Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Car Crash Politics

If we go back to the day before the presidential election of 2000 we can see that the two political parties in the US were both trying to stake out the center ground. Democrats were the New Democrats of the Clinton era. Republicans were the "compassionate conservatives" of George W. Bush.

Obviously, that era is over. Instead of Clinton's promise to end welfare as we know it, triangulating the Republicans on welfare, we have Donald Trump doing a Macchiavellian forced march to get his entire agenda done in the first weeks of power. And we have Democrats erupting over Trump's first immigration initiative.

Obviously President Trump's shock and awe rollout was carefully planned. Someone decided that Trump had to get his agenda going before the Democrats had time to get organized. Obviously the Democrats' immediate response to Trump's immigration pause was carefully planned. Reducing immigration destroys the Democrats' strategy to replace today's America with a new nation of immigrants that will vote Democrat for a generation or two.

Both sides in the political wars are deciding that they have to go for broke. You can see how that makes sense for both sides.

For Republicans the "compassionate conservatism" of the Bush years turned into a bust. A bipartisan No Child Left Behind education effort with Sen. Ted Kennedy failed because Republicans compromised on more spending but got stiffed on school choice. The Iraq invasion, a continuation of the bipartisan "regime change" policy, fell apart after Democrats got redirected by their anti-war faction.

For Democrats the whole New Democrat era was a massive frustration, because Democrats live for big new programs, universal health care, climate change, bending the arc of history towards justice for all the marginalized and oppressed of the world.

So when Democrats retook Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 they went for broke. They didn't say they were going to do that. They didn't have to. They just needed to let their activists go to work and let the media nod it through. And anyone that objected was a racist, sexist, homophobe, or a denier.

The only problem with the Democrats going for broke was that it immediately provoked push back. First there was the Tea Party in 2009. Then there was the flip of the House in 2010. Then there was the flip of the Senate in 2014. Now we have the most Republican national government since 1928. Obviously, someone out there in the hinterlands ain't happy.

Notice the difference between the two movements. The Democratic push to the left was driven by its activist core that is connected to its leaders in Washington by ties of patronage in the vast administrative state and the activist community.

But the Republican push to the right was a genuine populist rebellion that took the GOP establishment by surprise. It was telling that House Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke of the Tea Party as astroturf. Of course it was; all Democratic activist groups are astroturf, so Nance assumed that the same was true of right-wing activism. But it wasn't. It was earnest middle-class people doing their earnest civic thing.

The populist rebellion wanted leaders that would fight back against the Democratic administrative state and political correctness. But how? The whole GOP establishment was reared on the idea of go along to get along with the liberal power structure. As blogger Mencius Moldbug writes, the Democrats are the Inner Party; they get to rule when in power. The Republicans are the Outer Party; they get to govern when in office.

But where would the Republican populists get a leader they wanted: a man who would take the fight right down the Democrats' throat?

Amazing isn't it, that Donald Trump should turn out to be that man. Who woulda thunk it?

Obviously, nobody knows how this will turn out. Both parties have stopped circling each other; each is driving right at the other. It is going to end in a mighty car crash.

The only thing to hope for is that the crash doesn't end up as a real shooting civil war.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Democrats are Chained to Their Activist Base

Democratic activists are totally pissed off that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has voted for three of Trump's nominees.

But President Trump is pissed off that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is slow walking his nominees, with the confirmation rate way behind the confirmation of President Obama's nominees in 2009.

And the word is that the battle over President Trump's first Supreme Court will go nuclear, with Democrats filibustering until Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changes the rules and eliminates the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.

And of course left-wing activists have surged to the nation's airports to protest Trump's immigration executive order.

I'll bet that, in his heart, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would be quite happy to deal with President Trump; that's what politicians are like in their heart of hearts. They happily do deals with each other to spend the taxpayers' money.

And that is what most Americans believe in their heart of hearts. If you put a group of Americans into a room to solve a political problem they will solve it by giving everyone a piece of the action.

But then we have the revolutionary tradition of the left. It believes in "resistance," in "direct action," in "peaceful protest." And all the other deceptive words in the left's lexicon. It thinks that the only way to bend the arc of history towards justice is through politics. And politics is civil war by other means. And that is the point of the leftist code words like protest and resistance. It is a show of force; it argues that, unless you concede to us, we will make the streets run with blood.

As I have written before, we had a left that thought that street action was going to transform America 50 years ago. Inspired by chaps like Herbert Marcuse, the left flooded the streets and rioted and rampaged.

But the result was not what the left expected. The American people hated the street action and elected Richard Nixon, twice. Then they elected Ronald Reagan, twice.

After losing three elections in a row the Democrats decided to nominate a man that presented himself as a centrist, a New Democrat. Bill Clinton got elected in 1992 and got reelected in 1996.

But after George W. Bush got elected by a hair Democrats restarted the activist machine. And, what with the failures of the Iraq War and the Crash of 2008, Democrat Barack Obama got elected with big majorities in Congress. And community organizer President Obama encouraged the activists to activize. (Daughter Malia recently attended a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. Daddy's daughter.)

The question is whether the American people are going to react against the new wave of left-wing activism and resistance the way they did in the 1970s and 1980s.

The answer is: We Don't Know. That is why we have elections.

But we have a clue. After Obama comes President Trump. A Republican Senate. A Republican House. Tons of Republican governors. A lot of Republican state legislatures Somewhere in there I think that Americans are sending their leaders a message.

But we really don't know what the American people think. But we will get another clue in the 2018 midterms and again in the 2020 presidential elections. Until then, everything is fake news and poll-tested talking points.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Silly Scientists Don't Know From Science

Of course, the very idea of a Scientists' March on Washington is an oxymoron. Science doesn't care about politics; it says, with Galileo, Eppur si muove, and yet it moves, whatever you political and religious chaps say. These scientists are like the officials of the physicists' union in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty."

The brilliance of that statement never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, I decided to take a look at the website of the Scientists' March on Washington. Because I reckoned that, being silly liberals, they were bound to have bollixed things up. And I was right.

There are only three paragraphs on the website. But what a bunch of baloney.
Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. 
Er, no. The modern research university was invented by the Prussians in the Napoleonic Era. The idea was to strengthen the state, to use and develop knowledge to make the German lands strong enough to end the hegemony of France. Ever since, science has been a creature of the state, and scientists have ever been willing to spend taxpayers' money on whatever the ruling class wanted. Bombs and airplanes to help the state fight its wars? No problem. Social sciences to help the government regulate and control the populace? No problem. Dodgy computer models to assist the global ruling class in its climate change hysteria? Yes, siree.

When you sign up with the devil, scientists, you have to dance to the devil's tune. But you would know that; you are scientists.

Here's another beauty:
There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives.  The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action.
Oh dear, oh dear. Ain't you scientists ever read (or heard about) David Hume? That philosopher argued that we cannot know cause and effect; we can only know correlations. You can never say that "this" caused "that." Because Hume.

We do not know that the Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. We have a) a temperature record going back about a century and a half that tells us that the Earth is warmer now that it was then, and we have b) a theory that the increase in temperature is due to the increase in so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and water vapor. That is all. The temperature record may or may not be accurate. The theory may or may not be valid. Period. That is all that science can say; all the rest is politics.

Here's another one:
The diversity of life arose by evolution. 
Don't you scientist chaps realize that a statement like that is equivalent to the statement that God made the world in seven days, or that the Universe started with the Big Bang. All three statements are creation myths. They are not science. But they are very useful ways of making a statement about what we believe life, the universe, and everything to be, to summarize the Story So Far.

For my money the two things to remember are these:

First, science is a social endeavor. There is a community of scientists, as argued by Thomas H. Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. And the community tends to enforce the current model of how the world works. Just like right now where you better not raise your head in the scientific community if you have a problem with climate science as practiced by the scientific establishment. Not if you know what is good for you and your career in science.

Instead, Kuhn argued that science was a battle between normal science and revolutionary science. La Wik:
Normal scientific progress was viewed as "development-by-accumulation" of accepted facts and theories. Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of such conceptual continuity in normal science were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science.
We have come to call these periods of interruption the "paradigm shift." So the fact that 97 percent of scientist believe in climate change and that activists declare climate skeptics as "deniers" means nothing. The question is: does the current "normal science" of climate change do the job of predicting what is going on? The fact is that the community of normal scientists will go on practicing the normal science that believes in the notion of global warming by greenhouse gases until the paradigm is overturned by another theory.

All this goes back to the basic claim of Immanuel Kant, who responded to Hume's skepticism with a new view of science and knowledge. Kant argued that we only know sense impressions; we cannot know things-in-themselves. What we do is process the sense impressions to construct a world view that makes sense of the sense impressions, and is good enough to be a basis for successful action in the world.

This may seem limiting and a cop-out. I believe that the opposite is true, because once you say we don't know what lies behind it all then you have prepared your mind to think innovative thoughts, such as the idea that space is curved, and that the microscopic world is strange thing of wave-like quanta.

The marching scientists are still stuck in the Enlightenment paradigm that reason is all. But they have never read lefties Horkheimer and Adorno and their Dialectic of Enlightenment. These two lefty rich kids understood that reason is domination, not enlightenment. As I have wriitten:
Instrumental reason, the Enlightenment, write Horkheimer and Adorno, is a dance of domination, domination over nature and domination over man. "What men want to learn from nature is how to dominate it and other men."
Today's dance of domination is an argument about whether we men want to dominate nature or dominate each other, or both. As Lenin said: Who Whom, or кто кого.

But I get the rage of the scientists. Here is Donald Trump giving them a cold that is like to ruin their filibuster. How dare, how dare the American people elect a man like that to be President of the United States!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

What Does Mexico Do Next?

OK, so Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a meeting with President Trump over the vexing question of who pays for the wall. I get it; he has to stand tall against the Trumpster. National honor and all that.

The problem is, of course, that Mexico needs the US more than the US needs Mexico. NAFTA has been great for Mexico, bringing jobs and manufacturing to backward, rural Mexico.

And, of course, the open-ish border of the last 50 years has been an invaluable safety-valve for Mexico, probably saving it from complete meltdown. The Mexican ruling class basically encouraged poor Mexicans to migrate to the US and its jobs. That way they didn't need to reform their crony economy, and could still live off the revenue from state oil company Pemex.

But right now Mexico is in a bit of a tight spot, as revenues from Pemex are down, and the left is demonstrating against retail gasoline price increases as Mexico tries to shake up its oil industry and partake of the new exploration technology. Then there is the Mexican Peso, down from $0.08 in mid 2014 to $0.047 in recent days.

The thing is that the US has the whip hand with every other country. We are the richest country of any size and everyone wants to trade and to sell to us. Much more than we want to trade and to sell to them.

So what does Mexico do? Do they stick to their principles while their economy goes down the drain, bringing in a leftist dictatorship that takes Mexico the full Venezuela route? Does it allow all its south-of-the-border manufacturing to die on the vine while Trump does trade deals with other countries with less pride?

The truth is that, for 50 years after World War II, the US acted as a benevolent uncle, shepherding its client states along, and giving them invaluable access to the US domestic market, while the US acted as global policeman and hegemon.

I'll bet that in the end Trump puts together a deal that keeps Mexico going economically while "making Mexico pay" for the wall.

But I don't have a clue how he will do it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Can Trump Cut $1 trillion a Year?

To put it all in perspective, here is Club for Growth chappie Stephen Moore:
All of Washington seems to be in cardiac arrest over news reports late last week that Donald Trump is planning a budget featuring $10 trillion in cuts over the next decade.
This, as they say, is yuuuge. How huge? Well, to do that we should turn to good old usgovernmentspending.com, the go-to-site on government finances. Here are the numbers for FY2017 for federal spending.

Federal Pensions$1.0 trillion
Federal Health Care$1.2 trillion
Federal Education$0.1 trillion
National Defense$0.9 trillion
Federal Welfare$0.4 trillion
All Other Spending$0.6 trillion
Total Federal Spending$4.1 trillion

You can see that $10 trillion over ten years is big. By the way, total spending in FY 2021, which is the limit of detailed budget forecasts in the budget historical tables, is $5.1 billion.

The thing is, if Social Security ($0.97 trillion) and Medicare ($0.61 trillion) and Medicaid ($0.53 trillion) and Defense are off the table, then there is not much left to cut! All Other Spending is a mere $0.6 trillion, and that includes interest payments.

Of course, there is waste, fraud, and abuse. They say that 10 percent of entitlement spending is waste, fraud and abuse. But a lot of that goes to the white working class, part of Trump's base.

So I don't know where all that money is coming from. But I do know this. All government spending, all of it, from Defense to Pensions to Health Care to Welfare is a weight on the economy, on ordinary working stiffs.

See, if I had my druthers, things would look like this. Pensions? Everyone gets their own, but people who don't have any savings through no fault of their own would be helped by liberal billionaires like George Soros. Health care? Everyone gets their own, but people who cannot afford to pay for health care through no fault of their own are helped by trustafarian liberals. Education? If kids in Ethiopia can learn to hack a tablet in six months from a standing start, then we don't need no public education. Instead of this unpaid child labor in schools, we reinstate child labor for pay. And employers would have an obligation to assist kids' education like they did in the old days of apprenticeship. Welfare? Charities and charitable individuals and liberal foundations get to relieve the poor. And they reintroduce the ABCDEFG system.

The only problem with this would be that there would be no way for politicians to reward their supporters, according to my definition of government:
Government is an armed minority that occupies territory and taxes the inhabitants thereof in order to reward its supporters.
And that would be a crying shame.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Can Trump Change the Political Game?

A week ago I reflected on then President-elect Trump's attack on Civil Rights Icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). And I wondered if Trump could change the political game and de-energize America's third rail on race.

Then I got an email from a reader, Brad, who wondered whether we could get the warriors of race politics like the SPLC to stand down and recognize the real terror threat, or whether we are in for a "quiet civil war" that the left has already half won.

Can President Trump change this tune? Well, he is certainly trying.

The whole point about politics is that it is a fight between Us and Them. The only question is, who is to be "Us" and who is to be "Them?" That is all.

For the last few decades, politics in the US has been the identity politics about the privileged white majority versus the underprivileged minorities and women and LGBTs.

Now Trump is proposing to change it into a populist politics of the people versus the powerful. That is what his inaugural speech was about: the many versus the few. Also, he proposed the idea of America First. So he is promoting the idea of the American nation versus the rest of the world: nationalism.

Can it work? Can Trump change the rules like that, just 'cos? Well, I'd say that's the difference between being a world-historical figure and being just another politician. And right now, we don't know.

Think about it. Eight years ago Barack Obama was hailed as a transformational figure and given a Nobel Peace Prize before his administration had got out of the gate. Today? Let us say that our liberal friends are remarkably modest in their applause. Because Barack Obama is a fool and a failure.

Here are three grounds for Trumpian optimism.

First, I believe that leftist politics has always been a reactionary movement against the irresistible tide of the Great Enrichment. Its workers vs. owners politics of 1850 was plausible at the time, but has since been revealed as rubbish. The worker and the business owner need each other; they should be friends, even though the road to the middle class is a hard one. When the left's class politics failed, the left reinvented itself with the identity politics of minorities and women vs. the privileged and oppressive white patriarchy. Again, it was plausible, except that white men are not that interested in power. If you come to the white middle class with a grievance they will listen to you and try to accommodate you. Unlike lefties in the university. So the basic assumption of leftist politics is flawed. The bosses and the patriarchy are not like a political ruling class. They are just not that interested in power.

Second. There is a lot of talk on the right about the inevitable failure of multiculturalism and the mixing of the west with non-western cultures, nearly all of which do not believe in assimilating to the western limited-government, free-market, multi-religious cultural model. But I think there is a counterforce at work. The fact is that the social-economic marketplace of the modern world rewards people who will work with people and trust anyone that is trustworthy. Every barista, every store clerk, every salesperson, every cubicle worker is trained to interact in a friendly and helpful way with everyone else. And the more that each of us is immersed in this world the more that we experience other people as people and not as "other."

I think that the hilarious Case of the Intolerant Liberal on a flight from Baltimore to Seattle makes the point. Who is the nasty liberal? An obviously up-scale white woman. Who is the man she is abusing? An obvious middle-middle-class white Deplorable. Who are the cops that escort the nasty liberal and her husband off the plane? They are African Americans. Never forget that, while elite liberals are beavering away thinking up new ways to divide us by race and gender, ordinary people are just doing their jobs and interacting with other people according to the protocols of modern public politeness. And that changes things.

Third. Ordinary, average people want ordinary things. "Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves," said Donald Trump. So it is telling that liberals had a conniption when the new Trump White House took down climate change civil rights and Spanish pages and LGBT from the White House website and substituted meat-and-potatoes economic issues.

This crystallizes, for me, the failure of the whole Obama administration. The Obama liberals spent the whole eight years running down liberal rabbit holes like climate change, LGBT rights, race politics, instead of doing what really matters to Americans, which is jobs, safe neighborhoods, schools. You never know, but it could be that Americans of all stripes could warm to a president that keeps his eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.

I'm not that taken with the basic Marxist doctrine of the base and superstructure, the materialist notion that the economy determines everything. In the base/superstructure concept the base is the means and the relations of production, and they define the whole society. The superstructure, including art and politics, is derivative of the economic facts on the ground, the means of production and the relations between the various productive actors. But like much of Marx, the base/superstructure concept has a point. The economy matters, and it profoundly affects the rest of society. If people want to wive and thrive, they need to get with the program, and the program is the program of the market economy and its miraculous Great Enrichment.

And that is why I have hope that Trump can change the axis of politics from identity to nation. When you get a president that focuses on the bread-and-butter of life, people just might start to notice. And applaud.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Here Is Exactly Why We Need President Trump, Chuck Schumer

Just before the end of the Obama administration the FHA issued regs lowering the rate paid on mortgage insurance by people taking out low-down mortgages.
"After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it's time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families," said Castro.

"This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers."
First thing the Trump administration did was cancel those regs.

Next thing we have Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) chiming in.
"What a terrible thing to do to American homeowners. President Trump, with the flick of a pen, ended that new policy, making it harder for Americans of modest means to obtain their piece of the rock, the American dream – home ownership," 
No, Chuck. You've got it exactly backwards.

First of all, it might have been a good idea to lower mortgage insurance rates from, say 2009-2016. Because since home prices had taken a big fall, the downside risk on low-down mortgages would not have been very great.

Second, it is clear that in the winter of 2017 the real-estate market is warming up. We really don't need to put fuel on the fire and turn the recovery into a huge real-estate boom. That would set the stage for  another bubble and another crash. Am I right, Chuck, or am I right?

Do you get my meaning, Chuck? By lowering mortgage insurance rates you Democrats were bringing more people into the market. Which means that you would be pushing up home prices. Which means that some time down the line the Fed will have to raise interest rates to stop the bubble. Which means that "working families" and minorities and women with poorly collateralized loans would lose their homes. Again.

Are you still with me, Chuck? Now is the time to reduce government subsidies, now that the housing market has recovered,and interest rates are still low. But you want to raise the subsidies. And you like the idea of scoring a cheap shot on President Trump.

Government mucking around with the mortgage market is the same as government mucking around with the price system with wage and price controls. Wage and price controls wreck the economy by wrecking the price signals that freely contracted wages and prices send to workers, employers, producers and consumers.

When government mucks around with the mortgage market by subsidizing mortgages it basically gives everyone a coupon to add to their income and balance sheet so they can bid with more money in the real-estate market. But all that does is mean that everyone can bid more. It doesn't help low-income people to get homes. It just means that low-income people can compete with each other and raise the price of homes -- and enrich the folks that already have homes.

But of course the damage goes deeper than that because the mortgage market is part of the credit system and the credit system is the very life blood of the economy.

Now, Chuck, are you still with me? If you read Walter Bagehot's classic book on the money market, Lombard Street -- and I am sure you have, being as you are the senator from Wall Street and all -- you will remember that Bagehot lays out two vital principles for the healthy functioning of the credit system.

  1. Credit should be properly collateralized so that loans can be fully liquidated if the borrower cannot pay. Otherwise people begin to doubt the soundness of improperly collateralized loans; they lose confidence, and that could lead to a panic.
  2. Borrowers need to have the income to service their loans. If a question arises about the borrower's ability to pay, then people begin to lose confidence in the institution holding the borrower's paper, and that could lead to a panic.
In good times, of course, a little bit of shaky loans isn't too much of a problem. But who cares about that? What matters is what happens during a market break when things are not looking so bright. That's when the soundness of the credit system really matters.

So it's all very well to want to help "working families" get their first home. But what's the point, Chuck, if their shaky finances and their badly collateralized loans threaten the whole credit system? As they did in the Crash of 2008. And what's the point if the "working families" lose their homes when the crash comes and they are the first to be laid off?

But here you are in 2017 and it reads like you didn't get the message from the Crash of 2008, because here you are, Chuck, demanding the injection of badly collateralized mortages and borrowers into the financial system.

Look, I get it. You Democrats, willingly assisted by your Democratic operatives with bylines in the media, put out the narrative that the crash was all the fault of greedy bankers.

Well, of course. The bankers wanted to cash in on the torrent of bad paper that government policy hosed upon the credit system. As in Fannie and Freddie. Actually, if they didn't shovel out bad loans to bad borrowers the activists and the congers-critters like you, Chuck, would demand to know the reason why.

The Crash was not the bankers' fault. It was your fault. It was your policy that flooded the world with bad paper. Because you wanted to help "working families" buy that first home.

How bad was your policy? Thanks for asking, Chuck. I just happen to have a page at my usgovernmentdebt.us which shows the growth in "Agency Debt" since World War II. Take a look at Chart D.23f, Chuck. It shows that Agency Debt (i.e., debt from outfits like Fannie and Freddie) went from zero after World War II to 50 percent of GDP just before the Crash.

So we have the official Federal Debt at about 100 percent of GDP, which everyone agrees is a Bad Thing. But then we have the Agency Debt, which is also an obligation of the Federal Government. So, if you add the two together, suddenly the total debt hits 150 percent of GDP.

And that doesn't count the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare.

Golly, geewillikins, Chuck. Do you think that the growth in Agency Debt just might have had something to do with the Crash of 2008?

Just imagine, Chuck, if you chaps hadn't hosed the economy with your cheap mortgages. Just imagine if the economy had set fair after a little wobble in 2008. Just imagine if you Democrats hadn't lost the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. Just imagine if you Dems hadn't run the worst politician in America for president in 2016. Just imagine if you chaps had realized the danger in the rust belt states from the white working class dying of despair.

Why, Chuck, you would be Senate Majority Leader right now and King of the World.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's On-Message Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump's Announcement 19 Months Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yay for La La Land!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Autumn of the Think Tanks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there is this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Left's Conceit About "Resistance"

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

And so says former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey. This is not that hard.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Mess in Mexico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

President Obama's Last Words

For a racist sexist homophobe like me President Obama is the Worst President Ever, for a simple reason. He actually believes in the reactionary politics of the left. He believes that, after the two centuries of the Great Enrichment, when poor people have been covered with wealth unimaginable in history to anyone except the most be-jeweled emperor, the overwhelming reality is the oppression and marginalization of -- well whatever the current lefty victims of the week happen to be. And he believes that politics is the solution to this problem.

So he starts his farewell speech with this:
So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, and I was still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.

It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss...

Now this is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.
In actual fact, the young Obama achieved nothing in the two years he community-organized in South Chicago. Because the steel plants weren't coming back, however much "ordinary people get involved... and demand it."

So then the president gives us short history of America to justify his lefty faith, that the founders' dream was not "self-executing." It required people to step up and organize.
It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan — and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well. 
 Actually, I am not sure that is true, even in the right-wing version of sturdy pioneers creating civilization out of the wilderness.

I think that what has powered the last 200 years is that political power doesn't work. Top-down political power doesn't work because it protects the status-quo, and bottom-up political power only gets organized after the factories have closed and the old status-quo cannot be continued and it is too late to fix things.

In my view the freedoms and liberties and prosperity of the last 200 years arise out of the fact that free and responsible workers make more prosperity for themselves and the world than subordinate peasants and workers. The wealth of the world depends not on wise and impartial experts constructing a National Plan but by innovators engaged in "creative destruction." In other words, prosperity is as much a process of destruction as of creation. I think that our prosperity comes from individual businessmen stumbling into this truth without any help from thinkers and politicians.

It is naturally the conceit of any political elite or ruling class that the rulers -- or their bribed apologists among the community organizers -- are the indispenaible ones. I doubt it, Mr President.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history — if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9-11 — if I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
It always amazes me how good political speechwriters are at putting lipstick on a pig. But even though everything is great, there is still "The laid off factory worker, the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills." So we need a new social compact
to guarantee all our kids the education they need. To give workers the power... to unionize for better wages. To update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now. And make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.
 Hmm. The Obama record on education is bupkis. The contribution of unions is bupkis. The president's record on updating the social safety net is bupkis. Then there is race.
After my election there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent... and often divisive force in our society. Now I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say. You can see it not just in statistics. You see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do. If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.
Well, Mr President, I'd say that a ton of white Americans voted for you on the promise that America's First Black President would extinguish the lie that America is the racist, sexist country of the left's reactionary faith. So to say we were disappointed in you is to say nothing. What we saw, over the last eight years, was a president and a secular faith that just cannot let go of the sacred totem that America remains irredeemably racist and sexist. Because that is the sacred fount of their power.

And so we reject you and your party and your secular liberal church.

But there is more.

We cannot just change the laws, but hearts and minds, says the president, and get out of our bubbles.

Yeah. Well. How's that working out for you, Mr. President. I ain't seen much changing of heart and mind in the Democratic Party or the liberal ruling class. What I see is a determination to press its cultural power to the utmost and not change hearts and minds so much as put them on the rack to confess their deplorabeness, on pain of losing their jobs.

And then onto climate change, beating the pants of ISIS, and thanking the people that worked for him,
And to all of you out there — every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change — you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because you did change the world.
He looks to the young generation "to carry this hard work of democracy forward."

As though there was no question that more democracy, more community organizing, is the obvious solution to our problems.

I would ask our ruling class to step back for a moment. A good activity during such a pause would be to read Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. It says that the top 25 percent, which includes most educated liberals, is doing fine. The middle 50 percent is not doing too good, and the bottom 25 percent is in real trouble: the men don't work much and the women don't marry much.

The point that Charles Murray makes in Coming Apart and throughout his life's work is that the whole political agenda of people like President Obama, people that fancy themselves as political activists and community organizers, has clearly made things worse for the least of us. Whatever they may think of "the hard work of democracy" they haven't paused to think about whether what they are doing is doing any good.

I would say to President Obama and the people that supported him that they all have a very narrow vision of human flourishing and how to work for something higher and fuller. It cannot just be carrying "this hard work of democracy forward," if nothing else because politics is just one sector of modern society, in the great contest of political power, economic power, and moral/cultural power.

The whole project of the left is to crowd out all human social interaction and replace it with politics.

That is something that our liberal friends just do not grasp, because their answer to every problem is more politics.

And politics, according to Mao Zedong, is war without bloodshed. Is that the best we can do?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

All Your Pejoratives Are Belong to Us

Here's a spot of good news. Margaret Sullivan, over at the Jeff Bezos blog, writes that it is time for liberals to can the "fake news" meme.
Fake news has a real meaning — deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public...

But though the term hasn’t been around long, its meaning already is lost. Faster than you could say “Pizzagate,” the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear.
Oh no! How could this happen? How could a carefully constructed liberal pejorative have gotten canceled out in a matter of weeks?
“The speed with which the term became polarized and in fact a rhetorical weapon illustrates how efficient the conservative media machine has become,” said George Washington University professor Nikki Usher.
I'll say. Or there is the Carlos Slim blog:
As Jeremy Peters wrote in the New York Times: “Conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself . . . have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.” 
Golly; I never knew that our guys were that good.

What these sweetie-pie liberals toiling away at their MSM blogs fail to mention is that there is nobody, nobody, doing more to push back against the liberal "fake news" pejorative than Breitbart.com. (Breitbart gets a sideways mention in Sullivan's piece, but not a starring role.)

Because nobody, nobody has done more to Cut the Cringe than Breitbart. That was my point in "Cut the Cringe" back in June 2016. Conservatives must not, any more, cringe before the vile accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia. We must laugh at the accusation of racism, and fling it right back into the faces of the liberals.

There is a reason why "fake news" has failed as a liberal pejorative. Well, two reasons. And the reasons come clear in Sullivan's pro-forma remark, quoting Glenn Kessler, also of the Bezos blog:
People seem to confuse reporting mistakes by established news organizations with obviously fraudulent news produced by Macedonian teenagers.
Oh no! But, of course, our liberal friends are completely missing the point, as in this quote from Sullivan:
BuzzFeed, meanwhile, is digging deeper into the rise of deliberate deception in the form of news stories, with the appointment of debunking expert Craig Silverman, formerly of Poynter.org, as its media editor.
Yes. The point is that deliberate deception occurs in all news stories, whether from established news organizations or from Macedonian teenager or, dare one say, from Russian hackers. One can only point to the Carlos Slim blog's handling of the alleged racist hate crime by four black Chicago youths. Carlos Slim's kids opined as how the crime was a hate crime against the disabled! Who knew?

So the liberal line fails on the basic point that all news is question-begging, all news is pushing a political line.

The other point is that, with Breitbart and Trump, we have left behind the old days when conservatives and Republicans cringed before the vile accusations of racism and wanting to hurt the poor. Done. Over.

More and more, I am coming to agree with Vox Day and his catchphrase We Don't Care. Whether it is liberal pearl-clutching, liberal vile accusations, liberals melting down after losing an election, liberals whispering "I can't believe he/she said that," or liberal journalists descanting on the latest liberal line-of-the-day in unison, the only response is to stand up to them and say We Don't Care.

Or, alternatively, All Your Pejoratives Are Belong to Us.

Monday, January 9, 2017

After Obamacare: My Two Cents

Things are warming up for the political battle over Obamacare repeal and replace. Last week the Democrats ran a presser that was clearly designed to say to Republicans: Be afraid, be very afraid.

Because everybody knows that the streets will erupt with rage if one hair on the Obamacare subsidies is touched. That is what Chuck Schumer was selling last week in the Dems' Make America Sick Again show.

And, right on cue, we read that Republicans are getting nervous about an Obamacare replacement.

And that makes me nervous. So, to buck myself up, I got to thinking about what I want to see with the Obamacare replacement. Two things:

  • The reform should benefit Trump voters and the People of the Responsible Self in general.
  • The reform should be acceptable to the white working class.
The whole game of Obamacare and the liberal idol of "universal healthcare" is to make health-care consumers in general pay for the subsidies and benefits handed out to Democratic Party supporters without having to recognize the costs in the federal budget. Their plan means that health care in general has to be subordinated to an administrative regulatory system and consequent distortions and injustices, instead of being a market and price driven organism that delivers what people are willing to pay for.

So I would say that the subsidies and handouts and free stuff need to be frankly put into the federal budget. Because the sly and dishonest Obamacare approach is liable to kill the health care system.

Yes, but won't that increase federal spending and increase the deficit? Yes it will, but I think of the additional outlays as crowding out other liberal stuff, like climate spending.

We need to get as close to a market-driven system as the American people will let us. Because that is how you get a health care system that responds to peoples' needs and ability to pay.

Of course, the white working class doesn't think that way; it thinks as workers and peasants, People of the Subordinate Self. So a lot of free stuff, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, will have to be included in the Obamacare reform. But these benefits, which are not "insurance" but government benefits, should be hived off from the health insurance system and made a separate high risk pool funded by government outlays.

Obviously, there are going to be losers in any change to the current system, and they would be the iconic Hillary voters, single 50-ish women with developing life-style related health problems that benefited from the compression of age-related insurance premiums and Obamacare exchange subsidies. But hey, these folks were not protected by Obamacre because their bronze plans have huge deductibles, which they hate. And they are never going to vote Republican anyway. Let us throw them a bone, and move on.

One thing that encourages me. The old game of intimidate the Republicans into concessions won't work too well, because Trump doesn't play that game. That is going to be fun to watch. It will be as Rush Limbaugh says. The liberals will keep calling plays out of their 30-year-old playbook, and be completely dumbfounded when the plays don't work.

But it ain't over till it's over.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Is This the Best, or the Worst of Times?

I always appreciate the juxtaposition of op-ed links on the home page of RealClearPolitics.com. On the one hand you get an end-of-the-world piece for Republicans, but right below it, an end-of-the-world piece for Democrats. As in:
Could Obamacare Save the Democrats? John Cassidy, The New Yorker
The Delusional Dems of 2017 Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon
And so on. Today there's a big battle between those that think that the nation's spies are a problem and that Trump's response to the spies is a problem.

What I would like to see is a serious Republican effort to use the Obamacare meltdown to set health care on a new path, away from bureaucratic centralism and towards market innovation.

But you can see the problem. The Democrats think they see blood, as is their latest catchphrase "Make America Sick Again." And the general liberal line on health care is "universal health care." By which, I assume, they mean a centralized bureaucratic regime where all the decisions are made by liberal bureaucrats, liberal activists, and liberal politicians, because social justice. (Although in reality, the universal system would be a cesspool of special interests and crony capitalism.)

And, as Charles Krauthammer points out, as soon as Republicans touch Obamacare, "they own the entire health system." By which he means that the entire Democratic-media-activist-academic complex will all combine to blame Trump and Republicans for everything.

Hey, Dems! How about the 26,000 bombs dropped by the US in 2016? I thought that President Obama was going to end our endless wars.

I guess, for me, the central question of 2017 is whether President Trump will be able to push back on the liberal narrative that blames Republicans for everything and observes total Democratic meltdowns in silence. I call it Cut the Cringe, meaning that Republicans have got to stop apologizing and living in feat that the Democrats will call them racists, sexists, homophobes. And take the battle to the Dems, and make them the issue.

At least in 2017 we will have a president that you can attack without being called a racist.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Liberal Asks: What is the Justification for the Stock Market?

I spent time with a liberal friend over New Years, and he asked me what justified the stock market. Because the day-to-day stock market doesn't raise capital. It just shuffles it around.

I have to admit that I didn't have the answer right on the tip of my tongue. Another case of l'esprit d'escalier, alas.

Eventually, as I was "descending the stairs" I did start coming out with good reasons: a whole cascade of them.

First of all, the stock market provides an exit to the investor. Suppose I worked for a company for years and got stock options that I converted into stock. Now I want to retire, and I want to change my stock in a growth company into a dividend stock. If I want to do that, I need a stock market full of buyers and sellers so I can get a good deal on the stock I want to sell and a good deal on the stock I want to buy.

Secondly, the stock market lets me, the little guy, get in on the next big thing. Not on the ground floor, of course. Startups get ground-floor money from venture capitalists that get their money from rich guys. But when a company goes public and the founders make billions, then the little guy has a chance to make millions. Suppose I bought $10,000 of Microsoft in December 1989, before its second split, at what would now be $0.6 per today's share. Suppose I then sold it some time between 2002 and 2012 when Microsoft was pretty well flat at $24 per share. I'd have walked away with $400,000, which ain't too shabby on a $10,000 investment.

But all that is just nickels and dimes. Let's do an Ike and make the problem bigger.

The main thing the stock market does is put a price on a corporation. It says: here is what we, the whole marketplace of buyers and sellers, think the present value of all future revenue is from this company. That is why, in J.P. Morgan's famous phrase, the stock market fluctuates. Nobody knows the future, and opinions about the future fluctuate from day to day. This is a very big deal, both for the company and for the rest of the world. It tells the company whether it is doing the right thing or not. It tells the rest of the world whether to buy the company's bonds, whether it is growing its business, or whether, like New York Times, it is failing and needs to be bought by a foreign crony capitalist if it is to survive at all.

But that is not the basic point about the stock market.

The main thing about the stock market is that prices are the only way that we can make decisions on what to buy and sell. Administrative ukase doesn't do it; administrative froo-frar didn't help Obamacare, because Obamacare thought it could fool the market with clever manipulations and regulations thought up by Jonathan Gruber. Government regulation doesn't do it. Did financial regulation prevent the Crash of 2008? Did financial regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission stop the fraudster Bernie Madoff?

So the very idea from a faithful liberal that raises the question, should we allow the stock market, is false on its face. The question is not: should we allow the stock market? The question is: should be allow any political intervention into the stock market at all? Should we do anything except punish the fraudster after his exposure? Should we allow any politician to mouth off about any economic issue at all without applying a sharp blow to his solar plexus?

And here is a bigger question. Should we allow liberals that think they are better, wiser than spontaneous economic and social phenomena that birthed and grew and contributed to human welfare and decency without a single liberal (or indeed anyone else) having a clue what it did and why.

Are not liberals outrageous economic deniers that -- in the face of overwhelming evidence over the last 200 years that government has no clue when it comes to the economy, and economic theory that says that socialism/government programs can't work because they can't compute prices, and regulatory theory that says that the government regulators always get "captured" by the regulated -- persist in their pre-Cambrian superstition that politics should be in control of the economy?

Politics in control of the economy? Did not Mao ZeDong write that "politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." So liberals think that they have a holy right to wage a bloodless war on the capitalists, that have raised per-capita income from $3 to $100 in the last 200 years with government trying to hobble them every step of the way.

You ask: what is the justification for the stock market?

I say:  what is the justification for liberals?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How to Finesse the "Pre-existing Conditions" Issue

My man Kevin D. Williamson has it exactly right. How you gonna keep Obamacare down on the farm when we the people like the gay Paree of "pre-existing conditions," or being able to sign up for health insurance after we get sick?

That after all is what the "individual mandate" was all about in Obamacare. Says Kevin:
We have to have an individual mandate because we want a preexisting-coverage mandate. If insurers have to pick up the expenses for everyone who shows up at their door with lung cancer or HIV or severe diabetes, that has to be paid for. 
But, of course, the whole point of practical politics is to figure out how to let your supporters off the hook while sticking it to the supporters of the other party.

But let us step back and think about this for a moment. What is it that people really want?

People want to get health care when they get sick.

Very good. But then things get sticky.

If someone has assets, then they will want to protect their assets from the health care bills. These are the kind of people that need health insurance, and they usually get it.

If someone does not have assets, then they are not going to be that interested in getting health insurance. Why? Because if they get really sick then they are not risking their entire life savings. They can always declare bankruptcy. So why pay good money to protect non-existent assets?

However, it is clear to me that anyone that does not have good insurance, or that does not pay their bills, is not going to get good health care. That's why Medicaid patients have worse health outcomes than people of the same income that don't use Medicaid.

I've talked to health care professionals. They hate Medicaid with a passion. Not just because of the low reimbursement rates, but mainly because of the huge cost of interacting with the bureaucracy. They would rather give it away for free than deal with the government.

It doesn't matter how you slice it, the health care system is not going to "put out" for you if you don't pay your bills or you have the bureaucrats at the DMV paying for you.

Let's put it in terms of my reductive Three Peoples theory. If you are a Person of the Responsible Self then you will make arrangements to protect your loved ones and your assets in case of catastrophic illness. So you will probably buy some kind of catastrophic health insurance, and you will probably get good health care when you or yours gets sick. If you are a Person of the Subordinate Self then you will rely on the lord of the manor to take care of you. But the lord of the manor, or his modern equivalent big government, really does not care about people like you, whatever he says. So you will get pro-forma health care. If you are lucky.

Now, I don't know how things work out there in the murky world of the health care system's billing department. But I recall reading that your average hospital will usually try to enroll you in Medicaid if you show up at the ER without health insurance. So there is that.

Maybe that's the solution. Sure, we'll take care of you if you show up without health insurance. But if you do we'll enroll you in our Affordable Pre-existing Condition program, for life, and you will be taxed X% of your income to pay for it for life.

And the health care you get will probably be a very much like the care you get at Britain NHS and America's VA.

Or, you could graduate from the People of the Subordinate Self and become a Person of the Responsible Self. You will find, apart from improved health care, that you will also get a lot more respect.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I am Changing My Mind About Government

Up to now I have been using the following definition of government to show that government is not the collection of kindly librarians its PR people like to pretend.
Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
I came to this definition by realizing that there is not that much difference between a government and a guerrilla group. They both occupy territory and draft young men into their army and tax the folk living inside their boundaries to fund themselves.

But something changed for me in the last month. I think it began with my conversation with a retired special forces officer, who explained Trump as a leader that was speaking to people that felt "unprotected."

It made me realize that all governments must offer protection, so that people will put up with their taxing and their bullying.

Of course, "protection" is something that criminal gangs do as well as governments, as in "nice little business you got here, shame if something should happen to it." What is the difference between the gangbanger and the government that says: "nice little business you got here, Bill Gates. Shame if the Anti-Trust Division should have a problem with it." The protection is always offered with a threat.

So I think that my definition should be reworded. To something like this:
Government is like a criminal gang, with its territory and its enforcers, and it forces the inhabitants of its territory to fund it and its supporters through the threat of terror and the offer of protection.
Some governments keep their enforcers decently hidden, but the fact is that if you don't pay your taxes and bow the knee, at some point the government will send out its enforcers, its men with guns, to change your opinion about taxes and regulation. And some governments, such as our own, use intellectual terror, e.g. the accusation of racism rather than the knock in the night, to terrorize the population.

And every government governs with a combination of threat and the offer of protection. It was said of Mao ZeDong's government in his Red Base in southeastern China in the 1930s that it governed completely using terror. It had to because it offered no services and no protection to the peoples it ruled, beyond the accidental protection of being within its borders. But even Mao combined terror and protection.

Of course, every government also manufactures a sacred history to show how God or Providence or Nature or The People or the arc of history has sanctified its rule, and how the people have been saved from a fate worse than death by its rule.

In most places most of the people under a government's rule most of the time believe in that sacred history. That is the purpose of the sacred history: to make it easy for people to submit.

But ultimately, a government rules by virtue of the fact that it has the guns and we have not, and that the better part of valor is to go along with the government and its lies rather than form a head of rebellion and bravely outdare the dangers of the time.