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

Saturday, February 29, 2020


As a follow-up to my last post on the hysteria surrounding the threat of COVID-19, a.k.a. coronavirus, it's worth providing yet more information to help put the threat into context and to indicate that irrational fear of the virus borders on hysteria that rejects common sense and hard facts. The media, as I noted, is blatantly encouraging the hysteria because it guarantees viewers or clicks or other on-line activity.

Ross Pomeroy provide us with some context:
1. The number of cases in China is already falling. Where once the graph of coronavirus cases in China showed an exponential climb, it has now leveled off substantially. Just three weeks ago, China was recording more than 3,000 new cases per day. Officials are now consistently reporting fewer than five hundred, with the number still dropping. Seeing much-improved conditions on the ground, big companies like Starbucks and Apple in China are resuming business activities. The latest (Feb. 28th) World Health Organization (WHO) situation report revealed just 318 new cases in China in the previous 24 hours.

2. The vast majority of cases are mild, and the death rate is likely lower than reported. A large study of 72,000 confirmed COVID-19 patients in China found that 81% of cases were mild, another 14% were severe (characterized by difficulty breathing), and 5% were critical. Overall, the death rate was 2.3 percent. More recently, the WHO reported a death rate of 3.8% in China, but noted that it is rapidly falling as standards of care quickly improve. Early on, the city of Wuhan (where the disease originated) was inundated with patients and hospitals could not provide proper care due to overwhelming demand. For Chinese patients whose symptoms started after February 1st, the death rate is just 0.7 percent. (For comparison, the U.S. death rate from 2019-20's annual flu oubtreak is between .06 percent to 0.1 percent. SARS a similar virus to COVID-19, had a death rate of 9.6 percent.) The death rate could be even lower, as very mild cases of COVID-19 that resemble a common cold likely go unreported.

3. Only one out of every 1,000 people in Hubei Province has contracted the coronavirus. There have been 65,914 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China's Hubei Province, where the outbreak began in December. That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that the population of Hubei is 59,170,000. The province is slightly smaller than Nebraska, but with thirty times as many inhabitants. With this sort of population density, it's a positive sign that just .11% (roughly 1 in 1000) of the population has caught COVID-19 ...

4. There have been no reported deaths in young children. Though the outbreak has endured for more than nine weeks, there still have been no fatalities in children under the age of nine, with almost all infected simply experiencing cold-like symptoms. Moreover, only 2.4% of cases are in individuals under the age of 18. Kids and teenagers have been surprisingly resistant to the virus.

The death rate for people aged 10 to 39 currently stands at just 0.2 percent. Those genuinely at risk from COVID-19 are the elderly. People aged 80 and up have a 14.8% to 21.9% chance of dying if infected. [But a significant percentage of those people have underlying health problems that are exacerbated by the virus]

5. The world already survived another pandemic just ten years ago.
Remember H1N1, more commonly known as Swine Flu? This was the most recent pandemic (besides HIV/AIDS, which is still considered a pandemic). It began in early 2009 and lasted through late 2010. Between April 2009 and April 2010, there were approximately 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths in the United States alone! Globally, it likely infected between 700 million and 1.4 billion people, resulting in 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities. While this loss of life was tragic, more than a decade later, many scarcely remember Swine Flu. The same will hopefully happen with COVID-19.
Why are these five critically important points—context—not being reported with every COVID-19 story on every reputable media outlet? Why?

Friday, February 28, 2020

Age of Hysteria

We live in an age of hysteria, often fueled by irresponsible media reporting that emphasizes the things that are intended to frighten the public and avoid those hard facts that provide context and might calm nerves. Nothing exemplifies that more that the current media frenzy surrounding COVID-19, a.k.a. "Coronavirus," a respiratory illness that has infected tens of thousand in China (context: a country of 1.4 billion people). Although data are sketchy, the fatality rate associated with COVID-19 is between 1 and 3 percent and in the main, occurs when older people with suppressed immune response or other underlying illness are infected. For the vast majority of people who do get COVID-19, the symptoms are akin to a bad cold or the common flu—unpleasant to be sure, but no reason for hysteria.

Throughout almost all reporting on COVID-19, there is a striking lack of context. Any facts or percentages that would indicate the very very low probability of contracting the illness and the even lower probability of dying from it are rarely in evidence. For example, the common flu kills between 300,000 and 600,000 people worldwide every year—again, most are elderly. That's a lot of deaths, but the worldwide population is over 7 billion people. That means that about 0.002 percent of the world's population dies of the flu each year. That's troubling, but it's also a very, very small percentage.

Joel Pollack discusses a more serious viral outbreak, SARS:
Coronavirus is a familiar illness, and not as bad as others. It is from the SARS family — and less deadly. As Ha’aretz noted, “the mortality rate from the current disease ranges from 0.5 to 2 percent, and is significantly lower than the mortality rate from the 2002 SARS outbreak (9.5 percent) and much lower than the 2012 SARS outbreak (34.4 percent). It may even be close to the mortality rate from an ordinary flu outbreak in the United States.”
At the time of this writing, 60 people in the USA have been diagnosed with COVID-19. None have died. Even if that number were to increase by 2 or 3 orders or magnitude—to say 60,000, it would still represent 0.0025% of our population—a very small number. And of those 60,000, statistics tell us that 600 to 1200 people would die. To put that death rate in perspective ... every day 110 people die in automobile accidents. COVID 19 take 14 days to show symptoms. During that time, 1540 people have died in cars.

None of this says that caution is unjustified or that common sense measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 should not be taken. But when there are runs on face masks, bottled water, and food in states far removed from even one case of COVID-19, someone in leadership ought to suggest calm.

Instead we see the encouragement (inadvertent or otherwise) of hysteria, cultivated by the media and then seized on by others who have an agenda. For example, the Democrats have suggested that the Donald Trump is somehow to blame for 60 cases of the illness or that his administration is somehow unprepared to handle an outbreak when only 60 people currently have the illness and 59 of them will recover without incident. A predictable "whistleblower" has emerged telling us that the CDC doesn't know what they're doing or is unprepared or is underfunded or ... you know the drill. The intent is to frighten, and it succeeds. The result is near-panic by some, bad decisions by others, and a general feeling of unease. Everyone really does need to take a deep cleansing breath. Don't worry, it's unlikely that you catch COVID-19 as a result.

UPDATE 02/29/2020):

It looks like others are finally beginning to come around to the position espoused in this blog post. Holman Jenkins, Jr. writes:
To optimize the outcome of this difficult situation—neither overkill nor underkill—the crux will be giving the American people an accurate picture of the risks so they can accurately judge the costs they should be willing to bear to reduce those risks.
The real problem is that the mainstream media is just not providing an "accurate picture." Their reporting is irresponsible and it's dangerous. It's also, in its own way fake news, because it omits context and is intended to illicit a fear reaction. Jenkins continues:
Just how deadly is Covid-19 compared with the flu, which kills about 0.16% of its victims (including 125 children so far this season)? On Tuesday, the World Health Organization’s Bruce Aylward, having returned from a painstakingly negotiated visit to Wuhan, seemed to argue for accepting the Chinese figure of roughly 2%. But remember Stalin’s quip about the pope’s army: The WHO is dependent on China’s goodwill, has little power to coerce China, and understands how readily Beijing might cut off cooperation in a fit of neo-Maoism.

Mr. Aylward’s view is strongly disputed by many other experts. In the chaos of Wuhan, they suspect China missed thousands of mild cases while also letting dozens die who would have lived with proper advice and care. Numerous have been the press reports of elderly victims expiring at home after being turned away from hospitals.

Here’s my guess (and it’s just a guess): Once authorities in the U.S. start looking seriously for domestic Covid-19, they are bound to find it. The pillorying of California for not detecting its case sooner is really just evidence of how slow the media has been to grasp the Covid-19 challenge. Which of the million-plus people who come down with flu symptoms each week should be given the expensive, hard-to-obtain test? Which of the thousands who check into hospitals with generic breathing difficulties?

At the same time, America is entering the final month of peak flu season. This year’s has already been only about two-thirds as deadly as the 2017-18 season, in which 79,400 died.
Read the number in the last sentence again. 79,400 US residents have died THIS PAST YEAR from common flu, yet there has been no panic and no hysteria regarding that harsh reality. But one American (latest figures) has died from COVID-19 and hysteria reigns. Incredible.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Same Could Happen

Neo is a blogger whose insightful commentary is worth an occasional read. She characterizes herself this way:
Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: conservative. My friends and family didn’t want to hear about my inexplicable conversion, so I started this blog to tell the tale of my political change and provide a forum for others. I have a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (not practicing), but my politics make me a pariah there, too.
In a recent post she dismisses the notion that Bernie is a sure loser in the general election, writing:
It’s hubris to think that you know what’s going to happen in a Trump vs. Sanders matchup next Election Day. Yes, all signs are pointing to a Trump victory. I get that. But that was the exact reason so many Democrats wanted Trump nominated in 2016 – because he was a surefire loss for the Republicans and all signs pointed to a Clinton victory. How’d that turn out for them? “Pass the popcorn,” indeed.

In that same post I wrote on February 3, I noted that a good friend of mine who had heretofore been a moderate Democrat is now a big Bernie fan. I still haven’t found out why – although I still plan to ask her about it, she’s been mega-busy – but hearing her say that gave me a new perspective into the Bernie phenomenon. If this person can support Bernie, a lot of non-leftists could. And to me, that spells trouble.

After all, we’ve had over three years of relentless anti-Trump propaganda and it has to have had an effect. A lot of people, and not just leftists, hate his guts and literally want him dead They would vote for the proverbial yellow dog rather than Trump – or vote for a Socialist like Bernie to stop him.

I sincerely hope not. But I’m not getting out my popcorn popper.
Although her comments have merit, I continue to believe that barring a black swan event or some massive fail by Trump, Bernie—should he get the nomination—will lose in the general election. Remember that his extreme socialist positions have not been exposed by his fellow Dems, who actually agree with many of them. That will change dramatically in the general election.*

Having said that, Neo's comments are worth heeding. No one gave Trump a chance, and now he's President. I suppose the same could happen with Bernie.


* An uncritical left-wing media, along with other Dem candidates, like the idea of medicare for all, but differ on the approach. However, Bernie is a purist—a true socialist—so his healthcare plan will become the target for justifiable criticism. James Freeman recounts the research conducted by University of Chicago economist, Casey Mulligan, who created a furor in 2014 when he demonstrated that Obamacare resulted in net job losses across the economy. Worse, Mulligan's conclusions were adopted by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, much to the dismay of Democrats. The Dems trained hamsters in the media downplayed Mulligan's conclusions.

Mulligan has recently analyzed Bernie's healthcare propose and concluded:
If fully implemented, but otherwise implemented wisely, Senator Sanders’ agenda for the economy would reduce real GDP and consumption by 24 percent. Real wages would fall more than 50 percent after taxes. Employment and hours would fall 16 percent combined. There would be less total healthcare, less childcare, less energy available to households, and less value added in the university sector. Although it is more difficult to forecast, the stock market would likely fall more than 50 percent.
Ouch. But is anyone really surprised? This is what socialism does—it wrecks economies, destroys jobs, and hurts the very people socialists keep telling us they want to help.

Freeman concludes his discussion this way:
In his new post, [Mulligan] considers the downside for not just health care but collegiate education and day care services as well:
If their productivity fell by 25 percent, which is optimistic as nationalizations go (see Chapter 8 of the 2019 ERP), then the output of those industries would have to be cut by 25 percent. To be clear, the result would be less healthcare, less college, and less daycare.
On the other hand, sometimes President Trump tweets too much.
So ... those who would vote for Bernie, not because they like his ideas, but because they're for Anyone-but-Trump, might want to consider the ramifications of that decision. Bernie Sanders will try to "fundamentally transform" our country should he win. It's just that a critical assessment of the transformation he wants will undoubtedly yield some pretty scary results.


It's sometimes worth listening to those who have actually lived through the chaos and destruction that occurs as a consequence of a transformation from capitalism and free markets to socialism. In our hemisphere, Venezuela, once the richest country in South America and now among the poorest, is a prima facie example. Jon Street reports on a Washington protest by young Venezuelan immigrants:
At a Washington, D.C. protest, Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips spoke with individuals who escaped socialism in Venezuela to come to America.

"You do not ever want anyone, not even close, to socialism to come to this country," one person said.

The same person specifically invoked Sanders' name.

"Bernie Sanders is your enemy. Do not ever get involved with this individual or any of the other socialists," he said.

"It is not the route to go. It is not possible. It is not feasible. Don't fall for it," another said.

"We also thought that this could never happen in our country," one victim of socialism said about the economic system's perils. "We had a balance of powers. We had democracy and we elected our leaders."

One person who said that he was born and raised in Venezuela said that he has seen the country "deteriorate" under socialism.
The protected, pampered, safe-space, woke crowd of young people who support Sander are literally clueless of the realities of the ideology Sanders espouses. One can only wonder what these children who are "triggered" by unkind words would react to death squads, food lines, no medical care, and a thousand other indignities that socialism brought to Venezuela.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Just Like Denmark

Supporters of Bernie Sanders become angry when one suggests that Bernie is a hard-core socialist and they become outraged when one alleges that he's a communist sympathizer, despite his 50-year history of praising communist dictators and socialist states (Fidel Castro's Cuba comes to mind). They argue that Bernie is all about "democratic socialism," you know, the kind that they perceive to be in place in Scandinavian countries like Denmark.

All of the freebies that Bernie promises in his utopian vision of a "good" America (contrasted with his dark assessment of the current racist and greedy America) will not scale up well. In fact, they won't scale up at all without bankrupting our country, crippling our economy, and putting millions out of work That's what socialism does, over and over again throughout history. The nickname — "Breadline Bernie" — might be mean, but it's not far off the mark.

Although Sanders' socialist ideology is NOT really comparable with the free market activities that occur in Scandinavia, let's for a moment accept the argument that what Bernie really wants is for the USA to become more like Denmark.

Denmark is 1.7 percent as large as the United States. That alone precludes comparisons, but let's proceed. It's social safety net is substantial, but so is its tax rate which is currently 55.8%.

Actually, it's kind of ironic. Bernie also wants a mandated minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, even for entry level jobs for teenagers. With a tax rate of 55.8 percent, that would yield take home pay of $6.63/hour (without considering payroll taxes). At the current US tax rate of 12% for people making under $40,000 per year, a person making say, $12.00/hour (far less than Bernie's mandated minimum) , would take home $9.00/hr. Hmmm, in Bernie's utopia, you know the one with high taxes and a mandated minimum wage, a person would take home less money than the poor shmoe who's currently making $12.00/hour. There's not much "economic justice" in that, is there? But ... nevermind.

Five years ago, Peter Baldwin wrote:
Can the United States be more like Denmark, or any of the other Scandinavian nations? Indeed, it can so long as Americans are willing to follow a few simple steps.

To be more like a Scandinavian country, Americans would need to pay more in taxes, and that tax burden would fall predominantly on the middle class.

First and foremost, Americans would need to pay more in taxes, and that tax burden would fall predominantly on the middle class. Marginal tax rates as high as the U.S. rate kick in at a much lower income level in Scandinavian countries. For instance, in Denmark, plumbers pay the same 50 percent income tax as hedge fund managers. And there’s also a 25 percent value added tax on most purchases (180 percent on car purchases), far above the 7 percent average sales tax in most states.

Pretax income per capita is 23 percent higher in the U.S. than in Denmark. And because so much is raised from consumption taxes, in general things are more expensive in Scandinavian countries. For example, a beer in Denmark will cost you 75 percent more in than in the U.S., a coffee a third more, a dozen eggs 40 percent more. Housing in Denmark is also more expensive than in the U.S. and on average homes are smaller.

Danish university students have their tuition paid for them by the state. But there is no choice between public and private institutions. Nor do students have the same freedom to study what they please as in the U.S. Students apply to study a specific subject. None of this liberal arts nonsense about the nation needing well-rounded citizens. And how hard it is for high school graduates to study the subject of their choice depends on whether the Ministry of Education thinks the country needs more graduates in that field. The government adjusts the G.P.A. requirement for admission depending on how many majors it anticipates needing.

So can we be more like Scandinavia? Yes. Will we? Unlikely.
Bernie and his supporters forget to mention those inconvenient facts or wallpaper over them by suggesting that the money you pay in taxes will somehow magically lead to dollar savings at an individual level. After all, BIG government is much smarter and efficient about spending your money than you are, right? And despite their class warfare rhetoric, the taxes they propose would impact the middle class hard—very hard.

And with less money in their pocket to spend, the socialist-inspired economic death spiral would begin, the middle class would contract, less spending would occur, businesses would contract, income inequality would grow and then ... true to form, Bernie would advocate still more government control of markets and profit.

In reality, Bernie's ideas, if they were ever to be implemented, would almost guarantee that we'd become a lot more like Venezuela than Denmark.


Roger L Simon spent time with deliriously happy Bernie Bros who celebrated Sanders' landslide primary victory in Las Vegas. The demographic was exactly what one would expect—a collection of young people, many college age, who have at best held entry level jobs, another cohort of 30 and 40-somethings who, for the most part, have drifted from job to job over the years, and older folks who (in Simon's words) "seemed to be in the same clothes they wore to a love-in back in 1968." They were garrulous and happy, and Simon liked them.

At the conclusion of his report, Simon makes a thought provoking comment:
Like most “social scientists” I had seen what I expected. They call it “confirmation bias” but in this case you’ll have to excuse me because I really do think what I had assumed was true. They are lost.

Bernie Sanders—who still has good things to say about Fidel Castro, a so-called revolutionary who murdered his friends, impoverished his people and ended up a billionaire—will likely lose in the general, but these boys will still be there.

Maybe we should think about doing something for them. I wish I knew what.
They will still be here, convinced that utopia can be achieved if only things were "fair." They'll continue to "believe," rejecting thousands of years of evidence that human nature doesn't really change, that people want to be rewarded for their hard work, and resent having those rewards arbitrarily distributed to others who often don't work very hard. They'll continue to buy into the rhetoric of envy, convinced that they are victims of a "system" that must be torn down.

Yep, they'll still be here, and sadly, I don't think there is anything we can do for them.

Monday, February 24, 2020

"Magic Grandpa"

As Bernie Sanders ascends as the dominant front-runner for the Democratic party, the party itself has no one to blame but itself. For years, it has bowed to the dictates of its increasingly left-wing base. It has allowed political correctness to morph into an extreme form of mind control; encouraged "cancel culture" to silence not only opposition voices, but also voices from within the party that are not radical enough; embraced Trump Derangement Syndrome to such an extent that the party proposes or accomplishes nothing of substance for the American people, and worshipped at the alter of intersectionality to such an extent that it has rejected its long-time middle-class, working-people base. It's in serious trouble, even if many within the party don't yet realize it.

Dominic Green provides an extremely harsh, but nonetheless accurate assessment of the Democratic front-runner. He writes:
The Democrats are now being unraveled by what [Bernie] Sanders might call the ‘contradictions of capitalism’. While the Democratic leadership was soaking Wall Street and Silicon Valley and pandering to the public sector unions, it outsourced the maintenance of its coalition to the radicals, and indulged them as they built their Potemkin villages of intersectionality. Now, as the party structure hollows out and the party leadership fails convincingly to answer Donald Trump, the radicals have the ground game and the ideology to remake the party from the bottom up. The result is a radically depraved version of the rainbow coalition, with Sanders as its Corbyn-style ‘Magic Grandpa’, a deceptively cuddly fellow traveler determined to ride their youthful exuberance into office.

When Magic Grandpa shakes the money tree, it’s not just that other people’s money falls out. A tangle of poisonous roots is also exposed. A coalition of coalitions has mobilized for Sanders: acrimonious initials like the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) and CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Jew-baiting proxies like Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour, woke warriors like IfNotNow and the Justice Dems, and bongwater conspiracists like the Chapo Trap House chaps and the campus wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

His supporters think that Bernie can win in a general election, but unless there is a black swan event that pulls our country into turmoil (e.g., a significant coronavirus outbreak requiring draconian measures by the Trump administration to stop its spread—I can just hear the Dems shouting "totalitarianism" already), I suspect that if Bernie wins the nomination, he will be crushed in the general election—not because Trump is a great guy, but because his administration has accomplished many things that have tangibly benefited the American people.

That's reassuring, but it would be far more encouraging if the Democrats learned from all of this and changed their path. That, unfortunately, is highly unlikely.


Scott Johnson writes:
Has Bernie Sanders ever lavished the kind of praise on the United States that he has heaped on the old regime of the Soviet Union, the dictators of Venezuela, or the Communist masters of Cuba? Has he ever praised the United States, period? When it comes to the United States versus its enemies, the guy is on the other side. It’s probably past time to take Sanders seriously and take a look at the kind of foreign policy he is most likely to pursue. It is certainly past time to get a clue about the deep meaning of Bernie Sanders.
The "deep meaning" of Sanders is that like all socialist demagogues, he's a master at class warfare. He understands the politics of envy and recognizes that demonizing the rich (actually, demonizing success) resonates with a non-trivial percentage of the voting public. He assumes that a significant minority of the public has never learned that utopian promises are too good to be true, and offers "bribes" to his voters—lots and lots of free stuff (latest is free child care) that is neither free nor attainable. He cares little for economics, and cynically suggests that "the rich" can pay for it all when he knows that's a mathematical impossibility. Unlike Trump, who at his core projects optimism for the USA, Bernie presents a dark picture of a racist, greedy nation that can only be saved by reducing the freedoms its inhabitants have coveted for 250 years. He's hardly a magic grandpa—he is a bad guy.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Then Solve it!

When I was a young undergraduate engineering student, I learned the key lesson that all people must learn if they are to become effective problem solvers. We were assigned a difficult take home test. I assessed the problem, decided that the problem could be solved based on a preconceived solution strategy, did all of the mathematics to derive a solution, and then produced a multi-page result that I assumed would yield an "A." After all, I crushed it!

When my exam book was returned, I opened the first page and there I saw a "D" grade with the following comment by my professor: "You developed an elegant solution for the the wrong problem. Understand the problem first, and THEN solve it!"

It was a harsh lesson, but I learned from it, and it's served me quit well throughout all the years since that time.

As I watch the collection of Democrat candidates for the presidency, supported by their legions of progressives, social justice warriors, and "activists," I've come to the conclusion that none of them has learned the fundamental lesson stated succinctly by my engineering professor. Driven by ideological zeal that often precludes an honest assessment of a problem, often with judgment clouded by political correctness and boxed in by a limited set of acceptable 'rules,' the Dems craft what they belief are solutions that never address an underlying economic, social, or cultural problem. The solution then fails or make things even worse.

As an example, let's consider the serious homeless problem that has beset many major cities—almost all of them operating under the blue governance model. The problem has become so serious that cities like Los Angeles have skid rows (populated by thousands of homeless people) that exhibit conditions that are often as bad or worse than third world countries—addiction, violence, mental illness, and crime prevail, along with unsanitary conditions and general chaos.

Christopher Rufo has done in-depth reporting on the homeless crisis in Los Angeles. He writes about the disastrous condition on LA's skid row and then notes:
Roughly a decade ago, Skid Row’s future looked more hopeful. In 2006, Police Chief William Bratton and Central Division Commander Andrew Smith implemented a strategy of Broken Windows policing for Skid Row, called the Safer Cities Initiative, which led to a 42 percent reduction in major felonies, 50 percent reduction in overdose and natural deaths, and 75 percent reduction in homicides. “We’ve broken the back of the problem,” said Chief Bratton then, reporting that the overall homeless population had been reduced from 1,876 people to 700 people—an astonishing success. (See “The Reclamation of Skid Row,” Autumn 2007.)

The progress proved short-lived. Arguing that Broken Windows policing “criminalizes homelessness,” activists slowly dismantled the Safer Cities Initiative through civil rights lawsuits and public pressure campaigns. Today, Skid Row’s homeless population is estimated to be at least 2,500 people, and crime has been rising for years.
Democrat politicians (LA has not had a GOP mayor since 2001), backed by progressive supporters who are often social justice warriors and "activists," decided that broken windows policing was the problem and decided to solve it with policies that have failed miserably. Their solution (which has resulted in the crisis LA faces today) is described by Rufo:
Over the past 30 years, activists and political leaders have successfully shifted public policy regarding addiction and disorder away from a so-called punitive model that relies on prohibition, incarceration, and abstinence toward a “harm-reduction” approach that takes widespread drug use as a given and attempts to reduce rates of infection and other negative effects. Mark Casanova, executive director of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, has been working with addicts on Skid Row since 1985. His Center for Harm Reduction distributes 2.4 million clean needles to more than 12,000 addicts each year ...

... despite a steady expansion of harm-reduction services, last year was the deadliest on record for Los Angeles County, with meth-related overdose deaths up more than 1,000 percent from 2008, claiming Skid Row as its epicenter. In the Central Division, crime has increased 59 percent since 2010, with officers responding to 13,122 incidents last year, including 2,698 assaults, 2,453 thefts, and 1,350 car break-ins, a trend doubtless intensified by the addiction crisis.
By characterizing the solution as "harm reduction" the Democrats are solving the wrong problem. Because that has failed and things are getting really bad, they now believe that building "affordable housing" is the solution. The only problem is that government isn't very good at that. Again from Rufo:
None of this seems to deter Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who projects relentless optimism and insists that homelessness is primarily a housing problem. The centerpiece of the mayor’s plan—endorsed by activists, unions, and the Democratic establishment—is the construction of new subsidized and permanent supportive-housing units. In 2016, Los Angeles voters approved Proposition HHH, authorizing $1.2 billion in new spending, with the goal of constructing 10,000 units of “affordable housing” over the following decade.

Nearly three years later, the city has finished only 72 units, costing $690,692 apiece, a cost inflation that the city comptroller has called “utterly unacceptable.” In total, Los Angeles spent a total of $619 million on homelessness last year—more than double the previous year’s budget—but the number of people on the streets rose by 16 percent.
No one would argue that homelessness is a difficult problem, but one thing is certain—if you refuse to look at the underlying causes—addiction and mental illness, it cannot be even managed much less solved.

Here's the point. The Dems have gravitated to a place where they're incapable of practical and realistic solutions because they cannot or will not understand the problem. They believe that fantasy BIG government "solutions" for everything from the economy (think: income in equality) to wages (think: a mandated minimum wage) to healthcare (think: medicare-for-all) to crime (think: Bernie's idea to cut the number of people incarcerated at both the federal and state level by 50%) to diversity (think: the task force to address the Corona virus MUST be diverse) to immigration (think: open borders) to taxes (think: soak-the-rich tax plans) can be developed without a thorough, hard-nosed assessment of the underlying realities that define the problem. So they virtue signal and become all emotional, but they accomplish little and often make things worse (with the best intentions, of course).

It seems that no matter who the Dems nominate fo 2020, their ability to solve actual problems is impaired by their collective inability to examine the problem and understand it. That's a shame, because fantasy never wins out when it collides with reality.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Circular Firing Squad

The Democratic Party debates last night in Las Vegas had the appearance of a circular firing squad, not unlike some of the GOP debates in 2016. The difference is that the participants in last night's show are all proponents of Big Intrusive Government (B.I.G.) solutions to problems that are described selectively so that high cost "fixes" will give the appearance of seriousness. Those high cost solutions demand much higher taxes that will be funneled into a B.I.G. machine that will take its share (enriching the party faithful within the deep state) and then redistribute taxpayer money to anointed groups (defined, of course, by the Dems) who are said to deserve it.

The best description of the show I've seen this morning was written by Paula Bolyard:
Not only did Dems unselfconsciously brag about their Marxist/socialist plans, but they displayed their utter contempt for capitalism. When Bloomberg tried to defend the economic system that has raised more people out of poverty than any system in the history of the world, the other candidates on the stage groaned—and many in the audience booed.
Yep ... that's the new Democratic Party.

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


As the candidacy of Bernie Sanders rockets to the top of the polls, it would seem that the best way to assess the efficacy of the increasingly socialist model proposed by Bernie (and if we're really honest, many of the remaining Democratic candidates) is to examine the success of the blue governance model (in essence, it's socialism-lite) in practice across blue states. The socialism-lite model stresses ever growing centralized government, a regulatory regime that establishes increasingly anti-small business policies, high tax and a spending philosophy that makes unsustainable wage and pension commitments to the Democrats' most avid constituency (government unions). As a case in point, consider my ex-home state of Connecticut. The Nutmeg State has had large Democrat majorities in its legislature for 30 straight years. As a consequence, it's a perfect laboratory for examining socialism-lite.

Ryan Fazio describes the problems facing Connecticut. He writes that the current governor, Ned Lamont, suggests that he's changing course to address CT's serious problems, but in reality, it's simply not true.
First, the budget touted by the governor raised taxes on Connecticut residents by about $1.7 billion over two years, mostly in the form of various new sales taxes. It was the fourth biennial budget of the last six with significant tax increases — themselves on the heels of enormous income tax increases in the 1990s and 2000s.

Second, in order to alleviate the budget deficit in the near term, Lamont “refinanced” pension payments to state employees. The agreement with the unions doesn’t reform the system but shorts contributions by $2 billion through 2032, only to increase the taxpayer’s obligation by $5 billion from then until 2047 ...

Their third transgression included a 6.5 percent pay increase for state troopers and an 11 percent increase for assistant attorneys general. All the while, real household income has actually declined slightly since 1991 for the families who are forced to pay ever-higher taxes. It’s hard to imagine anything more unfair.

Fourth and finally, Democrats imposed some of the most onerous labor regulations in the nation on Connecticut workers this year. The state already had the fourth-most burdensome regulatory environment for small business in the US. Now, it will also suffer a $15 statewide minimum wage and workers will be hit with a new 0.5 percent payroll tax to fund a mandatory paid-leave program. The former passed despite no state having fully implemented one to date and the latter despite being the most expensive in the nation of its kind. Sadly, they will kill jobs and opportunity for the working poor most of all.
It's comical to listen to Democrats talk about "social justice" and then watch how they actually govern. They aggressively grow government on the backs of a less mobile middle class (who are hard-pressed to vote with their feet) while wealthy taxpayers flee the high tax, anti-business atmosphere they encourage in the state. Demcorats accede to union demands with concessions that hurt the working poor, and they otherwise build their fiefdoms at taxpayer expense.

Connecticut is a beautiful, well-situated state that is in dire need of a turnaround. Its population is falling, its financial liabilities are abominable, and its outlook for the future is less than bright. Fazio writes:
It is often said that the definition of insanity is trying something over and over again and expecting different results. Only devotion to a radical worldview could compel politicians to force upon their constituents the same failed policies that make no sense in reality. Until state officials change course, Connecticut stands no chance of a true turnaround.
And remember, Connecticut's travails are what socialism-lite governance renders. Can you image what true socialism (or the Dems' reasonable facsimile of it) will yield at the federal level?


But wait, argue true believers, Bernie's brand of socialism will work on a national level. That has never happened, but what has is the ruination of every country that has tried it. Spare me comparisons with Scandinavia—they're simply not analogous in kind, in population, in size or in fact.

Aldo from Lema, Peru recently published the following tweet, "Evolución 1990-2019 del PIB per cápita en Sudamérica a Paridad de Poder de Compra (PPP), dólares de 2011." It provides a measure of per capital income for all South American countries since 1990. In the 90s Venezuela (in yellow ) was at the top of the graph—a rich and vital country. Then Bernie's favorite socialist demagogue, Hugo Chavez, came into power in 1999, followed by another man Bernie praised, Nicholas Maduro. Watch what happens throughout the first two decades of this century -- turn the sound on.

Evolución 1990-2019 del PIB per cápita en Sudamérica a Paridad de Poder de Compra (PPP), dólares de 2011


It's worth noting that even among those who reject socialism, the growth of the federal swamp is inexorable. Spending cuts are near-impossible to make because every cut is politicized with hyperbole suggesting that the 'world will end' (think: the hysteria over minor 2 percent cuts that were part of the "sequester'). The greatest single failure of the Trump administration has been its inability to reign in federal spending. Niv Elis writes:
The federal budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at $984 billion, a hefty 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest since 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently said.

The difference between federal spending and revenue has only ever exceeded $1 trillion four times, in the period immediately following the global financial crisis.

The deficit, which has grown every year since 2015, is $205 billion higher than it was in 2018, a jump of 26 percent.

The CBO has warned that the nation's debt is on an unsustainable path. Higher levels of debt increase borrowing costs, make it harder for the government to battle economic downturns and increase the share of future spending devoted to paying off interest costs.

Since President Trump took office, the GOP has passed a massive tax cut package that reduced revenue, while Democrats and Republicans have agreed to increase spending year after year.

Budget watchers note that the main drivers of the deficit, however, come from automatic spending programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The swamp rules, and until that changes (if it ever does), we're on an unsustainable fiscal path.

Monday, February 17, 2020


Partisans within the government who oppose Donald Trump , exemplified by members of the DoJ who were leftover's from the previous Democrat administration and/or career civil servants who lean heavily Democratic, have used one dominant strategy in their efforts to derail Trump's presidency—ambush. It began with the DNC and Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russian sources to develop a phony dossier that accused trump of sexual deviance and financial wrong-doing. That was the predicate that allowed a corrupt FBI Director, James Comey, to ambush Trump by telling him about a dossier that he knew was bunk. After that meeting, Comey leaked the details of the dossier to a compliant media.

When that ambush failed with the revelation that the dossier was garbage, Trump fired Comey, but that set yet another ambush. In what can only be called the epitome of irony, the Dems then accused Trump of "collusion" and demanded a Special Counsel to investigate him. The ambush continued for over two years with additional firefights that enveloped his Supreme Court nominees and cabinet appointees.

The investigation set still another ambush when Trump rightly complained it was a partisan "witch hunt." The Dems claimed his comments amounted to "obstruction of Justice" and hyperventilated about "a threat to democracy" and "unconstitutional behavior." That ambush failed when the special counsel couldn't find any collusion or obstruction. But he did word his report to set yet another ambush by implying obstruction.

When that ambush failed, the Dems found a deep state, deeply-partisan "whistleblower" who set yet another ambush by suggesting the Trump had demanded an investigation of Joe Biden—a quid pro quo. Trump's reaction (he charged into the ambush) allowed the Dems to create yet another ambush and impeach him, but even that ambush failed miserably.

Just recently, the sentencing recommendation for smear-meister Roger Stone set yet another ambush—more on that in a moment.

Ambush, after ambush, after ambush—all failed with Trump stronger than ever.

Conservative firebrand and ex-infantry officer, Kurt Schlichter, offers an explanation. He relates a simple infantry doctrine that states: When ambushed, you charge toward the fire rather than away from it. It's your best chance of survival. Schlichter contends that Donald Trump understands that doctrine at a visceral level. He uses the Roger Stone case as an example:
Here’s how these [DoJ] weasels laid their ambush. These rump doofuses on the Mueller coup accomplice team were preparing a sentencing memo for the judge in the Roger Stone case. Now, let’s leave aside the fact that the ghastly, targeted prosecution of this harmless gadfly treated justice like hobos treat the sidewalks of the Cesspool-By-The-Bay. Let’s pretend this was not a scummy political persecution for “crimes” that establishment suck-ups commit with impunity. Let’s forget all that and pretend his conviction was legit rather than another seedy attempt by Hillary-loving bureaucrats to get at Trump via his associates.

That’s a lot of disbelief to suspend, but go with it. Okay, the sentencing memo gives the government’s perspective on the appropriate sentence based on such factors as the sentencing guidelines, the effect of the crime, the prior crimes of the convict, and other factors like age. For these non-violent offenses by a first-time offender of age 67, which caused zero harm, and were related to the “collusion” that even Mueller’s pack of scummy Democrats were forced to admit was a lie, you would expect somewhere from a few months to a couple of years in Club Fed. And apparently that’s what the persecutors briefed to their bosses, because in a high-vis case like this, flunky attorneys brief their bosses at the DOJ.

These hacks instead asked for 7 to 9 years.

Literally no one on earth could say in good faith that was remotely appropriate for this case. None, at least not without lying. It’s equal to a death sentence, but then it’s a Trump associate so there are apparently special rules. And you’ll notice few of the Dems whining about this say this is an appropriate sentence – at least not with a straight face.

They did it to make Trump react. They knew the establishment and its submissive media would freak out. They thought they could derail his most epic run ever.

Well, Trump reacted. He tweeted the manifest and undeniable truth – that the liberal persecutors were treating Lady Justice like Harvey Weinstein treated eager starlets, except without the sop of a minor supporting role in a Gwyneth Paltrow flick.

Trump charged right into the ambush.

The reaction was predictable, especially after the DOJ brass realized these punks had bait and switched their sentencing recommendation. The DOJ promised to revise the recommendation and the media and liberal pols went nuts. .. Then [Trump] questioned the judge’s impartiality, which you are not allowed to do because of reasons unless it's Gorsuch or Kavanaugh. Then it’s totally principled, the principle being “the elite gets its way.”

So, we got the #ImpeachBarr hashtags and the Very Serious Lawyers on Twitter and CNN explaining how undoing this breaking of norms and rules is a terrible breaking of norms and rules. As a lawyer, let me give you some free advice – take Twitter lawyer advice with a grain of salt. And that grain should be approximately the size of Mothra.

Today, the New York Times
celebrates the Roger Stone ambush by telling us that 1,000 DoJ lawyers wrote a letter demanding AG William Barr's resignation. Oh my, that was surely spontaneous, just like the letter they all wrote when the FBI IG found that DoJ officials lied to the FISA court in order to conduct surveillance that led to other ambushes. Oh wait ... there wasn't any letter, was there? Yeah, the outrage of Democratic deep state lawyers is a bit selective, isn't it?

What the deep state #Resistance fighters don't realize is that every ambush exposes unethical and/or corrupt behavior among the partisan deep state [think: Crossfire Hurricane scandal], the Democrat elites [think: Joe Biden and son], and their trained hamsters in the media [think: CNN or MSNBC or CBS or ABC or NBC, ...]. The ambushes highlight the viciousness and dishonesty of Trump's political opposition. And as important, the ambushes highlight another clear reality about his attackers and Trump himself. The attackers lose—every time, and Trump wins—every time. In fact, in at least some cases (the Roger Stone case being one of them) it almost seems as if Trump purposely walks into the ambush ... and then charges forward while his attackers are decimated (think: collusion, obstruction, Kavanaugh, impeachment, and now Stone). In a strange way, it's fun to watch.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


At the moment, Bernie Sanders is rising in polls of Democratic voters (which are NOT indicative of his acceptance across America as a whole), and some moderate democrats are beginning to get nervous. There are however a set of hard realities that will surface if and when Bernie becomes the Dem nominee. These have as much to do with socialism itself as it does with Bernie himself.

In his critical assessment of socialism, Iain Murray writes that whenever anyone notes the historical failure of virtually every attempt at socialism, socialists who have won or are running for election throughout the West invoke a standard response which can be calls a progression. He summarizes this in a comment at Instapundit:
... [If the socialists actually win and gain power], the first progression goes:

-- Avowed socialists set up brave new socialist world
-- The wheels start to come off. This is blamed on “wreckers” and foreign agents.
-- The economy seizes up. Eventually people starve and the gulags get set up.
-- Socialists explain this was never a real socialist system in the first place
But prior to winning an election, socialist must overcome the natural resistance to a really bad idea. As an example, consider left-wing economist, Paul Krugman who recently claimed that Bernie really isn't a socialist. Murray introduces the second progression:
... Krugman’s intervention appears to be a different form of denial that I identify in the book:

-- Socialists set out to win an election
-- Recognizing the unpalatability of a socialist platform, socialists claim they actually only want to be “like Denmark or Sweden.”
-- Socialists deny desirability of a thriving Nordic free market model that includes things like school choice in Sweden.
-- Socialists unveil a platform that looks more like traditional socialism than anything currently on offer in Scandinavia.
-- People who point out the discrepancy between 3 and 4 are vilified as supporting inequality, racism, etc.

If the socialists-but-not-socialists-really then win an election, expect things to progress as in the first progression.

Or, as Toby Young puts it, “socialism always begins with talk of the international brotherhood of man and ends with having to eat your own pets.”
If Bernie actually does gain traction and wins the nomination expect the Democratic party to become shrill in its invocation of the second progression, and if they win, you can bet your life that we'll hear plenty of the first progression as the years pass. Both progressions are based on lies, of course, but that's been the stock in trade of the Democratic party for at least the past three years.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Nine Years

It is true that Roger Stone is an unsavory character—just like dozens of Democratic and GOP smear-miesters (Glen Simpson of Fusion GPS comes to mind) who operate daily in Washington, DC, making millions for their efforts. But Stone had a problem, he was connected to Donald Trump and as a consequence, he became a target of Mueller and Justice Department lawyers who are sympathetic to the Dems and loath this president. They worked to convict Stone of process crimes (something that can be done to virtually anyone who has testified before the FBI or Congress), succeeded, and then recommended a prison sentence not to exceed a nine-years (!!)

Donald Trump did what he always does, he expressed his outrage at the excessive sentencing request, and now we have yet another "scandal." As they always do, the Democrats tripped over themselves expressing their "outrage," and even AG Barr told Trump to back off. In the end, the story you hear from the trained hamsters in the media is far from the truth. As she always does, Kim Strassel provides accurate background:
Democrats claimed Mr. Trump politically interfered with justice, bullying the department into going easy on a political crony. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proclaims “a crisis in the rule of law.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Impeachment) declared another “abuse of power.” The press is casting it as Example A of how a postacquittal Trump feels emboldened to ignore the law.

This has it entirely backward. Here’s what actually happened: Justice sources tell me that interim U.S. Attorney Tim Shea had told the department’s leadership he and other career officials in the office felt the proposed sentence was excessive. As the deadline for the filing neared, the prosecutors on the case nonetheless threatened to withdraw from the case unless they got their demands for these stiffest of penalties. Mr. Shea—new to the job—suffered a moment of cowardice and submitted to this ultimatum. The filing took Justice Department leaders by surprise, and the decision to reverse was made well before Mr. Trump tweeted, and with no communication with the White House. The revised filing, meanwhile, had the signature of the acting supervisor of the office’s criminal division, who is a career civil servant, not a political appointee.

This is Mr. Barr getting rid of politics in justice—as he promised. In his confirmation hearing, the attorney general vowed an “even-handed application of the law” rather than judgments based on politics or favoritism (see Clinton investigation vs. Trump investigation). Before the president’s tweet, even liberal commentators were acknowledging the initial recommendation of up to nine years in prison was harsh, given that Mr. Stone is a first-time offender. The request came from a prosecutorial team—which included two members of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s staff—that wanted to punish Mr. Stone for his ties to a president they loathe.

And don’t forget the mitigating factors. Remember how Mr. Stone ended up in the Justice Department’s crosshairs. It was after Team Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and Fusion GPS weaponized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to go after political opponents. Mr. Mueller could easily have unraveled this ambush. Instead, he rampaged through dozens of lives, and—unable to find collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, his original charge—obtained indictments for process crimes. That’s no excuse for Mr. Stone’s behavior, but his sentence ought to reflect that he was prosecuted by an overzealous, politicized Justice Department.

Mr. Barr also promised accountability, and the permanent bureaucracy is displaying its contempt for that mission. Line prosecutors made clear up front that they’d cause a political spectacle unless their demands were met. When overruled, four went on to withdraw. In a Washington Post op-ed, former Justice Department employee Chuck Rosenberg summed up the resistance to supervision: “We all understand that the leadership at the top of the department is politically appointed, and we make peace with that.”
The core of this story has NOTHING to do with Roger Stone. At its core we again see partisan deep state operatives (in this case Justice department lawyers) operating as rogue agents who sole job it is to embarrass and/or harass members of the political party they don't like. They need to be stopped, and it's the job of leadership in government departments to stop them. That's what Bill Barr is trying to do, and Donald Trump's tweets on the Stone sentence (although absolutely accurate in the main) won't help one bit.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal state: "The danger for Mr. Trump is that Mr. Barr will resign because he is tired of having his credibility undermined by a President who can’t control his political id no matter the damage it causes." They're not wrong.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


As I and millions of other Americans watch the race for the Democratic presidential nomination unfold, there are a few very reasonable questions that need to be asked: Exactly what do the Democrats stand for? What do they want for our country? What do they see that's good, and admirable, and optimistic for the future?

Yeah, I know. Hardcore Dems will gasp and say, "that's obvious." They want social justice, income equality, better education, better health care, the elimination of racism, the effective equivalent of open borders, and a plethora of "rights" that are nowhere to be found in our constitution. But the Dems are at a disadvantage, because the American public has been observing their actions for the past few decades, and has really taken a hard look at their actions and words over the past three years.

On the political front, all we have to do is look at the major U.S. cities and states that have been governed by Democrats for a decade or more. In those places, the role of government has been elevated to an overbearing entity. Daniel Henninger comments:
So what, other than hunting Donald Trump, does the Democratic Party stand for?

A recurring argument of this column is that in the U.S. and Europe, the presumed efficiency of governments has been worn down by the programs and responsibilities they’ve created for themselves, some with good intentions. By now, it’s just too much.

During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt struck a defining bargain with the public: Cede to the government expanded powers over the details of American life, and government will administer it efficiently. For the public, giving government the power to regulate and rule was supposed to be a net plus.

The bargain behind Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All, funded by new taxes on the middle class, is that it too will be a net plus. Come Election Day in November, will 50% of the electorate actually believe Democrats today could competently administer a national health-care system in the U.S.?

Mr. Sanders, who filed as a Democrat for this election, isn’t that much of an outlier. All his rivals, including the “moderates,” are proposing more additions to the already massive government labyrinth they’ve built for decades.

But in those places where the modern Democratic Party is in charge, they often govern badly or incompetently on a grand scale. Misgovernance related to crime, homelessness, poor schools and affordability has become the symbol of Democratic control in large U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago and St. Louis.

U.S. census data shows people voting with their feet, moving out of the Northeast and Far West into the less bureaucratized Southern and Mountain states. A major reason for these internal refugee flows is that Democratic legislatures and city councils—New York, Seattle, San Francisco—reflexively pass progressive policies disconnected from commercial or social reality.
And therein lies the rub. The policy proposals offered by the Dems are "disconnected from commercial or social reality" and at some level, the general public recognizes that. They know that government is NOT efficient, is NOT caring, and is generally NOT capable of avoiding waste and abuse when it uses their tax money. They know this in their bones.

But there's something more. The Dems project a dark feeling of doom. They contend that the United States is a "racist" place in which "privilege" dictates everything. Where certain classes of people are "victims" and other classes are "oppressors." Where dependency is a good thing and should be encouraged and celebrated. Karlyn Borysenko, a long time Democrat, wrote this about a Trump political rally:
“It was more like attending a rock concert than a political rally. People were genuinely enjoying themselves. Some were even dancing to music being played over the loudspeakers! It was so different than any other political event I had ever attended. Even Obama in 2008 didn’t feel like this. . . . With Trump, there was a genuinely optimistic view of the future. With the Democrats, it was doom and gloom. With Trump, there was a genuine feeling of pride of being an American. With the Democrats, they emphasized that the country was a racist place from top to bottom.”
I suspect that the general electorate wants optimism, and rejects the notion that their country needs a complete "transformation." They'll also reject the "doom and gloom" projected by the Dems and look for someone who can define a bright future that is not "disconnected from commercial or social reality". The Dems are headed for trouble, and I think at some level they know it. They just can't get out of their own way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Look South

As the results of the New Hampshire Democratic primary come in, some in the media will swoon over the prospects of the Dem's socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders. It appears that Sanders will get at least 25+ percent of the vote and is likely to win the primary. Bernie is the darling of the Dem's hard-left base, a champion of young people who are naive enough to believe his promises of lots and lots of free stuff, and the choice of far too many Democrats who, driven by Trump Derangement, will vote for a man who wants "revolution" at a time when the economy is booming, people of color are doing well, the United States is not embroiled in any major conflicts, and poll after poll indicates that the American people are generally happy with their lives.

The problem with Sanders voters is they refuse to look South to the wreckage that socialism created in South America's once-richest country, Venezuela. James Freeman writes:
If questioned on the horror that is now Venezuela, Mr. Sanders will surely claim that it does not represent his kind of “democratic socialism.” But how will he explain the support he provided to the strongmen of Caracas as they went about trashing Venezuelan democracy and prosperity?

In January of 2003, as Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez was cracking down on regime opponents, he was thrilled to receive support from a few extremists in the U.S. Congress. Pascal Fletcher reported for Reuters:
Chavez on Sunday read out a Jan 9 letter of support sent by 19 U.S. Congress members recognizing him as the legitimately elected president of Venezuela.
“If Abraham Lincoln or George Washington were alive and here today, they would be on our side,” he said.
In their letter, the 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives - 18 Democrats and one independent - told Chavez they strongly opposed attempts to remove him from office and condemned Bush administration officials who appeared to support the short-lived coup against him in April.
The authors of the letter included Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and independent Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
It’s hard to calculate how much better off Venezuelans would be today if the resistance to the thug Chavez had succeeded in 2002. But even then, Mr. Sanders should have known that U.S. actions in the country did not deserve condemnation.
But Bernie doesn't like his own country very much, at least in its current non-revolutionary form. He hates, hates those who succeed in life and harangues them constantly about "paying their 'fair share.'" He tells us, much as Chavez and then Maduro told the people of Venezuela, that it is moral and good to give a vast centralized government control over everything from their health care to their education to their wallet.

Freeman continues:
What is not defensible is Bernie Sanders continually standing up for brutal regimes. In 2006, Mr. Sanders engineered another public-relations coup for Venezuela’s socialist government by arranging a deal with regime-owned Citgo to provide subsidized heating oil in Vermont. Whatever it cost the Venezuelan government was surely worth the propaganda value. Mr. Sanders helped the regime embarrass the U.S. Government, which had been trying to alert the world to the rising authoritarianism and economic destruction occurring in Caracas.

Sen. Sanders has a history of supporting socialist tyrants. Now voters must decide what kind of socialism he would inflict on the United States.
Should the Dems lose their minds and actually nominate Sanders, I have no doubt that his opponent will tell us exactly the kind socialism he'll inflict should he be elected. The political commercials almost write themselves.

Thursday, February 06, 2020


The same media that told us in 2012 that Mitt Romney essentially gave a woman cancer is now lauding him because he "voted his conscience." Romney decided to vote to convict Donald Trump of the nebulous charge of abuse of power for having the temerity to suggest that an ex-Vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, just might have acted in a corrupt fashion by having a Ukrainian prosecutor fired because that prosecutor just might have looked into Biden's son and a notably corrupt company that gave young Biden a very high paying job.

Way back in 2016 I wrote this about Romney and the gentleman Republicans who exemplify the party elites:
Throughout any presidential campaign, name calling, accusations of bigotry and racism, and outlandish suggestions that the GOP candidate will do great harm (e.g., start a nuclear war) are commonplace, regardless of the Democrat on the ballot. It seems that the Democrats get a free pass to demonize every GOP presidential contender. For example, along with their media allies, they demonized Mitt Romney—an ethical, honest, and competent politician and executive. Romney did what all GOP contenders of the past did. He took it. He never fought back, but that didn't stop the Dems from suggesting he was responsible for the death of a woman who died of Cancer; that he rejected 47 percent" of the electorate, not by calling them "deplorable" or "irredeemable" as this year's Democrat contender has done (by the way, many media outlets defended Clinton for that remark), but by simply noting that they were probably beyond his message. He allowed debate moderator Candy Crowley to defend Barack Obama (incorrectly, it turned out) during the second debate and did so without a word of protest. Gentlemanly—all the way to a election loss.

To say the least, Donald Trump is not gentlemanly. He fights back — hard. Maybe his style is coarse and his language is muddy, but he fights back. That makes the elites very uncomfortable—after all, the GOP candidate is supposed to take the slurs hurled at him by the Dems and their media hamsters. They always have, haven't they? So, when Trump punches back, the elites tell us that he's "unhinged," that he doesn't have the "temperament" for the job, that he's "whining"—all because he defends himself against scurrilous attacks.
To be clear, Romney has every right to vote his conscience. In fact, it's notable that not a single Democrat voted against either article of impeachment. Like the Stepford wives, Dem politicians do the bidding of their angry leadership and base without question. So be it.

Forget the blather about asterisks next to the current presidency, Trump overcame the viciousness and dishonesty of the Dems' attacks and has been acquitted. On the other hand, Mitt will go down in history as an asterisk.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Ripping It Up

I have on a number of occasions suggested that we've reached peak Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). I thought that the Democrat's hatred of Donald Trump, their inability to accept defeat in the 2016 elections, and their pathetic "resistance" movement would abate as time passed because—it's hurting them politically and making them look like petulant children who would rather throw a tantrum than move on to other things that might actually benefit the people who elected them.

I thought that the Dems' despicable behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings was peak TDS—after all, attempting to destroy a man's reputation and life based on an evidence-free fantasy espoused by a Democrat partisan seemed pretty extreme. Nope.

I thought that a two year 'witch hunt' conducted by Robert Mueller who ultimately found no evidence of Russian collusion" defined peak TDS. Nope.

I thought that a bogus and partisan impeachment driven by a "whistleblower" who was also a Democrat partisan was peak TDS. Nope.

I thought that accusing the Senate of a "coverup" as it moves to acquit Donald Trump of empty charges brought by the democratic House was peak TDS. Nope.

And last night, at the conclusion of the President's State of the Union address (a speech BTW, that was quite moderate overall) I watched as Nancy Pelosi acted like a ill-behaved 4-year old girl who didn't get her way and tantrum-like, tore up the hardcopy of the speech before a national TV audience. Peak TDS? Nope.

Michael Goodwin comments:
Here’s a question for Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Have you heard of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity? The one where he says it’s “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

To judge by your conduct, I’m guessing you haven’t. Either that or you think Einstein was an idiot, too.

Then again, maybe you’re a secret Republican agent trying to re-elect President Trump. Is that why you keep making the same mistake over and over again?

You’ve been screwing up for three years, starting with the juvenile resistance where you refused even to negotiate over big national interests such as border control. Then, just when it seemed you couldn’t sink any lower than that cheap, partisan impeachment you engineered, you hit a new low during the State of the Union.

Your mumbling and sneering smiles throughout President’s Trump’s powerful address were bad enough, but your decision to tear into shreds your copy of his speech and drop it like a dead fish was shameful beyond measure.

Coming immediately after he finished, and while he was still on the podium, you had to know the television cameras would catch you. No doubt that was your goal — to display your disgust to the nation and the world. Viva la resistance!
It's almost as if the Dems get off on acting increasingly petulant and crazy.* It must make them feel good in some bizarre way. Because what Pelosi did was a VERY bad move politically—making her and her party look like brats, rather than mature adults.

Donald Trump has gotten into their heads in a way that no other GOP politician ever has and as a consequence, he has highlighted a viciousness and petulance that is ugly. The Dem base may cheer, but the rest of the electorate notices and not in a good way. Peak TDS is nowhere in sight, but another loss for the Dems in 2020 is becoming increasingly visible as the Dems implode before our eyes.


* Roger Simon adds a comment on Pelosi's infantile behavior:
For seemingly decades our mainstream media friends have assured us, literally drilled into our brains, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the master strategist of our time, a veritable political genius of extraordinary proportions.

I beg to differ.

She’s closer to a nine-year old who is out of control.

She demonstrated this during the State of the Union address when, sitting behind Trump during his speech, listening to accomplishment after accomplishment, she fidgeted like a third grader with an attention deficit disorder and then, on the president’s conclusion, stood up in full view of everyone and made a show of ripping her hard copy of his speech in half.

For a split second I wondered if she was having a nervous breakdown, it was such a bizarre display on live television, bound to turn off, even sicken, any normal person viewing it. I imagined video replays of her behavior all over Twitter from now until November. (They’ve already started, as I’m sure some of you know.)

It was as if Nancy were a secret agent working under deep cover to reelect Donald Trump.
To once again paraphrase Glen Reynolds: "All the Dems have to do is not act crazy, and they can't even do that."

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Not a Shadow of a Doubt

In the immediate aftermath of the Iowa caucus debacle in which the Democrats' high tech reporting solution failed so badly that no winner could be determined one day after voting, the Dems continue to couch themselves as the smartest kids on the block, masters of high tech wizardry, the best people to take our country into the 21st century. And yet,

1. This is weirdly reminiscent of the debacle that occurred when the Democrat's Obamacare initiative was rolled out. The website that was created was error prone and flakey, often didn't work, had bad information, and cost an exorbitant amount. Remember that?

2. Now we have a relatively simple application—reporting caucus results. So ... a progressive tech firm, Shadow, was paid big money by the Dem campaigns to speed up reporting. Except, it didn't work.

It's not unfair to note that these are the same people who want to:

a. overhaul our entire healthcare system,
b. change the manner in which higher education is administered and paid for,
c. offer a guaranteed income to more than a few Americans,
d. judge the quality of a task force not by the competence and experience of its members but rather by its "diversity."
e. ensure that the integrity of our elections is maintained and that they are afraid that outsiders (and/or, the current President) will somehow corrupt the accuracy of the vote.

To paraphrase a Scott Adams' tweet,
If the Democrats win the presidency and demand that we overhaul the country, I sure hope it doesn't involve any apps.
There are far more important reasons, but this latest comedy in Iowa is yet another example of why the Dems don't deserve to lead.

Monday, February 03, 2020


If you are to believe the polls, Bernie Sanders is the front runner in Iowa. This weekend's media narrative tells us that a "massive" political rally was held supporting him (if you believe that 3,000 people is a massive attendance at a political rally—it isn't) and the country (particularly young people, are "ready for socialism." If you listen to Bernie Sanders (or his acolyte and darling of millennials, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), it's the evil capitalists who have enslaved (AOC's characterization) the workers of the world while they sit on their couches (again, more brilliance from AOC) and become BILLIONAIRES!!!

Then again, I'm sure the Bernie and Liz, AOC and the rest of the Squad spread this garbage because they're simply ignorant of the facts, not because they want to gain power and control over us all (well ... maybe not that sure).

Anyhow, the Issues and Insights Editorial Board provides a little illumination:
To the extent that there are any free-market capitalists left in the Democratic Party, it’s possible that they are true believers because they’ve seen the data, which make it abundantly clear that capitalism has been the greatest anti-poverty program ever conceived by mankind.

The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank in Washington, D.C., found that, “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty.”

The report – which came out more than a year ago – showed that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in households with enough discretionary income to be considered middle class or rich.

More specifically, it found that there were 3.59 billion people in the middle class in 2017, and 200 million who are rich. At the other end, there are 3.2 billion they classify as “vulnerable” and 630 million who are poor.

Based on current trends, over the next decade, the middle-class population will climb by 1.7 billion while the number who are poor or vulnerable will go down by more than 1 billion.

The authors called it “something of enormous global significance” that “is happening almost without notice.” And they are right.

It’s a tipping point. But not the kind of tipping point that the left would ever want to acknowledge.
But, but, but ... socialism is so au courant. After all, who wouldn't want to institute an ideology from the early/mid-20th century that has failed every time it's been tried and impoverished those who originally clamored for it.

And given that simple reality, panic is beginning to set in within the elites of the Democratic party. James Freeman provides some encouraging information:
Are voters in the most prosperous country in the world really going to endorse the economic revolution promised by Sen. Bernie Sanders? Vermont’s most famous Marxist has been rising in polls of Democratic voters participating in tonight’s Iowa Caucus and next week’s New Hampshire primary. But the senator’s ideology still isn’t popular. Even within the Democratic party, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that most voters aren’t backing socialism ...

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 52% of Americans have a positive “feeling” about capitalism, while 18% have a negative feeling and 24% are neutral. Support for the market system that has allowed the creation of the world’s greatest economy may seem disturbingly low, but the numbers have recently been stable. A September 2018 survey yielded almost exactly the same results. And then as now, capitalism still enjoys plurality support even among Democrats.

Support for socialism, meanwhile, has remained about the same as in 2018. Among all voters, 19% have a positive feeling about socialism, 53% express a negative view and 24% are neutral. Like capitalism, socialism inspires good feelings among a plurality of Democrats, but this only amounts to about a third of Democrats who express a positive feeling about socialism. Among those who intend to vote in Democratic primaries, about 40% express a positive view.

Again, these numbers may seem disturbingly high to some but regular consumers of cable news and Twitter may be surprised to learn that AOC-style big government doesn’t inspire most Democratic primary voters.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hope that Bernie Sanders gets the nomination. It's time that the voters decide whether socialism is something that this country needs. Despite the promises of free stuff and the incendiary rhetoric, I suspect that Bernie would be crushed in a general election. And that just might free up the Democratic party to re-enter the mainstream of American politics.