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

Monday, January 31, 2022

"The Great Confinement"

Over the past two years, governments across the world have reacted with a combination of fear, dishonesty, incompetence, and stupidity as they implemented draconian and largely ineffective measures to control a world-wide epidemic. They consciously misinterpreted a growing body of data, doubled down on foolish and unnecessary policies, actively had their media allies censor those who questioned their actions, and implemented authoritarian measures that did virtually nothing to stop the spread. They created a cohort of hundreds of millions that continues to live in irrational fear, bordering on hysteria. And it seems, that after many months passed, the elites responsible for this debacle got off on it, enjoying their rolls as petty dictators who could control their populations as they saw fit. No country, with the possible exception of a few wise Scandanavian nations, was spared from this debacle. The United States and its leaders led the pack with bad decisions, worse governmental leadership, and abject stupidity.

In an op-ed, aptly titled, "The Great Confinement", Arthur Herman writes:

The pandemic tempted governments and their elite allies to treat citizens as passive objects to be dictated to, bullied and coerced en masse—an attitude not unlike that found in China, Cuba and North Korea—instead of as active thinking subjects with whom government is in partnership. With few exceptions (the Nordic countries are the best examples), governments failed to find ways to affirm that despite the pandemic, citizens were still individuals imbued with inalienable rights and independent moral standing. This is, after all, how most people see themselves in modern society—as free autonomous beings rather than as laboratory rats in a series of social science experiments.

The models of governance used during the pandemic fly in the face of our own self-perception. This is a sure formula for sowing distrust, resentment and ultimately resistance. That resistance has already spilled out into the streets in Europe’s cities and the highways in Canada.

What people will remember from this extraordinary episode isn’t the experience of Covid itself, terrible though that’s been. It will be the ineptitude and incompetence of governing institutions that are supposed to protect citizens—and the indifference, as this was happening, of the media and scientific establishment.

In the U.S., the Great Confinement has left scars on the national psyche comparable to the effects of the Great Depression. This loss of faith has been compounded by government failure to deal with spiking violent-crime rates and the shocking dereliction of duty on the part of the nation’s teachers. Children and families feel as if they’ve been left stranded by the school systems they pay for with their tax dollars.

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt called those left stranded by the Great Depression “the forgotten man.” Today the Great Confinement has created a nation of forgotten Americans. 

The frustration of many of us who questioned the response to Covid-19 from the very beginning is that none of the people (politicians, public health officials, and the mainstream media) who are responsible for this debacle will be held to account. But in November, the "forgotten Americans" will speak, and I suspect their collective voice will be harsh.

UPDATE: (02-01-2022)

It seems as if the places and institutions that have implemented sometimes Draconian Covid-19 mitigation measures are the ones that are now suffering the most from the virus. Well ... not the virus, exactly, but past and current Covid policies that are unsupported by two years of scientific data. Mathew Yglesias comments:

... Covid-19 mitigation measures are causing burdens over and above the burden of disease per se. To the extent that disruptions are caused by sickness, we would expect to see more disruptions in conservative parts of the country with low vaccination rates. Instead, we see equal if not greater disruptions in liberal parts of the country, even though the higher vaccination rate reduces the burden of disease. That’s because those jurisdictions are implementing Covid-19 mitigation measures with costs that exceed their benefits. And by making high-vaccination places relatively dysfunctional, these mitigations are sending a negative (and inaccurate) signal about the power of vaccination to let people live their lives with confidence.

Tellingly, it’s not just that more liberal jurisdictions have these measures. The rules are specifically strictest in areas of life where left-wing people have the most political clout — universities and public schools — rather than in places with the highest objective level of vulnerability (nursing homes). 

If an accurate history of the Covid-19 era is written (and that's a big IF), what we'll find is that the "foolish and unnecessary policies" promoted by blue-state politicians and their media enablers will have caused more human and economic damage than the virus itself. The problem is that there is no equivalent to the 'death scoreboards' that measures the massive collateral damage.

In blue locales, collateral damage (mental, physical, educational, and economic) has been  profound and lands squarely on small businesses, working people, and children. The dishonest and uncaring petty tyrants who did this should pay a price—they won't.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Empire of Fear

The inimitable Richard Fernandez writes that throughout the Covid era, government bureaucrats (think: Fauci, Birx, et al) and the politicians who have supported them have constructed an "empire of fear." These bureaucrats and their political enablers have doubled- and tripled-down on catastrophically bad policies—

  • lockdowns that destroyed lives and livelihoods; 
  • school closures that did nothing to stop the spread of the virus and much to harm the education and development of children in their K-12 years; 
  • masking that was ineffective at best and damaging to both health and psyche at worst;
  • unnecessary testing that created "case" counts that were as misleading as they were inaccurate;
  • government data collection that was not only inaccurate but designed to frighten, rather than inform

These same bureaucrats and their enablers told us that 'science' guided their policies when NOTHING could be further from the truth. 

  • They rejected any data that didn't fit into their hysteria-prone narrative;
  • They purposely and dishonestly misinterpreted what little scientific data they did collect, relying on the innumeracy of their followers to stoke hysteria; 
  • They silenced (cancelled) a vast array of eminently qualified public heath experts and medical doctors who raised serious questions about their policies; 
  • They politicized the virus, making it all about defeating their ideological foes, rather than protecting the most vulnerable populations;
  • They used a compliant media (who until this past month) never questioned the irrational and damaging mandates that defied common sense and science. 

In the Empire of Fear that they have constructed, the single most despicable policy is school closures. There is clear, irrefutable, published, and refereed science that indicates the risk to children from COVID is vanishingly small. In addition, transmission from child to teacher is also relatively rare. There are multiple controlled studies that indicate that cloth asks do nothing to stop any spread and that KN95 masks have minimal benefit unless they are worn correctly and replaced often. Kids won't do that. And yet politicians in blue cities and states have not only closed schools out of fear or politics, they condemn those in red states who work to keep schools open and unmask the children who attend them.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “attending school remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with disproportionate mental health consequences for older and Black and Hispanic children as well as children from families with lower income.” 

Wait ... what?? I thought that "older and Black and Hispanic children as well as children from families with lower income" were a demographic that the politicians in blue states tell us they care soooo much about. I guess that doesn't apply when the effects on those children threaten the viability their empire of fear.

Since January, 2021, the Democrats have controlled the federal government, and have allies in the media, the federal bureaucracy, academia and virtually every other institution that influences American attitudes and behaviors. If they exhibited even a scintilla of leadership, they could have led us out of this mess a year ago. Biden's elevation to the presidency, if handled with wisdom, could have saved us all a year of continuing insanity. 

Instead, we got unnecessary and fear-inducing mandates, messages that were so mixed they were laughable, and the doubling down on failed policies that have done nothing to stop the spread of the virus or protect the most vulnerable among us.


Way, way back on March 19, 2020—just as we began the "15 days to stop the spread"—I wrote:

... it appears that political correctness has pervaded much of the media's treatment of COVID-19. If you have the temerity to ask intelligent questions, or suggest fact-based decision making, or question whether shutting down the economy is the right option given the reality of COVID-19, you're a "DOUBTER" or a "DENIER."

And when PC takes over, common sense and rational decision making goes out the window. We're seeing that on a daily basis. I don't fear COVID-19 half as much as I fear the ramifications of some of the decisions that are currently being made to combat it.

Two years later, little has changed. Sure the media is now nipping at the corners of the COVID narrative, but the virtue signaling regarding masks remains. Vaccines (which didn't exist when I wrote my comment) have become a useful tool for mitigating the severity of COVID—but they've also become a mechanism for the 'othering' of those who choose not to take them. The list of bad decisions and destructive mandates is long and depressing.

Science has provided us with a broad understanding of COVID and yet, those in blue states and their trained hamsters in the media have learned nothing.


Virtue-signalling catastrophists seem wedded to the notion that until "zero COVID" is attained, we have to continue to hide (figuratively) in our basements. This tweet provides a useful counterpoint:


Tuesday, January 18, 2022


During my months of hiatus, I've spent time looking for new sources of unbiased and accurate information. By and large, the mainstream media is a wasteland, populated by unprofessional, often ignorant and dishonest writers and talking heads who are much closer to outright propagandists than they are to journalists. There are examples on both the Right and the Left, but it's the Left that has largely captured the media's narrative, turning the news into propaganda, suggesting that reasonable inquiry is conspiracy theory, and labeling facts they don't like (or don't fit their narrative) as "misinformation." They censor by omission. or in the case of social media, but outright banning and censorship. They are, as the past President indelicately put it, "The enemies of the American people." They are also unaccountable when they make grievous errors that cause significant damage to the body politic.

In my search for reliable information and commentary, I've gravitated increasingly to Substack—a relatively new forum for professional journalists who have had enough. A significant number of Substack contributors have left the mainstream and are left of center in their ideology but have become increasingly disenchanted with both woke and cancel culture.

One such journalist is Tara Henley of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Henley recently resigned from the CBC and joined Substack. Here's what she wrote as she left the mainstream:

It used to be that I was the one furthest to the left in any newsroom, occasionally causing strain in story meetings with my views on issues like the housing crisis. I am now easily the most conservative, frequently sparking tension by questioning identity politics. This happened in the span of about 18 months. My own politics did not change.

To work at the CBC in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.

It is to sign on, enthusiastically, to a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms that monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions. It is to pretend that the “woke” worldview is near universal — even if it is far from popular with those you know, and speak to, and interview, and read.

To work at the CBC now is to accept the idea that race is the most significant thing about a person, and that some races are more relevant to the public conversation than others. It is, in my newsroom, to fill out racial profile forms for every guest you book; to actively book more people of some races and less of others.

To work at the CBC is to submit to job interviews that are not about qualifications or experience — but instead demand the parroting of orthodoxies, the demonstration of fealty to dogma.

It is to become less adversarial to government and corporations and more hostile to ordinary people with ideas that Twitter doesn’t like.

It is to endlessly document microaggressions but pay little attention to evictions; to spotlight company’s political platitudes but have little interest in wages or working conditions. It is to allow sweeping societal changes like lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and school closures to roll out — with little debate. To see billionaires amass extraordinary wealth and bureaucrats amass enormous power — with little scrutiny. And to watch the most vulnerable among us die of drug overdoses — with little comment.

It is to consent to the idea that a growing list of subjects are off the table, that dialogue itself can be harmful. That the big issues of our time are all already settled.

It is to capitulate to certainty, to shut down critical thinking, to stamp out curiosity. To keep one’s mouth shut, to not ask questions, to not rock the boat.

This, while the world burns.

How could good journalism possibly be done under such conditions? How could any of this possibly be healthy for society?

All of this raises larger questions about the direction that North America is headed. Questions about this new moment we are living through — and its impact on the body politic. On class divisions, and economic inequality. On education. On mental health. On literature, and comedy. On science. On liberalism, and democracy.

Henley's characterization at the CBC can be extended to media in the United States. Supposedly "trusted," elite sources like The New York Times or The Washington Post are exemplars of it. Broadcast sources are uniform in applying it, although some are so blatant that they've become clownish parodies of real news and comment. Social media sources exhibit it almost without exception.

There is nothing that will change this. The only choice is to walk away and find media sources that are trustworthy and honest. Substack is one of those sources.