Is Christianity collapsing in the United States?

The Pew Research Center just released their latest survey of religion in America: In the US, Decline of Christianity Continues at a Rapid Pace. If you take the survey at face value, it paints a picture of the United States experiencing the first majority godless generation in the nation’s history, with large urban areas becoming mostly secular within the course of a mere decade.

As a person with a quantitative background, I have been trained to look for what I call “sanity tests” in reported data. If your data suggest something that is powerfully contradicted by your experience on a large scale, then … don’t publish your data. Run more tests. Try asking your questions differently and see if you get different results.

I often offer the popularity of Trump as an example of this principle. In fact, Trump regularly uses sanity tests to undermine his critics with great success. Fox News publishes a survey suggesting that a majority of people in the US support his impeachment. (It’s the first time liberals have loved a survey from a conservative organization.) Trump then holds two rallies in the course of a week, one in a historically blue state and one in a historically red state, both packing to capacity professional basketball arenas with sometimes tens of thousands of viewers outside the arena watching him speak on big-screen televisions. He books over half a million new small donors in a matter of weeks. If you weren’t an innumerate idiot, you’d have some questions about your polling methodology and predictive prowess.

Let’s ask some “sanity test” questions about Pew’s data, shall we?

From Pew:

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.

Our first problem here is that their question is phrased this way: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or nothing in particular?”

Those are your options in the survey. Now, take the example of a person who was raised Roman Catholic but has become deeply disillusioned by the Church because of the clergy abuse scandal and a pope that blesses plants. (Church finances, a good proxy or sanity test for this scenario, suggest millions of Americans fit into this category.) You try going to an Eastern Orthodox church, but everyone’s talking in Russian. You try to go to other high-church denominations, but you discover Episcopalians and some Lutherans are shouting their abortions, which disgusts you existentially. You go to Evangelical services, but don’t quite grok the praise music with lyrics an overhead projector. Not your style. Suddenly you are keeping your kids at home on Sundays, hoping for a better pope in your lifetime.

Does that mean you have renounced Christ? Absolutely not. Does that make you perhaps describe yourself as “something else” or “nothing in particular”? Um, yeah, probably it does. By Pew’s methodology, this person who is perhaps too faithful a Christ follower for their denomination is lumped in with atheists. That’s not a commentary on American society, it’s a commentary on how surveys reflect bias or ignorance about the topic they are purportedly studying.

Let’s try a different scenario. I have a lot of younger relatives (Millennials and Generation Z) who passionately resent organized religion for many (sometimes very persuasive) reasons. They don’t understand why they need to listen to a boring, hour-long sermon delivered by a stranger when they can get down on their knees at any place and at any time and talk to God directly. Would they consider themselves “nothing in particular”? Um, yeah. Might they also call themselves followers of Christ? Of course. I would submit to you that these folks are almost 100% likely to find themselves in a pew on a regular basis within their lifetime, like when they go through some personal crisis and find they need the support of a community or when they get married or want to have their kids baptized like they were.

Pew also highlights the general godlessness of the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party:

Religious “nones” now make up fully one-third of Democrats. And about six-in-ten people who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party say they attend religious services no more than a few times a year. The ranks of religious “nones” and infrequent churchgoers also are growing within the Republican Party, though they make up smaller shares of Republicans than Democrats.

On the one hand, all you need to do is look at the policy ideas of the Democratic Party front-runners now to see there’s some truth in this: suddenly there’s much higher and much more vocal support for abortion, and in particular, late-term abortion; the suggestion that churches and religious non-profits should face progressive ideology litmus tests to be able to keep their tax-exempt status; support for public persecution of commercial interests that buck the party on gay marriage or transgender rights, and so on. There is no doubt empirically that an antipathy toward Christianity is driving people out of the Democratic Party.

(As a digression, Democrats eliminating the tax-exemption for churches and hospitals only frees them up to become powerful political bundlers. Right now, the only thing stopping megachurches from becoming Republican community organizers is the tax-exemption. Talk about not understanding the implications of tax policy, geez.)

The situation is a lot murkier among Republicans and Independents. There are certainly more non-believers among Republicans than there used to be, but they are likely wildly different than the non-believers among other groups. George Will makes a case for atheists who are sympathetic with religious folks and demand a society tolerant of religious belief in his new book The Conservative Sensibility. (In fact, he devotes a crazy-long chapter entirely to this topic.) But once again, Pew is likely mis-characterizing people who do not like their options as far as organized religion is concerned in with atheists. This is another area where political fundraising is probably a better proxy for true belief profiles than a poorly-worded survey.

One of the things I have always found somewhat ironic among progressives, particularly atheist progressives, is this notion that history is moving in their favor. To the extent that Millennials hate going to church, they are a blip in the trajectory of the church. The Catholic Church has been around for two thousand years. Many Protestant denominations have been around for several hundred years. The opinions of a 25-year-old do not “cancel out” wisdom traditions that have survived far more tumultuous times and far more violent cultural purges than current higher education institutions being controlled by aging hippies. John Dewey was followed by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and George W. Bush. Your cultural biases are not inevitable.

Trump seems to have a lock on re-election, for many reasons

If you talk to many Democrats now, they think President Trump is finished. Their tendency to light their hair on fire over nothing every hour of every day since June 2015 has always been kind of hilarious, but it is especially hilarious now.

Nancy Pelosi announced today that she will not hold a vote of the full House of Representatives to authorize impeachment. Many observers have taken this as a sign that she does not have the votes to authorize impeachment, or that she is at least sufficiently pragmatic to understand that putting the dozens of Democrats from states that Trump won in 2016 on the record is a Very Bad Idea.

The House of Representatives has, in fact, already held three votes on impeachment. I will forgive you for not knowing what they are, but here’s a list for the unintiated:

  • Impeachment vote #1: 58 Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of insulting the NFL anthem protests (12/6/2017);
  • Impeachment vote #2: 66 Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of employing the phrase “shithole countries” (1/19/2018);
  • Impeachment vote #3: 95 Democrats voted to impeach Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of insulting The Squad (7/20/2019).

The official record shows that the House of Representatives is full of a lot of deeply unserious and hysterical people. Now they clutch their pearls and hold secret meetings, as if voters are going to embrace impeaching a president behind closed doors in the middle of an election cycle and in lieu of actually caring about public policy.

In reality, they have zero chance of removing Trump from office (since that responsibility falls to a Republican-controlled Senate), and they are simply setting up Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham to hold a show trial with subpoena power *during an election year.* You want endless hearings about how the hell-spawn of Democrats have made millions selling influence in former Soviet states and China months before people head to the polls? I mean, really, are you actually this stupid? Yet that is exactly what they are doing.

Democrats celebrate endless cooked polls as if 1,000 registered voters, with twice as many registered Democrats as the electorate possesses, are evidence that they are on The Right Side of History. The whole purpose of the electoral college is that it requires candidates to develop extremely broad geographical support to win. It’s the diametrical opposite of polling the 1,000 people who are still dumb enough to answer spam phone calls and remain on the line for the survey, which is what a poll is in the modern era.

Meanwhile, Trump is packing stadiums even in blue states and smashing fundraising records. He has certainly already flipped New Hampshire and Minnesota (which he probably would have had in 2016 if he had put any campaign staff there). If he is running against an open borders candidate, then he’ll probably win other close-margin purple states like New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, who will see their economies and social fabric destroyed by such policy. And that’s before you get to social issues like how awesome late-term abortion is and why the federal government needs to make puberty blockers more affordable for 9-year-olds. Whoever in the media thinks these issues play well in Peoria is insane.

It also doesn’t help Democrats that their new front-runner, Elizabeth Warren is aggressively going to war with social media executives ahead of an election. Zuckerberg is a total prick and I already deleted my Facebook account, but he has a very clear ability to erase Warren as a candidate in a general election. Only a woman in her 70s would think that was desirable.

My biggest takeaway from the endless, embarrassing Democratic debates is that there is not a single candidate on the left who can beat Trump. The echo chamber seemingly can’t see this, so Trump’s formula of making them say increasingly batshit things purely for the sake of disagreeing with him remains as much of a winning strategy as it was a few years ago.

Ponder this:

The original frontrunner was Biden. A man who is so old that his teeth fall out and his eye explodes on national television. Who can’t talk to a woman without wrapping his arm around her waist or sniffing her hair. Who falsely accused the man who was in a car accident with his deceased wife of being a drunk driver, when his wife tragically veered into his lane and was holding her young child on her lap at the time. (In fact, it was the other driver who was the first to render aid.) Who makes up stories about taking on gangsters at Vermont community pools, meeting with the victims of shootings that happened years after Obama left the White House, clipping coupons in the stock market, blah blah blah. Who has been in Washington longer than middle-aged voters have been alive. Who has a son that is a major shareholder of a shell company of the Chinese government that invests in facial recognition technology for oppressing religious minorities and tech companies that are blacklisted in the US for military espionage. Who can’t make it through a debate without talking about gay bathhouses and record players.

Then you have Elizabeth Warren, who has the charisma of Greta Thunberg. She has a plan for everything, and those plans cost five times the gross domestic product of the United States (not kidding, do the math for yourself). She lied about being a racial minority until she was called out for it in her 70s. She lied about her parents having to elope because her grandparents were so racist they did not want her father to marry her fake racial minority mother. She lied about being fired for being pregnant. She built her career on financial regulation, and banks are just as likely to make a predatory mortgage or jack up credit card rates to pay for bullshit perks as they ever were. She gets freaked out and starts physically shaking when a nobody says she has a “punitive” personality. Trump will probably make her cry on national television.

Then you have Sanders. Sanders has no normal public policy suggestions. He wants a revolution. And by that he means he wants the entire productive component of the US economy to relocate to another country. He thinks he is improving health care by calling premiums taxes instead of premiums. His thinks you want to trade in your private health insurance for the luxury medical care provided by a government agency. His health care plan is not so much Medicare for All, but Veterans Affairs for all. Only Millennials who are still riding on their parents’ insurance think there is no difference. And that is his base.

Then there is Kamala Harris. She built her career as prosecutor on the back of a crime lab that falsified data on hundreds of cases for the sake of getting convictions. She kept an innocent man on death row. She put tons of black men in prison for simple drug offenses. She thinks busing is great education policy.

Then you have Buttigieg. The mayor of a town that barely has 100,000 people. The mayor of Waco, Texas has more responsibility than he does. He adamantly defended an abortionist who had almost 3,o00 corpses of babies in his garage and in the trunks of cars he kept at a storage facility. Yet he’s arguably the only articulate person on the stage.

Then you have Booker, who has never uttered a substantive word in his life. He’s basically a rhetorical placeholder in debates.

Then you have Tulsi, who is basically a closet Republican.

Then you have Klobuchar, who famously ate a salad with a hair comb to send a message to her staffer who dared to forget to pick up a plastic spork at the airport. Sounds normal.

Then you have Yang, who literally tried to buy votes. He’s so irrelevant that no one even cares to point out that’s a crime. His strongest argument for why he should be president is that he’s Asian and everyone knows Asians are good at math.

And Beto, the skateboarding furry who somehow lives in Texas but thinks confiscating guns will be no big deal. He learned that people suffer while at boarding school.

And Castro, who thinks the US government should pay for transgender women to get abortions and evidently has no idea where babies come from. His only significant contribution to the debates has been that he lies more than Biden.

You have to be high to watch these debates and think a single one of these people can beat Trump. And that’s before you get into Pelosi’s own-goals. If you told me that Democrats were secretly working to re-elect Trump, I’d believe you. We aren’t even that far into the election cycle and journalists are trying to make moral cases for not asking candidates about the details of their policy because that only helps Trump out. I mean, really, say that slower and think about what you are suggesting.

Why pulling out of Syria is the only sane decision

I fully support President Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria. I don’t agree with everything Trump does, but in this instance he is displaying exactly the kind of courage in public policy that our country needs right now. I think there are a lot of Americans who quietly agree with me. I do not think these views have been articulated, even by conservative media. So I am going to articulate them here.

First, I am going to cite my personal bias: I am from a military family.

My father was a combat veteran in Vietnam. He was drafted into the Army in 1968-69, the peak of the war over there. He fought as a door gunner on a helicopter gunship with the 101st Airborne. Men fighting in his position had a life expectancy of 30 seconds in battle. Our family considers it a bona fide miracle that he survived. Most of his peers did not.

Like most combat veterans, my father refused to tell many stories about his time in combat. My parents saved the letters they wrote each other during his time there. Well, they saved his letters to her; he was forced to burn her letters after he read them. It was common for the opposing side to steal family correspondence and write vicious things back to soldiers’ loved ones back home. And they could contain sensitive information about the war.

Occasionally, he would see a movie about Vietnam and then he’d go sit in his truck and sob for hours. He had violent nightmares through my entire childhood, and continues to have violent nightmares now that his is in his 70s.

Imagine your dysfunctional government forcing you to experience such horrific and traumatic events that you are having nightmares about them 50 years after the fact. I can tell you from personal experience that combat quite literally re-wires your brain. It permanently changes your neural chemistry and the pathways your mind is willing and able to entertain. The psychological impact of combat on veterans is on par with a profound physical handicap.

My father came home from war in the height of the cultural revolution in the US. He experienced many of the typical things veterans experienced then. He was chewed out by strangers when they saw him in uniform. He attempted to finish college, but his mind was not able to focus on the ordinary concerns of young adults post-combat. He came home one day and threw his medals in the garbage – including his Bronze Star for Valor in Combat, which he earned for fighting in battles like Hamburger Hill.

I come from a family of immigrants, but I am proud to say that every generation of my family has produced a soldier for this country. My grandfather stormed Normandy in World War II. My cousin was stationed in the DMZ in Korea, and knows what it is like to stand guard at a place where a firefight could break out any second. We are a family of warriors, and I love that.

My father has no judgment for Trump for dodging the draft in a war that he himself would have preferred never to have been sent to. He considers that a rational decision. My father had to kill a man on his 21st birthday – an event that most Americans celebrate by going out bar-hopping with friends and getting black-out drunk – who was sneaking into his camp in the middle of the night to slaughter his fellow soldiers. He understood the necessity of that action, but he still struggles with the image of that man’s eyes in the dark night. He had to end that life. The life of someone who probably felt equally justified in what he was about to do. Many people talk about such decisions, from the luxurious position of not having to make them in the world that exists beyond social media, as if they are black-and-white political issues. They absolutely are not.

My father’s situation was not all that different from the experiences of soldiers in the Middle East right now. They are off fighting in wars that most Americans have forgotten or never knew existed. If it weren’t a perceived opportunity to snub Trump, the media would not be covering any aspect of these conflicts right now. In the Common Core era of American education, I doubt most young Americans can point to Syria on a map. Or Yemen, for that matter. Or Somalia. Many were only born when the events that sent us into Afghanistan occurred. There were no actual events that sent us into Iraq. That was a scam. We send soldiers to risk their lives in wars that are, frankly, mostly irrelevant to most Americans. At the very least, they are not understood by most Americans. I am certain our Founding Fathers never anticipated such a situation. Heck, some of these wars have no formal authorization from Congress. That would break the Founding Fathers’ brains.

We have spent essentially $8 trillion on wars in the Middle East in my lifetime. And the same people who can’t find Syria on a map likewise are not experiencing the economic fact of having to pay for those wars. This is not like World War II when food is getting rationed and women can’t buy pantyhose. Where every family knows someone who died in combat and the sacrifices seem necessary and inevitable. The swamp creatures that keep us in these eternal wars are borrowing that money from China and Japan, with interest, and they just re-finance that debt over and over and over again. The cost of servicing the country’s debt alone is starting to become a budget component that should not be ignored. But we just start financing more of the country’s day-to-day operations instead of changing. That’s a problem for future generations. It’s immoral.

Think of the opportunity cost of that spending for a second. Imagine some parallel universe where Americans spent $8 trillion on public schools, infrastructure, or the space program. We would be a very different country right now. The most popular people on the debate stage would not be apologists for Stalin’s ideology. A lot of things have shattered this country and its political discourse, but it’s not hard to see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the proximate cause for our own cold civil war.

The thing that pisses me off the most about the wars in the Middle East, however, is this: If we were going to intervene militarily in any region right now, it should be Central America and providing military assistance to Mexico to break apart its drug cartels. The unrest in these countries – which are not on the other side of the world from us, but merely to the south – is creating real humanitarian and economic crises for the US. Right here, on our soil. Yet we keep sending our grandchildren’s treasure to the Middle East. A trillion here, a trillion there. If you challenge that status quo, you must be an irrational, uneducated deplorable.

In the last federal fiscal year, nearly one million people – mostly humanitarian and economic refugees, but accompanied by a not insignificant number of bad actors as well – attempted to cross the southern border. Most of them have nothing and pose nothing but a social cost on the US population. They are experiencing incomprehensible suffering, and the US – wealthy as this nation is – is not in a financial position to support all of them.

Most of the heroin and other drugs on the streets in the US have come across the southern border, and cartels know how to use the humanitarian crisis they have helped create to conceal their evil shadow economy. Every major city in the US now has a homelessness crisis that is really simply a drug crisis. Even the tiny beach town that we live in now has several heroin camps hidden out in the middle of the jungle.

If you bring up these concerns about immigration policy, you are usually deemed a racist or xenophobe, no matter how many good intentions you have. Here in Florida, we live among the refugees from socialism and drug cartels. I can tell you from talking to these people directly that they are not Bernie bros. The naivete of our politics stuns them.

How did we get to the point where we will spend trillions of dollars fighting in wars the US was never logically a counterparty to, while addicts rot in plain view and our southern border is plagued with the destruction of brutal, evil tyrants that are only an hour plane ride away from the US?

There are no heroes in the civil war in Syria, no matter how many crocodile tears the establishment sheds for the Kurds. Our participation in that conflict is not as simple as the media and policymakers who are on defense contractors’ payrolls make it seem. During the Obama administration, the Pentagon and the CIA were arming folks on both sides of the conflict. Americans were seriously paying for US interests to fight each other. As long as more guns get sold, Washington doesn’t complain. For the same reason they don’t care that cancer drugs cost $50,000.

If you want to argue that the US should stay in several conflicts in the Middle East indefinitely, that’s fine. But I want to hear you acknowledge that in saying that, you are also saying that you want kids in the US to get a garbage education. That you want people in the US to sit on bridges with poor safety ratings during their morning commute. That endless wars are more important than health care reform or stabilizing Social Security and Medicare. That sending our youth to make sure the Kurds and Turkish forces play nice is the single biggest political priority to you. Because when you quantify the cost of these wars, that is where it ranks in reality.

Biden would be worse off if Trump actually understood how bad Hunter’s business deals are

The media coverage of Biden, Inc. has been somewhat amusing, even if it is sort of difficult to care about. But I guess I see it differently having worked in finance for most of my life. I didn’t just hear about these companies five minutes ago.

Hunter Biden seems fairly typical of the hell-spawn of career politicians on both the right and the left. Literally the first thing he did upon finishing law school was go work for one of Daddy’s top donors, MBIA. He created a lobbying firm with the fellow hell-spawn of another career politician that was premised on selling access to the Obama administration. There’s a reason you have tons of video footage of Hunter traveling the world with Daddy. No one else in the world is taking their adult children to work with them. That was for advertising purposes.

If you listen to folks in the media, who have become such waterboys for the Democratic establishment that they portray Hunter Biden as some independently useful, brilliant financial mind and all-around stand up guy – the dude was banging his own brother’s widow right after he died, for crying out loud – all of this was totally innocent.

Frankly, Joe Biden is lucky he’s dealing with Trump, who is vaguely traipsing the globe calling for other people to investigate corruption when he has a vast apparatus for investigation and surveillance at his own disposal. For all the talk about how “dangerous” Trump is, Trump really isn’t using the full powers of the executive branch. I guarantee you none of his predecessors would have passed up this opportunity. This also suggests that Trump himself does not have much of an appreciation of exactly how bad Hunter Biden is.

Hunter announced this weekend that he would be stepping down as director of the Chinese private equity firm that has recently become the subject of so much controversy, BHR Partners. But he’s not divesting from the company. As someone who continues to own a 10% stake in the company, he’ll still be getting rich off his partnership with a shell entity of the Chinese government as Daddy goes around proclaiming to the world that China “is not much of a threat” to the United States. (News flash: They are our biggest threat.)

So what kinds of companies is BHR Partners invested in that will continue to provide generous cash flow to the young Biden?

One current holding is Megvii, which specializes in facial recognition technology. Megvii technology is being used in Beijing’s mass surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Muslim minority that the Chinese government has sent en masse to bona fide concentration camps. Who Beijing has targeted for their involuntary organ harvesting programs. Who Beijing has forced to take government spies into their households to report on any unsavory beliefs they might be harboring. Biden is investing in this activity.

Another current BHR Holdings investment is CGN Power Group. This company has actually been blacklisted in the Untied States for stealing technology on behalf of the Chinese government for military use. Hunter Biden’s firm – with him as a director – was instrumental in the company’s 2014 public offering.

The Bidens are lucky that Trump often does not understand his own power. Biden’s connection to a blacklisted enterprise alone should be enough to throw these people in prison. Trump could have people looking at any meetings the Bidens had with representatives of these company’s on taxpayer-funded trips. If Trump were a product of DC, he absolutely would be doing this.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to explain that Hunter Biden was investing in the Chinese’s genocide projects.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to explain that Biden’s company was investing in stealing US technology and giving it to the Chinese military.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to point out that Bidens chose to “correct” this problem by taking their name off the wall at the company while still being one of its largest investors. Meaning after all this grief, they still are all about the Benjamins.

In the long run, however, it doesn’t matter. Biden is unlikely to be the Democratic nominee, not because he’s corrupt, but because he’s geriatric. His teeth fell out and his eye exploded on national television. His mental faculties are so low that he thought he was vice president during the recent Florida school shooting and related some fantasy meeting with survivors. He can’t survive a debate without talking about gay bathhouses and record players.

The sick thing about Washington is that Biden could have easily not thrown his hat in the ring and went and found some beach somewhere, and his worthless son would still be bringing down tens of millions of dollars with zero public attention. They could have continued to collect their economic rents for generations and no one would have even asked any questions, let alone placed them in real legal jeopardy.

Now they have people like Chuck Todd, who are so nervous about talking about Biden’s investments that they physically shut off coverage of the president’s comments when the topic comes up, saying they “cannot in good conscience” share allegations of government corruption with their viewers. It’s for your safety that you don’t know young Biden is bankrolling the slaughter of Muslims in China. It’s for your own safety that you don’t know he is bankrolling espionage. Bury your head in the sand like a good, patriotic American. Don’t waste a single second pondering exactly how fucking depraved the political establishment in this country is.

Fortunately, Americans are not that stupid. When people tell them not to look at something, that only makes them want to see more of it.

California has much, much bigger problems than wildfires

Last weekend, I was out shopping for a new smartphone. As most people who live in Florida were not originally born here, the Millennial behind the counter asked me where I was from. I told her that I have lived in several states, but I grew up in Southern California.

She shrieked with delight at this news. “I love Los Angeles,” she said. “Don’t you just want to move back?”

Nevermind the obvious point that we did have a choice of where to live, and we clearly chose to buy a house on the beach in Florida. But asking me if I am yearning to move back to Los Angeles is a bit like asking me if I am yearning to move to Pyongyang or Tehran. Nope doesn’t exactly cover it.

I’m not so in love with the Kardashians that I want to pay more than half of our household income to taxes at every level of government. To stare at homeless camps and dirty needles in the gutter while sitting in traffic. To listen to lawmakers congratulate themselves on mandating that abortion pills be passed out on college campuses while millions of people in the state are without electricity. “Try to find a cool place to store your insulin” is not the kind of government regime that I am eager to live under. The libertarian customs of Florida may lead to a lot of bizarre and entertaining headlines, but the government here is aggressively functional and not unnecessarily expensive.

The last time I heard about mandatory rolling blackouts, it applied to Puerto Rico – a US territory that ended up going bankrupt and was incapable of managing a natural disaster in the years that followed, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. They couldn’t keep the power on under normal circumstances, so they were certainly unprepared to deal with a hurricane. Puerto Rico taxpayers had accumulated tens of billions of dollars of debt for infrastructure projects, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at the decrepit state of their infrastructure. Where did the money go? It went to endless corrupt deals, that’s where.

Now California is witnessing basically the same situation unfold. The California electorate has become increasingly batshit, and they send increasingly batshit people to Sacramento and to the city councils of the state’s largest municipalities. As a result, they’ve taken a paradise and managed it into dysfunction. There is far more concern over policing how people think and talk in California than there is in actually providing essential government services. If you are a middle class resident of California, you are forfeiting the opportunity build any sort of nest egg so that you can live like the poorest people in the Caribbean or Central America. There’s no glamour in that life decision, sorry.

The rolling blackouts in California is not a climate change story. It’s a perfect storm of bad management decisions and rent-seeking green energy contractors.

California gets a lot of well-deserved grief for not clearing publicly managed lands of organic debris, thus ensuring that the state is an epic tinderbox every year. This is something that does not happen here in Florida. Florida ecologists and wildlife officials supervise controlled burns throughout the state to ensure that there’s not a situation where a wildfire among the mangroves poses a threat to a major (or even a minor) city. It also protects the state’s tourism industry, which is a significant component of the state’s economy.

But that’s not where the rolling blackouts came from. California’s investor-owned utilities have dealt with the increasingly batshit people in Sacramento by taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude in lobbying. And that’s what you are seeing backfiring now.

PG&E went all-in on the green energy projects that California lawmakers and their constituents love. So much so that the company was actively choosing to invest in new green projects rather than make the necessary safety upgrades to its existing transmission systems. Those investment decisions are how California got the deadliest wildfire in state history last year. They had shitty equipment that was past its useful life.

The company now has so little faith in the safety of its equipment that it decided leaving millions of Californians without power during natural cycles of high winds and dry conditions was worth the risk that people might die or be otherwise injured without power. That turning major intersections into four-way stops for days on end was a better idea than burning a large fraction of the state down. Their decision isn’t stupid. The decisions that created this dilemma in the first place were stupid.

The investment bank Credit Suisse estimated that contracts with green energy companies is costing PG&E $2.2 billion more than rates can support EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Over two billion dollars to nurse their liberal political connections, while the utility cannot afford even to inspect their 100,000 miles of power lines, let alone make repairs to them. The utility claims that inspecting the lines alone would require quadrupling their rates. That’s how long they have let their system rot in the service of liberal fantasies.

That’s the opportunity cost of turning your government over to AOC-esque personalities. Your whole system of providing essential government services is screwed beyond repair. The cumulative financial cost of bringing these systems back to normal pretty much ensures the government is going to watch its tax base walk out the door. And that’s going to create a downward spiral in the provision of all kinds of essential services. You are already seeing the warning signs that this is happening in California real estate prices and in the financial struggles of the state’s largest school districts. If you want to see governments that are further along on this trajectory, look at Puerto Rico and Chicago.

Thanks to the tens of billions of dollars in liabilities from the wildfires last year, PG&E has filed for bankruptcy. The utility’s bankruptcy has been a source of absolute chaos. It looks like PG&E shareholders will likely be completely wiped out. It is unlikely that any new controlling party will bring the utility back from the dead. So Californians should not discount the possibility that being without power is their new normal. No one seems to know how the utility is going to survive at this point, and that’s a big problem for the millions of people they support.

The incredible irony in all of this is that the green state of California has been keeping the lights on during this period with privately procured generators running on… wait for it… fossil fuels.

I am all for conservation of the natural environment. But people have to be pragmatic in making decisions as important as how infrastructure is to be managed and maintained. This is one thing the climate hysterics cannot think clearly about, and that’s why they should never be placed in leadership positions and they should not be able to control narratives about government.

The economic value these folks are capable of nuking is unreal.

Elizabeth Warren’s struggles with autobiography

A lot of folks are debating the merits of Elizabeth Warren’s claim that she was fired from a teaching position because she was “visibly pregnant” and that was just the way things worked back then.

Warren has set a pattern when it comes to discussing autobiographical details – which she does an awful lot in an attempt to give some sort of folksy appeal to her pseudo-socialist policy ideas. She knows [insert trillions of dollars of federal spending] is necessary because she personally has suffered with [not being able to afford a college education, racism, etc.]. It’s like she knows that she can’t defend policies that in aggregate exceed the gross domestic product of the United States several times over, so she goes for some nutso emotional tale instead.

Every time Warren brings up her past, she (1) outright lies about what happened, and (2) has no problem inventing insanely damaging stuff about real people from her past, though she usually picks people who cannot defend themselves.

In discussing her fake Native American heritage, she claimed multiple times that her parents had to elope because her paternal grandparents were vicious racists who did not want their son marrying a Cherokee girl (who obviously wasn’t actually Cherokee).

This story sent the (legitimately) Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes into an obsession with disproving that Warren had any Native American ancestry at all and that this wasn’t merely a matter of her family not being officially recorded on tribal rolls. She spent several long blog posts tracing Warren’s ancestry back to the 18th century with available public records to prove Warren was, in fact, whiter than Downton Abbey.

My take on this story is: Who the hell talks this way about their own grandparents? Not only to slander their grandparents for political points, but to suggest they were racists in the process?

Elizabeth Warren, that’s who.

Warren’s latest story about going off to college involves her mother – whom she previously said took a job for the sole purpose of helping Warren pay college tuition – punched her in the face “quick as lightning” when she dared to ask to attend college. It was her dear father who said she should be given a chance. (And of course, for the purpose of climbing her way through the academy, she was a Native American.)

So in the 2020 edition of her autobiography, a fictional abusive mother gets added to her fictional racist grandparents. All of them long gone and unable to defend themselves against these charges.

Now we have some poor school principal from the 1970s who hates teachers with buns in the oven, who continued the stream of fictional abuse Warren has “persisted” through.

She either knows so little about local government operations that she did not understand that there would be official records of the school board approving her contract for another term and accepting her resignation “with regret,” or she assumed that any official records from decades ago would have been destroyed. Or she’s such a pathological liar that she comes to believe the false narratives she tells about herself. Who knows. I’m not sure any of these is less in need of psychiatric help.

But it’s yet another example of Warren objectively lying about being discriminated against or otherwise injured that trashes some very real third party with a name and personal legacy. Someone who probably was around to help her out in reality only to get tossed under the bus because she needed a campaign speech and she had a pretty boring and, dare I say, white-privileged life. It’s really quite sick.

It’s a fun phenomenon that folks who need to appeal to a progressive party that fetishizes suffering ends up with a bunch of candidates inventing suffering. Poor Biden was valiantly standing up to the violent street gangs who terrorized community pools in Vermont. Warren’s very white parents had to elope because racism. Yadda yadda yadda. I mean, come on, give it up already. None of this has anything to do with the real business of government.

When your politics make you an objectively bad parent

I don’t have any serious interest in Greta Thunberg or her climate protests. I don’t see much value in polling teenagers about their public policy opinions in general. Or Millennials that are still financially dependent on their parents, for that matter. Your teenage years are about getting an education, not telling adults how to make important decisions.

When it comes to government, I am with Aristotle: Until you have copious real world experience, your thoughts on government should not matter. Until you reach that point, you are indiscriminately parroting the opinions of the authority figures in your world. Not all adults are worth giving more than one vote to.

In developed countries that now infantilize college students, where “kids” remain on their parents’ health insurance policies well past the time they are old enough to birth their own children, the scope of people who fit that criterion is rather large. It would be no mystery to Aristotle why a nation that allows such people to vote has a young electorate that believes the government should function in loco parentis (which, frankly, is the best description of socialism and pseudo-socialism there is). Don’t ask someone who still goes shopping with Daddy’s credit card to explain why entitlements are bankrupting the country.

What I find somewhat fascinating, however, is how many people on the left have been disturbed by her performance. For some reason, they can’t see their own behavior in her behavior. This is the kind of kid your village produces when they exist in a vacuum of contrarian influences. Your nihilism creates freaking miserable children. People who are given nothing to believe in are not happy, healthy, or well-adjusted. Anthropologists have been offering this up as the purpose of shared mythologies and traditions for as long as that discipline has existed.

Ever since Trump announced he was running for president in June 2015, folks on the left have become both intolerant and intolerable. I have met kindergartners on the playground who talk about their feelings less than your average Democrat does now. I’m not kidding about that, either. There are only so many times you can watch someone light their hair on fire over nothing before you don’t want to be around them anymore (and you don’t want your kids around them anymore). It truly has become a form of mental illness at this point.

Listening to Democrats talk about Trump is a lot like listening to a woman who found out her husband was banging her best friend and then was given full custody of the kids by a judge. They feel so personally wronged by someone who, for all practical purposes has no idea they are even alive, that they have become obsessive in their hatred. They are incapable of separating humor from earnestness (e.g., Trump proposed a moat full of alligators at the border … *hyperventilates* This is public policy now!). They fact-check parodies. They still believe conspiracy theories that were debunked in a two-year-long investigation. They can’t even contemplate consuming “news” from someone who does not share their biases. They consume what is tantamount to propaganda all day long. Every person who dares to disagree with their historically extreme social theories is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, blah blah blah. The only people they trust are people who share their vitriol, who share an equally regimented diet of bias and hate.

Many people have made these observations before me. But the horror of Greta Thunberg – whom I will not mock here, as she is obviously struggling with some serious psychiatric issues, and there’s no humor in that – is that this is often what a child of this era looks like.

What happens when substantially all of the adults in a child’s life are bent on convincing them day in and day out that they live in a dystopian hellhole and that human beings are headed toward extinction in their own lifetime? When every show on television in their house is about what a dystopian hellhole they live in and we’re all going to die? When they see a jail on television and you liken it to Auschwitz? When every man is portrayed as a potential rapist?

Oh, your kid suffers from anxiety and depression? How very strange! You seem like such a wholesome influence!

The psychological impact of this behavior is not all that different than the anti-vaxxers who feed their children bleach every day to cure their “vaccine damage.” It’s irrational and poisonous. It’s downright abusive. You are hurting your child. You should stop doing this.

What happens when adults manipulate their children to call attention to their own perceived moral righteousness? When they will drive a child increasingly mad just so they can say, look, the dystopian nature of our society is so obvious that even children can see it? When the people who are entrusted to care for a child see them as a means to an end?

I’m sorry (no, I’m not), but if your political views are so batshit that your kid needs real therapy to deal with living in a house with you, then you are an objectively bad parent. You believe objectively destructive things.

Childhood is supposed to be a period of safety and stability. It is a period where children are given the freedom to learn the skills they need to get along in the real world. It’s not where you tell a child every day that they cannot be proud of their community, of their country, of their ancestry, or anything that is part of their identity in the real world. That is anti-social behavior in general, but it’s a supremely abusive way to treat a child. It’s like kicking a puppy over and over again until they learn to bite anyone who comes near them. You are degrading their existence.

Moreover, when your political views are so toxic that your family doesn’t want you or your insults at Thanksgiving, that is also a horrific way to treat a child. Your child needs a tribe to survive.

Unfortunately, some households have to be escaped, and some people will have to construct their own tribe rather than inherit one. Some people need to pick a college that is a thousand miles away from home to escape their parents’ poison. Greta Thurnberg is what happens when a child chugs that poison down. Take a good look and change the way you live.