was a “Muslim Ban”, the press, with the possible exception of Fox News, has been relentlessly in support of both protesters and political opponents of the administration that it is in fact a “Muslim Ban.” Some even mocking the administration for attempting to present it as anything else was just “Alternative Facts” and “Fake News”.

So let’s look at the actual facts (Not the “alternative” kind) for a moment. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world according to the Pew Research Center. Of that total population, the affected countries comprise approximately 199.4 million. That accounts for roughly only 13% of the global Muslim population.

So now let’s take those facts and apply some rational logic. Since the internet likes cats, we’ll use them as the example. Let’s say, you have a problem in the cat population such as a disease and 13% of those cats come from the same seven states in the U.S. Subsequently, the CDC decided to prohibit cats from those states being transported across state lines. Would it be a rational conclusion to state that it was a “Cat Ban”. The answer is no. Why? Because it simply doesn’t apply to 87% of cats.

The difference here is that we’re not talking about cats and disease. We’re talking about people and terrorism. While they may be analogous to some degree, the most important distinction is that a cat without the disease isn’t going to get infected by being made aware it is part of a “Cat Ban.” However, a Muslim, anywhere in the world, who may already have anti-American views but is not radicalized may be pushed towards radicalization when given the impression that all Muslims are no longer welcome in the United States.

One of the more common arguments made by protesters and critics of Trumps policy is that it emboldens our enemies by giving them the impression that immigrants, refugees and particularly Muslims are not welcome in America. Political opponents of the administration cry, pundits rant in outrage, activist groups shout slogans all to this effect all with one universal view that a “Muslim Ban” is fundamentally un-American.

It took less than a few hours for that view to spread across the globe. Within two days, Vox again attacked the administration claiming the “Muslim Ban” was a huge gift to ISIS.

“The Trump administration seems to be sending the message that the US doesn’t care about Muslim suffering. ISIS propagandists couldn’t have said it better themselves.” ~ Jennifer Williams,

I would have to agree with Jennifer, that given the worldwide perception of Muslims now being that America is at War with Islam doesn’t want Muslims in the U.S. is probably a huge propaganda victory for ISIS. I would fully agree that we are likely less safe as a nation as a result of the world view over the so called “Muslim Ban.” and that it will likely marginalize Muslims in America, create political and social conflict within our nation and embolden those who revel in that result.

However I would have to disagree about whether or not that victory should be attributed to Donald Trump. Regardless of how poorly the executive order was implemented or how effective it may be in actually helping thwart terrorism in the US, to falsely characterize Trumps actions as a blanked “Muslim Ban”, might be considered treasonous in and of itself.

Propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular cause or point of view”. The idea of a “Muslim Ban” is clearly propaganda promulgated the the leftist media that clearly believes it is more important to spread their point of view than to help ensure the safety of the American citizens. This is more than simply a betrayal of trust or inaccurate reporting. The view of a “Muslim Ban”, as Vox ascribes along with many other pundits and propagandists, grants our enemies aid.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. ~ The United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3

On March 10th, 1949, a federal jury convicted Mildred Gillars, AKA “Axis Sally”, an American radio broadcaster, for Treason due to her active participation in propaganda activities against the United States based on the content of one broadcast Vision Of Invasion.

She thought she was on the winning side, and all she cared about was her own selfish fame. ~ Chief Prosecutor John M. Kelly, Jr.

I am, without a doubt, a proud proponent for freedom of speech and have been an advocate for it my entire career. There is plenty of space in our dialogue for honest, reasonable and even civil descent against Trump’s executive order on Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US. I don’t even support the idea of this executive order but that’s actually beside the point. Claiming that it is a “Muslim Ban” does, the very harm that it’s critics claim the order causes.

When speech becomes aid and comfort to the enemy or when it becomes anti-American hate speech on behalf of an enemy, that treads the dread filled line of treason and sedition. When that kind of speech comes unanimously from a political party that dominates the press, I shudder. I’m not saying that journalists, pundits or media organizations should be brought up on charges of treason. However, I do believe that We the People, should demand honest coverage of the news by the press and that they should be held accountable for their actions, that in their own words, made America less safe.

Unfortunately, much like Axis Sally, the media thinks they are safely on the winning side and all they care about is their own selfish endeavors.

Editorial Cartoon by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Courtesy of Cagle Cartoons, Inc.