Ramblings on Hyphen Conservatism

Great nouns need no adjectives and good philosophies need no hyphens. In the former case, the word itself conjures all the imagery needed to convey meaning. That’s not to say adjectives are useless. Quite the contrary. The point here is that nouns like lion or lunatic easily stand on their own. Lesser nouns need helpers to get their meaning across.

In the latter case, the hyphen tells you that the old cause is no longer working and this new thing is an attempt to replace it. Neo-Conservatism, for example, was a cosmopolitan revolt against the traditional bourgeois conservatism of the previous era. More precisely and practically, it was an attempt to fuse the worldly liberalism of the first half of the 20th century with the traditional, American social conservatism of the second half of the 20th century.

It was a complete failure.

I’ve thought for a long time now that the Left will have a free hand until the Right comes to terms with the Bush years. A similar dynamic was in place in the 1970’s after Nixon, but the emerging conservative movement was ready to take the stage, even before Nixon imploded. The overthrow of Nixon was the Old Left’s last gasp, aided by the young Turks from the New Left. In a way, they did Conservatives a favor by discrediting the accommodationalist wing of the GOP for a generation.

I think there are a lot of parallels between Bush the Lesser and Nixon. I’m not talking about character or their conduct in office. I strictly mean as far as their impact on the political landscape. Nixon was an inflexion point for the political class. Both parties were different after Watergate and the nation was different. In the Bush years the Left radicalized and seized control of the Democratic party, making it an ideological party. Now, it is the GOP’s turn to change itself.

That’s the problem. After Nixon, it was easy for the Conservative Movement to sweep in and take over the GOP. Nixon resigned in disgrace and that wing of the GOP was in no position to challenge the highly popular Reagan and his sizable coalition. Bush served out both terms and many on the Right still defend the guy. What’s going on now is a fraternal battle between groups claiming to be authentic “conservatives”  and the heirs to Reagan.

Libertarians have been let out of their box and represent one strain of the reformist/reconciliation effort. They have been allowed to mix with the main stream Right lately, only because they keep it interesting. Of course, Rand Paul is carrying the banner of that branch of libertarians that supported his old man. How much influence they have is debatable. it still looks like a fringe groups of weirdos to most people.

The newest entrants are from within the Establishment Right. Ramesh Ponnuru is pushing something called Reform Conservatism. His old lady is drawing a paycheck from it so you can guess where that is heading. They have a book out which is mostly a bunch of policy proposals that have been kicking around for years. These guys are the folks who learned nothing from the Bush years, but think they can form a new coalition to challenge the Left.

Then we have Post-Modern Conservatism, which seems a bit muddle to me. I get the sense the adherents spent some time reading Mencius Moldbug. It has that vibe.

Postmodern conservatism appeals neither to the foundations of modern rationalism (a technological view of nature) nor to those of classical rationalism (the autonomy and superiority of the pure philosophic life). So in this sense it is skeptical of foundationalisms, which justifies the somewhat playful and retro name “postmodern.” At the same time, it recognizes the responsibility of reason and so cannot concede the adequacy of appeals to History, including Tradition. In this sense postmodern conservatism is neither Absolutist (dogmatic) nor relativist-historicist (skeptical); let us say it has a certain confidence in reason, or, in particular, in politics as reasoning together, but it does not claim to appeal beyond such reasoning to some finished system of reason, either modern or classical.

It is too soon to tell, but they too seem to struggle with the elephant in the room.

Starting fresh always sounds good, but you cannot escape the past. In this case, anyone not in the Cult of Modern Liberalism needs to reconcile themselves with that version of neo-con rule, particularly the Bush years. The period from 1994 to 2008, with a heavy emphasis on the Bush years was, allegedly, the time when the people in charge subscribed to all the main themes of the modern Right. The result was a disaster.

If you think that sounds harsh, take a look around at the post-Bush world. Foreign policy is a train wreck. Relations with the world are at a nadir. The Right’s claim to fiscal prudence was forfeited with the Bush spending spree. Any claims to good stewardship were also forfeited when the Bush clan sold out to Wall Street. Calling what goes on in the financial class “capitalism” or “entrepreneurship” is an affront to traditional American sensibilities. Before Bush, no one wanted to be called a liberal. After Bush, no one wanted to be called a conservative.

The Rousseauist cults are spent, but there’s nothing ready to replace them. American Progressivism is a collection of nonsense fads, bolted onto tribalism. It is the faith of one group of whites forever at war with the other group of whites. Despite its Utopian posing, it has no end and no purpose. In that regard, it is purely reactionary. Intellectually it has been bankrupt for so long no one even remembers the intellectual history of the American Left.

For an alternative to form from the wreckage of the American Right, they first must come to terms with the Bush years. I think we’re seeing that in dribs and drabs. The pending disintegration of Iraq and the general failure of the War on Terror has forced some tough discussion on members of the Right. The growth of the police state is giving libertarians room to land some punches on the Bush legacy.

As far as practical politics, the GOP itself will have to change and take on their past sins. Maybe the sacking of Eric Cantor is part of that process. You can’t be a political party if your most loyal voters want to hang your leaders. I’m less optimistic on that front simply because the people in charge are so uncommonly stupid. Replacing Cantor with an open borders fanatic says the GOP learned nothing and remains bought and paid for by financial interests.

Regardless, coming to terms with the great neo-con experiment may be upon us.

The Vice Economy

Casino gambling is going to make for a good book one day. I’m sure lots of books have been written on the subject from all angles, but the one containing the epitaph is still unwritten. Way back in the olden thymes, Las Vegas was the one place to legally gamble. That meant that most people did their gambling illegally.

Now we are up to our eyeballs in legal casinos, often run by the state. The argument being that it raises money from a bad thing to be used for a good thing and it cuts down on crime. Whether any of that is true is debatable, but what is certainly true is the casino business is in trouble. This story from Atlantic City is a pretty good example.

The Revel Casino Hotel warned its staff Thursday that it will shut down this summer if a buyer can’t be found in bankruptcy court.

In warning letters given to employees and obtained by the Associated Press, Revel said it is seeking a buyer for the struggling $2.4 billion casino, but can’t guarantee one will be found. If not, employees could be terminated as soon as Aug. 18, Revel said in the letter.

“If Revel is unable to complete such a sale promptly, Revel expects to close its entire facility,” the letters read. The company also said it plans to stay open while it searches for a buyer.

Shortly after distributing the letters, Revel filed a Chapter 11 petition in federal bankruptcy court, its second in as many years. Revel said it hopes to find a buyer quickly.

“We will work to reach an agreement with a new owner who will help ensure Revel’s long-term financial stability and who shares our commitment to providing Revel’s guests and players an exceptional experience,” said Scott Kreeger, Revel’s president and chief operating officer.

He said the casino has obtained a $125 million loan from one of its existing financiers so it can operate during its stay in bankruptcy court.

If you have never been to Atlantic City, here’s a quick primer. Imagine a bombed out ghetto city like Detroit or Newark. Place it next to a decent beach with a boardwalk. Plop some tacky, giant casinos on the boardwalk and you have Atlantic City. This particular casino was built far from the massive ghettos that bound the boardwalk area. In theory, it should be thriving, but it is not. In fact, all of the casinos in AC struggle.

One reason is the surrounding area. The big mistake was not pushing out the locals when they built the casinos in the 1970’s. But, that was before liberals figured out how to use gays and Mexicans to clear out a neighborhood and gentrify it. Back then they still thought “community development” would bring jobs and prosperity to the ghetto.

The other reason for the failure of AC is the casino boom. In fact, we may be reaching peak casino.

Racetrack casinos used to contribute as much as $240 million a year to Delaware’s tax coffers. But as the Northeast becomes saturated with gambling venues, the state’s casino revenue has tumbled, prompting a new industry request—for a tax break.

“It’s a different world for the Delaware casinos,” said Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who supports reducing the tax burden on casinos by $20 million a year to help them compete.

More casinos have opened in the Northeast over the past decade than in any other part of the country, and the expansion is causing upheaval in the region. States that adopted gambling earlier than their neighbors, such as Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, are watching dollars drain away, and new projects have some wondering how many facilities the area can support.

Twenty-six casinos have opened since 2004, fueling a 39% increase in total annual gambling revenue in the mid-Atlantic and New England, according to a study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Within 100 miles of Philadelphia, there now are 24 casinos, a big shift from the early 1990s, when Atlantic City, N.J., enjoyed an East Coast monopoly. At least a dozen more gambling spots are in the pipeline from Massachusetts to Maryland, raising fears in states such as Rhode Island that their casino tax windfall is at risk.

This is a familiar pattern. A truly new product pops up creating a new industry. Once it is clearly a winner, others rush in to get a bite of the apple. Supply shoots up, prices collapse and the product becomes a commodity. That’s followed by a culling of the supply herd.

Cheap money fuels M&A activity to consolidate stronger players. Eventually you end up with a handful of suppliers of the product who can make low margin businesses work on volume. We are in the oversupply phase with casino gambling.

The question is what comes next. In every other business a few operators emerge as the apex predators to gobble up the rest. That can’t happen with state run gambling parlors. Some will go this route where private operators run the casinos and pay a special tax to the state. That either means the state takes a smaller cut or they find a way to turn the operator into a utility, which seems unlikely.

There are two other models that could be the end game. One is the nationalized business model. In the old days it was popular in Europe for the state to take control of whole industries like steel and energy. By the 1970’s these industries were money losing disasters threatening to bankrupt the state. They were privatized and in many cases sent overseas. Decades from now states will probably be unloading these white elephants for pennies on a dollar.

The other model is pornography, which has followed an interesting path. The Internet gave new life to an industry largely run by degenerates and gangsters. It suddenly got cool and it got rich. But, the same tools that opened it up to professional business people opened it up to global competition. Revenues collapsed as amateurs started giving away their porn on the Internet. The “adult bookstore” followed Blockbuster Video into the great abyss.

Gambling can be done on-line. Not all of it, but poker, sports books and other, as yet uninvented, games can be done effectively on-line. Prohibitions against on-line gambling will work for a while, but getting around these limits is getting easier. I know poker players who belong to private on-like clubs, using gaming consoles. It will not be long before a clever guy figures out how to “monetize” this.

Gambling has been a part of human societies since at least settlement. The thing is, there’s little value added opportunities in it. You can build a four-star hotel on a beach and make big money. Other than offering drinks, safety and volume, a casino is not offering a lot to the gambler. They are not there for the shows or the atmosphere. They are there for the action. That means these state gambling parlors will see their margins drop to the absolute minimum, with many going bust in the next decade.

There’s always been something dodgy about government running the vice rackets. In America, the Federal government runs the alcohol business. They make more from it than the private players. Alcohol is taxed at over $20 per gallon. The states run the cigarettes business and are now getting into the drug rackets. They own the gambling rackets in most places. The only thing left is prostitution and porn. Making money from vice makes you a pimp, no matter what you do with the money. Seeing the state fail at it is pleasing at some level.

More important, it underscores a criticism from the old right that has long been dismissed. That is, you cannot have an economy based on doing each others laundry. You have to make thinks and you have to invent things. That creates real jobs directly through employment in factories. It does so indirectly for all of the support services. It also props up the tertiary economy, like gambling and entertainment, as people use their surplus on leisure. You can’t have a real economy very long when it is based on selling off your assets to pay for leisure.

 

Casual Friday: Womyn Should Not Be On The Bench

Long ago I was in a business that employed a lot of entry level labor. The pay was pretty good, given the requirements, but it was hard to get good help. White guys wanted indoor work and black guys rarely applied for any position. That means we mostly hired Spanish guys, primarily Puerto Ricans. Even so, the turnover was terrible. A big reason for it was the state family services lunatics. I forget the exact name of the division, but they were in charge of collecting alimony and child support, the latter being most of their work.

The department was all women, angry spiteful women. I’d hire a guy and within a month a letter from the state would arrive telling me to seize his paycheck. They would take most of his pay, based on some formula I never understood. There was no negotiating with them. I’d explain that the guy was not going to work for no pay so they would get nothing unless they relented, but they never relented. It was obviously not about the money for these women. It was spite.

As you get older, you learn that women often go crazy in their middle years, morphing into womyn. That’s probably the case with this batshit crazy judge in Michigan.

A U.S. Navy sailor from Washington State is currently serving on a submarine thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean, but a judge has ordered him into an impossible custody scenario: Appear in a Michigan courtroom Monday or risk losing custody of his 6-year-old daughter.

Navy submariner Matthew Hindes was given permanent custody of his daughter Kaylee in 2010, after she was reportedly removed from the home of his ex-wife, Angela, by child protective services. But now a judge has ordered him to appear in court Monday, or risk losing his daughter to his ex-wife in addition to a bench warrant being issued for his arrest, ABC News reports.

Hindes’ lawyers argue he should be protected by the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which states courts in custody cases may “grant a stay of proceedings for a minimum period of 90 days to defendants serving their country.”

But the Michigan judge hearing the case, circuit court judge Margaret Noe, disagrees, stating: “If the child is not in the care and custody of the father, the child should be in the care and custody of the mother.”

The judge reiterated that regardless of Hindes’ assignment under the Pacific Ocean, he will appear in court or face contempt of court.

Judge Noe denied the motion for a stay under the Service Members Relief Act, ruling that he could have arranged for his wife to bring the child to her mother, saying, “At this point, I don’t think I have any alternative but to enter a bench warrant for his arrest,” Noe said.

When you have a lot of laws, you’re going to need a lot of judges. When you have a lot of judges, you end up with a lot of lunatics on the bench. This womyn strikes me as a bitter man-hater, so consumed with her hatred she tramples the laws she is sworn to uphold. Without a systemic way to filter out lunatics, cranks and the deranged, these judges remain in place for years after it is obvious they should be removed.

Nixon in Black Face

This is the flashing red headline on Drudge this morning. First we were told there was a mysterious glitch in the IRS network that resulted in the loss of only the e-mails under subpoena. Now we are being told that the IRS is the only organization on the planet that does not backup its e-mail system. Instead, they rely on users to take care of that on their own, along with securing their own government issued laptops.

Even I’m starting to get insulted by the lies.

For those of you too young to remember, we ran a president out of town a long time ago for these sorts of things. This is from the articles of impeachment for Mr. Nixon, way back in the disco era.

Article #2 Section #1:

He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

Then we have this:

He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.

The whole sorry episode has been washed down the drain of history, but the IRS stuff was probably the most outrageous at the time. The Watergate break-in was a big deal, but it was clear Nixon did not know about it before it happened. It was not all that clear he knew about it before it became a big deal in he press. It is where we get the expression, “It is not the crime, it is the cover-up.”

At the time, the stuff that truly offended the people as well as the political class was the potential misuse of the IRS and FBI. I say “potential” because it is not all that clear Nixon ever ordered anything of the sort. It is less clear that anyone else seriously tried to use the IRS as a political weapon. We now know that the FBI was corrupt in ways independent of Nixon so that’s a different story. Hoover created a monster that has never truly been tamed.

The FBI had been out of control for decades, but the IRS appears to have been fairly clean. You’re always going to have some level of corruption. When you’re dealing with sensitive data like taxes, petty abuse is inevitable. What led to including the IRS in the articles of impeachment was the mere suggestion of using the IRS for political purposes. The worst you can say about Nixon and the IRS is he would have abused it if it were a different organization.

That’s what makes this story so outrageous. This administration appears to have turned the IRS into an organization that can and was used as a political weapon. In other words, Team Obama went well past anything Nixon imagined. They have corrupted a government agency that was resistant to the Nixon people. Nixon’s corruption meter may have been pegged at ten, but Obama’s goes to eleven.

What this should do, but most likely won’t, is throw cold water on Conservative Inc and their fantasies about the Left. For decades the Left held Nixon up as the poster child for bad government. Today, they are defending a guy who makes Nixon look like a Boy Scout. These are not people who are merely mistaken. They are not people with whom you can have honest dealings. These are not men of principle. The best you can say about them is they are mendacious, cynical opportunist. In reality, they are religious fanatics. Pretending otherwise is suicide.

Pardon me for not being optimistic about where we are heading as a nation.

Men In Short Pants

I’ve been thinking about generational stuff a lot lately. I’m noodling through a future post so I’m paying attention to millennials more than normal. I was talking about my new interest with someone and they sent me this story from their local paper.

You may have spotted the new summer trend in men’s fashion: short suits.

The look, which features short trousers and is paired with a tailored jacket, has found its way into retail shops across the country. But should you go for it?

It all comes down to your personal style — if you have the confidence to don the new look with attitude, yeah, go for it. I like it and I’d wear it.

If you google “short suits” you get this. You’ll note it is almost all women in those pics. Then again, this guy is not exactly manly.

100 years ago, the custom was to put little boys in short trouser suits.

There’s a point to be made there, but I’ll resist the temptation to state the obvious.

A National Disgrace

Thousands of years of trial and error resulted in a simple, recent discovery. By recent, I mean relative to human existence. That discovery is that human societies must have well understood rules that apply to everyone. That’s the ideal, even though we accept that the rich and powerful can take advantage of their position. That’s why the tolerance for public corruption is a good measure of a civilization. A just and sane society has very little public corruption. The rich and powerful play by the same rules as everyone else.

In  this story we see once again how far American has fallen on that index.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the NFL’s Washington Redskins on Wednesday, saying the nickname is “disparaging to Native Americans” and cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits trademark protection on offensive or disparaging language.

The team has been under fire for the past year, with many groups, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, wanting the nickname changed.

Last month, the team hired a lobbying firm to help with the public backlash after senators sent a letter to the National Football League saying they also wanted the name changed.

 “We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the Trademark Trial and Appeals board wrote in its opinion.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said that he will not change the nickname despite the opposition.

The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board said the “Redskins” name is the subject for cancellation for “entertainment services -namely, football exhibitions rendered in stadia and through the media of radio and television broadcasts.”

The team’s cheerleading squad, the “Redskinettes,” are also subject to the cancellation, for “entertainment services, namely, cheerleaders who perform dance routines at professional football games and exhibitions and other personal appearances,” according to the board.

This jihad against the Redskins is led by one of the most corrupt humans on earth, Harry Reid (D, Organized Crime). This is a man who entered politics penniless and is now super-rich. He made his money shaking down contributors and making land deals with organized crime figures. Dan Snyder may be an odious speck of a man, but he made his money honestly. He has a right to live in a land of laws and he has right to expect those laws will be respected by his government.

This is a national disgrace. Whatever your views on the name – and I think if you are upset by it you need psychiatric help – there is a proper, civilized way to go about it. Willy-nilly stealing the owner’s property is how banana republics function. What’s next? Will Reid send in thugs to break up Snyder’s house and threaten his family?

We have allowed our country to be taken over by criminals, deviants and lunatics. We should be ashamed of what we have done.

The Stupidity of Fanatics

I no longer call myself a conservative. I’m not a liberal or progressive. I tend to think that’s the club for crazy people and kids. When you’re young you fall for all that nonsense about equality and justice. As you get older, you figure out all men are not equal, not by a long shot. When “you see fat man standing beside a thin one,” you stop thinking anything of it.

You also learn that justice is just the winner’s name for vengeance. Sure, the courts can put the criminals in jail, but that’s as far as you want to see justice go. Only madmen and maniacs think they can right the wrongs of the world. That’s why so many men have been killed in the name of justice.

If you have not figured that out by the time you reach adulthood, you’re probably a nut.

That said, the guys calling themselves conservative are not my cup of tea either. This is why.

The electoral upset of Eric Cantor last week — partially blamed on his squishiness about immigration, along with stories of immigrant children streaming across the US-Mexican border — have seriously dimmed the prospects of legislating immigration reform anytime soon.

That’s a shame, because normalizing the status of our millions of illegal immigrants, while clearly benefiting them, is also essential to the economic and social welfare of the country as a whole.

The writer claims to be a conservative. He is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.You could be forgiven for thinking that someone with the title “senior fellow” could get basic facts correct and not lie to the reader in the first two sentences of his essay.

Cantor lost because he favored amnesty and open borders. That’s not a fact in dispute by people who pay attention to these things. Calling amnesty “normalizing the status of our millions of illegal immigrants” is intended to deceive. My bet is this guy is lying to himself first, but he most certainly is trying to deceive the reader. This is a conservative?

Let’s start with what is not going to happen — no matter who is the House majority leader. Most illegal immigrants will not be leaving the country, either voluntarily through “self-deportation” as suggested by Mitt Romney, or involuntarily through actual deportation, notwithstanding the current administration’s aggressive efforts in this direction.

So, we have only two options in dealing with these 11 million American residents: We can keep them in their current marginal status with all the negative effects that entails for them and their communities or acknowledge their ongoing presence among us and legalize it.

I’m going to go ahead and say that Peter Salins is an unbalanced fanatic. Unless he has been in a coma for the last decade, waking up only to pen this column, he most certainly has heard the many other suggestions to deal with the invasion from the south. We have lots of options, but open borders fanatics like Peter Salins are incapable of hearing them. That’s the nature of fanatics. They see only that which feeds their fanaticism.

Both they and the country will be much better off if we pursue the latter course.

For the opponents of immigration reform, there appear to be three major concerns. Illegal immigrants: 1) broke the law, and thus shouldn’t be rewarded with “amnesty”; 2) are harming the American economy by displacing American workers and burdening American taxpayers; and 3) are a threat to American culture and values.

I’m getting a whiff of the soulless materialism that is common with libertarians. The reason for that is there are two other reasons why Americans would like to pull the plug on immigration. One is we simply don’t want a bunch of foreigners in our towns. As citizens, that is our right. The other is men like Salins made these same arguments in the 1960’s and the 1980’s. In both cases, they were all wrong. Prudent people will wisely suspect that the third time is not the charm.

You can read his arguments. They have been made a million times by better men than this stiff. He concludes with this bit:

If congressional politicians in both parties can craft a tough and realistic “grand bargain” on these terms, they would be unleashing a human capital windfall not only for the affected immigrants but for all of American society.

Well, if we can conjure leprechauns riding unicorns with gold bars flying out of their arse, we can solve all of our problems! My goodness. How can you make it to old age and still have such silly nonsense in your head?

Out Amongst The Exiles

I was reading this piece on Mary Mark Steyn’s site the other day and I could not help but wonder how these guys do it. Steyn had a prominent spot at National Review and a syndicated column. I think he had a contract with Rush Limbaugh as a guest host. I seem to recall him doing TV, but I don’t watch enough TV to be certain of it. The point being that he had a bunch of good revenue streams going until he took a stand against that odious con-man Michael Mann.

I may be reading it wrong, but it appears that Steyn has tossed a lot away in order to fight this lawsuit on principle. No matter how you feel about Steyn, you have to admire the guy for his guts. He’s not alone, of course. There’s a long list of guys who have refused to go along and found themselves exiled to the badlands. Steyn is an international character with a lot of revenue sources so I’m sure he is doing fine. Still, it is not easy to face the wife and tell her to stretch the budget until things blow over. It’s even harder when you have kids.

Steyn is the most famous case and probably the least harmed. I’m a fan of Steve Sailer and he’s a guy who appears to have paid a heavy price for sticking to his guns. I remember reading Sailer years ago in National Review. I guess that was the high point of his earning years as a writer. That was a long time ago. I don’t know if he makes much from his site or for his work for sites like Taki and VDare, but I’m guessing it is not much. Maybe there’s a rabbi somewhere making it all work. I don’t know.

Of course, all of the people writing for VDare and Taki are forever off-limits now for mainstream publications. That means the money will always be scarce. For guys like John Derbyshire, sent into exile last year, it probably does not matter much. He’s made his money and lived his life. In his dotage, he can afford to not care what the beautiful people think. The others have wives and families and that means bills to pay, appearances to keep up and all that comes with it. It’s tough to do that out there on the fringe.

Exile is a real fear amongst the chattering classes. Years ago I mentioned something from VDare in an exchange with Jonah Goldberg and he broke out in hives. He responded with a rant about how I should never even read that site, much less mention it. I still chuckle thinking about it. At the time Goldberg was trying to build up the National Review website, by being a little edgy and hip. It was a nice reminder that there’s edgy and hip in the buttoned down conformist sense of the phrase and then there’s jumping over the wall and running for freedom.

The fear is well founded. No one ever makes it back from exile. Joe Sobran and Sam Francis were great polemicists, yet they were never rehabilitated. They were the sort of gifted writers who made batshit crazy arguments fun to read. Maybe that’s what made them so dangerous, I don’t know, but if great writers never make it back from the gulag, the lesser talents have no chance. That’s what came to mind reading the latest from John Derbyshire, regarding the banished Richard Lynn. Maybe when you are no longer a threat, they bring you back.

Another side to this is what happens to former snitches who then find themselves in trouble for crime think. Dinesh D’Souza was the guy who put the shiv in the back of Sam Francis two decades ago. It was his report of Francis at American Renaissance that got Francis fired from the Washington Times. Now, D’Souza is facing jail time and reaching out to his friends on the right to save him. As a guy who hates rats like D’Souza, I’m taking a great deal of pleasure in seeing Team Obama put the screws to him. I’m also liking the fact Conservative Inc has turned their back on him. There’s something poetic about it.

I do wonder if Charles Murray is right and the ground is about to shift. There are so many people on the fringe now, it is getting crowded. Al Gore’s Contrivance makes it easier for these people to work together and build a new audience. We live in interesting times. No one seems to think the current arrangements hold much longer and no one can agree on what comes next, other than it won’t be more of the same. Maybe what comes next is the exiles come home. Smarter people than me will have to work that out.

All that said, dark travel is the best travel, at least for me. On the edge of the ghetto, life is more vibrant, even though it is more dangerous. Years back I was doing some business in DC and stopped for a coffee in Chevy Chase. All the women looked and dressed the same. They were all driving high end SUV’s. Standing in line for a five dollar coffee, seeing all the of the women with the same haircut was a bit unnerving. How could they not notice it?

But, they do notice such stuff. They notice when you don’t drive the same car or wear the same clothes or think the same thoughts. That’s how you get sent to the fringe. The pod-people running this country are a herd animal. Maybe on their home planet they graze like cattle. I don’t know. I do know the action is all out on the fringe these days. Maybe that has always been the case;  it is certainly true today. Life amongst the exiles is not remunerative, but it is rewarding.

Ruminations on Iraq

Reading reports about Iraq like this one, I can’t help but return to the old formulation I liked to use back in the Bush days. “The trouble with Afghanistan is it is full Afghans. The trouble with Iraq is there are not enough Iraqis.” Even at the height of the Iraq war, you never could find many people who identified as Iraqi first and all the other stuff second. They were always Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurds, etc. An accident of history had them born on the lands we call Iraq.

Men will fight and die for their brothers. That’s why armies are built on small units. Successful street gangs and terror groups also rely on small units. Small units mean the members have emotional bonds to one another.In our urban reservations, street gangs are made of young men who grew up together. More sophisticated gangs like motorcycle clubs have very elaborate bonding rituals to make sure the clubs are cohesive.

Of course, the natural formation of small units is through blood. Early man existed in groups of 150 or so people. Everyone was related by blood. Once a group grew so large that blood relations stretched beyond second cousins, they split up into two units. In the Arab world, this still holds sway over the people. Talk to any Arab and before long they will have mentioned many “cousins” that are members of their extended family.

That’s what comes to mind when seeing stories like this one. We have a small force of mercenaries knocking off a professionally trained (allegedly) military, equipped with modern weaponry. Even if the numbers are exaggerated in that Vox story, you’re still seeing a 10-to-1 advantage having no value on the battlefield. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is wining both the moral war as well as the tactical war, despite their lack of equipment and people.

The historian John Keegan argued that wars are determined by culture. Arab culture is not like Western culture so their way of making war is different from that of the West. “War without battle” is the preferred mode in the Arab world. That means insurgencies, terrorism and social disruption are where Arabs excel. This makes perfect sense for a culture where blood relations trump all else. Kin based societies are low-trust societies. It is trust and altruism that enable societies to engage in large scale projects like fielding large armies.

Arab societies are low trust societies, which is why they have never been good at the civilization stuff that requires large scale organization. If you can only truly count on blood relatives, scaling beyond 100 or so hands is nearly impossible. Even when you expand the circle of trust beyond second cousins, you limit the number of people capable of working as a unit to a few hundred.

It is why Arab countries are authoritarian. The people will never willingly go along with the leader, if he is not at least from their tribe. That means coercion is the only way to rule. You never hear Arab leaders talking about “their people” with any degree of pride, like you hear in the West. They don’t even have the concept down. Instead, “us” is almost always defined by blood.

This what you see going on with the Iraqi army. None of them have loyalty to Iraq. Their first loyalty is to their family, followed by the extended family of the village and tribe. Sectarian loyalty is as far as it goes and even there it is frayed. Followers of one Imam may detest the followers of another, despite both being in the same sect. The Iraqi soldiers are not going to fight and die for something that does not exist, unless they have a bayonet in their back, as was the case under Saddam.

The other interesting thing is all of this was predictable. The American military spent billions designing and training a military for Iraq along western lines. The trouble is they left an Arab culture that is still an Arab culture. Eventually you end up with the same old half-assed Arab army with a bunch of American gear they can barely operate. A guy named Norvell B. De Atkine wrote about this 15 years ago in a paper called Why Arabs Lose Wars. While he tried hard to inoculate himself, the author can’t help but notice the reason Arab countries are as we find them is they are full of Arabs.

The one potential upside to the break up of Iraq is the Kurds may finally get their own place in the world, at least officially. The Syrians are too weak to do much about the Kurds and the Turks are too disorganized now. Iraq falling apart opens the door for the Kurds to press their claims. Interestingly, the Kurds may be the one group in the region the West could do something with besides sell arms. Genetically, they are more like Jews than Arabs, according the genetics. Culturally, they are very different from their Arab neighbors. They eschew fanatical Islam and they have a national identity that goes beyond blood.

Over the last 15 years, they have weathered the unrest better than anyone in the region. They seem to possess the ability to self-organize beyond the small unit. They have a national identity in that the Kurd living in Turkey sees himself part of Kurdistan in the same way as the Kurd living in Iraq, Syria or driving a cab in New York. Why we have ignored these people is a mystery, but maybe they have been better off as a result. Our results elsewhere are not encouraging.

 

My Brief Against Chav Ball

Way back in the olden thymes, when the World Cup was held in the United States, I went to the games played on Foxboro. I happen top be at the airport when the Greek team arrived, so I got to see them on Marlboros at the gift shop. Seeing a bunch of swarthy guys chain smoking outside the terminal is my main memory of international soccer. That and how all of them were glaring at every piece of tail in sight. It was as if they just got out of prison. Little dogs and little men have no control of their sex drive.

That said, it was a good time in Boston during the World Cup and I had fun at the games I attended. Soccer is boring, dull and tedious on television. The fake injuries are so absurd and embarrassing it is hard to tolerate. In person, the game is much better. When Raul collapses in a heap, acting like he took a cannon ball to the knee, the crowd roars in unison, thus making it more like a stage play than a sporting event. You lose that interplay on TV, so it comes off as absurd. That and the Greek fans I was with knew how to jeer.

Watching soccer live is also better than TV, because you get to see the players that are not involved in the play. They are often chatting with one another like they are old friends bumping into one another on a stroll. On TV, the camera follows the ball and the players all look busy. Live, you also get a better sense of what’s really happening. The strategy comes into focus sooner than on TV. Since most of the games are fixed, it all makes more sense when you get to see all of the action and not just the group around the ball.

World Cup soccer and Olympic soccer are fun because so much is at stake. The Little League World Series gets big TV ratings in the U.S. for the same reason. People don’t watch little kids play baseball, unless it’s their kids. Put the same kids in an international tournament and suddenly the nation gets interested. There’s also the fact that the World Cup features the best players in the world. The fact is, Lionel Mesi or Neymar kicking a ball around will always seem more thrilling than two unknown guys.

Now, what has always turned me off about soccer is the cultural angle. When I was a boy, our betters in America were trying to force soccer and the metric system on us. The people doing it were all loathsome snobs. Worse yet, all of them were the children of working class people who should have known better. But, their parents sent them off to the state college and they came back thinking they were sophisticated citizens of the world, so they loved soccer. Yep, soccer was a Boomer fetish.

Even all these year on, I still think of those smug assholes of my youth, whenever soccer comes to my attention. I associate it with the ridiculous poseurs who turn up in every Progressive cultural fad. I’ve probably heard “it is the most popular sport in the world” a million times in my life. That is the sort of thing stupid say when they want to sound sophisticated. In most of the world, soccer is the sport of the poor and lower classes. That means our bourgeois bohemians are aping the mores of chavs. Good job phonies!

A recent development, one that I find most irritating, is the fake passion of cosmopolitan men for Premiere League teams in Britain. They saw videos of Euro guy with his hands on his head in agony over a soccer match and now they are pretending to have had a lifelong passion for a soccer club in England. I have a friend who used to call soccer “fag ball” until about a decade ago. He became a vegan and started following soccer. He wears a Man U jersey. He says “footie” now. He went bald and his wife is fat. That’s justice.

It is all a pose, of course. What’s odious about the poseur is he turns his self-loathing into your problem. The poseur apes the styles and attitude of others because he hates himself and cannot stand the sight of himself. His comical pretensions force everyone else to play along, in order to be polite. Everyone knows the poseur is full of crap, but the guy who says what everyone thinks, risks being castigated for being rude. These people turn our morality on its head, by making our virtues into vices. They deserve to be hated.

One other thing that turns me off is the “you don’t understand the complexity of the sport” line from people who probably don’t understand the sport at all. Soccer’s appeal is based on its simplicity. Real fans know this, but poseurs prattle on about the complexity in order to shift the focus from their misplaced and irrational love for a foreign sport, onto the skepticism of their critics. In other words, they don’t really like soccer, they just want to signal their membership in a group they believe is superior. It is Star Bellied Sneetch-ism.

Anyway, that’s my problem with soccer.