January 26, 2022

Sort of short takes


Editor’s note: Mr. Morley regrets that his attempt at brevity seems to be foundering badly: his “Short takes” seem to be expanding. However, he has pointed out that we should “follow the science,” that is, remember that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang, which naturally would affect everything else, from taxes, big gummint, inflation, and waist sizes to social media’s absorption of our personal information, the quantity of fake news, and, you guessed it, the length of EMM’s “Short takes.” Those in a hurry can just read the first sentence. Or read nothing at all.

1. Attempts to control “fake news” are nothing new. Indeed, as the following invitation to a January 24, 2022, webcast on “A ‘Ministry of Truth’ in 2021: Fighting Fake News the Old-Fashioned Way,” at Washington’s Kennan Institute makes clear, excellent role models can found in both Stalin’s and Putin’s Russia. Here is the announcement verbatim:

“The Russian government has seen fake news and rumors as an imminent threat to be eliminated by the State for much of its history. From 1935–1953, Soviet citizens were severely punished for spreading rumors: only after Stalin’s death did those prosecutions mostly stop. Now, almost 70 years later, this practice has been reborn in a different way. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian authorities started to use two new laws against people who spread fake news about the epidemic. But who was punished, and why does one type of rumor become a matter of investigation and others, like those about anti-vaccination, do not? George F. Kennan scholar Alexandra Arkhipova will examine this selective policy against misinformation in her upcoming lecture.
  If you haven’t already stopped to ponder, consider the unconscious irony about this event being held in the heart of the Biden regime: the announcement does not hint at any analogies between Russia past and present and its arch-foe, the U.S. of A. (Readers with idle time on their hands are encouraged to replace Russian references above with American ones and see whether much other editing would be needed.)

2. Walmart/China Watch III. More news from the Eastasian Front, Comrades! Remember when the Chi Coms accused Walmart of being stupid and shortsighted? Were they ever right. Now, in keeping with their “Something’s Rotten in Walmart” campaign — according to a January 18, 2022 Wall Street Journal story, “Walmart Faces Probe in China over Meat” — the Bureau for Market Regulation in the southwestern city of Chengdu announced that it is investigating “consumer complaints about spoiled beef.”
  In addition, “The regulator said it also found improper practices at the store, including an imperfect system of rules and regulations, and overly high temperatures in its utility rooms.” Walmart brought this down on itself by apparently adhering to U.S. law by allegedly not carrying products from Xinjiang where the Chi Coms are conducting a genocide campaign against Mohammedan minorities. This is “allegedly” since the info emerges only from “local media reports” and “anger on Chinese social media after internet users accused Walmart of having stopped stocking products from Xinjiang” that seem to be the source of all this. However, “Walmart hasn’t publicly discussed the various actions of Chinese authorities.” Nor has Walmart denied it.
  In response to the scurrilous charges of genocide, the Chi Coms have rejected this preposterous “allegation.” Yes, indeedy. “It has described the camps as vocational training facilities designed to improve livelihoods and combat religious extremism.” No word whether the Chi Coms have mentioned, as models they have emulated, the Biden immigration camps on the U.S. border or the entire public school system in the United States, which is “designed to improve livelihoods and combat religious extremism.” Or maybe the inspiration runs the other way. Stay posted for Wonderful news from the Malabar Front and also statistical proof that the rate of inflation in the United States is down dramatically and standards of living are up from 20 percent under the Orange Man regime to 25 percent (formerly 30 percent) as you read this.

3. The return of Vishal Garg. And then there’s the tragic story of Vishal Garg. Yes, I know a few of you out there are thinking, “Vishal Garg? Wasn’t he Darth Vader’s sidekick in one of them there Star Wars movies?” Close but no cigar. Vishal Garg (Just love that name: Vishal Garg, Vishal Garg, Vishal Garg. He could be the CEO of TLD.) is the CEO of Better.com, an online mortgage lender, who just before Christmas 2021 made a ZOOM call to 900 worker bees at Better (about 9 percent of their employees) in which they were informed that they had been fired. Of course, in this day of relentless social media, a video of the call was posted online (OK, online mortgage company, online sacking, online instant revenge, whatever). You can see it here. (Actually, the slightly chubby Mr. Garg doesn’t appear to be the heavy most news reports implied.)
  As a result, Garg was placed on leave to “reflect” on his leadership style, to work with an executive coach, and to clean up his communication skills. All’s well that ends well. Garg is now back on the job, the WSJ for January 20, 2022, p. B2, informs us, apologetic in the manner in which in these woke days we have become accustomed to see CEOs groveling: “I have not chosen my words carefully enough ... without enough care for the effect they may have on colleagues. I am committed to being more thoughtful and communicate more effectively going forward.” Hallelujah, brother. Go and sin no more.

4. Good news and bad news. The good news is that inflation is still in single digits. The bad news, well, let’s let the headline of an article in the January 6, 2022, WSJ by Bjorn Lomborg say it: “Today’s Soaring Energy Prices Are Only the Beginning.” The piece deserves reading in full, but here are a few short takes.
A. “Barack Obama acknowledged in 2008 that electricity prices ‘would necessarily skyrocket’ under his proposed climate policies. He was more candid than many of today’s politicians and advocates.”
B. “In the U.K., real electricity prices have doubled since 2003.... ”
C. “... this year European energy bills are expected to increase by almost $400 billion.”
D. “Bank of America finds that achieving net zero globally by 2050 will cost $150 trillion over 30 years — almost twice the combined gross domestic product of every country on earth.” (Apparently Lomborg doesn’t remember that in Bidenomics this can be done with zero cost.)
E. “These estimates are based on the heroic assumption that climate policy costs will be spread efficiently, with big emitters China and India cutting the most. New Delhi says it will only keep moving toward net zero if the rest of the world pays it $1 trillion by 2030, which won’t happen.”
  This leads EMM, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, to speculate the following. Either the World Economic Forum elites know that $ trillions net-zero plans won’t do squat to slow global warming and won’t actually affect materially the life styles of the rich and famous living in gated communities, but see this as a polite totalitarian wedge issue; or, possibly even worse, they are true believers in the climate-change holocaust scenario, but don’t think the draconian policies necessary to prevent or alleviate the coming crisis will actually affect the life styles of the rich and famous in their gated communities, and see this as a polite totalitarian wedge issue. So pretty much a win/win situation for the elites, who will continue to live in gated communities with private power sources and will continue to gad about the globe in their private jets preaching to the proles about over-consumerism, world equity, and so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah. Too bad this is pretty much a lose/lose situation for The Other 98 Percent.

5. The other 98 percent. Speaking of the other 98 percent, in the midst of his diligent research for these short takes, ol’ EMM ran across this jewel: there is a 98 percent podcast that is concerned not with The Other 98 Percent I’ve been talking about, but rather with the unfortunate 98 percent of actors who aren’t wearing Rolexes, driving Maseratis, living in gated communities, and paying more in taxes for a month than The Other 98 Percent makes in several years. In their own words: it is “A podcast for actors, by actors; The 98% explores what life is ‘really’ like for the majority of actors and performers who, rather than trying to find an outfit for their next red carpet event, are trying to find a public toilet to use to change from their work clothes to an audition outfit in their lunch break on their ‘paythebills’ job.” There’s more, but my eyes teared up too much to go on. Doubtless there are more heart-rending stories on the website.
  I hope you all have a charitable warm spot in your hearts (and soft spots in your heads) for these deserving unfortunates, who through no fault of their own, after all they have given to us, can’t live in Beverly Hills, vacation on the Riviera, and attend Kennedy Center Honors events; who might not continue to get COVID-19 subsidies from the gummint and an uncaring Congress; and who won’t even get their well-deserved 15 seconds of fame. Send donations directly to Poverty and Racism Victimized Actors Fund, c/o TLD, General Delivery, Roanoke IN.

6. Electric vehicle stock worth more? They are if Uncle Sam has his way. “Electric Vehicles Need Uncle Sam’s Help,” headlines a commentary in the WSJ, January 21, 2022, by Stephen Wilmot, with a subhead ending, “if China and Europe are a guide, accelerating adoption will require subsidies.” (And who wouldn’t want the sclerotic EU and the Chi Coms to be our guides to the economy of the future?) Wilmot points out that high investor expectations will be disastrously disappointed as a result if these subsidies aren’t forthcoming. Why? Because currently, electric vehicles have the equivalent of a 4.4 percent share of the total passenger car market in the United States, but Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid have a whopping 83 percent share of the total U.S. automaker market value.
  Time for that old reliable crony capitalism/public-private partnership to come to the rescue. Otherwise “investors” AKA rich people who can afford to speculate in incredibly over-valued EV makers AKA Wall Street AKA the elite AKA the not-98 percent of the population will take a financial bath, and we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we? One way would be to declare EV makers too big to fail and bail them out. Another would be to subsidize EV buyers in the name of climate concerns while driving gasoline car makers out of the market (and into EVs) by jacking up emissions rules and promoting policies that will dramatically increase gasoline prices (which are, unfairly, much lower than in Europe anyway). Wilmot concludes, “Uncle Sam needs to put his foot down [On the faces of the 98 percent, a la Orwell?], or investors could be in for a long wait.” So, why not have the majority of the country who can’t afford EVs, or who live so far out in flyover country that EVs simply don’t have the required range, subsidize the wealthy, the preachy elites, and rich entertainers. Jolly good show, what?

7. MORE NEWS FROM THE EASTASIAN FRONT! VICTORIES UP 37 PERCENT! “A mobile app that is mandatory for all participants in next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing contains security flaws that could make it easy for a hacker to steal sensitive personal information, cybersecurity researchers warn,” according to a WSJ story, “Security Flaws cited in Olympics App” (January 19, 2022). Personally, EMM thinks these guys are overreacting. Even though all “participants in the Games will be required to download” the Beijing Olympic Committee’s My 2022 app (catchy, huh?) “and use it to upload their travel plans, passport details, and health information,” the Chi Coms already have all that stuff. Needless to say (but the WSJ says it anyway), the “Beijing Olympic Committee didn’t respond to a request to comment,” though sounds of gunfire were heard from their HQ that didn’t seem to be coming from the riflery venue.

8. CITIZENS! WE’RE SAFER THAN EVER! Yes, thanks to Big Brother and his like-minded devotees, we are safer than ever since the number of federal crimes has increased 36 percent since 1994. As detailed in a WSJ editorial of January 22-23, 2022, a Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center study “Counting the Code,” we now have nearly 5,200 federal crimes. And the good news is that this doesn’t even include the “unknown number of crimes created by executive-branch officials under authority delegated by Congress” in the 175,000-page Code of Federal Regulations. Illustrative of these latter crimes and misdemeanors is “a 2006 regulation that creates a potential five-year prison sentence for bringing more than $5 of nickels out of the United States.” (Nickel-exporting scofflaws simply cannot and will not be tolerated.)
  According to the Heritage Foundation report, “Because many of these crimes apply to conduct no rational person would expect to be a crime, the government is potentially turning average Americans into criminals.” BB was right again! Average Americans are thought criminals, and it’s only a matter of time before a thought criminal commits actual crimes ... and the number of these crimes is up 36 percent over the last 25 years.
  BTW, because the Supreme Court has given the feds carte blanche (That’s Albanian for “get-out-of-jail-free card” for the FBI, the Department of Justice [The DOJ appears in the dictionary under the entry for “oxymorons.”], the CIA, the NCIS, the ... well, you get the idea.) to do whatever is necessary to prosecute evildoers (including those perverts who want to take 100 or more nickels out of a petty cash starved economy tottering on the brink of ruin as a result), the problems of “duplicative laws” and dual prosecutions arise. Thus, prosecutors are able to “charge different people committing the same offenses with different crimes.”
  Further, “they can be prosecuted twice for the same crime,” once on the state level and again on the federal level, without this being considered a violation of the Fifth Amendment double-jeopardy clause. (We know, we know. How is it conceivable that bootleg nickel exporters could be prosecuted by states and then by the feds, and that not be double jeopardy? Actually, we don’t know.) And don’t forget “process” crimes, i.e. misstatements, evasions, etc., made during the prosecution or pursuit of crimes real or imagined. (The relevant Wikipedia entry is instructive and amusing.)
  The Heritage Report declares that this situation is analogous to the actions of good ol’ Caligula: “The Roman Emperor Caligula, infamous for his caprice and malice, published new tax laws in small font and hung them high atop pillars to entrap the people into unknowingly violating them.” But Caligula was a relative novice. He would have turned a very dark shade of green with envy if he could have imagined the resources that can be deployed today to the nefarious entrapment of the subjects of the modern police state. Ain’t progress wonderful? Ω

January 26, 2022

Published in 2022 by WTM Enterprises.

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