What One Expects of Totalitarians

From Investor’s Business Daily:

A 10-page weekend memo by a former Google engineer called for a rethinking of the company’s “extreme and authoritarian” culture of “diversity and inclusion.” His reward? He was fired, of course, proving his point.

If you need any further proof that what software engineer James Damore said was true it was in the immediate reaction on Monday by Google to his screed. Damore said he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

In making a plea for being treated as an individual, Damore wasn’t ranting, calling anyone names or making claims that couldn’t be sustained by simple recourse to a biology text or, even, to personal experience. Even so, his anodyne comments were treated as extreme ideological anathema, and he was instantly banished from the company for making them. Fired.

Be clear on this: Damore was only asking for tolerance of different points of view, including those of conservatives. He described himself as a “classical liberal,” which means he believes in reason, tolerance, freedom of conscience and the right of individuals to their own beliefs.

He was careful to note, too, that he is not inimical to much of what Google’s authoritarian culture now imposes on its workers: “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.” What he did oppose was the one-size fits-all culture of victimhood and deified diversity that the company, like much of the rest of Silicon Valley’s tech culture, forces its employees to adopt.

He didn’t demand acquiescence to his own views. He merely asked for an “honest discussion” of the fact that we are not all mere emblems of different victim groups, but rather individuals, and deserve to be treated as such.

“Google’s political bias has equated freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety,” Damore wrote. “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.”

Yet in the end, Damore said, he was fired for the odious crime of “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Damore’s firing only adds an exclamation point to his reasoned remarks. And Google executives jumped on the bandwagon, issuing remarks to show just how “woke” and completely brainwashed they were into the company’s ideology. It’s sickeningly reminiscent of the bad old days of the purges in the Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution in China, when friends, colleagues and family were routinely compelled to publicly denounce and criticize those whose beliefs had suddenly become fatally politically incorrect.

Google will now be faced with the irony of being sued for its own intolerance. Steeped as it is in Silicon Valley’s culture of immense moral privilege, it doesn’t seem to understand that federal anti-discrimination statutes don’t allow companies to discriminate against someone for their political views. It’s not allowed. It’s un-American.

And who knows? As some have suggested, Google’s intolerant political monoculture and extreme dominance of its markets might tempt federal antitrust officials into taking action to break it up. In the interest of “diversity,” of course.

Google and others in Silicon Valley such as Apple have a creepy habit of lecturing Americans on their backward political and moral beliefs, while serving as authoritarian nannies for what we read, write and view. They pose as guardians of personal and intellectual freedom, but are really centurions of the new censorship, stifling debate and thought itself.

In Google’s case, its Orwellian insistence on a kind of progressive groupthink is beyond creepy — when magnified across dozens of politically correct corporations across the country, it poses a danger to our nation and its precious freedoms. The chief diversity officer of Google, Danielle Brown, wouldn’t even link to Damore’s memo, claiming “it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”

Apparently, neither does the rest of the tech world. As Elaine Ou, a blockchain engineer at Global Financial Access, pointed out in Bloomberg: “Past and present colleagues chimed in over the weekend with calls for (Damore) to be ousted. Media outlets like TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Motherboard jumped on board to declare the memo an ‘Anti-Diversity Manifesto.’ It appears that the ideological echo chamber extends beyond Google’s campus.”

This is indeed a major problem in a country premised on the sanctity of free speech and the right to one’s own opinion.

Sadly, Google’s is the kind of thinking one expects from totalitarians, not from those who prize intellectual freedom, the right of dissent, and an open society based on reason. Google and all the rest of the anti-freedom left should be deeply ashamed of itself. If this is “woke,” maybe it’s time Google went back to sleep.

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United and the Cult of Victimization

From Michael Fumento:

You’ve been snookered, folks. By that poor elderly doctor who was involuntarily dragged from his seat, had his face smashed in, and was beaten unconscious by the evil airport security at the behest of United Airlines.

Because there’s no evidence any of that was true. It was in fact a premeditated temper tantrum gone viral, featuring one 69-year-old Vietnamese-American David Dao, a medical doctor who’d lost his license, planning a lawsuit from the moment United first politely asked him to give up his seat. He demanded to be dragged and, when police obliged, struck his lip on an armrest. From the many videos taken by numerous passengers, from numerous angles, there’s no evidence of a beating, a “serious” concussion, or bodily damage beyond that lip.

Although some like the Huffington Post want us to ignore his sordid past as inconsequential or “blaming the victim,” it’s important that Dao in 1995 was charged with 98 felony drug counts for illegally prescribing and trafficking painkillers, sometimes in exchange for homosexual sex. (He’s married. To a woman.) That normally would get you identified as unreliable. He surrendered his medical license and even now is allowed to practice internal medicine only in an outpatient facility one day a week.

To be sure, United deserves blame and played into Dao’s hands—not entirely a metaphor since the good doctor has also made hundreds of thousands of dollars on the professional poker circuit. It appears that by law they were supposed to have upped the payment to $1,350 to make room for four United employees who needed to get to Louisville right away. Why did they stop at $800 (plus a hotel voucher)? Further, this all should have occurred before boarding, but there passengers apparently were only offered $400.

“It’s clearly the man’s fault that security had to drag him off, said one of the passengers who uploaded his video of the incident. He was resisting.” “I don’t blame the security guards at all,” he told Fox News. That was “the only way they could get him off the plane.”

But once he was asked to give up his seat, along with three other passengers who willingly obliged, Dao’s mental gears began to whirl. One video depicts him telling someone by telephone “I make lawsuit against United Airlines for discrimination.” Yet another video shows him insisting that he be dragged. All the while he held up the departure, as indeed he would again as everyone had to leave while the blood was cleaned up.

Over time his injuries have grown dramatically. He checked himself into a hospital where first he, then one of the lawyers from the two law firms he’s retained, claimed he suffered from “everything.” Curious diagnosis, that. Though none of the videos show it, he also claims to have lost two front teeth, a broken nose, and a “serious” concussion. Obviously, this all appeared off camera, after he left the plane. One of his lawyers repeated that curious diagnosis. (He’s retained not one but two Chicago-area law firms. Natch.)

Except that … he came back on the plane, melodramatically uttering over and over again, “They’ll kill me.” He clearly showed bleeding from the lip, but there was no other evident damage.

This is obvious nonsense, so how did he get so far with it?

In part, welcome to the world of the Black Mirror. That’s a highly-regarded Netflix series about a dystopian near-future in which social media dictates “the truth.” The name refers to a blank cell phone or tablet screen.

The Sturm und Drang began with a short clip uploaded first to Facebook and then other media. It began just as Dao was pulled from his seat. You didn’t see him being apologetically requested to leave first by United employees and then by security. Nor the phone call nor his daring to be dragged. With social media, he who uploads or tweets first dictates the story.

Now add the opposite of the laugh track, the scream track. Several passengers yelling “Omigawd!” and chiding the security guards. Laugh tracks tell us “This is funny; laugh!” Scream tracks tell us “This is horrible! Be outraged!”

With social media dictating what’s news, the event became clickbait (“Must See Pictures of United Passenger!”) and the mainstream-media “analysts” jumped in. It was easy to choose sides given the Sarah Bernhardt performance and the perceived American loathing of airlines. Part of this is the result of 9/11 restrictions, but part is due to consolidations that have given many airlines monopolies on routes and let them do such things as charge us for pretzels and squeeze us into tiny spaces that only a chiropractor could love. (Curiously, while only 35 percent of Americans rate U.S. airlines positively, only 32 percent rate them negatively, according to Gallup. So there seems to be a whole lot of ambivalence.)

The London Independent went so far as to say Dao’s life was “ruined,” while one of his team of attorneys asserted Dao “said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam.” By tomorrow it will be worse than having been gassed at Auschwitz.

But part of the phenomenon long precedes YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and social media dictating the news. It’s the American cult of victimization.

Thirteen years ago I penned a column called “Victims Are Our New Heroes,” noting that at one time that meant putting yourself at risk by going beyond normal civic or military duties. Yet Magic Johnson went from “sports hero” (another misnomer) to All-American Hero by virtue of contracting AIDS. That simple.

Dao’s quick thinking and theatrics show he knows how to play the system as well as he knows how to play cards, combining social media and the cult of victimization into what presumably will be a very hefty payout for a very dishonest man

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The Parasites and the Producers

From Kevin D. Williamson:

Public Enemy No. 1 in Democratic circles today is Heather Bresch, CEO of the company that makes the EpiPen, a super-convenient epinephrine auto-injection device used to treat anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be caused by anything from a bee sting to a bag of peanuts. At its worst, anaphylaxis is bad news of the kill-you-dead variety, which makes having an EpiPen or two around very handy indeed. Bresch’s company, Mylan, recently raised prices on the EpiPen and several other treatments they sell. An EpiPen dose might cost as much as $600, which is . . . about half of what the typical American family spends on cable TV in a year. Yeah, sure, little Bobby’s face is swelling up like a North Korean dictator’s and his kidneys are about to fail — but there’s two episodes left on Game of Thrones this season! And Daenerys is naked in both of them!

Spare me.

Of course, Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to make a federal case out of this, as has her primary rival, sometime Democrat and full-time socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, i.e., the usual bulls—t from the usual orifices. Mrs. Clinton demanded an immediate reversal of the price hike, and Senator Sanders produced the usual flatulence about greedy executives.

Pardon my bluntness here, but screw these people. Nobody, anywhere, at any time, has ever in a moment of mortal terror cried out: “For God’s sake, is there a politician in the house?” You know how many treatments for anaphylaxis have been produced by politicians over the course of human history? Zero. Congress’s sole contribution to the existence of a handy device that keeps your children from dying from bee stings is the fact that Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of a Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

If we were relying on the intelligence, work ethic, creativity, entrepreneurship, scientific prowess, and far-sightedness of the members of Congress to produce treatments for allergic reactions or any other medical problem, we’d still have a million people a year dying from smallpox and preventable infections. We’d also be starving to death.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t have the first clue how an EpiPen works or what went into developing it, but he’s sure he knows what one should cost, and he’s sure who should decide — him. You know what Bernie Sanders is? He’s a bum. He was damn near 40 years old before he ever found his way into a full-time job, and that was in elected office; before that, he collected benefits, sold his creepy rape fantasies for left-wing newspapers at $50 a pop, and never lifted a finger toward any genuinely productive enterprise. He’s been suckling greedily at the public teat since way back when he could remember where his car keys are. Funny thing, though: Now he’s a bum with a third home on the waterfront of a Vermont island worth the better part of a million dollars. Every good apparatchik eventually gets his dacha.

Mrs. Clinton is a bum and a crook who used the State Department as a funnel to guide the money of favor-seeking business interests at home and abroad into the Clinton Foundation, a sham charity that exists to pay six-figure salaries to Clintons (Chelsea is full-time executive there) and their courtiers.

These people are parasites. They make: nothing. They create: nothing. They produce: nothing. But they feel perfectly justified — they positively glow with moral frisson — standing between the people who create and build and the people who benefit from those creations. And they don’t just stand there: They stand there with their hands out. I don’t know how much Heather Bresch has in the bank, but without checking, I’ll bet you five dollars it is a good deal less than the Clintons have piled up in “public service.”

Thought experiment: Your child is dying. Who do you go to for help? Sanders? Clinton? Or one of the research scientists who made the EpiPen possible?

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The Concentration of Wealth

From Daniel Greenfield:

Time and time again, the liberal defenders of government power have attacked any call for reform as a plot by the wealthy. Even now New York Times editorialists pound their keys about the “Concentration of Wealth”, invoking presidents from Andrew Jackson to Theodore Roosevelt. But in our America, the “Concentration of Wealth” is not found in the hands of a few billionaires. It is found in the hands of the government.

The editorialists talk about the income gap and how much wealth is held by the top 1 percent of the country, but they are leaving something out. Their statistics deal with individuals, not institutions. And it is institutions which threaten our liberties, not individuals.

The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. That sounds like a lot of money, until you look at annual Federal budgets which run into the trillions of dollars, and the country’s national debt which approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that’s not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.

As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.

While liberal pundits pop on their stovepipe hats, fix their diamond stickpins and cravats, and trade in 19th century rhetoric about the dangers of trusts and monopolies– the power in 20th century America lies not in the hands of a few industrialists, but with massive monopolistic trust of government, and its network of unions, non-profits, lobbyists and PAC’s. The railroads are broken up, offshore drilling is banned, coal mining is in trouble and Ma Bell has a thousand quarreling stepchildren– now government is the real big business. How big?

The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that’s not counting another half a billion from the 527’s and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. But that’s a small investment when you realize that they were spending billions of dollars to get their hands on trillions of dollars.

Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.

There is only one such company. It’s called the United States Government.

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Schizophrenic Google

While the owners and employees of Google were supporting the candidate of high taxes, the company was working to avoid them:

Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, almost double the total from three years before, filings show.

By legally funneling profits from overseas subsidiaries into Bermuda, which doesn’t have a corporate income tax, Google cut its overall tax rate almost in half. The amount moved to Bermuda is equivalent to about 80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011.

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