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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In which I leave the house and go see a movie


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


The heroine, played by Felicity Jones, is in the center of the frame. She's actually 63" tall. The most engaging and interesting character is a re-tooled Imperial droid, K2-SO.

A long time ago, in an Atlanta, Georgia you would barely recognize, I saw the original Star Wars (1977) at the Tara Theater on Cheshire Bridge Road. We went to an early showing. The next screening, the line for tickets tracked twice around the building. I enthusiastically went to see the Empire Strikes Back (1980) which introduced a new character, Lando Calrissian, the only black man in the galaxy.


They finally got poor Lando some company in Return Of The Jedi (1983).


I was even there for Episode I (1999), starring the great Liam Neeson and a much less memorable Ewan McGregor. The villain was Darth Maul. Subtle.


By this time of course, the franchise was beginning to wane under its creator's fundamentally juvenile worldview. It's hard to believe this is the same man who made THX 1138 (1971).



My previous last attempt at a Star Wars film was to watch Christopher Lee in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). What follows is stitched around some comments I left at iSteve.

Rogue One (2016) is not bad, and not entirely emblematic of our cultural malaise. I fully expected it to be formulaic and illogical, and my expectations were met–nay, exceeded–so I was able to relax and enjoy the ride a bit.

There's a huge space-air-land battle at the end on the Imperial Resort/Archives Planet that is pretty cool, even suggestive of some professional, technical military input. Steve Sailer notes that most of the time Lucas is just recreating the old World War II movies he grew up with.

Other than that, the movie is the usual assortment of Star Wars action figures and playsets. Having the series walk backwards on itself for the sake of recycling characters who grew old and died ages ago/forward in time is getting to be absurd. CGI of people such as the hours-ago deceased Carrie Fisher, and of Peter Cushing who's been in the ground twenty-two years, is just jarring. C-3PO and R2-D2 even get cameos for no reason whatsoever. Darth Vader gets rolled out of his nutritive bath, noticeably lacking the graceful, measured movements of the physically imposing David Prowse.


The movie seemed to be aiming really, really young with sloppy plotting and dialogue, cartoonish villains, and busy, fast-paced visuals. And sure enough there were lots of children under age 10 in the audience. Several of them clapped and cheered when Darth Vader came out.

The other thing that struck me is how unremittingly business-like this gloriously diverse galaxy of a long time ago and far, far away has become, with a total lack of sexual or romantic tension in the film. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is (or was) a huge part of adult life and to have nothing like that anywhere in the movie tells me the target audience is adolescents. This isn't low-brow; it's after-school special.

I could make a very long list of all the illogical contrivances:

Why put the directional controls for the transmitting dish out on the very end of an open-air platform a thousand feet up?

Why wouldn’t Head Science Guy like, e-mail the plans to the Death Star, send a thumb drive, take a picture with his cellphone? And wasn’t the whole point to transmit the plans? At one point everybody’s scrambling around, playing hot potato to get a stylized computer diskette on to a cargo ship with Lord Vader one step behind.

Heroine couldn’t take some notes while Dad was talking–this is important?

Why are freaking Sturmtruppen walking around in white plastic that doesn’t protect them from anything--a hit with a mop handle, a blaster, falling twigs?

All that tech to send massive ships at light-speed and Desert Planet is … a desert? And you can put a force field around a whole planet but don’t have enough surveillance to find the single rifle squad fumbling around the landing pads with no ID or credentials?

Pulp-comics level illogic. I’m probably insulting pulp comics.

I mentioned the lack of romance but there is a soulful embrace by the male and female protagonists at the end, right before everybody dies in the nuclear conflagration. There’s a pedestrian explanation for killing everybody off: it’s a prequel and these characters never showed up retrospectively. So again, the series cynically backpedaling on itself to recycle increasingly shopworn characters is becoming absurd and incoherent.

In sum, I wasted twenty-eight dollars on this crap.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all


Bashar visits Christian village outside Damascus on Christmas



Christmas celebration in Aleppo:



Link: Children from a Shia orphanage sing Christmas carols at a Beirut cathedral

Bartella, Iraq, October 22:

Hussam Matti knelt to the ground, grabbed two fistfuls of brown-gray sand and poured it over his head. The grains mixed with the sweat on his brow as he stood up, smiled and threw up his arms.

“This is the earth of Bartella,” he shouted. “This is our land.”
...
But for Matti, despite the dangers, it was nothing short of a homecoming.

“In these two years I died. The 32 years I’ve lived so far — you can forget about them. Today I’m born,” he said, as he and his comrades, all members of a Christian militia known as the Nineveh Plains Force, lashed two pieces of timber to make a cross.

They carried it to the top of Mar Shmony, a church on the town’s eastern flank. There, ringed by counterterrorism service members who urged them to watch for sniper fire, they hoisted the cross over the church’s dome and adorned it with an Iraqi flag. One man, with a touch of ceremony, placed a nativity scene set he had fished out from the wreckage of the church at the cross’ base.

A multi-credal nationalism emerges across the Middle East, in opposition to Wahabbist hegemony funded by the Saudi and Qatari royals.

Elsewhere, remnant Anglicanism sputters on:

At the end the Vicar paused, beamed at us, and prepared to give us our Christmas blessing, at which point the organist launched into the cheerful tunes of dismissal. I commiserated with her [ouch. and we were doing so well] over a drink later. “I was only going to say Merry Christmas” she lamented. I assured her that her intentions had been sensed by the congregation, but that our services moved in a mysterious way.

In terms of demographics, the congregation of about 45 souls had the one young girl who read the lesson, her 19 year old brother, one 30 year old, but was otherwise skewed in the 45 to 93 years old direction, with a peak towards the latter years. There was one farming couple, one neighbour whose grandfather served in the Great War, but few of the rest had been born in the Parish. All congregants were Anglo-Saxon.

Leaving the church, a celebrant said it felt as if this was one of the last village services, and the end of an age.

In Church Going Philip Larkin worried,

A shape less recognisable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was.

It's all about Who lives Where. And Christianity depends on living, breathing, worshiping Christians. And when it's gone, it's gone.

Friday, December 9, 2016

"America's Yeltsin Era..."


Steve Sailer observes that American life expectancies are dropping. Ilana Mercer touches on the same theme here: The Curious Case of America's Waning Whites.

The immediate causes appear to be obesity, car wrecks (likely more distraction from electronic devices), and drug overdoses. There is probably also a blip from black men shooting each other. Of course, we are also importing more impoverished and dysfunctional humans.

How can this be, in a time of endless cheap calories, cheap credit, and cheap entertainment? Obviously, the spiritual nourishment is missing, in the absence of which you're just working to have enough money to pay taxes and buy food and housing so you can rest up and eat to work to make the money to pay the taxes, etc.. Disposable income is spent on entertainment, psychotropic drugs, booze, and the ersatz tribalism of sporting events. Some will save for the future, most won't. People were meant to do something other than merely exist, but their metaphysics and their heroic legends have been taken from them. Anglo-Americans, among others, have chosen atheism or rootless Protestantism, secular democracy, and the marketplace over things like tradition, family, nation, and it is coming back to bite them.

I have a lot of immigrant acquaintances, and my perception is that one of the greatest gulfs between them and me is who our heroes are. The American mythos–characters like Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, the Last of the Mohicans, and actual men like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett–is being scrubbed from the culture to make the new arrivals more comfortable. It is being replaced with people like Rosa Parks and St. Martin of Atlanta (because, of course, recorded history did not actually start until 1965). The Pakistani who set foot on the tarmac thirty minutes ago must be assured that he is every bit as American as somebody whose family came ashore with John Wesley; nay, since we’re a Nation Of Immigrants, even more American due to his greater immigrant-ness! Founding stock Americans are becoming a people without a past and, as they are endlessly screamed at, no future. Hopefully Trump buys us some political and cultural space before the post-Modern Future arrives in earnest.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Not Great, not Holy, and not Conciliar


The Bulgarian Patriarchate didn't use the term "ludicrous," but they might as well have.

As a refresher, I previously posted on this proposed pan-Orthodox Synod, a conciliar, authoritative meeting of all the Church's Patriarchs, here and here. With characteristic prescience, I observed that the only issue that actually mattered--the status of the so-called "diaspora" Churches--was all but absent from the Council's agenda, and there was no consensus on this and other ecclesiological disputes. Theologically, the Faith was declared at the culmination of the Seventh Council, so there is nothing left to talk about there. Hence, the Council's work product was, and could only be, a collection of aspirational statements on administrative and external matters, which a number of hierarchs refused to endorse. The Council made no attempt to address Antioch's protests over Jerusalem's incursions into her territories, the Orthodox Church in America was shamefully ignored, and zero progress was made on the status of the "diaspora" Churches. Four venerable, autocephalous jurisdictions refused to participate, which should have shut down the Council right there.

What are the broader lessons, for people not concerned with Orthodox Christian arcaneum?

1. Sovereignty: Don't let your reach exceed your grasp. The Ecumenical Patriarch, the (post-Schism) First Among Equals, commanded his brothers to listen and attend. Four of his brothers told him to go pound sand, which means he is no longer the First Among Equals. I do not envy the Greek Patriarch.

Everybody wants to be the He Who Answers To Nobody. There are a lucky few in that category, but when they have to remind people that they are the sovereign, then Sovereignty has started slipping away from them.

Here's Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, finding out he's no longer the sovereign.



I'm not saying the Ecumenical Patriarch will meet Ceausescu's fate, and he's still sovereign over his Patriarchate, but he's no longer the First Among Equals even if people don't realize it or are too polite to mention it.

2. Substance: Focus on what matters. Everybody wants peace, harmony and good will, but human affairs return endlessly to the question of Who gets to live Where and run the Institutions. A few vestigial Greek bishops run Alexandria and Jerusalem, for now, but the actual Egyptians became Copts, and the Jerusalemites are increasingly restive Arabophones. Everybody says, "There is neither Jew [ha!] nor Greek," but nobody acts like it. Canonically, a single hierarch should be presiding over the territory of the United States. The facts on the ground are the OCA, the Antiochians, and the Greeks (and the Serbians, and the Romanians) have staked out their respective jurisdictions and remittances, and nobody but nobody is going to change that. Why is this? Why do people cling to a certain jurisdiction or particular praxis? There may be a non-prescriptive solution if we'd ask the right questions.

The inability of the Ecumenical Patriarch to command a Great Council knocked out the substance, so this became a Parish Life Conference for Orthodox hierarchs. Nice and all, but not substantive. Dignity, like Sovereignty, must be jealously guarded; don't waste time on frivolous matters.

I tried to come up with an elegant trinity of points but these two are all I could muster.

Friday, November 25, 2016

SCALE


The modern world tells us, always and everywhere, that bigger is better: GDP must continually grow; cities must perforce become higher density, and literally higher; globalism good/nationalism bad. Greater efficiencies can only result from growth.


Huh. I haven't heard about that last one so much.


Over 5.7 million people live in Atlanta and its metropolitan area. We are in the middle of a building boom. More people, more jobs, and more luxury cars than I can ever remember seeing in my lifetime. Atlanta also has a sales tax of eight cents on the dollar. On November 8, voters approved an increase to 8.9 cents on the dollar.

For MARTA, Atlanta Beltline, a TSPLOST-boosted future is looking bright--Officials promise that $2.8 billion is coming for a more livable, functional Atlanta

I voted against the sales tax increase because I figure with an 8% sales tax and thousands of people moving in, you can find the money for infrastructure somewhere. If you're interested, you can get a copy of the City of Atlanta budget for FY 2017 here. I'll summarize: the City is rolling in dough. And like just about any other enterprise, personnel is the biggest expenditure. Most of this projected $2.8 billion will go not toward actual infrastructure, but to the human resource and logistical tail for infrastructure.

So it seems that even with more people moving in and paying property and sales taxes, the City must still raise rates because it has to pay more people and build more infrastructure to manage its growth. Unit costs are going up, not down. Diseconomy of scale.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Graphic content

Friend of the blog Porter posted some reflections on the spectacle of African migrants mistaking a Tunisian fishing vessel for a European "coast guard," that being those ships deployed off the African coast to guard against foreign invaders not getting to sufficient depth for rescue for subsidized, purposeless existence in Europe.

Apparently, the migrant's method is to steer these inflatable, ludicrously over-sized dinghies with an outboard smaller than a bass boat's a few miles off the coast, get in sight of one of these ironically named coast guards, then scuttle the boat to guilt Europeans into rescuing your sorry ass. In the following video, things go horribly awry when African migrants mistake a Tunisian commercial fishing vessel and its crew for people who actually give a shit.



The end result is Africans bobbing lifelessly in the Mediterranean like lemmings in a flood, unmourned, uncelebrated, unburied.

Now, contrast sympathy for these drowning Africans with the bemused insouciance of the Tunisian chronicler, recording the carnage from the spotless, uncrowded deck of his employer's boat. The narrator films the dinghy's approach, its deliberate gutting, and raises his voice tepidly at the migrants trying to scramble up the hull. He then wanders below, presumably to alert his utterly indifferent countrymen to this unfolding tragedy, then strolls back up, across the impeccable decks, under the unlowered lifeboat, the better to point out bodies in their death throes. Insh'allah my friends, life is a bitch and then you die.

There is plenty of journalistic firepower being deployed on the Refugee Crisis but one aspect I don't hear much about is what happens on dry land at the actual borders of, say, Tunisia. I suspect it involves weapons and terse commands as opposed to cell phones and languid gestures, and Europe's future neurosurgeons either flee from a gauntlet of rifles and billy clubs or, if they have sufficient baksheesh, are cynically spirited to the coast to go be someone else's problem.

Actually, we do know some details of this human tidal wave from the New York Times' own Tom Friedman, back in April 2016:


(Apologies for the .jpeg format. The NYT doesn't like its content copied.)

Friedman blames, what else, "climate change" even as he observes but does not perceive the high time-preference, the fatalism, and the polygamy that generate these waves upon waves of surplus men. He even acknowledges--one gets the sense, grudgingly--the solution staring everybody in the face: improve local conditions. Of course, Friedman again observes but does not perceive the cycle of Africa's doom loop: modern crop yields and Western medicine enable large families; large families mean more slash-and-burn; more slash-and-burn erodes away or de-nutrifies through lack of stewardship; the resulting scarcity drives migration. Lather, rinse, repeat.

On this day, I'm thankful to be the product of K-selection, and pray to God we have the good sense to keep r-selection away, behind walls and across oceans, where it can work itself out in its own fashion.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Everybody always ends up agreeing with me


Georgetown political science professor Joshua Mitchell, via Marginal Revolution:
There is another reason why the Republican Party could not contain Trump, a perhaps deeper reason. Michael Oakeshott, an under-read political thinker in the mid-20th century, remarked in his exquisite essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” that one of the more pathological notions of our age is that political life can be understood in terms of “principles” that must be applied to circumstances. Politics-as-engineering, if you will. Republicans themselves succumbed to this notion, and members of the rank and file have noticed. Republicans stood for “the principles of the constitution,” for “the principles of the free market,” etc. The problem with standing for principles is that it allows you to remain unsullied by the political fray, to stand back and wait until yet another presidential election cycle when “our principles” can perhaps be applied. And if we lose, it’s OK, because we still have “our principles.” What Trump has been able to seize upon is growing dissatisfaction with this endless deferral, the sociological arrangement for which looks like comfortable Inside-the-Beltway Republicans defending “principles” and rank-and-file Republicans far from Washington-Babylon watching in horror and disgust.
And, I'd add, that pointing and spluttering in horror and disgust explicitly adopts the terminology and moral framework of the Left. Operationally, "conservatism" is not actually conservative.

Since at least the Great Society Democrats have been telling their constituents, “Here’s what liberalism can do for you.” Republicans seem to endlessly ask their constituents what can they do for conservatism (“Donate to my think tank!” “Buy my magazine!” “Vote for me!” “Sign up for this war!”). Their (overwhelmingly white) base duly votes for the Republican’s limited government-fiscal prudence-meritocracy platform, then watches as government, budget deficits, and political correctness all increase. Nothing the base voted for is actually accomplished, and the perception is these platitudes are being mouthed solely to get comfortable sinecures.

Immigration exposed this cozy scam. Immigration is extremely problematic for proletarian and petit bourgeois communities. But the same people who left the Democratic party to vote for Reagan have to listen as people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham call them bigots for not wanting their voting power and economic clout diluted and their children made strangers in their own country. When the battle lines started getting drawn, the Republican leadership proudly linked arms with the Democrats and did the bidding of their donor class. Donald Trump spotted that disconnect-–an electoral $100 bill lying on the floor–-and like the ruthless Scots-Irish businessman he is, grabbed it in both fists. He made his campaign all about, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you,” and rode it to ultimate victory.

Any of the other Republican candidates could have done that, but they didn’t. This was vindication of the Sailer Strategy: if you want conservative electoral victory, you need to support conservatively-inclined people. Affordable Family Formation: keep the land cheap and the wages high, because that’s what gets families started and married people with children tend to incline conservative. This may require abandonment on occasion of precious, precious principle but like the Democrats realize, this isn’t about principle, it’s about winning. That’s how they captured the institutions.

In a diverse society, it’s not what your candidate supports; it’s whether they support you.

I called it, here, and here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"It was fun while it lasted"

From the Z Man:
I’ll head off to vote for the last time in my life tomorrow and I will vote for Trump, even though he has no chance to win my state. It will be the last time we have a chance to vote for someone that is not a nut or a grifter. If Clinton wins, she will amnesty 50 million foreign peasants, creating something close to a one party nation as a result. America will rocket along toward becoming Brazil, if we’re lucky. The crazy bitch could very well start a war with Russia or the Chinese and that could finish us all off.

It was fun while it lasted.
I actually hadn't voted since 1996 when contemplating the choice between old fossil Bob Dole (and his repugnant wife, Nurse Ratched) and Slick Willie, who actually ended up governing as a centrist thanks to a hostile, activist Republican Congress. But in the current year, I registered to vote, and voted for Trump in the Republican primary for reasons I've previously expounded. Trump is the last stand: political and cultural breathing space for America's founding stock, who are the only people who give a shit about things like limited government and property rights.

I started this blog in May 2009 after converting to Orthodox Christianity, and ever since I have been fascinated by the parallels between Orthodoxy and the American State: vibrant institutions with stellar credentials, now struggling to interpret their own founding charters and define themselves in the present milieu. America: a Proposition country, now filling up with Tribal peoples, unable to concede that in fact all men are not created equal. Orthodoxy: awkwardly backflipping around its clearly nationalistic tendencies, even as its growth is concentrated in the Anglosphere's secular democratic States.

Most Americans, like most Orthodox, seem unable to comprehend that the world has changed and the analytical tools they used to understand the world no longer apply. America is no longer a cozy redoubt of English settlers steeped in Blackstone, Locke, and Hume with limitless frontier to the West. Orthodoxy is no longer the binding creed of multicultural Empire, presided over by a despotic Emperor endowed with the Mandate of Heaven.

We are all in uncharted territory. Happily, over the past few months, I am in contact with more people--young, male--who perceive the same problem: things are no longer as they were, and where do we go from here.

John Coffman
Trifon
Dean Abbot
Mark Citadel

That unprecedented episode in human rule popularly titled the Age Of Reason is drawing to a close, and something is going to replace it, and it could be better for you or worse for you depending on your identity. And all the copies of the Constitution and Federalist Papers won't stop it, not that, again, anybody outside a few aging white people cares about them or reads them.

The Age of Ideology is over.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

We are reaching levels of awesomeness we didn't previously think possible.




The next great Recession looms. Queen Hill may win, and promptly enact a dry-foot/dry-foot immigration policy for all the new Democrats from the Third World. Exotic strains of tuberculosis, pneumococcus may yet ravage us. But at this time and this place, in the Capitol of Capital, Nassim Taleb and Mark Rippetoe are going out for lunch, and we have a glimpse of the world when adults are in charge.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Hard Hat Riot



At 7:30 am on May 8, [1970], several hundred anti-war protesters (most of them high school and college students) began holding a memorial at Broad and Wall Streets for the four dead students at Kent State. By late morning, the protesters—now numbering more than a thousand—had moved to the steps of Federal Hall, gathering in front of the statue of George Washington which tops the steps. The protesters demanded an end to the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, the release of political prisoners in the United States, and an end to military-related research on all university campuses.

At five minutes to noon, about 200 construction workers converged on the student rally at Federal Hall from four directions. Nearly all the construction workers carried American flags and signs that read "All the way, USA" and "America, Love it or Leave it". Their numbers may have been doubled by others who had joined them as they marched toward Federal Hall. A thin and inadequate line of police, who were largely sympathetic to the hardhats' position, formed to separate the construction workers from the anti-war protesters. At first, the construction workers only pushed but did not break through the police line. After two minutes, however, the hardhats broke through the police line and began chasing students through the streets. The workers chose those with the longest hair and beat them with their hard hats and other weapons, including clubs and steel-toe boots. Onlookers reported that the police stood by and did nothing.

Some of the construction workers and counter-protesters moved across City Hall Park toward City Hall. They mounted the steps, planted their flags at the top of the steps, then attempted to gain entrance. Police on duty at City Hall initially barred them, but soon the mob pushed past. A few workers entered the building. A postal worker rushed onto the roof of City Hall and raised the American flag there to full mast. When city workers lowered the flag back down to half-mast, a large number of construction workers stormed past the police. Deputy Mayor Richard Aurelio, fearing the building would be overrun by the mob, ordered city workers to raise the flag back to full mast.

Rioting construction workers also attacked buildings near City Hall; most were of Irish Catholic extraction and some ripped the Red Cross and Episcopal Church flags down from a flagpole at nearby Trinity Church. One group invaded two nearby Pace University buildings, smashing lobby windows with clubs and crowbars and beating up students. More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Most of the injured required hospital treatment. Six people were arrested.
Via Wikipedia.

The Hard Hat Riot represented the fundamental break in the Democratic party from class politics to identity politics, currently epitomized by Hillary Clinton's statement:
"Not everything is about an economic theory, right?” Clinton said, kicking off a long, interactive riff with the crowd at a union hall this afternoon.

“If we broke up the big banks tomorrow—and I will if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will—would that end racism?”

“No!” the audience yelled back.

Clinton continued to list scenarios, asking: “Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?”
(via AlterNet).

The white working class, which is well represented in the ranks of combat infantry, has a strong patriotic and masculine streak, so when the Democratic Party decided to focus on identity and social justice instead of economic class and labor dynamics, they naturally had to distance themselves from those uncouth Hard Hats. The white working class subsequently elected Ronald Reagan by large electoral majorities.

Forty-six years later, a similar realignment occurs on the Republican side, as prominent conservatives urge their fellows not to vote for Donald Trump.







By way of contrast, here is a typical image from Googling "Trump voters". I doubt they contribute to the American Enterprise Institute or read the Weekly Standard.


The conservatives accuse Trump and his base of "racism," "sexism," "xenophobia," and even "fascism" (an incoherent use of the term). Trump's voters enthusiastically cheer his "America first" foreign policy, a Wall on the southern border, and a ban on Muslim hijrah. As the primary results demonstrated, more of the Republican base agreed with Trump than with any other approved McCandidate. Tax rates and Original Intent don't seem to figure much in their hierarchy of wants.

The opposition to this populist revolt is like nothing I have seen in my life. All of media, government, business, academe, and the think tank archipelago have declared war on Trump. He is attacked without respite, with the Republican establishment and its donors in the vanguard.

This is the second, seismic political re-alignment in my lifetime. As it turns out, people care less about marginal tax rates and whatever it is the 14th Amendment does not empower government to protect, and more about things like the national character, and the endless wars they are tasked with fighting and financing. They don't want a carried interest exemption; they want a country to call their own, and a strongman who'll keep out their enemies. Any of the Establishment's pre-vetted candidates could have promised that, but they didn't. Trump did, and that's why he's the one running for President.

And this brings up another eye-opening phenomenon: the ideological conservatives' effortless adoption of the tactics, terminology, and moral framework of the Left to attack Trump and his voters. And if conservatives adopt the tactics, terminology, and moral framework of the Left, then aren't they really the Left, with the same Progressivist, universalist worldview as their Trotskyite brothers-in-arms?

Conservatism is about conserving a people or it is about nothing, pure and simple.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Gay, Feminist, Democratic, Rainbow Warrior Army


Via Ad Orientem

Marine Corps enlisted and officer training is to be fully gender integrated with gender-neutral occupational titles. Same with the Navy, which will no longer have "corpsmen" but, presumably, "corpspersons." All restrictions on homosexuals and transsexuals serving openly are to be lifted. Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been officially replaced with Never Shut Up.

This will probably have less impact on US tactical capability than we think. The Special Forces and mercenary companies will continue to be mostly lean, mean white males as the regular forces become a gay, female pageant. Presumably, even the Bolsheviks know that you still need hard men with problematic attitudes around if you need to kill people and break things.

The Left continues its rampage through the institutions. Being the Left, of course, they never stop until somebody or until circumstances stop them. And, to mount a particular hobby horse, ideological conservatism simply lacks the tools to oppose the Long March. I can hear the dialectic already: "How can you POSSIBLY deny opportunities for advancement to this brave homosexual/transgendered/female veteran? HAVE YOU NO SHAME SIR?"

The conservative--the espouser of meritocracy, equality before the law, and support for the politically popular military--can only gulp back his words and cast desperately for another line to draw in the sand. The military is of course an inherently masculine institution for which women are biologically and temperamentally unsuited, and the introduction of sexual marketplace dynamics into such a rigidly hierarchical organization is disastrous. But any general who raises these perfectly historical, realistic and grounded arguments will have his career ruined.


The Right is hoisted on its own petard. If indeed all men are "created equal," then by God they are, and biological and social reality be damned. If we're a Proposition Nation, and a Propositional American says, "Give me your tired, your poor," then tired and poor we shall have.

A dedication to conserving the existence and well-being of a discrete people in their geographic redoubt elides these ideological conundrums completely, but conservatives are trapped by their own universalist rhetoric.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yea verily, doth this AltRight appear most unseemly


Panic.

FIRST, an apology, or rather a regret: The Economist would prefer not to advertise the rantings of racists and cranks. Unfortunately, and somewhat astonishingly, the Alt-Right—the misleading name for a ragtag but consistently repulsive movement that hitherto has flourished only on the internet—has insinuated itself, unignorably, into American politics. That grim achievement points to the reverse sway now held by the margins, of both ideology and the media, over the mainstream. It also reflects the indiscriminate cynicism of Donald Trump’s campaign.

Much of the Alt-Right’s output will seem indecipherably weird to those unfamiliar with the darker penumbras of popular culture. It has its own iconography and vernacular, derived from message boards, video games and pornography. Its signature insult is “cuckservative”, directed at Republicans supposedly emasculated by liberalism and money. Its favourite avatar is Pepe the frog, a cartoon-strip creature co-opted into offensive scenarios; one Pepe image was reposted this week by Donald Trump junior and Roger Stone, a leading Trumpista, the latest example of the candidate’s supporters, and the man himself, circulating the Alt-Right’s memes and hoax statistics.

Truth. Beauty. Goodness.



I'm literally weeping with joy and gratitude right now.

Seriously, if you believe in America as an integral nation with distinctive interests, you only have one choice.
Oh, right—there’s that other issue. The sacredness of mass immigration is the mystic chord that unites America’s ruling and intellectual classes. Their reasons vary somewhat. The Left and the Democrats seek ringers to form a permanent electoral majority. They, or many of them, also believe the academic-intellectual lie that America’s inherently racist and evil nature can be expiated only through ever greater “diversity.” The junta of course craves cheaper and more docile labor. It also seeks to legitimize, and deflect unwanted attention from, its wealth and power by pretending that its open borders stance is a form of noblesse oblige. The Republicans and the “conservatives”? Both of course desperately want absolution from the charge of “racism.” For the latter, this at least makes some sense. No Washington General can take the court—much less cash his check—with that epithet dancing over his head like some Satanic Spirit. But for the former, this priestly grace comes at the direct expense of their worldly interests. Do they honestly believe that the right enterprise zone or charter school policy will arouse 50.01% of our newer voters to finally reveal their “natural conservatism” at the ballot box? It hasn’t happened anywhere yet and shows no signs that it ever will. But that doesn’t stop the Republican refrain: more, more, more! No matter how many elections they lose, how many districts tip forever blue, how rarely (if ever) their immigrant vote cracks 40%, the answer is always the same. Just like Angela Merkel after yet another rape, shooting, bombing, or machete attack. More, more, more!

This is insane. This is the mark of a party, a society, a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die. Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity.
The Flight 93 Election.

This pseudonymous essay is rumored to have been written by Christopher Caldwell. The author has said the pseudonym is to protect him not from the Left, but from erstwhile conservatives.

He penned a response to the predictable pointing and spluttering by ideological conservatives.
A point from the earlier essay is worth repeating. Conservatives have shouted since the beginning of Trump’s improbable rise: He’s not one of us! He is not conservative! And, indeed, in many ways, Trump is downright liberal. You might think that would make him more acceptable to the Left. But no. As “compassionate conservatism” did nothing to blunt leftist hatred of George W. Bush, neither do Trump’s quasi-liberal economic positions. In fact, they hate Trump much more. Trump is not conservative enough for the conservatives but way too conservative for the Left, yet somehow they find common cause. Earlier I posited that the reason is Trump’s position on immigration. Let me add two others.

The first is simply that Trump might win. He is not playing his assigned role of gentlemanly loser the way McCain and Romney did, and may well have tapped into some previously untapped sentiment that he can ride to victory. This is a problem for both the Right and the Left. The professional Right (correctly) fears that a Trump victory will finally make their irrelevance undeniable. The Left knows that so long as Republicans kept playing by the same rules and appealing to the same dwindling base of voters, there was no danger. Even if one of the old breed had won, nothing much would have changed, since their positions on the most decisive issues were effectively the same as the Democrats and because they posed no serious challenge to the administrative state.

Which points to the far more important reason. I urge readers to go back through John Marini’s argument, to which I cannot do anything close to full justice. Suffice to say here, the current governing arrangement of the United States is rule by a transnational managerial class in conjunction with the administrative state. To the extent that the parties are adversarial at the national level, it is merely to determine who gets to run the administrative state for four years. Challenging the administrative state is out of the question. The Democrats are united on this point. The Republicans are at least nominally divided. But those nominally opposed (to the extent that they even understand the problem, which is: not much) are unwilling or unable to actually do anything about it. Are challenges to the administrative state allowed only if they are guaranteed to be ineffectual? If so, the current conservative movement is tailor-made for the task. Meanwhile, the much stronger Ryan wing of the Party actively abets the administrative state and works to further the managerial class agenda.

Trump is the first candidate since Reagan to threaten this arrangement. To again oversimplify Marini (and Aristotle), the question here is: who rules? The many or the few? The people or the oligarchs? Our Constitution says: the people are sovereign, and their rule is mediated through representative institutions, limited by written Constitutional norms. The administrative state says: experts must rule because various advances (the march of history) have made governing too complicated for public deliberation, and besides, the unwise people often lack knowledge of their own best interests even on rudimentary matters. When the people want something that they shouldn’t want or mustn’t have, the administrative state prevents it, no matter what the people vote for. When the people don’t want something that the administrative state sees as salutary or necessary, it is simply imposed by fiat.

Don’t want more immigration? Too bad, we know what’s best. Think bathrooms should be reserved for the two biological sexes? Too bad, we rule. And so on and on.

To all the “conservatives” yammering about my supposed opposition to Constitutional principle (more on that below) and who hate Trump, I say: Trump is mounting the first serious national-political defense of the Constitution in a generation. He may not see himself in those terms. I believe he sees himself as a straightforward patriot who just wants to do what is best for his country and its people. Whatever the case, he is asserting the right of the sovereign people to make their government do what they want it to do, and not do things they don’t want it to do, in the teeth of determined opposition from a managerial class and administrative state that want not merely different policies but above all to perpetuate their own rule.

If the Constitution has any force or meaning, then “We the People” get to decide not merely who gets to run the administrative state—which, whatever the outcome, will always continue on the same path—more fundamentally, we get to decide what policies we want and which we don’t. Apparently, to the whole Left and much of the Right, this stance is immoderate and dangerous. The people who make that charge claim to do so in defense of Constitutional principle. I can’t square that circle. Can you?

(To those tempted to accuse me of advocating a crude majoritarianism, I refer you to what I said above and will say below on the proper, Constitutional operation of the United States government as originally designed and improved by the pre-Progressive Amendments.)

One must also wonder what is so “immoderate” about Trump’s program. As noted, it’s to the left of the last several decades of Republican-conservative orthodoxy. “Moderate” in the modern political (as opposed to the Aristotelean) sense tends to be synonymous with “centrist.” By that definition, Trump is a moderate. That’s why National Review and the rest of the conservatives came out of the gate so strongly against him. I admit that, not all that long ago, I probably would have too. But I have come to see conservatism in a different light. To oversimplify (again), the only “eternal principle” is the good. What, specifically, is good in a political context varies with the times and with circumstance, as does how best to achieve the good in a given context. The good is not tax rates or free trade. Those aren’t even principles. In the American political context, the good is the well-being of the physical America and its people, well-being defined (in terms that reflect both Aristotle and the American Founding) as their “safety and happiness.” That’s what conservatism should be working to conserve.
Restatement On Flight 93.

The Age of Ideology is over.

An Anarcho-Capitalist Proposal


Clayton County Jury Awards $10M To Murder Victim
A Clayton County jury delivered a post-apportionment award of $10 million to the family of a man murdered by unknown assailants at a Forest Park apartment complex last year, earning praise from plaintiffs' attorney Jeff Shiver for putting aside the fact that the dead man's widow was a Mexican national and spoke no English.

"I'm encouraged that jurors are looking past someone's last name, the language they speak or the color of their skin to see that all lives have intrinsic value," said Shiver, whose team included Shiver & Hamilton partner Alan Hamilton and associate Daniel Beer, and Darren Summerville and Mecca Anderson of the Summerville Firm.

The jurors were not told that the dead man, Florencio Perez-Hernandez, had been in the country illegally, Shiver said. His widow obtained a visa to attend the trial, leaving their three children in Mexico, but had to return before its conclusion, he said.
The defendants, the apartments' corporate owner and management company, offered to settle the case for $1 million a few weeks before trial, Shiver said, after turning down a $7 million plaintiffs' offer last October.

Because of that, the plaintiffs' lawyers will also seek attorney fees through Georgia's offer of judgment statute, under which a party that declines a settlement offer, then loses at trial by at least 25 percent more than the rejected offer, can be ordered to pay the winning party's fees accrued from the date of the offer, he said.
The defense team included Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial partners Earl "Billy" Gunn and David Matthews, and associate George Green Jr.

"I can't say I'm surprised with the verdict," said Gunn. "I am surprised and unhappy with dollar amount awarded, although I had a jury that worked diligently."

"I expect us to pursue post-judgment relief," Gunn said.

The case is the second one pitting Shiver Hamilton and Gunn's firm stemming from a murder at the Bradford Ridge Apartments. In 2013, 13-year-old Steven Diaz was shot and killed there, resulting in a confidential settlement last year.

Asked why the first settled while the second went to trial, the lawyers said another insurer handled the first case.
"Different insurer, different philosophy," said Gunn. "I told Jeff, 'that first settlement spoiled you.' I was wrong."
The just-concluded trial involved the Jan. 24, 2015, murder of Perez-Hernandez, 33, who had left the apartment complex to go to a nearby convenience store with a friend, Emmanuel Perez-Lopez.

As they returned, according to Shiver and court filings, three men asked them for cigarettes; upon being told they had none, someone hit Perez-Lopez in the head with an unknown object, and he passed out.

When he came to, Perez-Lopez returned to the apartment and told others there about the attack, and they went in search of their friend. They found him dead from a gunshot wound in the apartments' parking lot, 50 to 100 feet from where he and Perez-Lopez had been accosted.

Clayton County, Georgia was the setting for Margaret Mitchell's great circa bellum novel Gone With The Wind. Much of the 1977 film Smokey And The Bandit was shot there, back when we used to look like this.


Rest assured my friends, all those days are indeed "gone with the wind."

2000 census
lAs of the 2010 United States Census, there were 259,424 people residing in the county. 66.1% were Black or African American, 18.9% White, 5.0% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.1% from some other race and 2.5% from two or more races. 13.7% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the 2000 census, there were 236,517 people, 82,243 households, and 59,214 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,658 people per square mile (640/km²). There were 86,461 housing units at an average density of 606 per square mile (234/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 37.94% White, 51.55% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 4.49% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 3.55% from other races, and 2.08% from two or more races. 7.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Estimated 2006 population is 271,240, with a racial make-up of 20.4% white non-Hispanic, 62.9% African American, 5% Asian, 11.3% Hispanic or Latino, 0.4% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Pacific Islander. 1.5% were reported as multi-racial.

There were 82,243 households out of which 40.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.70% were married couples living together, 20.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.00% were non-families. 21.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the county the population was spread out with 30.00% under the age of 18, 10.40% from 18 to 24, 35.40% from 25 to 44, 18.40% from 45 to 64, and 5.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 94.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,697, and the median income for a family was $46,782. Males had a median income of $32,118 versus $26,926 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,079. About 8.20% of families and 10.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.20% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.

The last quarter-century has seen significant change in the racial composition of the county's population. In 1980, Clayton county's population was 150,357 — 91% white and 9% minority, while in 2006 the population was approximately 271,240 — 20% white and 80% minority.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 259,424 people, 90,633 households, and 62,389 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,832.5 inhabitants per square mile (707.5/km2). There were 104,705 housing units at an average density of 739.6 per square mile (285.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 66.1% black or African American, 18.9% white, 5.0% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 7.1% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 13.7% of the population.[14] In terms of ancestry, and 4.9% were American.

Of the 90,633 households, 42.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 25.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.2% were non-families, and 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.37. The median age was 31.6 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,311 and the median income for a family was $48,064. Males had a median income of $36,177 versus $32,460 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,958. About 13.6% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.

In summary, whites are fleeing, vibrancy is moving in, and incomes are stagnant and declining, despite the unmitigated boon of cheap immigrant labor. I know white rednecks who just up and left, dropping their keys off at the bank. Central American stoop laborers, paid in cash, stumbling around drunk, are easy marks for black predators.

The security measures necessary to keep Bradford Ridge Apartments predator-free would likely price the unit costs out of the reach of the late Perez-Hernandez. The tactics necessary to keeping his assailants away would be illegal. This is quintessential anarcho-tyranny: the property owners are placed between the Scylla and Charybdis of pricing out their own customers thereby eliminating their income stream, or assuming the full expense for the general criminality of Clayton County and its dysfunctional demographics, which is frankly uninsurable and impossible.

Let me unpack this a bit more: a Clayton County jury (none of whom, I assure you, were landlords) apportioned practically no fault to the actual trigger-pullers (that's what the "post-apportionment" means) and simply speculated that something could have been done to prevent a group of human predators from preying on their unfortunate marks (machine guns? Ghurkas? a crocodile-filled moat?). Note also the strange tale of the survivor: they hit him over the head, and apparently drag his buddy 50 to 100 feet away where they shoot him, then conveniently disappear, allowing Perez-Lopez to regain consciousness, return to the apartment, then go looking for the decedent whom (hey, presto!) they find shot dead. I'm not an actor on Law & Order, but this story stinks to high heaven.

Which gets me to my Anarcho-Capitalist Proposal: If the costs of general criminal activity in counties are going to be socialized on to the county's property owners, why not just give the property owners the county?


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Modest Proposal


In 1729 Jonathan Swift floated A Modest Proposal for solving Irish poverty under English rule: allow Irish parents to sell their children to the English as food. The Irish would no longer be poor, and the English would have enough to eat.

I have my own Modest Proposal: billionaires must run the country for the duration of their lives, and upon their death, the responsibility will pass to their children for their lives, ad seriatim. If they or anybody in the line of succession refuses the responsibility, then their wealth will be confiscated by the government.
___________________________________________

Governance used to be by the most physically imposing or charismatic, who seized lands and charged rents from the inhabitants. Then it was by the monarchs who inherited these kingdoms from their physically imposing, charismatic ancestors, and doled subordinate fees out to lesser lords who willed these estates to their children in turn. The merchant class did not rule.

Then we decided that “the people” would rule. "The people" seized the right to rents from the monarchy in the usual way: by superior violence, for which the people subsequently substituted ballot boxes. In other words, instead of firing the rifles, we just count up who has the most of them and agree to go home instead.

Due to various court rulings, billionaires are effectively able to buy legislators who tell the voter class what they want to hear, and who then proceed to do the donor class’s bidding. (In a bit of ancient history, I remind readers that the ballyhooed campaign finance reform sponsored by Sens. McCain and Feingold is a largely toothless bit of legislation which accomplished nothing in the way of actual reform.)

The best example of this distortion of the democratic process is Eric Cantor, who got tossed out on his ear by voters repulsed by his support for Open Borders. Upon being fired by the voters, Cantor promptly landed a $3 million dollar a year job.


In sum, the prospect of being voted out of office is no longer a threat to the ruling class, who receive substantial back-loaded bribes in the form of speaking fees, "foundations," and other sinecures. We live in an oligarchy dressed up in democratic trappings. This is of great benefit to the oligarch puppetmasters, who might otherwise find their own necks on the line for the destructive policy choices they bribe legislators and executive branch officials to follow.

Therefore, get government aligned back with ownership incentives. Since the current metric is wealth rather than physical prowess and charisma, then we’ll just stick the wealthy with running the place, or their wealth will be confiscated so it can’t subvert the people.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hierarch of "Eastern America"



Who are "Serbians?" Presumably, they are an ancestral group with sufficiently high rates of in-group marriage to warrant the ethnic label.

Where is this "Eastern America?" It's actually a heavily populated area which has been settled since the 1600's, whose inhabitants generally consider themselves an integral part of the sovereign and cultural entity called the United States of America. Ninety nine percent of them are not Serbian.

Serbians, like other immigrants, think the USA is terra nova with this common language and legal and other infrastructure just lying around for the rest of the world to pick up when they get here. The fact that there is a distinctive Anglo-America which actually built the place and supplied this social and physical framework is unknown to the new arrivals, thanks in no small part to Anglo-Americans telling them there's never been any such thing as Anglo-America.

The Serbians, the Levantines, the Meso-Americans, the Afghans, and on and on, are not coming here to be here; they are coming here to have a better there. God bless us all, and thanks for the Orthodoxy, but this doesn't end well.

I refer readers back to this post from October 29, 2015, where an Anglo-Saxon Fr. Patrick Allen was tasked with explaining why we're sticking with our Syro-Lebanese, Arabic-speaking fathers in the faith.

We are all in uncharted territory. America, an Anglo-Celt republic, has become a multicultural empire and nobody knows what do now.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Everything is a pyramid scheme



What is Steemit?

Launched in March and gaining prominence in July, Steemit, a self-described "blockchain-based social media platform", has seen this level of notoriety in just its first few months of operation. To date, it has polarized blockchain experts while winning scores of newcomers to the technology.

The brain-child of Daniel Larimer, founder of BitShares, and Ned Scott, a former financial analyst, Steemit aims to provide a place for individuals to create content, promote the content they believe is good and comment on stories — all while earning money.

But Steemit is more than just a website for earning spare change.

It’s an actual blockchain built on a piece of technology developed by Larimer called Graphene, which allows for the deployment of application-specific blockchains.

Scott, in interview with CoinDesk, explained that the team only had the idea for Steemit back in January and, because of the Graphene framework, they were able to quickly roll the project out.

The rest, like most things in the blockchain space, is a bit difficult to explain...

Translation: It's a pyramid scheme.

Crypto-currencies are pure fiat, just like government legal tender, except they don't have an armed government with a legal market to back them up. They will be exchangeable for real goods and services, until they won't be. The subtext to all this: if you can't explain what you're about in one declarative sentence, you're probably a pyramid scheme.

The Twitter thread above got me thinking about this old post titled, "Storing Paco" [reminder - it's all been said on here already]:
Tyler's metaphor, his pet dog Paco, refers to the fact that savers now have to pay the banks to store their money (Paco) instead of having their money run around and play (generate positive returns). Negative interest on deposits basically transforms cash into gold, implying huge, zombie-army levels of risk, like a survivalist who incurs storage and opportunity costs in order to hoard canned beans and ammo. But the risk doesn't seem to be out there, with healthy profits and positive consumer confidence. So this implies, to Tyler, that there is some barrier to new investment. (He loses me at this point--economic stagnation? wealthy entrepeneurs cashing in their chips?)

Tyler continues: "I liked Paco (more importantly Paco liked me), but I do not enjoy living in a Paco economy. I think of the calm before the storm and wonder how to reconcile the observed calm and the potential for the storm. I do not like the most obvious attempts at reconciliation."

In other words, something really obvious should be happening to explain negative interest rates (which, as a practical matter, are economically impossible) but darned if anybody can find it.

So what is "it?" And I think I've found "it." Every person I talk to is seeing their margins squeezed. Competition is pretty brutal on an inter-connected planet of 7 billion people. This doesn't mean we're all going to die; it just means our profits are going to be ever lower. Add in a constant stream of new money, and quality trends downward and more and more people see their living standards fall, thus driving high-IQ people who want to make a lot of money into value-transference activities like Steemit instead of, say, discovering how to repair damaged neural tissue.

Thus the conundrum for the rich: there really isn't any "next big thing" left out there, and bank deposits are only insured up to $250,000, so they're storing their money in cash equivalent: government bonds. There are a lot of externalities in play as well which I won't go into. But what this also means is there is a lot of over-valued trash and the rich know it, which is why they're stockpiling cash. Note too that they are counting on the current bond issuers (the EU, the US government et al.) still being around to honor their debt obligations. Of course, the issuers are going to do this by pure money-printing but productivity and markets seem to be growing just enough that this is not a problem for the debt holders. Yet.

The system is fragile in that the over-valued trash (like Steemit) must eventually reflect the underlying fundamentals, and the government is borrowing too much. I suspect the situation will flip and the flight to real assets (land, gold, ammo, vodka) will come when it's obvious that the future mean-90 IQ peoples of the US and Europe will not and cannot repay the obligations incurred by mean-100 IQ Americans and Europeans. So good news for my fellow 52-year olds: the system has about 30 more years left in the tank.

Finally, apologies for the delayed posting. I am going to try and follow my friend the Rat-Faced Man's advice and post weekly, even if (when) the quality suffers.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The year Rudyard Kipling was proved right about everything

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control--
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.
_____________________________________________
BREAKING: At least 80 people were killed and 18 others were seriously injured Thursday when a terrorist drove a large truck loaded with guns and hand grenades into a crowd that had gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the southern French city of Nice.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but two sources, including a U.S. counterterrorism source who collects and monitors jihadist social media, told Fox News that accounts linked to ISIS were "celebratory" and their followers were told to use the hashtag "Nice".

The death toll was confirmed by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve early Friday morning. A source told Fox News that two Americans – a father and his son – were among the dead in the attack.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande said that children were among the dead, and said his country was "under the threat of Islamic terrorism. We have to demonstrate absolute vigilance and show determination that is unfailing."



There were a number of weapons in the truck; France's strict gun control does nothing to keep weapons out of the hands of Islamic militants. The perpetrator is apparently first-generation French, of Tunisian origin: Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (Are you muttering to yourself that that's not a French name? I'm calling Homeland Security you hateful bigot.) Immigrant populations in France remain resentful and marginalized through successive generations. They hate it there; the French hate them there. France is under martial law, with armed soldiers patrolling her streets. Naturally, nobody but the Alt-Right (Fascists! Nazis!) dares suggest that maybe this is what separate countries are for.

Why is it not a deadly sin to squander your children's inheritance of a high-trust society by importing violent, immiscible peoples, just so you can have cheap labor and more consumers to sell crummy gewgaws and cellphone plans to?

Obviously, when I say "Rudyard Kipling," I may as well be saying "Donald Trump."
We must stop importing extremism through senseless immigration policies.

A pause for reassessment will help us to prevent the next San Bernardino or worse -- all you have to do is look at the World Trade Center and September 11th.
By what stretch is this unconscionable bigotry, as opposed to an eminently debatable proposal in light of the facts on the ground? Different people are different; a Tunisian Muslim has different heroes, different history, different creed, different norms, and on and on, with little in common to French celebrating their own version of July 4. The immigrant is what he is; the real traitors are the thoughtless bureaucrats and merchants who think countries are just lines on a map.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Constitutional fetishism


Remember the great and glorious Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
I am going out on a limb and saying that this Amendment has never been invoked against the US government since its founding, or maybe somebody can point me to some case from the extremely episodic War Between The States.

We forget that the Constitution, an admittedly cogent Enlightenment-era document, really was a creature of its times. Having a bunch of drunken soldiers sprawled in your living room, leering at your daughter and barking commands at your wife would loom large in a colonist's mind. In 2016, the notion seems very quaint. Besides, if the US military rolled into town to put down a tax protest, the government would just exercise its eminent domain powers to kick you out of your house, with the blessing of federal judges and the Constitution. Actually, the Amendment just means Congress has to pass a law to quarter soldiers in your house.

Remember Art. I, Sec. 8 under Congress's enumerated powers?

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

Which, as we all know, gives businesses the right to hire the US Pension, er, Postal Service to distribute their corporate marketing materials at subsidized rates.

In a nation of 320 million with satellite communications and any number of competing delivery services the USPS could surely be shut down, and FedEx or UPS would tell the few households living away out in the sticks that they and not their more sensibly located neighbors will bear the cost of a 10-mile trek into town for their deliveries. The broke, busted USPS could be decommissioned by reading Sec. 8 as a list of permissive powers, not as a mandate, which was surely the original intent, but the men who wrote the document are no longer around to tell us that was the original intent. Therefore, the Constitution means whatever nine government lawyers say it means.

This odd dynamic turns elections into winner-take-all contests over existential issues. Once the winners can seize the levers of State power and install their own judges to say what the Constitution means, they can do whatever the hell they want, same as any old despot. The Constitution is just words on paper; it's not a talisman and doesn't actually conserve anything.

Conservatives need to get over their fetish with the Constitution. It's become a ghost shirt they put on and dance around in, hoping the old gods will come back and drive the evil Liberals back into the sea. They would be better served by just being honest and saying they want that old America that was 85% Anglo-European.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Moderated comments


I am moving to moderated comments going forward. My criteria at this point are, "No Spam" and "No Corvinus." Otherwise, based on the history of this blog, you should expect that your comment will be posted in full. Sorry to have to do this.

"Negative Rates, Plunging Yields and a 'Fix' for the Economy"


Good exposition from Mike Whitney:
On Tuesday, the 10-year German bund slipped into the bizarro-world of negative rates where lenders actually pay the government to borrow their money. Aside from turning capitalism on its head, negative rates illustrate the muddled thinking of central bankers who continue to believe they can spur growth by reducing the cost of cash. Regrettably, the evidence suggests otherwise. At present, there is more than $10 trillion of government sovereign debt with negative rates, but no sign of a credit expansion anywhere. Also, global GDP has slowed to a crawl indicating that negative rates are not having any meaningful impact on growth. So if negative rates are really as great as central bankers seem to think, it certainly doesn’t show up in the data.
There are a number of factors effecting bond yields: Fear, that a Brexit could lead to more market turbulence and perhaps another financial crisis. Pessimism, that the outlook for growth will stay dim for the foreseeable future keeping the demand for credit weak.. And lack of confidence, that policymakers will be able to reach their target inflation rate of 2 percent as long as wages and personal consumption remain flat. All of these have fueled the flight to safety that has put pressure on yields. But the primary cause of the droopy yields is central bank meddling, particularly QE, which has dramatically distorted prices by reducing the supply of USTs by more than $2.5 trillion in the US alone.
So far, so good. Then we get to this.
So what can be done? Is there a way to turn this train around and put the economy back on the road to recovery?

Sure. While the political issues are pretty thorny, the economic ones are fairly straightforward. What’s needed is more bigger deficits, more fiscal stimulus and more government spending. That’s the ticket.

[Ahem] Pardon, Lord Keynes. Your slip is showing.

Keynesians have been telling us that public deficits to stimulate consumption when consumers decide to pay down debt or save for their futures is the cure to what ails us since the 1930′s. The result has been a continuous cycle of booms and busts that is nearing its denouement.

The U.S. is getting older and less white. The economy is, perforce, going to contract. This would not be a problem but for the fact that we are leveraged so far into the future that any contraction spells disaster for large segments of the population (voters, which is why the problem never gets solved). The biggest Bubble right now is the one in public debt. That is what is starving the real economy of capital and why Mike looks in vain for signs of growth. I do think he is half-right, in that roads, bridges, nationwide wi-fi, etc., would probably generate positive ROI versus kerosene and diesel for military logistics.

The Japanese are further down this road than we are. They have no growth despite public debt measured in the quadrillions. By the Keynesians’ hysterical reasoning, public debt should be pushed into the quintillions lest the Japanese starve and their corpses pile up in the streets. The Japanese have not yet exhausted the asset side of their ledger, in the form of high human capital and savings.

There is more debt than can ever be repaid and this economic deadweight is increasingly patent. Can it just be rolled over into infinity? I think if it could, a lot of former governments would still be around. So history has not stopped and eventually this debt, like the mortgage-backed-securities in 2008, will be discounted to the ability of the debtors to repay. Again, like 2008, the Fed will blow up its balance sheet and paper over the drop in nominal values. I don’t think there will be enough left in the tank of the real economy at that point, evidenced by the fact that the economy has barely grown since 2008. Entire sectors will have to disappear for capital to be reallocated to productive uses. Many of us won’t make the cut and will sink into poverty. I wish I were younger.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Age of Evangelism Is Over, cont'd

Russell Moore makes Rod Dreher feel all tingly inside.

The premise is that religious liberty, perforce, includes the freedom to practice Islam as well, so therefore the 11th Commandment requires Christians to refrain from opposing the construction of mosques in the United States. If Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist immigrants are to be encouraged in their active religious practice, then U.S. Christian churches cannot, in good conscience, continue to insist that their congregations fund overseas missions.

This is how multicultural empires end: the electorate can no longer agree on the existential, ontological questions on which a society is based. We are seriously supposed to believe that a country consisting of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Atheists can function into perpetuity? Where has this ever been the case in all of human history? After Babel, Macedonia, Rome, Byzantium, Austro-Hungary, the USSR, Yugoslavia, tribal Africa, the Levant, it's the United States that finally got it right? It's the End of History!

Multiculturalism depends on a wealthy, intelligent market-dominant ethnicity who have most of the guns and money keeping the peace, like the hidalgo minorities who rule (and misrule) all the artificial countries of Central and South America, or the authoritarian Han majority who run the Singaporean city-state. When those market-dominant groups lose their grip, like the Alawites and Christians in Syria or the Sunnis in Iraq, that glorious multiculturalism blows away faster than you can say blood is thicker than water.

This is why Donald Trump paradoxically represents the last, best hope of propositional nationhood for the U.S. Either Trump wins and slams the gates shut, and the Anglo-Europeans get busy and start baby-making in order to preserve their super-majority status, or the U.S. continues its devolution along its ethno-cultural lines.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Two additions to the blogroll

The Z Man:
The Saudi domestic setup is unsustainable. There are about 30 million people in the Kingdom, but 10 million are foreign workers and many of those are basically slaves. The mean IQ of Saudi Arabia is tough to nail down, but the consensus puts it in the high 80’s at the optimistic end. Some old data suggest the mean is somewhere just north of 80, which is what you see in sub-Saharan Africa and American prisons. Add in the fact that most young Saudis don’t work and you have a dearth of human capital. The general rule is you need a mean IQ of 95 to have a modern economy.

This is important because the Saudis recognize that they are running out of cheap oil to sell at huge profits. They are not going to run out of oil in our lifetime, but the cost of getting their crude out of the ground is going up and technology is allowing producers in the US to compete further up the price curve. That’s why they have this ambitious plan to restructure their economy to move away from simply being a giant oil company. They plan to open up the economy, diversify the tax base and shift work from foreign workers to Saudi workers.

Plans are great, but they rarely survive contact with reality. A country full of low-IQ nitwits, as the result of a culture of cousin marriage, is not going to turn into Silicon Valley overnight. Throw in the repressive Saudi religious culture and any attempt to open up the economy is going to run into trouble. Westerners working in the Kingdom live in compounds because the Wahhabi religious authorities demand it. Osama bin Laden was set off on his war with the West because Americans were stationed in the Kingdom during the Gulf War. Imagine what happens when Westerners are given easy access to the country.

That returns us to the central problem and why things will get much worse in the Middle East over the next decade. About 70% of the native Saudi population is under 30. They don’t work and they grew up in Wahhabi schools. The Saudis tended to export the fanatics to places like Afghanistan so they could go on jihad and never return. The more useful ones get pulled into the Saudi security services.

Imagine this process reversing and outside groups like ISIS recruiting these fanatics to make jihad on the House of Saud. Suddenly, ISIS or something similar is operating in Riyadh. There are plenty of signs this is happening now, but information is suppressed by the Kingdom for good reason. Still, smart people think this is a more of a now problem than a future problem.

And The Rat-Faced Man:
What can we learn from this? Well, basically, work produces value, but for you, the capture of value is much harder than its production. Your work probably produces positive externalities that aren’t returning to you in any significant way. (If nothing else, you’re paying into social supports for Boomers that you’ll never enjoy yourself.) It’s not so different from company scrip or other similar scams—those were about capturing the employee’s produced value.

What’s more, the system is designed to keep you from noticing how the issues are framed. We’re encouraged to believe that “the system works” when in fact non-clueless people milk the system shamelessly. Just being close to power can be higher value than the entire productive capacity of a square state full of highly productive but naïve and square-headed people still living in a mental world of public-spiritedness, small-town honesty and quiet, humble, good deeds. (Notice that “higher value” need not have anything to do with “more productive”).

The key term to Everyman’s dream all over the world, whether he’s Joe Lunchpail or Sarawut Ricebowlpipatpong, is value capture, not merely value production. If you aren’t capturing your value, odds are it’s going to some rat-faced man. Better figure out how to become your own.

Both smart, successful men who see a good deal wrong with how things are going. Like Porter, Malcolm, Julian, Curt, and Bob.

Ignore them at your peril.