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

Friday, May 20, 2022

Elon -- Part 4

For many on the Left, Elon Musk has become persona non grata (my earlier comments here, here and here) because he insists that free speech trumps cancel culture, censorship, and social media shadow banning—all effective tools that have been used to silence opposing views. After all, if the Left doesn't have to justify or defend positions like "defunding the police" or suggesting that any allegation, no matter how farfetched or unsubstantiated must be believed because it originated with a woman, it wins the communication wars and maintains its grasp on power.

There is one other weapon that the left uses against its most persistent critics—character assassination. So right on cue, news stories are now suggesting the Musk is guilty of ... wait for it ... sexual harassment!!!

Glen Reynolds comments:

Why does the left hate Elon Musk?

It’s simple, really: Because he can’t be controlled, and because he doesn’t tolerate BS.

The left can’t stand either. It insists on control, to the point of systematically eliminating or co-opting anything that might serve as an independent power center ... And it insists on not merely spreading BS, but on requiring people to repeat and endorse its BS as a sign of submission. [Think: Schools absolutely, positively needed to be closed for over one year because of COVID, else "you just don't care about life."]

Musk is thus a twin threat. As the sometime richest man in the world, he has a lot of power, and it’s not under anyone else’s control. And he’s a nerd, with a nerd’s low tolerance for bull. Where more socially “polished” people would go out of their way to show fealty to leftist tropes popular among the Gentry Class regardless of their absurdity, Musk is happy to point out that the emperor has no clothes. 

That's unacceptable because it forces his critics to defend their positions—logically and with copious facts. And in a debate with Musk, it's very unlikely that one, or ten, or 1,000 of his haters could do that effectively.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Stupid Ideas

On May 9th I expressed my opinion on the proposed DHS Disinformation Board, one of the stupidist ideas proposed by an administration that seem to offer up stupid ideas and decisions on a daily basis. Now it seems that the tsunami of criticism directed at Biden's Dis-Info Board, along with his proposed director, Nina Jankowicz, has cased the idea to be shelved. Good.

Ann Althouse comments:

[The infamous journalistic WaPo hack, Taylor Lorenze produced the following article:] "How the Biden administration let right-wing attacks derail its disinformation efforts/A ‘pause’ of the Department of Homeland Security’s newly created board comes after its head, Nina Jankowicz, was the victim of coordinated online attacks as the administration struggled to respond."

Ha ha ha. "Let right-wing attacks derail" — that's rich. The idea was so bad, they couldn't defend it. Let derail. Ha. Like it was a train, locomoting powerfully down the track.... No,  it wasn't. It never had any traction. It went kablooey only because everyone didn't lay down and let it go by entirely unimpeded.

It appears that the Democrats consider "disinformation" to be any hard fact that reflects badly on their ideas, their policies, or, in fact, reality itself. Ask serious, substantive questions about apocalyptic predictions associated with climate change—disinformation! Suggest that election anomalies occurred in 2020—disinformation! Question the efficacy of mask mandates or school closures throughout 2020 and most of 2021—disinformation! Claim that Hunter Biden's laptop was owned by him and provided hard evidence that he (and likely his father) sold access to the Whitehouse—disinformation!

I could go on, but what's the point. 

The death of a stupid idea is a small victory for freedom of speech. That's a good thing. More importantly, it provides proof that pushback can stop the anonymous committee that runs the Biden administration from doing even more stupid things.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Reality-Based Statements

Let's begin with a reality-based statement: Joe Biden ascended to the Presidency in November, 2020. Regardless of any questions about the election results, his presidency should not and realistically cannot be challenged at this late date.

Let's continue with another reality-based statement: There will be other national elections. If errors or fraud or miscounts or significant anomalies (e.g., here) happened during the 2020 election, it would be incumbent upon government officials to uncover and correct them so that they are not reproduced in the future.

Let's conclude with yet another reality-based statement: A biased and dishonest media, following the lead of nation Democratic politicians, showed a remarkable lack of curiosity about reported election anomalies, labeling the 2020 election "the most honest and transparent in history" and suggesting that anyone or any fact that raised questions was "conspiracy theory."  The fact that the same media labeled the Russia Hoax as real, the Hunter Biden lap-top as "disinformation," and the Wuhan Virology lab origins of COVID as nonsense (to name only a few of many examples), might cause a thinking person to question the media's election claims, but whatever ...

So, here we are back at the beginning of this story. In a recent peer-reviewed paper in the journal Public Choice, Dr. John R. Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center published the results of a statistical analysis of the 2020 federal election. Here's a summary of some of the results from the 39-page paper:

  1. Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin did not match signatures on the outer mail-in envelopes to the official registration records. Some states, like Pennsylvania accepted ballots that were not enclosed in outer envelopes. These acts are in violations of the laws in many states and make it impossible to verify a vote’s legitimacy. 
  2. Lott compares votes in adjacent voting precincts, where one of the precincts is accused of voter fraud, as with Georgia’s Fulton County, and finds statistically significant evidence of abnormal mail-in and absentee ballot results. In short, Trump’s absentee ballot share in the Fulton County precincts was depressed, compared to adjoining precincts. The largest estimate of depressed Trump votes was more than Biden’s margin in Georgia. 
  3. In Pennsylvania and other states, numerous voters trying to vote in person were told they had already voted absentee, suggesting that someone else had voted using their name. The differences found to be statistically significant in Georgia were not significant in Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania was missing some essential data for the study, which was a problem.
  4. In Nevada, 42,000 people voted more than once, 1,500 dead people voted, and 19,000 did not have a Nevada residence.
  5. In Wisconsin 28,395 people voted without identification.
  6. In Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, the rejection of improper absentee ballots in 2020 were a fraction of those rejected in 2016.

It's important to note that these data do NOT prove that the election was "rigged" or that Biden's challenger won. But they most certainly do indicate that the election was NOT as pure as the wind-driven snow (a position taken by the Democrat politicians and their trained hamsters in the media) and that a deep-dive into the election process in battleground states is justified so that similar problems do not re-occur in elections going forward.

In addition, a new movie, 2000 Mules, by conservative commentator Dinesh D'Sousa alleges that terabytes of cell phone geolocation data and CCTV footage prove that paid "mules" moved from ballot drop box to ballot drop box in battle ground states inserting tens of thousands of ballots that could not be properly vetted and were in clear violation of the law in every battleground state. The legacy media has shown absolutely no interest in investigating D'Sousa's evidence, but immediately "fact checked" the movie claiming it contained "faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location." Problem is, their panicky "fact checks" and rejection of his evidence contained considerably more "faulty assumptions," disingenuous claims, and factually inaccurate comments on geolocation data. They also rejected his video evidence effectively taking the position, Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes. 

Again, D'Sousa's movie does not prove that the election was rigged, but it certainly poses legitimate questions about the manner in which ballots were collected and cast in key states. If the Democrats and the legacy media really cared about fair and open elections, they would want those questions investigated and answered.

Sadly, had Biden lost under the same conditions noted in Lott's paper or D'Sousa's movie, the media would assign teams of reporters to investigate. But in this case, they have already concluded that there's nothing more to know, that the claims of election malfeasance are bogus, that everything is A-OK. 

Sorta like the fact checks they conducted leading to the conclusion that the past president would be indicted by Robert Mueller for treason with the Russians (he was exonerated); that the Hunter Biden laptop wasn't real (it was), and that COVID originated from pangolins in a wet market (it didn't). 

The media's fantasy-based assertions never survive a collision with reality. Reviewing the results of the aforementioned study and movie, it looks like the media's assertions about the 2020 election may very well encounter the same fate.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

"President Costanza"

The editors of the Wall Street Journal dissect the Democratic party's approach to rampant inflation and write:

President Biden on Tuesday tried to get ahead of Wednesday’s April inflation report with a speech rehashing his well-worn proposals to reduce prices: Boost subsidies, raise taxes, and increase regulation. He should take Jerry Seinfeld’s advice to George Costanza and do the opposite of his every policy instinct ... 

Mr. Biden again blamed inflation on the pandemic and Vladimir Putin, omitting that Democrats poured kerosene on the accelerating economic recovery last March with their $1.9 trillion spending bill. Inflation was already at 7.9% when Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine (see the nearby chart). At the same time, their policies are hampering the supply side of the economy in myriad and interconnecting ways.  

When Barack Obama warned a listener to [paraphrasing]  "Never underestimate Joe's Biden ability to f#%k things up," Biden as VP was suggesting hard policy decisions that would have created bad outcomes. Today, a cognitively-diabled Biden is likely making no hard decisions, but acquiescing to an anonymous committee of hard-left "Constanzas." Their big government, tax and spend approach, coupled with unnecessary and unscientific hysteria over COVID (along with trillions spent to "remedy" lockdowns, school closures, and other mandates) is largely responsible for our existing runaway inflation.

Biden and his spokespeople try to blame Putin and the pandemic and have the chutzpa to suggest that the GOP has no inflation reduction plan, making the precipitous rise in basic living expenses their fault.

Michael Goodwin writes:

The two straw men he trotted out were familiar — the pandemic and the Putin Price Hike. The latter coined phrase is as ridiculous as President Gerald Ford’s WIN gambit, for Whip Inflation Now, and will no doubt be just as effective economically and politically.

Asked by a reporter after his address whether he accepted any responsibility for the crisis, Biden said no, adding: “I think our policies help, not hurt.”

Saying so doesn’t make it true.

Nor was it credible for him to claim, again, that there is rampant price gouging by oil and lumber companies and beef distributors. 

The same Barack Obama who commented on Biden's ability "to f#%k things up" also said, "Elections have consequences."

Yes ... they do.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Dis-Info

I suppose the word "Orwellian" has been overused in recent years. Nonethetheless, the increasing used of cancel culture, shadow banning, and outright censorship by communication sources that span legacy and social media has become endemic. Elon Musk's recent acquisition of Twitter with the express intent of encouraging free speech (what a novel idea!) has thrown many on the Left into fits or rage or anxiety. Free speech? Only when it agrees with their narratives.

Given this current milieu, it is unsurprising that the committee of leftist ideologues that runs the Biden administration has decided to create a "Disinformation Board" as part of the DHS. Glenn Greenwald comments:

There is no conceivable circumstance in which a domestic law enforcement agency like DHS should be claiming the power to decree truth and falsity. Operatives in the U.S. Security State are not devoted to combatting disinformation. The opposite is true: they are trained, career liars tasked with concocting and spreading disinformation. As Politico's Jack Schafer wrote: 

Who among us thinks the government should add to its work list the job of determining what is true and what is disinformation? And who thinks the government is capable of telling the truth? Our government produces lies and disinformation at industrial scale and always has. It overclassifies vital information to block its own citizens from becoming any the wiser. It pays thousands of press aides to play hide the salami with facts….Making the federal government the official custodian of truth would be like Brink’s giving a safe-cracker a job driving an armored car ... 

Typically, any attempt to apply George Orwell's warning novel 1984 to U.S. politics is reflexively dismissed as hyperbolic: a free and democratic country like the United States could not possibly fall prey to the dystopian repression Orwell depicts. Yet it is quite difficult to distinguish this “Disinformation Board” from Ingsoc's Ministry of Truth. The protagonist of Orwell's novel, Winston Smith, worked in the Ministry of Truth and described at length how its primary function was to create official versions of truth and falsity, which always adhered to the government's needs of the moment and were subject to radical change as those interests evolved.

That the Board will be run by such a preposterous and laughable figure as Nina Jankowicz — a liberal cartoon, a caricature of a #Resistance Twitter fanatic who spent 2016 posting adolescent partisan tripe such as: “Maybe @HillaryClinton's most important point so far: ‘A @realDonaldTrump presidency would embolden ISIS.’ #ImWithHer” — has, in some sense, made this board seem more benign and harmless. After all, how nefarious and dangerous can a board be when it is governed by a person as frivolous and banal as this, calling herself “the Mary Poppins of disinformation”?

Jankowitz is just another example of Biden's "Team of 1s"—an ideologically-pure collection of demonstrably incompetent and laughably inexperienced executive functionaries. Jankowitz' appointment would elicit a derisive smile if it wasn't for a malevolent undercurrent sits just beneath the surface. The use of government power to reward friends and punish enemies while suppressing the free and open exchange of ideas is dangerous and un-American. That the Democrats—self-styled "Defenders of Democracy"—are countenancing this is a travesty.

UPDATE-1:

It's interesting to note the etymology of the word "disinformation" — a favorite of left-leaning media when they try to discredit factually accurate information that conflicts with their preferred narrative. This from J. Michael Waller:

“’Disinformation’ is not a word from the English language. It is a direct translation of the Russian word dezinformatsiya. It is a KGB form of tradecraft from the Red Banner Institute of the KGB First Chief Directorate, otherwise known as the KGB foreign spy academy.

“Disinformation is definition 159 in the KGB’s ‘Lexicon of KGB Terms,’ published internally by the Soviet foreign intelligence service before 1984. Here it is: ‘Misleading by means of false information; A form of intelligence work in the Active Measures field, which consists of the secret channeling towards an adversary of false information, especially prepared materials and fabricated documents designed to mislead him and prompt him to take decisions and measures which fit with the plans and intentions of the Intelligence Service.’”

Heh.

UPDATE-2 (5/10/2022):

After discussing Nina Jankowicz' long history of making absurd, counterfactual comments and promoting "news" stories that have proven to be complete fabrications (e.g., Hunter Biden's laptop was a Russian plot), Ayann Hirsi Ali (someone who has experienced autocratic political regimes first hand) writes:

... it’s hard not to view her [Jankowicz'] appointment by Joe Biden — indeed, the creation of the Board itself — as anything other than a cry of desperation. The midterm elections, when congressional seats are contested, are fast-approaching. For weeks now, most commentators have been predicting calamity for the Democrats. And it’s not hard to see why: America’s post-pandemic economic recovery has stalled; gas prices have soared; inflation is above 8%; violent crime, especially homicide, remains at a disturbingly elevated level; and America’s Southern border is seeing record illegal crossings.

Faced with such a crisis, the rational thing for Democrat leaders to do would be to review their policies on these kitchen-table issues and change course. They could, for instance, invite their former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers back to advise the President on the economy. They could reassess ill-considered climate policies, such as the closure of the Keystone Pipeline and the regulatory war on fracking. They could even re-examine their naive programmes on crime and punishment, from defunding the police to putting felons back onto the streets. As for who could lead this course-correcting effort, there are ready-made centrist Democrats, such as Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, waiting in the wings.

But this is not where the party is today. The most influential voices are still on the far-Left, in the Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez corner of the tent. And the Democratic Socialists want to double down on their madcap agenda — party and voters alike be damned. How they achieve this is where Jankowicz comes in. The Democrat’s progressive wing knows it will never win over the American public by relying on the mundane methods of political campaigning. Its only hope is to frighten, censor and indoctrinate voters into accepting their agenda.

That's about right.


Friday, May 06, 2022

Effort Justification

The fear associated with the COVID pandemic has begun to wain among many citizens, but there are still those who are barricaded in their homes. The media continues to promulgate scare stories (the latest: long COVID makes you impotent) with little scientific evidence and less context. 

In free states like FL, life returned to near-normal well over 18 months ago, but in blue states, that has begun to occur only recently and in fits and starts. It seems that some blue state leaders wouldn't let go of the autocratic powers conferred by COVID fear-mongering.

John Tierney writes:

More than a century ago, Mark Twain identified two fundamental problems that would prove relevant to the COVID pandemic. “How easy it is to make people believe a lie,” he wrote, “and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

No convincing evidence existed at the pandemic’s start that lockdowns, school closures and mask mandates would protect people against the virus, but it was remarkably easy to make the public believe these policies were “the science.”

Undoing this deception is essential to avoid further hardship and future fiascos, but it will be exceptionally hard to do. The problem is that so many people want to keep believing the falsehood.

Adults meekly surrendered their most basic liberties, cheered on leaders who devastated the economy and imposed two years of cruel and unnecessary deprivations on their children. They don’t want to admit these sacrifices were in vain.

They’re engaging in what social psychologists call “effort justification,” which has been observed in studies of painful initiation rituals for fraternities and other groups. Once people endure the pain, they convince themselves that it must have been worthwhile even when their reward is actually worthless.

If one brief bad experience can transform people’s thinking, imagine the impact of the pandemic’s ceaseless misery. It’s been a two-year-long version of Hell Week, especially in America’s blue states, with Anthony Fauci and Democratic governors playing the role of fraternity presidents humiliating the pledges.

In a just world, the blue "fraternity presidents" who made hundreds of bad and destructive decisions that ruined lives and livelihoods, disrupted the education of our nation's children, and created what can only be called a mental health epidemic would be held to account. But this isn't a just world, and they won't be.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Elon - Part 3

Elon Musk is NOT Donald Trump. But like Trump, he has begun to live rent-free in the heads of more than a few progressives. His acquisition of Twitter has led to his demonization by many on the Left*—all because he advocates against censorship and for free speech. Oddly, there used to be a time when the Left was the most vociferous advocate for the same things. 

No more. Now the Left actively silences opposing voices using cancel culture and has gone so far as censoring hard news that ruins their preferred narrative (think: the censoring by Twitter, Facebook et al of the Hunter Biden laptop story in late 2020).

These actions, among many vicious and dishonest (or in some cases, outright ridiculous) positions (think: the Brett Kavanaugh hearings or the mostly-peaceful Antifa-BLM riots that ravaged cities in 2020 or the "defund the police "debacle) have made the following cartoon, tweeted by Elon Musk, become an accurate representation of the current political position for millions of Americans.

 The  cartoonist, Colin Wright, writes:

When my cartoon went viral, it resonated with many people—and caused dissonance in the left-wing media. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called it a “silly chart” that has been “brutally debunked.” His colleague Philip Bump described it as “simply wrong” and an “obvious exaggeration.” Mr. Bump even provided a series of actual silly charts showing “the average ideological score (using a metric called DW-NOMINATE)” and “evaluations of ideology as measured in the biennial General Social Survey (GSS).”

Debunking a cartoon with a chart is like answering a love poem with a syllogism. Politics and culture, like most of human reality, can’t be reduced to data and abstractions without losing much of their essence. And self-styled progressives, who love to talk about the importance of “lived experience,” are awfully disdainful of their critics.
Indeed they are. But when they call those of us who criticize their positions "racists," or "misogynists," or "bigots" or ... you know the list, it's a lot like having a 3-year old throw a tantrum and scream, "I hate you!" 
 
You might be taken aback for just a second, but then you consider the source. You realize that the child is unable to reason in a mature manner, is incapable of debating in an unemotional way, and allows anger to take over his persona. So you decide the child's outburst isn't worthy of a response, and you (and millions upon millions of others) move slowly right, just like the stick figure does in the cartoon. 

FOOTNOTE:

* Here's a typical example from MSNBC's Mehdi Hassan:
"If [the “neo-Nazi faction" of the GOP expands in Nov.], we may look back on this .. as a pivotal moment, when a petulant & not-so-bright billionaire casually bought one of the most influential messaging machines & just handed it to the far-right.”

Here's a few things I can guarantee, even though I know only what Hassan's Wikipedia bio gives us: 

  1. Musk has demonstrated, through his actual accomplishments (rather than empty or angry words or "journalist accomplishments") that he has a genius-level intellect. By referring to Musk as "not-so-bright," Hassan takes on the role of a "petulant" child who knows nothing. 
  2. Musk has accomplished more (changed the auto industry; fostered a cleaner environment; revolutionized space travel) in a decade than Hassan could accomplish in a 100 lifetimes.
  3. By suggesting that Musk is somehow sympathetic to "neo-Nazis," Hassan beclowns himself.

But then again, Hassan looks like a Leftist genius when compared to CNN's Joy Reid.

UPDATE (5-5-2022):

Elon Musk's insistence that censorship serves no useful societal purpose is at odds with the anti-free speech position now adopted by many left-wingers. Their house organ, the New York Times, ran a smear today with the headline:

"Elon Musk Left a South Africa That Was Rife With Misinformation and White Privilege"

It appears that since they can't win the debate on free speech, the left proceeds in their attempt to character assassinate anyone who opposes their destructive position. Cancel culture, censorship, shadow banning, and now, even physical attacks can be somehow justified becuase the left thinks it has a monopoly on morality and "justice." They have neither.

As Ed Morrissey wryly notes in a take-down of the NYT smear: "NYT: Say, why didn't Elon Musk end apartheid as a teenager?" After outlining Musk's family's continuing and consistent opposition to apartheid while they lived in South Africa (Musk left the country when he was 17), Morrissey writes:

So, with that in mind, it doesn’t sound at all like Musk was “detached from the atrocities,” trapped in a disinformation bubble, or was unaware of the implications of South African policy. It sounds much more like Musk saw all of that and got away from it as soon as he could, and made choices that demonstrate his formation around the realities of both apartheid and propaganda campaigns.

In much the same way the NYT promulgates smear after smear against others they disagree with, they're now trying to demonize Musk. It won't work.