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

Thursday, September 29, 2022


I live about 100 miles from the epicenter of Hurricane Ian—a category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph at the eye wall— as it came on shore on the gulf coast of FL. We were close enough to get deluged with rain and a lot of wind, but far enough to avoid the absolute devastation of serious wind damage and storm surge that a cat 4 storm brings.

Fortunately, we live in a state will excellent governance and emergency services. So far, few deaths or serious injuries have been reported [see update]. Flood damage is significant, and over 2 million people are without power. But utility crews have already started repairs and the infrastructure will rebound. It will undoubtedly take months to repair the residential and commercial damage caused by the storm. 

Floridians live in a beautiful place that occasionally has very ugly and dangerous hurricanes. Over the past few years, we have had a significant influx of people from states like NY, IL, NJ and even, CA. Their reasons for coming to the free state of FL are varied, but now I suspect that at least some of them have been frighted by Ian and are having second thoughts. After all, why put yourself in harms way?

The answer to that question goes to the core of a new cultural phenomenon that pervades the thinking of far too many people in our country—safetyism.  Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their book, The Coddling of the American Mind, define it this way: 

“Safetyism refers to a culture or belief system in which safety has become a sacred value, which means that people are unwilling to make trade-offs demanded by other practical and moral concerns.”

Far too many people and far too many politicians want to reduce life's risks to zero. As an example, the "Covidiocy" that we've all experienced for the past 2.5 years is safetyism run amuck—lockdown everything, mandate a lot, and establish authoritarian policies so we have the illusion of safety against an illness that for most people under 65 is little more than a common flu.

In FL, hurricanes are a relatively rare but ever-present fact-of-life. For those of us who call this state home, we balance the benefits of living where we live against the threat of a major hurricane.  We accept the risk.

The people on the southern gulf cost of FL have faced the threat bravely. They'll assess the damage, rebuild, and move on with their lives. And that's a very good thing.

UPDATE (9-30-2022):

The devastation of high wind and storm surge has been catastrophic in the Fort Myers area. Currently 21 people are reported dead, tens of billions in property damage is reported. It will take years to rebuild in places along the ocean. 

It's very bad, but Floridians will respond, rebuild and ultimately move on with their lives. And despite this disaster, those who want to live by the ocean will continue to live by the ocean, accepting the risks of a storm like Ian as part of the price of living the life they want. More power to them all—safetyism be damned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


As I recall, it was way back in 1979 when many Leftists overtly celebrated the downfall of the Shah of Iran (a staunch, but flawed ally of the West) and cheered as the Ayatollah Khomeni took dictatorial power. Sharia law became dominant, Islamist ideology reigned, women were relegated to second class citizenship, and Iran became a hegemon in the Middle East. 

As this happened, the Leftists remained silent, happy that the "fascist" Shah no longer ruled. Little did they care that the Ayatollah sent tens of thousands of young children to their deaths in the minefields of the Iran-Iraq war. I suspect many Leftists secretly wished that the Ayatollah's existential (but empty) threats against Israel would come to pass.

During the next 30 years, Iran became the world's largest state sponsor of Islamist terrorism, and was working overtime to develop nuclear weapons capability. Inside Iran, there was unrest, and this boiled over in 2009. But rather than supporting the Iranian protestors who wanted the Islamist rulers gone, another Leftist, Barack Obama, decided to make a deal the the Mullahs, all in exchange for empty promises that they would not develop nuclear weapons. In what can only be described as a catastrophically bad deal, Obama and his Democrat supporters applied a Diplomacy Based on Dreams (this post was written before the deal was finalized). The release of billions in sanctioned funds and additional billions in (literally) pallets of cash bribes allowed the Mullahs to accelerate nuclear development and foment terror around the globe.

Fast forward to 2022. Ayaan Hirsi Ali comments:

Is this it? Could this, finally, be the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran? As huge crowds of women and men surge through the Iranian streets, burning hijabs and calling for “Death to Khamenei!”, is an impossible dream finally about to come true?

The prospects certainly look better than in 2009, when the country’s protestors were primarily middle-class and more narrowly focused on the issue of Ahmadinejad’s election victory, rather than on dismantling the oppressive system in its entirety. Today, men and women, rural and urban, affluent and poor are all marching to bring down the Islamic Republic. Khamenei is also reported to be in very poor health, so the chants might just come true.

Yet senior US officials I have spoken to have cautioned against blind optimism. 

The senior U.S. officials are correct, partly because there's an eerie similarity between an earlier American president's lack of support for Iranian revolt against Islamist governance in 2009 and current American president's lack of support for a different Iranian revolt in 2022. Both presidents are left-leaning Democrats; both desire to enter into a bad deal with the Mullahs, and both adopted a feckless foreign policy grounded in a "Diplomacy Based on Dreams." 

The Biden administration should be doing everything possible—both overt and covert—to support the current protests in Iran. It should be rallying all countries in the West to support the Iranian women and men who want the freedom to choose their own destiny and break the yoke of Islamist tyranny. 

Instead, this administration remains largely silent, hoping that a "deal" based on the Diplomacy of Dreams will somehow boost its rapidly sinking political fortunes. It's interesting that Barack Obama himself is credited with the statement, "Never underestimate Joe Biden's ability to f*#$ things up."

The sad reality is that there's a low probability that the current Iranian protests will lead to an open revolt and the overthrow of the Islamists. But without help from the West that probability goes to zero. "Never underestimate Joe Biden's ability to f*#$ things up."

Monday, September 19, 2022


Last night, 22 months into his disastrous presidency, Joe Biden announced on CBS 60 Minutes that "the [COVID-19] pandemic is over." After 22 months in which he:

  • stated that vaccines would stop the spread of COVID [they have not]
  • promised to end deaths associated with the virus [the elderly with co-morbidities still die]
  • endorsed scientifically unsupported vaccine mandates [that unnecessarily removed people from their jobs (including those in the military)
  • silently accepted insane and unscientific school closures that did nothing to stop the spread
  • endorsed mask mandates that accomplished nothing [except virtue signalling]
  • repeatedly invoked "emergency" powers driven by the virus to do things like cancelling student loan payments
  • pushed hundreds of billions of dollars in "COVID relief" in late 2021 and 2022 when those funds were unnecessary and inflationary
  • continued to support Anthony Fauci [a man who advocated catastrophically bad policy and now, we learn, was less than honest about his involvement with both China's Wuhan lab and the drug companies who developed vaccines].

So, the pandemic is now "over." 

Of course, Biden's trained hamsters in the media stopped their COVID score boards as soon as he ascended to the presidency and showed a remarkable lack of curiosity about growing concern associated with vaccine side effects among younger people who have been vaccinated and boosted.* His social media allies, after a year and a half of censorship associated with the notion that lock downs and school closures simply don't work, now turn a page, providing the impression that the "really smart" people were always against lock downs, masking little kids, and closures (they were, in fact, rabid proponents of these disastrous policies).

Except for those blue checks who insist on hiding in their basements indefinitely, the American people have put COVID-19 behind them and have the common sense to move on with their lives. In my free state of FL, this happened in mid/late 2020. Others took longer, but move on they did. 

As is the case with most things, poor Joe Biden seems to be the last one off the train.

I guess the real cure for the virus isn't the vaccines or the authoritarian mandates, or the hand-wringing by government officials. It's a mid-term election that is less than two months away. Joe's anonymous handlers must have done some internal polling and decided that being pro-catastrophist is a bad political strategy.


* A lack of curiosity that also extends to the Chinese origins of the virus, the White House's involvement in social media censorship of medical experts who disagreed with government policy (e.g., the Great Barrington Declaration), Anthony Fauci's involvement in gain-of-function projects with the Chinese, and the the alleged payment of royalties to NIH staffers who worked with big pharma to push through emergency authorization for vaccines.

UPDATE (9/20/2022):

COVID bitter-enders have become apoplectic over Joe Biden's declaration that the pandemic is over. They claim (hysterically) that people are still dying of COVID related illnesses and that "long-COVID" is a threat to us all. The implication—lockdowns should continue, mask mandates are a must (particularly for little kids) and schools should stay closed. They know it's a losing battle, but their fear overwhelms both common sense and rationality.

In January of this year, University of Chicago economist, Tomas Philipson, wrote what I and many other "deniers" have been saying since April of 2020:

    ... as the pandemic’s progression has made clear, public-health officials should aim to do more than merely minimize the spread of disease. They should seek to reduce the total harm caused by both infection and heavy-handed attempts to prevent it.

    Reducing the incidence of disease isn’t necessarily desirable if excessive prevention, in the form of lockdowns or school closures, is more costly to society than the damage done by an illness. We don’t close highways to minimize accidental deaths, despite the existence of dangerous drivers... The public-health community has proved incapable of quantitatively assessing trade-offs between the harms of prevention and the harms of disease. This has hindered the development of policies that could have minimized the total harm to society from Covid-19. Economic epidemiologists, by contrast, have for decades used quantitative methods to evaluate these harms by looking at them the same way they look at taxes...

In early 2020, University of Chicago economists estimated that about 80% of the total damage from Covid came from prevention efforts that hindered economic activity, and only 20% from the direct effects of the disease itself. [emphasis mine] This analysis motivated me and others to recommend that initial efforts to stop the spread should focus on older people, who are at higher risk of severe illness and not as active in the economy as younger people. This would allow younger people to keep the economy going while limiting the spread of the disease among those most at risk from it. Some in the public-health community, like the signers of the Great Barrington Declaration... saw the light.

So ... the government idiots (and that is exactly what they are) didn't care about the massive damage they did to lives and livelihoods, as long as their authoritarian measures gave them dictatorial power over all of us. No matter that the "heavy handed"  policies they imposed failed to 'stop the spread,' no matter that they failed to reduce deaths, no matter that they just flat our didn't work—we were required to obey.

There are many lessons to be learned from all of this, but I have to wonder whether anything will change when the next pandemic comes down the road.

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Shore of Truth

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of 9/11. In the intervening years US government officials and many prominent politicians on both the Left and the Right have worked hard to divorce Islam from any culpability for that murderous attack. Their argument, which has some merit, is that not all Muslims are allies of the Islamist extremists who perpetrated an attack that killed almost 3000 Americans that morning.

Unfortunately, more than a few prominent leftist politicians and their followers don't try nearly as hard to divorce the actions of a relatively small number of right wing extremists in this country from the much broader population of American citizens who did not vote for Democrats in the last presidential election. They seem perfectly willing to connect everyone who voted for Donald Trump to the few extremists who rioted at the Capitol on January 6. Yesterday, it got even worse.

Social media was inundated with comments from hard left ideologues who tried to compare the attack on 9/11 to the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. They argued in a variety of ways that the two events were equivalent.

It is patently absurd to suggest, for even a second, that the murder of 3000 innocents is in any way comparable to a four-hour riot by a bunch of right-wing knuckleheads who entered the capitol building. It shows a level of historical ignorance and fantasy thinking that would be mind-boggling if it weren't so common In recent years

A protagonist in Dean Koontz‘s novel, Quicksilver, ruminates on this when he thinks:

"I despaired that so many people, born with the knowledge of intuition and with the ability to reason, shaped their lives instead by sheer emotion. So many were swept away by boldfaced lies and swayed into currents of vicious fantasies, until they were so far from the shore of truth that they couldn’t even see it."

If you are one who honestly believes that 9/11 and 1/6 are equivalent events. If you honestly believe that an attack that killed 3000 people and did billions in property damage, traumatizing the nation for years afterward, is to be mentioned in the same breath as a riot that lasted for half a day, while accomplishing nothing of great substance, you have drifted "far from the shore of truth" and need a moment for introspection.

Friday, September 02, 2022


Last night, I had a decision to make—watch Joe Biden's speech in Philadelphia or watch as excellent doubles match featuring tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams at the US Open. I decided that the tennis would be far more honest, considerably more coherent, and unquestionably more entertaining. I clicked on ESPN2.

After the match was over (the Williams sisters lost) I scanned the media (mainstream and social) for reaction to Biden's speech. It was predictable.

Knowing that Biden's handlers are obsessed with labeling those who are ideologically opposed to their agenda as "semi-facists," I honestly thought that the following image (encountered on social media) was photoshopped by some right winger to demonstrate the questionable tenor of Biden's speech:

The blood-red background, the military presence (for a campaign speech!), and the angry tone depicted in this image were NOT fake. Someone in the White House actually thought this staging was appropriate. 

During the tenure of the previous president, I heard many, many people state that Donald Trump was not presidential in his demeanor. That his image was combative and often inappropriate. I can't disagree. 

Now take another look at the image above. A president who is labeling tens of millions of American citizens as "semi-fascists" is—in both his combative language and imagery—dangerously close to exceeding the unpresidential behavior of his predecessor.

Biden is cognitively disabled, but his cadre of anonymous handlers are not. He promised (repeatedly) to be a "uniter," and I suspect that's why he ascended to the presidency. It's apparent that his handlers have decided his promise is null and void.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Cost Benefit

As the months pass, we're finally beginning to see analysis of the pandemic that is thoughtful, scientifically supportable, and accurate. Analysis that is based on long standing measures of mortality around the world and then adjusted to account for the obvious fudging that many countries applied when reporting COVID deaths. Maxim Lott provides a truly in-depth analysis that should have been standard output from the CDC but was not.

Lott examined the excess mortality associated with COVID deaths per capita around the world and then analyzing the "fudge factor" that many countries applied as they reported COVID data. Surprisingly, to me, was the U.S. "fudge factor" was 1.13, meaning that we had 13 percent more deaths than reported by the CDC. Because early anecdotal data indicated significant over-reporting in 2020 and 2021 (pre-vaccine) and data granularity was purposely vague (e.g., no real-time breakdown of age or co-morbidities) I believed that the fudge factor in the U.S. was likely less than 1.0. After examination of Lott's data, I was wrong on that count.

But that's not all there is to the story. The supposed COVID mitigation policies (lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, etc.) espoused by blue city, state and federal governments were instituted with virtually no cost-benefit analysis, and as a consequence, did far more harm than good. But what was the cost-benefit of all of those policies? Lott discusses this:

The US had 3,400 extra deaths per million during the pandemic so far, which works out to 1.1 million total extra deaths.

I then take the age breakdown of Covid deaths, match it with the expected years of life left in each age bracket, and calculate the total years of life lost.

I calculate that 14.5 million years of life were lost in the US due to Covid deaths.

14.5 million years of life lost, divided by a population of 330 million, = 0.04 years of life lost per person = 14.6 days of life lost per person.

This is imperfect because, for instance, people who died were on average less healthy than others in their age groups; see footnote for a full list of caveats.

Let’s say the probably range is around 10-to-15 days of life lost, per person, due to the US not following an Australia-like model [draconian long-term total lockdowns, travel bans, forced vaccinations].

Just to help get our heads around the number: for comparison, I used the same methods to calculate that if all driving deaths could be prevented during a 2-year period, that’d save 3 million years of life, or 3.3 days of life for every person. So, Covid ended about 4 times as much life as driving did in a similar period (it certainly got more than 4x the attention, of course.)

Here’s a question: would you have preferred to live through a total travel ban and total lockdowns, like Australia’s, to save yourself 10-to-15 days of life?

Is stopping that worth it to you?

My personal answer is: No. It would not be worth it to me. I’d take that loss in expected lifespan, in order to travel and live freely for a couple years.
Yet, there are bitter-enders, almost all blue-pilled, who remain in their metaphorical basements because they fear COVID. They have essentially lost 2.5 years of their lives in order to avoid the statistical likelihood of losing 10-to-15 days of life.To the many millions of us who would prefer to live free, that seems crazy, but it's harmless—as long as we never again adopt policies that refuse to assess cost-benefit before they are instituted and instead adopt irrational, anti-scientific restrictions that do little good and much harm.