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.

Build Bull Blocker

Scene: it is 2020. The scene fades up in a DNC/Biden campaign office, in the middle of the 2020 presidential race.

A group of democratic party operatives is sitting in a crowded, messy campaign office, with video screens silently relaying the news all around them.

Operative 2: “OK, we are clear on this; rebuilding the economy from this pandemic is going to be a huge issue.“

Operative 1 (the campaign Manager): “That is why the “American Phoenix“ program, the presidents plan for what he will do about the economy after he’s elected, will be so important“.

Operative 3: “So we’ve gone over with the president exactly how he supposed to message this plan?”

Operative 4: “We’ve been rehearsing it every waking hour”

(Operatives 2-4 chuckle)

Intern: (Walks into the room, holding a TV remote, looking nervous) “Sir? Senator Biden is on television right now…)”

Operative 1: “Right? He’s supposed to be, isn’t he“ (Other operatives vigorously nod)

Intern: (points remote at television monitor, clicks a button) “I think you need to see this, sir…”

Candidate Biden (on video) “… my Build Back Better plan will put Americans back to work…“

(All of the operatives blanche)

Operative 4: “what the…“

Operative 1: “How the hell did he get from American Phoenix to… what did he say?“

Operative 2: “build… Better… I have no idea.“

Operative 3: “What?“ Operative 1: “Well, I’ll be; he actually was too senile to remember “American Phoenix“.

Operative 2: “so what do we do?“

Operative 1: “Well, he’s sort of made the decision for us. American phoenix is now… Better… Build now? What was it?

Operative 3: “back build…“

Operative 4: “I have no idea“.

Intern: (Silently rewinds the video)

 

(And SCENE)

Well, That’s A Big Slip-up!

Philippe Cunningham, Minneapolis’s first transgender black city Council woman, says that even though she has spoken, and voted for, defunding the police, she doesn’t actually support defunding the police.

Or… Something like that?

Phillipe Cunningham is the first black, gay, female-to-male transgender person to become a council member in the city. Last year, Cunningham appeared alongside eight other council members at a protest in Powderhorn Park. The centerpiece of this demonstration was a stage that prominently featured the words “DEFUND POLICE” in bold, all capital letters.

Although Cunningham voted late last year to remove $8 million of funding from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), she said she doesn’t actually want to defund the police and was “deceived” into standing on the defund police stage.

Apparently Cunningham was dealing with a pretty incredible con man (con person?), who deceived her into saying an awful lot of things that she never really believed:

“It is possible for us to keep our own community safe,” Cunningham said. “In north Minneapolis as the buildings were being broken and burned by white supremacists and extremists, MPD was nowhere to be found … so we had to come together ourselves in order to protect our community.”

Cunningham also praised the people “who threw the first bricks at police officers at Stonewall,” calling on the crowd to “honor our elders.”

Apparently the ne’er-do-wells have moved on from the “Nigerian prince“ scam, and done it in a big way.

Be careful out there.

They Told Me…

…that if I voted for Republicans, it’d usher in a hellscape of misery and deprivation.

And they were right.

The wealthiest society in history, at the greatest time in history to be a human, is being told by the Handmaidens of the Elite to get ready for, in effect, rationing.

Remember this.

Let’s go, Brandon.

Vibrant

Perhaps you’ve heard – it’s been in all the headlines; a shooting in a Saint Paul bar left one dead and 14 injured.

It took place in one of the many bars along West Seventh that suffered horribly with the shutdown of all events at the XCel Center, Ordway and the Science Museum, and the concertgoers and hockey fans and general tourists that used to crowd the area on a beautiful evening.

And the crowd that replaced them, when they could open at all, was a little…edgier? More likelly to cause problems? Bars in the area, and up on Cathedral Hill, had a much different atmosphere. Charged. Jumpy. Ready to blow.

And at the Truick Park – across from Cossetta, where the Seven Corners Hardware store used to be – things finally blew up.

Now, most of the politicians in Saint Paul – a city controlled by the DFL for over 60 years, and where county prosecutors have all but given up, well, prosecuting, had the good common sense to shut the hell up.

Not Carlos Marianil, the DFLer who “represents” the neighborhood.

But the three perps that where arrested all had lengthy felony records – so they wouldn’t have taken any background checks, whether “Universal”, or for that matter ‘intelligent and meaningful”, or not.

And who would have entered a “Red Flag” order on them?

Rep. Mariani’s next statement wasn’t especially intelligent – but it was meaningful, albeit in a sinister way:

So here’s the message; if you start a business in Saint Paul, after the state tried to kill you off with the hamfisted lockdown, and the Karens that make up the majority in your neighborhood decide to keep hiding in their basements and not go to bars and hockey games and shows at the Ordway, and you have to take whatever clientele you can to stay afloat, and problems erupt, your government will try to stuff you under the bus.

But! If you see that the clientele might have the potential to cause problems, and they’re not conveniently politically neutral (like people wearing motorcycle “club” paraphernalia)? Well, then the locals in and out of government will stuff you, on the other hand, under the bus: when the late, great “Bar Louie” chain tried to see to its own security, in exactly the way Mariani demands, the Karens from the Non-Profit/Industrial Complex were waiting to stomp on that as well. If it walks like a gang member and talks like a gang member, apparently you’re a racist.

So to take Mariani, and both city councils and both county prosecutors at their words:

  1. if you try to pre-empt trouble, you’re racist.
  2. If you make the the best of things and the crowd causes problems, they’ll throw you under the bus.
  3. The county attorneys won’t touch the petty criminals, and even the not so petty ones can’t seem to get put in jail no matter how they try.
  4. And if you say that that you expect the government to which you pay taxes to see to public safety? That’s your privilege talking.

Starting a business here sounds like. a great bet, doesn’t it?

Fearless Prediction: The media will start running even more “thjink” pieces on how it’s “Racist” to demand law and order.

Counterintuitive

A broken clock is right twice a day.

Which is about 729 times a year more than the New York Times is right.

But here we are.

Excellent piece by David Leonhardt, on how the terrible news coverage of the Covid pandemic is a reflection of human nature (And, I will also infer, some of the worst aspects of modern American media culture). In this case, the fact that people love reductionistic stories with heroes and villains, and that journalists (and the business people they report to) are not only basically human, but know that that bit of human nature brings eyeballs and dollars.

And that’s been on display:

In the case of Covid, the fable we tell ourselves is that our day-to-day behavior dictates the course of the pandemic. When we are good — by staying socially distant and wearing our masks — cases are supposed to fall. When we are bad — by eating in restaurants, hanging out with friends and going to a theater or football game — cases are supposed to rise.

The idea is especially alluring to anybody making an effort to be careful and feeling frustrated that so many other Americans seem blasé. After all, the Covid fable does have an some truth to it. Social distancing and masking do reduce the spread of the virus. They just are not as powerful as people often imagine.

The main determinants of Covid’s spread (other than vaccines, which are extremely effective) remain mysterious. Some activities that seem dangerous, like in-person school or crowded outdoor gatherings, may not always be. As unsatisfying as it is, we do not know why cases have recently plunged. The decline is consistent with the fact that Covid surges often last for about two months before receding, but that’s merely a description of the data, not a causal explanation

People like to see, Or think they see, their actions having an impact on the larger world.

Somebody has found a market feeding that impression, Including The very human tendency for people together in tribes.

The Karen tribe seems to be descended from the crowd of mean girls and bullies in junior high.

A Rohrschach Blob

The recent school shooting in Arlington Texas was all things to all people.

To “progressive“, it was a sign that “gun violence“ was still a huge bogeyman.To some fairly reductionist people on what is sometimes called “the right“, the news that the shooter was a black teenager, especially after a video of a chillingly violent altercation in a classroom that was said to have led up to the episode, confirmed a raft of biases about black teens, public schools and the possibility of rehabilitating violent teenage boys. Which, it was assumed, the shooter was.

To others, it was yet another sign that the law enforcement system had failed to put a repeat offender in jail, allowing him to continue to predate on society. Although to be fair, coming from people in the Twin Cities,

Turns out the story may be a lot more complicated than that, and that nobody had “wealthy black kid from a loving home, who has been bullied and robbed for being fairly well to do, shooting in self-defense“ on their Urban juvenile crime bingo card.

Berg‘s 18th Law is called a Law for a reason.

Shortage?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’ve been following the debate on whether vaccine mandates will cause staffing shortages. Had a few tests done at the hospital this morning. Quietly asked the RN about the vaccine. She hasn’t gotten it, does not intend to. She’s with an “agency” which means she’s not part of the giant conglomerate health care provider and isn’t bound by their rules. She’s seen stuff, read stuff, she affirmed – strictly off the record and between her and me – that I’m not the only one with serious doubts. We’re not crazy no matter what they tell us.

I received excellent care from a non-corporate nurse, for which I am grateful and also amused. The regulation says any employer with more than 100 nurses must . . . oh, we’ve only got 90. Our sister (but completely independent) companies also have 90, each. And each nurse only works 29 hours for each company. They’re exempt. No vaccine. But excellent patient care. And the giant conglomerate can proudly announce their in-house staff is fully vaccinated with no staffing shortage.

Potemkin compliance all the way down. You watch, they’ll be ‘independent contractors’ next.

Joe Doakes

People underestimate the cost of widespread ignoring of laws because they are widely considered to be wrong, stupid, corrosive of freedom and the like.

It doesn’t end well. And it’s not the peoples fault.

Campaign Advice

To: All Republican Candidates for Everything, Everywhere
From: Mitch Berg, Obstreporous Peasant
Re: Your 2022 Plans

Dear GOPers,

There are a lot of good things to run on against Democrats in this cycle:

  • Crime
  • The collapse of education
  • Crime
  • The economy
  • Crime

But if you’re not running on the, not merely “erosion”, but the affirmative assault on freedom by the government, you don’t deserve to win, and this nation deserves what awaits.

To wit:

Your mission is – or should be – clear.

That is all.

Confirmed

35 years ago, during Minneapolis’s first ground of gang violence, a police sergeant, perhaps in a combination of hyperbole and fatigue, told me that the safest place to be in a gang shootout is the target. Gang-bangers don’t spend a lot of range time; they love that John Woo horizontal grip; they spray and pray – never moreso now that the streets are full of illegal Glock full-auto trigger conversions, which will empty an 18 round magazine in a second and a half with all the accuracy of trying to knit while riding an untamed bronco.

That Sergeant, God bless him, just keeps getting proven right:

Miles of full auto gunfire at car-to-car range – and no casualties. One dead and four injured – from the car crash.

Thanks, Sarge.