Maine Trip, Cancer Moonshot, & the Death of the Queen (posted 9/16/22)

Our Maine visit is over, and a good time was had by all.  We met our friends in Portland and drove up to Mount Desert Island, and spent four days running around Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, and the surrounding small towns.

That’s a beautiful part of the country, and our hosts arranged for several trips into the park.   We watched a sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain on Wednesday, spent most of Thursday on e-bikes riding the carriage trails helpfully laid out by Mr. Rockefeller a while back, and took a 5-mile hike with gorgeous views all around on Friday.

Between those excursions, we ate a lot of lobster, saw a serene Japanese garden, and wandered around Bar Harbor.  We spent our last half-day walking around Bangor, before our afternoon flight home.  We made an obligatory stop at Stephen King’s house, outside of his famous wrought-iron gate with bats and spiders worked into the design. 

I’ve enjoyed many of his books over the years, but I’ve had to separate the writer from the writing, since he’s shared his vitriolic political views. (Spoiler alert: he really hates us!) Still, he has kept a place and still lives part of the year in gritty little Bangor, so I like that about him, at least.

The natural beauty of Maine can really take your breath away.  Watching the sunset from Cadillac Mountain was especially gorgeous, and as the sun finally dipped below the horizon, a round of spontaneous applause rippled through the small crowd with whom we’d been watching.

That struck me as both poignant and surprising.  As a Christian, applauding the sunset felt both appropriate and comic: “Nice job with the lakes, mountain ridges and sunset, God!” 

But I wondered about – and felt a lot of affection for – the large number of atheists and agnostics I assume were in that appreciative crowd.  It seems so odd to applaud for a performance without a Performer.  “Nice job with that sunset, unreasoning and random Nature!”

Even as that gesture makes no intellectual sense to me, I find it heartening that most people instinctively intuit that there is Someone beyond that beauty, and tribute should naturally be paid.

One of the blessings of a vacation is being only intermittently aware of world events, politics and the media.  We caught only bits of tv, and I spent a few minutes checking email and surfing through the news.  But the juxtaposition of what our Maker has done with the Maine coastline and what our political class is doing with our society is disorienting, to say the least.

Here are the random bits of news I saw:

1. Some anonymous Democrat staffers are leaking a story that is apparently well known in Washington: Jerry Nadler frequently falls asleep during meetings, and when legislation is being created and discussed.

The tone of the story was critical, but I found myself wishing that more of those boneheads would follow his example.  How much misery would our country have been spared over the last interminable 18 months if all of our congress had just pulled a Rip Van Winkle in January of 2021?

Can you imagine if, the day before the Inauguration That Will Live in Infamy, Imhotep Pelosi would have pulled that sarcophagus lid over her head for a little shut-eye; Schumer would have noticed that there were no cameras around, and thus there was no reason for him to remain conscious; and Grandma Squanto Warren would have snuggled under her deerskin blanket and pulled her headdress down over her eyes so that she could rest them?  (#wemustneverstopmockingher)

When they came stumbling out into the light this Labor Day, they would have woken to a country with still-functioning borders, $4 trillion less in national debt, and inflation at a Trumpy 2.5%.  Plus we’d be down two Cuomos and a Brian Stelter, and CNN+ would just be a terrible, hilarious dream. 

And a Joe Biden deep into REM sleep would be just as effective as he is now — If he were talking in his sleep, could he possible make less sense than he does when he’s awake? – and without all of the angry yelling.

A fella can dream, can’t he?

2. Speaking of the late President, I saw a few minutes of him giving a speech, and his mood has apparently not improved since his fire-and-brimstone Reichstag speech.  At one point he was literally shaking, and hollered at the top of his voice, “We beat big pharma!  We beat big pharma!”

I immediately thought that this means one of two things:  Either there will soon be no more medications in the pipeline to help me deal with the PTSD I expect to have if I manage to survive this administration, or Corn Pop had a big brother named Pharma Pop.

Fortunately, the Big Guy beat Big Pharma.

Probably with a bicycle chain.

3. Another day, I saw Brandon speaking in front of a blue backdrop that said, “Cancer Moonshot.”

 And I thought Good Lord!  Is Joe Biden going to give the moon cancer now?!

I know that it sounds unlikely, but look at his previous work. 

At the end of his presidency – or of the world, whichever comes first – we’ll have Weimar-level inflation, a nuclear-armed Iran, more illegals than citizens, more female males than male males, and sanctuary cities machine-gunning any approaching person who is darker than Liz Warren (#don’tstopmocking)

In light of all of that, does a carcinogenic moon sound that outrageous? 

4. Queen Elizabeth died at the age of 96, and like most people, when I first heard the news I thought, that’s too bad.  It’s not my country, and I don’t really get royalty, and she wasn’t exactly cut down in the flower of her youth.

But she seemed like a nice lady, with the adorableness that many old ladies achieve, with the cute hats and the good manners and the diminutive stature and the posture of a jumbo shrimp.

Plus she had a British band play The Star Spangled Banner after 9/11, and she’s had to put up with a lot of lunkheads in her family.  And I can’t think of anything offensive that she’s done, not least because she’s a traditional figurehead with no actual political power.

So imagine my surprise when I dipped into some media the next day and found out from many leftist commentators that I was wrong about the queen, and that she was actually an evil, racist, colonizing genocidal maniac!   

One of the raving loons who got the most attention is a Carnegie Mellon professor named Uju Anya, a ray of sunshine who was born in Nigeria, but inexplicably chooses to live in terrible, racist America. 

When news came out that Elizabeth was deathly ill, Uju tweeted that the queen ruled over “a thieving, raping, genocidal empire,” and hoped her death would be “excruciating.”  Then she doubled down after the death with more hateful celebration.

This dunce then professed to be “surprised” that so many Brits were offended by her obviously offensive statements.  She condescendingly explained that her tweets were meant to educate people, saying, “I am fundamentally a teacher.”

I guess she’s correct, in the sense that teaching people how NOT to behave is still “teaching.”  In that sense, she’s like AOC (who taught how NOT to make drinks correctly), or Andrew Cuomo (who taught how NOT to protect nursing home residents during a pandemic), or CAW CAW (who taught now NOT to break a glass ceiling).

How did so many leftists get to the point where they’d pour such bile on an inoffensive character like the queen in the hours before and after her death?  Even if you dislike somebody, would you not be able to restrain yourself and be civil, at least until after the burial?

I mean, all of us had a pretty low opinion of Joe Biden when he passed away – sometime during the Dem primaries in 2020 – but you didn’t see any of us running for the nearest camera and frothing at the mouth about how he should die an agonizing death.

But let me end on a happier note coming out of the UK.  One of Queen Elizabeth’s last acts was to greet the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss.

I don’t know much about her, but Truss is supposed to be at least quasi-conservative.  One of her first official acts was to acknowledge that energy costs for British citizens are needlessly high, and that the UK will oversee “a new round of oil and gas licensing.” 

Responding to public opinion, she said that, “A moratorium on fracking will be lifted and planning permission can be sought where there is local support.”

Meanwhile, two days ago, Joe Biden got in bed with “environmental activist groups” – sorry for the repulsive, necrophilia imagery! – and agreed to stop oil and gas drilling on more than 58,000 acres of federal land.

Thanks, Brandon.  Couldn’t you just focus more on giving cancer to the moon, instead of making Putin richer and Americans poorer?

I didn’t think I’d ever entertain this idea, but maybe it’s time we consider reaching out to the Brits, apologizing for that 18th century unpleasantness, and asking if we could be a colony again.

Avenatti/ King Charles III, 2024!

My Visit to Boca, & Biden’s Speech from Satan’s Waiting Room (posted 9/6/22)

I’ve never enjoyed those social media posts people use to idealize their lives, and generate envy in their viewers.   

You know the types: “Here we are on the Amalfi Coast, with our two daughters.  The one leaning on the Ferrari is the supermodel; the one in the back seat is the one who just got the Fullbright.  We’re about to drive down to the dock and take a ferry to the island in the azure waters of the bay – the second one on the right.  We just bought that.”

Having said that, I know that I’m sidling up to being obnoxious, but I spent this past weekend with some luminaries at CO’s place in Boca, and tomorrow my wife and I are going up to Maine for a week visiting great friends on Mount Desert Island.

I know.  I feel sheepish even writing about this.  But at the risk of sounding like one of “those people,” I’ve got to share just a little.

The Economics Correspondent (Chris Silber) came from the West Coast, and the Correspondent for Conspiracy Theories and Ill-Advised Speculation and his wife were there, along with CO and the COW. We had a great dinner, and Chris taught me a little about good wine, two bottles of which he had brought with him.

I learned about corkage fees, and the five-tier Bordeaux Wine Classification that was created in 1855 and is still used today.  CO and the COW were charming and gracious, and Mark told some stories about from his and CO’s high school days – which are naturally classified, and disclosure of which would place my life in danger.

After dinner we retired to CO’s house, where Sandra joined us, and we talked into the night on topics as diverse as politics (foreign and domestic), business strategy, stories of businessmen who torpedoed their careers with sex scandals, and little-known horror movies.  

The next day the six of us went on a boat-ride with two other guys, both of whom were also refugees from the People’s Republic of Chicago.  One of them lives on the intercoastal, and (as you may have guessed) owns a beautiful boat, which we took through a watery corridor of amazing houses and then out onto the ocean.  After a seaside lunch, we headed back to home base on the intercoastal again.

A highlight of the return trip was passing another large boat with a dozen or more young women in small bikinis on deck.  The males on our vessel noticed.  Then the females on our vessel pointed out the giant flag on the other boat: “Trump.  He’ll Be Back!”

And then we males said, “Oh yeah.  A flag.”  And we commented on the intelligence and good character of the young women on that boat.

Strangely enough, as we were departing, the one police boat on the water weaved through 40 other boats and boarded the one with the be-thonged Trump fans on it.  What are the odds? 

Insert your own “checking for flotation devices” joke here.

I couldn’t stay for the live music portion of Saturday evening, but am told that a grand time was had by all. 

I’d like to thank the lovely and gracious COW, and the equally gracious and almost as lovely CO, along with Chris, Mark, Sandra, Alan and Captain Ron for an entertaining and enlightening weekend.  I was always the least cultured and intelligent person in the room, but that meant that I could improve myself by soaking up the conversation and the culture from those around me!

I can’t leave town – or end this column – without commenting on Biden’s horrendous speech/tirade from last Thursday. 

Everyone has mentioned the terrible visuals, and so will I.  But the content was even worse.

The over-the-top demonization of his opponents would only work for the hardest of hard-core lefties.  And since that group makes up only a small sliver of the population (thank a merciful God), that negativity was a very bad choice.

He also pegged the hypocrisy meter about 20 times during the speech: 

“Don’t be angry!” he shouted, angrily.

“The other side loves hatred and darkness!” he snarled hatefully, from a circle of light surrounded by ominous darkness, in front of a brick wall where a bunch of Aztec warriors had apparently just ensured a good harvest by opening the carotid arteries of a thousand captured children.

“You can’t love your country only when you win!” hollered the guy representing the party who insists that Gore won in 2000, CAW CAW won in 2016, and Stacey Abrams is the legitimate governor of Georgia and the President of Earth. 

More seriously, we are going to have to force Brandon to define exactly who he means by MAGA Republicans.  (Not that WE don’t know who he means: everyone except Bill Kristol, Adam Kinzinger, Liz Cheney and several dozen RINOs who hate Republicans.) 

Because after making a few rhetorical throat-clearing gestures over the last month or so – “Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans are MAGA…” – he’s slid straight into vague defamation about “extreme ideology, not respecting the constitution or the rule of law, etc.”

But if you listen to the few specifics he offers – being pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, wanting a border – you realize that he is smearing 99% of Republicans, and around 70% of the entire country. 

After the speech, you knew how badly it had gone by watching the MSM trying to downplay or deny its ugliness. It was especially painful to watch poor KJP – she might be inept at her job, but she is attracted to women, so behold the historicity! –struggle to insist that the speech was both hunky AND dory. 

I especially like her – and the rest of the MSM’s – insistence that the speech was NOT political.

Here’s an actual quote from the speech, which I am not making up: “We need everyone to do their part, so speak up, speak out, get engaged, vote, vote, vote!”

Get it?  You all need to get out there and vote, vote VOTE!!! … a-politically.

And then there were the visuals.  Oh, the visuals! 

A pulsing, angry, emotionally “hot” red color palette, especially when an angry old man is set to deliver a relentlessly angry speech?

Though, come to think of it, in light of Biden’s economic policies, red was the appropriate color.

And in light of his abortion policies, red was the appropriate color. 

And in light of the color of the faces of right-thinking Americans if they tried to watch that travesty, red was the appropriate color. 

And I know there’s at least one Democrat pol to whom all of that over-saturated red appealed to.

That’s right: Lizzie Warren.  #wemustneverstopmockingher

I kid Grandma Squanto.  But in reality, her native coloring WAS represented in that eerie tableaux. 

Remember the glowing white gloves on the two Marines in the shadows behind Biden….

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the Democrats’ media-savvy brain trust got together and came up with those optics:   

Flunky #1:  So listen, I was thinking of a setting for Biden’s big speech.  How about Independence Hall?

Flunky #2: Ugh.  I bet those MAGA types just love the name of that place.  Why couldn’t the Founders have built Dependence Hall?

Flunky #1: HA!  The mouth-breathing deplorables would have torn the place down immediately.

Flunky #3: Hey, Flunky #2, did you just capitalize “Founders?”

Flunky #2: What?  No!  I’m speaking, not writing.  We don’t capitalize words when we speak.

Flunky #3: Oh yeah?  What about every time we say, “Racism?”

Flunky #1: Or “Sexism?”

Flunky #3: Or “Pay your Fair Share?”

Flunky #2: Okay, okay, point taken.  But I was certainly not capitalizing the “Founders.”

Flunky #3: I hope not.  Bunch of slave-holding, capitalist, gun fetishizers!

Flunky #1: Can we get back on track here?  Does Independence Hall work for everyone?

Flunky #3: Okay, but we’ve got to light it in some dramatic way, so that nobody will recognize it, and actually think about [shudder] “independence.”

Flunky #2 (after a contemplative pause): I’ve got it.  Let’s base the lighting on Albert Speer’s drawings of Hitler’s planned office in the remodeled Reichstag if they’d won the war!

Flunky #3: I like that!  It will appeal to the MAGA yokels on a subconscious level.

Flunky #2 (nodding): And to our voters on a conscious level, since they’re always up for a socialist workers’ party vibe.

Flunky #1: That sounds good, but I think it still needs something more.  (He doodles on his “Workers of the World Unite!” embossed note pad for a moment.)  I’ve got it!  We’ll start with Hitler’s office, but then mix in a little of Satan’s vacation home!

Flunky #2: Ooh, let’s run with that. 

Flunky #3: What would you think about bringing him on with “Hail to the Chief,” but then fading that into “Sympathy for the Devil?”

Flunky #1: Yeah, everybody loves the Stones!  And how about we replace the presidential seal on the podium with a little Dante, “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here”?

Flunky #2: I don’t like it… (he pauses for a beat)… I LOVE it!

 And, scene.

Avenatti/Lucifer 2024!

To Start My Favorite Time of Year: Five Fun Stories (posted 9/2)

It’s the first weekend in September, which means that my favorite time of the year will soon be upon us: autumn/football season/ramp-up to Thanksgiving & Christmas.  (And before you ask, yes: in my mind, a season can be four months long.) 

So I’m normally in a good mood at this time of year.  I’ve got to admit, though, that the national Dems have been doing their best to defecate on my parade throughout August.  The continued gaslighting about January 6th, the Mar a Lago raid, the disastrous college debt transfer plan.

And possibly worst of all, Brandon has come back from vacation and out of his crypt to do his best Grandpa-Simpson-hollering-at-the-clouds impersonation.  If by “clouds” you mean “half the American public.” 

We’re full of hate, and semi-fascist, and violent.  Plus we are trying to destroy America.  To add insult to injury, I’m definitely not for Biden, which means that I ain’t black.

NOW you tell me.  

But at this happy time of year, I see a silver lining even in the offensive howling of Hunter’s dad.  Because I’ve written a lot of columns in which I’ve mocked Joe Biden as a creepy, hair-sniffing, dimwitted, phony DRPOC (Dementia-Ridden Piece of Crap, for those of you playing at home).

Usually, a well-raised and God-fearing youngster like myself would feel bad about saying such unpleasant truths about someone in his late hundreds and seemingly minutes away from meeting his Maker. 

But now that Brandon has taken the mask off – the congenial mask of “ol’ Scranton Joe,” not the vacant-eyed, resting-Crypt-Keeper-face thing he’s got going on – he’s worthy of every bit of sarcasm and mockery I can come up with.  So I am absolved of guilt!

That being said, this column will have no central theme, and will not mention our cadaver-in-chief again.  Instead, I’m just going to run through five recent stories that make me happy.

1. Under Blackface Trudeau, our leftist neighbors in America’s Hat are getting a reputation for being even more delusional about guns than many of our lefty countrymen.  (Sorry, country-people, or country-ze, or whatever.)

In America, because we have a 2nd amendment and the government can’t just confiscate guns from non-criminal citizens, our less-bright local governments have “Gun Buy Back,” programs, wherein they pay people to turn in their guns in exchange for cash or gift cards.   The result is usually that a set of law-abiding people bring in a bunch of old, non-functioning guns, or ones that they aren’t going to use, and the gullible politicians pay good money for them.

Also, because we are capitalists, a bunch of clever people become entrepreneurs by selling useless guns.  One guy in Houston recently made a bunch of “ghost guns” on a 3-d printer very cheaply, and then sold them to Houston officials for a tidy profit.

A Missouri man – whom I’ve never met, but who is now a hero of mine – went one better.  He made three guns out of, and I quote, “scrap metal and garbage,” and then sold them to the politicians for $300. 

Which he then used to buy a real, functioning gun.

Because: America.

But in Toronto, because Canada doesn’t have a 2nd amendment (or, I’m guessing, any self-respect), the cops seize a lot of guns, in many circumstances.  Then they post prideful pics of the seized guns on their web site, accompanied by the hashtag “offthestreets.”

A recent post of theirs went viral, because it contained a picture of an old, seized revolver.  Or rather, a revolver-shaped mass of rust and what might be barnacles. 

It looked like something John Wilkes Booth might have used to kill Lincoln, and then thrown into a river, where it was dragged out 155 years later, smuggled into Canada, and then seized by the Mounties.

Honestly, the only way this thing could have been used to kill someone would be if they were beaten over the head with it, opening a wound in the skin that rusty gun-fragments could lodge in, and eventually cause blood poisoning.

My favorite mocking tweet read, “Off the streets of where? Atlantis?”

2. Because so many New Yorkers have fled that state due to disastrous lefty mismanagement, the state’s districts were re-drawn, and that resulted in two old warhorse congressional Democrats being pitted against each other in the August primary. 

Both of them – Jerry “the Hutt” Nadler and Carolyn “too bland for a nickname” Maloney – are in their mid-70s.  Both first went to congress thirty years ago, and have done nothing productive since.  Most conservatives just looked forward to a dirty political fight – par for the course for these two, but not usually aimed at a fellow lefty. 

And they didn’t disappoint.  Nadler called Maloney gullible; she called him senile.  And after Nadler won going away, Maloney gave the perfect female Dem concession speech: pinched, bitter, and victim-licious.

She said that she only lost because the voters (in deep blue NYC!) are horrible, horrible sexists.  She pointed to NY lefty gyno-Americans like Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro, who she claimed, “fought sexist systems and misogyny that continues today, as we know from my own campaign.”

The rhetorical peak of her graceless speech was when she said these words: “When women are at the table, great decisions get made.”

I have but one devastating counterpoint: the empty-headed, bilious ladies of The View.

Check and mate, Carolyn. 

3. Speaking of the battle of the sexes, a Washington Post “journalist” named Alyssa Rosenberg – who is apparently as thick as a whale omelette – came up with a new argument for why biological males should be able to compete against – and crush – female athletes.

First, she wants to let you know that winning is not all it’s cracked up to be, because, “a first-place finish or another win won’t ultimately be the key to a college scholarship or an Olympic berth.”


Um, Alyssa, have you ever played a sport, or watched college sports?  Because the word around the locker room is that college scouts pay attention to how many wins an athlete has when they’re deciding to award scholarships.  Also, I’m pretty sure that spots on Olympic teams don’t usually go to women who have lost at their sport a lot, even if most of their losses are to “ladies” who are built like John Cena.

But Alyssa is taking a two-pronged approach in her ridiculous argument.  It’s not just that minor things like winning and losing are not really important in competitive sports.  She also argues that losing to a hulking dude is good for young women, because… wait for it… losing builds character!

You read that correctly: girls who get destroyed by dudes will learn “a sense of perspective, proportion, and good sportsmanship.”

Yes.  They’ll gain the perspective that their nation has lost its collective mind. 

They’ll learn about proportions – as in “that ‘girl’s’ shoulders are twice as wide as mine, ‘she’ has 75 pounds of muscle on me, and ‘her’ phallus is way more prominent than the one I absolutely do not have.”

And they’ll have to show good sportsmanship, by shaking their opponent’s hand while trying not to have the joints and tendons in their own, feminine hands crushed and mangled.

4. I have a new favorite German.

So move over, Beethoven, Hegel and Nena.  (That reminds me: I’m going to have to watch the video for “99 Luft Balloons” again soon.) (Giggity.)

Last month, 79-year-old German Nobel prize-winning biologist Dr. Christiane Nusslein-Volhard gave an interview to a German feminist magazine, but I don’t think she responded to their questions the way they expected.

Among other things, she called the trans movement’s claims that there are more than 2 sexes “unscientific” and “nonsense,” and said that letting teenagers determine their own gender is “madness.”  She was similarly dismissive of recent blatherings by German academics and politicians along the usual trendy, transgender lines.

She responded bluntly when a group of German law students forced a university to cancel a lecture because the speaker made the “transphobic assertion that there are only two biological sexes.”  

The good doctor blasted away: “This mixture of sensitivity and moral arrogance paired with ignorance is simply fatal.”

Good lord, how liberating must it be to be a female, 79-year-old German Nobel prize winner?!  She’s old, she’s female, she’s got a Nobel – she’s got nothing to prove to anyone, and she’s untouchable.

Because I love the German language, I looked up the translated phrase that I fantasize she used to open her interview with the German feminist magazine: “Bring es an, Schneeflocken!”

Yes, it means just what you thought: “Bring it on, snowflakes!”     

5. Finally, another entry in my favorite kind of story: dumb criminal tricks. 

This one comes from the great Donut Operator, and features a 24-year-old genius named Antoine Sims. 

On August fifth, Sims was on his way home in Kennesaw, GA – probably from a Bible study, or a Mensa meeting – and he thought he’d stop by for a little fast food at McDonalds.  His meal included French fries which Antoine felt were too cold.

Oh yeah, a little more background: Antoine had an active bench warrant out of Fulton County for skipping out on a drug-related murder charge.  He also had 31.2 grams of marijuana in his car.  

So put yourself in Antoine’s shoes.  To recap: cold French fries (probably due to racism); murder warrant, enough pot for an “intent to distribute”charge.

Would you:

A. Politely ask the manager for a new order of fries?

B. Just eat the damn fries and go about your (probably felonious) business?

Or

C. Scream at the manager, throw a drink in his face, and then call 911?

I’ll just turn on the Jeopardy soundtrack for you and pop over and watch Nena’s 99 Luft Balloons while you ponder the thorny question…

Survey says: Antoine chose C!

He called the cops, who came and talked to him and to the manager, and then offered him a paper to sign to accept that he was being “no trespassed” from McDonalds.

He still might have been okay.  He could have defiantly grabbed the pen and made his “X” on the form, muttering, “Cold-French-fry-serving mother frienders!  I don’t wanna go in their friending McDonalds anyway!”

But not Antoine.  He got squirrely, repeatedly asked the cops if he was under arrest, and then took off running.

Then yada yada yada, Antoine’s sitting in the Cobb County jail without bond, awaiting his murder trial. 

And he never even got to eat his fries!  

So what have we learned today?

If you’ve got a barnacle-encrusted cap gun in your attic, sell it to a slow-witted politician and buy a Walther.

Don’t screw with old German female biologists with Nobel prizes.

A perfect theme for the 2024 Democrat National Convention would be: A Mixture of Sensitivity and Moral Arrogance Paired with Ignorance!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Avenatti/various Schneeflocken, 2024!

A Few More Thoughts on What Might be Biden’s Worst Idea Yet (posted 8/29/22)

I’d like to follow-up on your lively responses to my Friday column about Biden’s plan to “forgive” student loans.  As always, the discussion here was smart and interesting, and evidence that this issue has touched a nerve all across the country.

Aside from the issues of fairness and practicality that much discussion focused on, many people decried how much more expensive college is now, adjusted for inflation, than it was decades ago, and you’re obviously right.   I’d point to 3 main reasons for the steep price increase:

1. Easy government loans have contributed the most.  Several commenters mentioned the government take-over of the loan system, and I think that’s the largest factor. 

The previous, private loan system wasn’t perfect, but it had the built-in regulator of the free market: banks who made loans to people who couldn’t pay them back would suffer the financial consequences.  (Whereas the government doesn’t worry about that at all, as evidenced by the huge outstanding debt amounts, much of it owed by students with degrees in trendy and/or easy majors – grievance studies, liberal arts, social work, media, etc. – and the sudden “discovery” that those debts are crippling, and thus must be transferred to the suckers, er… taxpayers.)

All the negative stereotypes about bankers didn’t just come out of nowhere, nor did old jokes about a banker being someone who would only give you a loan if you could prove that you didn’t need it.  For many, the word “banker” conjures up images of Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  (“You’re worth more dead than alive, George Bailey!”)   

I refer you back to the verse from Hebrews, e.g. “no discipline is pleasant at the time…”

Bankers were often fiscal disciplinarians, in the sense that they had to deliver harsh news about the way the world works.

It was unpleasant to go to a bank and ask for a large loan to get a four-year degree in, say, English.  Mostly because the banker would laugh at you, and then toss you out of the bank like John Wayne – in a film in which he’d eventually tangle with the war-painted Warren tribe (#wemustneverstopmockingher) — tossing a local varmint through the swinging saloon doors into the dusty street. 

But that was a useful lesson for the student and the student’s family, because the banker was stating the obvious: we can’t stay in business if we loan you $150K to get a degree that won’t enable you to earn enough to pay us back. 

Many would-be English majors, especially if they were the typical, nascent lefties who tend toward majoring in fields like English, would complain about the unfairness of a system in which engineers, chemists, nurses and accountants could borrow for college, while transgender-manifesto-writing majors could not.

I’m not throwing mud at English major types. I have a BA, MA and PhD in English myself (D’oh!), but even as financially naïve as I was in my youth, I wouldn’t have borrowed six figures to get those degrees.  (And no bank would have loaned me that, and my dad would have whipped my butt for even asking!)  My blue-collar parents worked and saved – and made sure that I worked and saved – enough to get me through the BA. 

And then I got assistantships and worked my way through both graduate degrees, living very frugally and taking on no debt.  That wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible.  (And it was a lot easier than working 20 years of overtime with a backhoe or jackhammer like my dad did, or fighting in Vietnam or Korea and then using the GI bill, like millions of others did.)     

The point is, if our bloated government wasn’t enabling kids to take out ginormous loans to attend super-expensive colleges, those colleges would have to slash their prices, and even then many kids wouldn’t be able to borrow for degrees with no value in the marketplace.

And both of those outcomes would be salutary.

2. Another big driver of rising college costs is an explosion of non-classroom spending, mostly on hordes of administrators of various sorts. 

Professor salaries – at least in the kind of liberal arts departments that I know a lot about – have not been out-pacing inflation over the last 40 years.  My salary in my last year of a 31-year college teaching career was just barely higher than the average household income in the entire country, and that was typical for my colleagues in a writing program.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m NOT complaining about that. 

The non-monetary compensations of my job were amazing: I got to read great books and teach them to (some) great students. I got to write and yammer on about subjects that interest me — and I’m a world-class yammerer! 

The hours were reasonable and the summers were light; I got to work in air conditioning.  People called me “Dr.” even though I’m barely closer to a real doctor than “Dr.” Jill Biden.

Plus I never had to worry about getting blown up or injured or having my body worn down the way my blue-collar family members all did.

Besides, I knew what to expect when I got into the field, and complaining afterward would be ill-mannered and childish.

(It would be like a guy taking vows of chastity and poverty to join a religious order, and then complaining later that he’s not getting laid, and he’s broke!)

The vast majority of the growth in university salaries over the last 40 years has been in administration and non-classroom personnel.  There used to be a handful of deans and secretarial staff, and maybe a few assistant deans for colleges that included a variety of programs under their umbrella.

Now there is a small army of assistant deans and assistant to the assistants, and a large army of administrators and staff in the fashionable/vacuous areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, none of whom ever darken the door of a classroom.

3. The third big driver of college costs arises from our society’s affluenza; it is “lifestyle” spending by both schools and parents.   

Schools spend hundreds of millions on high-end luxury everything: elaborate recreational complexes, fitness facilities fit for professional sports teams, and student housing that is more akin to luxury apartments than traditional dorms. 

A typical dorm 40 or 50 years ago was just a step up from military barracks: no a.c. (or maybe some wheezy window-units), a communal bathroom on each floor, an uninspiring cafeteria, and no frills. 

By contrast, the vast majority of student housing built at most universities in the last 15 years or so is much higher-end.  Most rooms are set up as suites of 2-4 bedrooms, each with 2-4 bathrooms; single rooms are also available for a premium.  All of the finishes are better, and many more options exist for food and recreation.

Off campus housing also reflects much more expensive tastes, not dissimilar to the improvements in average American housing.  The average home in 1972 was around 1250 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, and a 1-car garage or carport; today it’s 2500 sf, with 4 beds and 2 baths, and a 2-car garage.

Most of you around my age – if you went to college – probably stayed in at least one off-campus house that you now tell funny stories about.  (“There were 5 of us in a 2-bedroom hovel.  When it rained we’d move garbage cans around the rooms to catch the dripping, and if you plugged a toaster in while the light was on, a fuse would blow!  But you could put a penny in the fuse, and you were back in business… right until the fire started.”) 

You and I lived in places we wouldn’t keep a dog in now.  But our kids or grandkids are living in apartments with gyms, pools, granite counter-tops and NASA-level wi-fi.  At least half of what we spend on kids’ college goes to lifestyle, not education.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, if you can afford it.  I’m glad my daughters have lived in much nicer dorms and apartments than my wife and I did.  We lived frugally and below our means to make that possible.

But if I have to borrow to provide them with that lifestyle, that’s a choice and not a necessity.  And there’s probably a middle ground available to most people: take out some modest loans to access a little better school or amenities, or else go full Spartan and build some debt-less character!  

I’ll close by repeating Tom Cotton’s assessment of Brandon’s “Debt goes Poof! Act of 2022:”

Of all of the dumb things Biden has done, this might be the dumbest.  

Avenatti/ Mr. Potter, 2024!

7 Reasons Why Biden’s Student Loan “Forgiveness” is a Terrible Idea (posted 8/26/22)

Regular readers of this column will know that I am a recently retired English professor. 

Most of the time, the opinions I spout are not based on first-hand knowledge of the subject at hand.  For example, I have recently written about such wide-ranging topics as what ancient Egypt was like when Imhotep Pelosi was a young girl, even though I’m not an Egyptologist. 

And about how you’re not likely to get monkey pox if you don’t bang a dozen strangers with running sores, even though I’m not gay and did not do my graduate work in pustule-avoidance. 

But there are two things that my profession has given me first-hand knowledge about.  The first of these is language.

So naturally, when impressionable types began to list their pronouns, for example, I jumped on that trend. 

Just FYI, my pronouns are “thee/thou/thine.”  My adjectives are “brilliant” and “mesmerizing,” and my adverbs are “stunningly” and “breath-takingly.” 

“But haven’t you forgotten hyphenated, adjectival phrases, Martin?” you may be tempted to ask.

Don’t be ridiculous – I have two: “sharp-as-a-tack” and “easy-on-the-eyes.”  Duh.

But enough about me, and my entertaining linguistic dexterity.

My former profession has also given me first-hand knowledge of how colleges work.  So when Biden floated his student loan “forgiveness” scheme, I could instinctively agree with Tom Cotton’s take on it: “Of all the dumb things Joe Biden has done, this may be the dumbest yet — I know it’s stiff competition.”

Here – because as CO has said, everything is better in a list – are 7 reasons why Brandon’s student loan giveaway is a terrible idea:

First, it cannot work well financially, for reasons that truly smart guys like our own CO and Christopher Silber can explain better than I can.  But just off the top of my financial-amateur head, universities can obviously keep raising tuition if millions of students have easy access to loans that give them the illusory impression that they can pay for it.  (That is surely one reason why tuition costs have outpaced regular inflation by a factor of 4 or 5 over the last 20 years.)

Second, as many commentators have noticed, adding this extra ginormous dollop of spending to the astronomical amount that the Biden administration has already borrowed and squandered can’t help but add fiscal gasoline to the inflationary dumpster fire we’re already experiencing.   

Third, it’s unfair to all taxpayers, who will now have to pay for the school loans of other people and their children.  It’s amazing to me how few people have learned one of the most basic principles of life: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s infuriating to listen to dullards babbling about “forgiving” or “canceling” loans, as if they just blink out of existence.  They don’t.  These loans will still be paid by someone – it just won’t be by the ones who actually took them out, and presumably got the benefit from them.  (Assuming they weren’t financing a grievance study degree, in which case NOBODY benefited from them other than the profs and colleges who “awarded” those degrees.)

Fourth, they are even more unfair to people who played by the rules and did the right thing, sacrificing and delaying gratification so that they could pay their own loans back. 

There’s a great bit of video from 2020 that the GOP should be running in ads from now to November.  It features Grandma Squanto Warren being confronted by a dad who had struggled and paid for his kid’s college. 

As usual, Liz was in over her headdress (#wemustneverstopmockingher), because when he asked her whether he’d get his money back, since his less responsible neighbors would be getting their loans forgiven, she snapped, “Of course not.” 

He rightly pointed out that while the Dems would be forgiving loans for those who didn’t pay them, “those of us who did the right thing get screwed.”  I love that guy, and he’s absolutely right.

Fifth, it’s politically stupid, both because it alienates more people than it caters to, and because it screws up the Dems’ usually reliable class-warfare gambit.  

The number of people with outstanding school loans is a lot larger than it should be, for sure.  But there are a lot more people who never went to college, or who went to a junior college loan-free, or who worked their way through college without loans, or who took out loans and then spent years paying them back.

All of those people are going to be angry about this give-away, and they should be.

And instead of stoking class hatred in the poor for the rich—as the Dems are usually wont to do – this does the opposite.  Millions of blue-collar people who never went to college, and on average earn less than the recipients of this welfare gift, are going to be forced to pay for their wealthier fellow citizens’ education.

To be clear, encouraging class warfare is an evil thing to do.  But at least when you’re exacerbating that envy in the many and aiming it against the few (the “evil” 1%, for example), your strategy makes some kind of Machiavellian, mathematical sense, and you’re likely to benefit from it, at least in the short run.

This plan does the opposite, and it’s beyond stupid.

Sixth, the strategy has a Logic 101 fail at the heart of it.    

The left constantly complains about what a huge, unfair burden student loan debt is on students.  And they may be half right: debt is definitely a burden.  Listen to Dave Ramsey, channeling your grandma and God: the borrower is slave to the lender, debt is a curse, etc. 

But if that’s the case, how can the left simultaneously complain about how terrible student loans are — so much so that they need to force the taxpayers to cover those existing loans — and still insist that the feds keep issuing billions of dollars of student loans every semester?

Because that’s what they’re doing.  They’re not trying to get rid of the student loan system; they’re supporting it, and encouraging it, and continuing it.

And then screaming about how terrible it is.  

Seventh, like most leftist policies, this scheme sets up a system of perverse, self-defeating incentives which are ultimately even destructive to the “beneficiaries” of the scheme.

During LBJ’s Great Society cluster-schtup, Dems decided to give women welfare, but only if there were no man in the house with them, which produced a generation of man-less households and welfare-dependent women.  They paid increased welfare benefits to women for each out-of-wedlock child they had, which produced more kids born out of wedlock. 

In recent years, they’ve decreased the penalties for crime, and shazam!  — we have more crime.   

All of those policies were ostensibly intended to benefit their recipients – though we should never discount the cynical, leftist desire to create an ever-increasing army of dependent Democrat voters.  But all of them hurt their recipients most of all, because they eroded the qualities of perseverance, diligence, and honor.

What feels good in the short run – impregnating women and then moving on, rather than supporting them and your children; working full-time, rather than doing the minimum necessary and then quitting as soon as you can; fighting crime and imprisoning criminals, rather than looking the other way – is usually bad for you in the long run.

To paraphrase the New Testament, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but later it produces a harvest of righteousness.

When you took out a student loan, you gave your word that you would pay it back.  When you work hard and sacrifice to repay it, you earn the self-esteem and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a responsible adult who did the right thing.  

When you let a cynical cadre of vote-buying creeps like Biden, Grandma Squanto and AOC step in and force your fellow citizens to pay your loans, you take a self-destructive step down the path of becoming a dependent grifter whose word means nothing.  

That’s not what you want to be, is it?

It’s been a long 14 years of suffering under Brandon, and it’s only been 80 weeks.

A Few Enjoyable Departures, & More Lefty Shenanigans (posted 8/22/22)

I don’t usually open my columns with a Buddhist koan, but one story in the news this week brought a famous one to mind: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

That’s right – Jeffrey Toobin is out at CNN. 

Much like Giant, Dishonest Human Thumb-impersonator Brian Stelter, Toobin put the best face on his departure, claiming that he was leaving rather than being fired. 

But insider reports indicate that that was not the case, noting that nobody shook his hand on the way out.  I mean, what else could explain that kind of treatme—

Oh, wait. 

After 20 years in “journalism,” Toobin – a double major in Biased Reporting and Onanism at Harvard – is reportedly working on a book.  Which is good, because you don’t want that guy out there with free time on his hands.  

Speaking of Brian “BS” Stelter, I jumped the gun when I celebrated his departure from CNN on Friday.  Because on Sunday he had his last show, and it was a thing of beauty.    

By the way, on Friday I didn’t mention the name of his program, and that was an oversight. 

I recently commented on the Left’s uncanny ability to bestow perversely inappropriate names on their pet projects and policies – they call a group dedicated to preventing parenthood “Planned Parenthood,” mutilating surgeries that deny a patient’s natural gender “gender-affirming surgery,” a bill that increases inflation the “Inflation Reduction Act,” etc. 

So naturally, Stelter’s variety show consisting of one dishonest, untrustworthy source after another was called…wait for it… “Reliable Sources.” 

Stelter’s guest on his last show was leftist fossil Carl Bernstein, who has been dining out for nearly half a century on a story that a secret source brought to him on a silver platter.  

Since then, every time he gets trotted out for an appearance Bernstein can be counted on to bluster about how the mini-scandal de jour – Did Trump say something mean about Rosie O’Donnell?  Did Stacey Abrams get denied the GA governorship just because she got less votes than her GOP opponent?  Did mounted border patrol officers use their reins on their horses in the general proximity of some illegals?  — was “WORSE THAN WATERGATE!”

Stelter stayed true to form, spouting delusional nonsense right up to his last minute on air.  He referred to his sad little program as a “small but mighty show” which “punched above its weight.”  He also called it a “popular show” and “one of CNN’s highest rated weekend shows.”

Talk about damning with faint praise! Does he think that “highest rated CNN show” is a good thing?! 

It’s like saying, “the most trustworthy Clinton,” or “the sober-est Kennedy,” or “the youngest, most vibrant Democrat Senator.” 

Ugh.  His closing monologue included this gem of unintentionally hilarious irony, which I swear I am not making up: “I know it’s not partisan to stand up for decency and democracy and dialogue. It’s not partisan to stand up to demagogues. It’s required, it’s patriotic. We must make sure we don’t give platforms to those lying to our faces.”

Yes indeed.  And with the departures of Fredo Cuomo, Stelter and Toobin, we’re just a tiny bit closer to that worthy goal. 

Speaking of worthy goals, how about our society’s ongoing push to settle white folks’ hash? 

One example would be the Minneapolis Teachers’ Union signing a deal with a provision that states that if any future layoffs are needed, white teachers would be laid off first, regardless of seniority.

Because as MLK always said, “We must judge teachers not by the content of their character, or their competence, but by the color of their skin!” 

Sure, this might appear at first blush to be an instance of blatant racial discrimination.    And on second blush.  And even on third blush.

Oh, who are we kidding?  These progressive bigots are incapable of blushing.  They hate whitey, and they’re not even hiding it any more.

The story includes a textbook example of a common hallmark of leftist bias, which is the wildly different treatment of a scandal story based on the political make-up of the players.  To wit, if a conservative is caught in a scandal, the story is about the scandal

But if a lefty is caught in a scandal, the story is that “conservatives pounce” on the scandal for political gain.

In this case, the president of the teachers’ union said that the contract language “was something we are extremely proud of.”  But her VP, though equally proud of their racial bias, saw the malign influence of evil conservative story-pouncers.

She said that the story is “coming out because some Minnesotan website put it out there and the MAGA media picked it up” and waited for the MSM to “run with this story.”  But, she explained, “It’s a non-story.”  Because the contract provision concerns “the event of a layoff, and we are nowhere near having layoffs this year…. There are no layoffs.  So I ask y’all why?  Why is this a story?”

Maybe because you just voted to violate your own seniority rules so that you can discriminate against teachers because of the color of their skin? 

To be clear, I’m not a big fan of rules that dictate that seniority should trump everything else.  If Joe is a great welder who just started with our company 6 months ago, and Bob has been a terrible welder for us for 10 years, I say we dump Bob.

But that’s not the system the teachers had set up.    

On the other hand, if a bunch of white liberal teachers end up getting laid off because the feckless union they support decided that their whiteness justifies treating them like second class citizens, that will be high-larious!

If Minnesota wasn’t so far away, I would gleefully drive up there and park in front of the school on the day they were laid off.  And I would mock and laugh at them as they shuffled out to the parking lot, carrying their cardboard boxes full of BLM poster-boards and “I’m with Hillary” mugs into their sad little Subarus and Priuses with the faded “Coexist” bumper stickers on them. 

Unfortunately, it sounds like our friends in the UK aren’t doing much better than we are on this issue.  Breitbart reports that the British military is making a big push to discriminate against white males in favor of females and ethnic minorities when it comes to hiring for the Royal Air Force.   

One email showed that “suitability interviews for proposed candidates” were being cancelled, because the non-white-male candidates were getting filtered out in that process.

But it’s not as bad as it sounds.

It’s much worse. 

“The pressure and direction from senior leaders were that all female and minority candidates are to be given priority treatment” when they apply.  You might think that such an approach would de-emphasize applicants’ performance in favor of their appearance.

And you’d be right.  Per the report, “No consideration was to be given to their performance, so long as they have achieved the minimum standard.”

Stirring words, aren’t they?  Wouldn’t you just love to know that the next time you get on an airplane, or go in for heart surgery, the pilot or the surgeon has achieved the minimum standard?   

What could possibly go wrong?

Let me end with a round of “You Be the Detective!”

In today’s game, I take you to the French city of Saint-Quentin, where citizens reported that a man was “firing a shotgun without any identifiable target.”  When cops responded, the man saw them, shouted something, and fired at them, forcing them to shoot him.  (Tragically, he survived.)

Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and try to deduce which of the following slogans he was screaming when he attacked the police:

  1. Onward Christian Soldiers!
  2. Liberte, egalite, fraternite!
  3. That government is best which governs least!
  4. Allahu Akbar!

If you guessed anything other than “D,” you’re probably feeling pretty foolish right about now.

But before you are too hard on yourself – that’s not a Toobin joke, get your mind out of the gutter! – consider the next line of the story, which I am not making up:

“Investigators have not ruled out a possible terror motive.”

Wow.  It sounds like those investigators have… wait for it… “met the minimum standards.”

Avenatti/ Carl “Worse than Watergate” Bernstein 2024!

Mixed Feelings About Recent Events (posted 8/19/22)

This has been another Dickensian week: it’s been the best of times, and the worst of times.

Let’s start with the best: 

1.Brian Stelter – have I mentioned that he looks like a giant, dishonest, human thumb? – is out at CNN. 

There’s been some kind of a management shake-up over there, and apparently it involved bringing in someone who could decipher ratings.  That poor sap then had to start the next monthly meeting by breaking the news that they were getting beaten by the North Korean Soccer channel, C-SPAN 8, and the Watching Paint Dry Network.

This is one of those times when I wish my column had video excerpts and sound bites, because we could all use a montage of Stelter’s lowlights, possibly with a Benny Hill soundtrack playing underneath it.

Laughably wrong predictions (“This is the beginning of the end for Trump!” parts 1-289), egregious lies, slavish adherence to banal leftist talking points, an utter lack of charisma and the capacity for intelligent thought – Stelter had it all!

And who can forget his crowning achievement: his Sisyphean efforts to turn third-rate con man and first-rate publicity hound Michael Avenatti into a serious presidential contender!  Stelter gave the aging-pornstar-exploiter one rhetorical tongue bath after another.

My favorite Stelter quote from an Avenatti interview was when he unleashed this bit of circular “logic”: “One reason I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.”  

Never have the initials “BS” – as in, “that slanted story is a bunch of Brian Stelter!” — fit someone so well.

Godspeed on your journey into an obscurity even more obscure than hosting a CNN show, you doughy Thumbkin!

2. We won’t have Liz Cheney to kick around anymore either, after her well-deserved loss in the Wyoming primary.

And she didn’t just lose, she got destroyed!  After getting 70% of the vote just two years ago, she managed to lose by 37 points. 

To give you an idea of how bad that is, I only got 29% fewer votes than Cheney, and I am a terrible fundraiser, have never been to Wyoming, and was not running.  Not to mention those disqualifying sex scandals in my youth! 

Cheney’s concession speech was a big serving of schadenfreude a la mode, as she demonstrated that even a colossally lopsided rejection could not dent her arrogant self-image.  She compared herself to Lincoln and Grant, and portrayed herself as a martyr to truth-telling about Trump, rather than as a self-serving egotist who betrayed her constituents’ trust and sided with a far-left show trial that is a much greater threat to our democracy than anything Donald Trump has done.

There are two obnoxious women named Liz in national politics, and both of them pretended to be red (#wemustneverstopmockingGrandmaSquanto).  On Tuesday, the red staters in Wyoming got rid of one of those phonies.   

And just to prove that the leftist talking heads have learned nothing from their self-beclowning during the “Avenatti for President” debacle, a bunch of them immediately jumped on the “Liz Cheney for President” bandwagon. 

I must once again quote Proverbs: “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” 

3. Joe Biden (RIP) continues to make a fool of himself in entertaining ways. 

At the signing ceremony for his inflation-supercharging disaster of a bill, he demonstrated yet again what the leftists mean by “following the science.” 

He walked into the room with a mask on, then removed it, then coughed into his hand, and then shook everyone’s hand with his skeletal, octogenarian-covid-infested hand.  

A week earlier, he was onstage with Schumer, Pelosi, and two other Dems I didn’t recognize.  Schumer made some comments, and then turned to shake hands with each of the dopes on the dais.  He shook Biden’s hand first, then moved to the guy to Biden’s right, then stepped past Biden to shake Pelosi’s and the other woman’s hand.

As Schumer turned back to the podium to say something vacuous, Biden held his hand out expectantly, and then looked equal parts confused and miffed when Schumer ignored him.

Watch the video, and there’s only one conclusion possible: Biden instantly forgot that he’d just shaken Schumer’s hand, and looked miffed when – in Brandon’s dementia-riddled mind – Schumer skipped shaking his hand.

I timed it, and the elapsed time between Biden’s handshake and when he put his hand out again was 4 seconds. 

And this comes as part of a pattern of instances in which he finishes some comments, then turns and sticks out his hand when there is no one there to shake with.

Normally, watching a person’s mind failing and humiliating him would be cause for compassion and pity.  But Biden has been such a consistently mean-spirited and mendacious hack, his problems now seem like karma.

But of course it was the worst of times, too.

As soon as we start to laugh at Biden’s miserable performances, the laughter catches in our throat: he’s wasting money and letting illegals flood in and burdening our economy, and with each passing day he’s going more damage to our country.

And he’s not going to live long enough to suffer for what he’s doing to us, and we’re going to have to pick up the pieces.

Another ominous sign of the times was the corrupt left in CA successfully scuttling the recall against crime-supporting, Soros-funded DA George Gascon. 

After enough long-suffering Californians gathered 715,000 signatures on a recall petition, it looked like Gascon would suffer the same fate as his fellow crime-loving leftist ideologue Chesa Boudin, who was tossed from his job several months ago. 

But that was before the evil engines of Dem machine politics got cranked up and running.  Gascon’s victims needed around 570K signatures to force the recall, and they came in with 145K more than that. 

But as the left has learned from their patron saints Lenin and Stalin, it’s not who votes, it’s who COUNTS the votes.

And the vote-counters retreated behind closed doors, and then came back out with a farcical result: just under 200K signatures were found to be invalid.

That’s an invalidation rate of around 27%!  For comparison, during the 2020 election, CA election officials found that less than 1% of mail-in ballots were invalid.

Did you get that?  When the Dems needed all of the fraud-susceptible mail-in ballots possible in 2020, almost no ballots were tossed out.

But when those same corrupticrats needed to save their toxic, criminal-friendly DA, they miraculously “found” bad signatures at a rate 2700% higher!

The only silver linings in this story are that the fraud is so blatant and obvious that any reasonable people can see through it (though not in CA, where reasonable people are thin on the ground), and that there is some kind of poetic justice in the leftist CA voters getting what they voted for… good and hard!

The rest of us need to do our best to insulate ourselves from the self-inflicted wounds that the blue states are creating for themselves, though.

I’m thinking maybe some kind of a wall…

Avenatti/Liz Cheney 2024!

Free Markets vs. Socialism (posted 8/15/22)

This has been a busy week for me.  It’s the lead-up to the start of a new school year, and for me that means a lot of frenzied activity to turn over our two college rental houses.  I’m fully over the covid, and thus grateful for the chance to get out there and get some work done.

This year is a little more calm, since Rosewood – our Victorian that I wrote about recently — partially burned in August, and is now in the process of restoration.  (I’ve put up a folder with a few of the burned pics at Martinsimpsonwriting.com, and will soon be posting more as the house makes its transition back to life.)

My other college rental is a 1922 Craftsman right next to campus.   There was a bit of deferred maintenance to deal with there, so I’ve been earning my landlord money this week: cleaning, painting, caulking, trash hauling, installing new smoke detectors, etc.  A couple of handymen and a team of cleaners helped a lot. 

Being a landlord has given me a deeper appreciation for a free market economy than I’d ever have gotten if I’d only done my day job as an English professor. 

I came out of grad school with pretty conventional leftist prejudices about economics, made possible mostly because I’d had remarkably little contact with the actual economy!   I “knew” that capitalism was exploitative, that the rich got that way by shady dealing or inheritance, that the poor were poor because they were victims of forces largely beyond their control, etc.

In the words of Ronald Reagan (peace be upon him), I “knew” a lot of things that just weren’t so!

On the other hand, even in my educated ignorance, I had enough walking-around sense to know that the socialism that my profs and peers touted did not work.  I’d paid enough attention to notice that the leftist utopias that took shape after the Soviets got things started in 1917 tended to be terrible.

I also noticed that no West Germans were risking their lives to get over the wall into East Berlin, and no Floridians were braving shark-infested waters on inner-tubes to get to Fidel’s Edenic Cuba.

So I started reading a lot of economics and history, and in my early 30s I took my first-ever entrepreneurial risk, and bought a tiny rental house in such terrible shape that it had scared off any rational investors.   

It was the start of an education in the way that economics really works.  Along the way, I was able to come to an appreciation of the moral aspects of a free market, along with the financial ones.

My Christian upbringing and education provided me with a lot of knowledge in varied areas, but economics wasn’t one of them.  I mistook the many warnings about the temptations and moral danger associated with wealth – all of which still make total sense to me today — to mean that financial success was in itself immoral. 

As I write this, I realize I’m starting on a topic that threatens to blow up into a book, and I’m very much aware that the most frequent complaint about my columns is that they are too long.  (By the way, how dare you!)

So I’ll try to summarize one main point: a great moral strength of free markets is that they generally work to turn a fundamental human flaw (greed) to good ends, while a great moral failing of leftism/socialism is that it exacerbates an equally fundamental human flaw (envy).

All of us are prone to greed and to envy.  At some level we all know that both are wrong, but they are nigh-unto irresistible, even to the enlightened denizens of CO Nation. 

Human nature being what it is, free markets cannot re-make the crooked timber of humanity.  People will still try to cheat each other, to take advantage of others’ weakness or desperation, and to con people.   Especially if they can use the power of government, they will rent-seek, destroy their competition and bid-rig.

But generally, the most reliable way to succeed financially in a free-market system is to please as many of your fellow citizens as you can, such that they voluntarily exchange their money for the good or service you are offering.

That system works well for people who want to be honest.  Conscientious mechanics, carpenters, and restauranteurs provide their customers with good service at reasonable prices, and their customers spread the word.  Cheaters and con men can victimize people sometimes, but word of mouth will thwart their desire for long-term success, just as it helps the trustworthy businesspeople.

More importantly, that system also does the best job possible of keeping people honest, even when they’d very much like NOT to be.   Vendors who want to cut corners are always tempted, but they know the word of mouth will kill them.  Those who want to price gouge know that competitors will eat their lunch if they try it.   

A car dealer can screw a customer on a sale and make a short-term profit.  But that customer will never buy from him again, and neither will any of that customer’s family or social network. 

Here’s a historical example.  Everyone remembers Rosa Parks kicking off the anti-segregation movement that eventually overturned the entire rotten edifice of segregation laws in the South.   But fewer people stop to think of why all of those racist laws existed in the first place.

With a racist white power structure in total control of the south, why did they need to pass laws to ENFORCE anti-black discrimination?  (Is it churlish of me to remind everyone that the political party behind all of those segregationist laws was the Democrat party?  Tough – I’m churlin’ it up, baby!)    

Wasn’t there enough racial prejudice around to ensure that blacks would be treated as second class citizens? 

In fact, there wasn’t.  I mean sure, most businessmen in those communities would have treated blacks badly.   But without a law – without the coercive power of government – the free market would have required businessmen to treat blacks better.

Because absent government coercion, if there were 3 bus companies in a city with many thousands of black riders, and they all treated blacks badly (forcing them to sit in the back, etc.) one smart guy would have started a bus company without segregated seating. 

Many white Democrats—er, customers – would have spurned that bus company.

But every black bus rider in the city would have patronized it, and the other 3 companies would have been forced to drop their prejudiced policies, or gone out of business. 

(Yes, this example pre-supposes another core conservative requirement: the rule of law.  Many white thugs would likely try to vandalize or harass the new bus company and their riders.  But if the government didn’t stop them, that would be a failure of the government, not the free market.) 

This process would happen, regardless of the intentions of the bus company owners and employees.  If they were not bigots, they’d happily steal their competition’s customers. 

But even if they were bigots, the free market would mitigate their bigotry, and maybe even slowly train them out of it.  Even if it didn’t, the market would incentivize even bigots to treat blacks better, and punish them for treating them badly.

At first one restaurant would de-segregate their lunch counters, and soon all would either follow suit, or go bankrupt.  The same with theaters, buses, water fountains and the rest. 

THAT’s why the Democrats running the show had to use the government to enforce their bigotry.  Because if they had to rely on the free market, they would’ve had their klan hoods handed to them.

Socialism is the opposite: it takes the equally ubiquitous sin of envy and makes it much, much worse.

Just as with greed, most of our consciences tell us that envy is wrong, and that we should be ashamed of it.  Envying people who have more success, money or advantages is as natural as the sunrise, but it makes us sour and hateful, and it sabotages our ability to learn from our limitations, our own bad choices and the good one of others, and to eventually become successful ourselves.

Envy seduces people into adopting an external locus of control, which then ensures that they’ll always fail.   The successes of others prove that they have privilege.  You’re a victim, and nothing you can do will improve your situation.

Why work harder, or delay gratification?  The system is rigged, and your only hope is to vote for someone to rig the game for you, or to take to the streets and burn it all down yourself.  

Males have an unfair advantage if you’re female, whites if you’re black, attractive people if you’re ugly, the tall if you’re short.

Then along comes socialism, and makes things even worse.  Rich people are evil; they get rich by unearned inheritance, or by screwing the little people.  In a fair world, your grievance study degree would earn you more than some lowly plumber or electrician.

Ultimately, leftism weaponizes envy.  It takes away the shame and guilt that you should feel when you’re being envious, and replaces it with a furious conviction of your moral superiority.  It makes you proud of your flaws, and turns a human failing into a noxious political platform.     

And through that act of self-deception, it primes you to fall for all kinds of lies and delusions.

Is it any wonder that the philosophy that teaches that men can be women, babies are not babies, a recession isn’t a recession, inflation isn’t inflation, and Liz Warren is a Comanche warrior (#wemustneverstopmockingher), also teaches that a mortal sin is actually a cardinal virtue?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put the finishing touches on a rental house that some college students will be excited to move into, and voluntarily throw fistfuls of cash at me, which I can then turn into a tithe, and jewelry for my wife, rawhide treats for my Wonder Dog, and Gator tickets for the whole family. 

It’s been a long 17 years of Biden, but November is coming!

I Stumble out of a Covid Fog & Into a Political Fog (posted 8/12/22)

After four pretty miserable days followed by a couple of mediocre ones, I think I’m about out of the woods, covid-wise.

I haven’t had a fever in three days, my raw-throat-assisted Brando impression has descended from great to just pretty good, and I’ve lost about six pounds that – let’s face it – I could afford to lose.

In other words, I’m back to being the metaphorical scrappy, possession receiver of the roving correspondents – not much to look at, not a supernaturally gifted athlete, I won’t be wowing anyone with my 40 time or my bench press numbers. 

But I’m back, and the old cliché applies: 

You can’t stop me, you can only hope to contain me.

Annnnnndddd…then I watch three days of news, and suddenly I’m longing for the shivering, fuzzy brained obliviousness of yester-week.

First, I see Lyin’ Tony Fauci, and he’s hexa-quadrillioned down on his mendacity.

Just this week – in mid-August of the Year of Our Lord 2022! – he hosted an event in which many people inexplicably still continued to listen to him.

Oh, wait: it was in Seattle.  Have you been wondering where all of the dullards who created Chaz/Chop went after their nasty, brutal and short utopian experiment quickly descended into bickering, raving, and panhandling amidst a cloud of pot smoke and aerosolized human feces?

Now you know.  They went to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle to listen to Faux-ci be wrong again, and yet still toweringly arrogant.  He continues to be frustrated that most of us walk-upright, homo sapiens types are still resisting his “wisdom.” 

He said, and I swear I am not making this up, “When you tell people they need to mask in an indoor congregate setting when you’re in a zone that has a high dynamic of infection – that is looked upon by a lot of people as an encroachment on your freedom.”   

This guy gives Que Mala a run for her money in the pompously hollow verbosity department.  “An indoor congregate setting?” Translation: “indoors”

“A zone that has a high dynamic of infection?” Translation: “the world.”

“An encroachment on your freedom” means “something that clearly encroaches on your freedom.”

That’s right: Fauci says that people are no longer following their national doctor’s advice, and he can’t understand it.  Here are his actual words, that actually followed the quote above:

“We’ve never had that before.  It’s almost inexplicable!”

Ugh!  It’s NOT inexplicable, or even “almost” inexplicable! 

It’s the most explicable thing in the history of explicability!  Because you know what else we’ve never had before?

YOU!   You were wrong about AIDS 40 years ago, and no one has paid attention between then and covid, but you’ve probably been wrong about everything in between. 

I’ll bet you’re the one who came up with the food pyramid, which turned out to be totally wrong.  And then told us that eating eggs is super-unhealthy, but then that eggs are great, but only if we scramble them and eat them through a mask, or something.  

You’re likely the one out of 10 doctors who recommended that your patients chew gum and smoke cigarettes and run with scissors and play in traffic.

I think I’ve seen your JAMA article where you recommend that the best way to avoid getting monkey pox is to take a Jet Blue flight to San Francisco and serially bang 27 strange men – plus two newly divorced marmosets and a bi-curious macaque – with running sores all over their bodies.

Then covid arrived, and you’ve gone 0-and-1745 in predictions, claims, and statements about covid.

And now no one is taking your covid proclamations seriously?

The hell you say!

So I changed the channel, only to land on the story of Manchin and Sinema folding like a beach chair that Michael Moore sat on, and now we’ve got another nearly trillion-dollar spending bill that will make everything worse.

Because you know what kind of federal employees we need another army of?

No, not border agents. And not special forces guys or hospice care providers for all of the octogenarians in Congress.

IRS agents.  Eighty billion dollars’ worth of new IRS agents.

Best case scenario: they manage to extract exactly $80B out of taxpayers, producing many years’ worth of wasted time, stress and economy-hobbling waste for our economy, and we break even.  I mean, except for the misery and wasted time and all the rest.

Worst case scenario: they extract a lot more than that, in which case we get the misery and the wasted time, AND our economy is killed as dead as Joe Biden.

Plus there’s more graft for green energy that will never work, but will at least strengthen Putin.

Passing a bill that prints and then throws $700B in spending onto the inflation bonfire is bad enough.  But calling it “the Inflation Reduction Act?” 

You’ve got to give it to the Dems: they are shameless!  They are great with the deceptive, 180-degree-wrong naming thing.  

They create an organization whose sole purpose is to help women abort their children, thus preventing parenthood.  What do they call it?  Planned Parenthood!

Their weird mania for sexual confusion and bullying kids and vulnerable adults into denying their obvious, manifest gender persuades those people to take a malign cocktail of hormones that works against their body’s natural function, and to undergo surgery that brutally carves away their properly functioning anatomy.

That course of violently denying their gender is called… wait for it… gender AFFIRMATION treatment.

And now, they call a boondoggle that will surely turbo-charge inflation the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

Well done, morons!

But the news hasn’t been all bad. At least in the sense that some of the pain the Dems are causing is starting to boomerang on them.

I’ve enjoyed watching Greg Abbott and DeSantis sending busloads of illegals to deep blue NYC and DC, exposing their cities to about as many illegals as sneak into Texas in one single day. And then, both Dem mayors prove a theory that I’ve been working on lately: elected Democrats don’t have any mirrors.

Otherwise they couldn’t look at themselves being such colossal hypocrites and not be ashamed.  They’ve been beating their chests about how righteous they are, because they are hypothetically welcoming and loving to a bunch of hypothetical illegals whom – in the abstract – they would love to welcome into their city.

Until half a dozen actually show up.  Then the Dem officials shriek and moan and pull their dashikis or ponchos up over their heads and blubber that the feds must send them truckloads of cash to help with the “burden” of dealing with actual illegals that they allegedly love so much.  When they’re not calling them “a burden.”

“Sanctuary city” is another great lefty label.  “Sanctuary” literally has holiness – as in “sanctified” and “saintly” – at the core of its etymology.  And the Dems flatter themselves that their ostentatious offering to host immigrants – as long as none of them ever takes them up on it — makes them virtuous. 

Uncle Jesus called people very much like them “whitewashed sepulchers.”  (It’s not a compliment.)

“Sanctuary” city?  More like “sack-tuary city.”  As in, the taxpayers shouldn’t give you a dime, so that your crumbling home bases will soon be sacked by the outraged illegals you invited in with no intention of sacrificing anything to improve their lives.

Also, “sack-tuary” as in, “you’re a collection of sacks of shite for behaving so badly, and then congratulating yourselves for it.

Bah!     

Rather than end on that down note, I invite you all to go over to Martinsimpsonwriting.com, where you’ll see a picture of Cassie the Wonder Dog from several Halloween’s ago, dressed in the ancestral costume of her mother’s Norwegian ancestors.

I defy anyone to look at that picture and not have their spirits lifted. 

It’s been a long 14 years of Biden, but November is coming!

A Few, Covid-Garbled Thoughts about Turning Science into a Political Football (posted 8/9/22)

I’m still fighting through the flu Manchu; I left the house tonight for the first time in 3 days, in order to take Cassie the Wonder Dog on our (usually) nightly walk.  Even that little bit of activity left me light-headed and clammy, and my raw throat has gotten to the stage where my usually strong Brando impression is even better.

I kept Cassie entertained with Godfather monologues during our walk.  “And if by chance an honest dog such as yourself should make any enemies, then they would become MY enemies.  And then they would fear you.”

This column will be an unusual one.  Since I’ve spent the last 3 days fever-ridden and drowsing, I haven’t kept on top of each day’s news.  But before I got sick, I’d been thinking about the topic of science and politics, mostly because of a visit with a very old friend who is a committed lefty.  I value his friendship, especially because in my experience, not many hard-core lefties are willing (or psychologically able?) to remain friends with conservatives.

Plus, he has a goodness of heart that goes a long way toward making up for his hardness of head.  😊

When he brought up climate change, he was frustrated with what he considered my denial of the relevant science.  Because our time together was short, we agreed to exchange some emails on the topic, and I’d drafted a first salvo before the ‘Rona hit me.

So for what it’s worth, here are what I hope are a few coherent thoughts on politics and science:

My first thought is that whenever science and politics are mixed, science almost inevitably ends up giving way to politics.  In all large-scale research, someone is paying the tab, and some constituencies (types of businesses, academic centers, interest groups both private and public) will potentially be helped or harmed by the eventual findings.  

Thus, disinterested, bias-free scientific inquiry is vanishingly rare.   

I don’t think that fact necessarily destroys the credibility of scientific findings.  But we’ve got to be aware of the interests at stake, and resist the utopian claims of both sides to be pure, Platonic seekers of capital “t” Truth.  Rather, we should employ the empirical method ourselves, and skeptically analyze all findings.

That’s not what I see happening in public debate.  We’ve all got a late-stage case of “confirmation bias,” and we all tend to glom onto any data, claims or “studies” that support our preferred position, and dismiss any that don’t. 

My second thought is that the secular left tends to weaponize “science” in political debate more, and more vociferously, than does the right.  I think that tendency goes hand-in-hand with an overall condescension – often bordering on contempt – for religion.  In many cases, that condescension is well merited – there are a lot of religious nuts out there – but for many secular lefties, an anti-religious prejudice confirms their own correctness, and obviates the need to take other positions seriously, or to scrutinize their own.

A lot of people have pointed out that political leftism/socialism functions very much like a traditional religion.  There are rituals and behaviors used to signal your own virtue, an accepted orthodoxy that demands conformity, the division of the world into the redeemed (woke) and the benighted (deplorables, those in need of having their consciousness raised), with excommunication (cancellation) for the latter, etc.

Real, valid science is instinctively humble.  It outlines the limits of its knowledge, and couches its findings in careful qualifications.  Scientific journals are full of phrasing like, “Though this study had a small sample size, preliminary findings suggest that there is likely a link between Cause A and Effect B.  More studies are needed to either confirm or rule out other potential causes….”

Politicized science is arrogant and dismissive.  “Studies show that A causes B.  More research needs to be done, but we can’t afford to wait, because decisive action must be taken immediately.  Scientific consensus has been reached, and what are sometimes proposed as alternative theses are actually bad faith or unsophisticated thoughts of fringe characters or deniers.”

One quick recent example involves transgenderism.

This idea has gone from fringe to orthodox with lightning speed.  None of the proponents can point to any empirical, verifiable data that could identify a person who has this condition: no organic differences in the brain or any other organs, no chemical or hormonal differences, no chromosomal differences.

For nearly all other conditions that are as impactful as this one, a scientist could quickly find empirical data to confirm or disconfirm the diagnosis.  Sickle cell, spina bifida, MS, brain injury, schizophrenia – all can be definitely established with replicable tests. 

But if a patient reports that s/he is “really” a woman in a man’s body, or two-spirited, or non-binary, that self-diagnosis must be accepted as if it were a proven hypothesis.   

Many reasonable people – from within medicine and psychology, as well as from without – have posited a contrary but logical view of transgenderism.  They suggest that it might be a form of mental illness, in the same family with something like anorexia.  They don’t use the term “mental illness” as a derogatory or dismissive term, but as a compassionate one, geared toward acknowledging the suffering of the patient and finding types of treatment to reduce or relieve it.

They point out that one of the fundamental ways we define mental illness is that the patient’s perception of the physical world doesn’t match reality.  One believes that she is Katherine the Great or a famous actress, or that satellites are recording her thoughts, or that she is morbidly obese when she is skeletally thin.  Believing that one is the opposite sex fits that pattern perfectly. 

When it comes to possible treatments, they cite the Hippocratic Oath’s axiomatic, “First, do no harm.”  They warn about the obvious danger arising from quickly starting hormonal treatments (with drastic, long-lasting and incompletely understood ramifications) or cutting off healthy organs.  They cite data suggesting that “sex reassignment” surgeries carry much higher rates of serious post-op complications than do any other surgeries undertaken by patients who are not at dire risk of death in the first place.

They point to data suggesting that the vastly higher rates of suicide and suicidal ideation associated with transgenderism is almost identical in the short run for those who undergo surgery and chemical treatments as for those who don’t. 

They point to other studies suggesting that especially for adolescents and pre-adolescents who consider themselves transgender, fully 80% of them grow out of that perception by early adulthood, if left alone and not prodded into risky chemical ingestions and dangerous surgeries. 

I don’t claim to be a medical doctor or scientist, so I can’t say definitively that one of those views is 100% wrong and the other 100% right.  I’m just a humble roving correspondent with a low-grade fever and an inquiring mind.

But I think that the summation that I just laid out is at least reasonable enough to merit serious consideration and further study.   And if a reader were seriously trying to understand and follow The Science, he would want to do some open-minded research, and test the comparative validity of the opposing views of what transgenderism is, and how it could be best treated.

But that’s not the reaction I see coming from the vast majority of the lefty LGBTQ commentariat.  What I see looks a lot more like the zealotry of the Spanish Inquisition in the middle of a frenzied heretic-hunt.  All evidence from all of your senses, including common sense, must be rejected in favor of their evidence-less, metaphysical claims.

I had meant to discuss covid as another example, but the Nyquil-induced brain fuzz is descending upon me.  So here is a cliff-notes summary:

The Received Scientific Orthodoxy on covid – at least as represented by Fauci and the approved voices of public health bureaucrats — displayed none of the humility of real science, and all of the arrogance of propaganda.  

Ubiquitous masks and lockdowns were crucial in stopping the spread.  (18 months later, the data is in.  Masks were no more than marginally effective, and only in a very few circumstances indoors.  Harsh lockdowns made only a statistically insignificant difference, while producing devastating psychological, social and financial damage.)

Vaccinations will prevent catching or spreading the disease… but only with multiple boosters.  And there are no significant side effects.  (The data is in: nope.)

In increasingly shrill and ridiculous appearances, Fauci became more and more adamant, reaching his nadir in the infamous, “If you’re disagreeing with me, you’re disagreeing with Science™!” rant.

I don’t fault anyone for being wrong at the beginning of the process, when we were making educated guesses.  But after two years, the “pro-science” left’s arrogance and denial has only increased, with every empirical rib kick that the data has given them.

Even now, they’re not ruling out future mask mandates or lockdowns, or even apologizing to all those devastated by the lockdowns that we absolutely KNOW did not work.  They’re not offering compensation or re-instatement to the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, airline pilots or special forces bad-asses who lost their careers because they wouldn’t take a jab that was at least as risky to them as the virus it was meant to treat.

This is not science, people.  It’s religion.

And it’s not even a good religion. 

I get mercy and love and forgiveness from the Creator who made me in His image, plus the King James Bible and the writing of CS Lewis and the music of Beethoven and Handel, and on and on.

What do they get?  Joe Biden, Hunter and Tony Fauci.    (The doddering father, the degenerate son, and the unholy pest.)  

That’s all I can manage right now.  If you found this column semi-coherent, that was probably just the fever talking.  I hope to have my wits about me the next time I write.

Avenatti/ Anybody but Fauci, 2024!