LoC #41 with Titus Techera!

 

On the latest episode of the Land of Confusion Show, I fly solo while I talk to Titus Techera and Gary McVey about everything wrong with culture today. Titus (Teetus), is a long-known member of the site, once known for getting in lots of arguments with people on the boards. We start the show by expressing our mutual for his homeland’s greatest program, “Comrade Detective.”

We then get into a deep dive into internet culture, social media, and even how Ricochet has changed over the years. That we all feel good that we met and interacted in the early days when people were not so angry. We also spent a great deal of time talking about conservative culture, in both film and in business, and how it’s our tendency to complain, instead of do.

The Privatization of the Public Commons

 

Libertarians like to complain about the critics of libertarianism with “muh roads.” To them, the argument defending public infrastructure is absurd because private companies are incentivized to be more efficient. If that’s what you really think, I’d like to direct you to the F-35.

While the Libertarian Party is an irrelevant parody, libertarian arguments have made great strides within both parties. One of the primary pillars of libertarianism that has been making great strides on both the left and the right is that of private property. One has to ask oneself what exactly changed since Masterpiece Cakes?

Defend a Maligned Movie

 

I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” – why should I feel guilt because the critical groupthink scorned something I think has merit? It’s not as if those individual critics don’t pull the shades and watch something the rest of the priesthood demeans. (Unless Marty Scorcese gave it a nod in an interview, and then it’s time for a Fresh New Look.) I also don’t believe in watching bad movies to revel in their awfulness, unless there’s some meta-level payoff. (Plan Nine really is the apotheosis of true unintended hilarity.) I’m watching something right now that makes eyes roll if you try to make the case for its importance, but that’s not important right now. (No, I’m not watching Airplane!) I’ll hand it off to you: defend a movie dismissed by the gatekeepers.

COVID As Religion, Not a Fad

 

With vaccines becoming more widespread, I can understand feeling a sense of optimism about life in lockdown states returning to normal. I am here to burst that bubble.

I live in one of those locked down states, Maryland, in one of its most blue areas, Montgomery County. It’s astounding the degree with which this COVID adherence has fallen along party lines and it’s created an astounding dynamic. Here in Maryland, practically no kids are back in public schools in-person (we’re last in the country for in-person learning) and suddenly teachers are comparing themselves to babysitters and test proctors. Deeming public school teachers useless and non-essential sounds like a conservative talking point, but it’s somehow morphed into a liberal one as well. Women are dropping out of the workforce in the millions and we haven’t heard a peep from feminists about how detrimental school closures are on working women, the pay gap, etc. That pet issue has just become moot because discussing the tradeoffs flies in the face of the new reality they have decided to adopt.

The Uprising (An Absurdist, Woke Fairy Tale)

 

Franklin Jefferson Grant sipped his early-morning espresso and, wrapped in his warm flannel robe, lay comfortably in his bed with little reason to suspect that the new day might choose to intrude and distract him from his iPad with something unexpected or threatening; even the tingling sensation just under the skin of his toes, though hardly common on Tuesdays, gave him no cause for alarm; and so we may sympathize with his utter astonishment when, upon rereading the fascinating Financial Times article on small growth mutual funds, he should hear the sharp, accusatory cry of “Oppressor!” as his feet turned on him in open revolt.

Now the reader must keep in mind that, except for his two teenage boys, Franklin had no grounds for suspecting absurdity in the universe. Until this particular Tuesday morning, he had been quite content with his life as an egalitarian husband, progressive father, and humble professor of composition and literature. Now he was perturbed, for he sensed his lack of an adequate intellectual foundation for responding to this situation. He cautiously lowered his iPad.

Did Joe Forget The State of the Union?

 

Every new president is eager, upon taking office, to look presidential and take control of the narrative. Their first State of the Union address is their best opportunity to do both. The State of the Union is usually in late January, although it is occasionally in early February. It’s now nearly March, and I haven’t heard anything about The State of the Union address – I wonder why that is?

The standing ovations, the adoring gallery, the frustrated Republicans – all on national TV! Every channel! You would think that Joe Biden would be chomping at the bit for the opportunity to assert his dominance in the address you know he’s dreamed of giving for the past 50 years. 50 years! And now he gets his chance, at last! Did it slip his mind? Am I missing something? Why hasn’t this already happened after weeks of dutiful media build up?

What a strange year…

Write a Caption on 2021

 

This picture was on the back cover of the alumni magazine for the military junior college I attended in the ’70s. I have no idea who these people are and there is no caption or explanation anywhere in the magazine. Up to a year or so ago, if I had been shown this photo and told it was from the far-off future of 2021, I would have assumed the United States was going to be under a fascist dictatorship. I might not have been wrong.

COVID-19: Some Much Needed Perspective

 

Craig Medred, an independent journalist from Alaska, has written periodically about the COVID-19 pandemic. Oftentimes his starting point is an Alaskan perspective, but he is always making larger points about the pandemic and reaction to it by, variously, scientists, public health professionals, government leaders, media, and the public. His latest piece, Pushing Fear, brings some much needed perspective.

Public health policy needs to reflect trade-offs in society. Had the virus truly been an existential threat to all of humanity, then the draconian response might have been the right response to preserve the germ of humanity from the scourge. But the virus is and was not such a threat. It was not likely to have been such a threat coming from the same biosphere in which humanity itself arose. An alien virus from a different galaxy? Well that might be a different matter.

The King of Stuff discusses America’s new malaise, Martin Gurri’s prophetic book Revolt of the Public, the new improved version of “kids in cages,” and conservatives’ advantage in cancel culture. Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from the show. This week, Jon chooses “Vendetta” by Iceage.

Gov. Ron DeSantis Defies the Media and the Federal Government

 

Republican governors all over the country are taking care of their states regarding Covid-19 to mixed reviews. At least most of them aren’t crippling their economies or insisting on lockdowns. I can’t help bragging about Florida’s governor, however, because he does whatever he thinks is necessary—and he’s faced an irate CDC and has been denounced by the media.

Let me tell you about Ron DeSantis. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo was signing the death warrants for hundreds of senior citizens in New York when he sent them into nursing homes, Ron DeSantis protected the nursing homes until it was clear that residents could safely be visited. He has also defied the recommendations of Dr. Anthony Fauci, knowing that the good doctor wasn’t using the science at all, nor good sense, but was making political decisions. Most recently DeSantis was chastised for two decisions: the first was deciding to prioritize vaccines for the elderly. According to Peacock Network, this was clearly a political decision. I guess targeting the most vulnerable group is considered high politics.

A second decision was criticized when the governor set up “pop-up” vaccination centers in Manatee County for a community of elderly residents. (We had a similar vaccination center set-up in our 55+ community, and vaccinations were limited to those 65+.) He was criticized for ignoring federal guidelines and decided to offer vaccinations to the most vulnerable. I guess the critics believed that old people were more likely to vote Republican.

An Ascendancy of Ugly and Stupid

 

Many years ago I went to the National Gallery of Art in DC (which I used to do more often) when there was a special exhibit of the works of Morris Lewis. I have to admit I did not get it and still don’t. There were a bunch of strikingly similar large paintings like this one below in which there were some runny painted lines in the bottom corners. The highlight of the trip was smiling and shrugging my shoulders while catching the eye of one of the museum guards, a middle-aged African American man. He was shaking, trying to suppress his laughter, his back against the wall, sliding down slightly until his hat pushed a bit down over his face. I think he was just waiting for someone not to solemnly stare at this stuff and just laugh instead. I felt like we were the only guys in the building who admitted they had just seen the emperor’s naked backside through his new outfit.

Art

Dozens of House Democrats Want Biden To Give Up Authority on Nukes

 

Odd that Democrats are seeking to limit the power of their own president. I wonder why they would do that?

Do they have concerns about President Biden’s ability to do his job, for some reason? I haven’t seen anything on CNN or in The New York Times that might suggest that he is compromised in any way. The Democrat Congressprimates didn’t offer any specific concerns about President Biden. Why are they trying to limit his powers as Commander in Chief?

How odd…

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, founder of the AHA Foundation, and author of the books Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights, Infidel: My Lifeand Nomad: From Islam to America – A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations. Ms. Hirsi Ali shares insights from her upbringing and early education in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, as well as her courageous immigration to the West, where she experienced an intellectual awakening that led to human rights activism and a seat in the Dutch Parliament. They discuss why all human rights and free speech advocates should be concerned about the rise and growing militancy of political correctness and “cancel culture” in the West, its impact on reasoned public debate, and what educators need to teach young people about the importance of open mindedness and the free exchange of ideas. Lastly, Ms. Hirsi Ali reviews the central theme of her latest book, Prey, which explores the long-term ramifications of mass migration from Islamic-majority countries on the rights of women in Europe, given the different value systems between these countries and the West, with its commitment to the rule of law, rights-centered constitutionalism, science, and religious liberty. She concludes with a reading from the book.

Stories of the Week: The Biden administration is ordering states to continue federally required standardized tests this year, though there is flexibility on the exam format and accountability standards. Is this an opportunity for innovation in student testing? All members of a San Francisco-area school board resigned after mocking parents at a virtual meeting that they didn’t realize was already being broadcast live. Was this an isolated incident or a window into their general outlook toward families?

Our New Model of Policing and Government?

 

So, the Chicago Park District closed up pretty much everything over the past year. The “pretty much” is significant because there were some park district programs that ran drying the various lockdowns, and some parks themselves were open. But were they busy enough for officials to earn a 6 percent raise?

Also, while we’re at it, this is significant that the lakefront in Chicago is now officially open. (For those who don’t know, the Lakefront park is used by millions, literally, not figuratively, and offers the best break from the city you can find. It stretches for more the 20 miles and is just amazing.) As the headline of the article states, it’s now fully open, but that’s not the important thing

Navy Admiral: ‘The Forces of Darkness Are Among Us’

 

“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away”
— Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth”

This morning as I was browsing my morning newsfeed from Military.Com, an item from the Navy side of the house caught my eye. Under the headline of “Navy says ‘liking’ or sharing extremists’ posts on social media can get you in trouble,” the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral John Nowell, was quoted: “You may not personally know any shipmates with extremist beliefs, but I assure you that those forces of darkness are among us.”

‘The Eternal Gloom Is All Around Us’

 

The title of @cacrabtree’s great post The Forces of Darkness are Among Us” reminded me of a story. I’ve written before about a friend of my youth — a gentle stoner hippy freak named Marcus. When I was a teen, there was a wooded spot near my Mom’s house where a group of people including Marcus and I would party. Marcus would frequently go off into the woods and sit alone playing guitar. He was actually a talented guitarist and owned a wonderful guitar. It was a late-1960s Martin D28. A thing of beauty. Today, it’d probably be $10,000 worth of fine Pennsylvania craftsmanship. Even back then it was probably worth $3,000. I didn’t know him well enough to say Marcus loved that guitar more than anything else on earth; but he certainly loved it more than anything of which I was aware. He was meticulous in how he handled it. It got lovingly wiped down before and after it was played. And it never, ever, rested anywhere except in its case or in Marcus’ hands.

One night in high summer, the usual group was in that spot doing the usual summer-night things. Marcus had wandered away into the woods as usual and you could hear him playing over the soft sounds of the summer forest. Suddenly, the music stopped and there was a thrashing in the underbrush. Marcus burst out of the brush under a full head of steam.

The Crux of Being Principled

 

They’re making a list. They’ve been telling us they intend to make a list. When your enemy (I use the term advisedly) tells you he intends to harm you, you should believe him. We’re down to the nut-cracking now, and the plan on the left, now that they have their claws on the levers of power, is to identify as many Trump voters as they can, label them as “domestic terrorists,” and to disenfranchise the lot of them.

No access to the automated communication platforms or financial systems of the world.

Deep (Freeze) in the Heart of Texas

 

The recent dramatic events in Texas are an early warning sign of the disasters that are likely to occur if the Biden administration continues its relentless effort to demonize the use of fossil fuels in the effort to combat climate change.

Assessing whether the climate is really changing requires looking at two numbers. The first is mean global temperatures across time. While that figure is increasing overall, it shows a complex up-down pattern that cannot be explained solely by the steady increase in carbon dioxide emissions. The higher the mean temperatures, the worse the supposed problem.

The second measure, though often neglected, is every bit as important: the variance in temperatures, whether measured in days, seasons, or years. A lower variance over a relevant time period means less stress on the power grid and other systems, even when the mean temperature increases. The general trend is that the variance in the temperature has gone down over time. Even today, for example, a large fraction of the record high temperatures in the United States took place in the 1930s—when carbon dioxide levels were far lower than they are today—with only three record highs after 2000.

It’s one of the most basic questions of the Capitol riot investigation: What was the rioters’ plan? What did they think was going to happen when they stormed the Capitol on January 6, as Congress certified the results of the Electoral College? There are lots of different answers — remember, thousands of people were there and never went near the Capitol at all — but one revealing look is contained in the Justice Department’s case against members of the Oath Keepers militia. It is an odd, hard to believe story, showing people living in a kind of fantasy world in which they could take the Capitol — while carefully obeying Washington DC’s strict gun control laws and carrying no firearms — and then change the course of U.S. history, and then head home. In this episode, a look inside their very strange plan for January 6.

Fauci: “Nothing stops. Or am I being obtuse?”

 

The nation’s highest paid federal employee issued a stern warning to all Americans on Monday, stating that the long-awaited vaccines against COVID-19 won’t alter the long-term necessity of masks, school closures, lockdowns, and social distancing measures.

Responding to a question from a reporter about the possibility of relaxing restrictions once a majority of Americans have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci replied “Nothing stops. Nothing! Or you will do the hardest time there is. No more protections from the Bill of Rights. I’ll pull you out of that one-bunk Hilton and cast you down with the New York nursing home residents. Wearing a mask is too onerous? I’ll make you wear three – and throw in a charcoal filter just for giggles.”

Prey: Ayaan Hirsi Ali On The Relationship Between Immigration And Sexual Assaults In Europe

 

Hoover research fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights. It examines the sharp rise in the number of sexual assaults in Western Europe that coincides with the sharp rise in illegal immigration from Muslim-majority countries. The book points out that almost three million people have arrived illegally in Europe since 2009, close to two million in 2015 alone. A majority have come from Muslim-majority countries. Two-thirds are male, and 80 percent of asylum applicants are under the age of 35. In this conversation, Peter Robinson and Hirsi Ali explore the cause-and-effect relationships occurring in these countries, and the responses from European governments, law enforcement, and most surprisingly, from feminists in both Europe and the United States who seem very eager to deflect attention away from illegal immigration, a point the book makes very strongly.

It’s Time to Make a List

 

Powerline has publicized Amazon de-listing a book from its retail site, effectively “disappearing” it. Amazon may yet reverse its action and claim some form of “error” in the de-listing. But it has happened before and may become a regular occurrence in the future.

In response it is appropriate to ask the following question: If it was your responsibility to preserve the ability for society to “rediscover” the ideas necessary to reformulate Western Civilization, readily accessible by the folk of the future (not solely scholars) with the smallest library of physical books, what would your list be?

Republican/Trump Voters Reject McConnell-Haley Narrative

 

Bill of Rights and TrumpSenate Minority Leader (again) Mitch McConnell and Nikki Haley badly miscalculated the American electorate, unless they are willing servants of Xi and the Thirty American Tyrants, furthering what Time proudly celebrated as a grand and good conspiracy against real, legitimate voters in their several states producing the wrong result again. To the extent the McConnell-Haley contingent succeed in clinging to control of the Republican Party, while the left asserts full control over the Democratic Party and the instruments of national power, they will hasten the end of the Republican Party, like the Whigs before them. President Trump and the portion of the real electorate that does not want a socialist America is signaling clearly that they intend to transform the Republican Party, rather than creating a new party from scratch. We are living in very interesting times.

Trump 2020 voters speak clearly:

Suffolk University, in collaboration with USA TODAY, conducts regular polling at the state and national level, along with special topic surveys. The first special topic poll for 2021 has already generated a series of articles and bold headlines. It is well worth your while to read the seven page questionnaire with answers. This is not dense print. It is a few easily read short questions and polling worker instructions, combined with tabulated responses. The instructions indicate that the survey should take six minutes to answer over the phone.