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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Knife's Edge

I have very mixed emotions about the proxy war we are fighting against Russian aggression in the Ukraine. On the one hand, Russia is the aggressor, initiating a land war, destroying a neighboring country's infrastructure, attacking civilian targets and killing thousands of innocents, along with being accused on war crimes. On the other hand, the Ukraine, despite the rainbows and unicorn image that is projected by the media, has corrupt leadership, is a less than a free, democratic and open society, and seems unwilling to even begin negotiations to reduce warfare and violence.

The history of this conflict is extremely complicated, with missteps and poor decisions taken on all sides. But one hard fact looms as our involvement in the conflict continues to escalate—Russia is a major nuclear power with the means to deliver both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons by the dozen. They are led by a man who is a thug, and if that man is backed into a corner, he and his generals just might resort to a nuclear strike. Once that happens, the escalation that we have seen will go exponential and the result could be catastrophic. 

I would be less inclined to be overly concerned if our national leadership (included the president) had a history of making good decisions that resulted in successful outcomes. Instead we have a Democratic party that thinks and acts in lockstep with an administration "led" by a cognitively disabled puppet who, I believe, is unable to think clearly about the strategic implications of the decisions made by the anonymous committee that sets national policy. We also have far too many GOP politicians who are more concerned about posturing as anti-Russian than they are about thinking about the best interests of our own country.

It's ironic that the Democrats always characterize the GOP as "war mongers" and yet, in the case of Ukraine and many others, the Dems seem unconcerned about the trajectory of their continuing escalation. Like most politicians, they don't have the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the consequences of their tactical decisions, allowing emotion (and Ukraine's expert manipulation of our media) to force them into further and further escalation.

Glen Greenwald makes a few politically incorrect comments when he writes:

So, what we have in just 11 months is an extraordinarily rapid and multipronged escalation of the involvement of our government in that war on the other side of the world. It first began with assurances that we would do nothing other than help Ukraine with occasional expenditures in order to let them have a fair fight with Russia. And each month, literally each month, brought greater and greater add-first expenditures, culminating in a $40 billion package in May – $40 billion on top of the $13.5 billion immediately allocated. And that number is now at $100 billion: a funding package supported by the establishment wings of both parties. Remember, in May, the $40 billion package received a yes vote from every single Democrat in Congress, while six or seven dozen Republicans in the House and the Senate voted no – but the majority of the GOP caucus was in agreement with everyone from the Squad, Nancy Pelosi to Joe Manchin and Kirsten, saying that Joe Biden's war policy should be funded. And then, ever since, beyond the money being sent, we're now escalating further the way in which we're fueling this proxy war by sending increasingly sophisticated weapons.

Whenever I talk about the war in Ukraine and the U.S.’s role in it – before I delve into any of the other issues – I believe the paramount question is always this one: in what conceivable way are American citizens benefited or having their lives improved or increasingly secured by escalating the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine? Or conversely, in what conceivable way would your life or the lives of most Americans be harmed by changes in the governance of various provinces in Eastern Ukraine? How would your life be affected if the citizens of the Donbas region decided, as Kosovo decided 20 years ago, that they preferred to be independent or be governed by Moscow rather than by Kyiv? Why would that matter to your life? Why is the U.S. government willing to provoke so much danger to the globe, so much risk of escalation, and a practically direct proxy war now with the world's largest nuclear power? Over what? Over who rules various provinces in eastern Ukraine. How is it in your interest for the government to be spending so much of your money and spending so much of its own weapons supplies that the U.S. weapons supply itself is being depleted? 

Spend a moment trying to answer Greenwald's questions in the last paragraph. Jettison emotion and think critically for just a moment and then retry your answers. You can hold multiple ideas in your head at once—sympathy for the Ukrainian people, condemnation of Russian aggression and the unemotional answers to the questions raised above.

Given that we have already spent $100 billion on this war, it is reasonable to contend that we have every right to demand that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine begin in earnest. Ukraine, being a sovereign country, has every right to refuse, but they have no right to demand that we be further drawn into this conflict. 

We are walking along a knife's edge, led by an administration that has failed at virtually every major foreign policy attempt it has tried (e.g., Afghanistan, where it is rumored that the Russians are attempting to purchase from the Taliban some of the $80 billion in military gear that Joe Biden abandoned in his catastrophically bad exit from that country). None of this inspires confidence.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Buffoons

The editors of Issues & Insights write about a man who has risen far beyond his level of incompetence. Although his IQ is just a bit higher than room temperature, his stentorian voice demands respect, until you listen to the stupidity of his words and reflect on his many, many failures. 

John Kerry, former senator, former secretary of state, and now chief climate alarmist for the Biden administration, said in so many words Tuesday during his World Economic Forum rant that it’s too late to save the planet from global warming. Yet he claimed climate programs still need more “money, money, money, money, money, money, money.” The only reason he’s not the worst person in the world is because he has so much competition at Davos.

For once, Kerry spoke the truth. At its core, climate change is about "“money, money, money, money, money, money, money.” Yes, Kerry did repeat the word seven times.

But it not the kind of "money" that will improve the lives of those who live on the planet from an apocalyptic catastrophe that resides in the fevered imaginations of those who are willing to believe inaccurate and often doctored computer models, cherry-picked data, and catastrophist nonsense masquerading as science. Rather, it's the trillions of dollars that will be transferred from productive people to corrupt autocrats in emerging countries, corporate billionaires who will add still more zeros to their net worth, politicians who will become richer as they "invest" in garbage start-ups and NGOs that are politically connected to the fire hose of funding that comes from the "money."

The elites who attend Davos are despicable in their hypocrisy. They fly in on private jets to pontificate on how they and they alone can set policies to "save the planet." They suggest levels of sacrifice (e.g., no more natural meat meals, smaller houses, only public transportation, shrinking wealth) that they will NEVER abide by themselves. 

The I&I editors continue:

But [Kerry's] luxurious lifestyle and those of the other wealthy men and women fighting global warming must be OK, because he assured members of his fawning audience that they are all special, “a select group of human beings” who “are able to sit in a room and come together and, uh, actually talk about saving the planet.”

No less nauseating was the performance of another failed presidential candidate, Al Gore, the mother of the global warming cult. He came off like the crazy uncle that the family tries to keep away from the outside world. Author and columnist Michael Walsh said that Gore is a man who appears to need help. During his tirade, Gore gesticulated “wildly, his face reddening, his voice rising,” said Walsh. “The former vice president of the United States became a man in the deadly grip of a panicked, violent, superstitious reaction to … the weather.”

The video of Gore confirms that Walsh was not exaggerating. Gore is a man whose pot is cracked. Once just a hypocrite, he’s now an all-out headbanger.

There's only one rule to follow with the Davos buffoons who think they're oh-so-special. Flat out reject their policies. They do not have your best interests at heart. Never did, never will.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Pilpul

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) was alive and well when the Biden Justice Department and federal courts authorized a full-on FBI raid on Trump's home in Mar-a-lago to recover top secret documents. The propaganda media went predictably nuts, suggesting (incorrectly, of course) that nuclear secrets and launch codes were in peril. Others suggested that Trump was prepared to sell these "national security secrets" to the Russians—perpetuating the hoax that has been ongoing for the past 6 years. Every Democrat and their talking heads throughout the media howled for indictment and imprisonment because—TOP SECRET!!!!

Funny how TDS tends to boomerang on the Dems. Now that our current cognitively-disabled president has been found to have stored top secret docs in his unused office at a think tank and then in his garage next to his Corvette Stringray, prominent Democrats and their trained hamsters in the propaganda media are scrambling to tell us that the Trump and Biden cases are different, very, very different. Really?

There's a Yiddish word, pilpul, that describes the act of obsessive analysis that results in hairspitting to a near comical level. The propaganda media went into pilpul mode as soon as the first Biden collection of docs was disclosed (two months after they were found), arguing that it was "apples and oranges," that Trump was a monster who needed to go to jail but Biden was "honest" and therefore all of this was just a simple oversight. But then came the garage and the Corvette.  The pilpul dial was turned up to 11.

In reality, neither case warrants the media hysteria that surrounds it.*  Kim Strassel notes that past AGs have used discretion when dealing with an investigation that got anywhere near the White House or the President, but TDS, along with a level of political viciousness that is unique in my lifetime, drove the Dems and their deep state allies (think: executives within the FBI and IC) to try to destroy Trump. Strassel writes:

Mr. Garland might have followed that example rather than authorize the FBI’s unnecessary and unprecedented August 2022 raid on a Mr. Trump’s home. Over documents. And documents that the Presidential Records Act outlines only minor penalties for mishandling. The department could have continued negotiating with the Trump team or gone to court for an order requiring the proper handling of the material. That would have allowed it to handle the Biden situation in a manner that was similarly low-key but also yielded accountability. 

I'll bet that the Dems, their many media allies, and even the AG wish that they had taken a low-key approach on the Trump docs then, allowing them to take a very low key approach to Biden's docs now. 

To use an existing street acronym that seems appropriate in describing the Dems then and now actions relative to the past and current president: FAFO.

FOOTNOTE:

* Margot Cleveland addresses the relatively minor importance (but sheer comedy) of the Biden documents 'scandal' when she writes:

The Biden classified documents scandal is not a serious scandal. The botched withdrawal from Afghanistan is a serious scandal. Biden’s refusal to faithfully execute his duties as president of the United States by securing the southern border is a serious scandal. The Biden family pay-to-play escapades are a serious scandal. And the weaponization of the FBI and the intelligence community to interfere in the 2020 election and hand Biden the presidency is a serious scandal. This is not.

Laughable. Delicious. Outrageous. It is all those things and becomes more so by the day, with news that more classified documents are reposed in a residential garage, in addition to the closet at a D.C. think tank. And the story just becomes funnier the more the corrupt press tries to distinguish Biden’s possession of classified documents from Trump’s because Biden himself on video declared the possession of classified documents in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home to be “just totally irresponsible.”

But a garage, Joe? Seriously? And is not knowing there were classified documents there, as Biden claims, any better? 

Another acronym comes to mind: ROTFLMAO.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Spare (Me)

On the lighter side—errr, maybe I should have said light weight side, there's Harry Windsor's ('Prince Harry' of Meghan Markle fame) new "tell-all" book, Spare. I haven't read Spare, nor will I, but based on a cross section of reviews, Harry trashes his family (the British Royal fam), plays the victim, suggests that he's just looking for privacy, and otherwise asks us to believe he's just like the rest of us normals. Uh ... no.

To quote Adam Corolla: "Harry is to the Windsor family what Fredo was to the Corleones."

To be honest, the Windor family has it's flaws—to say the least. They are aristocrats of the highest order, no more in touch with normal people than Joe Biden is with the millions who flood across the southern border he allows to remain open. I understand that the Windsors are historical and social symbols in England, but their entire existence seems a bit of an anachronism in the 21st century.

But that doesn't excuse Harry's attempt at character assassination of his father and brother. Adam Corrolla continues his Godfather metaphor quoting Michael Corleone:

“Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” 

Michael understood the value of loyalty, just like he understood the code of omerta. And the Corleones knew how to enforce their distinctive Sicilian concept of honor, which the Windsors don’t understand, or else Harry would be taking a ride to the airport with Clemenza.

Ben Shapiro has a more serious take and accurately dissects Harry's work:

1/ What makes his memoir truly culturally seminal is the way in which it exposes the overt transformation of the goal of the Western leadership class from service to self-service.

2/ Harry is almost the Platonic ideal of the modern man: a beneficiary of a historic institution who decides that true heroism lies in destroying those institutions, all in the name of personal fulfillment. The end of his book is literally this: "You're free. Fly away." 

3/ All of this requires that Harry dump on King Charles and even more so, Prince William, who has accepted his role and responsibilities. He must paint William as cruel and heartless, which he does with alacrity - even though William has remained publicly silent.

4/ More than anything, what comes through in the memoir is that Harry is just not very bright -- and that he is indeed easily manipulated by Meghan Markle. He's so gullible that he insists twice in the book that Meghan never Googled him. Riiilight.

5/  One of the funniest sections of the book is where Meghan drops everything to jet-set off to Africa for a full week with Harry for a THIRD DATE. But she had no clue who he was. No idea at all. Didn't even Google him.

It's hard to take either Harry or Meghan seriously. Two enormously wealthy and privileged members of the elites who somehow try to convince us that they are victims of the notoriety they continue to seek and profit from. Oh well ...



Tuesday, January 10, 2023

87,000

It's amusing to watch the major propaganda media (e.g., here and here) get the vapors over the new GOP House's passage of a bill to cut funding for the IRS and its projected army of 87,000 new employees. Realistically, the House bill will not become law because the Democrats desperately need more and more revenue (generated by audits that will primarily target middle income people and small business owners). The Dems control the Senate and the White House. But as symbolism, the House can put a "W" in its win column.

Propaganda media outlets and Democrat talking heads were quick to tell us that the original funding was expected to generate $180 billion in new revenue (removed from the earnings of all taxpayers who, of course, never seem to pay the "fair share") and that the GOP House "irresponsibly" voted in a manner that the Congressional Budget office predicts would increase the deficit by $114 billion over the next 10 years.

All of a sudden, it appears that the Democrats are concerned about the deficit. They weren't when they (and some Republicans) voted for a $1.2 trillion dollar omnibus spending spree with all of its attendant waste.  No worries about "increasing the deficit" there. 

But even suggesting that the IRS should be reigned in (particularly after it has been proven to act in a partisan manner again some Americans (think: Lois Lerner, remember her?)). Nah that's "irresponsible."

Of course, there is a way to eliminate a $114 billion budget short fall, and that's to reduce spending. Hundreds of billions of dollars were lost to fraud and abuse during the Covid era. Not a peep from the Democrats (and many GOP members). But suggesting that maybe instead of shaking down America citizens for additional revenue, it might be useful to reduce expenditures. That's a non-starter. Or how about a significant simplification of the tax code (e.g., a flat tax) that would allow for far fewer IRS employees? That's another non-starter. Or how about a balanced-budget amendment? Nope, never happening.

It'll be interesting to see the Senate Dems go on the record and vote in favor of more audits for the shrinking group of Americans who still pay income taxes. Be "responsible"—shake 'em down so we can continue to spend, spend spend.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Cat's Paw

The Wall Street Journal provides an account of a lengthy email exchange during the height of Covid hysteria and the federal government's response (March, 2021) between Rob Flaherty, the White House’s director of digital media, and Facebook executives. The emails demonstrate "the compan[y] put Covid censorship policies in place in response to relentless, coercive pressure from the White House—not voluntarily."

These emails have come to light "as part of discovery in Missouri v. Biden, a free-speech case brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana and four private plaintiffs represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance."

Elon Musk's release of the Twitter files along with the Missouri v. Biden case have given us a harsh look at the sordid nature of Washington's power politics. In this instance, it appears that the Democratic administration in power was hard-pressed to defend its Covid policies, mandates, closures and manipulated data in any real sense. It was much easier to coerce social media companies to shut down alternative (and it turns out, correct) positions and claims via outright banning and shadow banning. Of course, the companies claimed these things weren't happening, but now the truth emerges.

President Biden, press secretary Jen Psaki and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy later publicly vowed to hold the platforms accountable if they didn’t heighten censorship. On July 16, 2021, a reporter asked Mr. Biden his “message to platforms like Facebook.” He replied, “They’re killing people.” Mr. Biden later claimed he meant users, not platforms, were killing people. But the record shows Facebook itself was the target of the White House’s pressure campaign.

Mr. Flaherty also strong-armed Google in April 2021, accusing YouTube (which it owns) of “funneling” people into vaccine hesitancy. He said this concern was “shared at the highest (and I mean the highest) levels of the WH,” and required “more work to be done.” Mr. Flaherty demanded to know what further measures Google would take to remove disfavored content. An executive responded that the company was working to “address your concerns related to Covid-19 misinformation.”

These emails establish a clear pattern: Mr. Flaherty, representing the White House, expresses anger at the companies’ failure to censor Covid-related content to his satisfaction. The companies change their policies to address his demands. As a result, thousands of Americans were silenced for questioning government-approved Covid narratives. Two of the Missouri plaintiffs, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, are epidemiologists whom multiple social-media platforms censored at the government’s behest for expressing views that were scientifically well-founded but diverged from the government line—for instance, that children and adults with natural immunity from prior infection don’t need Covid vaccines.
Unfortunately, there's an authoritarian strain the runs through Democratic party governance. At best, it's characterized by coordination with a propaganda media the gladly presents the approved narrative on any subject (including Covid) and refuses to: (1) present opposing views, (2) ask questions about policies enacted within the approved narrative, or (3) investigate outcomes when policies associated with the narrative do great harm. At worst, the authoritarian strain leads to: (1) harsh, near dictatorial mandates that are unsupported by scientific evidence, (2) censorship of those who question and/or oppose these mandates, and (3) criminal or economic (e.g., loss of jobs or credentials) persecution of those who threaten the approved narrative. The Missouri v. Biden case indicates that elements of the worst case authoritarian scenario were in play:

The Flaherty emails [exposed as part of discovery in the Missouri v. Biden case] demonstrate that the federal government unlawfully coerced the companies in an effort to ensure that Americans would be exposed only to state-approved information about Covid-19. As a result of that unconstitutional state action, Americans were given the false impression of a scientific “consensus” on critically important issues around Covid-19. A reckoning for the government’s unlawful, deceptive and dangerous conduct is under way in court.

It appears that the Biden administration was perfectly willing to use social media as it cat's paw to violate the First Amendment. If this continues, we're heading down a path that makes the dark novel 1984 look more and more prescient.


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

The 'Cool Kids'

I've followed the career and accomplishments of Elon Musk long before he became a widely-recognized public figure.  I first became aware of Musk circa 2008, when he became CEO of a small EV company called Tesla. Even then, I believed that electric vehicles (EVs) were simply a better, less complicated automotive technology and that EV tech would ultimately replace internal combustion engine vehicles. I was hardly an environmental activist and refused to adopt an apocalyptic climate change position, but I did believe that the benefits of EVs (including their clear and obvious environmental benefits) were compelling.

When Musk decided to transform Tesla from a niche exotic brand and produce a premium luxury sedan (the Model S) for a broader market, the media, in its typical ignorance, labeled his efforts and claims as "vaporware." They predicted that Tesla would go bankrupt, that it couldn't possibly compete with a GM or Mercedes, that it was all just hype. They were, as they are in most things, spectacularly wrong.

As an aside, I put my money where my attitude was and in 2011, I made a rather large down payment on a Tesla Model S—fully recognizing that my money was at risk should Tesla fail. In 2012, I was one of the first 200 people in the world to have the Tesla Model S delivered to my home.

The rest, as they say, is history. Tesla became the darling of the environmental movement and EVs became a thing. Far more importantly, the company grew and grew, rapidly becoming the aspirational vehicle for a new generation. Elon Musk was a star.

Until he wasn't. 

Now that Elon has acquired Twitter, the propaganda media, the the deep state (along with the Biden administration), and the Leftist commentariat have done a 180. They want to destroy him and are doing everything possible to achieve that aim. Why? Because he thinks that censorship is a bad idea and free speech is a good one; that opposing ideological views should have a voice; that debate and discussion make things better, not worse. And then, he had the temerity to release the Twitter Files (my posts here, here, and here)—clear, irrefutable evidence that the government, along with Twitter's original management, worked very hard to silence opposing voices.

Nick Arama comments on this when he writes:

I find the left’s hatred of Elon Musk such a revealing window into how empty and cult-like [some on the Left] can be.

They all used to like him. Why? Because he was behind things like Tesla and electric cars which fit into their worldview. You had folks like very liberal actress Alyssa Milano idolizing him, even listing him as one of the people in all of history who she’d like to have dinner with.

That was until he bought Twitter, then advocated for free speech and the importance of everyone being able to speak in the virtual “town square.” Suddenly, that made him the enemy because he believes that even those with whom he disagrees have a right to have a voice.

He was still the same guy, still the guy behind the electric cars. Yet now he was the guy they were supposed to hate. Now you have crazy folks like former magazine editor John Blumenthal who wrote an op-ed about in the Los Angeles Times that he was worried about driving a Tesla and what people might think of him for it. He seemingly bought the car to virtue signal, but now he’s worried people might think he’s embraced far-right thought.

Karma is a hard mistress.

Never mind that Musk doesn’t embrace far-right thought and no one but Blumenthal’s leftist buddies would care what the heck he drives, but we’re not talking logic here.

Sadly, "logic" has no place in positions taken by at least some on the Left.

The propaganda media is angry ... very, very angry. They were the 'cool kids' inside Twitter 1.0, able to offer what were often idiotic tweets without push back (those who tried to push back were sometimes banned). The cool kids set the narrative, and that's all that mattered.

Inside Musk's Twitter 2.0, the cool kids have become just another voice—and they really, really don't like that. So they lash out at Musk, attempting to demonize him. But like a small child having a tantrum, their red-faced outbursts (of which there are many) are actually comical.

Even more telling. The major government scandal evidenced in the release of the Twitter Files goes uncovered by the same cool kids within the propaganda media. No surprise there, but indicative of their gross bias and lack of any journalistic integrity. 

I think back to the early days when a few of us had faith that Musk would build something important, not because he said he would but because his engineering work had merit and indicated that success would follow. In those days, lots and lots of 'the smartest guys in the room' bet against him, promising that he and his company would fail.

They're doing that again right now. 

It's worth remembering that over the past decade, those who bet against Elon Musk have lost—BIG. I predict that's going to happen yet again.