The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Whataboutism

More than a few progressives become infuriated when anyone bring up the massive summer riots, orchestrated by left-wing groups such as antifa and BLM in the context of the Capitol riots. They argue that any mention of those riots is a distraction or "whataboutism" and has nothing to do with the right-wing riots that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th. But comparing the reaction of progressives and Democrats to the events of January 6th and then to the more widespread, violent and destructive riots of this past summer is informative. It is not a distraction because it provides an indication of just how selective outrage and condemnation can be.

The summer riots spanned a period of months, not hours, and resulted in massive property damage and violence. They, like the debacle at the Capitol, were planned and coordinated by extremists and driven by anger. The summer riots were often dismissed by Democrat city, state, and federal leaders as nothing to worry about. When summer rioters were arrested, federal agencies investigated half-heartedly, left-leaning prosecutors refused to prosecute, and the rioters were released to riot yet again. There was no massive national manhunt for the perpetrators (as there is now for the Capitol rioters).

When asked about the summer riots, soon-to-be VP, Kamala Harris, refused to condemn the perpetrators and then went so far as to urge her followers, ironically via Twitter, to contribute to a fund to bail-out those who had been arrested for arson, assault and battery, and theft, implying that somehow their rioting was justified by events.


Imagine for just a moment the firestorm that would result if any GOP politician even suggested that Capitol rioters should be released, much less suggest that Republicans contribute to a bail fund for them. The only GOP politician to delay condemnation of the Capitol rioters was Donald Trump, and it ruined him within his own party. Every other GOP politician condemned the Capitol riots immediately and unequivocally, and none suggested leniency for the perpetrators. 

But Democrats don't want to consider their rather different reactions in the summer and then on January 6th. That would imply that there's a level of hypocrisy at work. Instead, the Dems indict anyone who brings up the very different treatment of the summer riots with the 'crime' of "whataboutism." William Voegeli comments:

The whataboutism indictments mean that we [referring to the Democrats], who wield this cultural power, can deliver crazy and dangerous pronouncements during one historical circumstance, and then a few months later use that power to decree that the earlier pronouncements are irrelevant to whatever points we’re making today. Cultural power means never having to say you’re sorry and never having to feel you’re constrained. Go ahead: take outrageous positions or issue preposterous formulations today, confident that if they make you or us look bad in the future, we, the culturally powerful, will join together to manufacture a consensus that even alluding to those embarrassments is now impermissible.

In a way, charges of whataboutism are a form of cancel culture. The charges are intended to: (1) silence any discussion that doesn't fit the prevailing narrative; (2) erase the history of past (and often contradictory) positions, and (3) enable selective outrage that can be used to implement politically authoritarian policies.

Yet the Left insists that comparisons are not only irrelevant, but somehow a "distraction." Voegeli writes:

... different cases, though not identical, can be comparable in ways that fairly illuminate some underlying question. If whataboutism entails “raising a supposedly analogous issue in response to a perceived hypocrisy or inconsistency,” then raising plausibly analogous issues in response to a demonstrable hypocrisy or inconsistency does not qualify as whataboutism. Whether issue X is or isn’t analogous to issue Y, whether inconsistency Z is apparent or real, irrelevant, or germane—these disagreements become elements of any fair debate. And because it is legitimate for one side to raise such questions, it is illegitimate for the other side to use facile, tendentious accusations of whataboutism to rule them out of order. The point of that tactic is not to win a debate but stifle it.

But stifling any discussion that doesn't fit the narrative is something that is becoming S.O.P. for the new Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media. They now see that it works. That accusing someone of "whataboutism" keeps them quiet or better, forces them to self-censor. The Left has trouble wining any legitimate debate on any important issue unless it silences its opponents. That exactly what "whataboutism" is all about.



Thursday, January 14, 2021

Political Authoritarianism

It's very important to be able to hold two or more thoughts in your head at one time. Far too many Democrats and a few Republicans seem unable to do that. They are consumed (obsessed?) with the destruction of Donald Trump, and now that the debacle at the Capitol (a.k.a. the Capitol riots) has given them a legitimate reason to question Trump's judgement and his leadership, everything over the past week—and I do mean everything—is viewed through the lens of "Trump's coup attempt." 

But there are things that are happening that are ominous and are only peripherally connected to the events of January 6th—although the Left would have you believe that those ominous things are justified by their Captain Ahab-like obsession with Trump. 

There are thousands of biased, dishonest and unprofessional left-leaning journalists. But Glen Greenwald is NOT among them. Greenwald, a progressive, is one of the few who have maintained their professionalism. He has the courage and the sense to note that the social media de-platforming of not only Trump, but a wide array of conservative voices, along with the forced shutdown of a new social media site, Parler, competing with Facebook and Twitter (both social media platforms run by left-leaning tech oligarchs) represents a serious threat to free-speech. Greenwald writes:

Critics of Silicon Valley censorship for years heard the same refrain: tech platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are private corporations and can host or ban whoever they want. If you don’t like what they are doing, the solution is not to complain or to regulate them. Instead, go create your own social media platform that operates the way you think it should.

The founders of Parler heard that suggestion and tried. In August, 2018, they created a social media platform similar to Twitter but which promised far greater privacy protections, including a refusal to aggregate user data in order to monetize them to advertisers or algorithmically evaluate their interests in order to promote content or products to them. They also promised far greater free speech rights, rejecting the increasingly repressive content policing of Silicon Valley giants.

Over the last year, Parler encountered immense success. Millions of people who objected to increasing repression of speech on the largest platforms or who had themselves been banned signed up for the new social media company.

As Silicon Valley censorship radically escalated over the past several months — banning pre-election reporting by The New York Post about the Biden family, denouncing and deleting multiple posts from the U.S. President and then terminating his access altogether, mass-removal of right-wing accounts — so many people migrated to Parler that it was catapulted to the number one spot on the list of most-downloaded apps on the Apple Play Store, the sole and exclusive means which iPhone users have to download apps. “Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.

It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules.

It's worth noting that Twitter and to a lesser extent, Facebook, have relatively no problem with leftist voices that have advocated violence toward Trump or his supporters. Those progressive voices have not been de-platformed, nor have virulent anti-Semites like Louis Farakan or Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, who advocates "Death to America and fantasizes about the annihilation of Israel." Their Twitter and Facebook accounts remain untouched.

That latter is as it should be. These demagogues should be able to communicate their views (no matter how objectionable) to those willing to follow them, as long as they can be called out, refuted, and labeled as the scum they are. 

But two sets of rules have evolved—one for voices that oppose the progressive/socialist narrative and another for those who advocate that narrative or speak for the "oppressed."

Greenwald continues:

If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor.

The united Silicon Valley attack began on January 8, when Apple emailed Parler and gave them 24 hours to prove they had changed their moderation practices or else face removal from their App Store. The letter claimed: “We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property.” It ended with this warning:

To ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store, please submit an update and the requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of this message. If we do not receive an update compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and the requested moderation improvement plan in writing within 24 hours, your app will be removed from the App Store.

The 24-hour letter was an obvious pretext and purely performative. Removal was a fait accompli no matter what Parler did. To begin with, the letter was immediately leaked to Buzzfeed, which published it in full. A Parler executive detailed the company’s unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Apple. “They basically ghosted us,” he told me. The next day, Apple notified Parler of its removal from App Store. “We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content,” said the world’s richest company, and thus: “We have now rejected your app for the App Store.”

It is hard to overstate the harm to a platform from being removed from the App Store. Users of iPhones are barred from downloading apps onto their devices from the internet. If an app is not on the App Store, it cannot be used on the iPhone. Even iPhone users who have already downloaded Parler will lose the ability to receive updates, which will shortly render the platform both unmanageable and unsafe.

In October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law (controlled by Democrats) issued a 425-page report concluding that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all possess monopoly power and are using that power anti-competitively. 

But in the aftermath of the debacle at the Capitol, all of that concern seems to have been jettisoned in the effort to utterly destroy Trump. As long as voices who have and will oppose the narrative of the new Democratic party are the only ones that are silenced—no problem. Again from Greenwald:

... the dominant strain of American liberalism is not economic socialism but political authoritarianism. Liberals now want to use the force of corporate power to silence those with different ideologies. They are eager for tech monopolies not just to ban accounts they dislike but to remove entire platforms from the internet. They want to imprison people they believe helped their party lose elections, such as Julian Assange, even if it means creating precedents to criminalize journalism.

World leaders have vocally condemned the power Silicon Valley has amassed to police political discourse, and were particularly indignant over the banning of the U.S. President. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, various French ministers, and especially Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador all denounced the banning of Trump and other acts of censorship by tech monopolies on the ground that they were anointing themselves “a world media power.”

... Even the ACLU — which has rapidly transformed from a civil liberties organization into a liberal activist group since Trump’s election — found the assertion of Silicon Valley’s power to destroy Parler deeply alarming. One of that organization’s most stalwart defenders of civil liberties, lawyer Ben Wizner, told The New York Times that the destruction of Parler was more “troubling” than the deletion of posts or whole accounts: “I think we should recognize the importance of neutrality when we’re talking about the infrastructure of the internet.”

Yet American liberals swoon for this authoritarianism ...

So much of this liberal support for the attempted destruction of Parler is based in utter ignorance about that platform, and about basic principles of free speech ...

Greenwald goes on to note that Parler is no more a stronghold of white supremacist thought than Twitter is a place where anti-white, anti-Semitic thugs like Louis Farakan rein. The difference is that Parler doesn't censor or de-platform views it disagrees with.

As the new Democratic party ascends to power in less than a week, our country's dominant concern shouldn't be the fever dream that a disgraced, 74-year old Donald Trump will rise from the ashes to become a 2024 political force. Rather it should be the gnawing concern that hiding behind the mask of "unity" and "moderation" worn by Joe Biden is "political authoritarianism." The censorship that has occurred over the past few months has demonstrated just how powerful that authoritarianism can be and provides a frightening preview of what it can become under the new Democratic party.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Moby Dick

The Democrats can't seem to let go of Donald J. Trump. Today, they intend to impeach him for a second time. "Incitement" as we'll see later in this post, didn't happen in any criminal sense, but Trump did instigate the debacle at the Capitol. If he had a year left in his term of office, impeachment might be something to consider, but he now has 7 days left.

The debacle at the Capitol has discredited him, his own party is distancing itself from him, many of his defenders have abandoned him, his social media megaphone has been disconnected, and his term of office is all but over. You'd think that the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media would celebrate his fall and subsequent departure and move on.

But Donald Trump is Moby Dick to the Left's Captain Ahab. In Herman Melville's classic novel,  the Captain was obsessed with killing the great white whale—at any cost. Like Ahab, the Dems are willing to risk even more extreme political division (counter to the claims made by Joe Biden that "unity" is his goal). They are obsessed with the whale and are cheered on by their supporters and assisted by their hamsters in the media as they spend the opening days of Biden's ascension to the presidency in an effort to destroy and humiliate the outgoing president.

Jonathan Turley is "an American attorney, legal scholar, writer, commentator, and legal analyst in broadcast and print journalism. He is a professor at the George Washington University Law School, and has testified in United States Congressional proceedings about constitutional and statutory issues." (Wikipedia) He is hardly a member of any seditionist group—a label that is now leveled at anyone who questions whether Trump actually did "incite" the mob that invaded the Capitol. Turley writes:

Democrats are seeking to remove Trump on the basis of his remarks to supporters before the rioting at the Capitol. Like others, I condemned those remarks as he gave them, calling them reckless and wrong. I also opposed the challenges to electoral votes in Congress. But his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.

When I testified in the impeachment hearings of Trump and Bill Clinton, I noted that an article of impeachment does not have to be based on any clear crime but that Congress has looked to the criminal code to weigh impeachment offenses. For this controversy now, any such comparison would dispel claims of criminal incitement. Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots. But he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to raise their opposition to the certification of electoral votes and to back the recent challenges made by a few members of Congress. Trump told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.”

... There was no call for lawless action by Trump. Instead, there was a call for a protest at the Capitol. Moreover, violence was not imminent, as the vast majority of the tens of thousands of protesters were not violent before the march, and most did not riot inside the Capitol. Like many violent protests in the last four years, criminal conduct was carried out by a smaller group of instigators. Capitol Police knew of the march but declined an offer from the National Guard since they did not view violence as likely.

Trump undoubtedly did exhibit recklessness and very bad judgment when the events of the debacle at the Capitol are viewed in hindsight. That would be enough to label him a demagogue and to question his fitness for another four years in the White House. But Trump won't be in the White House after January 20th. 

The Dems claim that impeachment is necessary to ensure that Trump is not allowed to run in 2024. They have no worry in that regard. Trump, through his own bad judgment and thoughtless language, has destroyed his own reputation and turned many of his supporters against him. Media will not provide him with the means to communicate in any modern context. His voice will be silenced. His own party would never endorse his candidacy. Only in the fever swamps of leftist thought is there any threat of another Trump presidency.

Impeachment will accomplish one thing. In the fever swamps of hard-right thinking, it will provide yet another grievance that will remain unresolved. Given the current state of political affairs, why incite (that word again) when it simply isn't necessary.  Trump is over. There's just no need to chase the whale.

There's a quote from Moby Dick that seems relevant here:

“There is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of man.”

Trump may very well be a white whale—a once in a century political phenomenon that was part "beast" and part ... you fill in the rest. His opponents' reaction to him over four long years before the debacle at the Capitol may have been part prescience at what would come in his last weeks in office. But any objective assessment would also have to consider the possibility that it was part madness.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

51 Pieces

Virtually everyone agrees that senior citizens are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Current data puts mortality for those over 80 who get the virus at about 5 - 6 percent, meaning there's a 94% probability of surviving the illness, but that's still cause for concern. It's also a key driver for getting seniors vaccinated ASAP.

In my state of FL, vaccinations of seniors have begun, and tens of thousands of appointment s have already been arranged with more coming on a daily basis. On-line signups require a name, an email address (so an appointment can be arranged) a telephone number, age, and an address. But FL is a red state governed by a competent governor who is not a catastrophist. He has the wisdom to allow local control, as hundreds of websites, organized and administered by local hospitals and county governments have been set up to handle appointments. I went on-line and got mine yesterday.

In NY, few senior vaccinations have occurred. It's been reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration requires a multistep verification process for sign-ups, requiring answers to a lengthy questionnaire with as many as 51 entries. In additional, the senior must upload an image of his or her insurance card. That requirement will be daunting for many 65-plus year olds, who may struggle with translating a physical card into a digital image and then uploading the same. 

Even worse, Cuomo has instituted a statewide set of requirements that dictate who can get the vaccination and when, assigning penalties to any provide who violates them. They have been rescinded after public outcry. The New York Times reports:

Across New York State, medical providers in recent weeks had the same story: They had been forced to throw out precious vaccine doses because of difficulties finding patients who matched precisely with the state’s strict vaccination guidelines — and the steep penalties they would face had they made a mistake.

On Saturday, state health officials responded to the outcry over discarded vaccines by again abruptly loosening guidelines as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

NY is a blue state. Big government bureaucracy, centralized control, and red tape rule. People just might want to take a step back and ask whether the approach adopted by NY for a simple shot might well be a harbinger of the approach taken for all medical care under blue governance at a federal level. After all, government run health care is cheap, efficient, and fair, except when it isn't.

It's also rather amusing to note that the many Democrats suggest that supplying one piece of physical identification for voter ID is somehow too hard for certain groups. Yet, they were perfectly willing to have at-risk seniors supply 51 pieces of digital information to get a shot.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Two Sets

Although she lives in Israel, Caroline Glick is an astute observer of the American scene. She writes about the debacle of the Capitol this way:

It was hard to watch the scenes of President Donald Trump supporters storming the Capitol on Wednesday as the joint session of Congress was convened to debate and ratify President Elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Suddenly, the home of America’s representative government was threatened not by Islamic terrorists or China or Russia, but by the people the lawmakers represent – Americans. And the Americans in question had just attended a rally where President Trump told them Biden stole the election and the procedure going on the joint session was illegitimate.

As I noted in my reaction to the debacle, Trump is done. He exercised massively bad judgment and invoked dangerous, tone-deaf language that incited his followers at their Washington rally. I'm certain he was advised not to promote the gathering or speak at the rally and disregarded that advice. He sowed a whirlwind.

But there's more to this than Trump's demise. The reaction of the four constituencies (the democrats, the media, the GOP establishment, and the deep state) who have worked tirelessly for the past four years to destroy Trump's presidency is masked jubilation. In their view, the awful events of last week justify their dishonest and in some cases, criminal attempts to "resist," not with reasoned opposition, but with proven lies (e.g., "Russian collusion"). In addition, the media has decided that the rioters who invaded the Capitol are worthy of investigation and discussion. The trained hamsters are combing through the background of the most extreme elements that invaded the Capitol building while emphasizing the "heroic" attempts by police officers who fought back. That's understandable and appropriate.

But it is truly ironic that the "insurrection" (to borrow a phrase from Joe Biden) that we saw in American cities this summer—the violence, the destruction, the thievery, and the deaths, along with the less than friendly treatment of the law enforcement people who tried to stop it, got far different treatment by the media. There were no in-depth investigations of antifa or BLM, the perpetrators of the summer riots. There were no investigative profiles of the leaders of those groups (as there have been in the case of last week's riots). In fact, the media purposely looked the other way, suggesting that it all was "mostly peaceful."

It's this imbalance in the treatment of violent and criminal acts that is troubling. Glick continues:

Contrary to the wizened intonations of “experts” on TV, the last time the Capitol was besieged wasn’t during the War of 1812, when the British burned the Capitol and the White House. It was two years ago. A mob far larger than the one that stormed the building Wednesday took over the Hart Senate Office Building during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to intimidate lawmakers into voting down his nomination.

As BLM and Antifa rioters burned a swathe across the country, even as police officers and civilians were killed and wounded, Democrat politicians on the local, state and national levels supported them. While distancing himself from the violence, Biden supported them. In a television interview in late August, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris egged on the shock troops and embraced them.

Speaking to Stephen Colbert, Harris said of the rioters, “Everyone beware. They’re not gonna stop before election day in November, and they’re not gonna stop after election day…They’re not gonna let up and they should not.”

The media, including social media giants Facebook, Twitter and YouTube backed the rioters. Their hashtags were trending and their violence whitewashed even as people were killed and wounded and their mayhem inflicted $2 billion in damages on the U.S. economy already battered by the coronavirus. The brunt of the financial burden was shouldered by small business owners. 

Sadly, there's no surprise in any of this. We have become a country where different standards and rules apply depending on political affiliation.

What rioters did in Washington last week was wrong and criminal. They are being arrested and will be prosecuted. What rioters did in multiple U.S. cities this past summer was wrong and criminal. Some were arrested, most were released, and relatively few were prosecuted. The media preferred not to look. Two sets of standards, two set of rules. It not a good thing for the country.  


Thursday, January 07, 2021

A Fork

Narcissistic. Bombastic. Undignified. Braggart. Verbally unclear. Uncouth. Exaggerator who borders on liar. Many of us disregarded all of those nasty and obvious personality traits because Donald Trump threatened a Washington swamp that needed threatening. And despite an onslaught of hate and false accusations, he managed a Teams of 8s and 9s that actually accomplished many good things throughout his administration.

But Donald Trump jumped the shark yesterday. And as a consequence, all of his many achievements — things that actually improved the lives of many Americans, lead to more equitable trade, and established foreign policy wins that made the world a better place—are for naught. 

Trump will be remembered for the storming of the US Capitol by a mob, encouraged by his ill-chosen rhetoric and inappropriate combativeness. An exhausted nation—frightened by the virus, pummeled by unrelenting political combat over the last four years, disgusted by media double standards that are so obvious they’re breathtaking, and sick of gaslighting that insisted that wrong is right and lies are truth—wants it over, and Trump gone.

After the travesty on Capitol Hill yesterday, they’re not wrong.

Mob violence is reprehensible whether it comes from pro-Trump supporters or antifa and BLM protesters. They ALL deserve full-throated condemnation.

There's no point in making comparisons of mob violence or noting the rather different ways the summer riots and yesterday's capitol assault were covered and discussed. It's all beside the point.

Trump brought on yesterday's assault by inciting a mob. Stick a fork in him, he's done.

UPDATE:

Steven Kruiser comments on the Capitol riots:

Let me be clear about this up front: I in no way condone what went on. Riots are riots. I’m not some mainstream media hack who prevaricates when writing about civil unrest in order to cover for people I might think are on the right side of things. Once you go full mob rule, I don’t care who you voted for [or what your ideology is], you’re an idiot and you’re on the wrong side.

In fact, I am sick to death of people and their stupid feelings. If you can’t express your displeasure without breaking a window you’re not fit to be out in public ... Grow up.

The first thing I noticed while scanning the news was that virtually every conservative commenting on the situation was condemning the violence. Immediately. That stood in stark contrast to high-ranking Democrats and their flying monkeys in the mainstream media spending all last summer telling us that things were peaceful while we were staring at burning buildings.

He's right, but the damage has been done—to Trump and to the people who supported him. The Capitol riots give the Left and their trained hamsters in the media a good excuse to justify all of their unrelenting and dishonest attacks on this president over the past four years. The riots give them a good excuse to justify their condescending hatred of the "deplorables." And the Capitol mob has no one to blame but itself.

 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Modern Communists

Unless a recount changes the result in GA, it looks like the Democrats have control over the House, the Senate and the presidency. They now have free rein to make good on their threats to pack the Supreme Court, add PR and DC as states thereby packing the Senate, raise taxes on the "rich," abolish the electoral college, and of course, provide plenty of "free" stuff for their favored constituencies. Their media (and it is their media) will protect them from scandal every step of the way as Joe Biden is elevated to the presidency. I hesitate to use the words "elected" or "won" because of the gnawing questions that continue to swirl around far too many voting irregularities that will never be properly reconciled or investigated. Regardless, Joe will be president on January 20th. 

Those of us who were opposed to all of this will accept the Dem's ascension to power and move forward. We will wonder about the new Democrat president's cognitive deficits (which are real and growing more obvious by the month), observe his administration's actions, criticize his missteps, and point out his scandals, but we won't call him names that have no basis in reality. We'll watch as both the House and the Senate enact legislation that will cripple economic growth, make more and more people dependent of big government, and strangle us all with regulations that provide little benefit but maximum control.

Biden now has the unenviable job of managing the new Democratic party. I use the adjective new to indicate that far too many influencers within the new Democratic party have veered hard left and are now energized by their ascension to power. The party's aging leaders will try (or not) to maintain some semblance of moderation or centrism, but the socialist wing is taking over. With the explicit assistance of the trained hamsters of the  mainstream media, along with quiet supporters throughout social media, the new Democrats are positioned to transform our way of life—and not in a good way.

Sarah Chamberlain has written a scathing commentary in which she refers to the hard-left influencers within the new Democratic party (e.g., Bernie Sanders, the members of the "Squad") as "modern communists." She writes:

Modern communists do not usually call themselves such. They do not talk about workers rising up and seizing the Means of Production.

Instead, modern communists adopt a rhetorical stance where they assume that all people and all property are ALREADY COLLECTIVIZED, then calmly discuss what WE should do:

  • What WE should ALLOW people to own.
  • What WE should ALLOW people to do.
  • What WE should ALLOW people to say.
  • How WE should ALLOW people to use their property.
  • How WE should ALLOW people to conduct their businesses,
  • … and WHO should be ALLOWED,
  • … and WHERE.
  • How WE should ALLOW people to raise their children. Who should be GIVEN which roles within society.

- etc.

The issue under discussion is always something sympathetic, something most decent people would like to see fixed: Intergenerational poverty, police brutality, environmental degradation, bigotry, violence.

But the solutions modern communists put forward are rarely passive, and they are never liberating. If a problem can be solved by individual action, voluntary charity, by the free market, or by the passage of time, that is never seen as good enough. In fact, nothing that fails to increase the power and control of governments or certain institutions (or to grow the people’s dependence on them) is ever regarded as a solution at all.

There are ominous signs that the "modern communists" are winning. By controlling speech, they control ideas. By cancelling those who object, they cause others who might object to self-censor. 

As an example, let's consider their actions over the past 11 months of COVID. At least some of the Democrat governors (Newsom, Whitmer, Cuomo, come to mind) have insisted on near-dictatorial (not to mention nonsensical, anti-scientific, and catastrophist) control of their states. They argue that only they can dictate the terms that ALLOW: 

  • what people can do (e.g., mandatory mask mandates); 
  • what people can say (e.g., social media censoring anyone who suggests that catastrophist hype is nothing more than propaganda); 
  • how people can use their property (e.g., closing restaurants and arresting/fining those who push back); 
  • how owners can conduct their businesses (e.g., you're non-essential—close down); 
  • who should be allowed to go where (e.g., stay out of parks, off beaches, no gatherings of more than n people, except of course, for gatherings the "modern communists" approve of). 

The state knows all, the state knows best, the state will have all the solutions—bow down to the established "experts," even as they demonstrate they are often wrong and consistently ineffective.

Chamberlain continues:

In order for modern communists to have the latitude to execute their plans, they need every citizen to be as weak and dependent as possible. They especially need the middle tiers of management, professions, and bureaucracy to be filled with minimally competent placeholders who owe their position to political and institutional favor. These sorts of people, since they are only able to achieve their present position through the system, are more pliable to coercion and less likely to see freedom in any aspect of life as promising or beneficial.

Add victimization to the mix and you have a toxic, yet effective brew. 

And anyone who refuses to drink is branded as uncaring or insensitive or stupid or patriarchal or deplorable or worse. None of that is true, but modern communists don't really care about truth. They control the message.  Their truth is pushed by their media flunkies, by academia, by the entertainment industry, and by the state as the truth. It isn't ... not even close.

Chamberlain concludes by noting that many of us see the rising tide of "modern communism," we sense that bad things are on the horizon if it is left unopposed, but we are fat and happy. We, like the Cubans and the Venezuelans in our own hemisphere and within just a few generations, believe/hope that it can't happen here. 

But it can.

She writes:

Most people who have not committed to the cause of freedom are not conscious supporters of modern communism. Some hold out the futile hope that things will all go back to normal, others have convinced themselves that what is happening is inevitable and cannot be opposed. Both are dead wrong. As open struggle against collectivism, communism, authoritarianism, and globalism rises, both of these positions will weaken, and support for freedom will grow.

If you have the courage to act where I do not, here is what I WILL do:

  • If you speak out against them, I will listen. 
  • If you act against them, I will not stand in your way. 
  • If they portray you as uncool, cringey, old-fashioned, unintelligent, or low-class, I will not laugh at you or think less of you. 
  • If they call you a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, Nazi, granny killer, etc., I will not believe them, nor will I care. 
  • If they call you a terrorist or an extremist, I will not assume that you are in the wrong. 
  • When they ask me questions, I will lie, forget, or evade as I am able. 
  • When they tell me their version of history, I will smile and nod and know they are liars. 
  • If they dispossess you, I will share what I can. 
  • If they martyr you, my children will learn your name as that of a hero. 
  • If you have the courage to be shameless in opposing them, you will be honored in my house.

I, and tens of millions of others, will do the same. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The Tranquility Initiative

During his four years in office, Donald Trump achieved a number of significant foreign policy successes, including important trade deals, the first real Arab-Israeli peace initiative in  generations, and the first time ever that the USA had put limits on China's attempt to dominate the Far East. Of course the media gaslighted the public, telling us that Trump's policies were chaotic and that there were no achievements. They lied, but that's par for the course.

The previous administration led by Barack Obama is notable in comparison. Trump's list of foreign policy achievements is exceeded only by Obama's list of foreign policy failures. At the top of that list of failures was Obama's capitulation to Iran, his vaunted "Iran Deal." At the time, I was less than enthusiastic about the deal.

Wisely, Trump backed out of the "deal," but now that Joe Biden and the Democrats are returning to power, it looks like Biden's emerging foreign policy Team of 2s wants to put the "deal" back into place.

The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment:

President Trump’s maximum-pressure sanctions campaign against Iran will continue until his final day in office—and so will Tehran’s escalating violations of the 2015 nuclear deal. While the facts on the ground change, Joe Biden’s policy hasn’t.

Iran is now enriching uranium to 20% purity, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday. This is below the 90% needed for a bomb but a big leap above the accord’s 3.67% limit ...

The regime also said Monday that it had detained a vessel from South Korea, which is in a dispute with Tehran over frozen bank accounts. Last month Mr. Trump blamed Iran-backed militias for the largest attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone since 2010. Iran was also likely behind a series of cyber attacks against dozens of Israeli firms at the end of 2020.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone: Tehran has been a regional menace for 40 years. Mr. Trump’s newly acquired sanctions leverage could eventually forge a better deal, but it was always unlikely in his first term. Watching Iran break out from the deal so easily is a reminder of how sweet the 2015 accord’s terms are for Tehran, which bet on waiting out Mr. Trump for a Democrat.

Mr. Biden has said the U.S. will comply with the agreement again as soon as Iran does ...

It looks increasingly likely that Biden's term in office will be Obama 3.0, with a tinge of hard-left influence that Obama could resist because of his star power. Since the Democrat's trained hamsters in the media laughably characterized Obama's Iran Deal as an "achievement," the Dem's feel compelling to double down on stupid.

The WSJ editors continue:

Simply rejoining the deal means giving up significant leverage for nothing. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said last month that the sanctions campaign had done $250 billion in damage. The U.S. would have to accept irreversible benefits to Iran, like the knowledge and data its scientists gained while violating the deal.

Iran is escalating its nuclear enrichment to put pressure on the new U.S. Administration to rush back into the 2015 deal. It sees the same Obama negotiators moving into Biden jobs, and figures it can outfox them again. But if the U.S. keeps Mr. Trump’s sanctions, and persuades Europe to join them, the pressure will be back on Tehran to make concessions.

If Biden were smart, he'd rename Trump's approach to something that sounds acceptably woke, say, "The Tranquility Initiative," and keep all of its elements in place. 

Biden isn't smart.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Mutating the Narrative

Team Apocalypse is like the Energizer Bunny among catastrophists. 

  • No matter how many false predictions the Team makes (e.g., "we'll have well over 2 million dead in the USA"); 
  • No matter how badly it mangles the voluminous COVID-19 data collected (e.g., "early data indicates a real danger for children, so we've got to close schools"); 
  • No matter how many calls for lockdowns result in no change in either case numbers (a phony metric if there every was one) or deaths (e.g., "lockdowns work to stop the spread"); 
  • No matter how many of the Team's experts refuse to look at societal and economic impacts (think: Anthony Fauci, MD); 
  • No matter how many media stories were falsely reported to make their hated political opponent look bad ...

Team Apocalypse just keeps going and going. 

Even as the Team predicted (wrongly, of course) that vaccines wouldn't be available until late in 2021, a public/private partnership, effectively managed by the Trump administration, produced a set of efficacious vaccines that are now being widely distributed. The Team, never able or willing to admit it was wrong (even though it's almost ALWAYS wrong) insists that its Democrat politicians (blue state governors and blue city mayors) and of course, a corrupt, dishonest and compliant media continue lockdowns and school closures—destroyed lives and livelihoods along the way.

But fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) have begun to abate, and signs of public pushback are becoming more and more evident. The quasi-totalitarian dictates of blue state governors and blue city mayors have become a catalyst for public anger, even as their inefficient distribution of vaccine doses in blue states is being kept quiet by their media flunkies.

So Team Apocalypse adapts and their narrative mutates, just as the virus has. The Team, desperate to ratchet FUD back up (at least until a confused Joe Biden can be sworn into office and then characterized as the blue savior of us all), continues to obfuscate when deaths are discussed, allowing people to think that deaths among people under 50, as unfortunate as they are, are anything but statistical edge cases (just as flu deaths among the same cohort are edge cases). Public health "experts" like Dr. Anthony Fauci, a man whose catastrophist predictions were and continue to be uniformly inaccurate, continues to be the poster boy for the Team. And of course, now that vaccines are available (at least a year ahead of the Team's predicted schedule), all the Team  can now do is complain that distribution isn't fast enough. The team warns of a "mutated virus," as if that is at all unusual (it is not). One of the Team's favorite media outlets, The Atlantic, writes:

“A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the globe. It was first identified in the United Kingdom … officials announced that America’s first case of the variant had been found in the United States, in a Colorado man with no history of travel, an additional case was found in California.”

Oh my, let's lockdown the country until, oh, say, 2025.

Comically, national "news" outlets (yet another adjunct to Team Apocalypse) are continuing their non-stop criticism of Florida (ironically, a place where life has returned to some semblance of normal—businesses, stores, beaches, parks and restaurants are open, most people are out and about, schools are in session) along with its Governor, Ron DeSantis—the Team's public enemy #1. Taking bias to a new level (if that's even possible), the hamsters grudgingly admit that vaccines are now being distributed to front line medical personnel AND to seniors over 65 in FL. But the hamsters breathlessly report that people had to stand in "long lines" (the temp yesterday was a balmy 78 deg. F) in cities like Ft. Myers to get vaccinated. The nonsensical implication is that somehow DeSantis has failed.

Oh ... by the way, in blue CT, and other northeastern states, seniors over the age of 65 won't even have a chance to get a vaccination until sometime in February. I doubt whether anyone in today's "long lines" will wait that long in the FL sunshine to get their shot. I noticed that no one in line had a sleeping bag or a tent.

Taking a broader view, Richard Fernandez writes:

The coronavirus pandemic redistributed power and economic advantage on a vast scale. The advent of vaccines not only creates new political opportunities, it also renders the older ones, like those involving masking and lockdowns, obsolete. The narratives like ‘the virus must mutate.’

The biggest difference between today’s covid and the far more lethal Spanish Flu, the Atlantic notes, is cultural awareness. The magazine didn’t even notice the 1918 virus at the time. Nobody’s going to make that mistake again.

It's the Team's job to keep the virus front and center, terrorizing the public as it goes. Mutating the narrative is their only way forward.

UPDATE:

Now that blue state governors are able to get COVID-19 vaccine due the the success of the Trump administration development effort (you know, the administration that the Dem's told us repeatedly was incompetent in addressing the virus ... that administration), they're struggling with "equitable" distribution. That is, distributing the vaccine in a way that keeps outrage among the woke to a minimum, tamps down accusations of racism, and is otherwise "fair." As the blue Govs ponder the best woke approach, vaccine sits on the shelf, unused. Typical.

And while red state Govs have already begun widespread distribution to the most vulnerable populations (e.g., seniors over 65), the sainted Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided that more regulations are in order BEFORE vaccine is distributed widely. So ... he has issued another Executive Order that indicates that anyone who distributes the vaccine in a way that conflicts with his priorities will be subject to revocation of their state license and ... get ready for it ... a million dollar fine! 

So ... if vaccine that hits its expiration date at the end of the day sits unused, better to throw it out than give it to anyone who is available. Makes perfect sense if you're Cuomo, the guy who decided early last year to place COVID-19 infected patients back in nursing homes. BTW, New York's death rate is twice the national average, but who's counting.

Of course, the woke defended Cuomo:

So, according to woke "logic," the government is struggling to distribute vaccine, but what we need is more government and even more bureaucracy (a national health service) because even more intrusive government control of medical assistance and even more regulations will somehow make it all better. Okay ... got it.


Sunday, January 03, 2021

Audit

When a large business comes to the end of a fiscal year, it shareholders have an absolute right to demand an audit of its financial records if there is any hint of impropriety, and often, even if there isn't. When the IRS encounters a tax return that has anomalies (i.e., deductions that are way out of the the statistically normal range, it has the right to audit the taxpayers return. When the participants in a contested high-income divorce negotiation cannot agree on the net worth of their partner, they have the right to demand a forensic audit to ensure that monies have not been hidden from view.

And ... when one political part encounters hints of impropriety, statistical anomalies, and a clear indication that things have been hidden from view as part of a presidential election, it has the absolute right to demand an audit to ensure that nothing untoward or illegal happened. The intent of the audit isn't to make things right—that won't happen. But it is to be absolutely sure that (1) voting impropriety, statistical anomalies and hidden activities don't happen on a large scale again, and (2) to demonstrate to the tens of millions of voters (who believe that voting impropriety, statistical anomalies, and hidden activities did happen) that their concerns have been addressed.

Let me be very clear—Joe Biden and the Democrats will ascend to the presidency on January 20th. Nothing will change that reality. The election is over, but at the same time, there are nagging questions about its propriety—particularly in blue cities in battle ground states. 

The Democrats are fighting hard to shut down any attempt to audit the results after-the-fact. Their trained hamsters in the media make sure to call any allegation of voting irregularities a "myth." They relegate any claim that dead people voted or ballots were doctored as "conspiracy theory."

And now that a small group of GOP Senators have decided not to vote for electors in certain battleground states, the Dems and their media hamsters have gone ballistic. Using the standard left-wing trope that attacks the individual rather than refuting the alleged wrong-doing, the Dems argue that any attempt not to certify the electors is "a threat to democracy" or an "insult to the constitution." It seems that the proven improprieties, statistical anomalies, and hidden activities that went on are never mentioned or debated, except to be tossed off as either irrelevant ("it wouldn't have mattered anyway") or untrue. Gaslighting coupled with half truths are used to refute claims that election observers were removed from the counting area (as clearly did happen in Philadephia), that significant counting errors attributed to software and always in favor of Biden did occur, that virtually every bell weather county across the country had Trump winning, or that PA did in fact extend the vote count beyond what its state law recommends and much, much more.

Over the past decade or more, the Democrats have done everything possible to set the stage for these election irregularities. They've fought against voter ID laws, invoking the soft racist narrative that minorities are incapable of getting a legitimate ID. They look the other way when large numbers of illegal aliens are registered and then cast votes. They fought tooth and nail for unsolicited mail-in ballots, disregarding clear evidence that they are rife with problems and untrustworthy. They fight every attempt to cleanse voter rolls of dead people, voters who have moved, and convicted felons, suggesting that it's all a form of "voter suppression." They knew they could do this and get away with it as long as they won.

The bottom line is this. With the Dems in control, there will be no audit. There will be no media investigation as there surely would have been if the parties were reversed. There will be no SCOTUS intervention that might roil the election results. Nothing will change.

But there will be nagging, long-term questions that will remain unresolved, and far worse, there will be a significant percentage of the population that no longer trusts the election count.