Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Left’s Tet?

An interesting theory mooted by the Ace of Spades Morning Report:

I think that what we are seeing, at least in this phase of our political history is the equivalent of the Tet Offensive. They [the Left] are about to become a spent force, but is there an equivalent of the duplicitous Walter Cronkite to convince us that it is we who have lost the war? I don’t think so. In spite of everything, this is still the age of miracles and wonders – the age of Trump.

Leaving aside that last godawful heave-inducing sentence — which I include only as my contest entry for “the most ‘OK Boomer’ thing ever typed” — this is an interesting idea that deserves some investigation. Let’s start here:

Antifa were utterly MIA when it came to protesting the DNC in 2016, for example, whereas the Bernie bros and babes were out in full force, along with Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Lots of Bernie’s delegates were protesting from the convention floor, drowning out the neolib speakers. And yet, not an anti-fascist activist in sight — then, or throughout that entire primary season.

That’s because antifa is not a substantively radical group. Nope: like other brands of liberal, including the DSA and the fanbase of the Chapo Trap House podcast, they were mostly whipped up into a frenzy by Crooked Hillary’s loss in November 2016, and the prospect of the Orange Bad Man occupying the White House. They are aesthetically radical, emotionally / socially / psychologically radicalized, etc. But politically they’re slaves to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. They are angry, polarized liberals — not Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, or whatever else they and their right-wing foils want to believe them to be.

While it’s true that Antifa weren’t out protesting the Democrats’ convention (as far as we know, and with the usual caveats about what The Media chooses to report), I don’t think this is because “politically they’re slaves to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.” I don’t doubt that if they vote — big IF — they vote Democrat, but I doubt they vote much at all. I don’t think they’re liberals at all, and while I agree that they’re not Marxists etc., there’s a big difference between being “not ideological” and “not…substantively radical.”

Antifa are the dharma heirs of the Sixties’ New Left, and so analyses of Antifa, like this one, fall victim to the same problems that befell analyses of the New Left. The New Left made a lot of noise about Communism (indeed, Maoism), etc., but they neither knew nor cared a whit about actual ideology. The fact that China and the USSR nearly nuked each other didn’t bother the New Left (if, indeed, it penetrated through the pot haze at all). For the New Left, freaking out the squares wasn’t a battle tactic; it was the entire point. The New Left was an entirely negative identity — if the squares were for it, they were against it.

Fast forward half a century, and the Left dominates the culture. If Wavy Gravy fell into a time machine at Woodstock and landed on Main Street USA in 2020, he’d think he’d died and gone to heaven. Not even in his wildest dreams could a bong-addled hippie in 1969 envision Drag Queen Story Hour. It’s nothing but incense and peppermints as far as the eye can see…. which means that if you want to be against the dominant culture, you need to be fundamentally anti-Liberal.

Hence, Antifa. Agnostic is spot-on here: They don’t attack the traditional Left’s traditional targets. They’re not protesting in Mobile, Alabama; they’re protesting in Minneapolis, a city that very obnoxiously strives to be known as the Berkeley of the Midwest. Part of that has to do with the precipitating event happening there, of course, but even before all this crap started Antifa was running loose in places like Portland and Berkeley — you know, the kinds of places where Republicans are rarer than yetis. What could Antifa and the Portland city council possibly disagree on? Who hates Trump more? And yet, there they are, pissing in the streets like always. They’re being anti-Liberal the only way they know how:

If you wanted to loot a big box retailer, why loot the Walmart for liberals — AKA Target? Friendly fire! Why burn down a McDonalds, famous for liberal culture warring in their ads, rather than the Christian conservative Chick-fil-A? Why descend upon and vandalize the corporate headquarters of CNN, progressive local newspapers, and indie bookstores, rather than Fox News, conservative local papers, and Christian bookstores? Why destroy an Apple Store rather than a boat dealership? An Amazon truck rather than a supermarket?

The Left, then, is fracturing badly. Here’s Agnostic’s inimitable prose style describing the old-school suburban soccer-mom Liberals (who, let us note, are inconceivably radical even by New Left standards) unleashing their shock troops on the Goodwhites of the urban professional striver class:

They washed their hands of the ghettos decades ago, but by now they don’t even give a shit about the yuppie gentrifiers who moved in to “clean the place up”. I don’t think professional-class transplants understand just how little respect everyone else has for their crusade of gentrification. We don’t care that crime is low in some downtown area that we never went to in the bad old days. And we don’t find your new neighborhoods cool and enviable — a vegan Buddhist cafe instead of a guitar store on St. Mark’s? A trannie ball-waxing salon instead of a used bookstore? Borrrinnng.

I’m far from the first guy to point out that the Left has tried everything under the sun to overturn the 2016 election. But y’all will recall, I hope, that I’ve been predicting for a long time now that when all else fails, they’ll go to the gun. They have to. Violence is in the Left’s DNA; asking them not to go to the gun when they feel the chips are down is like asking Joggers not to Jog. Maybe some won’t, but the majority will.

The Tet Offensive was a major miscalculation by the North Vietnamese, driven almost entirely by internal power struggles. It achieved gaudy successes in the first few days, but ended up completely destroying the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force. The NVA took a pounding, too, and all in, Tet probably prolonged the war by a few years — even with Cronkite and his fifth column fellow travelers doing everything they could to whip up antiwar hysteria, thanks to Tet the North Vietnamese didn’t have the firepower to capitalize.

Provided Trump doesn’t fuck this up — and oh God, how it terrifies me to type that phrase — the Left may really have dug their own grave with these riots.

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A Race Riot?

Please tell me I’m not the only one baffled by this:

So we are told that this is all about racism. And yet, we are also told that it’s “Antifa” or “White Supremacists,” take your pick, inciting all the mayhem. The evidence for this latter claim being: All the White people caught on camera looting, inciting, etc.

Which, you know, is true. I’ve seen ’em.

I can’t be the only one who’s thinking this is one really fucking shitty race riot, can I?

I mean, if the Joggers were really concerned about what they say they’re concerned about, shouldn’t they, you know, be kicking the shit out of any Honky they can lay hands on?

And yet, the Honkies march around with complete impunity.

Seems to me that this is another situation in which we need to embrace the awesome power of AND. “Antifa” and the rest of Soros’ Finest are out there stirring shit up, because that’s just what they do, AND Joggers are out there Jogging, because that’s just what they do. So long as most everyone gets a chance to liberate a 60″ tv, who cares what the riot’s supposed to be about?

Personally, I don’t care either way. Should the excitement reach my little corner of the world, I will ventilate anyone who threatens me or mine. Won’t even think twice about it. Other than that, let them burn it until the National Guard opens fire… and I couldn’t possibly care at whom they fire. Deus (or Soros) suos agnoscet.

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Grubby Little Proles

Leszek Kolakowski, in his essay collection Is God Happy?, wrote several fascinating essays on Communism vs. other forms of Socialism, such as Fascism and generic Leftism. He notes that while Communism proper attracted lots of serious intellectuals and artists, who produced some works of real merit, generic “Leftism” had few, and Fascism almost none.

He also notes the degeneration of art on the Left. I don’t want / am not qualified to get deep into the weeds of art history, but let me use an example (mine, not Kolakowski’s): Pablo Picasso vs…. oh, pick an artist, they’re all Lefties… let’s say Andy Warhol. Noting that “important” can be diametrically opposed to things like “good,” “aesthetically pleasing,” etc., we can all agree that both were important artists. Whatever else their differences, the most obvious one was:

Sincerity.

Picasso was a lifelong member of the Communist Party. He was also a sincere artist (which, again, can be miles away from “good;” I personally can’t stand Picasso’s art). Guernica is wildly overrated, and its sentiment jejune — we all agree that bombing civilians is bad, mmkay? — but at least it’s sincere. Warhol, on the other hand, never took a sincere breath in his life. Making your work superficial on purpose doesn’t absolve you from the sin of superficiality. Warhol (and Roy Lichtenstein, and the rest of the “Pop Art” crowd) gave wannabes permission to substitute “being ironic” for “having something to say,” and there’s your modern art in a nutshell. Calling a modern “artist” a poseur is like calling water wet — what could possibly be the point?

Which brings us back to Kolakowski. He notes that there are apostates aplenty from Communism, and they all seem compelled to write big long books full of critical self-examination. Cheering for the murder of millions would do that, one supposes… except that, as Kolakowski says, you can’t find one single ex-Leftist doing it. Hell, is there such a thing as an ex-Leftist, as opposed to an ex-Communist? Kolakowski couldn’t find one (as of 1995, I think), and I can’t think of one either. Every former radical I’m aware of was just that — a radical, a card-carrying Communist or at least a virulent fellow-traveler, e.g. David Horowitz. We probably all have heard of someone waking up one day (say, after 9/11) realizing that the Democratic Party they’d been knee-jerk voting for all their lives was out to lunch, but do you know of any True Believers seeing the light?

Or, to put it another way, what do you think would make this gal

come around? Anything? Is it possible? They say a conservative is just a liberal who’s been mugged, but as we’ve seen all too often — and as we’re currently seeing in Minneapolis and other places — there are plenty of liberals who keep getting mugged, over and over and over again, and remain liberals. How is that possible?

Kolakowski suggested an answer (though he didn’t follow up on it). In a glorious metaphor, he said that Communists were hawks, but Leftists were just irritated butterflies. Let’s give those murderous bastards their due: Commies got their hands dirty. Communists were under no illusions about the souls they were trying to save. Indeed, their fanatical willingness, even eagerness, to kill can be explained no other way — there are certain folks who are incorrigible; incorrigibles will always stand between us and Utopia; therefore, incorrigibiles must be eliminated.

That’s one hell of a realization to have about yourself: That you’re willing to kill for an idea. You might be ready to die for the Revolution, but are you willing to kill for it? Read the autobiographies of apostate Commies. They might not put it exactly that way, but that’s the crucial realization, every single time: If you’re willing to endorse Josef Stalin committing the “necessary murder,” then you ultimately must be willing to commit it yourself…. and if you’re not, then the whole intellectual edifice you’ve spent so much time and effort building must come crashing down. Such a person can’t keep lying to himself, because he’s surrounded by people who really are willing to commit the necessary murder…. or who already have.

Leftists, by contrast, were, are, and always shall be nothing more than irritated butterflies. They don’t have to leave their ivy-covered ivory towers, so they won’t. They don’t know anyone who has ever killed so much as a mouse. When it comes right down to it, they find this whole “Revolution” business to be just….so…. vulgar.

What’s life like in the Soviet Union? They neither know nor care, until the brute facts of life in the USSR are rubbed into their faces for so long that they have to acknowledge them. At which point they simply switch allegiances. Kolakowski’s essay doesn’t mention Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims, but they arrive at essentially the same conclusion — that instead of becoming disillusioned with Communism (Socialism, “social justice”) itself, the irritated butterflies of the Left grow disillusioned with a particular country or leader. The USSR has failed, yes, but — all together now! — “real Communism has never been tried,” so let’s put all our faith in Mao… and then Castro… and then Chavez, et cetera ad nauseam.

It’s all about maintaining the purity of the idea in the face of disappointing, vulgar, grubby reality. An honest-to-Marx Communist will come into plenty of contact with reality. A Leftist never will, because xzhey have convinced xzhemself that even the mugging they’re currently experiencing is a lofty and noble expression of authenticity. They’re willing to die for the Revolution, certainly — the urge for martyrdom has always been highly conspicuous on the Left. So long as they never feel that base, grubby, vulgar proletarian urge to defend themselves, they’ll be fine.

[Which, incidentally, explains why nationalist forms of Socialism never attracted big league artists and intellectuals. Nazism, especially, is a purely defensive ideology. I know, I know, you’ve been taught all your lives that “Nazism” is all but synonymous with “wars of conquest,” but it’s funny how strongly you’re discouraged from hearing anything Hitler et al actually said. Were you permitted to consult primary sources, you’d see that National Socialism is presented as the last, desperate hope for the preservation of the German race. And thanks to those aggressive wars, Hitler made it quite clear that there was no such thing as a cosplay Nazi — you can live a wonderfully coddled little upper-middle-class life in your gated community while sucking up to Stalin, but Hitler would make you get off the couch and fight].

“Never cheer for your own.” When you come right down to it, that’s the Leftist motto. Leftists don’t deride “sportsball,” for instance, because they’re un-athletic little dweebs who were always picked last at recess (well, ok, not only that). It’s because cheering for a team, any team, is vulgar. It’s what grubby little proles do. (That’s another way to distinguish a Communist from a Leftist, by the way. Actual Commies love sports; look at all the resources the USSR poured into the Olympics, for instance. That’s because sports are good training for war).

Is Leftism curable? Can they be made to cheer for their own? Experience suggests that the cure will be very harsh indeed… if indeed it’s possible at all.

 

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How It Ends

Let’s be honest: Diversity isn’t being Our Strength in Minneapolis because they’re mad about “racism.” They’re out Jogging because they’re bored, and when Joggers get bored, they go Jogging. Same as it ever was.

Nobody in Minnesota’s state government is to the Right of Vladimir Lenin, so naturally they went all-in on the virus hysteria. Bad enough, but look:

Virus-wise, Minnesota is surrounded by free states. Iowa and the Dakotas never had formal lockdowns. Their economies are doing pretty good. Wisconsin has an SJW governor who tried his best to go Full Retard, but the state supreme court slapped him down, and now WI, too, is well on the road to full recovery.

Minnesota, by contrast, has gone to indefinite lockdowns. Their economy is in the toilet. Their state taxes are already brutal, and getting worse. And there has finally been springlike, indeed summerlike, weather across the upper midwest.

In short, even the most zombified Scandicucks are starting to wonder — just a little!! — why the hell they’re still cowering under their beds. Do you honestly expect Joggers, with their 75-average IQs and minuscule future time awareness, to not Jog under those circumstances?

And that’s how it ends, y’all. In states where they went Full Retard, virus-wise, everyone has been living like a Jogger. Nowhere to go, nothing to do but watch tv and wait for government handouts. This has been going on for months, and if the SJWs in the state houses have their way, it’ll be going on for months — maybe years! — longer.

Eventually, non-Joggers are going to start Jogging, because hey, why not? It’s something to do that’ll finally get them out of the house for a while. And who’s going to stop them? Their “parents”? Their “teachers”? The police?

“Letting your downtown burn once or twice a generation” is just the price you pay for being Goodwhite. For the SJWs in the state houses, it’s a feature, not a bug, since they run the “recovery” and can shovel yet more taxpayer money at their harebrained schemes. But when the suburbs start to burn? When Chad and Stacey are out there liberating Game Boys from Target with Dontrelle and Mo’nesha? Chad and Stacey have already had a taste of this in places like Portland… and they really seem to like it. How long before they start giving it a shot in the lily-white ‘burbs of Minneapolis?

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Quick Take 5/29

As Diversity continues to be Our Strength in Minneapolis (coming soon to a downtown near you!), one does start to feel almost sorry for the Democratic Party. They must be soiling their Depends right now.

I almost wish I hadn’t purged the RC archives, because now you’ll have to trust me: I had the race riots pegged for August, when the Dems will host their convention in possibly the most de facto segregated city in America. It’s not even June yet.

I know the Media’s tiny little reptile minds can’t grasp this, but in the hopes that there are still a few quasi-grownups in the DNC who remain intermittently capable of rational thought, I’ll offer this in the spirit of bipartisan unity:

You’re blaming this all on Trump, of course, but after four years of blaming every conceivable thing on him, everyone who can be convinced, already is. You’ve blamed everything from viruses to weather to variations in the Earth’s magnetic field on Trump. By 2020, it is simply no longer possible to be neutral about Donald J. Trump. Can’t be done. The other day on tv I saw some scrunt of a “journalist” proclaiming that she’d vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them. (I’d put “even” in front of “if,” but the way the Left is these days, I’m not so sure that’s a bug, not a feature). Nice of y’all to finally admit it, of course, but that’s not the point. The point is:

Thanks to exactly that kind of thing — y’all’s obvious willingness to do whatever it takes to elect Democrats, no matter how evil and Alzheimer-y — lots of people have come to the same conclusion re: Trump. And again, exactly this kind of thing — y’all’s obvious, flaming, fanatical partisanship — is pushing anyone who merely “leaned” Trump into the “guaranteed vote” camp.

Let’s bring it back to the Diversity currently being Our Strength in Minneapolis. As Ace of Spades put it (and credit where it’s due, that guy has really redeemed himself of late), the Media — all of them — have decided to call these folks “protesters,” rather than “rioters” or “looters,” even when they’re liberating TVs from bondage at Target and lighting the Fires of Freedom at car dealerships. And, oh yeah, they burned a fucking police station.

“Protesters” did that.

Not even the Media can spin images of the Diversity hoofing it out of Target with expensive consumer electronics as a justified response to institutional racism, though God knows they’re trying. Nor can the Media stop those images from getting out, since everyone in the world has a cell phone camera and a Facebook account and lots of the Diversity are taking to social media to brag about it. The longer this goes on, and the more cities it spreads to, the more people are going to realize that… well, that Diversity truly is Our Strength.

If there are any quasi-adults in the DNC who are capable of intermittent rational thought, please understand: That’s BAD for y’all.

Now, admittedly, Trump made a huge mistake here, threatening to call out the National Guard. He should’ve kept quiet, but since he’s psychologically incapable of doing that, he simply should’ve pointed out that this is what you get when you elect Leftists generation after generation. Hey, you idiots voted for this, now you’re fucked, have fun. Make those Farm-Labor idiots, who are airheads even by the Democratic Party’s astronomically high standards, beg POTUS to send troops.*

But whatever, that’s not going to hurt him too bad, because again, you’ve got Diversity bragging on social media about all the high-end shit they’ve liberated in the name of Social Justice. The longer this goes on, the more obvious it becomes. Oh, and let’s not forget that you’ve got Dem governors ordering their state police to go arrest barbers and whatnot for violating “social distancing” even as their downtowns go up in flames. Bad optics, gang… very bad. After being promised it for going on 20 years now, the Army finally will be greeted as liberators when they roll into what’s left of Minneapolis.

And let’s all spare a thought for Nipples Cuomo and his Mini-Me, Bill DeBolshevik, shall we? Nipples already had a tough hill to climb for that VP / replacement President slot, what with being (technically) male and all, plus the whole “sending half of New York’s grannies back into nursing homes to die of COVID” thing. But he had an outside shot… until now. Now Biden pretty much has to put Tank Abrams on the ticket. And as for DeBolshevik, holy Jeebus, can you imagine what New York’s race riots are gonna look like? Especially when that grandstanding fool orders the cops to stand down, in solidarity with the “protesters”? It’s gonna take more than the National Guard to clean up that place. (On the upside, I’ve never seen an honest-to-god combined-arms assault before. It’ll be like Red Dawn, but with the 101st Airborne instead of the Russians).

So, yeah, anyone left in the DNC who can adult for a few moments: Y’all need to get on this, fast.

 

*I know, I know, Trump has sworn an oath on the Constitution not to do that kind of thing, but the Constitution is deader than disco. Had something analogous happened in a Republican stronghold on his watch, Obama would’ve ordered Air Force tankers to douse the area in jet fuel.
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Quick Take: The Definition of Insanity

Ace of Spades links to a report that Tara Reade told her future ex-husband about Joe Biden groping her back in 1993. The testimony in question — their divorce proceedings — dates from 1996. Which proves, if nothing else, that Reade’s allegations aren’t a last-second put-up job by unhinged partisan hacks, a la Blasey-Ford.

From this, Ace concludes:

I don’t see how he continues as the nominee. I wish I could — he’s so damaged he’d be an easy win.

But it’s over.

Wasn’t it Freud who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results?

Democrats don’t withdraw. They don’t resign. There have been two that I can think of who have been forced out in the modern era: Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner. Both New Yorkers, and as New York is the definition of a one-party state, there were lots of powerful Democrats with vested interests going against them. These were, effectively, palace coups, not responses to the voters’ moral outrage. After all, who the hell else were they gonna vote for? A Republican? Get outta here!

And then Trump happened, as my students would’ve written back in my teaching days, proving that even token gestures were unnecessary. Trump’s romantic resume is exotic enough to give a French politician pause. Conventional wisdom says a guy like that can’t get elected dog catcher in a Puritanical country like America… but wouldn’t you know it, Evangelicals came out as some of Trump’s strongest supporters. Plus ça change and all that, oui?

The Media, in the form of the New York Times, has already explicitly said that they won’t be investigating Reade’s allegations — unlike the flaming-hot topicality of the Kavanaugh hearings, the 2020 Presidential Race is one of the Media’s famous “local crime stories,” at least as far as the Democratic nominee is concerned.

 

Hell, the Media are degenerate enough to consider dragging their senile (alleged!) rapist across the finish line as a personal challenge, and as for the DNC, they didn’t blatantly rig the Iowa Caucuses (and the SC primaries, and Nevada, and etc.) to let their guy down now. It’s Biden or bust. They’ll simply pronounce the allegations “debunked” like they always do, and if they’re ever forced to mention it again, they’ll resort to the tried-and-true “Republicans pounce on debunked allegations.”

The only way Joe Biden isn’t the Dem nominee is if the Dems decide

a) he can’t win, AND

b) his defeat will do such damage to the brand that he has to go.

In that case, he won’t be forced out over anything so ticky-tack as a credible rape allegation. No, if that happens, Hillary’s fixers will make sure ol’ Sundown Joe has an “accident.” I mean, who hasn’t severed his carotid artery while shaving and juggling loaded revolvers?

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Random Thought 5/4/2020

I see that the new conspiracy going around this side of the Internet is that Wuhan Flu was an American bioweapon attack. How else would we have known about it back in November, these people ask, when the Chinese authorities didn’t?

Or, you know, when the Chinese authorities say they didn’t.

This is one of the key diagnostic criteria of a conspiracy theory: It assumes good faith on the part of actors who have never — not once, ever — acted in good faith.

Funny how it all comes back twice, the second time as farce (I think Snoop Doggy Dogg said that). Back in the days, it was the Radical Left who was willing to publicly swallow the USSR’s most absurd and obvious lies. Now it’s the Radical “Right” who treat Commies as paragons of probity. The goal is always the same, though: Bash America, because you’ve confused “America” with “your Daddy.”

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Adios

I won’t be posting much here anymore.

It’s been a long, strange trip, y’all, and we’re just about at the end of the road. I’ve said pretty much everything I have to say, often at great length (and repetitively to boot). The last thing anyone needs at this point is more talk.

Let me quote one of the best writers in Our Thing, the Z Man:

This is the trick of alternative politics. It’s not about grand plans or sophisticated meta-political discussions. It is about offering an alternative community. Libertarians, despite the ridiculousness of their cause, hang together because membership in the community provides a sense of belonging and bestows upon them a sense of dignity. That sideline they imagine to be the high ground is not a lonely place. Imagine a similar movement built around something based in observable reality.

There it is. Get to building your community, or shut the hell up.

I’m trying to build an alternative community. It might not be the right way of life, but it has to be better than this. I hope you’ll join me, but if you don’t, I appreciate you reading for as long as you have. Best of luck, comrades.

 

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Credo

I believe in the right of free association.  All other “rights” — of free expression, to private property, etc. — derive from the right of free association.  The only stable form of human organization is the community.

I believe in justice, not Justice.  Only communities can decide what justice is, in and for their communities.  Any social organization larger than the community, which does not leave the administration of justice to the community, is tyranny.

I believe in the person, not the process.  The administration of abstract, universal “Justice” requires treating individual men as means, not ends.  Fealty to abstract “Justice” sees men not as individuals with their own needs, or as members of a sovereign community, but as the outcome of a mechanical, judicial process.

I believe in the fundamental value of the human person, not his fundamental worth.  All humans are equally valuable in God’s eyes, and communities must respect that value.  A man’s worth, however, is a function of his social role.  It is determined by his community.  Abstract “Justice” denies this, which is why attempts to administer it always end up focusing on equality of outcome.  This violates the right of free association, and is therefore tyranny.

I believe in evolution, also called “descent with modification.”  Abstract “Justice” denies this, because it presumes that all men are equally capable of understanding the Good.  Men have different capacities for understanding the good; these capacities are largely inherited.  Forcing “equal” outcomes on people who are incapable of understanding it is tyranny, as the rights of those capable of knowing and acting on the Good are necessarily violated thereby.

I believe in the value of Culture.  It is the duty of those more capable of knowing the Good to arrange matters in their communities to check the worst tendencies of those less capable.  Any attempt to do this outside the community is a violation of the right of free association, and therefore tyranny.

I believe in the fundamental autonomy of the individual.  A man who will not, or cannot, adapt himself to his community is free to find another.  If he cannot find another, he may form his own.  As Thomas Hobbes said, the end of virtue is to be sociable to those who would be social, and formidable to those who will not.  This is the position of the autonomous individual.  Every man has a right to free association with himself, if no other.  Any attempt to constrain this is tyranny.

 

 

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What’s the End Game?

I, like a lot of people, have immersed myself in the COVID-19 pandemic and our reaction to it, including my friends’ reactions to it, which has been eye-opening.

Everything from conspiracy theories for overthrow of our government to big pharma or even the president staging it all to make a buck. On the left side of my friends there’s this idea that the US was uniquely caught flat-footed and had the worst reaction in the world, on the right this was cooked up by an evil cabal.  The Feds are “holding back” needed equipment, out of spite or wonton incompetence.  “We’re hearing …. ”   “People are saying ….”

Now … I would NOT rule out an escaped virus from the bio lab in Wuhan. But by that I mean if we found that to be true down the road I wouldn’t be completely shocked. I just don’t think that’s what happened. Not only have epidemiologists been warning us for decades about outbreaks like these, they’ve also been warning us about the almost perfect conditions some of the practices in Asian wet markets, particularly in China with respect to the wild animal trade in many of them — create. And we’ve seen it happen there before, recently, with a very similar virus, in 2002 in a different area of China. It was even a corona virus. SARS-COV. As with SARS-COV2, it broke out in November, the CCP was less than forthcoming about it through December and January. And it spread to many countries from there.

This one is worse, it appears to be more contagious, and is particularly nasty to the lungs in late-stage severe cases.

Countries all around the world have basically followed China’s and South Korea’s lead in implementing very strong social distancing measures, which has crippled the world economy — only not as severely as China did, especially in Wuhan.

That’s all for the most part, the facts. Now on to more opinion.  Mixed in with supporting facts.

I think the big social shutdowns were done largely because by the time symptomatic cases started breaking out world-wide, too many people were already infected and it was too late for early-outbreak contact tracing. This was largely due to China’s dragging its feet for 6 weeks, even destroying lab samples of the virus, arresting doctors who sounded the alarm to other doctors, not allowing Western epidemiologists to come in and both assist and learn about the virus, and denying human-to-human (H2H) transmission of the virus until late January. You know, about the time it was pretty obvious because cases started popping up in country after country and they could no longer deny it. Oh, and they kicked all at least Western journalists out of the country, if not all non-Chinese journalists.  That’s not fishy at all.

Ah, the journalists. If it bleeds, it leads, and the early predictions were bad. Really bad. 2.2-4 million dead in the US alone. Now of course this was a new virus and we had very little data on how it actually behaved outside of what we could garner from China and South Korea at first. There is no other way it could happen. As I’ve said many times, models are not reality. Dr. Fauci said it better yesterday. “Models are hypothesis. Data is data.” Good data makes your model more accurate. But you can’t have good data at the beginning of an outbreak of a brand new (to humans) virus.  Journalists make much out of saying “but two weeks ago, you said this, now you’re saying that.”  As if it were intentionally misleading.  Well, duh! we freakin’ know more about it now.  “At first you said it was nothing to worry about.”  Yes.  So did China, to which it was mainly confined and without foreign observers.  And the WHO said the same thing.  The we got more data.

I think Hollywood has a lot of people thinking that we can (maybe this is a bit of an exageration, but not much) merely ask, “Computer! How many people will die from this virus? “And the computer will quickly answer “if nothing is done, 2.2 million people will die” and that’s the answer and it is right because it came from a computer and computers “know”.

Well they don’t. They “know” only what we tell them. They can just do math faster than we can in our heads. That’s it. And if we tell them garbage, their answers will be garbage, only they can do it really fast and sometimes with errors exaggerated exponentially. Don’t confuse fast answers with certainty.

I can tell the journalists have no clue what’s going on by virtue of the questions they ask. For instance, there seems to be this idea that we can’t be safe until every single person is tested. All 330,000,000 of us in the US. Finally, yesterday one of the task force members essentially said, “we’re not going to do that”. Of course we’re not going to do that.  It’s impractical and unnecessary. We’ll test sample populations and model the rest, like we do with pretty much everything else.

I’ve said from the beginning that the so-called “lockdown” is simply a measure to buy us time to catch up to the virus. Not to stamp it out.  It was nearly two months before H2H transmission was confirmed, with tens of thousands of people from China flying all over the world during flu season with flu-like symptoms (sometimes) when nobody was looking for a new virus.

It had to have been sometime in January that our CDC started working on a test for it. They wanted to take it a step further and test for mutations in case this virus started to do that. That was a good idea. They shipped it out to 50 state and local labs in very early February, but only 8 of the 50 labs could get it to work. It turned out that it worked fine for detecting the virus itself, but the third vial, to test for mutations … was faulty.

Now government regulatory agencies are not built for speed. Regulation, by its very nature slows things down. Which is normally (within reason) a good thing (“Dont be hasty” – Treebeard). But not in an emergency. It took the FDA another 16 days to ok the test’s use without the third vial. THEN mass production could begin.

So we basically lost January to China, and February to a mishap and a slow regulatory response. Too late for contact tracing. And this thing happened all over the world.

By mid March, the NYC area was exploding with the virus. Mardi Gras. Spring Break. Ski-trips to Colorado. You know the rest.

The world economy is shut down, and we can’t keep it that way for too long or the cure may be literally be worse than the disease. Here’s the problem. We don’t know how bad the disease is. And we may never know how bad it is. If we do, it will be from looking back at what happened and piecing it together. Why is this?

Because it began as an unknown, and the more we found out about it, the more we were able to react to it, which in turn changes what we know about it because we are tinkering with R0 through social distancing and with mortality rates with new treatments.

So as a good friend of mine sincerely asked me yesterday, “What’s the end game?” — speaking to the economic shutdowns, specifically.

And here’s the bare, naked, honest answer.

We don’t know.     [yet]

Why don’t we know? We don’t have enough data to figure out what we’ll have to do, and to what extent — to contain this when we lift the restrictions. We’ve all basically agreed to stay shut down through April. In the mean time we are quickly getting that data and coming up with new ways to get more and better data, and developing medical mitigation (treatments) and developing and testing vaccines. Like I said, we’re buying time.

As Fauci said yesterday when we do open up, it won’t be like flipping on a light switch and everything goes back to normal, ESPECIALLY not uniformly, everywhere. But the end game is starting to come into form out of the fog as we get data in. If you listened to Dr. Birx yesterday, she talked about smaller communities, specifically about our Inidan Nations, but smaller areas like where I live where there are now few enough cases where full contact tracing is plausible again. That’s PART of the plan.

The whole thing depends on 1) controlling the spread 2) making the disease less deadly with treatment 3) protecting our most vulnerable until we either (back to 2) have treatments that make it less deadly or (back to 1) we develop a vaccine.

But we’re not making nuts and bolts here. When you’re developing something, you can’t say, like you can with making nuts and bolts “We can have 50,000 nuts manufactured by Friday”. You can’t say “In 13 days, we will have a sure treatment that will keep people out of the ICU”. But we CAN be optimistic that we will get it figured out, and soon. We just can’t tell you what day that will be right now. Over the next few weeks, we will have a MUCH better picture and can start saying more definite things.

We have multiple people, multiple companies and organizations, myriad doctors in the field working to figure this thing out and how to beat it.

People are motivated. People are motivated right now, partially out of alturism (yes, we do have some semblance of it, despite what Ayn Rand says). And partially for profit. Yes, that’s right. It CAN be both. But the motivation is pushing hard on both sides of that coin right now and I’m confident it will be done.

Fauci and Birx and the other task force members have all given us a little glimpse of what the unfolding will look like.

Less infected areas will have stay-at-home orders lifted first. There will still be guidelines to follow when we’re out and about. These guidelines will be informed by the data that is rolling in and will continue to roll in over the next few weeks. Yes, you can go back to work BUT … you should do these things until we get a vaccine. Yes, you can have gatherings and concerts BUT … take these precautions. And in the more infected areas they will be lifted more slowly as the numbers get down to some sort of at least rudimentary contact tracing is possible.

The “end game” isn’t really an “end”.  It’s more like “the rest of this will be managable from this point forward”.

That’s why we must, as they are saying, keep our foot on the gas over the next couple of weeks to drive those numbers down as low as we can get it before we start lifting restrictions. It will most definitely NOT mean the disease is beaten. Only beaten back to where it can be better managed. It will flare up in spots. The forest fire analogy is not a bad one. And if good enough treatments come out, and I think they will, that make getting this thing literally “no worse than the flu”. At which point restrictions become less warranted, and things will literally get back to “normal”. But socially, at least, it may be a new “normal”, where we wash our hands more, are more encouraged to stay at home when we’re sick, etc.

If you want to know what’s going on, watch the daily briefings. Pay no attention to the press – most of their questions are not insightful at all. It’s stupid cat-and-mouse “gotcha” games mixed with sheer ignorance about how things work, and an inability to listen.  That’s because most of them didn’t come to listen. Some of them are clearly agenda-driven, and are statements rather than questions. Don’t get your information from the media. Yeah, I know Trump rambles and repeats himself. Just wait for the various task force members to get up to the podium. Watch the entire breifings. Trump is trying (badly) to echo what he’s gotten from them tempered with some of his own judgement, and he’s just not a good speaker. But the other task force members are. They will tell you what they’re thinking, individually, and those things are driving what direction the group is headed, and the president’s job is just to gather that and make decisions when you get to the point of “well, it’s either A or B, we can’t have both”. As a facilitator and decision maker, I think he’s pretty good, and I think that’s what task force members are saying when they say he’s doing a good job.

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