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

Monday, May 29, 2023

Kabuki Theater.

A few days before the contrived "debt limit" deadline, and D.C. power brokers appear to have come to an agreement to again raise the debt limit so that they can keep spending ... and spending ... and spending. Everyone in D.C benefits—politicians who can buy votes among certain of their constituents, lobbyists who shape the budget and make millions from clients that benefit from government expenditures, federal bureaucracies that now pull in salaries and benefits that dwarf those in the private sector, and the "activist" class who never encountered a problem (e.g., homelessness) that couldn't be solved by throwing still more dollars at it. 

The losers? The continually shrinking number of taxpayers who are asked to use their "fair share" to fund this travesty.

Oh, sure. GOP politicians say the right things about reducing expenditures, but in reality they can't or won't follow through. The Democrats want centralized government to grow without bound, knowing that the more voters depend on federal largess, the more votes the Dems get.

Waste and abuse grow in direct proportion to expenditures, and worse, there is little real incentive to uncover and eliminate either. —so hundreds of billions of dollars are pissed away. The Democrats feign innumeracy, suggesting that more and more MUST be spent and that since there's no news about waste and abuse (the media is complicit) it doesn't exist.

Is there a solution to all of this. Of course there is. Actually cut government expenditures year over year across the board ... including entitlements. How about a 5% across the board cut in year one, followed by 1% cuts for the next 4 years? All in conjunction with public sector work force reduction, privatizing select federal services, totally eliminating redundant government agencies and services, means testing certain entitlements, and improving efforts to reduce fraud, abuse and waste by incentivizing government employees with significant monetary rewards when savings are achieved.

The GOP is too afraid to make such a radical suggestion because the Dems would argue that actual cuts (a reduction in the increase in spending is NOT a cut) will starve little children and murder grandma. Meanwhile some in the GOP would claim that any cut to a bloated and inefficient defense budget would be an invitation to the CCP to sail up the Potomac. It's all B.S., but that's the reality of it.

And so ... every year or two, we go through the kabuki theater of debt talks.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Travel Advisory

I've often wondered what it would be like to live in a country that was the State Department's travel advisory list. Would there be open warfare in the streets, political prisoners jailed for questioning the government's authority, or "shelter in place" warnings as crime ran rampant throughout the country? Luckily, I'd don't live in such a country, but I do live in the state of Florida, and now that we're on the NAACP's "travel advisory" list, I'm not sure what to do.

There's a lot of vicious partisan politics, considerable hyperbole, and a serious dose of dishonesty in the NAACP's statement justifying the advisory. The editors of the Wall Street Journal  examine the NAACP argument:

The NAACP said the advisory was a response to the policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis, specifically his “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.” Mr. DeSantis’s agenda is not off-limits for debate, but the people pushing this progressive narrative don’t seem to have done even five minutes of research.

Florida’s public schools are required by law to teach students about “the enslavement experience,” “abolition,” “the civil rights movement,” and “the history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora,” the state Education Department explains. “Students shall develop an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on individual freedoms.” Mr. DeSantis signed a bill to add to the curriculum the 1920 Ocoee massacre, in which black Floridians were killed by a mob.

Hmmm. Maybe "erasing black history" is a bit of a reach, but whatever. And how are black students doing under the supposed racist policies of DeSantis? The editors continue:

Mr. DeSantis picked Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a Nigerian immigrant, as his Surgeon General, and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez is the first Hispanic woman in that job. On national aptitude tests in 2022, black eighth-graders in Florida scored 255 in math and 247 in reading, on average. That’s better than the national figures (252 and 243), and it’s better than the NAACP’s headquarters of Maryland (250 and 244).

It's also worth noting that FL ranks #2 in black-owned businesses, so oddly, this 'dangerous' place provides rather significant opportunity to it's African-American population. According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, there are more than "250,000 black-owned businesses in Florida which collectively employ 77,136 Floridians and represent an annual payroll of $2.63 billion. That ranks it as the state with the second-most black-owned businesses in the country."

There may be legitimate reasons to criticize some of Ron DeSantis' policies, but doing it in the form of a "travel advisory" does little to burnish the reputation or the veracity of the NAACP.


Monday, May 22, 2023

Venezuela—Revisited Still Again

It occurred to me that I haven't done a review of the socialist experiment in Venezuela since 2018. Here's what Wikipedia says about Venezuela* today (references in original):

The crisis in Venezuela is an ongoing socioeconomic and political crisis that began in Venezuela during the presidency of Hugo Chávez and has worsened in Nicolás Maduro's presidency. It has been marked by hyperinflation, escalating starvation,[6] disease, crime and mortality rates, resulting in massive emigration from the country.[7]

The situation is by far the worst economic crisis in Venezuela's history, and is also the worst facing a country in peacetime since the mid-20th century. The crisis is often considered to be more severe than that of the United States during the Great Depression, the 1985–1994 Brazilian economic crisis, or the 2008–2009 hyperinflation in Zimbabwe ...

The crisis has affected the life of the average Venezuelan on all levels. By 2017, hunger had escalated to the point where almost seventy-five percent of the population had lost an average of over 8 kg (over 19 lbs) in weight[a] and more than half did not have enough income to meet their basic food needs.[42] A UN report estimated in March 2019 that 94% of Venezuelans lived in poverty,[43][44] and by 2021 almost twenty percent of Venezuelans (5.4 million) had left their country.[45][46] The UN analysis estimates in 2019 that 25% of Venezuelans need some form of humanitarian assistance. Venezuela led the world in murder rates, with 81.4 per 100,000 people killed in 2018, making it the third most violent country in the world.[47]

Socialism and its extreme extension, communism, never works. And yet, there are those on the left who insist it is a kinder, gentler replacement for Capitalism, even though every shred of historical evidence indicates that it destroys—freedom, lives, and economies. 

Of course, true believers—the Bernie Sanders of the world—will never admit that any of that is true. They'll argue that socialism just wasn't done correctly; that corrupt people were in charge, or that the United States somehow undermined the utopian experiment. Fantasy thinkers tend to find excuses the negate reality all the time.

In a modern context, socialism often begins with an democratic vote in a country that has real or perceived inequality. It's proponents gain the support of a leftist intelligencia (academics, college students, media, entertainment, the arts) that are actually as ignorant of history as they are lacking in an understanding of basic human nature. Once that occurs, the intelligencia work to swing large groups of low-information voters who are perfectly willing to believe their utopian claims. BTW, it's almost always the low information voters who suffer the most deprivation as socialism does it's job of destruction. Once voted into power, centralized government expands and soon after, authoritarianism destroys freedom. Bad policy driven by leftist fervor destroys economic growth and as a consequence, lives. 

And you get a Venezuela—a country that USIP characterizes as "an unprecedented social and humanitarian collapse—the result of bad economic policies and political conflict—that has led to food insecurity, the second largest migration crisis in the world, and regional instability."

But please, listen to the true believers—it's not socialism's fault, it's that it wasn't done correctly. Just don't tell that to any of the 5.4 million Venezuelan's who have fled to country.


* It's worth noting that little more than 22 years ago, Venezuela was the richest country in South America.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Durham Report

In the fantasy world created by Hollywood and the mainstream TV shows it produces, the FBI is a crusader for justice both domestically and internationally. Agents are all telegenic. The crimes they pursue are all solved without bias or mistake. In the real world, things are rather different. 

Executives within the FBI, along with their counterparts within the Department of Justice and various intelligence agencies have now been shown to be partisan  players who are perfectly willing to work for their favored political party (do I really need to state that the party name  begins with a "D"?). In doing so they have actively participated in hoax after hoax, providing well-placed leaks with a complicit propaganda media in an explicit effort to affect election outcomes. The recent release of The Durham Report delineates all of this in troubling detail.

The editors of the Washington Examiner write:

The FBI allowed itself to be weaponized for political purposes during the 2016 presidential election. That is the conclusion of special counsel John Durham's damning final report released Monday.

It is a sobering conclusion, one strongly supported by the facts in the 306-page report and one that should prompt lawmakers from both parties to clean house at what is supposed to be the nation's premier bastion of law enforcement, not law bending or breaking. 

Not surprisingly, the propaganda media (e.g., the NYT and WaPo) downplay the most damning findings, instead trying to shift focus to anything that will make their readers continue to believe in the hoaxes that won them Pulitzer Prizes (for reporting false information, a.k.a., "fake news"). In fact, the level of main stream media reporting on Durham's findings has been meager, at best.

But that changes nothing. The FBI, the DoJ and some intelligence agencies have been weaponized in a partisan way. This is against the charter of these government agencies; it is unethical, if not criminal; it is the stuff of banana republics, and worse, it is greeted by many Democrats with a smile and a yawn.

The problem as I see it is serious. Executives (decision makers) in government law enforcement and intelligence agencies are now politically aligned with the propaganda media. They know they will not be held to account by the media organizations that used to investigate government wrongdoing and then widely publicize it. As a consequence, the government decision makers have become unafraid and arrogant, knowing that whatever they decide to do to shape the political conversation in the United States will be viewed by many as appropriate and justified.

The irony is that more than a few media organizations have adopted the WaPo's sanctimonious and hypocritical claim that "Democracy Dies in Darkness," and they they are the bringers of light. That's a joke that is not at all funny. 

Working with the agencies that have been weaponized, the propaganda media demonize their opposition, promulgate phony narratives, and soon, threaten (or worse) those who oppose their political ideology. That's the true darkness, and it should trouble all of us.


As if to put an exclamation mark on the notion that "government decision makers have become unafraid and arrogant, knowing that whatever they decide to do to shape the political conversation in the United States will be viewed by many as appropriate and justified," the New York Post reports:

WASHINGTON — The IRS on Monday removed the “entire investigative team” from its long-running tax fraud probe of first son Hunter Biden in alleged retaliation against the whistleblower who recently contacted Congress to allege a cover-up in the case, The Post has learned.

The purge allegedly was done on the orders of the Justice Department, the whistleblower’s attorneys informed congressional leaders in a letter.

“Today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Supervisory Special Agent we represent was informed that he and his entire investigative team are being removed from the ongoing and sensitive investigation of the high-profile, controversial subject about which our client sought to make whistleblower disclosures to Congress. He was informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice,” Mark Lytle and Tristan Leavitt wrote.

The whistleblower, who supervised the Hunter Biden probe since early 2020, hasn’t publicly identified the first son as the subject of the case that he says is being brushed under the rug, but congressional sources confirmed it.

Yup ... the NYP is emphasizing this story (as it should), but the rest of the propaganda media—not so much.

UPDATE-2 (17 May 2023):

I have on numerous occasions noted that Democrats are guilty of psychological projection when they accuse their opponents of being a "threat to democracy." In reality, recent investigations (including the Durham Report) and the hard facts that support them indicate that Democrat supporters within the deep state along with Democrats embedded within the Clinton Campaign (among others) are the actual threat to democracy.

James Freeman writes about cross fire hurricane (the FBI participation in Clinton's Russia collusion hoax that I first wrote about in 2019 and also discussed here, here, and here):

... the FBI’s conduct went from biased, reckless and irresponsible all the way to criminal in the case of FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith. He falsified an email that was critical to securing surveillance approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target a law-abiding American participating in politics.

Some liberals have stopped worrying about abuses by the intelligence community because their team has generally been the beneficiary.

I think the word "generally" is inappropriate. In recent years and with regard to Donald Trump, the Democrats are always the beneficiary of deep state machinations.

The real question is whether reform is possible. Freeman suggests a first step:

As a very modest first step in limiting the ability of the rogue agencies to abuse our constitutional rights again in 2024, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) should demand significant FBI and CIA budget cuts, including defunding any offices that have participated in any efforts to influence what is reported and shared in U.S. media.

I don't think that or any other substantive steps will happen, and that is very, very concerning. Even worse, it appears that the Dems and their propaganda media are quite happy with the weaponization of the deep state against those who oppose their policies.  

A WSJ commenter, "Victor Cabrera Flores,"suggests a more aggressive approach that I wholly endorse:

Charge Brennan, Clapper, Mueller, Comey, Priestap, Rice, Weissman, McCabe, Baker, Rosenstein, Blumenthal, Strzok, and Ohr with:

i ) overarching conspiracy to defraud the US Government of the honest services of its employees (FBI, CIA, DOJ, NSA, Treasury Dept., State Dept.)

ii) overarching conspiracy to defraud the US Government of the faithful enforcement of the law,

iii) conspiracy to deny the Civil Rights of American citizens by spying on them illegally, initiating an investigation without the authority to do so and leaking that information in order to embarrass and besmirch them and

iv) conspiracy to corrupt the Intelligence apparatus of the US through fraud and dissembling.

Seek Federal Prison Time of 5 years minimum.  

Of course, a compromised DoJ won't go anywhere near that. The fix is in, allowing people like "Brennan, Clapper, Mueller, Comey, Priestap, Rice, Weissman, McCabe, Baker, Rosenstein, Blumenthal, Strzok, and Ohr" and Hillary to act with absolute impunity. 

UPDATE-3 (17 May 2023):

Maybe I've been unfair in emphasizing the propaganda media (e.g., NYT, WaPo, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, LAT, ABC) complicity in the promotion of the Russian collusion lies that the deep state fed them. After all, the "media" also includes Hollywood, and true to form, Hollywood worked overtime to cement the notion that a sitting president was a Russian stooge. Christian Toto comments:

Late-night humorists carried the media’s water.

The most infamous, and damning, moment came when far-Left “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert called Trump a “c*** holster” for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
This Monologue Goes Out To You, Mr. President

Colbert was far from alone.

Night after night, joke after joke, late-night satirists pummeled President Trump for allegedly stealing the election. When, in reality, Clinton’s dirty trick proved one for the ages. Some of the biggest stars in the industry rallied, over and again, to push the false narrative.

It's great to be a member of the Hollywood glitterati. You can be dead wrong repeatedly, egregiously, and knowingly, defaming those who you don't like—and suffer no consequences whatsoever. That's what biased and stupid late night humorists did, and that's why their collective rating are in the toilet. Well, I suppose that is a consequence, although they all continue to collect their multi-million dollar salaries.

Aside:  In a similar vein, here's a comment I wrote about Jimmy Kimmel when he stupidly ragged on Elon Musk after he acquired twitter:

As an example of the vitriol, we have this tweet from celebrity spokesperson for the Left, Jimmy Kimmel, a late night comedian who demonstrates repeatedly why his audience share is tanking.

Kimmel, like the vast majority of Hollywood glitterati, seems to equate a presence on TV (or the movies) with actual accomplishment. Elon Musk, on the other hand, makes things that actually matter—to the hundreds of thousands of people he directly and indirectly employs, to a cleaner planet that progressives like Kimmel tell us they care sooo much about, to real life communication (via SpaceX Starlink), to transportation (via Tesla), and now (via the acquisition of Twitter) to free speech. 

Kimmel has accomplished almost nothing that really matters, unless you think that making inane, snarky jokes late at night are somehow a 'contribution' to the human condition. As his shrinking hipster audience laughs at Kimmel's insults, we should all remember that in 20 years he will be remembered as just another has-been Hollywood type—slightly pathetic but mostly just unimportant. That will never happen to Musk, no matter how many contemptible tweets Jimmy posts. Maybe that's why Jimmy seems so angry.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Biden Family Business

I never thought there would be a presidential family that could outdo the Clintons. From the point of view of self-enrichment, The Clinton Foundation (TCF) was a stroke of genius—solicitation of major multi-million dollar "donations" with the implicit promise of access to the corridors of power. After all, when a charity actually gave 7 percent of its incoming donations to the targeted communities that need the help and 93 percent to internal expenses (think: Clinton daughter, Chelsea's $600,000 job at TCF), something is ... well ... fishy.

And when Hillary deleted 33,000 emails from an illegal, private server, you can bet your life that those emails weren't all about grand kids, weddings, and golf. Yet an incurious, biased, and corrupt propaganda media did virtually nothing to investigate and everything to suppress the story. And a partisan DoJ did nothing to explore potential wrong doing. Indictments? Nah, that's only for politicians and cabinet members with (R) after their names.

However, the Clintons were smart. They used charities, cutouts, and third parties to shield themselves from prosecution—providing the media and DoJ with weak but still arguable deniability—'nothing to see here, move along.'

The Bidens are dumb ... and greedy ... and caught red-handed in their corruption. The editors of the Wall Street Journal report:

House Republicans on Wednesday released their latest report on the Biden family’s business ties, and one conclusion is that it’s good to be related to Joseph Robinette Biden. Hunter Biden and his relatives traded profitably off the Biden name with transactions that suggest the main family business is influence peddling.

House Oversight Chair James Comer’s staff report shows in detail that Hunter had extensive dealings with unsavory foreign actors. This yielded millions of dollars for Biden family members via a web of shell companies that would be hard to untangle without subpoena power. Why so much complexity?

The 36-page report shows Biden family members and business associates created nearly 20 separate entities shortly before and during Joe Biden’s Vice Presidency. The entities with obscure names—Hudson West III, Hudson West V, Owascu, JBB SR INC—transferred cash from foreign entities. Bank records show that more than $10 million was delivered to Biden family members, associates and companies from these foreign entities, and in curious ways. 

Of course, the same people who tell us that every report coming out of Democrat controlled committees MUST be believed without question, will tell us that this report is partisan and therefore, not to be believed. Facts and hard irrefutable data? That doesn't matter. In the long tradition of the NYT, WaPo, LAT, the alphabet TV networks and hundreds of other outlets, this story will not be reported or will be denigrated. Hard evidence of shell companies, bank transfers, emails between the principles, payments without requisite services, foreign government involvement, board positions with generous pay for people who have no requisite experience, the clear implication that money flowed indirectly to Joe Biden (the "big guy"), and much, much more will go uninvestigated.

Of course, none the the Oversight Committee's findings should come as a shock. The Biden's dirty dealings were outlined in a book by Miranda Devine a year ago. Virtually every one of her thoroughly researched accusations has been verified. The WSJ continues:

The Bidens have a right to make a living, but one important question is what Hunter did to earn these payments. Hunter’s spokespersons aren’t saying, and his attorney scorned the Comer report as “repackaged misstatements of perfectly proper meetings and business by private citizens.” But a fair conclusion is that these foreigners were buying influence with a powerful family.

Emails and text messages made public in 2020 by former Hunter business partner Tony Bobulinski—related to a separate attempted deal with CEFC—quote Hunter demanding more because CEFC is “coming to be MY partner to be partners with the Bidens,” and noting that “I’m the only one putting an entire family legacy on the line.” In another email reported by the New York Post, Hunter boasted that Mr. Ye would pay him millions for “introductions alone.” 

It's likely that the DoJ will scapegoat Hunter with a few soft indictments—tax evasion, unregistered foreign agent, and the like. Fines and maybe probation or house arrest—nothing more. Everyone else will likely skate, and "the Big Guy"—Joe Biden—will stumble forward, untouched by the sewage of influence peddling and personal enrichment that swirls around his shuffling feet.


The New York Post was the major media source that broke the Biden scandal, now almost three years ago. For that, the Post was vilified by the propaganda media, and banned on Twitter (pre-Musk) and other social media. It's original story concerning Hunter Biden's laptop was attacked dishonestly by the deep state with the cynical encouragement of ex-intelligence officials.

In today's edition, Miranda Devine writes:

If the bombshells unleashed at Wednesday morning’s House Oversight Committee press conference had been about the corruption of a Republican president via millions of dollars in foreign bribes to his family, the clamor for impeachment would have been deafening.

But Joe Biden has the protection of the Deep State and unscrupulous Democratic lawyers, so accountability will be slower, though no less certain, if Oversight Chairman James Comer continues his dogged pursuit of the money.

Comer (R-Ky.) has delivered an astonishing forensic interim accounting of $10 million in payments from just two of the countries, Romania and China, which enriched the president’s family during his vice presidency and in the weeks afterward.

That’s not counting further millions from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Romania, Oman, or earlier China deals and “other foreign business deals the Committee is investigating.” 

Not surprisingly, other propaganda media sources are silent. After all, their job is protecting Democrats, not seeking the truth. Devine continues:

[House Oversight committee chairman James] Comer has bank transactions from four banks showing at least nine members of the president’s immediate family received hefty foreign payments, including his younger brother Jim Biden, his son Hunter, his widowed daughter-in-law Hallie Biden (Hunter’s former lover), Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen Biden, and current wife, Melissa Cohen, and “three children of the president’s son and the president’s brother.”

He has identified 15 shell companies associated with Hunter and a complicated web of transactions designed to hide the payments. 

But "there's nothing to see here," is there? 

An Aside:

I honestly believe that there are millions of thinking Democrats who recognize Biden's cognitive disability, leading to his inability to execute the duties of the presidency. There is, I believe, a smaller but still significant number who believe he is corrupt.

This is the Democrats' opportunity to force Biden out of a second run for the presidency in 2024. The threat (and that is what will be required) is simple: Announce you [Biden] are not running for a second term (any excuse will do) or we will move to impeachment. This will allow the Dems plenty of time to find a suitable candidate and will be also allow them to escape at least some blame for Biden's disastrous policies and results. The real question is: Are the Dems smart enough to take advantage of the gift the GOP has given them?

Monday, May 08, 2023

9s and 2s, 10s and 1s

Over the 17 years that the OnCenter blog has been in existence, I've frequently quoted an old management maxim that brings smiles to those who work in the private sector and even a few nods from those who work for government. The maxim addresses the hiring practices of good and bad managers and goes like this:

9s hire 10s, and 2s hire 1s

The implication is that good managers (9s) can recognize competence and merit in all whom they hire and act accordingly. Bad managers (2s) often can't recognize either competence or merit. Some are so insecure in their own incompetence that they look for employees who are even worse.

But what if we encounter a generation of managers who no longer care about competence or merit. Rather, they're driven by another set of organizational criteria derived from government decrees. Those criteria focus on hiring people with specific physical characteristics or other personal traits (e.g., religion, gender, sexuality, heritage) that have little, if anything, to do with competence and merit. This approach is called "diversity, equity, and inclusion" (DEI) and has become a dominant approach in hiring, pay, and promotion practices in many large organizations.Even Hollywood has decided that DEI criteria will be used in the judging the "Best Picture" for the Oscars beginning in 2024.

Although there are certainly exceptions and plenty of unfairness, the United States was once a meritocracy in which the best, the brightest, and the most talented rose within an organization. If merit and competence can be combined with some of the better elements of DEI, all will be fine. But today, there are increasingly visible instances of merit being replaced by people who meet specific DEI criteria and nothing more. 

No instance is more painfully obvious than the case of the Biden administration press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre (KJP). During her tenure in the position, KJP has demonstrated her incompetence repeatedly. Worse, I think she recognizes she is in over her head. As a consequence,  she often responds with stumbling arrogance when (in rare instances) she is asked probing questions by the generally (Democrat) friendly White House "reporters.". 

Like her boss, KJP seems unable to speak extemporaneously, reading from prepared notes that often don't address the substance of a question.  She misstates obvious facts and seems to think that name-calling is a substitute for informing the public. She is a member of the 1s by any definition of the term.

Over the years one thing has become increasingly clear. Even when 9s and 10s have populated positions in the federal government, most governmental programs are executed incompetently and are largely wasteful. One can only imagine what will happen as 1s and 2s begin to take on positions of leadership and responsibility. Maybe we should ask KJP.


Issues and Insights reports that polling indicates Americans favor merit-based decisions on hiring, pay increases, and promotion by a margin of 3 to 1. 

Yet, arguing the counterpoint, we see opinion pieces entitled, "Yes, a meritocracy can lead to, and perpetuate, racial inequality." Arguments like this one amount to the soft racism/classism/or gender bias of low expectations. They characterize all groups that fall under the DEI umbrella as victims who cannot be expected to be measured by the same standards applied to others. 

Although the authors of pieces like this think they're being virtuous, their position is actually despicable. They suggest that past discrimination can be remedied by eliminating competence and merit as primary criteria for selection and advancement. Not only is that position intellectually absurd, it also taints the laudable achievements of those in DEI classifications who do merit hiring, pay increases and promotions. DEI, when applied with only a side glance at merit, is dangerous and wrong.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Fantasy Thinker

I watched the Bill Maher - Elon Musk interview last week on HBO. Overall, Maher was fair, asked meaningful questions, and was generally respectful of his guest. Musk acquitted himself well.

When the interview was over, I was about to grab my remote when a new discussion with two other guests began. The topic was Joe Biden's ability to conduct a campaign in 2024 and then continue on as President from 2024 to 2028. 

The same Bill Maher who had shown intelligence and insight in his interview with Musk, responded to concerns from his (left-of-center) guests about Biden's ability to execute the duties of the presidency. Like almost everyone in the media, the guests used the euphemism that Biden was "old," rather than a more honest statement that Biden is old and exhibits all of the indicia of a man who is cognitively disabled.

Maher was immediately defensive about any implication that Biden is not capable of executingh the duties of his office. He stated unequivocally that Joe Biden, was old, yes, but that didn't matter because he was a spry and vital 80-year old whose experience and "wisdom" allowed him to make intelligent decisions on matters brought to him as President—and besides, Biden had many, many "important achievements" already.

One guest brought up the Afghanistan debacle and suggested that it was one of the decisions that may have caused Russia and China to act aggressively in the year that followed. Maher laughed off the concern. He introduced the tired leftist trope that Biden was constrained by Trump's Afghan policies (odd, because Biden was not constrained by any other Trump policy—negating them all in his first months in office, but never mind) .

I sat quietly and shook my head. Did an alien take over Maher's body between the time he interviewed Musk and the time he commented on Biden? Did Maher honestly believe that Biden was spry and vital and could make "wise" decisions. Did he truly think that Biden made a good decision to leave Afghanistan in the manner he did—against the advice of his military leadership?  

Maher is an interesting guy. He is, in some ways an independent thinker who rejects some of the Left's most outrageous narratives (and there are many outrageous narratives), but he remains a progressive in his world view. For that reason, in the case of Joe Biden, he is a fantasy thinker, joining many on the Left in an era that has normalized fantasy thinking and the often insane conclusions that result. 

Fantasy thinkers reject facts that conflict with a leftist narrative that they fervently believe, seeing the world through a distorted lens. That lens transforms obvious failures into successes (think: Afghanistan); converts objectively bad decisions into good ones (think: COVID policy in 2021 and 2022); recasts profligate spending into "investments" (think: Biden's massive inflationary spending); questions the morality, integrity and intelligence of those who point out the fantasy, and most important, leads to authoritarian tendencies and censorship as necessary actions to "save democracy." 

That's why Maher can label Joe Biden as spry and vital even as the president looks and acts like a person suffering from first stage dementia,* a man who is the puppet of an anonymous group of handlers, a man who should NOT be president regardless of his politics.


*  A more detailed discussion of Biden's condition can be found here. A recent example of his behavior (along with a number of unfortunate mean tweets about it) can be found here. In the latter video clip, a visiting football team is presenting Biden with a jersey, an autographed football, and a helmet. No hard questions or detailed response required. Biden takes the jersey, but then wanders off (dementia patients do this frequently) before the football or the helmet is presented. A small incident ... yes, but if you believe this behavior is normal and don't feel a combination of discomfort and sadness as you watch this video snippet, you are a fantasy thinker.