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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Elon -- Part II

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Elon Musk's announcement that he might buy Twitter:

Will Musk succeed? Who knows. Then again, people who have bet against Elon Musk over the past decade have lost, and lost badly. Get out the popcorn ... this should be fun.

The fun is just beginning. Elon is finalizing a deal to purchase Twitter and take it private. The pro-censorship Left's heads are exploding. Glen Greenwald summarizes nicely on (where else?) Twitter:

For nearly a decade, the left-leaning tech billionaires who run companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook (Youtube) have controlled the narrative with an iron-fist. They censor; they use algorithms to depress the spread of commentary they don't like; they ban or shadow ban many conservative voices; they suppress news stories that might hurt Democrats. Despite their protestations, they are anti-free speech, masking their actions in the plea that "hate speech" is bad.

Yeah, hate speech is awful—whether it comes from the Left or the Right. But a decade of evidence indicates that the tech elites and their minions are incapable of distinguishing hate speech from oppositional commentary. They allow hateful voices on the Left to remain on-line, while banning conservative voices that challenge their narrative.

It's time to allow Elon to go a different way. The sound you head is the wail of the Leftist anti-free speech advocates seeing their control of the narrative crumble.


In a truly epic lack of self-awareness coupled with a breathtaking display of ignorance, MSNBC commentator, Ari Melber, hyperventilated over Musk's purchase of Twitter:

“If you own all of Twitter or Facebook,, you don't even have to be transparent. You could secretly ban one party's candidate or all of its candidates, all of its nominees ... or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff, and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not even find out until after the election.” 

Wow. Just wow. That's EXACTLY what Jack Dorsey and his Twitter minions have done over the past five years. Of course, they did it to voices that conflicted with Melber's chosen narrative, so he didn't notice. Incredible. 


Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Permanent "Crisis"

You'd think that the Biden Administration Team of 1s never wants the "COVID Crisis" to end. Rather than allowing the CDC's ill-advised, ineffective, unscientific, and clearly unnecessary mask mandates on public transportation to fade away, the Feds have decided to go to court to keep them in place—to keep the bitter COVID clingers afraid and hiding in their figurative basements. 

The authoritarian feel of mandates seems to strike a chord with those on the Left. Rather than "strongly advising" that citizens should wear masks, if they assess the risk to be severe (an irrational assessment, but whatever), the blue governance crowd DEMANDS that everyone be forced to mask up because ... "caring." 

This ridiculous position was invalidated by a federal judge, but the DoJ is fighting back at the behest of Biden's Team of 1s. In the process, citizens (who think rationally) lose even more trust trust in a government that has already lost its position of authority and credibility.

But there's more to this that that. The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:

The Covid emergency is over thanks mainly to vaccines and therapies. Yet Health and Human Service s Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday extended the national public-health emergency for another 90 days. Why? Because permanent crisis means more dependence on government.

The Trump Administration invoked the emergency under the Public Health Service Act on Jan. 31, 2020 to reduce red tape for healthcare providers. But then Congress linked an expansion of Medicaid and food stamps to the declaration. Now progressives don’t want the emergency to end.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March 2020 suspended food-stamp work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents during the emergency. These individuals normally can’t receive benefits for more than three months over a three-year period unless they work or participate in a work-training program. Congress also boosted benefits, so the average monthly payment is now double ($240 per person) what it was in 2019.

Suspending work requirements was intended to help workers laid off during lockdowns when few jobs were available. But once lockdowns eased, businesses were desperate to hire. The sweetened food stamps and suspended work-requirement—on top of enhanced unemployment benefits and other transfer payments—reduced the incentive to return to work.Now there are 1.8 job openings for every unemployed worker, and the unemployment rate has fallen to near pre-pandemic levels. Yet as of January there were nearly 2.5 million more households receiving food stamps than in 2019 and 500,000 more than in April 2020. What’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing ... from the point of view of the Democrats. Prolonging the "emergency" prolongs unnecessary dependence on government, and that is the core strategy of the blue crowd. Dependence is purchased through massive spending (inflation, anyone?)—and that benefits the millions of people who feed off the federal bureaucracy far more than it benefits the people who actually might need a helping hand.

With the exception of an accelerated vaccine program, virtually every COVID decision made by federal leaders has been proven (repeatedly) to have caused more harm that good. Lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates and the like have created an environment that has done little good and a lot of bad. The petty dictators who enforce this idiocy seem to love it, but that doesn't make them right or righteous.


James Taranto comments:

About a year ago, mask mandates became a matter less of promoting public health than of imposing authority on people with lower status. That explains why they have lingered far longer in schools and colleges, which have the ability to control the behavior of students, than in most adult settings, even though young people are at low risk from Covid. It explains why political officeholders so often flouted their own mask mandates in public. It explains why, during the brief Covid spring of 2021, the CDC decreed that only unvaccinated people needed to keep wearing masks.

It explains why even after the CDC reversed itself in July and returned to urging masks for everyone, major retailers and service establishments required employees but not customers to wear masks. 

COVID-related "mandates" of any kind trample the rights of citizens to assess risk, take recommendations from legitimate scientists (Anthony Fauci has forfeited any right to be included in that category), and then decide for themselves the precautions to take. The notion that all of us must accede to the often irrational demands of the most fearful or even the most vulnerable is a travesty. Those who are fearful and/or vulnerable have a responsibility to act differently from the rest of us so they can mitigate the danger they perceive. But to force the rest of us to go along isn't based on "caring"—it's authoritarian nonsense.

Sunday, April 17, 2022


I was aware of Elon Musk long, long before he was a recognizable national figure* or a presence on Twitter with 80 million followers; long before he was a disruptor of the automotive industry and our national space-flight program, and long before he became one of the richest men on the planet. At the time I was introduced to Musk, he was the young CEO of a start-up that (he claimed) would revolutionize the automotive industry. 

Industry and financial pundits laughed, calling Musk and his small band of committed engineers crazy, suggesting that their strategy for electric vehicles (EVs) was "vaporware," and guaranteeing that Tesla would be bankrupt within a year or two. When Musk started Space-X, the same thing happened. And yet he succeeded. His businesses thrived. He now employs well over 100,000 people and is worth billions.

Far too may entrepreneurs have the hubris to claim that they're "changing the world." Elon Musk has actually accomplished that. He's a man who thinks outside the box—a bona fide genius whose grasp of technology is astounding, and a visionary who is unafraid to think and act against the tide.

That's what he's doing when he (correctly) states that we're experiencing an on-going threat to free speech. The tech titans who own most of the social media companies all lean Left, hire Left, and espouse an ideology that worships on the alter of Leftist narratives. That's perfectly okay, but they then go far beyond that. 

Those same titans actively and consistently suppress voices that question their preferred narratives. They accomplish this directly through censorship and subtly through algorithmic manipulation of information threads, distribution of commentary, and a 'warning' system that leads to self-censorship.

Those on the Left seem to love this. After all, if dissent from their worldview is suppressed, it makes their arguments appear to be stronger. Comically, they claim that the tech titans and their companies have the right to censor opinion because they run "private companies." You know, the same private companies that many on the left demonize on a regular basis.

Enter Elon Musk and his acquisition of over 9 percent of Twitter stock. Musk is a free speech advocate, suggesting that suppression of speech is a threat to our democracy** and a bastardization of our political process. The Left has reacted with venom, demonizing Musk as a rabid capitalist who ... well, it's all nonsense, and I won't rehash it here. But their reaction indicates that Musk's free speech advocacy has hit a nerve. His positions represent a significant threat to their dominance of information flow, and they're mobilizing to fight it.

Will Musk succeed? Who knows. Then again, people who have bet against Elon Musk over the past decade have lost, and lost badly. Get out the popcorn ... this should be fun.


*  I became involved in the Tesla ecosystem in 2011, loved the company's EV plans and engineering, and was one of the earliest adopters (the VIN # of my Tesla Model S was in the very low 100s). I liked the Tesla business model so much, I founded a company that provided accessories and parts for the car when fewer than 1000 people owned it. People thought I was nuts. And yeah, I did buy the stock in the low double digits when Wall Street said that only fools would do so. 

** Some on the Left suggest than any opinion that does not conform to their narrative is a "threat to democracy." They're projecting. In reality, democracy thrives when a broad array of opinion is available for debate—even angry debate. I suppose their panicky reaction is because the Left is at a significant disadvantage in such debates, mainly because their positions are sometimes counter-factual and illogical. Maybe that's why they feel that a diversity of opinion is a "threat."


Glen Reynolds writes:

“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the motto of the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post. It may sound like a warning, but more and more it seems like a summary of the left’s aspirations to control debate and shut down any opposition.

A recent example of those aspirations appeared in a column by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s big buy of Twitter stock. The original headline — changed after widespread mockery — was this: “Elon Musk’s vision for the Internet is dangerous nonsense: Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an ‘uncontrolled’ internet. That’s also the dream of every dictator, strongman and demagogue.”

The mockery was understandable. “Libertarian visions” of “uncontrolled” speech haven’t actually been the stock-in-trade of dictators, strongmen and demagogues. Typically, those authoritarian figures want to silence their opponents and ensure that their own voices, and those of their satraps and sycophants, are the only ones heard ... 

The thing is, what Reich describes is what we have now: a world in which unaccountable oligarchs like Amazon’s Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — people who are in fact “the richest and most powerful people in the world” — use opaque algorithms to mute criticism and disagreement.

That’s not Elon Musk’s vision. That’s the world that Reich’s allies in Big Tech have created.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

CA—by the Numbers

It's hard not to be impressed with the scenic beauty of California. Along its coast, the Pacific ocean crashes onto hundreds of miles of beaches as the setting sun provides a backdrop that is unmatched in the United States. Its mountain and desert areas have their own appeal—the home of outdoor recreation that is unparalleled. And yet, CA is in trouble—big, big trouble.

In a long and devastating report prepared by Joel Kotkin of Real Clear Investigations (read the whole thing), CA is assessed "by the numbers," and the numbers are very troubling. The state has been governed by Democrats (with the occasional GOP governor) for almost 50 years and the results of blue governance are now plain to see.

Democratic politicians, who have championed CA's progressive agenda for half a century, claim that their intent has been to improve the plight of the middle and lower classes, reduce poverty and income inequality, eliminate homelessness, save the planet, provide sustainable energy, enhance education at all levels, and otherwise work toward a more equal society. Although these are laudable goals, blue governance has failed (and failed badly) to achieve any of them.

The CA legislature, often controlled by a Democrat super-majority, believes the solution to each of the issues noted was to create a bigger and bigger government and spend more and more money on each problem. As a consequence, the state has the highest tax rate in the country, often coupled with the least effective services.

Klotkin writes:

Parting with the state’s cheerleaders, the New York Times’ Ezra Klein, a reliable progressive and native Californian, says the Golden State’s failures are “making liberals squirm.”

Reality may well be worse than even Klein admits. In a new report for Chapman University, my colleagues and I find California in a state of existential crisis, losing both its middle-aged and middle class, while its poor population faces dimming prospects. Despite the state’s myriad advantages, research shows it plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful.

California may conjure images of Rodeo Drive and Malibu mansions in the public imagination, but today the state suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the U.S. The poor and near-poor constitute over one third – well over 10 million – of the state’s residents according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Los Angeles, by far the state’s largest metropolitan area, and once a magnet for middle class aspirations, has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. A United Way of California analysis shows that over 30 percent of residents lack sufficient income to cover basic living costs even after accounting for public-assistance programs; this includes half of Latino and 40 percent of black residents. Some two-thirds of noncitizen Latinos live at or below the poverty line.

“In California, there is this idea of ‘Oh, we care about the poor,’ but on this metric, we are literally the worst,” Stanford’s University’s Mark Duggan, principal author of an economic comparison of California with Texas, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

CA has established a negative feedback loop in which over-regulation leads to an unfriendly business environment which then drives a loss a basic manufacturing and jobs as businesses flee to TX and FL (among other states).

But the state's problems go far beyond its economy. Klotkin comments on education:

Historically education was seen – particularly among traditional liberals – as critical to upward mobility for poor and working-class people. Yet for decades the state’s schools have underperformed national norms, particularly for poor students ... 

... Among the 50 states, California ranked 49th in the performance of poor, largely minority, students. San Francisco, the epicenter of California’s woke culture, and site of the recent recall of several far-left school board members, suffers the worst scores for African Americans of any county in the state.

These students are often unprepared for college. At California State University – where ethnic studies programs are now mandated – the need for remedial courses or 40 percent of freshmen demonstrates a low level of preparedness in such basic skills as reading comprehension, writing and mathematics. Some educators have decided to eliminate this problem by eliminating remedial classes.

California’s model curriculum, which focuses on how to “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance,” may only exacerbate these problems by inculcating attitudes antithetical to those necessary to succeed in a highly competitive capitalist economy.

Many California educators from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level champion “equity” in education over developing hard math skills and fostering excellence. Even basic life skills such as being on time are eschewed: The San Diego Unified School District will no longer count such scruples as turning in work on time in grading and evaluation ...

Who ... exactly ... is helped by a school district policy that allows students to ignore submission schedules and turn in their work 'whenever,' if at all. Not the students, that's for sure. Who ... exactly ... benefits when "equity" is used as an excuse to shut down advanced courses or disregard merit when students are admitted to magnet schools that have been designed for academic achievers. Not poor Black, Latino, Asian or White achievers, that's for sure.

With all of this, census data indicate that people are voting with their feet and leaving CA.* Klotkin writes:

California’s population growth has fallen below the national average for the first time, and the state appears to have even possibly lost population the last two years. The pandemic seems to have accelerated this movement. Last year California was home to three of the five large regions over one million with the highest percentage population loss – San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts face large decreases in enrollment; the LA district, the state’s largest, projects a 20% cut in this decade.

This outmigration trend cannot be dismissed as “white flight.” An analysis of minority population flows shows that Latinos and African Americans are settling increasingly west of the Sierra, particularly in the south, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. Similarly, the foreign-born population – so critical to the state’s economy – has declined in Los Angeles over the past decade, and stagnated in the Bay Area while swelling in places like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, Nashville and even midwestern cities like Columbus, Des Moines and Indianapolis.

You'd think that the Democrat power elite, who have controlled CA's politics for many decades, would assess all of this and make a course change. Nope. For those who are at the center of blue governance, it's never the policies or the outcomes—no matter how badly they have failed—it's messaging, even bigger government, and more spending. And that's why CA's future is not nearly as bright as it once was.


*  "Voting with your feet" is not an opinion, it's a reality. The editors of Issues and Insights write:

 From July 2020 to July 2021, five major blue-state metropolitan areas hemorrhaged population to red states, as the Census table below shows. Note that the greater New York area was worst, but deep-blue California has three of the top five and actually lost more than New York, overall.

The Census numbers are further confirmed by an annual report from North American Van Lines that rounds out the picture of a demographic tidal wave from blue to red states. It found that the leading outbound states for major moves were Illinois, California, New Jersey, Michigan, and New York.

Where did everyone go? The top states for inbound migration last year were South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. From blue to red.

“States with a lower cost of living and lower taxes continued to pull Americans from more expensive states in 2021,” the North American Van Lines report said. “With a major shift toward remote work for several occupations, along with continually rising housing costs, people are rapidly moving from the coasts and Midwest to the South and Southwest.”

“The pattern here is clear,” observes the Foundation for Economic Education, regarding the startling demographic shift. “Americans are fleeing highly regulated, highly taxed states. They are flocking to freer states.”

Hmmm. More food for thought for those who continue to insist that the blue governance model is the right way to go.

Monday, April 11, 2022

A New Study

More than two years after our national public health bureaucracy, fronted by the infamous Anthony Fauci, MD, implemented a series of now proven ineffective and often catastrophic policy decisions on COVID-19, the first comprehensive studies are emerging on their effectiveness across different states who chose or rejected those policies (e.g., heavy economic lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates). The public health bureaucracy was cheered on by Democrats who, out of a combination of fear, stupidity, virtue signalling, and a penchant for authoritarian thinking, condemned those who rejected "Covidiocy." 

The Wall Street Journal reports on "the most comprehensive comparative study we’ve seen to date ... published last week as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)."

The top 10 in the rankings [states with the best overall results regarding health economy and education] are smaller states with the notable exception of Florida, which ranks sixth. Recall how the Sunshine State’s decision to open itself relatively soon after the first lockdowns was derided as cruel and destructive. Gov. Ron DeSantis was called “Governor DeathSentence.”

The study ranks Florida 28th in mortality, in the middle off the pack and about the same as California, which ranks 27th despite its far more stringent lockdowns and school closures. But Florida ranks third for the least education loss and 13th in economic performance. California ranks 47th overall because its shutdowns crushed the economy (40th) and in-person school (50th).

In other words, Florida did about average on mortality as other states, but it did far better in protecting its citizens from severe economic harm and its children from lost schooling. “The correlation between health and economy scores is essentially zero,” say the authors, “which suggests that states that withdrew the most from economic activity did not significantly improve health by doing so.”

You'd think that those who made catastrophically bad COVID decisions that hurt millions of people would reconsider their positions, but no. Just this weekend, Fauci was on TV suggesting that we might consider a return to mandatory masking. Amazing, but not surprising.

Fantasy thinkers NEVER believe that their policies are bad—they only think that the message needs to be tweaked and that doubling down on stupid is the only way to go. They should never lead.

UPDATE-1 (4-11-2022):

As if on cue, news reports today indicate that Philadelphia—a bastion of blue governance—has decided to reinstitute an indoor mask mandate. Yup ... doubling down on stupid.

UPDATE-2 (4-12-2022):

And a few days later, the Washington Examiner reports:

The Biden administration is prepared to extend the federal mask mandate further for transportation networks, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. 

So ... more ineffective masks on airplanes, where study after study has indicated COVID transmission to be negligible. The Biden administration repeatedly achieves new levels of incompetence and stupidity, but this idiocy is just another example of 'doubling down on stupid.'

Friday, April 08, 2022

Factually Accurate

There are comparatively few right-leaning main stream media outlets (The NY Post, the editorial section of WSJ, FoxNews and a few others). A friend—a regular consumer of left-leaning media (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, WaPo)—somewhat indignantly asked me why they should believe any of the reporting coming from "right wing media." I paused for a second and then responded. 

"Because," I said, "despite claims that their reporting is 'conspiracy theory' and/or 'Russian disinformation' they have been proven consistently accurate by later investigations, the courts, and ultimately (often years later), supposedly respected left-wing media sources (e.g., the NYT)." 

On the other hand, in recent years left-leaning media sources have consistently promoted what amount to hoaxes (e.g., Trump as a Russian agent), have often reported counter-factual information to promote a Democratic Party narrative (e.g., there was nothing untoward that occurred during the 2020 election in key battleground states), and invariably omit any context that might give the news consumer a more accurate picture of real events (e.g., the broad span of inaccurate, dishonest, and hysterical reporting surrounding the COVID pandemic).

Nothing exemplifies this more than the tale of Hunter Biden's laptop—a story first reported by the New York Post in October, 2020 and then actively and aggressively repressed (censored) by left-leaning mainstream and social media—all in the service of Joe Biden's election campaign.

Kim Strassel reports on the initial investigation conducted by GOP Senator Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson whose Senate report in September, 2020 laid the ground work for the NYP expose of Hunter Biden's computer. Grassley and Johnson were villified by every major Democratic politician, called Russian stooges for the "disinformation" they allegedly presented, and were then backed by the Dems' trained hamsters in the mainstream media, including all of the left-leaning outlets I mentioned earlier.

There was only one problem: Grassley and Johnson were correct (now, even the NYT admits this 18 months later) but the damage was done.

Strassel  writes:

As courageous (and accurate) as the New York Post’s October 2020 reporting on the Hunter laptop was, it came after the Johnson-Grassley bombshell. Only now—18 months late—are mainstream media outlets grudgingly confirming the truth of that Senate report. “Inside Hunter Biden’s multi-million-dollar deals with a Chinese energy company,” read last week’s Washington Post story. Reporters acknowledge that many aspects of their account of Hunter’s business dealings with CEFC China Energy were “included in a Republican-led Senate report from 2020,” even if the [Washington] Post only recently bothered to confirm “key details.”

Yeah ... it's the "key details" that matter, and the left-leaning media conveniently avoids addressing those details if they might damage their preferred political party. And it's the key details that provide us with an understanding of the true facts. 

But it's worse than that. In the case of Hunter Biden, major social media outlets actively censored any discussion of the "key details" or even the simple promulgation of the story. Talk about "conspiracies." 

There's no doubt that the right-leaning media is sometimes excessive, but over the past five years, they have been repeatedly proven to be far more factually accurate than their left-leaning counterparts.