December 5, 2021

ROGER KIMBALL: Oh, Oh, Omicron!

So far, I have to say, it’s been pretty much of a dud—unless, that is, you’re the stock market, which has taken a beating this last week or so, in part because of this new kid on the medical block (there is also that much more toxic financial emergency, the Biden Administration, but that’s for another day). The new variant has also been a godsend for scolds, nags, bureaucrats, and meddlesome so-called public health officials nannies who are just itching for another excuse to lock down your world, introduce new travel restrictions, and impose new testing protocols.

How will it all play out? TSTS—Too Soon to Say, but I suspect this sequel is going to be a flop at the box office. For one thing, although only recently named, there is abundant evidence that Omicron has been around for months. If it had been previously unnamed, that is perhaps because it is no big deal. The South African doctor who first identified the strain noted that while the virus was possibly more contagious than versions named for letters earlier in the Greek alphabet, symptoms tended to be mild, indeed “very mild.” A typical news report notes that “patients mostly suffered from mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough.” (Remember colds? Remember the flu?)

So why the panic? Partly, it is because panic is an antidote to boredom. People are heavily bored. Panic also licenses the people who want to run your life to, well, run your life. “Most Omicron cases so far have been mild,” runs one headline, “but experts say it will take weeks to understand how severe the variant can be.” Ah, “experts”! What would we do without them?

One thing we’d do is ride public transportation without wearing a mask. But apparently there are sufficient numbers of people who are cowed enough, or bored enough, to don the little badge of their submission and pretend that they are not only “staying safe” but keeping you safe, too. Where did your mother tell you that road paved with good intentions led?

Here’s the reality: the COVID “pandemic” is over. I hasten to add: also, it will never end.

Earlier: Panic is a Lifestyle Brand.

R.I.P. Bob Dole Dies at 98.

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: Is America—and the world—prepared for what comes next?

Whatever happens, I find I cannot escape the sense that America has reached an impasse, that it has arrived at a moment of transition, and not just on the matter of abortion. Whether one looks at politics, economics, or the world, one sees a realignment of forces, a shuffling of players off and on the stage, to prepare for the next act in the drama. The Trump presidency seems less like the harbinger of a new beginning than a spectacular climax to a historical epoch. If so, we are living through a sort of denouement, a working through of conflicts left unresolved. “It feels like the order we have all taken for granted since the end of the Cold War is badly decaying, and has gotten so fragile that it might well shatter soon,” wrote Damir Marusic of Wisdom of Crowds last month. Question is: What replaces it?

If the Court does overrule Roe next summer, America will have entered uncharted territory. Many states will ban abortion immediately. Others will legalize it for the duration of a pregnancy. Still others will restrict and limit the practice. Abortion will be a matter for legislatures—including the U.S. Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans believe that abortion would become a major issue in next year’s midterm campaign, with unforeseeable consequences. Would a pro-choice backlash help Democrats? Perhaps. Then again, some of us thought that Texas’s fetal heartbeat law might help Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. That didn’t happen.

Conversely, if the Court does preserve Roe, many conservatives and Republicans fear a pro-life backlash directed at the GOP infrastructure and conservative legal movement. No less an authority than former attorney general Ed Meese wrote in the Washington Post that the “success” of constitutional originalism depends on the Court’s ruling in Dobbs. Tension already is high within the conservative legal movement over former president Donald Trump, his attempt to remain in office, and the intellectual challenges from “common-good” constitutionalists and from advocates of judicial “engagement” over “restraint.” A disappointing ruling may not only deflate Republican enthusiasm, but also turn grassroots conservatives in more radical directions.

Read the whole thing.

REPORT: Ben Roethlisberger expects this season to be his last.

VERY SMALL, BUT YES: Rand Paul: Chris Cuomo firing ‘a small step toward CNN regaining any credibility.’

‘CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHOSEN:’ Looks like the holiday special from the crew behind the immensely successful, crowd-funded series have another winner. Here’s a trailer for the special and here’s a surprisingly positive report from the Wall Street Journal. Quality, like cream, does rise to the top.

OCEANIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH CHRIS CUOMO:

Shot: CNN’s Brian Stelter speculates Chris Cuomo could return to air by January.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, Wednesday.

Chaser: Hmmm: Brian Stelter Says Chris Cuomo Caused ‘So Many Headaches’ at CNN.

—Matt Margolis, PJ Media.com, today.

CONSEQUENCES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Disgraced FBI agent John ‘Zip’ Connolly in Massachusetts on full pension: You can thank Congress for passing the ‘Hiss Act.’ “He kept his pension, despite being convicted of second-degree murder in 2008, because Congress passed the Hiss Act in 1954 that allows lawmakers, and therefore federal employees, to keep their retirement benefits unless convicted of espionage or treason.”

REPORT: Former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole has died at age 98.

BYLINES OF BRUTALITY: Listen: Unhinged NYT Journalist’s Foulmouthed Voicemail for Great Lakes Gun Rights.

Remember this when they brag about their own professionalism. (Classical reference in headline.)

UPDATE: From the comments: “Imagine her call to AAA after Waukesha.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: New York Times reviews Wirecutter editor Erin Marquis over voicemail for gun rights group after Michigan shooting.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha, in an email to CNBC, said, “We expect our employees to behave in a way that is consistent with our values and commitment to the highest ethical standards.”

“We are currently reviewing this matter, which involves an employee of Wirecutter, our product recommendation site, who does not work in The New York Times newsroom,” the spokeswoman said.

Marquis declined to comment.

She’s not even an actual NYT reporter, so she was lying as well as crazy.

STILL POPULAR: Better Off Dead: A Jack Reacher Novel. #CommissionEarned

TO BE FAIR, FREEDOM ISN’T ONE OF STANFORD’S VALUES: ‘Pro-freedom’ Pence speech denied funding by Stanford student government.

EPIC DAILY DEAL: Snow Joe SJ626E Electric Snow Thrower | 22-Inch | 14.5 Amp. #CommissionEarned

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Stanford University: Masks required, clothes optional.

TODAY IN MEDIA-MANUFACTURED CONTROVERSIES: Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweets pro-gun photo days after Michigan school shooting.

That’s because he was pro-gun before and after this random event. What they’re unhappy about is that they weren’t able to cow him into not expressing his position, and accepting that guns are somehow evil. Good for him.

NOW OUT FROM MY FRIEND HIAWATHA BRAY: Power in the Blood. (Bumped).

THE STEPHANOPOULOS INTERVIEW WAS AWFUL: ‘He Confessed.’ Actor Adam Baldwin’s Blistering Takedown of ‘Preening’ Alec Baldwin’s CYA ABC Interview.

F MINUS: White House Report Card: Jobs mixed, virus raging, Harris failing.

IN THE MICHIGAN SCHOOL SHOOTING THEY’RE CHARGING THE PARENTS, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SCHOOL? “This is part of a larger issue of government declining to keep the peace and attempting to convince us that it cannot keep the peace, something I wrote about last month, after the Rittenhouse verdict and the Waukesha massacre.”

If the government can’t and won’t keep the peace, why have it around at all?

BOB ZUBRIN NOTES Growing support for nuclear power on the left.

The thing to remember is that the anti-nuclear movement wasn’t really about nukes. It was designed, by Tom Hayden, et al., to keep the infrastructure of the anti-Vietnam War movement alive after the Vietnam War was over.

FIGHT THE POWER, STICK IT TO THE MAN: Alumni Withhold Donations, Demand Colleges Enforce Free Speech.

Two years ago Cornell University asked a California real-estate developer and longtime donor for a seven-figure contribution.

Carl Neuss didn’t write the check immediately, saying he was worried about what he saw as liberal indoctrination on campus and declining tolerance toward competing viewpoints.

To allay Mr. Neuss’s concerns, the development office introduced him to some politically moderate professors, he said. The attempt backfired. The professors, he said, told him they felt humiliated by the diversity training they were required to attend and perpetually afraid they would say something factual—but impolitic.

“If you say the wrong words, you could lose your position or be shunned,” said Mr. Neuss. . . .

Mr. Neuss, who graduated from Cornell in 1976, withheld his donation and then helped start the Cornell Free Speech Alliance. It is one of about 20 such dissident alumni organizations that have taken root on college campuses over the last couple of years—including several this fall.

Many of the groups are driven by politically moderate or conservative men who graduated from college in the late 1960s and 1970s, according to interviews with several of the group leaders. They believe progressive groupthink has taken over college campuses, and are urging schools to protect free speech and encourage a diverse set of views. In some cases, alumni are withholding donations to pressure schools to take them seriously.

“This is a battle for our culture and, in many ways, for Western civilization,” said John Craig, who heads a similar organization at Davidson College in North Carolina called Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse. “Open and free expression is what makes our country great, and if we lose this, our country is in deep trouble.” . . .

This fall, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology disinvited University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot from delivering a scientific lecture at the school because he alleged that a new cadre of diversity, equity and inclusion officers was creating a climate in which faculty were self-censoring.

The disinvitation prompted Tom Hafer, a 1970 MIT graduate, to withhold donations and then to help launch the MIT Free Speech Alliance to support free speech, open inquiry and viewpoint diversity. It currently has about 250 members. He is calling for the school to host a debate between Dr. Abbot and one of the six new associate deans for diversity, equity and inclusion.

A spokesman for MIT said the school is grateful for their alumni, respects their perspective and declined to comment about specific views.

“This is our litmus test because he holds ideas that the woke crowd finds anathema,” Mr. Hafer said. “He needs to be able to explain his position without being harassed or interrupted or intimidated.”

Indeed.

DIPLOMACY RIGHT NOW:

Related: U.S. warns of possible Russian invasion of Ukraine with 175,000 troops in 2022.

THEY CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF: Joel Kotkin: The great nudge: Government, Big Tech and the media are all trying to nudge us into adopting the ‘right’ behaviour.

When we think of oppressive regimes, we immediately think of the Stalinist model portrayed in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the heavy-handed thought control associated with Hitler’s Reich or Mao’s China. But where the old propaganda was loud, crude and often lethal, the contemporary style of thought control takes the form of a gentle nudging towards orthodoxy – a gentle push that gradually closes off one’s critical faculties and leads one to comply with gently given directives. Governments around the world, including in the UK, notes the Guardian, have been embracing this approach with growing enthusiasm.

Nudging grew out of research into behavioural economics, and was popularised in Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s 2008 book, Nudge. It now has widespread public support and has influenced everything from health warnings for cigarettes to calorie counts for fast food. Yet nudging also has an authoritarian edge, employing techniques and technologies that the Gestapo or NKVD could only dream about to promote the ‘right behaviour’.

Tech firms, both in the US and China, already use messaging nudges to ‘control behaviours’. They use their power to purge their platforms of the wrong messages, as both Facebook and Twitter did when they censored the New York Post’s pre-election story about President Biden’s dissolute son, Hunter.

They’re garbage, and this shouldn’t be tolerated.

December 4, 2021

OPEN THREAD: Sometimes I get a good feeling.

EVERYTHING IS GOING SWIMMINGLY.

#JOURNALISM:

UPDATE: From the comments: “Questioning authority, resistance and protests were the stuff of our youth. Clapton and Morrison’s response IS what I expect of them. F the fascist authorities and administrative nazi enablers. The UK could use a few million others to stand with them.”

Plus: “I don’t know when this distressing trend of musicians not toeing the establishment line appeared, but it has to be quelled instantly! Popular art and music is all about supporting the dominant narrative!”

I WOULD LIKE TO SEE US AS A TYPE II AT LEAST: The Kardashev scale: Classifying alien civilizations.

CNN TERMINATES CHRIS CUOMO ‘EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:’ And so, as he flies the blue lady of the skies into the sunset, we say aloha, Five O’Clock Fredo, and return to our duties. Let me me remind you that the Weblog is open 24 hours a day for your dancing and dining pleasure.

EVERYTHING IS GOING SWIMMINGLY: Harris faces staff exodus as questions on her leadership style emerge: ‘This is a sinking ship.’

NO, THEY DON’T MEAN 2021: One American Culture Actually Benefited From ‘The Worst Year in Human History’.

EAT DURING THE DAY: Study: Nighttime eating affects body clock, can lead to glucose intolerance.

WHAT SPREADS FASTER THAN COVID-19? VACCINATION.

It deserves a wow. Some 57% of the human population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and 45% are fully vaccinated, in less than a year.

This means the vaccine has spread approximately twice as fast as the virus, never mind that the virus itself is an exceptionally fast spreader that organizes its own distribution without help from trained administrators and sub-zero storage.

Add that infection also offers a kind of vaccination, so now two kinds of resistance to Covid-19 have been spreading with unprecedented rapidity through the human population.

Numerous were the complaints about how Delta spoiled the summer even for vaccinated people, but it’s not clear why this was so. Vaccination takes away Covid’s deadliest property, its novelty to the human immune system, turning it into the equivalent of a cold or flu. Nobody lets the prospect of a cold or flu spoil their holiday (though perhaps they should for the sake of their elderly in-laws).

The point is not frivolous. It suggests why, rather than a dark new chapter, the Omicron variant may be our last big wallow in hysteria, from which we will awake slightly red-faced in the morning.

Start with numbers and remind yourself that what turned Covid into a global catastrophe wasn’t its unusual deadliness—in unvaccinated people, it appears to be roughly twice as deadly as the flu when unvaccinated apples are compared to unvaccinated apples; in vaccinated people it appears to be significantly less deadly given that our standard flu mortality estimate of 0.1% arises in a U.S. population in which vaccination approaches 70% for the riskiest age brackets.

The big disturber of our equanimity was Covid’s rapid spread—with so many of us getting our high-risk first exposure in a compressed period of time, straining the world’s hospitals.

With flu, the U.S. government estimates that 5% to 20% of us (with or without symptoms) are infected each year; about half of us are vaccinated. With Covid, a government-sponsored study recently estimated that 100 million were infected in 2020, or 30% of the U.S. population, at a time when almost nobody was vaccinated.

This speed of transmission is what keeps throwing the world for a loop; moreover, it seems indisputable in retrospect that we squandered our best point of leverage by failing to focus on protecting the elderly and those at highest risk.

Well, some people proposed that, you know. Others, like Andrew Cuomo, put Covid patients into nursing homes.

Related: The Lancet:

High COVID-19 vaccination rates were expected to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in populations by reducing the number of possible sources for transmission and thereby to reduce the burden of COVID-19 disease. Recent data, however, indicate that the epidemiological relevance of COVID-19 vaccinated individuals is increasing. In the UK it was described that secondary attack rates among household contacts exposed to fully vaccinated index cases was similar to household contacts exposed to unvaccinated index cases (25% for vaccinated vs 23% for unvaccinated). 12 of 31 infections in fully vaccinated household contacts (39%) arose from fully vaccinated epidemiologically linked index cases. Peak viral load did not differ by vaccination status or variant type [[1]].

In Germany, the rate of symptomatic COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated (“breakthrough infections”) is reported weekly since 21. July 2021 and was 16.9% at that time among patients of 60 years and older [[2]]. This proportion is increasing week by week and was 58.9% on 27. October 2021 (Figure 1) providing clear evidence of the increasing relevance of the fully vaccinated as a possible source of transmission. A similar situation was described for the UK. Between week 39 and 42, a total of 100.160 COVID-19 cases were reported among citizens of 60 years or older. 89.821 occurred among the fully vaccinated (89.7%), 3.395 among the unvaccinated (3.4%) [[3]]. One week before, the COVID-19 case rate per 100.000 was higher among the subgroup of the vaccinated compared to the subgroup of the unvaccinated in all age groups of 30 years or more. In Israel a nosocomial outbreak was reported involving 16 healthcare workers, 23 exposed patients and two family members. The source was a fully vaccinated COVID-19 patient. The vaccination rate was 96.2% among all exposed individuals (151 healthcare workers and 97 patients). Fourteen fully vaccinated patients became severely ill or died, the two unvaccinated patients developed mild disease [[4]]. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four of the top five counties with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated population (99.9–84.3%) as “high” transmission counties [[5]]. Many decisionmakers assume that the vaccinated can be excluded as a source of transmission. It appears to be grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.

The vaccinations seem to be underperforming. It may be that we should have focused vaccination on the elderly and infirm too.

ADVICE: How To Keep Your Corporation Out of the Culture War.

[W]e believe the main reason Gen Z wields more influence is because a critical mass of their Millennial bosses and managers are sympathetic to them. . . .

Ever since they entered the corporate world in the early 2000s, some members of the Millennial generation (born 1982 to 1996) have pushed for being able to “bring their whole selves to work.” Companies in the creative industries encouraged this shift, erasing boundaries between work life and private life. But as America became ever more politically polarized, the problem with this policy became evident: Some whole selves cannot tolerate working alongside other whole selves that have different political beliefs and voting patterns.

Compartmentalization is essential to civilization.

THEY KILLED FREDO: CNN Terminates Cuomo.

I’ll be interested to see what the “additional information” is.

GREAT MOMENTS IN CHUTZPAH AND/OR AMNESIA: Democrats livid over GOP’s COVID-19 attacks on Biden.

Democrats are up in arms this month over GOP charges that President Biden is to blame for the prolonged COVID-19 crisis.

They argue that Republicans, from former President Trump to his most vocal allies in Congress and in state capitals, bear plenty of responsibility for public resistance to masks and vaccines, noting the opposition to those leading mitigation efforts comes overwhelmingly from the right.

The criticism of masks and vaccines has sabotaged Biden’s efforts to get the nation past the pandemic, some argue.

“They’ve done everything possible to ensure that we can’t get past it,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said of the Republicans. “They’ve fought mask requirements, vaccine requirements. They’ve spread misinformation. They have amplified dangerous conspiracy theories.

“There is one group to blame in this country for the continued spread of COVID,” she added, “and that’s those actors who have done each and every one of those things.”

Flashbacks to early March of 2020:

Chuck Todd: Coronavirus Can Be to Trump Like Iran Hostages Were to Carter.

‘She’s actually smiling:’ MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and guest discuss coronavirus that could become ‘Trump’s Katrina.’

And later in the year:

Kamala Harris says she will be ‘first in line’ for a coronavirus vaccine if health experts approve it, but ‘if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, then I’m not taking it.’

Business Insider after the debate between Harris and Mike Pence, October 7th, 2020.

Here’s a montage of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Cuomo saying not so long ago that you shouldn’t trust the feds, the FDA, and the vaccine.

Not the Bee, September 11th, 2021.

And speaking of amnesia:

Joe Biden: I’m going to ‘shut down the virus’, not the US.

—The Grauniad, October 23rd, 2020.

STILL POPULAR: New Apple AirPods Pro. #CommissionEarned

BIDEN’S CHIEF OF STAFF CAN’T STOP EMBARRASSING HIMSELF ON TWITTER:

The president’s chief of staff is arguably the most demanding job inside any White House. President Joe Biden’s top staffer, Ron Klain, isn’t making things easier for himself lately with the absurd things he’s posting on Twitter.

Klain is what we can only call a Very Online person. He is constantly tweeting and sharing other people’s posts to his half-million followers in an incessant effort to cheerlead for his boss and the Democratic Party more broadly. While this is the role of any outward-facing political staffer, Klain is taking his shilling so far that he’s now just making embarrassing public statements on the regular.

For example, Klain recently tweeted that “America is back at work” alongside this graph, which shows the opposite.

The Biden staffer boosted the graph hoping to show that the labor force participation rate, the percentage of people working or seeking work, is back to normal after the pandemic. Yet it actually shows that it’s still significantly below pre-pandemic levels, even a year and nine months later. Anyone with eyes can clearly see this.

In actuality, we are 8.2 million jobs below the pre-pandemic trend, according to economist Aaron Sojourner. So much for America being “back at work.”

Earlier: The Mark of Klain. “[A]ll in all, things have worked out pretty darn well for Ron Klain. For America? Not so much.”

FORMER PRODUCER HARASSED BY CHRIS CUOMO SAYS INTERNAL INVESTIGATION AT CNN ISN’T ENOUGH:

A former executive producer at ABC when Chris Cuomo worked there accused him of sexually harassing her in September. Her claim of abusive behavior by Chris Cuomo goes back to 2005. Not only did Cuomo grab her backside at a going-away party for a colleague, but he did so in front of her husband.

At the time Cuomo told his former producer, Shelley Ross, that he could do that because she was no longer his boss as the producer of his Primetime Live show on ABC. She objected, telling him that no he could not do so and pushed him away. Ross produced an email from that time that came from Cuomo after the incident. He apologized for his behavior to both her and her husband, thus admitting guilt. The older Cuomo brother isn’t the only one with a problem with controlling his hands around women, apparently. Ross now says that an internal investigation at CNN over Cuomo’s egregious professional behavior that resulted in an indefinite suspension just won’t cut it. An in-house investigation isn’t enough and she suggests that CNN should do as CBS did over the Dan Rather fake reporting of George W. Bush in 2000 and hire independent investigators to do the job.

Good luck with that: CNN’s Brian Stelter speculates Chris Cuomo could return to air by January.

SEEN AT THE MALL: I was walking by a t-shirt store and this caught my eye: “Don’t California My Tennessee” T-Shirt. It is also available in a bumper sticker.

FASTER, PLEASE: Printing technique creates effective skin equivalent, heals wounds.

CANCEL CULTURE FINALLY COMES FOR ANCIENT ROME: Ancient Roman ‘homophobic graffiti’ found in unearthed Pompeii snack bar.

LEE SMITH: Here Comes the Limited Hangout. America’s Nixonian press corps takes a page from the Watergate playbook to try and cover up its active role in the criminal Russiagate hoax:

In other words, all of Russiagate—the initial crime and the criminal cover-up—is based on the dossier. No matter how much reporters now try to sever themselves from it while maintaining Trump really did collude with Russia, there was only ever the dossier.

So should the Pulitzer committee strip the Post and the Times of their 2018 prize, as Trump and many of his supporters are saying? By no means. That would only further obscure the damage the media have done to American citizens, U.S. national security, and government institutions during the past several years. The press sponsored an intelligence operation that, among many other outrages, violated the privacy rights of an American citizen (Page); forced another to flee his adopted home for fear of false imprisonment (Millian); dragged a decorated combat veteran through the mud and cost him his home and millions of dollars in legal fees (Flynn); interfered in an election, and helped spies target the president through leaks of classified information. Demanding they simply return the awards they use to credential themselves obscures the larger truth. Instead, it would be more fitting for the Post and Times to have the prize’s citation emblazoned on their mastheads for posterity to commemorate how they injected poison into the national bloodstream and burned down our free press.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Before Russiagate, There Was Watergate.

TOP SELLER: Marino Mens Genuine Leather Ratchet Dress Belt with Open Linxx Buckle. #CommissionEarned

THAT’S OKAY, THE REPORTING OF NEWS IS ALSO BASED ON FEELINGS: Study: People choose to learn about health, world news based on feelings.

TIM BLAIR ON LET’S GO BRANDON, THE EARLY YEARS: “According to conventional wisdom, the Let’s Go Brandon movement began in Alabama two months ago. That’s the theory, anyway. But reader Kris has discovered evidence that LGB commenced 39 years earlier, during an Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1982.”

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Chicago Public Schools Making Bathrooms Gender-Neutral.

DEAR FELLOW AMERICANS, STEVE GREEN CAN’T DO IT ALL HIMSELF, YOU KNOW: Global survey finds the drunkest country in the world — and it’s not the US.

NOW OUT: Everything You Believe Is Wrong. #CommissionEarned

ROGER SIMON: Eighty House Republicans Vote for More Government Spying.

Welcome to Stasi America!

I used to think that cry was excessive, was an unrestrained accusation of some semi-existent phenomenon called the alt-right. The East German Stasi, after all, topped even the KGB when it came to intruding on the private lives of citizens, fundamentally destroying the individual at the hands of the state.

No longer.

Our lack of privacy, not to mention the increased ability of the government to spy on us, has been ratified by eighty—count ‘em eighty—House Republicans, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy (who wants us to see him as a viable replacement of, an actual savior from, Nancy Pelosi) and Burgess Owens of all people (Et tu, Burgess? Who can we rely on now?)

What these GOP members of what seems more and more like the People’s Congress of Cambodia under Pol Pot have voted for en masse, joining one hundred percent of the Democrats (something suspicious right there), is a bill to fund a Federal Vaccination Database.

Known as the Immunization Infrastructure Act (H. R. 550), this baby would provide $400 million of your dollars and mine for an “immunization system data modernization and expansion” of “a confidential, population-based, computerized database that records immunization doses administered by any health care provider to persons within the geographic area covered by that database.”

In other words, it’s a handy way to get the “wrong” people fired, ostracized or whatever, while getting their children kicked out of school.

The Lives of Others was never meant to be a how-to guide for good government.

IT’S SAD THAT THIS COUNTS AS A WIN NOWADAYS, BUT IT DOES: ‘Win for academic freedom’: College will not fire professor who defended rigorous math standards.

COMING SOON: THE MUELLER REPORT DELUXE BOX SET, WITH OUTTAKES AND ALTERNATE MIXES! More Russiagate Nonsense: DOJ Considers Releasing Alternate Mueller Report.

FIGHT THE POWER, STICK IT TO THE MAN: Princeton students call out dean’s Rittenhouse email for ‘factual inaccuracies, misconstrual, and virtue signaling.’

“There is a sizeable cohort of your students who agree with the Rittenhouse verdict; they think––as we do––that the jury executed its fact-finding mission faithfully and thoroughly, and that the facts of the case were applied to produce an outcome in accordance with what the law (not the moral judgment of a dean) requires.

That opinion has been echoed by many serious legal commentators. Issuing such a one-sided and misleading statement in your capacity as Dean, we fear, sends a message to students that the institution (qua you) has taken a position on the matter (the “right” position), and runs the risk of chilling serious intellectual discussion on important public issues. In sum, we found your statement to be factually and pedagogically erroneous.

Good.

Though in this case it’s not The Man, but The Woman.

AMERICA CAN’T BE GREAT AGAIN UNTIL IT IS ACCOUNTABLE: That’s the core message of OpenTheBooks.com founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski’s recent address to hundreds of state legislators from across the country at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference.

This guy and his troops filed more than 40,000 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for spending data at all levels of government. As somebody who has fought the transparency-in-government fight for three decades, I can attest to what a phenomenal achievements that is. Adam’s address is 22.37 minutes long and worth every minute.

WE’VE DESCENDED INTO SOME SORT OF BIZARRE HELL-WORLD IN WHICH SARAH SILVERMAN IS A VOICE OF SANITY: The truth has to matter’: Sarah Silverman (!!!) scolds Joy Reid over the Florida State Guard story.

Background here: DeSantis Derangement Syndrome Starts to Rear Its Ugly Head. “On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, likely fed up with the lack of support from the Biden administration, proposed a civilian-military force in the Sunshine State. The Republican introduced plans to re-establish the Florida State Guard to quickly aid responses to emergencies like hurricanes. Several other states across the country, including deep-blue California and New York, have similar civilian forces…Florida would be the 23rd state to establish such a force.”

GOODER AND HARDER, NEW YORK: Utility Bills to Rise up to 10 Percent to Green NYC Electricity Grid.

GOODER AND HARDER, CALIFORNIA: 14 California Looters Arrested by Police Have Been Released Due to the State’s Zero Bail Policy.

ON EAGLES’ WINGS: When you see a Boeing 747’s wing, you know somebody designed it. So the central question posed by “The Genius of Flight”  is why don’t we come to the same conclusion when looking at the vastly more complicated design of an eagle’s wing?

Yes, the issue here is design versus evolution, but regardless of which side you take on that long-running debate, this is a marvelously crafted and intellectually inspiring presentation that is at once entertaining and instructive.

WHY DON’T THEY TELL US THIS ABOUT OMICRON? Drew Holden and Aaron Sibarium of The Washington Free Beacon report African leaders are turning down additional shipments of the Coronavirus vaccine.

That’s directly contrary to Mainstream Media reports such as the recent one from the New York Times claiming “the continent was yet again bearing the brunt of panicked policies from Western countries” that limit supplies of the vaccine.

Why is it, one wonders, that the West in general and usually the U.S. in particular is always made to appear to be the bad guy? And then these people wonder why their public credibility is in the toilet?

JUST ASK ERIC GARNER: New Report Shows Why Congress’s Plan to Raise Cigarette and Nicotine Taxes is Such a Terrible Idea.

Suffice it to say this isn’t a good thing. Black markets fuel criminal activity and lack the same accountability and quality standards of free, legal markets. But fueling the black market is just another unintended consequence of big government meddling with legal markets.

“The crafting of tax policy can never be divorced from an understanding of the law of unintended consequences, but it is too often disregarded or misunderstood in political debate,” Boesen concludes. “Sometimes policies, however well-intentioned, have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits.”

Flashback: It Wasn’t Just a Chokehold That Killed Eric Garner.

ALEC BALDWIN: I feel no guilt over Hutchins’ death.

By speaking publicly now, Baldwin locks himself into a series of claims which evidence may later contradict. If so, Baldwin has already impeached himself and that may make him more vulnerable to prosecution on criminal grounds, and certainly in the wrongful-death lawsuit to come. This is precisely why people involved in these kinds of incidents shouldn’t go on national television or anywhere else to offer “explanations.” They should let their attorneys do all the talking until absolutely necessary otherwise.

This is even worse, from a PR standpoint. Baldwin may not have loaded the live round, but the pistol he held fired it anyway — after Baldwin apparently didn’t check for safety himself before pointing the weapon at Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Instead of taking responsibility for what were undeniably his own actions, Baldwin instead paints himself as a victim with no moral responsibility for what transpired, let alone legal responsibility, even as one of the producers of the film with a duty to ensure safety on the set.

In its way, it’s as absurd a statement as Darrell Brooks’ complaint that the media had turned him into a “dehumanized … monster.” Both men ought to seriously consider all of the benefits that flow from keeping their mouths shut while the wheels of justice turn, rather than open them and help grease those wheels.

As Jim Treacher adds: Baldwin Proves Not All Publicity Is Good Publicity.

OCEANIA INCREASES CHOCOLATE RATIONS FROM 30 GRAMS PER WEEK TO 20! Biden Hasn’t Fixed The Port Crisis — Ships Are Just Being Counted Differently.

December 3, 2021

NOW OUT FROM MY FRIEND HIAWATHA BRAY: Power in the Blood.

OPEN THREAD: Sow a little tenderness.

TO BE FAIR, THEY PROBABLY COULDN’T HAVE FOUND THEIR WAY OUT ANYHOW: Snow storm forces customers to sleep in IKEA showroom.

SPACE: Space Force plans to launch experimental satellites early Sunday. Why are we launching “a satellite to aid detection of nuclear detonations in space?” Is it to watch out for the Chinese Orion tests?

GOOD: ‘Mild cognitive impairment’ fades for some older people, study says. “In fact, nearly half of seniors tracked in the study — all of who had been diagnosed with issues in memory and thinking and received an MCI diagnosis — no longer had the condition a few years later.”

IT WAS NEVER ABOUT SCIENCE: Covid’s Three Blind Mice. Scott Atlas’s memoir of his time at the White House offers appalling revelations about the bureaucrats who hijacked the nation’s governance during the pandemic. The troika of Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield had scant interest in scientific research or debate — and zero concern for the calamitous effects of their edicts.

MEDICAL MYSTERY: Mumps cases in vaccinated people increasing, reason why is unclear.

TRUST: Science Blah-Blah Horseshit is the Universal Language of Covid: And it’s why we need to be able to trust institutions.

I’m probably like most people: My trust waxes and wanes depending on what the institution does. Trust has to be earned.

That’s why I think the CDC’s missteps during the pandemic have outsized importance. I’ll highlight two highly visible and much-criticized moments: The CDC’s early-pandemic statements questioning the efficacy of masks and Dr. Fauci’s admission to the New York Times that he adjusted his statements about what level of resistance was necessary for herd immunity based partly on what he thought the public was “ready to hear”.

I think I understand the logic behind these decisions. Early in the pandemic, the CDC was worried about people buying up already-scarce N95 masks that were needed for medical workers; there was also a concern that “reduces the likelihood of transmission” would be interpreted as “makes you completely safe”. Regarding herd immunity, Dr. Fauci was worried that if he said we needed to get to 90 percent, it would trigger what I’ll call a “well then fuck everything” response that would make people less likely to get vaccinated. I get that these decisions were made with several factors in mind, and I think they were made with good intentions.

But I also think they were extremely wrong. The effects of these decisions went far beyond whatever short-term confusion they might have caused; the main effect was to degrade the CDC’s credibility. . . .

There’s a similar problem regarding the mainstream media (which I’ll define as the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, CNN and a few others). There’s a debate right now — mostly pointedly between Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan V. Last — about how much the mainstream media can be trusted. Sullivan argues that their credibility is basically gone; Last thinks that they’re about the same level of imperfect that they’ve always been. I’m basically in between the two; I think the Times and Post are the worst they’ve been in my lifetime, but they’re not complete bird cage liner just yet. Still, the change is significant; the difference between a Times I trust 90 percent and a Times I trust 75 percent is the difference between me using them as my go-to source for information and me seeking other sources for that role.

In the past year or two, we saw a major push for institutions to reflect a particular ideology; many people argued that institutions preaching neutrality should instead “take on a social justice role”. It happened in some corners of the media, several organizations, and many universities. Scientific touchstones like the American Medical Association and Science-Based Medicine had weird moments. The ACLU’s purpose seems to have dramatically changed. The result has been a degrading of institutions’ credibility, both individually and collectively. To the extent than institutions have accepted this change in purpose, people no longer trust them to provide the truth. That’s rational, because an institution that declares that its purpose is to pursue “social justice” as defined by a narrow set of activists has disavowed the pursuit of truth and declared loyalty to a predetermined set of beliefs.

I feel that institutions chronically undervalue their credibility.

Indeed. Plus, from the comments:

Impressive results lead to credibility. You have no choice but to respect an institution capable of the Manhattan project or Apollo missions. Even if you disagree with every aspect of it. A lot of people alive today probably can’t think of a single impressive thing they’ve seen a modern institution do.

The other credibility killer is that the public now recognizes these institutions as made up of distinct and flawed humans. The NYT is now just a bunch of people on twitter posting dumb shit about their lives. If they really wanted to restore credibility the first step would be to ban all reporters from having public social media accounts. The correct places for those opinions is the opinion pages. Of course that will never happen.

Emphasis added.

AGAIN: Waukesha massacre suspect scored high in pretrial risk assessment, but was released anyway. “Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm called Brooks’ bail ‘inappropriately low,’ despite it being his office who set the bail.”

PORTLAND GAME CROWDFUNDING: Virtue Signal game designer William Dalebout is still crowdsourcing for his new upcoming game and is up to 40 % of his funding goal. You can check it out here.

You can also find the Virtue Signal games here if you would like to purchase them for gifts or for yourself! You can use the coupon code HELENSMITH to get a 10% discount at checkout.

NO: Mercedes Introducing Fingerprint Scanning Next Spring.

BLUE ON BLUE: Joe Manchin Does It Again, Votes to End Vax Mandate.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: Is Jussie Smollett the worst hate crime hoaxer of all time?

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett appeared in court for the first time this week to defend himself against allegations that he fabricated an elaborate hate crime for attention. Chicago prosecutors say Smollett wasted police time and resources by sending them on a wild goose chase against his alleged attackers — resources which surely could have been better used elsewhere, given the city’s astronomical murder rate.

Early details shared during the trial don’t help Smollett’s case. Prosecutors showed the jury surveillance video of an alleged “dry run” of the orchestrated attack. The video, taken a day before the incident, shows Smollett walking around the area with the Osundairo brothers. Smollett is accused of paying the Osundairo brothers to stage the hate crime because he was frustrated by the lack of attention Empire gave to hate mail he received on set.

One of the Osundairo brothers took the stand Wednesday and testified that he procured drugs for Smollett and considered him a “brother.” The Nigerian immigrants previously told police that Smollett helped them plan the attack and warned them to pull their punches so as not to severely injure him.

This headline didn’t take long to appear: Jussie Smollett’s lawyers claim judge ‘lunged’ at one of them, ask for a mistrial.

UPDATE: From America’s Newspaper of Record: Mirror Brought Into Courtroom So Jussie Smollett Can Face His Attackers.

(Updated and bumped.)

DIGITAL MEDDLING: Google’s YouTube Meddles In French Election, Slaps Age Restriction On Presidential Candidate Zemmour’s Campaign Video.

According to YouTube’s policy, age restriction occurs when the Google-owned platform determines that content contains “Child safety” concerns, “Harmful or dangerous activities, including regulated substances and drugs,” “Nudity and sexually suggestive content,” “Violent or graphic content,” and/or “Vulgar language.”

Zemmour’s announcement does not appear to explicitly violate any of these themes. YouTube, however, did not immediately respond to the Federalist’s questions about what specifically in the video reportedly violated the community guidelines.

Searches of Zemmour’s video were also reportedly subdued on YouTube.

You’ll see and know what YouTube wants you to see and know.

NOT MUCH CHANGING AT TWITTER: New boss who loves censoring conservatives is same as (or worse) than the old boss who loved censoring conservatives, according to the Internet Accountability Project’s Mike Davis.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF THE K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE AND WEIMAR AMERICA, PART DEUX: Loudoun County asks parent to pay $36K for FOIA request for documents regarding ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape.’

THEY LITERALLY KNOW NOTHING: ‘Former Obama guy loses’ his SH*T in thread about DeSantis ‘PREPARING FOR A BREAK FROM THE FED GOVT.’ for reactivating FL State Guard and ROFL.

State Guards — which are distinct from the National Guard — have been around for ages, and lots of states, including my own, and California, have them. But when it comes to DeSantis, any outrage will do, because Democrat activists are ignorant, emotional children.

CHRISTMAS SEASON HAS ARRIVED: So expect soon to hear from the critics of the Virgin Birth with, according to Erik Manning, a fallacious argument from silence. After all, just because Thucydides doesn’t mention Socrates in “The Peloponnesian War,” nobody argues Socrates never said “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF THE K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE AND WEIMAR AMERICA: Fairfax County parents demand school board resign after ‘doubling down’ on ‘porn in schools.’ From PJM alum Tyler O’Neil, now at Fox News:

Parents gathered outside the Fairfax County School Board meeting on Thursday, voicing their opposition to what they term pedophilia and “porn in schools” after Fairfax County Public Schools reintroduced two books containing depictions of sexual activity.

“They’ve doubled down on porn in the schools. They’ve all got to go,” Stacy Langton, the Fairfax County mother who confronted the school board with images from the books in September, told Fox News. “Who’s in favor of porn in the schools?”

Parents protested outside of Luther Jackson Middle School, holding signs reading, “No porn in our schools,” wearing t-shirts reading, “Mama Grizzly” and “Papa Grizzly,” and holding signs featuring the photos of school board members with the text, “Resign FairfaXXX.”

Thursday marks the first school board meeting since FCPS reintroduced the controversial books. “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison includes long sections of a boy reminiscing about explicit experiences he had at 10 years old, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe includes photos of sexual acts between a boy and a man.

Read the whole thing.

IF ALL THESE NICE THINGS ARE EXAMPLES OF WHITE SUPREMACY, THE LEFT IS JUST ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO EMBRACE IT: Don’t Look Now, but Food Charity and Farmers Markets Are Part of ‘White Supremacy Culture’ Too.

HARD TO BELIVE THAT SUVs WEREN’T INVOLVED SOMEWHERE: Volcanic fertilization of the oceans drove severe mass extinction, say scientists.

A PREVIEW OF LIFE WITHOUT PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION: RTD union calls Denver Union Station a ‘lawless hellhole.’ “Union Station is a staple of downtown Denver transportation and services shuttle buses, light rails and commuter and Amtrak trains. According to the union, RTD passengers and employees in recent months have faced loiterers, encampments and illegal drug use while boarding buses, trains and light rail.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. employers added 210,000 jobs in November, a weaker figure than forecast. “The American economy hit a speed bump in November as hiring unexpectedly dipped before the holiday season, a sign that companies are cautious about prospects for growth.”

As former investment banker Carol Roth notes, “Jobs report was an anemic 210,000 jobs added despite 573,000 expected. It’s almost as if firing people for not taking the vaccine isn’t a great way to improve the labor scenario. On the bright side, the White House says gas is down two cents.

And they’ve got the dramatic charts to prove it!

President Klain is also getting into the dramatic charts business:

UPDATE (FROM GLENN):

Free falling: A quarter of Dems strongly disapprove of Biden performance in new poll.

Also: Voters worried about inflation don’t know why we’re spending trillions on Build Back Better, says … Dem who voted for it.

And: Biden tormented by Republican guerrilla campaign and ‘I did it’ stickers.

Also: 100Pcs I Did That Biden Funny Car Stickers. #Resist #CommissionEarned

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