Thinking again about that Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy theory

Jeffrey Epstein

It’s getting awfully hard not to take the conspiracy theories a bit more seriously now. Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot had named Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Itzhak Perlman, Prince Andrew, Senator George Mitchell, Senator John Glenn, Kevin Spacey as passengers on Epstein’s plane, though he claimed not to have witnessed any sexual activity or signs of sexual activity.[19] Epstein himself is dead, by hanging in a prison cell.[20] Clinton is nearly certain to have had trouble keeping his pants zipped,[21] indeed likely to have raped at least one woman,[22] and is known to have had an extramarital affair with a White House intern[23] that cannot help but be tainted by an extreme difference in power. Prince Andrew just settled a lawsuit stemming from a rape that had occurred under Epstein’s auspices. That lawsuit may have been the last chance to expose Epstein’s secrets.[24] And now another Epstein associate has been found dead, by hanging, in a prison cell, likely eliminating yet another path to those secrets.[25]

The 75-year-old [Jean-Luc Brunel] was found dead in his cell at around 1 a.m. Saturday during an overnight check by guards at the Paris prison, prosecutors told Le Monde. Brunel was being held as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged rape of minors and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation. Several models had accused him of sexual assault and rape, and French police had interviewed many potential witnesses in the case. Brunel had denied the allegations.[26]

Sure, it’s all coincidence. But at some point, knowing that Epstein had so many powerful friends who visited him in places where women are known to have been trafficked, knowing that these are all people who have reputations to protect, knowing that none of these people will want to end up like Prince Andrew, one has to be an absolute sucker for believing that’s all it is.

Timothy Bella and Kelsey Ables, “Jean-Luc Brunel, Epstein associate accused of supplying girls to financier, is found hanged in prison,” Washington Post, February 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/19/jean-luc-brunel-hanged-epstein/


COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

The idea that Americans are tired of the pandemic has become conventional wisdom, with important policy implications. Democratic governors in blue states like New Jersey and California have rolled back mask mandates, citing the importance of “normalcy.”[27]

As to be expected with FiveThirtyEight, the article from which the above lede is drawn relies heavily on polls which nowadays have ludicrously low[28] and absolutely invalidating response rates that are a generally unacknowledged factor in survey unreliability.[29] But the gist is that there’s no consensus on what a “return to normal” actually looks like.[30]

Leana Wen’s argument has been that we should relax restrictions now with a clear message that they may be reimposed as needed in the future,[31] but she fails to consider the plight and the dilemma immunocompromised people face.[32] That said, there is a reality that even as Canadian police clear the “Freedom Convoy” protests that have disrupted trade and made life generally intolerable for residents, and which oppose pandemic mitigation measures,[33] and even as so many people, both around the world and within the U.S., remain unvaccinated, enabling the rise of ever more variants,[34] it is increasingly clear that the Trumpists have won the pandemic.[35]

Over a million are already dead, both from COVID-19 itself and from an inability to access medical care from overwhelmed facilities.[36] We can be sure there will be more, probably many more.

Amanda Coletta et al., “Police prepare to clear ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters on Ontario border bridge. Tear gas used on Champs-Élysées crowd,” Washington Post, February 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/12/canada-ottawa-trucker-protest-freedom-convoy/

Miguel Marquez, Jason Hanna, and Kim Berryman, “Canadian police begin attempt to clear protesters blocking Ambassador Bridge to US,” CNN, February 12, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/12/americas/canada-truckers-protests-covid-saturday/index.html

Kayla Tarnowski and Julio Cesar Chavez, “Key bridge to U.S. remains closed as Canada police clear protesters,” Reuters, February 13, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-protesters-police-deadlocked-tensions-simmer-blocked-border-bridge-2022-02-13/

Brian Wilk, “US Freedom Convoy met with support as they make stop in Erie,” YourErie.com, February 13, 2022, https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/us-freedom-convoy-met-with-support-as-they-make-stop-in-erie/

Miriam Berger et al., “U.S.-Canada border crossing reopens after six-day blockade by ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/13/canada-freedom-convoy-border-blockades-truckers/

Amanda Coletta et al., “Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act against Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/14/canada-ottawa-trucker-protests-bridge/

Paul Vieira and Kim Mackrael, “U.S.-Canada Bridge Reopens After Police Clear Protest,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/canadian-police-begin-to-clear-protesters-disrupting-cross-border-bridge-traffic-11644759497

Amol Rajan, “Novak Djokovic: I’m not anti-vax but will sacrifice trophies if told to get jab,” British Broadcasting Corporation, February 15, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60354068

Matthew Syed, “What Novak Djokovic revealed to me at lunch,” Times, February 16, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/matthew-syed-what-novak-djokovic-revealed-to-me-at-lunch-d85gv8jph

Ed Yong, “The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo,” Atlantic, February 16, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-pandemic-immunocompromised-risk-vaccines/622094/

Amanda Coletta et al., “Ottawa arrests two ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest organizers as police chief vows to ‘take back’ city,” Washington Post, February 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/17/canada-freedom-convoy-ottawa-protest/

Melody Schreiber, “US has suffered more than 1m excess deaths during pandemic, CDC finds,” Guardian, February 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/17/us-excess-deaths-pandemic-cdc

Oriana Gonzalez, “Canadian police arrest over 100 people in trucker protests,” Axios, February 18, 2022, https://www.axios.com/police-ottawa-arrest-trucker-protest-covid-vaccine-ed06ea8a-d2bc-4c3c-8c04-3054dca17c88.html

Jean Yi, “COVID-19 Isn’t Going Anywhere — And Americans Know It,” FiveThirtyEight, February 18, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/covid-19-isnt-going-anywhere-and-americans-know-it/


  1. [19]Lauren del Valle and Eric Levenson, “Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testifies Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew flew aboard Epstein’s private plane,” CNN, November 30, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/30/us/ghislaine-maxwell-pilot/index.html
  2. [20]Morgan Krakow, Hannah Knowles, and Marisa Iati, “‘We need answers. Lots of them.’ What’s known and what’s next after Jeffrey Epstein’s death,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/10/we-need-answers-lots-them-whats-known-whats-next-after-jeffrey-epsteins-death/; Matt Zapotosky et al., “Jeffrey Epstein dead after ‘apparent suicide’ in New York,” Washington Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epstein-kills-himself-in-jail-according-to-media-reports/2019/08/10/a3d48862-bb73-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html
  3. [21]David Benfell, “Yes, Hillary Clinton must answer for Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults,” Not Housebroken, October 10, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/10/10/yes-hillary-clinton-must-answer-for-bill-clintons-sexual-assaults/; Shawn Boburg, “Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers,” Washington Post, September 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/enabler-or-family-defender-how-hillary-clinton-responded-to-husbands-accusers/2016/09/28/58dad5d4-6fb1-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html; Amy Chozick, “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women,” New York Times, January 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/us/politics/90s-scandals-threaten-to-erode-hillary-clintons-strength-with-women.html; Maureen Dowd, “When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism,” New York Times, February 13, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/opinion/sunday/when-hillary-clinton-killed-feminism.html; Liza Featherstone, “Hillary Clinton’s Faux Feminism,” Truthout, February 28, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35006-hillary-clinton-s-faux-feminism
  4. [22]Dylan Matthews, “Juanita Broaddrick’s case against Hillary Clinton, explained,” Vox, October 9, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/10/9/13221340/juanita-broaddrick-hillary-clinton-rape
  5. [23]Douglas O. Linder, “The Impeachment Trial of President William Clinton,” University of Missouri, Kansas City, 2005, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/clinton/clintontrialaccount.html; Rutgers University, “The Impeachment of President Clinton,” n.d., copy in possession of author
  6. [24]Shayna Jacobs, “Prince Andrew settles with U.S. woman who says she was trafficked to him by Jeffrey Epstein,” Washington Post, February 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/02/15/andrew-giuffre-settlement-epstein/; Choire Sicha, “The Last Chance to Learn Jeffrey Epstein’s Secrets Closes,” New York, February 15, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/02/jeffrey-epstein-prince-andrew.html; Will Pavia, “Prince Andrew’s payout to Virginia Giuffre ‘is worth its weight in gold’ for Queen,” Times, February 16, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/prince-andrew-and-virginia-giuffre-agree-settlement-in-sexual-abuse-case-q257kth5m
  7. [25]Timothy Bella and Kelsey Ables, “Jean-Luc Brunel, Epstein associate accused of supplying girls to financier, is found hanged in prison,” Washington Post, February 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/19/jean-luc-brunel-hanged-epstein/
  8. [26]Timothy Bella and Kelsey Ables, “Jean-Luc Brunel, Epstein associate accused of supplying girls to financier, is found hanged in prison,” Washington Post, February 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/19/jean-luc-brunel-hanged-epstein/
  9. [27]Jean Yi, “COVID-19 Isn’t Going Anywhere — And Americans Know It,” FiveThirtyEight, February 18, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/covid-19-isnt-going-anywhere-and-americans-know-it/
  10. [28]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/; Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409
  11. [29]Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html; David Byler, “Polling is broken. No one knows how to fix it,” Washington Post, July 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/22/polling-is-broken-no-one-knows-how-fix-it/; Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far; David A. Graham, “The Polling Crisis Is a Catastrophe for American Democracy,” Atlantic, November 4, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/polling-catastrophe/616986/; Steven Shepard, “Dem pollsters acknowledge ‘major errors’ in 2020 polling,” Politico, April 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/13/dems-polling-failure-481044
  12. [30]Jean Yi, “COVID-19 Isn’t Going Anywhere — And Americans Know It,” FiveThirtyEight, February 18, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/covid-19-isnt-going-anywhere-and-americans-know-it/
  13. [31]Leana S. Wen, “Yes, more variants may emerge in the future. That’s why we should lift restrictions now,” Washington Post, February 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/01/yes-more-variants-may-emerge-future-thats-why-we-should-lift-restrictions-now/
  14. [32]Ed Yong, “The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo,” Atlantic, February 16, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-pandemic-immunocompromised-risk-vaccines/622094/
  15. [33]Miriam Berger et al., “U.S.-Canada border crossing reopens after six-day blockade by ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/13/canada-freedom-convoy-border-blockades-truckers/; Amanda Coletta et al., “Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act against Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest,” Washington Post, February 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/14/canada-ottawa-trucker-protests-bridge/; Oriana Gonzalez, “Canadian police arrest over 100 people in trucker protests,” Axios, February 18, 2022, https://www.axios.com/police-ottawa-arrest-trucker-protest-covid-vaccine-ed06ea8a-d2bc-4c3c-8c04-3054dca17c88.html; Paul Vieira and Kim Mackrael, “U.S.-Canada Bridge Reopens After Police Clear Protest,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/canadian-police-begin-to-clear-protesters-disrupting-cross-border-bridge-traffic-11644759497
  16. [34]David Benfell, “The lethal dishonesty of ‘intellectual property’ in a pandemic,” Not Housebroken, November 30, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/21/the-lethal-dishonesty-of-intellectual-property-in-a-pandemic/
  17. [35]David Benfell, “Racing to one million dead from COVID-19 in the U.S.,” Not Housebroken, February 6, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/02/05/racing-to-one-million-dead-from-covid-19-in-the-u-s/
  18. [36]Melody Schreiber, “US has suffered more than 1m excess deaths during pandemic, CDC finds,” Guardian, February 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/17/us-excess-deaths-pandemic-cdc

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