Heroes Are So Hard To Find

It wasn’t that long ago, really. We had heroes among us. Now they are so hard to find:

These days, the men and women who worked through the whole pandemic are being shamed and patronized by the very people whose cushy existences they facilitated for a year and a half. The liberal elites who holed up in the Hamptons and didn’t have contact with the outside world for a year are ready to get back to their SoulCycle classes, even if it means firing a few people they once called “frontline heroes.” The irony of the same people who screamed in the faces of policemen at the height of a pandemic turning around to demand that these cops now shut up, stop asking questions, and get vaccinated is almost too much to bear.

Hamptons, Bryn Mawr, North Oaks — wherever. As Bridget Phetasy notes in Tablet, it’s the same dynamic we’ve known for decades now: limousine liberals, parlor pinks, trust fund Trotskyites, living their Best Lives and dancing among the ruins:

While normal people tried to figure out how to juggle work, child care, and living under the same roof for 24 hours a day, celebrities were having a ball. Locked up with only their phones and without their handlers, the public was treated to an unfiltered parade of narcissism on fire. Distraught about the postponement of Coachella, Vanessa Hudgens took to Instagram Live to lament that “like, yeah, people are gonna die.” Gal Gadot talked about how “we’re all in this together” and gathered a celebrity cast to sing a horrifying version of “Imagine” from their sprawling mansions.

Nearly any version of “Imagine” is horrifying by definition, of course, but we’ll leave that aside. Now that we’re in our 19th month of two weeks to flatten the curve, the gyre is widening:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats wrote that over 100 year ago. I don’t recall attending any innocence ceremonies recently, but his point stands. We may not have mere anarchy any time soon, either: most self-identified anarchists are totally cool with the State, as long as it does their bidding. But I sense the agents of the State may not be able to make it stick. Back to Phetasy:

In L.A. County, only 54% of the Black population and 62% of the “Latinx” population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Despite all the resources the city ostensibly devotes to equity and inclusion, it’s clear that these minority populations will be most affected by the mandates. If Black lives matter to you so much, shouldn’t you care that Black people will be excluded from restaurants and movie theaters and nail salons?

Caring is overrated, especially among the best. I don’t know what’s next, but in a world where self-regard has more cachet than self-awareness the center will not hold.

Clarification

I’ve taken a certain amount of flak over the years for saying things like “Democrat pols can say anything they want, because they know their voters just don’t think that critically”, and “the Democrat base are essentially intellectual herd animals”.

That seems…tart. Uncivil. Uncomfortably inflammatory, for a guy who tries to keep things as measured and “civil” (whatever that’s worth, these days).

But it’s accurate.

And we know this because Big Left tells us it’s accurate:

But the headlines above aren’t revelation. Just confirmation.

What If He’s Right?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

President Let’s Go Brandon is having a terrible first-year-in-office: virus rampaging, economy collapsing, domestic terrorist parenting, shortages looming. He claims he’s the victim of bad luck: he inherited all these problems from the Trump administration. What if Brandon is right?

The problem of backed-up container ships is blamed on everything from California environmental regulations (only special low-emission trucks allowed in the port) to sloth (laid-off employees staying home on unemployment instead of returning to work). None of those causes sprang into being during the Brandon Administration.

Lies about the Covid virus created widespread public fear which gave Democrats an excuse to change election procedures to ‘fortify’ the election. Fear of the Covid virus gave Democrat politicians an excuse to place their entire states under house arrest, ban religious worship, prohibit political assembly. Customers’ fear of the Covid virus gives employers motivation to impose employee vaccination mandates, mask requirements, and social-distance rules. The Covid virus panic did not begin during the Brandon Administration.

Parents standing up for their children has been going on for decades. The trans-gender movement and Critical Race Theory gave it a big push. The father yelling at the school board for covering up his daughter being raped in the Girls Bathroom by a young man wearing a skirt got all parents branded as domestic terrorists subject to investigation by the FBI. But the trans-movement and CRT didn’t start under the Brandon Administration.

President Trump may have been the most conservative President since Andrew Jackson, better than Ronald Reagan, but even Ronaldus Magnus had to choose his battles. The problems facing the nation today may have begun under earlier administrations and festered under Trump as he fought with Russia, China and Congress only to explode under Brandon. He might be right about that.

But it doesn’t excuse him. Hold-over problems and surprises happen all to everyone (9/11 happened nine months into Junior Bush’s term). Nobody forced Brandon to leave behind Americans in the retreat from Afghanistan. Nobody forced him to decimate the workforce through vaccine mandates. Nobody forced Brandon to embrace stagflation as economic policy. Nobody forced him to leave the borders open. The Brandon Administration could deal with angry parents by telling the Attorney General to sit down and shut up, by telling local school boards to remember who they serve. Brandon could deal with a labor shortage by demanding Congress make working more profitable than couch-surfing. Brandon could deal with the ship backlog by telling Mother Pete to find a solution or find a new job.

Or he could have another pudding cup and take a nap. Brandon inherited all these problems, they’re not his fault, why not let Kamala deal with them in her First Term?

Joe Doakes

Sure.

Unless “not dealing with the problems“ is, actually, the agenda…

Told You So, Part MLVI

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“If you ban guns,” we said, “criminals will simply use another tool.  It’s a basic principle of economics of scarcity,” we said. “People find substitutes for items they can’t buy.”

“No,” we were told by all The Smart People.  “It’s guns.  Guns are the problem.  Ban guns, problem solved.”

A member of Parliament was just murdered but fortunately, he was not shot.  Britain has banned guns.  The MP was stabbed to death.  There’s already a movement in Britain to ban knives.

And now this.  Five dead qualifies as a “mass shooting.”  I’ll bet you a brand-new nickel The Smart People will call for bow bans and one-per-month purchase limits on arrows.  Really, how many arrows does one person need? [sarcasm tag off]

Oops, too late.  Australia’s already on it.

Joe Doakes


In 20 years, I predict a movement to ban cinder blocks and curbs.

Malaise

Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech in 1978 – in which he seemed to be reaching through the radio and telling the adolescent me “I got my piece of the pie; you’re gonna get less. Deal with it” was one of many impulses that led to me eventually becoming a conservative.

I have to hope this bit here does the same to some kid today:

Now, I’ll be fair – I didn’t read the op-ed. What, me pay for a paywall? Are you nuts?

And so, informed only by the headline, my first reflex was “well, duh – that’s Stoicism 101. Don’t get cranky about things you can’t control”.

But I suspect this is going to become part of the dominant class’s messaging; gaslighting people that wanting life to be like it was a year ago is…

…privilege? Racism? Not forward-thinking?

Trying to make a society of dopamine addicts into virtue-signaling aescetics; what could go wrong?

I’m Old Enough…

…To remember when “insurrections against civil government” or a bad thing.

That’s “Anti”-Fa, projecting their emblem onto the wall of the Multnomah County courthouse in Portland.

It is literally no less objectionable than projecting a swastika, by the way. The emblem is directly descended from that of the German communist party’s version of the Brownshirts.

Somehow, the media never covers it that way…

All Things Must Pass

During the 2015 protests around the Fourth precinct in North Minneapolis, there was a shooting incident. A group of four young white men got into a verbal tilt with a group of the protesters, which led to a chase through the streets of North Minneapolis. Then one of the quite guys, Alan Scarsella, drew his legally permitted handgun and fired, wounding one of the men and ending the chase.

We wrote about this back when it happened. On the one hand, one could argue the fear of death or great bodily harm was reasonable; Scarsella used exactly the effort needed to end the attack, and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of anyone making a more reasonable effort to retreat.

On the other hand, he handled the post shooting process, and the optics that are so important to jurors, about as badly as possible, going into hiding from the police until they came and found him. and there was one other thing, which we will come back to below.

In the weeks following the shooting, the press lionized the shooting victim, Cameron Clark.

Who is, by the way, back in the news this week:

Cameron Clark was shot during a 2015 protest by a man named Allen Scarsella, who was being chased by protesters who were demonstrating after Clark’s cousin, Jamar Clark, was killed by police. Although Scarsella claimed self-defense, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a trial that largely hinged on his history of making racially insensitive remarks.

And there’s a note in there for Potential self-defense shooters; while a good lawyer could’ve potentially gotten the completely unrelated remarks suppressed from evidence, it would’ve been much easier had they not existed. As I tell people on social media I’ll start stressing about how they intend to treat burglars, “the first rule of armed self-defense as you never talk about armed self-defense”.

But we digress:

Following the shooting, Clark was uplifted by Minnesota media as a voice for racial justice. Now, he’s received a lengthy sentence of his own after he tried to murder his unborn child.

While the lionization was far from the most ridiculous I’ve seen coming from Twin Cities media – Clark was not an unsympathetic victim, profiler you left the whole “chasing people through the streets“ thing out of the story, and implausible as it seems, perhaps they learned some thing from the ridicule they suffered over this – perhaps the media should learn the real lesson; taking sides in these sorts of episodes never works well

Unintended Consequences

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This article claims the reason for container ship backlog is not a labor shortage, it’s a second-order effect of a California environmental regulation. Seems California will only allow certain low-emission vehicles in the dock area to cut back on air pollution, and there aren’t enough qualifying vehicles to meet the demand to unload the ships.

I have no idea if it’s true. But it sounds plausible, right in line with proposals to ban lawnmowers and cow farts, to derive the energy to charge electric vehicles from wind and sun without a single thought of what happens to civilization when that plan doesn’t work. SITD readers understand second-order effects; California officials, not so much.

I’m not worried, though. Mayor Pete will be back soon. Should be fixed in a jiffy.

Joe Doakes

Seems plausible – I’d be looking for some corroboration, but then so is Joe – but I suspect it’s a perfect storm of side effects from poorly conceived regulations.

Another one that I’ve heard blamed: California ports don’t allow trucks run by independent owner operators; they have to be unionized haulers. Who are a small minority of the nations trucking industry.

Go Home, Facebook. You’re Drunk

First things first; condolences to the family, and the entire nation, really, on the death of Colin Powell.

Now, let’s talk social media.This was how the “Drudge Report“ posting appeared;

Forget for a moment the “fully vaxxed“ bit; there’s plenty of inadequate reporters jumping up and down yelling “see! See!, Who need to be reminded that Powell was 84, had blood cancer, and was pretty much a poster case for Covid comorbidities.

No, I’m just wondering if that was the best, most tactful place for Facebook to throw its little “fact check“ blurb?

All Is Proceeding As Predicted

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“If you ban guns,” we said, “criminals will just use another tool, maybe a bow and arrow. It’s a basic principle of economics of scarcity,” we said. “People find substitutes for items they can’t buy.”

“No,” we were told by all The Smart People. “It’s guns. Guns are the problem. Ban guns, problem solved.”

And now this. I’ll bet you a brand-new nickel The Smart People will call for bow bans and one-per-month purchase limits on arrows. Really, how many arrows does one person need?

Joe Doakes

Just another thing to add to the list of things Democrats will blame for crime before they get around to themselves.

Just So We’re Clear…

I tend to cut people a lot of slack on things that some see as outrages, cover-ups and howlers.

For example, when Joe Rogan couldn’t get Sanjay Gupta to condemn CNN for calling Rogan’s Ivermectin treatment “horse medicine”, some screamed foul. And it was a terrible look – but what, yo8u want a guy to shade his employer on the biggest podcast in the world? Be reailstic.

And a few weeks back, when the pit reporters translated “F**k Joe Biden” into “Let’s Go Brandon”, some howled the network was covering up for Biden’s growing unpopularity. No – in that case, she was doing what everyone working live in the world of broadcast (as opposed to cable or webcasting) is trained to do from the first time they take a microphone in front of a crowd; take any FCC violations that slip through and try to neutralize them, to prevent as many FCC complaints against their hundreds of affiliates broadcast licenses as possible. Because someone will complain.

(And honestly, that particular meme may be the closest thing to “fun” we’ll have this political cycle).

And so my inner solomonic pollyanna is fighting with my pouncing Republican and education-reform zealot on this bit here:

A badly chosen example in the heat of what sounds like a pretty annoying moment? Perhaps.

Evidence that Ms. Peddy reallly thinks there’s a legitimate opposing view on the Holocaust? I doubt it.

But the idea that teachers are baffled about providing multiple points of view on things that are controversial – Columbus, the 1619 Project, the founding of the country, the roots of the Second Amendment, the causes and motivations of the Civil War, how different the USSR and Nazis weren’t, and on and on?

I can’t really pollyanna my way around that.

Just So We’re Clear…

…I’m pretty sure the Secretary of Transportation is one of the Cabinet offices, like Education and Energy, that we could get rid of tomorrow and nobody would notice.

But with that said:

If Trump were still president, and Elaine Chao were sitting on the sidelines during a national crisis squarely involving (for better or worse) her corner of the bureaucracy, I’m pretty sure we’d be hearing about it.

By the way – during the nomination process, it seemed Buttigieg’s main qualification was that he was kind of a train geek as a kid. Too bad he wasn’t a ship geek, like me (and most rural North Dakotans).

#Unexpectedly

Turns out the man charged with murder in last weekend’s west end Saint Paul shoot out had never, ever committed a crime of any sort.

No, that’s a lie. I couldn’t resist.He had a rap sheet longer than John Thompson’s list of social offenses, and at least as long a list of judges who kept letting him skate:

The man charged with murder and attempted murder in the St. Paul bar shooting last weekend has a long criminal history, and court records show 33-year-old Terry Brown should never have had a gun.

It appears that at every turn Brown was given breaks by the system, breaks that allowed him to be free to go into the Seventh Street Truck bar Saturday night.

In 2018, Brown was charged with a felony for violating a no-contact order in a domestic case. He had a long record, with felonies including a 2016 conviction for violating the same no-contact order. In the 2018 case, he twice missed court dates and warrants were issued

If the system had done what it was supposed to do with convicted felons, Brown would have been in jail last Saturday night.

The Long And Winding Road

While the New Yorker’s politics just keep getting more blinkered and puerile, their arts and entertainment coverage remains frequently excellent.

With that in mind, I commend to all of you this fascinating piece by Lee Remnick on Paul McCartney, on the near-eve of the release of a Peter Jackson documentary on the last days of the Beatles that is almost enough to make me consider subscribing to Disney+.

It’s long, but it’s worth it.

Taking Stock

So let’s take stock of where were at in the Biden administration so far:

  • Our shelves are getting kinda bare. “But Merg – you couldn’t find toilet paper during the last year of Drumpf’s regime”. Yep – for free market reasons that actually made sense. Try again.
  • The borders are in effect open.
  • We have a de facto hostage crisis
  • The Taliban in back in control in Afghanistan
  • Fuel costs aren’t just rising, they’re skyrocketing.
  • Public education is getting even worse.
  • The social divides that erupted in violence during the Obama regime have escalated.
  • Indeed, inflation is back for the first time since my freshman year of college.
  • The executive branch, which as been too poiwerful for a long time, is starting to act on that fact.
  • After a year of government acting like a scolding “Karen” of a neighbor and “two weeks to flatten the curve”, not only has Covid gone nowhere, but the economic effects of lockdowns are getting worse.
  • The workforce – one of the four key pillars of the economy, along with land, capital and management – has been “unintentionally” distorted far out of whack, with dire consequences.
  • China is ratting its sabers as never before.

What am I missing?

Not Exactly Omaha Beach

The Feds released the specifics on the suspects charged with “armed insurrection” on January 6.

Some knives, none of which were used. Some baseball bats and clubs and various chemical irritants.

Five guns – only two of which were found on the Capitol grounds, one of which was a government issued piece in the hands of a DEA agent with all the necessary paperwork, none of which were fired.

Byron York (with occasional emphasis by me)::

Some of the weapons were obviously brought with the intention of being in a fight. Others were clearly improvised on the spur of the moment; in one case, the deadly or dangerous weapon used was a desk drawer. In another, it was a traffic barrier. In yet another, it was a helmet. That doesn’t mean those objects could not be dangerous; one could beat a person to death with a desk drawer. But it does suggest the rioter did not arrive at the Capitol bent on armed insurrection.

In addition, the overall numbers are relatively small. Eighty-two people charged with weapons-related offenses, out of how many? That is about 12% of the 670 or so currently charged. And 670 is smaller than the total number of rioters on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Does that amount to an “armed insurrection”? Especially when just five people have been charged with possessing firearms, the weapon of choice for modern armed insurrectionists, and one of them didn’t arrive until after it was all over, and none of them fired the weapons, even in the intensity of the physical struggle that day?

And that is the problem with the “armed insurrection” talking point. By any current American standard of civil disorder, what happened on Jan. 6 was a riot. There were some instigators, and there were many more followers. A small number were anticipating a fight, probably with antifa. And as the day went on, some people lost their heads and did things they should regret for a very long time. But a look at the Justice Department prosecutions simply does not make the case that it was an “armed insurrection.”

If this – five guns out of 600+ people charged – is an “armed insurrection”, then the rioters who came to the Midway in May 2020 were Operation Barbarossa.

Ack Shu Ally

On the one hand, this article, by a Joe Morgan, explains why he is rejecting the “Learn to Code” meme, especially as applied to his kids under the chanting point “coding is the new litracy”:

I’m a Developer. I Won’t Teach My Kids to Code, and Neither Should You.

Now, in my opinion the presented reason is a little specious:

Coding is not the new literacy. While most parents are literate and know to read to their kids, most are not programmers and have no idea what kind of skills a programmer needs. Coding books for kids present coding as a set of problems with “correct” solutions. And if your children can just master the syntax, they’ll be able to make things quickly and easily. But that is not the way programming works. Programming is messy. Programming is a mix of creativity and determination. Being a developer is about more than syntax, and certain skills can only be taught to the very young.

Sure.

And by the exact same logic, one shouldn’t teach your kids to read, write or speak your family’s native language, or any others, since you can say exactly the same thing about verbal and written expression; it’s more than just stringing words together, as anyone who’s had to listen anyone trying to do a foreign language out of a phrase book can tell you.

Of course, Morgan is right about what’s really behind “coding”:

That feeling of quality is the hardest thing for many developers to master. Well-designed code feels good to work with, and ugly code will make developers involuntarily cringe. The best developers learn to fuse abstract logic with the sensitivity of an artist. Learning to trust that aesthetic feeling is as much a part of development as any algorithm or coding pattern.

That’s true – just as it is for written and spoken language. Or anything involving having to think critically, to reason and to work one’s way through a complex system, whether language or software engineering, politics, sales, or human relationships for that matter.

But the reason I, as a non-coder who works in a roomful of software engineers, cringe when I year people whose jobs don’t involve “coding” telling people who’ve just lost jobs to “learn to code?”

Because if you hitch your wagon to “code’, your job is as secure as the next country full of low-priced developers allows it to be. We spent the 2000s shipping software engineering jobs to Russia and India; in the 2010s, Romania and the Philippines and Slovenia and even Bolivia started taking development jobs.

It’s entirely possible coding will be to the 2020s what assembly line work was to the 1970s.

Learn to think.

How Times Change

About this time seven years ago, I was writing the series of blog posts that eventually become my book Trulbert.

The book described a fictional breakdown of society after a financial cataclysm. I did it as satire because, honestly, it seemed like a more effective approach to the subject; Kurt Schlichter is going to put his kids through medical school with the proceeds from his fiction about a second Civil War, and he’s far from alone. And sometime humor is the best journalism.

Which isn’t to say Trulbert was “the best journalism”, but sometimes the indirect approach is the best one.

I’ve pondered doing a follow-up.

And I’m having a really, really hard time getting to “satirical” again. And I think it ties into the G.K. Chesterton quote – “when everything is absurd, satire is impossible”.

The Brandon Administration, and the times it rules over, are impossible to satirize.

I’m trying to figure out the angle for the next book.

A children’s story?

A musical?

I got nothing.