Monday, February 20, 2017

Making Sense of Trump's Attack on the Media

With regard to President Trump I take the position that Trump is not an idiot; he only plays one on TV.

So what are we to think about Donald Trump's broad-based attack on the media, those chappies that Glenn Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

It all seems as plain as day to me. But maybe I have got it wrong.

Anyway, here goes.

The Republican base has been getting very angry lately that its leaders do not "fight." We mean that Republican politicians, at least since the first President Bush, tend to cave to the Democrats, so that Republican governance became Democrat-lite. During the George W. Bush administration this became official policy, with "compassionate conservatism" and the No Child Left Behind Act compromise with Sen. Ted Kennedy.

According to the conservative narrative this attempt to make nice with the Democrats was a failure. In the first place, Democrats never conceded the 2000 election and encouraged their partisans to believe that Bush was "selected no elected," and secondly the Democrats went into full anti-war mode when President Bush "did something" about 9/11 by executing on the bipartisan policy of "regime change" in Iraq.

The Obama administration, according to the conservative base, was a direct attack on America as we know it, pushing every liberal nostrum without attempting to do any bipartisan compromise. Particularly egregious, from my view, was the abandonment of welfare reform and its central policy of a work requirement. BIg-time government welfare, on my view, is not merely injustice; it is cultural genocide on the recipients.

Then, of course, there was the Obama administration's culture war agenda that amounted to cultural war on Christian conservatives, using the power of the state to punish conservatives for their views, from weaponizing the IRS on the Tea Party to the demand that Christian conservatives provide services for gay weddings.

(Parenthetically, this is why Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He felt, as a libertarian, that the civil rights acts should apply only to government. He wanted it to be illegal for government to discriminate by race, but not be illegal for business to discriminate by race. He just wanted to undo Jim Crow laws and Davis-Bacon Acts that forced business to discriminate by race.)

Fast-forward to the 2016 presidential race. The leading candidate after the extinguishing of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), turned out to be Ted Cruz, who had made a point about getting in the face of the Democrats as a rookie Senator. Oh, and then there was Donald Trump, but he was a joke.

It turned out that Donald Trump was way better at getting into peoples' faces than Ted Cruz. That's probably because Trump is a people person, and Ted Cruz is manifestly not. People just don't like Cruz, face to face.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of President Trump. He has been elected to stick it to the opposition. But Trump is a deal-maker; he knows that sooner or later he is going to have to make deals with Democrats over immigration, Obamacare, taxes, whatever. So it is not a very good idea to attack Democrats, the very people that he is going to have to deal with. Politicians are touchy about insults and slights. How did things work out for Obama, who made no bones about attacking Republicans?

So what does President Trump do, to stick it to the opposition, while still serving his supporters with red meat to snack upon?

Simple. He attacks the liberal media, the MSM of who you've heard tell, the Democratic operatives with bylines. He appoints the liberal elite media as the official opposition. Is that brilliant, or what?

Now look at what happened at last Thursday's press conference that was either a train wreck or the most amazing thing since sliced bread, according to your partisan affiliation. Trump took a question from a young black reporter that asked him about talking to the Congressional Black Caucus. Oh yeah, said Trump. He had thought he had a meeting with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), but Cummings backed out. Could the reporter arrange a meeting?

This is, as they say, trolling, Grandmaster Level. The result, after lots of huffing and puffing, is that Trump has a meeting set up with Cummings and the Congressional Black Caucus. Those were the chaps, you may remember, that boycotted his inauguration.

Fast forward to Trump's rally at Melbourne, FL on Saturday, Feb. 18. The warm-up was conducted by a couple of black women, using the cadences of the black churches, and around the podium were placards reading BlacksforTrumpt2020.com. Golly, what could that be all about?

Look, the longer that liberals keep insisting that Donald Trump is a fool and that his month-old administration is a train wreck the better. There is a new game in town, and liberals don't have a clue how to play it.

Could it be that the Trump administration is executing on a deliberate strategy to confuse the opposition with multiple initiatives, with noise and confusion, to make it difficult for the opposition to achieve strategic concentration in opposing the complete range of his policies?

It is a commonplace to remark that businessmen don't know how to operate in the political arena. But suppose that a businessman like Trump is more like an army general that has learned how to run a battle and keep a cool head despite the utter confusion and conflicting signals and fear and panic? Our modern politicians seem to like everything calm and quiet, with a somnolent bureaucracy to execute on policy in its own sweet time.

Obviously, the Trump administration is not going to be like that.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Finding Yourself "Outside the System"

Ever think that you are living in a different world than everyone else? Do you feel that you are "outside the system" looking in?

That's what one of my readers wrote to me, and it made me think.

Of course, there is every reason why my reader Brad would feel outside the system. As he writes,
I try do the right things, work taxes avoid trouble and generally avoid the system we are outside because we are self-sufficient. 
When you write something like that you are announcing yourself as a Person of the Responsible Self, according to my reductive Three Peoples theory. To be a Person of the Responsible Self is everything that is right and good, but it don't get no respect in our society, because our society is ruled by the People of the Creative Self, and our ruling class thinks that People of the Responsible Self are all racists, sexists, homophobes, haters, and xenophobes.

On the view of the People of the Creative Self the meaning of life, the universe and everything is about being a creative artist, challenging all boundaries, breaking the mold of the ordinary and crafting a new world out of the rubble of the old. Everything is up for grabs, from work, family, sex, you name it. A critical part of the agenda is the caring and compassionate advocacy for People of the Subordinate Self, workers and peasants and women and minorities and marginalized people, and protecting them from the hate and bigotry of the People of the Responsible Self.

No wonder that the People of the Responsible Self feel left "outside the system."

But I think that the world view of the People of the Creative Self is sick and wrong.

First of all, it is utterly mad to imagine that the creatives should have license to do anything they want. Most attempts at creating something new are hopeless failures. That is why so many people would like to become artists and writers but so few actually make it. That is why almost all business startups are failures. Society needs strong defenses against would-be creators, and my model for this is the Hero's Journey of Joseph Campbell. If you want to be a creative hero, then you will have to go down into the underworld and suffer many trials and setbacks. Only when you have proved your mettle can you return to society and benefit it with your hard-won wisdom. Obviously this concept is completely different from the current notion that society should pay for artists and creatives to learn their chops, and then listen in awe to to the pearls of wisdom falling from their lips of their betters.

Secondly, on the schema of developmental psychologists like Ken Wilber and Clare Graves, the proper relationship between supposedly advanced people and less advanced people is that the more advanced people should be understanding and compassionate of those less advanced. Thus the advanced and evolved People of the Creative Self should, using their advanced knowledge, understand the People of the Responsible Self, and accommodate their less-advanced culture and world view. But it is the usual practice among self-described advanced people to regard those less advanced as stupid and bigoted. And so we have, in the advanced West, an overclass of People of the Creative Self that works daily to marginalize and humiliate the People of the Responsible Self as racists, sexists, and homophobes.

There are two options for a people that find themselves dominated and humiliated by its ruling class. It can submit, according to the good old advice that "resistance is futile." Or it can mount a head of rebellion.

Rather obviously, according to my view, the Trump phenomenon is a rebellion of the People of the Responsible Self against its cruel and unjust overlords, the People of the Creative Self.

Will the rebellion succeed? Or will it be put down, with prejudice?

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of the Story of Mankind.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Worse Than Watergate? Really?

The usual Democratic suspects are right, of course. Any scandal is "worse than Watergate" because Watergate was not about the crime -- of over-eager operatives burgling the offices of the Democratic National Committee. Richard Nixon had to leave office because he allowed himself to get involved in the coverup of the Watergate burglaries.

However, my Democratic friends should recall that the only reason we had a Watergate scandal was because Richard Nixon was a Republican president at a time when both houses of Congress were Democratic.

And then as now, Democrats just could not believe that the Republicans had beaten them in a presidential election. So they were striking out any way they could.

And back then they had the power to obstruct and impeach a president. Because they had majorities in Congress.

Remember the last time we heard from the intelligence community? It was during the Bush administration when an aide to Vice-President Cheney, Scooter Libby, was convicted of lying to investigators. Liberals at the time were outraged that the cover of CIA employee Valerie Plame had been blown by Bush administration officials.

Of course, there was no attempt by the intelligence community to embarrass the Obama administration during its eight years, not even when it sicced the IRS on the Tea Party. But now that the Republicans are back in power, it's Katie bar the door.

It will be interesting to see if the "deep state" succeeds in taking out more of President Trump's people. My guess is that, yes, they will.

But I also expect that they will fail to derail the Trump express. Why? Because they are small people. They are small people using their positions to embarrass the president. But I doubt if they have the cojones to come right out and kill the king.

And that is the point. When you go to kill a king you had better succeed. Otherwise you have merely taught him how to go after you.

I'd say that the leaks of presidential conversations with foreign leaders, and the leaks of conversations between Gen. Flynn and the Russians, are penny-ante stuff. Why would the president's enemies in the deep state tip their hand so soon?

They are behaving as though they are begging him to cut them off at the knees. They are giving him all the excuse he needs to clean house ruthlessly, from the CIA and the NSA down to the lowly EPA.

There's a piece in The Wall Street Journal right now about "Spies Keep Trump in Dark on Intelligence in Sign of Mistrust." Sorry pal. You don't get to "mistrust" the president. You are his creatures, and if you don't like it you can get out.

All I can say is that this is exactly why we racist, sexist, homophobic Republican base voters elected Donald Trump. We elected him to deal with the Cathedral, the Deep State, the administrative state, whatever you want to call it.

And it looks like that is exactly what he is going to do.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Left Always Preys on People Outside the System

A couple of weeks ago I published my "General Theory of Leftist Politics" in the American Thinker. My argument was that the whole program of the left is based on the notion that there are people left out of the system, for whom the only recourse is violent revolution, led by the rich kids of the left.

This was abundantly true in 1848 when rich kids Marx and Engels proposed a proletarian revolution. It was still true in the mid 20th century when rich kids Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse proposed revolution for women, minorities and gays.

But contrary to the revolutionary faith the bourgeoisie of 1848 and the white patriarchy of 1950 were not that interested in power. They were perfectly happy to bring the workers of 1848 and the women and minorities of 1950 into the system where they could bargain with the rest of us for their rights and their share of the loot of the modern state.

So it makes perfect sense that the left has found new clients for its violent revolution of the rich kids. These new clients are the migrants.

Migrants are, by definition, people who are outside the system. If they are refugees they are outside the system. If they are H1B visa holders they are the equivalent of indentured servants, who must return to their homelands the moment that they leave their jobs. They are outside the system. If they are illegal immigrants without papers, they are obviously outside the system.

This makes them the ideal clients of the rich-kid left. The whole point of leftist politics is not to solve the problems of its clients but to use them as cannon fodder in the revolution that is to come. And while the system was happy to bring the workers and women and minorities into the system it is naturally hesitant to do the same for migrants, especially illegal immigrants without papers.

There is a good reason for this, that migration is invasion. Case in point is the migration of the Lombards from out of Scandinavia through Burgundy and the upper Danube to what is now called "Lombardy."

How do you tell whether "migrants" might or might not be "invaders?" Answer is, you can't until it's too late.

Of course it is also true that migration and invasion and subjection and what we now call genocide is just the way of the world. Humans are a migratory species; migrate and invade is what we do. But the key thing in human history is to avoid getting on the wrong side of migration and invasion. Ask the Native Americans about that.

Our lefty friends and their center-left allies understand themselves as advanced and evolved people. They believe, based on the record of the last century, that they know how to lead and control the wretched of the earth. According their their own sacred history they triumphantly advocated for workers and women and minorities and were thus the overwhelming agents of history. Workers and women and minorities are therefore eternally grateful to their liege lords and will vote for them forever.

Only what workers and women and minorities want, once they have been brought into the system, is to be safe in their homelands from migration and invasion, and that is why, all across the west, the workers are starting to leave the center-left political parties for which they have voted for the last century. They understand that the left is now interested in new political flesh and that they are to be the sacrificial victims on the altar of 21st century leftist politics.

The point is that people already brought into the system are useless for leftist politics. They just want to be safe and to be able to bargain for their fair share of welfare state loot. It is only those outside the system that are open to the fiery revolutionary program of lefty rich kids.

Then there are the Muslims. They seem to be ideal clients of the left because their jihadist ideology keeps them separate from, and thus opposed to, the host culture.

So the politics of the next few years throughout the West will be a great sorting out, in which every group presently or formerly part of the left will have to decide which side they are on. Are they to continue to be the "little darlings" of the left, or will they find that, once they integrate into western democratic society, they are no longer any use as revolutionary cannon fodder and are cast aside by the rich kids of the left?

That is what we are going to find out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's Not Quite a Valentine's Day Massacre, But...

I assume that an outsider like me cannot really penetrate to the wheels within wheels of the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor.

Was it the CIA getting back at a critic? The Obama holdovers sowing mayhem? The misleading of Vice-President Pence? The bureaucratic incompetence of Flynn?

Who knows? I expect we will see a lot more of this in the Trump administration. His presidency is, after all, a direct challenge to the power of the "deep state" and the deep state is going to do its best to weaken him.

Over at RealClearPolitics.com, the liberals are all shocked as the chaos in the Trump administration, but I wonder. The whole Trump campaign has been a notorious chaos, so we have to wonder whether that is by design.

Normal politicians avoid the appearance of chaos and uncertainty in their image and actions, for an obvious reason. They want to project a notion of the steady, fatherly leader. Trump obviously doesn't.

Polymath Willis Eschenbach proposes a reason why, extrapolating from his own life experience. Donald Trump is a builder. He has spent his life building buildings. Builders, Eschenbach explains, cannot afford to take their eye off the donut. Everything they do must be about about building the building.
Once you start out on the path to the finished building, you stay focused on the finished building, ignoring everything else, and you do whatever it takes to get the building done. In other words, it’s all about the building first, the building second, and everything else is a distant third.
But there is another aspect of building that Willis leaves out. Every building project is a controlled crash. Everything that can go wrong probably will go wrong, but the builder in charge must keep his cool and keep solving problems until the building is done. And when it is done and signed off, nobody that wasn't there will have the least idea of all the toil and trouble it took to get the building built.

I think that is the key thing to understand about Trump and his critics. Trump is used to the controlled chaos of building buildings. Whatever his strengths and weaknesses he has been able to wive and thrive in the chaotic ups and downs of his career in developing and building buildings.

Compared to him, most of his ruling-class critics have had a quiet life. Maybe they came up through the elite colleges; maybe they advanced upon their parents' connections. Maybe their sheer talent has helped them along. But few of them can have experienced the chaotic life of ups and downs that Trump has apparently mastered.

As for me, I hate construction projects, even at the mild domestic level. I like an even-tempered life of routine, doing the same thing every day, and I hate being pushed off kilter by the whims and the needs of other people. So I get why Trump's critics are appalled by his modus operandi.

Of course, at this stage, nobody knows whether the Trump administration will be a success or a failure. But it would be foolish to think that the daily Sturm und Drang means that Trump is incompetent or out of his depth.

Trump is used to chaos. He is a builder.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Let's Talk About Dystopian Novels

In recent weeks liberals have shown a sudden interest in dystopian novels, and NPR has been interviewing Margaret Atwood, of The Handmaid's Tale. What's next in dystopia, asks NPR?
People have been devouring The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, Brave New World, It Can't Happen Here and The Plot Against America — so what's the next book we'll be reporting on?
Atwood thinks that things are moving too fast for book publishing. She looks for some newspaper serialization, week by week.

Now it happens that I went to Paris last week, and therefore endured a couple of 3-movie flights. That's how I measure long-distance flights. The important number is not the number of hours, but the number of movies you can watch in between meals and snack breaks.

So I watched Divergent, the movie adaptation of the dystopian Young Adult novel by Veronica Roth about a post-Armageddon Chicago where society is organized into five Factions and ne'er the five shall meet. It's the resolution of a blame game. Those that blame aggression for the sins of the world belong to Amity, those that blame ignorance belong to Erudite, those that blame duplicity belong to Candor, those that blame selfishness belong to Abnegation, and those that blame cowardice belong to Dauntless. Then there is the underclass; they are the rejected factionless.

Of course, the old dystopian novels were teaching us about mid-century totalitarianism in 1984, Animal Farm. And before that there was Brave New World that satirized the benevolent rule of the educated administrative expert. And they were peculiarly attractive to adolescents. "Everyone" read them as teenagers, and I would have read the SF juvenilia like Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Space Cadet as well if I had known about them.

Now, I have read Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, about a North America ruled by fundamentalist Christians that use handmaids to slake their sexual thirst when their wives become too old to be rogered. And I think it fundamentally misunderstands the world view of fundamentalist Christians, who are not that interested in power and would probably not imagine that they could create a fundamentalist Christian state. But what would Margaret Atwood know about real Christians, as opposed to the liberal bad dream about them?

What fascinates me is the new genre of dystopian novels, like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series, and Veronica Roth's  Divergent series, all of which have been made into blockbuster movies, and all written by women. What is going on?

I interpret Harry Potter as the simple angst of the creative artist in a world of ordinaries, wizards eternally bothered by muggles: the toils of the People of the Creative Self condemned to live in a world of the People of the Responsible (and dull) Self.

But The Hunger Games and Divergent seem to me to be darker, and satirizing the world that liberals have given us. What are we to think of the Capitol of corrupt superficial overlords and the miserable Districts dying of despair, forced to fight to the death in a humiliating reality show hosted by the awful Caesar Flickerman every year? Is that not today's liberal dystopia to a T?

What most affects me is that the heroes of these novels are teenage girls. Maybe this is just because the prime readership is teenage girls since the boys are all playing Minecraft. But why are the girls having to fight to the death? Is this just the feminism of the authors giving us diversity or is it something deeper?

See I think that the big untold story of society today is that young women are subjected to a cruel sexual predation, consequent upon the sexual revolution, for which young women everywhere are ill prepared and always were. The fact is that young women are helpless before the first man that comes to them whispering sweet words of love. I interpret the hysterical campus sexual assault movement as a reaction to the impossible position in which young women are placed by the campus hook-up culture which, with the sexual revolution, has removed romance from the dance of the sexes. The whole point of fathers protecting their daughters was not patriarchal oppression but experience protecting naiveté.

What is a young woman to do and how is she to live when male protection from sexual predation is removed? We see this in a limit case in the harrowing A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in a Conquered City by Anonymous. When women are left unprotected in a conquered city they try to protect themselves by prostituting themselves to the officers, the more senior the better. And they hide the teenage girls in the attic.

So what about today's scene in which you read about the ubiquity of sex before the first date? What have we done when we have stripped sex of its romance and its drama?

Maybe the great liberal contribution to the world is to drag the teenage girls out of the attic and make them into campus sex slaves. The result is Mattress Girl, a young woman enraged by the disappointments of hook-up sex.

I feel also for the rage and the humiliation that our liberal friends are feeling with the presidency of Donald Trump, I really do. I can see how they think that the election of Trump is equivalent to a rape and that it really could happen here and that 1984 proves it.

But I also think that liberals should get out a bit more. And see How the Other Half Lives.

To me it all comes down to the verdict of Charles Murray's Coming Apart. Life is good for liberals in today's America. Of course it is, they made it so.

But for the bottom 30 percent, the men don't work much, and the women don't marry much. I would call that dystopia, and I suspect that The Hunger Games and Divergent are telling us something about the world that liberals made.

As Colonel Pickering sang to Henry Higgins: You Did It!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Coming Implosion of Liberal Rule by Judiciary

So the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court's defiance of President Trump's immigration pause.

Reading the Bloomberg news item you clearly get the globalist line, the harm done to the ruling class by the order:
The two states, the judges said, showed “ample evidence” that they, their businesses, universities and citizens would be harmed if the ban were restored, even temporarily.
Really? Harmed by the pause in immigration from seven rather inconsequential Middle Eastern states?

But I get it. This is the liberal ruling class using its own particular branch of government to fight back against the populist wave represented by Donald Trump and Brexit. The current system works rather well for the trans-national globalist elite, of which I admit that I am a disloyal member.

We are talking about the kind of people that switch from corporate jobs in the US to corporate jobs in Europe, the academics that switch easily from a professorship in the US to a visiting professorship in Europe. It is, of course, intolerable that a President Trump should foul up the gears of this comfortable life for "businesses, universities and citizens" like me.

But never mind about all that. What I wonder about is where this judicial supremacy, piled on top of the already gigantic administrative state, ends up. It's all very well for the swells, up in the higher echelons. But what the people need is swift resolution. Let's figure out what the new policy is going to be and then let's get there. But the current system seems designed to frustrate the needs of the ordinary citizen, and instead create jobs for the supporters of the ruling class.

Let's take the example of Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann's suit against National Review and Mark Steyn Rand Simberg and others for defamation. You'd think that it should be a pretty open and shut case that could be quickly tried and resolved. But no; it is tied up in preliminary appeals that have been going on for three years! Here is Mark Steyn's latest bulletin on the progress of the suit. Three years, on a case about a relatively simple blog post?

The legal beagling may be great fun for the legal beagles and the lawyers and all, but what about the right to a speedy trial? What about the little guy, Mark Steyn, against Big Climate and all its billions, its "businesses" and its "universities?"

More than a century ago Charles Dickens used the power of satire to argue for a reform of the legal system in England in his novels. He satirized legal monopoly and Doctors Commons in David Copperfield and he sneered at the law's delays in Bleak House. The old system was great for lawyers. But for the people caught in the toils of the law it was soul destroying.

That's where we are in the developed West. We have a gigantic administrative state and a vast ponderous legal system chewing up ordinary people. Back when I was an immigrant, 50 years ago, I got my immigrant visa, my green card, and my citizenship with effortless ease. Today, I learn from acquaintances, it takes lawyers and piles of paper and years of delay.

The ruling class doesn't care. It is the administrative state. It is the legal profession. It likes the current system.

But change is coming. As a bellwether, you could start with Charles Murray's By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. Murray delves into the injustices of the current administrative state and its lack of transparency and its dominatory hegemony. He proposes, as an interim solution, that some billionaire fund a foundation whose sole job would be to terrorize individual bureaucrats in the system, to make them fear for their pensions.

But obviously the problem is much bigger, and requires a much larger reform than a minor diversion using guerrilla tactics. In fact, by proposing guerrilla tactics, Murray signals just how powerful and dominatory the current ruling class is. Today, we are years away from a real broad-based movement that can take the state back from the ruling class.

And Murray was just talking about the administrative state. He had nothing to say about the power of an imperial judiciary to impose the will of the ruling class over the will of the people.

Nobody can tell where Trump's immigration pause will end up. Nobody can tell how long the ruling class's judicial imperialism will continue. Except for this.

The administrative state is a clumsy response to the impossibility of big government. It is trying to do the impossible, because economic life by administrative regulation cannot work. You cannot have a national pension system by administrative government hegemony; politicians and administrators just can't adapt to change and deal with the future. You cannot have a national health system by administrative bureaucracy. It will founder in the administrative overload of Obamacare. You cannot properly relieve the poor by administrative ukase. And you cannot supervise immigration by judicial meddling.

Our ruling class does not understand that. It only knows how to use the political levers at its command to push back against the rising movement of populist rejection that threatens its power and its sinecures. I'll bet a nickel that the ruling class has no idea where its pushback against Trump ends up.

That is all very well, but does Donald Trump know any better? Probably not, but the way of the world is that entrenched power does not last forever. Comes the day when the great edifice of ruling class power crumbles into dust and everyone realizes that it was all pretense and stupidity.

At some point the administrative state will grind to a halt. At some point the imperial judiciary will throttle itself on its own delays and contradictions.

If you are a naïve fool like me you hope that today's behemoth will be replaced by a smaller state and a responsive judiciary. But more likely the whole thing will be swept away in a general civilizational meltdown.

And neither you nor I will like what grows up it its place.