Sunday, December 04, 2022

 The December ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 expands on our October discussion of anti-government protests in Iran, extending it to include China; part 2 continues our November discussion of changes at Twitter, focusing on recent changes to their censorship policies; part 3 delves into Florida's recent "Stop WOKE" act, and its implications for free speech and academic freedom; and part 4 covers the recent fall (and apparent financial misdeeds) of cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried.  As always, listeners are invited to participate via comments on this post.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

 The November (pre-election) edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 examines the question of what, exactly, voters expect from a candidate, using the Pennsylvania Senate candidates as an example.  Part 2 covers the recent upheavals at Twitter, including changes to the "blue check" identity model.  And Part 3 discusses ideological capture of major institutions such as medical schools.  As always, listeners are invited to participate in the discussion via comments on this post.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

 The jam-packed October edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  After a brief introductory part 1 in which we discuss recent developments in the fight against malaria, part 2 covers the current conflict in Russia, with a digression on unrest in Iran.  Part 3 addresses the Biden administration's proposal to forgive student loans, and part 4 considers the rise in support for medical interventions to support gender "transition" in minors.  As always, listeners are encouraged to participate in our debates via comments on this blog post.

Monday, August 08, 2022

 The August edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 covers current economic conditions and the terms--inflation, recession--associated with them; part 2 delves into climate change, ESG and large corporations; and part 3 continues that theme with a discussion of why and how important research and regulatory institutions, such as those in the field of medicine, get politicized.  

As always, listeners are invited to participate in the conversation by leaving comments on this blog post.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

 The July end-of-Supreme-Court-term blockbuster edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.  Part 1 covers the Dobbs (abortion), Bruen (gun control) and Texas (immigration) rulings; part 2 covers the EPA ruling (agency regulation); part 3 covers the Bremerton ruling (prayer in schools), and part 4, as a non-legal bonus, addresses the vexing question of whether LaMDA, Google's latest AI system, is sentient (as one Google engineer apparently claimed).  As always, listeners are invited to participate in the discussion by leaving comments on this post.  Disclaimer:  not only are we not lawyers--we generally don't even like lawyers, and would be very offended if anyone imputed to us any accurate legal knowledge whatsoever.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

 The June edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 covers the Durham investigation and Sussman case; part 2 addresses the illegal immigration crisis; and part 3 discusses recent mass shootings and the gun control issue.  As always, listeners are welcome to participate in the conversation by leaving comments on this blog posting.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

 The jam-packed Mayday edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 revisits Florida's so-called "don't say gay" bill in light of the doxxing of LibsOfTikTok and the state governor's tussle with Disney (don't worry--we'll explain it all to you); part 2 covers Elon Musk's bid to purchase Twitter, with an entirely unjustified long digression into the watchability of various televised sports; part 3 addresses the Department of Homeland Security's new "Disinformation Governance Board", and why academic experts might or might not be in favor of it; and part 4 examines the recent leaked draft Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case, and how it relates to other noteworthy leaks in recent history.

As always, listeners are invited to participate in the discussion via comments on this blog post--we look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

 The "April Fool's" edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 covers the international arena--Ukraine, Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere; part 2 delves into Florida's recent law governing discussion of sex in schools; and part 3 explores legal issues related to the Biden family.  As always, listeners are invited to participate in the discussion via comments on this post--we promise to give your comments all due respect and consideration.  (April fools!)

Monday, March 07, 2022

 The "March Madness" ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 covers--what else?--the invasion of Ukraine, while in part 2 we discuss why so many people embrace ruinous policies such as eliminating non-renewable energy sources and defunding the police.  As always, listeners are invited to join the discussion by leaving comments on this post.

Friday, February 11, 2022

 The February ICBW podcast is now available, and chock-full of lively content:  Part 1 covers the Canadian truckers' convoy, vaccine and mask mandates, and the fragile nature of trust (also discussed in this post from 2009).  Part 2 specifically explores public trust in scientific, medical and academic institutions, and whether its decline is inexorable or simply cyclical.  Finally, part 3 touches on the Beijing Olympics and its politics, the turmoil at CNN, and recent corporate moves against customers deemed politically undesirable.  As always, listeners are welcome to respond via comments on this post--and if a response is interesting enough, we might even discuss it next month...

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

 The annual ICBW podcast "predictions" episode is now available for download or streaming.  In part 1, we review our 2021 predictions, and in parts 2 and 3 we discuss our predictions for 2022.  Listening to it is just like reading our predictions blog post--only much more time-consuming, digressive and cantankerous.  What could be better?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

It's lingered far longer than anybody expected or wanted, but it's still here...I'm referring, of course, to the tradition of the annual ICBW predictions post.  As always, we begin by reviewing last year's predictions: 

  • The vaccine-induced abatement of the COVID epidemic in the US and other Western countries will release a great deal of pent-up demand, gradually heating up the economy throughout the year.  Stock indices will again rise slightly from their already overinflated highs, oil and real estate prices will rebound, and interest rates will begin to creep upward towards the end of the year.
This was a reasonably on-target prediction--and it wasn't a hard one, under the circumstances.  (It also failed to include the big economic news of the year:  the inflation surge.)  It gets worse from here:
  • Polls notwithstanding, Republicans will win both Georgia Senate seats in the January runoff, leaving Congress deadlocked with a barely-Democratic House and a barely-Republican Senate.  Hence, as in the last couple of administrations, the US government’s direction will be set by the presidency, rather than by Congress.
The factual element of this prediction having turned out to be mistaken, the rest was predictably misguided as well. Virtually all this year's political action was centered in Congress, not the White House.
  • The Biden administration will use its executive powers to reinstate some of the Obama administration initiatives rolled back by Trump, such as renewed negotiations with Iran, looser immigration enforcement, and requirements for universities to impose a presumption of guilt on students accused of sexual misconduct.  However, it’ll stop short of a full reinstatement of the status quo ante:  neither the JCPOA (“Iran deal”), nor DACA (legalization of “dreamers”), nor the Obama administration’s “dear colleague” letter to Universities (threatening them with punishment for insufficient zeal in presuming the accused guilty in sexual misconduct cases) will be fully restored.  In other respects as well, such as policing and racial policy, the new administration will pursue a moderate liberal course, rather than a progressive one.  As a result, many journalists and (other) leftist activists will cast Biden and his administration as centrist and even quasi-Republican, and will attack it relentlessly.  Stories that have so far been taboo, like the Biden family’s corruption and Biden’s own fading mental acuity, will gradually be taken up by leftists, much as Bill Clinton’s early-administration scandals were pushed primarily by leftist journalists.  Biden will thus end the year with very weak public approval numbers.
In retrospect, I should have guessed that Biden would choose Jimmy Carter--a politician more of his generation--than Bill Clinton as his model.  While he didn't go to the extremes of Obama-era restoration discussed here, he's come very close, kowtowing endlessly to a recalcitrant Iran, opening the borders wide to illegal immigrants, and allying firmly with radical pro-crime, racialist progressives.  As a result, his popularity has tanked to Jimmy Carter levels, but the press has maintained its steadfast loyalty to him, ignoring scandal after scandal and focusing on residual outrage at now-ex-President Trump.
  • Partly in response to such stories, US policy towards China will resemble Russia policy under Trump:  extremely self-contradictory, with alternating messages of friendship and hostility.  The Biden administration will resist imposing sanctions and trade restrictions, but will maintain or strengthen mutual defense arrangements with China’s near neighbors, and occasionally remark on human rights issues (without taking significant action).
This prediction actually looks fairly good in retrospect, although one might argue that a "middle ground" prediction like this one is hard to get terribly wrong...
  • The upcoming election will finally evict Benjamin Netanyahu from office in Israel, with Gideon Sa’ar’s new party ultimately making possible a ruling coalition that includes Likud but is not dominated by it.  As a result, the prosecution of Netanyahu on corruption charges will be allowed to proceed, but it will not result in a conviction by the end of 2021.
I got everything right here except for the composition of the new government--it's an everybody-but-Likud coalition, not an everybody-but-Bibi one.
  • At least one of the following elderly and/or rumored-ill international leaders will be said to have had a (possibly secretly) life-threatening medical episode during 2021:  Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin (rumored to suffer from Parkinson’s disease), Ayatollah Khamenei, Raoul Castro, Queen Elizabeth II.
Every time I make one of these a-very-old-leader-will-die predictions, it fails spectacularly.  I sometimes think I'm single-handedly responsible for keeping these people alive...
  • US university enrollments will continue to decline in 2021—COVID-related deferments in 2020 notwithstanding—and several small colleges will announce plans to close down completely.  (Furthermore, any Biden administration program to reduce the cost of Community College enrollment will largely cannibalize university enrollment.)  Similarly, the exodus of businesses and employees from expensive downtowns such as New York and San Francisco, jump-started by the move to remote work during the pandemic, will continue in 2021.  And movie theaters will close in large numbers, in response to a very anemic post-pandemic audience recovery.  (Bars and restaurants, on the other hand, will experience a much larger surge in returning customers, and those that survived the pandemic will prosper, with many new ones opening to meet the demand.)
I'd say I got the direction right for academia, cities and movies, but not for the hospitality industry, which is still suffering from the lingering COVID pandemic.

And now for this year's predictions, sure to be as erratic as last year's:
  • The omicron stage of the COVID-19 pandemic will turn out to have a low casualty rate, and will peter out over a couple of months, but the spike in cases will cause a temporary tightening of COVID-related rules in COVID-hawkish states and locales--mask mandates, school and travel restrictions, and the like--that will only relax slowly over the course of 2022.  By the end of the year, however, the entire country will be more or less back to pre-COVID rules and conventions.
  • A weaker economy (very slow growth, though not a recession) and tightening by the Federal Reserve will slow US inflation in 2022, but it will remain uncomfortably elevated.  Asset markets--stocks, real estate, oil and cryptocurrency--will decline significantly in real terms, but not to bubble-bursting levels.  (That will require much stronger action by the Fed than the Biden administration will allow.)
  • The "Build Back Better" bill currently being pushed by Democrats in Congress will not pass--not even in massively scaled-back form--nor will any other of the Democratic Congress' proposed "reform" initiatives, such as loosening voting rules, strengthening organized labor, ending the filibuster, expanding the Supreme Court and adding states.  On the other hand, despite some tough-on-crime noises by local Black leaders and backtracking on open borders from the Biden administration, law and border enforcement will remain lax. (Both have far too much momentum among Democrats to be easily reversed just because of their disastrous implications for the party.)  Hence crime will continue to rise significantly, and illegal immigration, while dropping from its 2021 peak due to economic weakness, will remain far above Trump-era levels. 
  • The GOP will handily win back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, gaining a significant-but-not-spectacular number of seats in both houses--mostly because their current near-equal holdings offer less room for huge gains.
  • The US Supreme Court will issue a muddled ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson (a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Mississippi law forbidding abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy) that will allow the abortion restriction to stand, while retaining some weakened version of the Constitutional right to abortion introduced in the Roe v. Wade decision.
  • Russia will launch a major military action in Eastern Ukraine, seizing territory and demanding extreme concessions in return for withdrawal.  Western nations will heavily sanction the Putin regime in response, but will otherwise do little to counter the Russian incursion.
  • China will continue its aggressive posture towards neighbors and the West in general, but will not launch any large-scale military actions, including against Taiwan.  It will settle for continued skirmishes similar to its actions on the Indian border last year, as well as general expansion of its global military presence and tightening of its partnerships with Russia and Iran.  Iran will also make announce a major milestone in the progress of its nuclear weapons program--possibly even a nuclear weapons test, although more likely something short of that, such as a vague claim of having constructed a nuclear weapon.  Hence there will be no renewed US nuclear agreement with Iran, although the Biden administration will continue to repeatedly grant unilateral concessions such as sanctions relief in the absurdly feckless hope of moderating Iranian behavior.
  • The Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, in which an Asian-American student group is accusing Harvard of racial discrimination against Asians.  And as in the Dobbs case, the court will issue a muddled ruling that devises some new, complicated compromise between precedent and principle--in this case, a criterion for Constitutional racial discrimination that allows "affirmative action" in general to continue while forbidding some form of it that includes the anti-Asian discrimination being practiced by Harvard.  Prestigious universities will react to (or anticipate) this ruling by further diminishing the role of academic criteria such as standardized test scores in their admissions processes, allowing them to continue their discrimination largely unhindered, at the cost of gutting their own academic standards and the value of the credentials they award.
  • In the wake of COVID-related disruptions to the professional sports leagues and a controversy-marred winter Olympic games in Beijing, e-sports will make a significant leap into mainstream culture--perhaps a deal with a broadcasting network or streaming service, or an e-sports competition or competitor receiving major (non-scandalous) news coverage.
As always, readers are invited to respond to these predictions--or submit their own competing predictions--via comments to this post.  Any of the latter that are submitted this way will be assessed at the end of the year along with the ones listed above.

Friday, December 10, 2021

 The final (December) 2021 edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  Part 1 delves into the mystery of "supply chain issues"--what causes them, and how long they're likely to last.  Part 2 is legal-themed, covering the January 6th defendants, the George Floyd rioters, the Molotov cocktail-throwing New York lawyers, Kyle Rittenhouse, and the general question of political bias in the justice system.  Part 3 continues the legal theme with a discussion of the practice of designating certain crimes as "terrorism" or "hate crimes", highlighted by the recent vehicular homicide in Waukesha and the school shooting in Michigan.

As always, we encourage listeners to respond via comments on this post--we'll do our best to include you in our conversation. 

Monday, November 08, 2021

 The November edition of the ICBW podcast is now available for download or streaming.  In part 1, we discuss the political dynamics of the "infrastructure" and "reconciliation" bills being considered in Congress, as well as the issue of "Critical Race Theory" in public schools highlighted by the recent election in Virginia.  In part 2, we cover the related story of a Yale law student who recorded two administrators trying to browbeat him into apologizing for an email he'd sent, as well as the case of basketballer Enes Kanter's condemnations of China and China's response to them.  As always, listeners are encouraged to respond to this blog post via comments--we're happy to engage with thoughtful arguments or criticisms.