Senior educated white male.

Senior educated white male.

Wasserman Schultz and the DNC Imbroglio

 

Several relevant articles collectively enjoin the question: why is this not the subject of a special prosecutor?

  1. Media Blackout on class action suit against the Democratic National Committee and Wasserman Schultz

Lawyers in DNC Class-Action Suit ‘Perplexed’ by Media Blackout

2. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Pakistani IT scammers

3. Imran Awan case needs special prosecutor 100x more than  Russiagate

For all of Trump’s faults, and they are many, we have to keep reminding ourselves what a plague the United States recently avoided.

 

 

Luttwak again

From Edward Luttwak’s recent articleWhy the Trump Dynasty will last 16 years” on the root causes of Trump’s win, in case you missed it:

……..That gathering of lean and hungry Clint­onians is the world mercilessly exposed in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s doomed campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. Meticulously researched and strenuously un­biased, it is the most useful book published so far on the 2016 Presidential election as a whole, as well as the Clinton campaign specifically. It certainly convinced me that Clinton did not understand in what country she was running for election: not one populated by black women (they dominated her convention), environmental activists, patriotic Muslims, vegans, committed free-traders and social engineers, but chiefly a country of car owners and bitterly frustrated would-be new car owners, a far better categorization than Clinton’s own “deplorables”.

That is why the car affordability numbers revealed in June 2016 were so vastly significant in determining the outcome of the elections. Going by metropolitan areas, they extracted maximum affordable car prices from median incomes. The latter ranged from the stellar $87,210 of San Jose in the opulence of California’s Silicon Valley, all the way down to the $24,701 of deindustrialized Cleveland, Ohio, numbers that in turn yielded maximum affordable price limits of $32,855 in San Jose, and $7,558 in Cleveland – not actually the lowest number, which was Detroit’s $6,174, owing to high average insurance costs in that crime-afflicted city (at $1,131.40 per annum, as compared to Cleveland’s $659.47).

What made these seemingly obscure numbers nothing less than momentous was that the cheapest new car on sale in the United States in 2016 was the Nissan Versa sedan at $12,825, twice the level that average households could afford in Detroit or Cleveland, and more than average households could afford in cities ranging from Philadelphia, Orlando, Milwaukee, Memphis, Providence, New Orleans, Miami and Buffalo, as well as, a fortiori, in a very great number of smaller localities across the United States, even in high-income states such as California and Oregon, as well much more commonly in the lower-income Southern and rust-belt states.

The mass exclusion of Americans from new car ownership is the result of two converging phenomena, only one of which was recognized by Hillary Clinton, though scarcely emphasized in her identity-focused campaign: wage stag­nation. Sanders and Trump did not hesitate to blame that relative impoverishment on the exposure of the least agile of Americans to international competition, with the resulting de-industrialization that translated millions of Americans from $20-to-40-an-hour factory jobs to miserably paid service jobs. Beholden to the sanctity of free trade, the Clinton crowd even more than the candidate herself blamed the lethargy of the TV-watching, beer-drinking, gun-owning, church-going, and cigarette-smoking “deplorables”, who unaccountably failed to avail themselves of the wonderful opportunity to leave boring assembly-line jobs or downright dangerous coal-face or oil drilling jobs to become fashion designers, foreign-exchange traders, software engineers, or even political campaign operatives.

 

Wolfgang Streeck on Trump

 

The bloggers at Barrelstrength continue to try to understand what is going on. If that means some or all of us start sounding anti-capitalist, please be advised: any theory pushed to extremes becomes a tyranny, including even our own ideas. We are as firmly pro-market as we can be in the circumstances. The relevant question these days is: what is the nature of our circumstances?  We are each of us searching for answers to what has gone wrong: income stagnation for the masses, coupled with fantastic increases in wealth of the top one tenth of one percent. Whether it be Peter Thiel, Chrystia Freedland, Edward Luttwak, or today’s guest columnist, Wolfgang Streeck, every thinking person is actively considering how much internationalization [free trade + semi-open borders] is good for our own countries.

An excerpt:

Those aggrieved by the accelerated internationalization of their societies felt abandoned by their national state. Elites in charge of public affairs were judged guilty of having handed national sovereignty to international organizations. These charges were largely true. Global neoliberalism has enfeebled the nation state, and with it, national democracy. Citizens most affected by these events had only their votes to express their displeasure.

Trumpism took off, fueled as much in the United States as elsewhere by popular irritation at the vast public celebration of internationalization. Economic and cultural elites entered an international space rich in their rights, at ease both in and out of national states. If democracy is understood as the possibility of establishing social obligations toward those luckless in the marketplace, the global elites had entered into, or created, a world in which there was a great deal of lucklessness and not many obligations.

For those plotting to take advantage of growing discontent, nationalism appeared as an obvious formula both for social reconstruction and political success. The winners and the losers of globalism found themselves reflected in a conflict between cosmopolitanism and nationalism. The old left having withdrawn into stateless internationalism, the new right offered the nation-state to fill the ensuing political vacuum. Liberal disgust at Trumpian rhetoric served to justify the withdrawal of the left from its constituents, and to explain its failure to help them express their grievances in civilized public language. Discontent grew fast.

The Trump presidency is both the outcome and the end of the American version of neo-liberalism. Having commenced crumbling in the era of George W. Bush, the neo-liberal regime managed to regain an appearance of vitality under Barack Obama. With his departure, it was bound to collapse under the weight of its contradictions, and, indeed, absurdities.

Clinton’s daring attempt to present herself as advocate of those Americans “working hard and playing by the rules,” while collecting a fortune in speaker’s fees from Goldman Sachs, was destined to fail. So, too, was Clinton’s insistence that it was the historical duty of American voters to elect her as their first female president. Transgendered restrooms infuriated everyone except those seeking access to them, no matter the Obama administration’s attempt to depict bathroom access as a civil right.11 Deep down, no one cared.

Wolfgang Streeck

“If Trumpists feel bound by their electoral promises, they must put an end to neoliberal reform. This will not end the impasse between capitalism and society. In the absence of a stable class compromise between capital and labor, policy is doomed to become capricious. Perhaps Trumpism will make its departure from neoliberalism and free trade palatable to capital by increasing credit, debt, and inflation—another policy intended to buy time and little else. Nobody knows what Trumpists will do to shore up their political support if economic nationalism fails to produce the promised results.”

In Systems of Survival, the late Jane Jacobs spoke of two moral systems, or syndromes, the guardian and the market.. The relevance of the two systems never diminishes, though the strength of the institutions  influenced by each system can vary at different times in history. What we have witnessed in the past forty years has been the increasing dominance of the market system over the guardian system of morality. If people are feeling adrift and bereft, they turn to the only guardian institution they know, the state, to help them get through the crisis.

Jacobs’ thinking on these matters is of permanent importance. Despite Trump’s chaotic, incompetent governing style, the forces that brought Trump to power cannot be ignored, although the internationalists will do their best to whistle past the graveyard – pointing to Putin and Russia as to why Hillary lost. It looks as if they are setting themselves up to be beaten again at the polls.

“Open are the double doors of the horizon”

A significant part of my vacation is getting in touch with what is real, and that means less attention paid to blogs, even if I agree with them. Yes, the world is going to hell. Yes, the Muslims are taking over. Yes, Europe is going down the tubes. Yes, the threat of communism and leftism has never been more pervasive. Yes, anti white voodoo is everywhere, and people are losing their minds.

But I have picked out my campaign music for the restoration of cosmic order party (RECOP). I will have someone I know placed on the throne as Pharaoh, and the regime will be as iron. Social justice warriors will be enserfed and together with the criminal population, they will be sent to rebuild massive geometrical shapes, pyramids, spheres, octa- and dodecahedrons, in the middle of the deserts of the American south west. The average size of these monuments will be one mile high. David Warren will be made Grand Vizier, and will oversee the construction of these monuments. They will have no utility whatsoever, and will be celebrations of geometry. Government will be fully reactionary, as Warren explains.

Here is the campaign theme from Philip Glass’ Akhnaten.

We can dream, can’t we?

 

 

Parkman on New France and the French Canadians

With the Peace of Paris (1783) ended the checkered story of New France; a story which would have been a history if faults of constitution and the bigotry and folly of rulers had not dwarfed it to an episode. Yet it is a noteworthy one in both its lights and its shadows: in the disinterested zeal of the founder of Quebec [Champlain], the self-devotion of the early missionary-martyrs, and the daring enterprise of explorers; in the spiritual and temporal vassalage from which the only escape was to the savagery of the wilderness; and in the swarming corruptions which were the natural result  of an attempt to rule, by the absolute hand of a master beyond the Atlantic, a people bereft of every vestige of civil liberty. Civil liberty was given them by the British sword, but the conqueror left their religious system untouched, and through it they have imposed upon themselves a weight of ecclesiastical tutelage that finds few equals in the most Catholic countries of Europe. Such guardianship is not without certain advantages. When faithfully exercised it aids to uphold some of the tamer virtues, if that can be called a virtue which needs the constant presence of a sentinel to keep it from escaping: but it is fatal to mental robustness and moral courage; and if French Canada would fulfil its aspirations it must cease to be one of the most priest-ridden communities of the modern world.

Francis Parkman, writing in 1884, in Montcalm and Wolfe.

While the French Canadians may possibly have exchanged the rule of priests for that of sociologists, environmentalists and new-age gurus, they seem to have escaped the priestly regime that governed until 1960. Indeed so thoroughly have they fled the Church that formerly gave them their self-definition that attendance in Quebec hovers around 2 or 3% of the population.

Thiel, Buckley, and Piereson

In the video attached, there are three people who I think you should be paying attention to: Peter Thiel, discussed in my earlier post, Frank Buckley, the Canadian law professor who has become an American citizen, and who explains why Canada is doing so much better than the United States, and William Piereson, of the Manhattan Institute. He is the first American I have heard who is talking about regime wars, that is, purely political wars about the nature and character of the state itself. This kind of struggle is what I see happening in the United States, although it is still peaceful and has not yet degenerated into violence. Piereson is speaking of a division of the States into two nations, and he asks – though he cannot yet answer –  whether it will result in regime change. Thiel sees the basis of the difficulty in the lack of economic growth in things other than computers, which he calls “stuff”. Buckley says the spectre of class struggle has been hovering over American politics, for which Trump was in part an answer. Buckley asserts that social class has been the core of the electoral struggle in 2016. Piereson sees Trump as attempting to restore the United States to a traditional nation state, with defended borders. What is it that drives the opposition crazy when he tries to do this, he asks?

Kristol comes across as a snob. Thiel says the shocking thing is how bad the personnel of the US government are and how unaware they are of how bad they are. In response to Kristol’s disdain for Trump, Piereson says that every one of Obama, Hillary and Saunders were guilty of demagoguery; it is just an epithet for appealing to voters with arguments you do not like.

Both Buckley and Thiel insist that economic liberty must be restored in the United States from its current ranking of 17th in the world.

Finally, and I think this is the clincher, Thiel says that there is no less reason to be afraid of communism now than there was in the Soviet era. The threat of communism is greater, not less, now that the Soviet Union has collapsed. Just look at world politics.

Peter Thiel

I could try to be as clever but I think that anything I want to say about the state of the world has been said better by Peter Thiel in this interview in March of 2017.

And speaking of a world where stagnation is expected, end even desired, Thiel argues that Obama’s regime was fundamentally into transferring wealth into the very rich, while seeming to care about the poor. This guy is deeper and smarter than I am, and I am okay with that. Listen to his critique of Obama from the point of view of the original Marxists. He describes Obama’s philosophy as “pessimistic epicurianism”: that is a whole new level of insight and insult. He fears the return of the Malthusian calculus: because of stalling technological progress, population may grow to the limits of starvation, a starvation fed by corn syrup. He insults Obama by saying he does not even live up to the scientific optimism of Karl Marx.

Everyone lies about porn, and everything else too

Study shows:

The popular feminist narrative would have you believe that porn is largely consumed by men, and that depictions of violent — or at least rough — sex would be a primarily male-dominated interest.

This is untrue, states researcher Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who says that porn featuring violence against women is significantly more popular among women compared to men.

His findings might explain the popularity of the BDSM-heavy “Fifty Shades of Grey” series of novels among female readers.

Speaking to Vox in an interview about how Google data proves that most Americans lie about their sexual preferences, the researcher and author of “Everybody Lies” asserts that more women enjoy the genre compared to male porn watchers — despite common sense and politically correct claims to the contrary.

Going to the Vox article from which this was drawn, we find it gets weirder.

Among other things, Stephens-Davidowitz’s data suggests that there are more gay men in the closet than we think; that many men prefer overweight women to skinny women but are afraid to act on it; that married women are disproportionately worried their husband is gay; that a lot of straight women watch lesbian porn; and that porn featuring violence against women is more popular among women than men.

Everybody Lies, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, is available from Amazon. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a Harvard-trained economist, former Google data scientist, and New York Times writer. The last item should not deter your reading of the book. Big data is answering some questions that no one has an interest in telling the truth about.

Now, if only this kind of material could come to the attention of the Supreme Court, we might start to get some sensible rulings on pornography.

The facts of life

 

A friend once said about Islam: “I don’t know what it is theologically, or religiously, but at the operational level it is hysteria about the facts of life.” He said this after being in Nigeria for a couple of years, and watching and comparing the behaviour of Muslims, Christians and pagans in a multi-religious society.

The Abrahamic idea of God is of an absolute, and with the Muslims, God is conceived in the most remote, all-powerful version. The Christian version postulates the same degree of power, but it is a vision of the Deity infused with love for His creatures, and a will to abide by His own laws. No such compunctions constrain the power of a willful Allah, who recognizes no laws to bind his immaculate will.

But this is not a sermon on the difference between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

It is a brief meditation on the difference between all three of them and pagan thought and behaviour. We have the Jews to thank for the idea that the world is fundamentally divided into clean and unclean things. Sexual practices are especially unclean. In the words of the 39 Articles of Religion, number nine:

“And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust of itself hath the nature of sin.”

Concupiscence refers to longing for what God has commanded us not to yearn for.

In case you are in any doubt the  word refers to the desire for any form of sex between people not lawfully married, and until a few years ago it referred especially to homosexual activities.

Pagans, by contrast, have never been told about sin, particularly the sins of the flesh. How can there even be sins of the flesh? For a pagan a sin of the flesh is an impossibility. Why would the body’s making mucus or bile be a matter of sin? The body has its needs and there’s an end to it. If you need sex, you get it. Man, boy, woman, girl: it is a matter of taste, occasion and society, but not of sin.

When the Japanese westernized in the latter part of the 19th century, they thought that they needed to adopt all of the Western penal codes. So they had to invent – I am serious –  a term for “homosexuality” because they had until then no separate term for the practice. It was just all undifferentiated sex to them, before their contact with legal systems founded in Abrahamic faith.

So when I read in the paper about a gay orgy in the Vatican being interrupted by police, I cannot help feeling that religions founded on a distrust of the body get themselves into huge and unnecessary trouble.

Blame it on St Augustine. I am with Pelagius. 

That is, while I accept the need for prevenient grace,  I do not think we are fundamentally engaged in sin for lusting and being subject to sexual desire, any more than when our bodies produce blood, mucus, sperm or bile.  Lust should be thought of as appropriate or inappropriate, as the case may be, but not as something that separates us from God more than, say, picking our noses or excreting.  Augustine never got over his original Manichaeism. But I am off-topic.

Gay orgies at the Vatican are nothing new. Nor is revulsion at the hypocrisy of a formally celibate priesthood behaving badly. A married priesthood would solve a number of problems. But more important would be a change of doctrine as regards the status of lust as the road to sin.

Now I can go to David Warren and find out why I am wrong. I shall be checking the Catholic blogs today for comments on the situation.

Chrystia Freeland on the Plutocrats, Angus Deaton on the American white poor

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Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, was once a senior economics writer at Thomson Reuters and The Financial Times. She is the author of Plutocrats (2012).

I urge you to read it. Chrystia wrote this book without rancor or malice, which only makes the results more devastating. The 1%, and the one tenth of 1% , have become fantastically richer since the late 1970s. Though they have worked hard for their money, the majority of the super-rich have made their money out of finance not manufacturing.

Freeland concludes her book with a warning about cognitive capture: the process whereby the super rich come to believe their interests really are the most important in society, and the capture of legislatures composed largely of members of the 1% means that the interests of the truly very rich will be attended to by those who only have a few millions, and want to join.

Speaking of the Venetian Republic, that famous example of a highly successful commercial empire, she traces its decline from measures it took to close off access to its wealthiest classes by young entrepreneurs. The closure was a change of the rules on joint ventures, whereby the rich financed the young and adventurous. It was called la Serrata.

She fears for the same tendency in the world of the ultra rich today.

“This cultural Serrata matters because it increases the political myopia of the plutocrats. Add to that ordinary greed and a society that has turned its capitalists into popular heroes and you have an economic elite primed to repeat the mistake of the Venetian merchants – to drink its own Kool-Aid (or maybe prosecco is the better metaphor) to conflate its own self-interests with the interest of society as a whole. Low taxes, light-touch regulation, weak unions, and unlimited campaign contributions are certainly in the best interests of the plutocrats, but that doesn’t mean they are the right way to maintain the economic system that created today’s super elite.”

I shall make some inferences from having read this book, which may not be justified, but which I suspect are true.

  1. The author of this book is a very clever cookie, and it is a credit to Canada that somehow she has climbed this far.
  2. Her analysis of what it means to live in a society dominated by plutocrats is the same as Trump’s: the domestic working class is being neglected and the plutocrats do not give a damn for maintaining first world salaries or wage rates.

Points one and two can be demoinstrated by reading her book. My third inference is more conjectural.

3. The reason the Trudeau Liberals have refrained from criticism and restrained themselves from doing anything stupid in relation to Trump, the reason they have appointed a serious senior finance journalist to the international affairs ministry, is that their analysis of the large picture –  framed in the light of arguments made by Freeland – is not much that different from Trump’s intuitive take on the position we have arrived at. Too much plutocracy; too much influence of the plutocrats over politics and governments.

If you doubt Freeland’s take for partizan reasons (fool!), I would like to refer you to Angus Deaton, the Princeton economist (of Scottish origin) and Nobel winner whose work on inequality, and increasing mortality rates in the American working class, should inform everyone who is trying to make sense of politics these days.

For my part, I recommend Plutocrats for a sane and carefully researched appreciation of the large picture. It is an easy read, and that is a compliment.

A more scholarly and broader ranging interpretation is given in Deaton’s book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality,  which I have just ordered. The key charts you should look at are found in Deaton’s discussion in the Wharton business school article “Is Despair Killing the White Working Class?”

The article contains one graph which shows why Trump won, which you have to click on to expand to its full size. The complete article and its charts are found here.