Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wascally Republican Racists

One of the fundamental beliefs of today's liberals is that they are for civil rights and Republicans are racists. The proof is that Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that the South voted for Goldwater in 1964.

(In fact Goldwater was a libertarian who had desegregated the Arizona National Guard and voted against the Civil Rights Act because he felt it was too intrusive.)

And then there was Richard Nixon's supposed "Southern strategy" to pick up white Southern racist votes in 1972.

Recently there have been three items in the liberal media, all featuring photos of Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, that assume this meme.

But Ed Driscoll has taken one look and decided to invoke Ian Fleming and Goldfinger.

And there's a telling boner on MSNBC's part in this hate-fest. Its chiron tags Wallace as an (R). In fact Gov. George Wallace (D-Alabama) was a lifelong Democrat.

But once the Civil Rights Act passed and blacks began to vote in Alabama, Wallace got religion and bid for the votes of African Americans and appointed blacks to his cabinet. A true politician.

Liberals need to paint Republicans as racists, because their policies have betrayed the spirit of civil rights. They have turned equal rights into a racial spoils system and injected race relations with the poison of cultural Marxism and identity politics. According to fashionable liberal psychology, the way your deal with that is "projection," projecting your own faults on your political opponents.

In reality, Republicans are embarrassed by race. We'd love to have blacks voting Republican but we know it ain't gonna happen as long as Democrats manage to whip them with the fear that Republicans want to return blacks to the days of Jim Crow. Anyway, the result of affirmative action is that overwhelming numbers of blacks work for the government. They ain't gonna be voting for the party of limited government any time soon.

Republicans have never bid for the votes of Democrats. What happens is that individual Democrats find themselves echoing one-time Democrat Ronald Reagan: I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me. And they find themselves voting Republican.

But there is a germ of truth in the liberal accusations on Wascally Wepublican Wacism. It is that the victims of liberal race politics are predominantly lower-middle class and working class whites. It is their jobs in government and elsewhere that have been targeted by affirmative action. And the same applies to university admissions.

I don't know how racist the lower class whites are, but if I were one, I'd be pretty angry with the Democratic Party that once loved me as a working stiff and now sneers at me as a racist redneck.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Moore vs. Krugman Cage Fight

Libertarian economist Mark Skousen is boosting a grand debate at the next FreedomFest in Las Vegas July 8-11, 2015. It's between NYT columnist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and WSJ columnist and supply-sider Stephen Moore. They are going to debate a bunch of topics, one by one.
Red States vs. Blue States (especially California)… Flat Tax vs. Progressive Tax… Austerity vs Stimulus… Inequality vs. Growth… Market Healthcare vs. ObamaCare… Easy Money vs. Deficit Spending…Market Capitalism (USA) vs. State Capitalism (China)… and many more topics.
Of course, as a libertarian conservative I come down pretty hard on the Red State, Flat Tax, Austerity side of this argument. But I get what the other side is saying, and how faithfully the Paul Krugmans of the world represent them.

If you are a liberal you live and work, most likely, in a big organization like a school or a government bureaucracy. You experience the world as an underling. Your security and your livelihood depends on the "fairness" of your superiors or, failing that, your ability to curry favor with your bosses. Or maybe you are living on a government pension, Social Security or SSI or welfare. In other words these people are still living within the feudal system. They know that they depend upon a strong and generous patron that "takes care of them."

The idea of the market economy is terrifying to these people. They think: but what if my boss didn't like me? What if I got laid off? What if the employer came by and insisted upon "give-backs?" How would I pay my mortgage?

So these people buy the liberal Keynesian message. It is monstrous to talk about "austerity" and cutting government spending. How could people survive if their benefits were cut? It is monstrous to talk about a flat tax. The rich should pay more, because people like me on a fixed income can't afford any "cuts.".

The whole panoply of liberal macroeconomics is a response to the feudal culture of liberal voters. They want everything sewn up and guaranteed, from pensions to healthcare to benefits to job tenure.

But reality is that nothing is guaranteed. All government guarantees are made at the expense of what Amity Shlaes calls "The Forgotten Man," the folks that aren't represented by some special interest. So when the feudal horde of liberals demand to continue their pensions and benefits and rights undiminished through hard times like the Great Recession they are making it worse for people that don't have powerful interests on their side.

Because the best way to recover from a recession is if everyone is working hard to adjust to the new economic conditions. If the government beneficiaries had to share in the hardship, maybe they'd increase their work effort and contribute to the recovery.

Perhaps that's why this fall, after six years of the Obama administration and its full-on Keynesianism, average people are tuning out the message of the media and the administration that things are getting better.

The record of the Obama administration is that things have gone pretty well if you are well-connected, a liberal billionaire or a unionized government worker or a liberal activist or a government pensioner. But things are not so good for the rest of America and the rest of America is beginning to register its frustration.

It's right that Paul Krugman should represent the liberal feudal horde and their interest in their government benefits. But there is another story, and it's right for Stephen Moore to debate it with liberal icon Paul Krugman.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Grand Strategy for the War Against Islamism

As the Obama administration stumbles towards existential ruin, I hope that the Republican candidates for president in 2016 have their foreign policy and defense teams hard at work on a grand strategy for the post-Obama years.

Really, the utter confusion and failure of the Obama years is a blessing, because the Democrats' foreign policy has been exposed as nothing more than anti-Bush animus and base-pleasing catchphrases. In 2016 Americans will be ready for grownups to take office and restore America to power and respect in the world.

Very well, but what should this new team do about the Islamist challenge? What should we do to vanquish yet another challenge to the culture and society of responsible individualism and its differentiation of human social relations into three parts: political, economic, and moral/cultural?

This is not just an intellectual game. The half millennium of western hegemony has been an astonishing act that has plunged the world into an unprecedented adventure of prosperity. Yes, it's been imperial and it's turned the world upside down. But it's ended the domination of Malthus.

Obviously we must first try and understand what the Islamist challenge means to us. Never mind what it means to the Islamists. What about us?

What is more sensible than to experience Islamism as yet another reactionary backlash to our radical western project of responsible individualism?

Let us understand the great conflicts of the last century as the failed fascist/socialist rebellion against responsible individualism. Really, according to the ideas of Rene Girard, they are "monstrous doubles" of unrestrained violence.

The socialist reaction was an attempt to hide from the awful challenge of responsible individualism by returning to a kind of neo-feudalism, where a wise aristocracy of the best and brightest would rule over a society of semi-servile worker victims and protect them from the dangerous bourgeoisie. Only it didn't work; it send 100 million humans to unmarked graves.

Then there was the fascist reaction. It attempted to hide from the awful challenge of responsible individualism by returning to a frank tribalism of blood and race. A charismatic tribal leader would rule over a grateful people and purify the tribe from harmful race pollution. Only it didn't work; it sent 40 million humans to their premature death.

In each case an elite stepped forward to protect a frightened populace and help it avoid the perilous step of leaving the tribe or the feudal manor for a life of individual responsibility. Instead of stepping into the modern economy where each man and woman offers his or herself in service to the rest of humanity, surrendering to the market and accepting its economic verdict, the elite would keep the people safe in the old ways.

Only it didn't work, because humans in the 20th and 21st centuries have already eaten from the tree of economic knowledge and have been expelled from the Garden of Collective Eden. There is no going back.

The result of it all? The monstrous bourgeoisie flooded the world with a tidal wave of life, liberty and prosperity.

Now comes Islamism and the best way for us to understand it is as yet another lurch back to tribalism and servile collectivism.

We can understand why our liberal and lefty friends have seemed to condone this reactionary and nostalgic movement. The lurch back to tribalism is what leftism and liberalism are all about. They condone the frightened backward glance of the new arrivals in the city and enroll them in their welfare-slave plantation. Their cultural Marxism makes of every backward group a class of victims to be confirmed in their culture of victimhood.

But what do we do?

Let us recall the grand strategy of the Cold War and see if it yields any lessons for us. It seems to me that the Cold War proceeded in three stages.

First, thanks to George Kennan, was containment. The idea was to avoid the high-risk strategy of confrontation but still make it difficult for the Soviet Empire to expand.

Second, thanks to Nixon and Kissinger, was division. Richard Nixon went to China and divided the two Communist empires: Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China.

Third, thanks to Ronald Reagan, was economic warfare. Reagan built up the US armed forces, challenged the Soviet Union with the Strategic Defense Initiative, and talked Saudi Arabia into increasing oil production and thus radically cutting the global price of oil and bankrupting the Soviet Union. Plus he kick-started the US capitalist economy into a 25 year boom, just when liberals said it couldn't be done.

Result: an amiable dunce dispatched Communism to the dust heap of history without firing a shot.

So here is my three-part grand strategy for dispatching Islamism to the dustbin of history.

First, harassment. We unleash our intelligence community and our special forces upon the Islamic State and all the hydra-headed Islamic groups that keep popping up.

Second, division. We secretly play the Shia against the Sunni and various tin-pot dictators against tin-pot imans -- while denying it to the world with a straight face, and we foment rebellion and revolution throughout the Islamic world against any regime that doesn't kiss the ring of western empire. Here's how they did it a century ago.

Third, frack, baby, frack. We push the technology of the current shale energy revolution to the full extent, fracking on federal lands, fracking offshore, aggressively exporting the new oil-extraction technology to our friends like the Poles. Result: energy prices go down and denies money to the oil-dependent Middle East. We reform out economy to unleash entrepreneurs, encourage work, reform and privatize entitlements, cut domestic spending, streamline regulation, restore the rule of law. We declare war on crony capitalists, foreign and domestic, and de-cartelize health care and education. It's odd how every item in this program of economic warfare means reversing Obama and liberal policy.

Then all we have to do is sit back, watch liberals declare that they knew Islamism was a busted flush all along, and we play parlor games like imagining what the next Obama will look like when a generation comes to maturity that knew not the follies of the America's First Worst President Ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Registering the Artillery for "Mann v. Steyn"

Have you noticed? the website that broke the Hockey Stick is stirring to life with a bunch of posts about the goings-on among the climate scientist set during the critical months when Michael E. Mann and the chaps at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit were pushing out the Hockey Stick for the United Nation's IPCC.

Here's a list of the latest posts at climateaudit.org:

Kevin O'Neill's "Fraud" Allegations by Steve McIntyre: about the Wegman Report on the Hockey Stick being a political hatchet job.

Black Tuesday of Climate Science by Jean S and Inventory of Hide-the-Decline by Steve McIntyre about the day they "hid the decline" of Keith Briffa's Siberian tree-mometers by terminating their temperature time series in the middle of a spaghetti graph blob right before they took a big decline.

Another Porky from Mann, Williams and Fontaine by Steve McIntyre about inconsistencies in Michael E. Mann's pleadings in "Mann v. Steyn" (and other respondents).

The Original Hide-the Decline by Steve McIntyre about the first appearance of hiding the decline in Siberian tree-mometers after the mid 20th century.

Rule N Revisited by Jean S about Michael E. Mann's questionable use of Principal Components Analysis in his Hockey Stick papers.

Who Wrote EPA's "Myths vs Facts" by Steve McIntyre about a document that contained statements and assertions that were untrue and undocumented in the "formal" documents they were supporting.

What could be going on here, the world wonders? It couldn't possibly be likely witnesses in "Mann v. Steyn" rehearsing their facts and getting their thoughts and their documents together, could it? It couldn't be the world's foremost climate artillerists registering their 155mm howitzers on the firing range, could it?

A white back an exuberant Mark Steyn was observing on his website in "The Lonesomest Mann in Town" that in the battle of the Amici Curiae, folks filing their own independent briefs in the trial of the century, "Mann v. Steyn," that he and his co-respondents had lined up a Murderer's Row of establishment liberal batters, from the ACLU to the mainstream media. Michael E. Mann's Amici batting order? Zilch. Not one settled scientist has sent in an amicus brief in support of Mann.

There's a telling remark on Wattsupwiththat.com about Michael E. Mann, who just gave a talk at the Cabot Institute in Bristol, England. A WUWT reader writes that
what I took away from this lecture more than anything else is that Mann genuinely believes he is right and that his work will save the world.
I have this mild feeling that we are about to witness a monumental train-wreck.  Oh it won't be featured on all the networks, and it won't appear as a feature in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. But you will know something has gone down because of a strange silence on the global-warming/climate-change front.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sure the Central Planning Elite has Failed. But People Still Want Free Stuff

In these bleak Obama times it's bracing to read a good solid piece by Kevin Williamson, "Unmanageable Man," that prophesies the end of the central-planning era.

Take violence, he writes.  It's down and nobody knows why. Some people think it's due to "broken-windows" policing, but crime is down in cities that didn't do the Bill Bratton thing. Some people think it's abortion. Or no-fault divorce. Or some other government program of the central-planning state.

But the truth is that nobody knows.

It all comes down to the fact that you can't manage man. Cue Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek on the complexity of all human action and the "pretense of knowledge" which in our public-policy debates "is practically an article of faith."

Reality is remorselessly wearing away the planners' pretense, according to Williamson.
In 2008... their ambitions were done in by the houses in which we live... Washington's response was to apply to health care the same effective management it had brought to housing policy, executing its program with approximately the ineptitude that might have been expected.
Thus with the failure of the central-planning paradigm the Left is reduced to "performing public-relations work on behalf of a collection of parochial economic interests and sundry tribal enthusiasms."

Of course, this failure will inspire the Left to redouble their efforts, "with denunciations of enemies of the people, and demands for ever-more-extraordinary powers to deal with the [permanent] emergency."

But the "world is moving on from command and control" with Google a world away from the Rayburn Office Building.
Power is shifting decisively in the direction of technology, capital, and innovation, and the planners are on the verge of losing, and spectacularly.
"Rare words, brave world," as Falstaff said. This is wonderful, stirring stuff, red meat for a libertarian conservative like me.

But I want to throw some cold water on things before we get too excited.

I think that the point of central planning is not that it is effective, but that it provides a rationale for our modern ruling class, to give it permission to do what any ruling class does naturally, which is to reward its supporters with loot and plunder.

In other words I believe that the central-planning philosophy is a specific instance of behavior that you will find in any ruling class. Any government, from a robber band to a global empire, stays in power by rewarding its supporters with loot and plunder. The chief of a robber band is merely frank about it: he simply promises his recruits the prospect of loot and plunder from the band's successful raids upon innocent travelers and isolated farm-houses. A guerrilla band chief offers his fighters various government positions after the present unjust regime has been defeated and run out of the presidential palace. Kings of feudal kingdoms offer their barons rich lands and estates in return for their loyalty. Our modern educated elite offers "rights" to workers, to women, to minorities, to gays. It promises tax credits for electric cars to its environmental followers. It promises labor-friendly laws to its labor union supporters. It promises wind-farm subsidies to its green billionaire pals. The central-planning both a claim to competence and a cunning effort to bring the entire economy under the supervision of administrative ukase; anything can be ordered from the central planning bureaucracy, with supporters rewarded and opponents punished. And everything is justified in the national interest: greedy bankers and ruthless speculators beware.

How convenient. How ordinary.

So what if the centrally planned housing policy nearly wrecked the economy? For decades politicians could promise "affordable housing" to voters and get elected. So what if centrally planned "universal health care" wrecks the health care system? It offers free stuff to millions of moderate income voters who will vote appropriately at the next election.

The central planning conceit quiets the conscience of the educated ruling class. It also has clear advantages for many of the supporters. If you are a serf-like person, one whose philosophy of life is to find a powerful patron and shelter under his umbrella of power, the rigid administrative state and availability of free stuff solves a big problem. It frees you from making decisions about your life.

In the modern individualist society the individual bears the burden of making all kinds of key life decisions: what job to get, how much house, car, entertainment he can afford. How to educate the kids. How much to save. How much is enough for health insurance.  It is a heavy burden. It is responsible individualism.

But the big government welfare state run by the educated ruling class offers a way out. Its free education system makes it only too easy to dump the kids at the government school. Its Social Security/Medicare programs make it easy to put off saving for old age. Its health insurance subsidies mean that moderate income people can get by spending less money on health care. If you want to opt out of the mandatory centrally-planned system you have to pay twice.

But when you accept the government's mess of pottage you slide from proud independence into quasi serfdom. It doesn't really matter that much to you if the centrally-planned programs don't work too well. You can tell your best friend that at least you have health care, at least the kids are getting an education; you can tell your buddies that you don't have to worry about retirement, what with Social Security and the government pension. You can shuck off the burden of responsible individualism and ease off the work effort a little.

It is perfectly obvious that the centrally planned welfare state is perfectly acceptable to millions of people. Oh sure, they grumble and kvetch about the "system" but they don't actually do anything about it.

So I'm afraid that the failure of central planning doesn't mean the end of liberalism as we know it. Our liberal friends will still be offering free stuff way into the future. They will just have to look for a new rationale, a new apology for their rule, that will satisfy their own quest for legitimacy and quieten any nagging questions in the minds of their bribed apologists and their electoral supporters.

I have enough respect for our liberal friends to know that they will come up with something.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obama and Clinton's False Social Revolution

After the left-wing radical president Barack Obama, is the choice before America really between the radical left-wing Hillary Clinton or the radical left-wing Elizabeth Warren?

That's the helpless feeling you get from reading Stanley Kurz's latest piece in National Review. Author of a book on Obama's radical past, he's commenting on an article by Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon on "The Hillary Letters," the correspondence between Hillary Clinton and left-wing radical Saul Alinsky.

Yes, it turns out that Hillary Clinton has been allowed to cover up her radical past, including a correspondence with Chicago radical Saul Alinsky. She didn't just write her undergraduate thesis on Alinsky. She corresponded with him.  And after graduation from law school she went to work with a radical left-wing Chicago law firm, Treuhaft, Walker, and Bernstein.

Barack Obama also spent his formative adult years in left-wing Chicago and seems to have been mentored by left-wing terrorist Bill Ayers.

In her thesis, Clinton concluded:
If the ideals Alinsky espoused were actualized, the result would be a social revolution.
So, Kurtz suggests, eight years of Obama followed by four years of Clinton or Warren would indeed amount to a social revolution. It would change the United States forever.

But I disagree. The left-wing "march through the institutions" is not a social revolution, it is a palace coup, a cunning political manipulation from above. It is not a popular revolution from below, seeking to overthrow an existing corrupt regime and create a new order; it is a flagrant machination orchestrated within the ruling class that seeks to change everything through a new concentration of power and a withering of the public square and the power of ordinary people. The result of eight years of Obama and four years of Clinton or of Warren would be Bolshevism lite, the seizing of power by an American nomenclatura and the reduction of ordinary American citizens to a virtual serfdom.

To show how this is so, let us analyze the words of Alinsky from his Reveille for Radicals, quoted by Stanley Kurtz.
Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of the few.
The jungle metaphor is a favorite of the left, advanced particularly by the Fabians, who liked to say that their rational plans would replace the law of the jungle. But this is nonsense. Capitalism is not the law of the jungle; capitalism cannot even start until there is a state pacifies non-state actors and protects economic transactions with the rule of law enforced by the courts.

Let us take apart two radically incorrect assumptions that Alinsky makes.

First, the jungle metaphor suggests that under capitalism only the strong survive and the weak get eaten up by predators. But this is rubbish. Under capitalism only the companies that produce the products that people want at the prices they are willing to pay get to rule the roost. Companies that take their eye off the ball go broke. Only government power can interfere with this process. We have seen how this has worked out in the decades since Alinsky wrote. Great companies have come and gone. The big beasts of the mid 20th century, the steel and auto companies, are reduced to being wards of the state.

Second, there is no society where "the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people" and there never will be. The commanding heights of the economy can only be owned by the few. It is the same with democracy. Joseph Schumpeter clarified this for all time when he wrote in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy that democracy is impossible because the people cannot rule. Ruling is done by the few. The only thing that democracy can provide is for the people to select who will rule over them with elections and stuff. The same applies to the economic sector. We have seen what happens when the "means of production" gets "owned" by the people. The means of production, instead of being directed by the "few," the economic elite in the private sector and their assignees, are now directed by another "few," the political elite and their tame underlings in the public sector. It cannot be any other way. Moreover, the political elite is peculiarly unqualified to direct the economic sector. Their expertise is in politics, not in business and markets. They are expert in coming up with new ideas for winning elections, not in new ideas for winning market share. The fallacy of Alinsky's idea is cruelly confirmed in the dismal economic record of all socialist political regimes of the 20th century, from the brutality and the failure of the Soviet Union's economy to the famines and miseries of China's Mao regime to the impoverishment of Cuba under the Castro brothers. And now we see the economic implosion of Venezuela under the Bolivarian socialism of Hugo Chávez and his dim-witted successor Nicolás Maduro.

The truth is that the "jungle" metaphor applies to socialism, not to capitalism, for it is in socialism that the powerful rule and create out of the peaceable free-market economy a political jungle where only the politically connected survive. And the closest we can get to "all of the people" owning the means of production is for the workers to invest their savings in financial instruments: bank accounts, bonds, and stocks. All of these instruments offer "all of the people" legally enforceable rights to the fruits of the nation's economic production, each with different risks and rewards.

It's a pity that Saul Alinsky never had an epiphany on the road to Damascus and never stumbled upon the utter folly of the socialist dream. If he had he might have steered dull minds like Hillary Clinton away from the ignis fatuus of political power. Or maybe he would have been forgotten, and Hillary Clinton would have found another radical to write about in her undergraduate thesis, someone like Antonio Gramsci.

But never mind Hillary Clinton and her infatuation with the mirage of political power as human salvation. What is the problem?  Why has the glorious vision of Marx and the socialists failed every time it has been tried? I will tell you. It issues from the very nature of government.

Government starts as an armed band occupying some territory and forcibly taxing the people in that territory. It could be the glorious government of the United States, or it could be a criminal gang in South Chicago. It could be Mao ZeDong in his Red Base in southern China. The way a government, any government, survives is by rewarding its supporters with loot and plunder. In the case of a criminal gang the loot and plunder might be the proceeds of the drug business. In the case of a modern 21st century government the loot and plunder would be government entitlement programs: pensions, health care, education, welfare, all of which offer "free stuff" to voters. This free stuff is always taken from producers before it is given to voters. Often, in a cunning trick, the free stuff is extracted from the voters and then generously given back to them 30 years later.

No government ever, anywhere, has operated in a fashion different from the above model. It must be so, because government everywhere is about force. Government may be necessary force, where it protects its citizens from foreign predators and domestic robbers and fraudsters. Or it may be unnecessary force, where it takes taxes and fees from the productive to give to crony capitalists and influential special interests like teachers at government schools and health-care workers at government-subsidized health care facilities. This is not rocket science. Action backed by force is government. Action without the backing of force is not government, it is voluntary cooperation.

Let us recast Saul Alinsky's false vision of the good society. Let us replace his false idea that capitalism is a jungle and his fallacious idea that "the means of economic production [could ever] be owned by all of the people."
Conservatives want to advance from the jungle of big government oppression to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be directed by all of the people in their individual voluntary actions instead of by the selfish dictates of a cruel and corrupt ruling class.
That is a social revolution we can all believe in. That is a future we can work for.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who Would Want to Live Forever?

Everybody seems to want to extend human life. Government wants to do it, with the Nixon's War on Cancer. Women want to do it with their absolute faith in health care.

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, also hails every new news item that promises to extend human life. And now we learn that PayPal guy Peter Thiel has a foundation dedicated to the extension of human life.

OK, I get it. We humans long for eternal life. That's why our gods promise it to us when we die: not only eternal life, but eternal life in Paradise, at least for the good guys.

These people are all forgetting that death is an essential part of life with sexual reproduction. It only works if the Old Ones die off. They must die off to leave space for the Young 'Uns. Otherwise we get what we have now, Old 'Uns hanging on at enormous expense through the good offices of Social Security and Medicare, and blighting the youth of the Young 'Uns who are forced to pay for the support of the Old 'Uns while also trying to earn a living, buy houses, and raise families.

In the old days people died. They died being born, but now we have aseptic neo-natal care. They died as infants, but now we have pediatric care. They died of the usual infectious diseases, but now we have vaccination. They died of water-borne diseases like typhoid and cholera, but now we have sanitation. They died of plague, but now we have quarantine. They died of famine, but now we have global transportation.

They died of heart attacks but now we have stents. They died of cancer but now we have surgery and chemo.

Now people are living long enough to suffer from dementia and just flat out atrophy. And everyone is all agog to learn of cures for Alzheimer's.

Where are the environmentalists? Why aren't they putting a stop to all this nonsense? Why aren't they telling us that all this "progress" is killing the Earth, that extending human life span completely upsets the natural, organic trajectory of human life.

Well, of course, in a way, they are. They want us to stop having babies to avoid "overpopulation." They want us to reduce our "carbon footprint." And 100 years ago, in the heyday of eugenics, they were eager to cull the "unfit."

But they are not crazy. They don't suggest we should stop medical research and cut health care.

Here's my beef with all this. As a 68-year-old, I definitely feel that I'm done working for other people. I'm just too old and crabby, and a full day's work is too exhausting. But then I don't want to live into my 90s and become either physically weak -- so that I can't stand up and walk about -- or mentally weak with some sort of dementia. I'd just as soon be cut off in my mid 80s while I still have some physical strength and still have some short-term memory.

And then there is the question of money. If you are talking about 25 years of retirement, from the mid 60s to 90 or so, who in the world will have the energy and the cunning to manage their money all that time? Don't tell me government: politicians have been stealing from the entitlement "trust funds" ever since they were first created. And corporate pension plans aren't much better.

The fact is that you can't forecast 20, 25 years into the future. Someone has to take the hit when things go wrong. But under the current entitlement system the Young 'Uns are expected to pick up the slack when the forecasts of the politicians turn out to be a crock. When old line corporations buckle under the weight of their pension promises, it is the current employees that take the hit. That is what I call generational injustice.

Really, if we are to extend lifespan then people need to work longer. And that means we need to reprogram the genetic life trajectory so that people keep their energy longer. But would that really be a good idea? Would it be better than shorter lifespans with each new generation stepping up to the bat earlier?

My point is that nobody has really thought through what we are proposing when we call for increased lifespans, let alone living for ever.

Because my take on disease and aging is that it is all part of Nature's organic plan. We are born with soft baby skin and boundless energy, and we die, 80 year later, weak and tired, with hard scaly skin. That's not a process of decay.  That is genes turning on and off. That is Nature's program for our lives. And every generation we shuffle the cards with the wonders of sex.

What happens if we live forever and we don't shuffle the cards? What happens if old geezers hang on for decades and decades throttling the naive Young 'Uns with their cunning and their selfishness?

I will tell you what I think will happen if we discover the fountain of youth and decide to live forever. It will be the end of the human race.

But then, what of that? Every species lives its hour upon the stage and then goes extinct, leaving space for the rest of Creation.

I will tell you what I think about people that want to live forever. They don't have enough children. Glenn Reynolds has one, and Peter Thiel has none. Of course they want to live forever.

But when you have children that seem to be smarter than you are, and when you have grandchildren, and one looks to be a good software developer and one looks to be a good writer and one looks to be a social genius and one looks to be a kind carer, and one looks like a future beauty, who needs to stick around forever, taxing them and bothering and controlling them all to death?

Perhaps Hillary Clinton will have the last word. "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Wages of Hubris

According to Wikipedia, Hubris, the Greek word for "extreme pride or self confidence... indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence... especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power."

What do you think? Does that describe President Obama and our liberal friends, or what?

And now that President Obama and the Democratic Party are going to Congress for a vote to support a military effort in the Middle East to degrade the ISIS army, you might think that our liberal friends would be a little sadder and wiser. After all, didn't they tell us that the Bush administration's military effort in the Middle East was all about blood for oil?

But really, I don't expect much change. Because our liberal friends are our ruling class. They dominate the culture; they dominate our politics. Only in unusual situations after a manifest failure that even the least engaged average person can experience does the liberal ruling class experience a feeling of uncertainty.

Anyway, they explain it all away by saying that the US is ungovernable and the world is a complex place.

The best analysis of our cultural and political situation, in my view, comes from Dark Enlightenment writer "Mencius Moldbug's" notion of the "Cathedral."

The Cathedral is the state secular church of the academy, the media, the policy analysts and Hollywood.  It even has its Holy Office of the Social Justice Inquisition running around accusing everyone of crimes against multicultural orthodoxy. And then the two parties, following George Orwell, can best be described as the Inner Party (Democrats) and Outer Party (Republicans).

The Cathedral and the Inner Party are one and the same. The Outer Party has to watch its step, because the enforcers from the Holy Office and their pals in the Inner Party are always ready to pounce and punish Outer Party supporters for crimes against orthodoxy.

That's the basic problem you have if you are a conservative and you want limited government and you want to reduce the size of big government. You are up against the Cathedral and the Inner Party.

That's why I say that we are not going to get change just because President Obama and his supporters have run the nation and the economy on the rocks with their reckless hubris, their blind pride and faith in their big government project.

Oh, we'll probably get a Republican Congress in 2015 and a Republican president in 2017.

But that's not the point.

The point is that if you want real change it is going to take a moral revolution. As I've said in recent posts, that means something like the Protestant Reformation or the several Great Awakenings of the last 500 years. You need a cultural and social earthquake that grabs the cultural narrative and starts to push back against the Cathedral.

It all sounds really cool until you start reading a book like The Beginning of Ideology and realize that we are talking about massacres, repression and civil war. That's because a moral argument easily slips into a warlike argument. And then you take up Violence and the Sacred by Rene Girard and realize that once violence starts it is likely to take on a momentum and an energy of its own and engulf everything.

In other words, there is no way we will dethrone the current liberal hegemony and its big government welfare state without huge social disruption and violence, and maybe civil war. Maybe even world war.

It's enough to give you pause.  We conservatives would really like to roll back the cruelty, the corruption, the injustice, the waste, the delusion of liberal big government. We can see the hubris of President Obama and the liberals that has resulted in the adminstration of the Worst President Ever.

But the liberals are the ruling class. They own the state Cathedral of multiculturalism through their domination of education, media, and entertainment. They run the Inner Party, the Demoecratic Party.

And they ain't gonna go without a fight.

But don't worry. There won't even be a fight unless and until conservatives can ignite a new social/cultural/religious movement that inspires people with a new vision of the good life.

So right now there's no need for liberals to worry. Nothing is going to change. Not yet.

So that's why liberals are still so full of hubris. Even as they fail at everything they do.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dems Governing Like Weasels

So here we are again.  Instead of going to Congress to get a resolution or a declaration of war on ISIS, President Obama is trying to weasel out of it by asserting that the Congressional resolution from the Bush era is all he needs.

What on earth does the president think he is doing? The point of going to Congress is not about some weaselly legal point.  It is that when the president goes to war he needs to establish some kind of consensus from the rest of the ruling class and from the American people that he needs to go to war.

The legal beagle stuff is beside the point.  The point is that when the leader of a nation takes it to war he needs the nation to be united, more or less, behind him.  He needs to persuade the nation that war is necessary.  He needs to get the opposition on board; he needs to establish a bipartisan consensus.

This is not rocket science.  This is common sense.

But the Obama administration has seemed to do everything under a blanket, or with cunning sleights of hand. This may seem awfully clever to the lawyers working out the legal ploys, but it misses the point.

If you are the leader of the country you must lead it. You must set forth what you want to do, win an election, and then do it. You must be on the phone the whole time wheedling and cajoling the great barons of the realm.

And that is exactly what Candidate and President Obama has not done.

First of all, Obama ran as a moderate, which he is not. Then he pushed through his economic stimulus program without Republican votes. Then he pushed through Obamacare without Republican votes.

It misses the point to say: Oh well, Republicans opposed everything the president proposed. Of course they did. That's why the president gets on the phone and buys the votes of the moderates in the middle. Like the ladies from Maine. Only he didn't.

Then he tried to put lefty extremists on the National Labor Relations Board, by nominating them to recess appointments when the US Senate wasn't in recess. Then his Environmental Protection Agency has been run as an extension of the greenie foundations. Then his IRS has harassed Tea Party groups. Then his Justice Department has been used as a catspaw in the liberal race theater operations.

My point is that this means that nothing the Obama administration has done is cast in stone. Because the president never got a bipartisan consensus on anything. Republicans can come in in 2017 and reverse everything, because the Obama administration never took the trouble to persuade and to make its agenda a national agenda.

Yesterday I read a horrified piece about the Democrats' "CATALIST" voter database. It was used in 2008 and 2012 to turn out the liberal base. J. Christian Adams wonders if Republicans will ever be able to win a presidential election again.

Maybe, maybe not.  Technology like CATALIST is all very well, but if you don't do the politics right, by leading and persuading, then you are going to find, in the end, that you have riled up the whole of the rest of America against you.

Rush Limbaugh has a catchphrase that liberals can't admit who they are, because if they did they could never win an election. But with the Obama administration the liberals are telling us who they are in a rather clear fashion.  They are all about gaming the system, using their insider status and contacts, using any means to achieve their ends.  And when backroom stuff doesn't work then they send out the SJWs, the social justice warriors, to bully and intimidate.

Well, I'm reading a book about the French Reformation, The Beginning of Ideology by Donald R. Kelley. It's all about ideological bullying in France in the 16th century.  And it ends up with massacres and a nasty civil war.

That is what liberals are ginning up. That's what they'd know they were doing. If they had any wisdom. Which they don't.

This isn't rocket science. It's time for President Obama to realize that the job of president is to lead and persuade. It is not to weasel.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peter Thiel's Challenge

I just happened upon a 90 minute video interview of capitalist Peter Thiel -- as in PayPal, Facebook -- conducted by an obseqious Bill Kristol.

I can well understand Kristol's hesitating politeness.  Thiel is an impressive man, who obviously thinks about and knows his stuff. For instance, he writes in praise of monopoly against free competition: "Competition is for Losers." He means, of course, that you want to start a business where it will be difficult for people to copy you and catch up with you. As in PayPal and Facebook. You'll never make much money in a commodity business where a ton of steel is a ton of steel.

Mind you, Thiel talks in a veiled way.  He says that PayPal solved its problems with fraud with a combination of big data and the human factor.  What does that mean?

And what about the new Apple Pay and all the other payments solutions for mobile devices? Are they coming up with something new or merely playing catch-up?

But here is the takeaway for me on Thiel. He says that one question he likes to ask when interviewing job applicants is this:
Tell me something that other people don't believe in. And that's true.
That notion aligns with Thiel's preference for financing opportunities that will yield monopoly profits. It means in many cases doing something that other people think is impossible. For instance, you'd think that the banks and credit card folks would have got into the payments-by-email business before PayPal. After all, money transaction is what they do. But in fact, according to Thiel, they didn't, and the reason they didn't is that they thought that payments by email would be too hard, because of the fraud.

Kristol asked Thiel about his Question? How do people answer it? Usually they don't.  They fake it. And Thiel then went into a discussion of the social nature of opinion.  People just don't tend to stray too far from the herd.

Thiel got me to thinking.  What would I say in response to his question? Here's my first attempt.

Most people don't believe that the free market is just and fair. They think it needs to be hedged around by regulation and government ukase. They think, perhaps not as passionately as the Occupy protesters, that we need a government with a gun to the head of employers. In fact business runs on trust, and the way to succeed in the market place is to make sure that all your transactions reward and amplify trust.

That's not to say that there isn't cheating and fraud in the world. But the way to succeed is to use TIT-FOR-TAT. Trust first, and then continue to trust if the other person is trustworthy. And avoid a "last transaction" because that's when it pays to cheat.

Here's another. Most people think of government as a powerful patron. You want to stay in good with your patron and collect the crumbs that fall from the master's table. But in reality government always betrays you. That's because government is force. It uses everyone that supports it as an army uses its soldiers, as cannon fodder in its campaign of force, in its endless wars, foreign and domestic.

Thiel's point is that you'll never amount to anything unless you've done a bit of contrarian thinking. Because if the herd is ever to change direction then someone has to swerve away from the herd and start off in a different direction.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Here We Go Again With Liberal Malaise

There really is a reason for the Six Year Itch.  After six years of a president even his supporters can begin to see that he's a fool and a charlatan.

So it was with Bush, so it is with Obama. So it wasn't with Clinton because the Republicans, in moving to impeach Clinton for crimes that would have sunk a Nixon, riled up the Clinton partisans for one more assault on the breach.

With a Democrat in the White House the Six Year Itch at the midterm election in a president's second term inspires the liberal pundits to civilizational exhaustion. The job is just too big for one man, they said after only three years of Carter.  But for Roger Cohen in the New York Times it's "The Great Unraveling." No, Roger, it isn't. It's just another routine failure of liberalism. But I get why it would feel that way to a liberal.

Beheadings? Yes, that's what you get when small insurgencies are on the loose because the big boys can't get their act together.

Aggression? Yes, that's what happens when you get fools talking about the importance of "soft" power over "hard" power.

Breakup? Yes, that's what happens when you weaken the national myth in the minds of the people with the cultural Marxist the multicultural myth.

And so on.

So the liberals are demoralized.  So their ideas are failing wherever they are tried. So what?

The problem is that we have nothing to replace liberalism.

Oh, sure; modern conservatism is better all round for America and the world.  But nobody is excited about it. There is no militant movement that is mobilizing a new generation to flush out the old order and replace it with something new. Instead the kids are all riled up about pot legalization and gay marriage.  Squirrel!

It's déjà vu all over again.

Thirty-five years ago in the Carter malaise liberals were telling us that America was ungovernable.  That we were entering a period of decline.  That there was nothing we could do about it.

Then along came Ronald Reagan. He showed that we could revive the economy, could govern America, could win the Cold War.

But what he couldn't do was move the needle on entitlements. So here we are 35 years later and the entitlements are eating us alive, but still nobody dares suggest reform.  The Elizabeth Warren Democrats are even calling for Social Security benefit increases!

If you look back at the great social/religious movements, starting with the Reformation, they were driven by young people, folks like Martin Luther rebelling against their royal official fathers. Young punks like Marx rebelling against their hauts bourgeois fathers. Young punks like the Sixties radicals pretending to rebel against their liberal fathers.

That is what is missing today.  There are no young punks planning revolution.  There are just the dumb-as-posts Occupy guys that are the drugged-up dupes of the ruling class.

Ten years ago and more liberals like Robert William Fogel were worried stiff that the evangelical Christians were building a Fourth Great Awakening that would take out liberalism and its beloved egalitarianism. So much for that fear.

No.  I suspect we must wait for the moment when African Americans and Hispanics start to become "haves" and start to want freedom and responsible individualism and start to rebel against their liberal masters and say "leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities." I don't want your stinkin' free stuff. That quote is from Eric Hoffer.

Meanwhile my work is to think through what the charismatic leader of this future movement will want to know and say.  And I think it starts with the fact that the payroll taxes that fund the entitlement programs are monstrously unjust to a responsible individual who says "leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities."

That's because the welfare state is based on the proposition that the workers give their savings to the government in payroll taxes and the government decides when and how to give it back to them.

Only a person unfit for freedom could tolerate such a system. Give my money to the politicians so they can buy votes for 30 years until it's time for me to retire?  You must be joking!

But that's the attitude it will take if we are ever to reform the current cruel, corrupt, unjust, wasteful and deluded system.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marxism, Power and Freedom

Eric Hoffer writes that when the "scribes" are in, working for the ruling class, they are happy to do its bidding and order the lower orders around.  But when the scribes are out, meaning that the government can't afford them after a societal collapse, then the scribes decide to represent the "people" and enter a phase where they critique the ruling class.

In our day, I suppose, the scribes do both.  Our educated elite critiques the ruling class on behalf of the traditionally marginalized and it also delights in expert-ology, commissioning like-minded experts to boost its social theories and create government programs to implement them.

What the educated want, says Hoffer, is "power, lordship, and opportunities for imposing action."

That is why the educated fell in love with Marxism.  It said: the workers are being horribly exploited by capitalism.  Therefore we should give absolute political power, lordship, and opportunities to run things to the educated elite to liberate the workers from their slavery.

In fact the opposite happened.  Wherever Marxism was tried the workers got oppressed and exploited worse than before.

When it became clear that economic Marxism wasn't working, because despite Marx's prophecy of worker "immiseration" the workers were doing better, the Frankfurt School universalized the oppression paradigm into cultural Marxism or multiculturalism. Now any social group could be identified as oppressed and exploited.  Therefore we should give absolute political power, lordship and the power to name and shame to the educated elite to liberate the marginalized from their oppression.

I am not saying here that the educated elite -- the "scribes" -- are cynics.  They are just attracted to political power, and instinctively look and find occasion for political power.  They see the suffering workers and say "there oughta be a law." They look at blacks and women and gays and want to do something about it.  But the only thing they know to do, or want to do, involves politics. And government. And force.

I have been studying individualism over the past year or two, and I keep getting impressed by the radicalism of it. Responsible individualism says: hey fellas, relax! As long as people are trustworthy and obey the law we can dial down the amount of government and just let people get on with getting and spending, producin' and consumin'. Because invisible hand and comparative advantage and man-as-social-animal.

Opposed to this is the eternal human experience that the dawn raid might be tomorrow! We can see this in the current flap over ISIS. People see a couple of beheadings on TV and are immediately convinced that the US is at risk.  All down the ages humans have had to be on their toes against an attack by the neighboring village, seafaring Vikings, or neighboring princedom. It seems counter-intuitive to be able to trust businessmen, or Jews, or strangers.

Hoffer again.
The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities.
 Right before that he says "people unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it — are hungry for power." Yeah, as in "power to the people!" and "all power to the Soviets!"

Now you can see what the Marxists and the progressives have done.  They have put themselves at the head of people still "unfit for freedom" and led them on a search for power.

But the reality of the last few centuries is that when people are released to freedom, the ones that want it, they get right to work.  And they grow, learn, and realize their capacities.  It is only the people stuck in the ghetto of power worship that fail to benefit from the world of freedom. In fact, as we have seen, the followers of the educated elite have descended into the most horrible social dysfunctions.

The truth in the Marxist canon is that people that believe in power, the people "unfit for freedom" need some sort of solace to relieve their sense of powerlessness. But the real solution to their problem is to grow them into "haves," help them achieve a modest competence, so that they can live in the world with confidence and vote for the freedom that is the gateway to real self-command and peace with the world.

But the identity politics that the left serves up is a dead end for those that give up their birthright for its mess of benefits.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Ordinary Middle Class on the "Golden Princess"

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS IN INSIDE PASSAGE  Cruise passengers, according to John Derbyshire, are predominantly over-50s.  No doubt he's right, and I've been observing these ordinary American middle-class over 50s the last few days as they "come back new" on board the Golden Princess.  I'll tell you what I think.

You don't get to see the ordinary middle class where I live in liberal Seattle.  You only get to see the precious people that drive Subarus and Priuses and Volvos.  Liberal Seattleites are obviously richer and younger and more educated than the Princess cruisers. And I dare say they enjoy more economic security too. Tenure, don't you know.

But you do get to see the ordinary middle class on board the Golden Princess.

It all makes me think how cruelly the ruling class has treated the ordinary middle class these last few years. Yes, things seem hunky-dory in liberal Seattle: house prices are up, tear-downs are starting in every street. But the daughter of an acquaintance outside the magic liberal circle is just getting life restarted after the hell of the Great Recession in which she lost her home.

You look at those folks on the cruise and you wonder how they are doing with savings account interest down at zero. You think of how they probably blame the banks for this. You think of how they are paying much higher health insurance premiums and deductibles.  You think about how these stolid people are coping with the miserable Obama economy.  Can they hope to retire? If they retire will their teacher and health-worker pensions be there when the state and local government financial crisis deepens?

And what happens to them when the Fed starts raising interest rates, probably because the inflationary boom from zero interest rates is causing even Obama officials to worry about the future?

I think that the ruling class should be forced to take a cruise once a year -- incognito, without staff and perquisites -- so they can see and hear what they are doing to the ordinary American middle class.

I don't suppose it will do any good, but it might make them pause in their grand plans for this affordable program or that necessary subsidy.

It's telling that the present Affordable Care Act had a predecessor.  Remember "affordable housing?"  That was the siren song that got us into the Great Recession as all the folks that had borrowed against their houses, desperately trying to ride the real-estate bull, and all the folks that had strained their finances to the utmost to afford their dream house, all those folks went to the wall.

Was it really fair or just to subject these ordinary people to all this heavy financial weather? First they got ripped off because they came late to the real-estate party.  Then their nest egg got crushed when the market collapsed.

Of course, the politicians and the activists and their willing accomplices in the media have persuaded everyone that it was all the bankers' fault.  Really, the old saw about patriotism being the last resort of the scoundrel had it completely wrong. Instead we should say that any politician that blames the bankers is a monster. Because the government runs the credit system and has done ever since the Dutch invented central banking.

Yes, I know. The people voted for the scoundrels; they had it coming. But the whole point of the Progressive movement of the late 19th century of which today's liberals are the residual legatees was that the educated experts and their rational policy analysts would be above petty partisan politicking and crude corruption. Liberals insisted then and insist now that they are the evolved ones, the educated ones, the rational ones. That's what gives them the license to blame bankers and businessmen and racists, sexists and homophobes.

Only it's all a lie.  Liberals have lied and lied again; they have blindfolded the American people and turned them around and confused and misled them. And now the American people are screwed.

You only have one life to live. When the politicians go to the Fed to get them out of a jam as they did in 2008 and in all the years since, it means that the American people are getting screwed; it means that the government is going to get in their pockets and relieve them of a good portion of their wages and their savings. All because of promises that should never have been made by the sort of people that liberals claimed to be.  And the American people will never get their money or their lives back.

If there were any justice in the world liberals would be on the run right now like the French aristocrats in 1792. But since there isn't any justice I expect that liberals will get another couple of chances to ruin the nation before the American people rise up in righteous rebellion.

Of course then it will be too late.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Message of Glacier Bay

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS SAILING SOUTH  OK, I spoke too soon. The nice well-spoken park ranger that gave us a commentary on Glacier Bay National Park hardly got into politics at all.

So I was able to enjoy Glacier Bay National Park without having to block my ears to avoid hearing global warming propaganda from a well-paid, well-pensioned government shill.

And Glacier Bay doesn't really help the warmist line that well.  It's a 65 mile long fjord fed by glaciers. According to the Park Service map the entire 65 mile fjord was filled with ice 250 years ago, when European navigators first saw it.  A century later in the middle of the 19th century the ice had retreated 30 miles.  Then, at the furthest retreat in 1925, the ice had retreated another 35 miles, turning the whole of Glacier Bay into a fjord.  By 1966 the ice had advanced a mile, and today's glacier termination is still advanced beyond the 1966 line.  Yay global cooling!

So the National Parks map of the Glacier Bay National Park doesn't really help the warmist line that it's the end of the world unless we act now. Because, according to the record of ice advance and retreat over the last two centuries, there really was a Little Ice Age, whatever Michael E. Mann and his Hockey Stick have to say.  When you cruise down the fjord the main thing you think about is the barrenness of the terrain up towards the northern end and what the whole thing would be like if it were filled up with ice again.  You don't think a twink about global warming; you just think about mountains of ice.

You think, in other words, about ice ages, and how the current climate of the world is ice ages followed by interglacials: 100,000 years of glaciers followed by 10,000 years of warming.

Don't forget, the current interglacial is already 12,000 years old, really long in the tooth for an interglacial.

The temptation for climate deniers like me is to hope for a little cooling, just a little to teach the liberals a lesson.  But then I think, No.  A little cooling would probably not be very good for humans, especially humans in less-developed countries.

Warm climate, the warmth of the interglacial, is what allowed the great human flourishing of the last few millennia. It's all very well to yell and scream and say that a couple degrees warming would mean the end of life as we know it.  But the truth is, we don't know. A couple of degrees would obviously change things; it would make some places wetter, some dryer.  It would make some places hotter, and make other places habitable.  But the truth is, we don't know; more research is needed, and even then we couldn't be sure.

Based on current results, here is what we know. We know that government-sponsored scientists built a bunch of computer climate models based on the notion that more CO2 equals hotter climate because CO2 is a greenhouse gas and they tuned their models to recent temperature trends.  Then they predicted future temperatures and their predictions have turned out wrong. We don't know why the predictions turned out wrong.  It could be that the modelers didn't add in the ocean temperature cycles, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecal Oscillation.  Or it could be that the modelers didn't properly model the Tropical Convergence Zone with its daily convection cycle.  Or it could be something completely different.

But it really focuses the mind to cruise down the middle of Glacier Bay, with a thousand feet of milky water beneath you and the glacier-scarred mountains on either side of you.  It makes you think that a degree or two in temperature fluctuation may not be The Big One.  It makes you think that what we should be doing is thinking about adaptation.  How would be adapt if the climate heats up suddenly?  How would be adapt if the climate cooled down suddenly?

Oh yeah. Adaptation. Survival. Natural Selection. Evolution. Darwin. Science, and all that.

Generally speaking, governments are the worst things in the world to predict the future.  The only thing that governments are good at is gathering everyone together in response to an emergency.  But then people do that instinctively because humans are social animals.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Old Age is Dying; A New Age is Coming

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS IN GLACIER BAY I know I should be all excited about sailing into Glacier Bay National Park and go and listen to an over-paid over-pensioned park ranger talk about the wonders of global warming.  Because glacial retreat! But I'm not.

Instead I want to talk about nailing theses up on the church door.  That's because I'm reading a book about the Reformation and Martin Luther and the Huguenots in France in the 16th century. It's called The Beginnings of Ideology: Consciousness and society in the French Reformation by Donald R. Kelley.  The Big Idea is that Martin Luther was the First Ideologue, the first modern that mounted a revolutionary critique of the ruling class and swept the whole of society into an ideological fervor.

Luther achieved this because of the "German art of printing." It became possible for the first time to print and distribute millions of pieces of writing, as pamphlets, placards, propaganda: to touch a nerve in the body politic with the written word.  Since then, of course, we have seen nothing but an unending avalanche of ideological propaganda. Only now it's worse. Because the internet.

Luther's genius, like the genius of the Puritans, the preachers of the Great Awakening, the Marxians, the Fascists, the Environmentalists, was to propagate at the right moment when the world was ready for his message.  An old world was overripe, decayed, corrupt, and a new world was ready to be born.

That is why I come today to write about the old world, the world of the overripe liberal ruling class that we know because of its cruelty, its corruption, its injustice, its waste, its delusion, the old world that is dying.  And I write to prophesy a new world, the new world a-borning.

A ruling class that deserves to rule must do five things.

A ruling class must defend society from the predators and celebrate those who defend us from predation.  But liberals too often excuse the predators and denigrate the defenders.  That is the meaning of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Rotherham.  Liberals leaped to blame the police, the neighborhood watch volunteer, and in Britain the underage lower-class white girls.  Meanwhile they defended thug teenagers and their "rap" subculture and excused the "Asian males" that preyed upon young girls that didn't have their married biological fathers to defend them.  Then there is national defense.  Liberals wavered in the fight against communism, have been absent in the fight against Islamism.  Meanwhile they make war in the US on bankers, businessmen, and Christian enthusiasts. Because elections.

A ruling class must celebrate the workers and stigmatize the freeloaders.  By that, I mean that our rulers should celebrate the people that go to work every day without expecting or demanding economic justice or special favors through economic legislation.  And the rulers should sneer at the freeloaders that ask "what's in it for me" before they start the day's work.  Needless to say, liberals have spent the last century excusing freeloaders as victims and plundering workers of their wages so they can hand out loot to their supporters.

A ruling class must be merciful to the unfortunate and those who are heavy laden.  And it must quietly assist those who minister to the wretched of the earth.  But liberals have turned this work of charity into a burlesque, turning the relief of the poor into a racket for its supporters, and stripping many of the unfortunate of their dignity, or even basic protection, as in the violence-torn inner cities of the US and the preyed-upon underage "tarts" of Rotherham.  And those that minister to the unfortunate find that they must bend to the political agenda of their liberal masters or find that the government makes their work difficult or impossible.

A ruling class must defend virtue and the mainstream of life and sneer at vice and its suffocations.  But liberals have attacked virtue with the cult of the anti-hero, and they celebrate all kinds of marginal culture: I mean everything from the anti-social "rap" culture to the foolish enthusiasms of educated youth ranging from the cult of creativity to pot to the follies of LGBTQ.

A ruling class must be just, ruling with a light hand, moderating its own enthusiasms and tolerating the enthusiasms of others.  Liberals, we know, do just the opposite; they encourage enthusiasms in their activist believers to the utmost and actively persecute the enthusiasts of all other sects. And woe to those that fail to bow to the liberal household gods.

A ruling class must limit its power.  Power corrupts, and all systems -- especially government systems -- amount to domination.  We humans are social animals, and that means cooperating wherever possible as equals in trusting and intersubjective discourse.  We know that liberals utterly fail in this, as they succumb endlessly to the temptations of power and reduce all societal activity to the dominatory hell of bureaucratic system.

It's time to rise up and throw off the unjust rule of the venal liberal dynasty.  Because the old age is dying, corrupted by its power and its narcissistic self-worship, and a new age is dawning.  The old age of power and privilege, of dishonesty and dishonor, is shriveling before our eyes just like the ever-diminishing Obama presidency, completely demoralized and vitiated by its internal contradictions and its sophomoric delusions.

The new age is dawning, an age of fraternal equality, of freedom, of cooperation, of tolerance.  It will be dedicated above all to the proposition that power, particularly political power, is a dead end of sterility and inhumanity.  The point, the whole point of the human project is the space between the individual and the organs of government and political power.  It is the realm of civil society, where people meet and cooperate and work and dialog and trust as equals.  The catchphrase of the new age is give and exchange, utterly opposed to the liberal era's addiction to force and change.

The great problem of the new age, as in any age, will be dealing with the arc of folly, already perceived by Martin Luther, that young men are obsessed with pretty girls, that 30-year-olds are obsessed by money, 40-year-olds by honor and glory, and 60-year-olds by their own piety. Wisdom is the path of fidelity, of giving before taking, of humility before pride, trusting in knowledge of our hypocrisy and impiety to dissolve our conceit in our imagined piety.

This we believe: in defending against predators, in marginalizing freeloaders, in helping the helpless, in respecting virtue, in limiting power. These we honor: the defenders against the predators, the people that work and strive, the folk that give to the poor, the virtuous that do good when no one is looking, the exemplars that resist the siren call of power.

The time is now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Security on the Cruising Frontier

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS, SKAGWAY, AK  Hey, John Derbyshire!  You have a problem with five cruise ships docked at the bustling metropolis of Juneau, Alaska, population 33,000?  How about four ships docked at Skagway, Alaska, population 800?

Yesterday in Juneau there were two Holland America, one Princess, and one Celebrity boats; today in Skagway we have one Holland America, two Princess, and one Celebrity.

Imagine!  Skagway has docking facilities for four or more thoroughly modern cruise ships.  Think of a little place like that having thoroughly modern docks like that! Somehow, I reckon that I paid for those docks, courtesy of Uncle Sam and his cute little tax collector at the IRS, Lois Lerner.

Anyway, we had a great time at Juneau yesterday.  In the morning we went out to watch the whales in a nice little tender sporting three 250 HP outboards.  Yep, with that kind of power you can get the tourists out to the feeding humpback whales in half an hour at a healthy 30 knots.  That's fast enough to do four 2-hour whalewatching trips per day.  The guide for our trip, Brian, was a photojournalist that gave us a quick digital camera lesson while we were in the bus traveling from the cruise terminal to the whale-watching marina.  You'd be surprised how few of his students had ever shifted their digital cameras out of Auto.

And were those whales hard at it. Feeding on herring, I mean.  And I'm glad to say that they were ably assisted by a bunch of Stella's sea lions.

You may know that our national government's whale enforcement officers have decreed that our nation's whale-watching boats should not approach closer than 100 yards to a whale: a sensible and thoughtful environmental regulation.  You can imagine our consternation when a whale or two carelessly approached our whale-boat well within the legally prescribed limit.  Oh no!  Would the local whale-watching enforcement SWAT team swoop down in a cigarette boat with a 0.5 in machine gun locked and loaded on the foredeck?  It was nip and tuck for a moment, but fortunately nothing happened.  I imagine that the whale-watching enforcement SWAT team was on a break during the fateful minutes when our boat was in violation of the national whale-watching enforcement regulations.  Or maybe the whale enforcement interagency security evaluation team had met that morning and decreed that we were only at WHALESEC0, which does not require the whale-watching SWAT teams to leave their ready room back in Juneau.

Still, it was good to get our cruise cards checked by a security officer sitting next to a MARSEC1 sign. He seemed in the last stages of personal disintegration.

When you get out of the big city you really get to appreciate the exquisite care that our national government takes to ensure our safety.  On the approach to Juneau we were escorted by two US Coastguard cutters, one on the port and one on the starboard, each with a helmeted gunner on the foredeck attending a 0.5 in machine gun.  And that was only for MARSEC1. While sailing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca we encountered a Trident missile submarine on its way to the open ocean. The ineragency nuclear threat evaluation team must have decreed NUCSEC2 that day because there were four US Coastguard cutters accompanying the submarine, one up ahead, one astern, and one on each side of the sub.  (I am assuming here that you can tell how many US Coastguard cutters are needed to escort vulnerable and/or valuable US assets by dividing the SEC number by two).  And you can be sure that there was a skilled Alaskan gunner on the foredeck of each cutter with his hands on the locked and loaded 0.5 in machine gun.  Just in case.

Yes. It's comforting to know that while we sleep peacefully each night in our teeming cities our national government has arranged this robustly planned and executed national security theater performance for our protection.

If only the regular foreign and national security policy establishment that deals with ordinary Islamist proto-states and eternal thug dictators were as robustly organized and executed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

At Sea aboard the Golden Princess

ON BOARD THE GOLDEN PRINCESS 8:00AM MONDAY Here we are sailing eastward through the Frederick Sound into Juneau, Alaska and the humpback whales are spouting.  There are a couple on the port bow, and wow, there are six, no ten whales, no twenty whales spouting on the starboard bow!  Most unusual, says the steward delivering breakfast to our stateroom down in the bowels of the ship on Deck 5. Hey, when the salmon are running we whales gotta get our brekkers before the little monsters escape up the rivers for sex, sex, sex.

Meanwhile up on Deck 15 they are crowded along the rail, with gigantic telephoto lenses ranged alongside smartphones, with everyone snapping away.  But nobody seems to be taking selfies with the whales.

Lady Marjorie and I are sailing on an Alaska cruise out of Seattle with a group doing Argentine tango.  We do a "practica" in the afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 at the Wheelhouse bar and dance in the Vista Lounge from 10:00 to midnight.  That's early, of course.  In Argentina they start their milongas at midnight, dance till 3:00 or 4:00 am and then go to work at 9:00am.

Yeah.  Now you know what's wrong with Argentina's economy.

Music?  No problem.  We just plug an iPod or a smartphone into the room's sound system.

It's the first cruise for Ordinary Seaman Lady Marjorie and Admiral Chris, so we'll be deciding whether we want to do it again.  Admiral Chris is a veteran sailor, with years of sailing boats from 14 ft sailing dinghies to 30 ft sloops. I've been doing a bit of guerrilla navigation with my smartphone, and I can report that the captain navigated safely from Seattle out through the Strait of San de Fuca and up the west side of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands.  Really, these young chaps don't need to know nuttin'.  Just flick out the smarthphone and start up your GoPilot GPS.

The Golden Princess is rather like a vertical Mall.  There is lots of shopping, an atrium, shops, and bars and restaurants.  100,000 tons of it with 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew. On Deck 14 are the swimming pools, the all-you-can-eat buffets and the outdoor Movies Under the Stars® screen where football fans can watch the NFL on Sunday while reclining on beach loungers all muffled up in parkas and blankets.

After a couple of days we've decided that we really want to eat in the dining rooms.  The food is "free" either way, but the buffets up on Deck 14 are something of a crowd scene, rather like the free breakfast "bunfight" at a US motel.  It's a little undignified for educated class folks like you and me.

We are having a great time at the Argentine tango.  Lady Marjorie and I met at a tango ball, and we did a lot of tango dancing in our early years together.  But now we have to get it together quickly to deserve to dance with the serious dancers -- like Irene the Russian who dances tango five nights a week and displays the most exquisite ornamentation with her flashing feet.  But there are also the rank beginners, like the young couple from Phoenix that just happened to be in the Wheelhouse bar when we started our practica on Sunday.  We soon had them in the hands of experts, showing them a move or two and getting them eager to Google "Phoenix Argentine tango" when they got home.

The thing about dancing is that, for men, it's all about cherchez la femme. But women of every age absolutely love dancing.  Really, guys.  You should do it.  Not for the children, but for the ladies.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Failure of GOP Messaging

The First Amendment is supposed to provide for freedom of speech.  And so it does, in a way.  But the civil war of politics is still driven by the contest to control what you are allowed to say.

What you are allowed so say is usually as Democratic talking point.

Here's newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist running down this year's Democratic talking points.  He mentions
equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, expanding health care to everyone who needs it, and making sure that everyone has a fair shot at success.
What you can't say in America is that the minimum wage is a disaster for young inexperienced workers, and we passed equal pay for women 50 years ago, and "expanding health care for everyone who needs it leads to the disaster of Obamacare.  Why?  Because all those talking points "poll well," and Democrats are going to push them as long as they can get votes with them.

Here's the first Senate debate in North Carolina and the moderator Norah O'Donnell asked the Republican Thom Tillis if "$7.25 was enough" on the minimum wage  Tillis waffled, and you can see why.  Republicans know that the minimum wage is a stupid idea and it creates unemployment.  But there's this:
The minimum wage is one of the few issues, if any, that Democrats can possibly make inroads with white, working class men, who support minimum wage increases.
As if the government can mandate prosperity by legislation.

Actually, the whole debate was about government free stuff from Medicare to education and attacks on Republican attempts to staunch the bleeding.

Or there is this, from a Democratic strategy memo:
[F]or Democrats to make any gains in November, they must increase their advantage among women. Democratic candidates can do this by emphasizing a broad range of women’s issues—including the economy, reproductive health care, and Social Security and Medicare—and weaving these issues into existing advantages among women on such key dimensions as “standing up for the middle class” (+14 Dem overall, +20 Dem among women) and “representing middle class values” (+12 Dem overall, +15 Dem among women).
I suppose you could say that nothing says failure of GOP messaging than the fact that Democrats, the over-under party of the rich and the poor, are considered as "standing up for the middle class" and "representing middle class values."

It's ironic.  The party of big government, whose policies are aimed like an arrow at middle-class autonomy and freedom, is considered by voters to be the party of the middle class.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cudgeling My Brain on Freeloading

Back when Alger Hiss was trying to pitch himself out of a jam on the Pumpkin Papers and the naughty accusation from rumpled Time writer Whittaker Chambers that Hiss had spied for the Soviet Union, he knew that he had a problem. And so he told Congressman Richard Nixon that he had been cudgeling his brain on the way down to testify about whether he knew Whittaker Chambers.  So long ago, back before the War, but Chambers had testified to numerous details about Alger Hiss's domestic arrangements.  How would Chambers know all that if, as Hiss said, he didn't know Chambers?

Well I'm cudgeling my brain right now about the question of freeloading.  I want to show that our liberal ruling class -- and the educated ruling class elsewhere around the world -- has ruined the nation with its reactionary return to feudal politics.  By that I mean that the handouts of free stuff to the voters of the Democratic Party is the same as the handouts that any feudal regime, or any tribal lord, distributes among its supporters.  Just for supporting the ruling class, these supporters get loot. Like the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin.

And that's a problem.  It's a problem economically, because every hand that doesn't contribute to the national commonwealth has a mouth that must be fed by the labor of other people.  And it's a problem morally, because as Nicholas Wade writes, "nothing is more corrosive to a group's cohesion than free riders."

The point is that where you have government you have freeloading.  That's because every government that ever lived depends on its supporters, and its supporters want loot.

There is another way.  It is to anathematize government handouts (from green crony capitalists to middle-class entitlement beneficiaries to welfare recipients) and to base society on the principle that everyone goes out to find work and provide services for other people.

We know what this system is: it is called capitalism.  People go out from their families into the exchange economy and figure out how they can be useful to their fellow humans.  They accept the verdict of the market.  If the market doesn't reward them as much as they would like, they understand that they need to up their skills or improve their service in order to give more and receive more.  No fair complaining to government that life is unfair.

Eric Hoffer ingeniously wrote a confirmation of this notion.  He observed that there are two ways to get the work done.  Either the government can issue orders from the top down.  Or the worker figures it out on his own.

You can see what is implied here.  If the government is making all the decisions then we will never escape the vice of oppression vs. freeloading.  The government will always be making decisions with one eye on its supporters, so it will always deliver a result that is unjust, because it will always favor its supporters.

But the exchange economy is different.  Here there are no little darlings of the ruling class getting their special handouts.  There is just talent and skill and hard work and, above all, being in the right place at the right time.  And it is up to each individual to figure out how to become useful to his fellow humans.

The great question then is why, starting in the middle of the 19th century, there arose a moral and political movement that denied the basic equity of the exchange economy that was already starting to deliver cheap textiles, cheap food, and cheap transportation to the masses.  Why did these moral and political revolutionaries insist that this new industrial exchange economy was nothing but exploitation and oppression?  And why did they think that government, the vehicle of force, was the answer?

The answer is, I suppose, that it doesn't matter.  The Marxians and the Fabians and the Progressives all decided that government -- run by people like them -- was the answer. Period.

Our job is to found a new movement based on the moral argument that all government is unjust, but smaller government in less unjust than bigger government.  And we have such an argument to hand, from lefty Jürgen Habermas.  He argues that all systems, government and business, are inherently dominatory.  If we want to get out from the shadow of domination then we have to treat each other with respect and work out our differences with rational discourse that tries to find a consensus rather than strategically bending other people to our purpose.

But humans will always been tempted to reach for the power of government and cudgel the insolent folk that dare to oppose them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello Liberals: Let's Talk

Here's a telling August 29 tweet from @rogerlsimon:
Not a single #liberal friend of mine wants to discuss politics now. They're humiliated by Obama.
That's a pity, because I'd say that now is a time when conservatives could have a really fruitful talk with their liberal friends.  It wouldn't be the kind of talk that liberals wanted to have back in 2006 when it was all "Bush Lied, People Died."

No, the kind of talk I'd like would be strictly governed by the rules of lefty Jürgen Habermas' discourse ethics, a truly intersubjective communication and sincere exchange of truth values between respectful equals.

I feel it's a good time for a talk because exactly because Roger L Simon's liberal friends have all gone silent.  They know that something is wrong.  When people have gone silent like that maybe it is time to have a quiet chat.

As in.

Maybe the feminist concern about a "rape culture" on campus is not quite as important as the race-based grooming and rape of young underclass white girls in the British city of Rotherham.  Maybe there's a problem when normally timid bureaucrats are intimidated with the "diversity" agenda that the left has been pushing for the last generation.

Maybe George W. Bush wasn't a complete idiot about the Middle East.  After all, "regime change" in Iraq was a policy in the Clinton administration. And the Obama policy of retreat seems to have encouraged all kinds of bad actors to emerge from under rocks.  Maybe we should stop the finger-pointing and do a little cooperating.

Maybe liberal activist groups need to dial back a bit on the "killer stats" they use to push their agendas.  There's a piece by Christian Hoff Summers about "Five Feminist Myths That Will Not Die." They range from women's property ownership, sexual slavery, domestic violence, campus assault, and 77 cents on the dollar for women's jobs.

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to shove Obamacare at us on a bare partisan vote.

Maybe the climate is not quite such a problem as we thought.

Maybe it's not such a good idea to "out" opponents to gay marriage so that they lose their jobs because of their beliefs. Wasn't that what McCarthyism was all about?

Maybe, liberals, it's not such a good idea to turn everything into a political issue.  Look, I get how liberals believe that government is the name for things we do together.  But suppose you are a libertarian or a conservative and you believe that government is force, the apparatus of coercion. If liberals believe that government is a benevolent expert with a rational plan to end oppression and conservatives and libertarians believe that government is force and liberals are legislating liberal morality with their programs, how do we come to a consensus?  We conservatives recall that back in the mid 2000s liberals did not have such a benign view of government.  They saw the Bush administration as a gun to the head of liberalism.  How do we reconcile such radically different views of government?

You see, I think that the idea that government is the name for things we do together, or the idea that "with taxes I buy civilization" is a typical ruling-class delusion. No doubt every ruling class down the ages has a warm feeling about its rule, and thinks of itself as a pipe-smoking father benevolently presiding over a fractious family.  The reality is that, again and again, the people who are not in the ruling class get really angry about the things that the government does to them.  They get the feeling that government is not something we do together; they become convinced that government is something that is done to them.  It doesn't matter if the ruling class decides that the rebellious youth of the day doesn't have a grievance. There's a good argument to be made that the American colonists didn't really have a case against King George.  But they thought they did, and they brought it to a clash of arms, which they ended up winning by the skin of their teeth against the most powerful empire in the world at the time.

That's where I think we are today, liberals.  We conservatives and libertarians don't experience the Obama administration as an administration of hope and change.  We experience it as a corrupt and lawless Chicago-style political machine.  We see President Obama taking all kinds of illegal shortcuts and administrative actions because he can, because the establishment media won't call him on it as they would if he were a Republican.

Maybe all this is just so much noise, and the liberal way will win out and in another ten years we will go to single payer on health care, and we'll have $20 an hour minimum wage and a carbon tax and a successful program to get women into STEM jobs.

But maybe we are at an inflection point.  That, presumably, is what the silence of Roger L Simon's liberal friend means.  His liberal friends are afraid.  They feel the shaking of the foundations and they fear for the future of liberalism.

Maybe Barack Obama will make "progressivism" into just as much of a pejorative as George McGovern made of the word "liberal."  Maybe he will help usher in a generation of Republican governance to replace an utterly discredited Democratic Party.