Fiefdoms

Midnight Mission, 1964
Charles and Brenda Van Enger, living out of van, 1984
Rally in support of AB 2579, a $10 million homeless initiative. First of many. 1984
Los Angeles in flames, 2021. Five years after Prop. HHH

If we build it, they will come. If we fund it, they will stay. If we tell them there shall be no rules about flammables, there will be five encampment fires a day.

We are four decades into abatement schemes and the more money we throw at the favela, the greater the number of tents we have, the larger the encampments.  We have multi-story structures now, cobbled out of scrap wood and plastic, kitted out with big screen TVs and slash pools, generators and barbecue grills. We spend a billion dollars a year now in LA County, not including police and fire, to service the unhoused.  Let’s call it what it is: a business, an industry, farming people like a crop.

Ugly metaphor? Perhaps. Inaccurate?  You tell me.

Here is the Raymer Street pedestrian bridge, an ADA compliant right-0f-way for students atttending Fulton Middle School.  This is what 11-year-olds have to walk through twice a day. At either end people smoke crack openly, within grabbing distance of passerby.  This state of nature has been in place, uninterrupted, for over a year.

Would you let you kid walk here? Probably not. This is known as adverse possession. A public conveyance now belongs to the favela,  managed by Homeless, Inc., the key participants whom feed off the giant tit known as the City of Los Angeles, then go home to sleep in the neat orderly satellite cities like Glendale, where no one is allowed to camp or park overnight.

Don’t look now, but change might be brewing in Los Angeles. In July the City Council quietly altered Municipal Code 41.18 as follows:

“The ordinance prohibits sitting, sleeping, and keeping belongings within ten feet of a driveway or loading dock, within two feet of a fire hydrant, or in a way that obstruct sidewalks or right-of-ways. It also gives council members the ability to flag encampments near sensitive sites in their districts—daycares, schools, parks, libraries, freeway underpasses and on ramps—without establishing a blanket ban on camping in those places. Enforcement in those locations can’t take place until the City Council has reviewed the location and voted to approve action being taken.”

A concern among homeless advocates is that the ordinance will be utilized differently by council members in various districts, creating “mini fiefdoms,” as Elizabeth Mitchell of the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights put it.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the ordinance, says it gives he and his counterparts the freedom to “take action as deemed appropriate” when a problematic encampment has been identified in a sensitive area.

Yay, fiefdoms!  Mr. UpintheValley approves.

There are two interpretations of 41.18:  it’s either A) Kabuki theater, unenforceable by design.  What is the criteria for “obstruction”?  If its statutory, why should each eviction require a vote?  I see opportunity for the Council to masquerade as responding to public outrage while pretending their hands are tied by others.

Or B)  Leverage. 41.18 has usable teeth and each council member will now have the ability to establish how much chaos will be tolerated in his/her district, and act accordingly.   Nury Martinez, in theory, could turn Van Nuys into the Glendale of LA by enforcing anti-camping laws within her district. Mike Bonin can continue to hand over the beaches and parks to temporary™ housing solutions and answer to his voters.  Performance discrepancies between districts will no longer be off-loaded to “systemic complexities” of the issue.

Self-responsibility is not a burden I see the council taking on willingly.   So I suspect the answer was going to be A. Or would have until recently.

https://twitter.com/recallbonin2021/

Now there is a wrinkle.  A big one. The recall elections in District 4 and 11.  Don’t know about Nithya Raman, but Bonin might be toast. I work his district every weekend and hear the loud talk of people determined to speak freely  and to cast ballots in anger.

There are lots of angry homeowners in the Valley as well, but we are too busy subdividing amongst ourselves over Trump or BLM or personal grievances to organize. Besides, who would listen to us?  Venice eats up all the good press.

Tellingly, the last non-machine candidate elected to the City Council was also from Venice, Ruth Galanter in 1987.  Since then, the uniparty has gone approximately 120-0 in local races. With dominance comes disregard. The recalls might alter that calculus.

About thirty years ago a revolution took place in urban policing, beginning in New York.  Precinct captains were required to stand in full dress before their peers and answer for the crime stats in the neighborhoods under their watch.  No longer could one shrug: don’t blame me. It’s Snake Plissken country out there. 

It’s time for each Councilmember to be made the sheriff of his district.

The ADU Revolution in action

The most impactful structural changes come in under the radar.   Has anything done more to increase housing supply within the zoning footprint of LA without distorting residential neighborhoods than the ADU law? It has added to the tax base, put additional equity onto homeowners balance sheets and didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

If successful, the Recalls + 41.18 might, might, set in motion an era of accountability. What a delicious irony it would be if the first blow against the machine occurred as an expression of tribal solidarity by upscale white liberals.

*Historical photos courtesy of LA Herald-Examiner Collection

A Visit to the Redwood Masada

The only thing better than owning a fabulous home in the countryside, to paraphrase Wise Johnny, is being friends with someone with a fabulous house in the country. Or in my case, friends of friends, or friend of Johnny, who generously wrangled an invitation for us to live as 1%-ers for a week, in the mountains above Santa Cruz.

If one wanted to obtain a sense of being in the world but not of it, a Berchtesgaden between Silicon Valley and the Pacific was the place do it, taking morning coffee on a veranda overlooking treetops stair-stepping to the ocean, fog dissipating under your gaze.

The Fall of Kabul and the Great ReMaskening were very far from our concerns this week. It’s an easy state of consciousness to ease into here. A feature, not a bug, of hot tubbing under the stars.

Heading north is always a little bittersweet, balancing the kindness of how I am treated by wealthier friends while knowing I can no longer afford to live in the stomping grounds of my youth, the accessibility I once took for granted.

My parents took to nature in 1973, bearing not oodles of cash, but tomes. Walden. Summerhill. The Foxfire Manual. The Whole Earth Catalog. Rural California, even the most desirable precincts, was abundant and cheap. $18000 for 80 acres of rolling meadowlands and timber, with views. Split three ways. Settled over a handshake and a joint.  They were unemployed and living on food stamps, I kid not.  A swimming pool was not part of the equation. Nor was electricity, or a running motor vehicle.

One need not have been rich to own a glorious sliver of coastal California then, just two nickels to rub together and the moxie to leave Wisconsin.

Preserving generational advantage has defined the 1973 People ever since.  Slow growth legislation. No growth. CEQA.  Nimby, thy name is Boomer.

Rural property is now very expensive and the province of people blessed with liquid grace. Tech people principally, happy to re-create Palo Alto in the woods, a weekend retreat/Zoom castle with luxury amenities to wait out the pandemic or Antifa/BLM riots, or simply make a top drawer income without the friction of proximity to others. If everything really goes to hell, there is plenty of room to lay in provisions for a siege, and who can blame wealthy Gen-Xers who paid serious money to obtain this?

It’s also –sssh- rather White up here.  Living in L.A. for twenty years one forgets just how demographically different the host region of the people really running the show in California is from the rest of the state.

Driving home, basking in the afterglow of generosity extended to me by a blameless couple I never met, my dark literary nature reasserted itself: how beautiful America is, yet how despairing, how far from the requirements of a functioning country. Enforceable borders. A sound currency. A common language. Foundational protections of speech, assembly, redress. Means of production over consumer goods. An elite that believes in America’s creedal ethos and founding documents. Incorruptible or at least high-functioning institutions. A willingness to reproduce among the native-born.

All of these things are in question at present.  I’m not sure how we can come back from the declination we have set in motion. In the meantime we backslide into a tribalism that is nominally about identity but will be enforced ruthlessly by wealth. Prediction: white areas, including the most remote and undesirable, will become unaffordable in the coming chaos. Rare is the person who practices the inclusivity he preaches.

Would John Steinbeck recognize California today? Much of the Salinas Valley would be unchanged, food producing, poor people bent over at the waist in the sun. Different people now, half of them from other countries, with the new element of vineyards, which he would appreciate.  Americans being  paid by the government to stay idle at home while replacements were bussed across the border would confound him. As would the wealth effect around Monterey Bay. Few of his characters, including the prosperous ones, could live today where he placed them in his books. Los Gatos, where he had his summer house, would be a foreign land. The vast de-personing apparatus erected by graduates of Stanford might put him in a revolutionary frame of mind.

He might retreat to the reassurance of the redwoods and take solace in the knowledge the forest will outlast our foolishness.  The trees are playing the long game, while we enjoy the shade.

The Pushcart Permanent Assurance

So I arrived for my appointment at Firestone in downtown Van Nuys yesterday for a pair of replacement tires, and was told:  “We’re running a little behind. We can get to it in two hours.”  Of nine service bays, only two were operational.  They were short on manpower, a downstream consequence of America paying people to stay home and not work on the 493rd day of 15 Days to Slow The Spread.

I adjourned to MacLeod to enjoy a pint while I waited. On Erwin St. I encountered this remarkable example of bespoke mobile architecture.  Clean, uncluttered, and minimalist. A privacy compartment of salvaged doors rolling on a stolen Home Depot cart, topped by a bunkbed. If Marie Kondo took to the streets she might come up with something like this.

A sheet flapped in the breeze like a sail, sheltering the shirtless, tattooed man sleeping inside.  It made me think of sailors stacked in bunks and the domestic rituals of prison space.  A glorious workaround to the territorial disputes among People of the Favela.  In the event of flammables, one merely needs to roll around the corner.

Across the street a new five-story, 45 unit building is about to open its apartments to the rental market.  After the five low-income units are filled, the number of people sleeping on the sidewalk of Erwin St. will not change. Behold the Vertical Valley, in a single frame.

For we are living in an era of lawless improvisation.

Chava Sanchez/LAist

After 17 months of paying the poor and the working class to remain idle, the occupant of the White House has decreed through the office of the CDC paying rent is now optional.  Biden has about as much Constitutional predicate for this as I do to shit on the sidewalk, but who in my beloved Los Angeles is gonna stop me?

In case there was confusion the Supreme Court issued a friendly reminder, called a ruling, stating he has no authority to do this. Biden is doing it anyway. Who’s gonna stop him, the NY Times? The Republicans? Heh.

Rent will not be “cancelled”. It will be paid by the federal government printing money like a khat gobbling Zimbabwean warlord and giving it to those landlords willing to accept 80 cents on the dollar after extensive paperwork.  We are doing this while jobs go unfilled everywhere.  Like at Firestone, where after two hours no one could be found to crank a wrench for $60 labor cost per tire.

This morning I went to trusty Ivan, Peruvian immigrant, who got it done in an hour for a little over half the price. He has a lease on a stall and he’s got rent to pay.

Speaking of lawless improvisation:

Austin May Not be Far Enough

Verbatim:
ASIAN WOMAN: That was seriously the most impactful hour of television I’ve ever seen. The thing that bothers me is I don’t know if a white man wrote it. I don’t think it would be appropriate for a white man to write about a black character or two women that way. If I knew that that was the case I couldn’t really accept what I was seeing.
WHITE MAN: It bothers me this whole journey we’ve been taking this past year and there’s still people who don’t get it.
ASIAN WOMAN: Like what’s wrong you? At this point I’m in contempt for white people who don’t want to do the work to complete this journey.
WHITE MAN: Well I’ve learned in bystander intervention training you have to take people to the next step, you can’t take them all the way to the goal at once. You have to link arms with them to get where they need to go. You have to show them.
ASIAN WOMAN: That makes me uncomfortable because it feels like people are allowed to get away with stuff they shouldn’t be allowed to. People should already know things. We’re enabling them by helping them. There just should be societal discipline. There should be an ejection button you can push and make people stop.

People speak freely in Uber. They speak of love and longing, of desire for comfort food and pajamas. Of the merits of a Soho House membership. But also of ejection buttons and struggle sessions.

This conversation might explain why Austin is not cheap anymore. But also why Austin will clearly not be be far enough to escape the Maoist brigades.  They have lessons to teach us. They will take us to the goal. We have a journey to complete.

To Ensure Domestic Tranquility

Here’s an anecdote from the 1980s.  My family drove to San Francisco to visit friends.  We parked across the street from said friends house, and while exchanging greetings on the front steps, we hear the sound of breaking glass.  We turn to see a perpetrator execute a smash-and-grab of my mothers purse from the back seat of our car which, being a country bumpkin from Mendocino County, she left in plain view.  Police were alerted, and a description given: “oh yeah we know exactly who he is. He’s been working this neighborhood for a month.”

Two weeks later my parents get a call from SFPD. They have him in custody. Could you return to San Francisco to identify him? It’s very important we have an eyewitness. We need to put him away.  We can pay your mileage costs.

My parents demur. It’s a long drive.  Besides, it was only $20.  (Plus the window, of course, which they never fixed).  Also, he was (sotto voce) black,  putting them in rather a tight spot politically.

So no burdensome police lineup for my feckless parents ensconced in their  rural splendor with Third Reich demographics, $400/year property tax and robbery rate of .001%. From their hippie shire they eagerly voted for the lefty-ist candidates on the ballot, every time, and still do (except for Prop. 13 repeal).

But it was to be another decade of smash and grab for urban people, liberals included, until they voted for the restoration of order. For broken windows policing. For Three Strikes laws. For Anti-Gang injunctions. For prosecution of petty theft.  Leading the charge: middle-class black folk.

It was such a resounding success in achieving its policy goals Broken Windows was unassailable for twenty years. You could not run against it. Not in New York, not in L.A or anywhere between.  In the early 1990s you couldn’t sell a house South of the 10. Now they go in multiple offers.

For how much longer?

As self-parody it would be difficult to improve upon this. Kate Chatfield works in the SF District Attorney’s office under Chesa Boudin. Before Chesa was installed by George Soros, friend of the looter, Kate made a living suing police departments. Now on the other side of the table, she declines to prosecute “crime” and likens victims to the KKK.

They used to get it, even in SF. An ignored $20 purse snatch becomes a series of snatches and doesn’t stay a $20 problem for long. What happens to a city when ten people enter a store and each steal $950 worth of goods, in plain view of security, who are told to stand down for fear of lawsuits/bad press and who could be punched with impunity by the thieves since simple assault is no longer prosecuted? How long can stores remain open?

If you think this is only a question of property crime and hoping we can just eat the cost somehow in higher prices and ride it out, consider the above two minute cinema verite futurism.

Three hundred pounds, this guy. Multiple eyewitness. License plate. DNA.  Coverage on local news. No arrest.

Wait, what? Back up.

Police never caught him. She was the third woman this criminal mastermind assaulted is as many days, all from his vehicle.  A week later, his mother turned him in. How much shoe leather did they put in on this?  I’m afraid to know the answer.

Maybe Kate Chatfield is telling on herself with the Birth of a Nation reference.  That’s where this going, isn’t it? The logic of Critical Race Theory leads inevitably to the erosion of a rules based order, and a concomitant demand we make our skin color our uniform, all of us. Vigilante justice, the mirror image of looting, will be unavoidable.

But it won’t be white people, at least not in L.A.  Their wealth discriminates, so they don’t have to. Those who aren’t wealthy enough for safety have decamped for the exurbs, or the red states, or are planning to do so. Or they are single and childless and renting and will simply pull up stakes when the cost/benefit calculus turns unfavorable.

No, the vigilantes will be the people who can’t back up.  Who are rooted to mortgages, to brick and mortar employment, kinship networks and parental obligation. People who won’t go back to the old country.   People who have ceded as much ground as they are going to and not an inch farther.

Latinos. Armenians. The people at Nolo’s Barbershop, where I get my haircuts.  Men who shook their heads at the obsequious news coverage of the George Floyd trial and clucked and spoke freely and didn’t care who heard.

I’m an urban guy. I can abide a certain degree of day to day friction, but I don’t want to live in a Los Angeles without handcuffs, and I definitely don’t wish to stay in the version of Los Angeles that comes after.

In A City of Constant Yang

Yang in ecstasy, Los Angeles, 2019                                                                                 Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

SO I PICKED UP two ladies in West Hollywood at bar close last night.  They paid me for service. Oh baby, they paid.

The first woman was going to Sherman Oaks. She had a friend going to Brentwood.  Could I add her to my route? Her last two Uber drivers had stood her up.

Sure. Just add the address.  She did, and -oof- the fare jumped to $110. Ms. Brentwood kvetched as we climbed Laurel Canyon. How difficult it now was to get an Uber now, especially out of LAX since she was only traveling a short distance. Drivers were holding out for rides to Disneyland or Palm Springs.  This was unfair.  Ms. Sherman Oaks noted the number of office mates who had repatriated to their places of origin during the pandemic but still on the payroll at LA salaries while Zooming in from Maine or Idaho.  This made no sense.

Actually it made perfect sense, in Ayn Randian terms.

There is a shortage of Uber drivers now as there is a shortage of service workers everywhere. This is the natural consequence of the government paying people to remain jobless.   Uber is a real-time spot market for service on demand: how much will you pay to get home now, as opposed to an hour from now?  Riders groan in dismay, but they’re playing against the house, which sits on years of metadata. Uber knows what you will pay.

So I earned $85 for 34 minutes of driving, plus an additional $12 in incentives above the fare as an inducement to keep me on the road.  What Uber doesn’t know, and no one does, is how deeply or how far in the future riders are willing to be gouged. Thus, incentives, a hedge against uncertainty.

Technically L.A. fully reopened June 15, no mask, no social distance, full capacity. Practically speaking its “Help Wanted” signs and signing bonuses everywhere.

Establishments that are able to reconstitute their staff are making a killing. A third of my weekend trips involve just seven Westside businesses:
The Lincoln
Brennans
Roosterfish
Venice Whaler
Townhouse
The Victorian
Bungalow
There are frequently one hour lines.  For bars.

One might ask: how long can this go on? I thought when word leaked on chat boards this spring of all the fat, once-a-decade money being made behind the wheel, drivers would return.  My contemplative brethren have failed to heed the call. Then the Biden administration extended full PUA and UI benefits through September.  The California eviction moratorium was extended to October, with taxpayers picking up 80% of the back rent and landlords required to eat the remaining 20%.

Protections for some tenants could last into March 2022 while they apply for financial aid from the state.

Okay, March then.  Maybe. But why would it end there?  People (some, not all) can double-dip with impunity, taking the dole and shorting the rent. Woe betide the politician who says yes to the first televised eviction in Los Angeles.*

And there’s more. Buried in the “infrastructure” reconciliation bill now before Congress is a $7200 refundable child tax credit: the old, reviled AFDC/cash welfare resurrected by another name. That’s per kid, permanently, on top of EBT, Section 8, Medicaid and free phones. Add it up. No one collecting $50K in baseline support is going to apply for shift work at Costco and its not because she is busy writing a novel.

How far we have moved the Overton window in 15 months. In 2019 the Universal Basic Income proposed by Andrew Yang was a $1000/month supplemental floor, which would scale downward with earnings, intended to augment, not replace work. I thought it a potential boondoggle, but it would pass for sober and responsible now.  Easily Americas most likable politician, Yang got a respectful hearing, but his proposal didn’t achieve liftoff . That was so 2019, when we paid lip service to moral hazard and inflationary pressure.  Now we pay $100 for Uber rides and $100 for a sheet of plywood.

If one were to conjure a black swan event which would fundamentally weaponize America’s most self-destructive proclivities: safetyism, media hysteria, profligate spending, veneration of bureaucrats, corporate oligarchy; if would be hard to improve on the Wuhan virus.

If you’re wondering when the bill will come due for all the deficit trillions, it’s already here.

Here’s a sweet coda: despite her frustrations with Uber Ms. Sherman Oaks left me a $22 tip. On top of the $110. Some people are innately gracious.

For now.

 

* Actually, enormous respect and quiet appreciation would flow to such a person. The rending of garments on social media would be considerable.

People By the Freeway Cook With Gas

Thin orange line behind Orion Street

Biking home from the gym yesterday, great plumes of black smoke near the 405 announced another homeless fire, or the launch of encampment fire season, as we now know it in the Valley.

Technically this isn’t true, the season got off to a running start on Friday with a one acre burn in the Sepulveda Basin that was doused by helicopter.

But the Basin is always burning. At any hour of the day, butane is igniting. Meth pipes are roasting like s’mores. Cigarettes and blunts are sucked down to the nubby entrails and tossed to the winds. Ramen noodles boil over campstoves.  Disputes and debts are settled flammably.  It’s only a question of how much brush gets involved.

In this case the unhoused have squeezed into the narrow no mans land between the sound abatement wall of the 405 and the back fences of the people who live on Orion Street.   They don’t get away with that in Midvale Estates, but in the sweaty flatlands of working class Latino North Hills with its own portion of unpermitted backyard structures people are less inclined to go to the authorities.

When the only thing separating the feral from the domesticated is a kindling line of sun-scorched lacquered wood the tragedy of the commons is waiting. The flames licked their way across the fictional divide of public and private space to what LAFD delicately referred to in the incident report as “outbuildings”, destroying several before being extinguished. All credit to the Fire Dept. for saving the houses proper.

Not half a mile from here sits the former Panorama Motel, recently purchased by the City for conversion to interim housing for people sleeping within 500 feet of a freeway.  It is one of ten motel purchases under Project Homekey.  Cost: $105 million. Total served: 536. At $195,895 per head, it is more expensive than the $130K/unit Tiny Home Villages, but a bargain next to the perpetually-in-the-near-future $700K homeless condos downtown.

My question is this: in the fall, after the Panorama Motel is retrofitted transitional housing, will there be more people living by the 405, or less? Will I no longer see people clustered on the off-ramp?  If the number remains unchanged or worse, wouldn’t that be a refutation of the “housing first” policy?  This will be our acid test.

Maybe it will work. I hope it does.

Four years after passing Props. H and HHH, the homeless population has increased by a third.  The fires however, are daily. That’s a new wrinkle.

For dollar value may I suggest the very un-flammable quonset hut? It was good enough for Gomer Pyle…

Jacaranda Season

Gothic Street

Urbanization encroaches, but the Valley retains an unextinguished surplus of beauty, lying in wait, ignored, ready to poke its head up to say hello when you are busy grousing about the world.

Turn the corner and there she is, primeval and glorious. At moments like this a life ensconced in 1950s architecture has a cranky kind of charm, considering the alternatives.

The vertical Valley is coming north and west one building at a time, leapfrogging blocks, out of scale with its surroundings. Godzilla stalking NoHo.  Kong on Sepulveda. It’s the tribute 2021 pays to 1950 to keep what we have.

A Time for Re-Learning

A small but spirited Recall George Gascon rally took place at Topanga and Victory yesterday, in quiet response to the noisy lawlessness of 2021.

Is this the mustard seed of a Prop. 13-style rebellion? A beginning of the return to broken windows policing? Or a doomed last stand by a declining demographic? I have no idea. After the past year I can’t trust my political instincts when it comes to predicting events in Los Angeles.

Shootings are up 73%. We don’t enforce property crime or public nuisance crime at all, so any numbers on that front are meaningless. No one is allowed to say so, but there is a historical connection between the two.

We are in the midst of our Great Unlearning. Or Re-Learning, depending on your view.

Note, but a year ago Jackie Lacey was on the verge of reelection in the jungle primary for District Attorney -Gascon a distant second place with 28% of the vote- when BLM activists began showing up outside her Granada Hills house in the middle of the night, chanting, knocking on her door. After weeks of this, her husband David emerged at 4:30 AM flourishing a weapon, ordering everyone off his porch and property.   An orgy of sanctimonious media coverage ensued. Menacing! With a deadly weapon!  Jackie Lacey, Crenshaw raised, a member of that disappearing breed of law and order Democrat, was recast as Wife of Dirty Harry.  The Times saw to it she never recovered and now we have this George Soros-backed carpetbagger from San Francisco making decisions as to where the societal guardrails will be placed in L.A.   Apparently they will be in El Segundo.

The recall rally took place across the street from the now defunct Promenade at Woodland Hills. Which invites a question: what if the restoration of law and order that brought people back to the cities is destined to become an artifact of the 90’s, like the traditional indoor mall, or Dawson’s Creek?

The same tech companies that devoured the mall also de-platform critics of BLM.  Make of that what you will.

The final remaining tenant is the AMC theater. Like Macy’s, AMC may also be on its way to the graveyard of commerce.  You can stream unlimited programming, so there’s that.  But there also has been a decline in public decorum and fewer people willing to sit in close proximity with the unhousebroken.  Cinema is becoming either an evening of Netflix on the comfy couch or $30 tickets at iPic in a posh zip code far from the unruly.

I saw The Dark Knight here. A packed house and a most un-woke film. It was so much better as a bonding experience with strangers. We walked out of the theater together knowing we had been part of something special.

America was another country then. Same people, different set of rules.

At the Crossroads

Things we’ve been told are true and cannot be questioned:
The solution to drug addiction and mental illness is free housing.Homeless housing cannot be a Quonset hut. It must cost $500K per unit.
Looting is speech.
Not putting handcuffs on black people will lead to better outcomes for the black community.
State mandated inactivity will protect you from the Wuhan virus.
Every infectious disease from Lyme to Ebola is named for its geographic origin, but Wuhan must be called Covid, because racism.
Also, disagreeing with the CCP is racist.
Disagreeing with the diktats of corporations wishing to do business with the CCP…extra racist.
You can catch the Wuhan virus walking by yourself outdoors in the sunshine without a mask.
You can catch it from door knobs. Everything must be de-sanitized multiple times a day.
Everyone must stand six feet apart, masked and mute. No large public gatherings.
Unless it’s a BLM rally. Or looting. Then the science doesn’t apply.
The first cases emerged from inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but a lab leak hypothesis is a conspiracy theory.
Only crazy Trump people would say such a thing. De-platform them all.
Dr. Fauci would never fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.
Okay, so he did. It would have been a “dereliction of duty” to have not done so.
But Ivermectin is unsafe as a prophylaxis against Wuhan.
If you say otherwise in Senate testimony YouTube will de-platform you. Because Merck.
The limits of free speech should be proscribed by organizations and unelected bodies outside U.S soil.  Also, corporations.
Merck administered 4 billion doses of Ivermectin globally while under patent. Now in the public domain, it is ‘unsafe’.
Taiwan is not a nation but a rogue province of China.
Just ask John Cena.

A little something YouTube will not be taking down.
They’re the experts on truth. Not you.

This diminution of citizenship has crept up on us quickly, if imperceptibly. Our willingness to defer to authority for the benefit of all has been weaponized by forces that recognize no limiting principle. Ask yourself: why are you being told to apologize all the time now? Why are the parameters of acceptable speech disqualifying what was the majority opinion day before yesterday? Who is doing this? Why have we ceded that authority? The slippery slope pundits referenced when American politics was vanilla and operated within recognizable 20 yard lines? Yeah, that’s gone now. We’re at the bottom of the ice crevice, with a bump on our head, looking up at a sliver of sky, but we can’t find purchase.  The only way out is through.

What does “through” mean, in this post-Constitutional moment? I’m not sure. The picture at the top of the page I took in Mendocino county, walking near the Eel River on a road with less than hundred people in an area as large as the San Fernando Valley. This Little Free Library stood at a crossroads between the river and a field, an artifact of Jeffersonian America.  I thought of all the Little Free Libraries around Los Angeles, and the universal desire to share knowledge with strangers.  Therein perhaps is a path forward. To be anti-fragile as a nation begins with personal anti-fragility.  Thinking for oneself, the way the Founders intended. De-coupling one’s understanding of Truth from one’s curated feed. Of no longer being a prisoner to an algorithm.  Returning to paper, if you will.