Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's On-Message Address

Really, it was all out there right before your lying eyes today. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:
Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we are immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country[.]
He spoke, in other words about a "diverse" America.

In his short inaugural address President Trump talked about "citizens," "forgotten men and women," and the way that he dealt with "diversity" was to speak of the
old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.

We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
See the point? Doesn't matter who you are: when it comes to the crunch we are all Americans. Donald Trump believes in E Pluribus Unum and all Americans united in an American nation state. He's not picking over the embroidery to discover a new victim class that needs special protection status.

As the Obama administration has wound down over the last weeks, I have come to truly wonder about the incredible misdirection of the last eight years -- indeed, of the whole liberal project. And I realize what a self-centered conceit it is.

Who. Cares. About all the intricate mysteries of counting the diversity rosary? For God's sake, let's get back to the meat and potatoes of a decent job for the fathers, decent homes for the mothers, and decent schools for the children. And leave the proctology for the historians.

Think of two of Obama's last acts. He pardons terrorist Oscar López Rivera, who nobody cares about except radical lefties. He commutes the sentence of Army private Bradley Manning, who leaked army secrets to WikiLeaks, and who nobody cares about except radical lefties.

So Obama is clearly doing the diversity two-step, releasing an "activist" and a marginalized transgender. He is putting down a marker to the radical left that he is one of them.

OK. No problem, Barry. Because I should think that Republicans will be running with that for the next 20 years. What do Democrats stand for? They stand for pardoning terrorists and traitors. But don't you dare refuse to cater a gay wedding, pal. No pardon for you.

If you are an ordinary American trying to navigate the complexities of the modern world -- as Chuck Schumer admits is hard -- you do not really think in terms of your diversity category. Because when you show up for your job you will be trained to work and to serve in light of all the modern notions about how to create and maintain an efficient and productive work force. The science is settled on that. The modern economy needs
[To make] of each individual member of the [workplace an associate] who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a [person and employee].
Oh. Didn't I mention that it was Gen. von Seeckt that wrote those words -- about the soldiers in the German Army?

The point is that the leaders of all modern organizations (except government) understand that you have got to push responsibility down as far as you can. Otherwise the workers won't be happy, the organization can't do its job and earn a profit.

Business people know this. Generals know it. Trump the businessman knows it. You train your people; you inspire them; you trust them; and then you send them forth into the world to make your company the best it can be.

That is how to understand what President Trump was saying today. He was calling on all Americans to be the best they can be, and Make America Great Again.

He is voicing the one great discovery of the last 200 years of the Great Enrichment. Lashing people to work like peasants or slaves doesn't get the job done. The way you get them to create miracles of productivity of our age is by empowering them.

You know what? Barack Obama and the Democrats and the whole program don't understand this. They don't have a clue.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump's Announcement 19 Months Later

When Donald Trump announced for the President of the United States on June 16, 2015, everyone laughed their heads off. Here's a flashback of all the MSMs laughing their heads off.

Hmm. What did I think 19 months ago? The first time I mentioned Trump was on July 8, 2015, when I wondered "Whose Side is Trump On?" I waffled around wondering if he was a Clinton plant. But I shaped up at the end when I wrote:
So, to you folks panicking that Trump is throwing away the Latino vote, and to you Democrats that think that Trump will hand the 2016 election to Hillary, I say: hold your horses.

Let's just say that Donald Trump is a bull in a china shop. And there is no telling whose precious china he will smash.
I finally looked at his speech made at Trump Tower 19 months ago. Here is what I got:
  • Trump obviously knew what he was about, because he is still saying the same things today.
  • Trump's style of segueing into constant sidebars introduced a new approach to political speech-making. Who knew it was a winner!
  • Trump approaches life as a process of negotiations and dealmaking, and that's what he promises as president.
  • Trump thinks that the president should be a cheerleader, not just a leader. He thought Obama would be a cheerleader, but "He’s actually a negative force."
  • There is not a word about the urban-progressive social agenda: abortion, LGBT, drug legalization, death penalty. Not a word about race: he mentions "Mexico" but not Hispanic. Not a word about gender. In the Obama years we heard about nothing else.
  • Unions: "good and some bad." Hmm.
Here is his bullet point list from June 16, 2015:
  • I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare.
  • I would build a great wall, 
  • Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. Nobody.
  • I will find the guy that’s going to take that military and make it really work.
  • I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. 
  • I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.
  • Fully support and back up the Second Amendment.
  • End Common Core. 
  • Rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
  • Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. (But get rid of fraud, waste and abuse.)
  • Renegotiate our foreign trade deals.
  • Reduce our $18 trillion in debt.
  • Strengthen our military and take care of our vets.
All those items that Trump listed in 2015 are still on the list and all are issues that he is going to push,19 months later.

Tomorrow Donald J. Trump gets to be inaugurated the Forty-fifth President of the United States.

It seems to me that Trump's uniqueness is that he has lived and worked and thrived in the incredibly creative and turbulent modern economy, which is light years away from the hoary clichés about workers and employers and the neo-feudal economic assumptions of today's urban liberals. 

Our political class does not have his experience. And our urban hipster class does not. And our left-wing activist community does not. And our media professionals do not. So they really do not have a clue.

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yay for La La Land!

I didn't really have my hopes up for La La Land, the supposed nostalgic musical that actually has songs, tap-dancing and a Bollywood-style opening production number. 

I heard that the songs kinda petered out in the later part of the movie. And then I heard about the unbearable whiteness of it. 

So it is a special pleasure to say that everyone enjoyed it, from 88-year-old grandma to us baby-boomers.

I liked it because I consider it a truthful exploration of what it means to be serious about being a Person of the Creative Self. See my Three Peoples theory. I particular, I offer my "Which Gods Do the Three Peoples" Believe In,"which talks about the problem of creative people, because their god is the creative self. You can see that making yourself into your god has special problems. I write that:
A Person of the Creative Self must submit to the creative process, and accept that very few people that aspire to works of original creation actually succeed in that Olympian ambition, just as very few aspiring Olympic athletes get to participate in the Olympic Games.
In my view the great question of the age is how should you live as a Person of the Creative Self? One of my items in the bill of indictment against our liberal friends is that they like to think of creative artists as special children of the gods that must be supported in their ethereal pursuits via government grants and exemption from the laws of ordinary folk. So the liberal line is that We are the People of the Creative Self and you will like it.

This liberal conceit is a lie. The truth is that the life of creation is hard and will probably end in failure. Think of it as a start-up company. You may have a good idea, but probably you don't, and it will take years to refine your idea into something that might change the world.

So Damien Chazelle's La La Land gives us Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, a keyboardist and Jazz purist that wants to open his own Jazz club. That ain't gonna be easy, pal, especially with your attitude. It gives us Emma Stone as Mia, a good little middle-class girl from Boulder City, NV, who is working in a coffee shop and doing auditions. Sebastian drives a clapped-out V-8 convertible from the 80s, and Mia drives a Prius.  Hey, there's a Prius joke in this movie!

The question is how these two are going to square the circle of their creative projects, their unrealistic expectations, their endless failures, their desire to stay together, and to maintain the line that each has given the other about their commitment. And where does commitment to the project meet commitment to each other?

At the climactic moment where Gosling has to go back on tour tomorrow and Stone has to fly to Paris to become a movie star they choose their creative careers over each other. But the director does not flinch from showing that they are breaking each others' hearts as they tell each other that "I will always love you."

But both these kids are white kids. That's the whiteness problem raised above. Of course they are. Unless you are a social justice warrior, the central question for nice college-type middle-class kids of any race is do they follow their dream to become videographers, or do they get jobs? So all the lefty memes have nothing to do with the case. The movie could have cast an interracial couple, but that would have foregrounded the race question rather than the creative question. The movie is about the path of the creative life, not about lefty poison politics.

So last weekend La La Land expanded to 1,848 screens and moved up from #5 to #2 movie at boxofficemojo.com. That's really great. It seemed to me that the kids were excitedly discussing the movie in the halls at the Boca Baton multiplex after the show.

There are lots of charming things about La La Land. What do you think a girl does when she changes out of her high heels sitting on a bench up in the Hollywood Hills after a party? She pulls out her tap shoes of course, and then she and the hero can dance some soft-shoe on the asphalt overlooking the valley in the moonlight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Did President-elect Trump just Intercept the Dems' Race Game

Really! Who woulda thunk it. President-elect Trump angrily tweeting Civil Rights Legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) for his asinine decision to boycott the Trump inauguration because Russia. And to call his election "illegitmate."

Is that guy crazy? Doesn't he know that America's real third rail is the sanctity of Martin Luther King Jr. and that if you touch the Heroes of Selma you bring down America?

But really, this is where is starts. This is where America starts towards a post-racial future.

You don't get post-racial with a First Black President. You don't get post-gender with a First Woman President.

You get post-racial when the kid naively says that the emperor has no clothes, when someone with a couple of big ones says: Aw, Cut It Out -- to a Civil Rights Legend.

I mean, here is Instapundit axin' what happened to the Democratic coalition:
  • "Conservative Black Chick" to John Lewis: "What have you done for me lately?"
  • Al Sharpton confronted by Baltimore activists asking how he helps young black men
  • Alveda King (niece of MLK) "I agree with Trump's criticism of Rep. Lewis' district."
Look. All it takes for the world to change is for one person to say: I Don't Care against the vile liberal accusation of racism.

And the next day we wake up and find that the whole edifice of race politics has crumbled into dust.
This gets me off on a tangent. The whole game of leftist politics, from the class warfare of Marx to the identity politics of the Frankfurt School, to the community activist agitation of Saul Alinsky is a tactic. It is a means to obtain political power by riling up the peasants with pitchforks, picking the scabs until they bleed.

What happens next? Don't worry your tiny minds about that. 

Plus: The left has always been a political movement of rich kids. Marx and Engels were rich kids. So were Frankfurters Horkheimer and Adorno. So were the radical children of liberal parents in the 1960s. And so also, apparently, are the black lesbian founders of Black Lives Matter.

They don't care about you, they only care about getting into power with your vote. And they haven't thought about what it really takes to build a lasting society. But then they are rich kids. Think of the heedless rich of Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby.

In contrast, the conservative movement of the American founding was a deadly serious, strategic, attempt to devise a lasting political legacy. How could men in the 18th century in the age of absolute monarchs -- just before the French Revolution -- build a lasting political structure that would respond to the just demands of the people without catering to the mob? How to create a polity that preserved the wisdom of the ages without crushing the energy of the young? How to build a political tradition that would self-renew without the blood of martyrs? How to create a change of power without violence?

The left's political vision after its glorious revolution always ends in an administrative bureaucracy, what Jürgen Habermas has called "internal colonization." Just elect us and we will take care of everything. Only, of course it is never that simple, and things go wrong, and then the administrative bureaucracy discovers the need for enforcement, and then the new injustices start to pile up. And then it is necessary to call out saboteurs and wreckers...

It is an irony that these principled anti-colonialists propose as a solution to injustice their own form of colonialism, the colonies governed by the Great White Father in Washington.

So where do we go after eight years of Obama and rising racial animosity? After Black Lives Matter and the Chicago Four and the New York Six? And the pregnant anger in the black community that nothing has changed?

I will tell you. The answer is Forget Politics. That goes for blacks and women and gays and liberals and immigrants and Muslims and every possible little darling of the ruling class. All politics does is divide. So if you think that we need more politics, more activism, to heal the wounds of the world then you are part of the problem.

Politics can do something about the worst of injustice. Maybe. But on the next morning, we are all like Candide, who ends his Enlightenment saga with this: il faut cultiver notre jardin. It is usually translated as I must go work in the garden. Rather than have a grand old time trying to save the world with the rich kids.

I wonder if Trump has the magic touch to help America's black community kick the politics habit and just go work in the garden.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Autumn of the Think Tanks?

Did you know that they are mourning the death of the think tank over at the Washington Post? (H/T Steve Sailer)

According to Josh Rogin, "the Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments" But Trump is hiring "business executives and former military leaders."

But the problem with this is that "policymaking will suffer."

It is interesting, isn't it, that Rogin accepts as divine writ the modern notion of the administrative state. Obviously, according to this world view, the appointment of successful business leaders and former military officers would break the exquisite Golden Bowl of the modern state. After all, business leaders are in the business of "creative destruction" and military leaders are in the business of straight-out destruction, and both are required to think on their feet, developing a strategic instinct that can see around corners. And both business and the military have the culture of doing something, anything, rather than just standing there.

But the ethos of the administrative state is to add accretions, one after another the the administrative state edifice, usually with careful consideration of the aesthetics of the addition. In between accretions they do nothing.You don't really ever throw anything out; you just quietly build over the mistakes of the past without actually admitting anything.

Will Donald Trump's appointees really go to work on a project of creative destruction? Probably not.

But there is this.

The left has been on its march through the institutions for so long that there is very little left in government with which conservatives identify. My American Thinker piece this week is about the failure of liberal policy to help the workers, the blacks, and women. How can liberals insist that more race and sex politics is needed after 50 years of non-stop liberal agenda implementation? So why not send a wrecking crew through? It is not likely that many of our voters will be affected. Oh yeah. Social Security and Medicare. Don't touch those!

The problem with big government is that government can really only do wars. Detect an existential peril? Then send out the Marines to smash it up. And send them home and return to peacetime expenditures.

Despite its imposing bulk, big government is really very fragile. It cannot respond to problems very easily. In fact the normal response to problems is to do nothing until havoc is at the gate. And by then it is often too late.

Here is one idea for the Trumpsters. If you look at the details of the federal budget, down at the level of the Public Budget Database, you encounter dozens of minor budget items that seem to be ghostly echoes of former times.

I bet you could burn through a couple-thousand of those items with harming a single Republican voter.

But without the courage to Do Something, nothing will change and the think tanks will continue to crank out policy analysis to grow government.

Republicans have always been terrified of the accusation of racim and sexism, and of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. I'd say that the only way that Trump can get anything done is to forget terror and Cut the Cringe.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Left's Conceit About "Resistance"

Now that the Democrats have lost the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and the presidency, there is only one way out. Resistance. So says Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

And so says former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

And that's to say nothing of true lefties like Chapo Trap House and Jacobin.

Actually, I get it. I really do. These are people that want war. They like the feeling they get from getting all riled up about injustice and racism, and they mean to do something about it. They mean to teach America a lesson. With  peaceful protest, if appropriate. With violent resistance, if that is what it takes.

Hey, I understand. I get the same feeling when I see President-elect Trump tell CNN that they are fake news. Yeaaghh! That'll teach them.

Over the past 50 years, my political lifetime, the left has periodically reasserted the right of resistance. And conservatives have usually tried to be nice. That's because liberals have had the whip hand, with the threat that any conservative that got out of line would be named and shamed as a racist. That was in the 1960s. Then a conservative could be named and shamed as a sexist. That was in the 1970s. Now a conservative lives in terror of being named a homophobe.

So conservatives are not allowed to resist. On pain of naming and shaming. Or the kind of harassment that the University of California at Berkeley is dishing out to the Berkeley Campus Republicans that have invited MILO to speak on campus.

This is all great fun for the left so long as conservatives play along and refrain from hitting back. They can threaten and accuse and protest and attack, and nobody dares to push back. So we see various Democrats with their vile attacks on Sen. Jeff Sessions in his nomination hearings for Attorney General. Sen. Sessions does not fight back. Because racism.

But when Donald Trump pushes back and accuses CNN of fake news!  Resist!

Actually, I get the rage and frustration of blacks like Cory Booker and John Lewis. How could it be that after 50 years of civil rights laws and eight years of Obama that blacks are still sitting in the back of the bus? There must be racism under the bed.

There is a simple answer to that. It is that politics is a very blunt instrument. It can do something about gross injustice.

Well, no, not exactly. With politics you can roll back the accumulated injustices enacted into positive law by the previous ruling class. Such as Jim Crow laws. Such as laws that force blacks to sit in the back of the bus.

But what politics cannot do is create a heaven on earth where politicians and activists administer and regulate the economy and create a world where the arc of history bends towards justice.

You get to understand that if you also understand my basic definition of government:
Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters. What the inhabitants get in return is the hope of protection.
Notice what is missing here. There is no real indication that the armed minority will really do any good for their supporters beyond buying their support. And not the least indication that the armed minority will provide much in the way in protection for the ordinary inhabitants of the occupied territory.

What matters is not the goodies that the armed minority hands out to its supporters. What matters is that the armed minority, despite its pursuit of political power, allows a free market economy, properly supported by property and commercial law, to develop and thrive, so that people can enter into social and economic cooperation without the dulling effect of the clunking fist of political power.

But of course this is a notion that a ruling class and its supporters find almost impossible to accept. After all, their lives are devoted to politics, so politics and "our democracy" must be the answer to every question. Right, President Obama?

And the left, ever since Marx, has believed in the saving truth of political power. Is it 1850? Then the only thing to prevent the working class from being ground into dust is political power. Is in 1965? Then the only thing that can save African Americans from white supremacy is civil rights acts enforced by a huge administrative bureaucracy. Is is 2016? Then the only thing that can save gays from hate is the humiliation of Christian bakers. Is it 2017? Then the only thing to prevent reaction is to harass the Berkeley College Republicans when they invite controversialist MILO to the University of California at Berkeley.

Last night, before I went to bed, I read a few pages of Max Weber talking about the commercial economy. He started with slavery, which he showed to be rather a tricky and unreliable way of running a business. First of all, you have to pay for the slaves, and the price of slaves fluctuates. Then you have to support the wives and children. Then you usually don't get skilled labor that you can trust to get on with the job without close supervision. Much better to engage free labor, which you don't have to "buy" and whose wives and children are their own responsibility, not yours. Plus, of course, you can trust your free labor much more than slave labor.

This confirms my own opinion that the reason we have gloriously abolished slavery -- except in the liberal welfare plantation and in the fact that we tax 30-40 percent of the output of free labor -- is that slavery doesn't pay. It's much better to put the burden of life, the universe and everything on the brow of free labor than to indulge the conceit that you get better results by force and domination.

That is something that our lefty "progressives" do not understand. That is what ruling-class grandee Robert Reich does not understand with his conceit about "resistance." Once you have removed the deliberate barriers to engage in market activity -- by Jim Crow laws, by licensing laws, by a fetish of regulation and consumer protection -- then people can get on with it and show their stuff. Do they want to work to provide products and services to their fellow humans? Do they respond to the normal reverses of a working life by readjusting and retraining? Good. That's the way to wive and thrive in the modern world.

But would they rather sit around in some political grandee's political organization and wait for rewards for services rendered? Then they are going to be eternally disappointed. Because political grandees don't care about you; they only care about your vote.

Hey. This is not that hard.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Mess in Mexico

I only clued into the mess in Mexico a few days ago as the news media began reporting riots over gas price increases there. So what is going on?

I checked with Stratfor. It's simple. The Mexican government reformed its oil sector in 2013, in response to poor results at Pemex, its nationalized oil company, and declining oil production. There are "upstream" reforms that allow private-sector companies to participate in exploration and production. And there are "downstream" reforms, including the raising of gas prices that were fixed below market.

The Mexican people absolutely hate the gas price increases. I suppose that it doesn't help that the Mexican peso has been in decline. It's trading at about 22 pesos to the dollar, down from 13 pesos back in 2014.

Here are a few facts about Pemex, Petróleos Mexicanos, from La Wik.

  • Pemex was formed in 1938 from the nationalization and expropriation of private (and foreign) oil companies
  • Pemex supplies about a third of Mexican government revenues
  • Pemex has huge unions, including the professional and engineering staff
  • Pemex is corrupt
  • The left absolutely hates the 2013 Pemex reforms
So you can see that the Pemex troubles in Mexico are not unrelated to the meltdown in Venezuela, except that the Mexican ruling has have not tried to milk the national oil company for revenues in quite the foolish way of the Venezuelan Bolivarian lefties.

Of course I don't know the political reasons for the 2013 reform but I expect that the Mexican ruling class was disappointed that, with the oil price sky high, they weren't getting the revenue they could have had if the oil output had been increasing rather than decreasing. The oil price was at $100 per barrel in 2013 and didn't start its fracked decline down to $30 until mid 2014. Obviously it was assumed, in 2013, that the government could pay for the reforms with the plentiful revenue that gushed out at $100 per barrel.

Now people are saying that the oil price protests will feed into the 2018 Mexican presidential elections and maybe elect a lefty candidate.

All I can say is that President Trump had better build that wall, because I'd say that Mexico will be having economic problems in the next few years, and that will mean more people trying to cross the borders to get at US jobs.