The Bowtied Boob

I think it was Bill Buckley who said you can know a man’s politics based on his opinion of Israel and abortion. It may not have been Buckley, but that’s my recollection. His point was not that you had to agree with him on either of these topics. It was that your reasoning would reveal things about you that were definitive. I’ve always liked that type of litmus test and I have expanded that list for my own tastes.

One on my list is the topic of euthanasia, which George Will writes about in his latest column. I’ll say up front that I oppose government efforts to punish people who commit suicide. I’m also against charging people who try and fail as that’s pretty much the definition of kicking a man while he is down. In almost all cases, suicide attempts are a symptom of serious psychological problems. These people need help, not punishment.

Society has a responsibility to take control of those who lack agency or whose behavior is a danger to themselves or others. Someone trying to kill themselves is someone who is a danger to themselves or others so we take control of them by force if necessary. If the reasons for their suicidal actions can be addressed, then you let them loose or turn them over to the care of their loved ones. If not, you take reasonable measures to guard them from themselves.

Proponents of assisted suicide dance around all of these issues as we see in the Will column. They also avoid the problems that arise from giving doctors a right to kill people who request it. Nowhere else in the law do we make exceptions in the law in favor of a two party agreement. That’s what a verbal agreement is between a doctor and a patient. It is a verbal contract.

Common law has always held that a contract is unenforceable when the result of fulfilling the contract violates the law. The classic example in contract law is the contract for murder. No court will compel a hit-man fulfill a murder contract. It also means the contract does not provide a shield to those who break the law in order to fulfill a contract.

To carve out an exception so a doctor can put a pillow over granny’s face without being charged with murder is just about impossible.The one exception we allow for homicide is self-preservation. Taking a life to defend life is permitted because self-preservation trumps everything in the hierarchy of limiting principles. That means you can kill a burglar or kill in war time. It even extends to capital punishment, which is in defense of society.

Convenience and practicality are not principles that trump life. Sympathy is certainly not the basis for an exception either. If we let the doctor kill granny out of a sense of mercy, then you have to let her family kill her too. After all, who could possibly have a greater sense of mercy for poor old granny than her family?

The way around it is to limit the power to kill granny to state agents. That brings us back to the death panels and technocrats plugging your vitals into spreadsheets to determine your fate. But, the state can only have powers given to it by the people and the people do not have the right to kill granny because she’s sick and ready to check out. The state can kill in self-defense, but that’s it.

This is why I think this is a good litmus test issue. George Will can meander around to supporting what he used to say made the Soviets evil, but only by avoiding anything resembling critical thinking. That either makes him dishonest or stupid, maybe both. Either way, it’s the sort of thing that let’s me know he is not a serious person.

In the event you think I’m being pedantic, I have no problem with doctors giving people morphine or even crack if it will relieve their pain in their final days. Letting a doctor prescribe powerful pain medications that gives the dying person comfort is easy. In fact, we don’t even need laws to permit it, just laws to prevent scumbags from suing over it. This has been something doctors and patients have handled on their own since forever.

And yes, there will be times when the doc gives granny a script for enough pain killers to kill a horse, which she will use to take herself out at home. This is the vast gray area where the law must end and the hidden rules take over. In other words the doctor is trained where the lines are so he can write the script and let granny decide for herself, but do so without endorsing murder or violating his oath.

A conservative understands this. George Will does not.

Class Traitor

One of the things I’ve often noted is that the above the waterline social commenters scan the fringe for ideas, without ever mentioning the fringe people they were farming for ideas. The most obvious example is how good thinkers on the Right borrow from Steve Sailer whenever they need to write something smart about education or crime. I don’t recall seeing anything that smacks of plagiarism, but I’ve seen lots of stuff that was “inspired by” Sailer.

Anyway, I saw this in my twitter feed and immediately thought of myself and Sailer. I’ve been making the class traitor argument for a while with regards to Trump and Ted Cruz. I don’t think that’s particularly clever of me as it seem obvious. This sense of betrayal was at play with Bush and his overt Christianity. I know Sailer has made the same argument with regards to Trump and it looks like he saw the same story as he has posted about it.

Ross Douthat plays an odd role in the conservative ecosystem. His job, as far as I can tell, is to let the other chattering skulls know what fringe ideas are OK to appropriate without risking the wrath of the Cult. I don’t think it is intentional, more like serendipity. He writes for the NYTimes and he is aware of the alternative writers so he has become a gatekeeper for mainstream conservatives. He also seems to get that and he takes it seriously, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

This bit got my attention:

This does not mean the two parties are interchangeable, a Republicrat conspiracy against the public. A clash between powerful elites can still be a very real clash, as recent Supreme Court decisions attest.

Nor does it mean that elites always get their way, even where there is bipartisan agreement. If they did, the Simpson-Bowles entitlement plan and comprehensive immigration reform would have passed many years ago.

But it does mean certain ideologies and worldviews get marginalized in national political debate. The libertarian who wants to cut defense spending, the anti-abortion voter who favors a bigger welfare state, the immigration skeptic who wants to keep Social Security exactly as it is … all these voters and many others choose the lesser of two evils every November, because neither party’s leadership has any interest in representing their entire worldview.

Guys like Douthat venture to the fringes of the media reservation, but they never wander far from the perimeter. They can’t as that inevitably means they get proscribed and sent to Sailer’s basement. They fear that more than anything because there’s no rehabilitation for managerial class heretics. Once you turn on your own, they lead you to the edge of the compound and slam the gates behind you. You’re effectively dead.

In this case, it means repeating the company line about there being real differences between the parties. The reality is our parties are just two versions of the consensus of the ruling elite The rich give to both parties equally. More important, they fund the media wings of both parties. Ironically, Trump has talked about this when asked about his political contributions. He buys pols from both parties just to be prudent.

At the end, Douthat repeats something I’ve been writing about here for a while making me think he is a reader.

nd he’s coming at all these issues, crucially, from a vantage point of privilege — which his critics keep highlighting as though it discredits him, when in reality it lends his populism a deeper credibility. He’s the Acela Corridor billionaire (albeit tackier than most) who promises to reveal what the elites are really up to, the crony capitalist who can tell you just how corrupt D.C. really is, the financier who’ll tell you that high finance can afford higher taxes. It’s precisely because he isn’t a blue collar outsider that he may seem like a credible change agent: Because he knows Wall Street, and because he doesn’t need its money to campaign, it seems like he could actually fight his fellow elites and win.

He won’t, of course, but it matters a great deal how he loses. In a healthy two-party system, the G.O.P. would treat Trump’s strange success as evidence that the party’s basic orientation may need to change substantially, so that it looks less like a tool of moneyed interests and more like a vehicle for middle American discontent.

In an unhealthy system, the kind I suspect we inhabit, the Republicans will find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message. In which case the pressure the Donald has tapped will continue to build — and when it bursts, the G.O.P. as we know it may go with it.

Since the founding, America’s party system has been two parties representing broad cultural and economic coalitions. The two parties jostle over building the majority coalition, with spells of Yankeedom trying to impose its communitarian culture on the rest of he country. Otherwise, the parties are coalitions representing the broad political consensus, one left of center and one right of center, but both very close to the center.

What’s happened in the last 25 years is something new in that one party has become an ideological party and both parties now represent the interests of the global elite. This works well for the Democrats because they have always been about the top and bottom versus the middle. Now they are just an explicitly ideological version of that old leftist strategy, financed by the super rich, buying grace on the cheap.

The Republicans are trying to figure out how to exist in this new arrangement. Their success in 2010 and 2014 is entirely due to the middle class having no alternative. That’s why the big fight is happening on that side. The American middle class is sensibly rejecting the dreary technocrats offered up by the party, giving Trump the opportunity to be the leader of a revolt that I doubt he understands.

There’s a lot wrong with his piece, but the fact is he has green lighted a discussion of the contextual issues regarding the Trump phenomenon. So far “conservative” writers have been limited to calling Trump a Nazi over and over because they were afraid to mention the dreary awfulness of the GOP. My guess is we will see discussion of this reality in the media.

Arx-holes

Way back during L’affaire Cecil, I was struck by something I saw from friends and foes and that is they set their opinion based on the opinion of others, rather than their own reading of things. John Derbyshire did a few segments on the issue in his broadcasts. The “reaction” from the right was anticipatory as Progressives were slow out of the gate. Once the SJW’s joined the party, there was an echo reaction on the Right. Derb’s revisiting the topic two weeks after his initial reaction is a good example.

My reaction to the reaction was this post where I sort of laid out my views on the lion murderer. I still got a few responses pointing out that I was on the side of the fat angry lesbians who stalk bad thinkers on-line. Some people simply can’t find themselves on the same side of an issue with the black hats, not matter what the facts may dictate.

I’ve been thinking about that for a while now. There’s something about it that bugs me. It’s the same vibe I get when reading the neo-reactionary guys. Just the term “neo-reactionary” bugs me. The term “reactionary” has been an epithet used by the Left since the 18th century. It implies an irrational response, not a logical one and certainly not a dispassionate one.

My opinion on the lion murderer was neither passionate nor irrational. It certainly was not reactionary as I held those same opinions before I ever heard of the lion murderer or his victim. If someone had asked me ten years ago about what I thought about big game hunting, I’d have said most of the same things. I would have said the same thing about a theoretical someone who boasted of killing animals in order to scandalize people. In other words, I came to those opinions without regard to who was on which side.

I have no interest in re-litigating the Cecil issue, as the cool kids would say. It’s just a handy reference point. I’m an anti-reactionary. By that I mean my opinions about the world are independent of alternative views. I think what I think about the Cult of Modern Liberalism based on what I know about it and what I know about human nature. If the Cult of Modern Liberalism did not exist, I’d still hold the same opinions about humanity.

The fundamental flaw of the modern Right, and certainly of the neo-reactionaries, is to give the Cult of Modern Liberalism what amounts to a heckler’s veto over their mental landscape. If the Left is deciding where the Overton Window is, for example, they control the debate. Any reaction must take place within that window and that’s a loser on every level.

You see this with the recent spree shootings. The deranged white kid shoots up a black church and the entire debate is about whether or not it is emblematic of white racism. A black lunatic shoots a couple of white coworkers and the debate is about whether racism drove him to do it. Ideologies built on a reaction to the Left are forever locked into debating issues chosen by the left on the terms of the Left.

It’s why the Left has marched steadily through the culture for the last fifty years. They have been handed the agenda, knowing their opposition will only react to whatever they are doing. The most obvious example of that is the Muslim Wars in the Bush Years. The Left rallied its anti-war elements, locking the Conservatives into a pro-war position that was irrational and self-defeating.

The anti-reactionary alternative is on display with Trump in the GOP primary. For all his faults, Trump is his own man and he has his own opinions about how to do things. In contrast, the 17 other candidates have built their entire political resumes in opposition to the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Their positions, career choices and priorities are all about what they think the Left will think of them. They are not men; they are shadows.

It’s not an alpha male versus beta male thing, although that’s a related topic. What plagues the modern Right is that they have no reason to exist other than as the Left’s nagging old lady. Some new fad sweeps the fever swamps of the Left and conservatives are right there to lecture everyone about the foolishness of it. That’s fine, but Osama bin Laden was right people. Given the choice between the strong horse and the weak horse, people pick the strong horse. Given the choice between the cad and his nagging old lady, people take the cad.

We live at an unusual crossroads culturally. The Left’s internal contradictions may very well be tearing it to pieces. Its solution to being at odds with human nature is a cultivated paranoia that encourages escalating internal warfare. This time black women take the mic away from Bernie Sanders. The next time they take away Bernie. A mass movement based on revenge has to end in disaster.

The logical alternative, however, is not an alternative. The Modern Right defines itself in opposition to the Left. As the Left collapses, it will take all its reactionary dance partners with it. What will fill the void will be the strongest anti-reactionary movement left standing. Whether that is the Gucci populism of Donald Trump or something else, I don’t know, but something will fill the void.

Hunting Unicorns Part Eleventy Billion

My favorite new way of mocking libertarians is to call their fads “unicorn hunting.” It’s stupid and childish, but what the hell. I saw this being passed around by libertarian cranks on twitter and it got my attention because I’m on my way to Gloucester right now. I’m on the road as this thing gets posted – literally.

Gloucester, Massachusetts is quintessentially New England. A seacoast town that survives on its working class ethic and seasonal tourism, it has come face-to-face with an epidemic that many cities just like it increasingly contend with: death by heroin overdose. Unfortunately, Gloucester isn’t alone in dealing with a tragic increase in fatalities caused by dangerous opioids.

Data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there were 16,235 deaths as a result of prescription opioids, and an additional 8,257 due to heroin during 2013, the last time period for which this information is available. In the same year, there were a total of 43,982 drug overdose related deaths. In Massachusetts alone, at least 1,000 people died of as a result of opioid abuse in 2014.

What sets Gloucester apart from other cities working to combat the same trend however, is its police department’s unprecedented approach to the intersection of law enforcement and drug addiction. Fed up with learning of yet another heroin overdose in his hometown this past winter, Gloucester’s police chief Leonard Campanello decided to take a new approach.

The latest bout of bad news inspired him to log in to the official Gloucester Police Department’s Facebook page and lay out a policy that has since created a ripple effect across the country. In early March, he posted the following:

“Since January of this year, we have responded to dozens of opiate related overdoses and, unfortunately, the City has seen 4 deaths in this time that are heroin related. While we have been successful in our use of nasal Narcan and have saved lives, 4 deaths is 4 too many. The dangers of heroin and opiate use are notorious. We do a lot to collaborate in awareness, prevention, and treatment and will continue to look for new ways to rid our streets of this poison.

As a police department, let me again make our policy clear:

If you are not involved in opiates or heroin, help us. Inform yourself, call us when you see activity, volunteer. You can make a difference.

If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.

If you are a dealer of heroin, opiates or any other poison…We are coming for you. We will find you. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent possible. You will pay the price for making money off the misery of others. It’s not a matter of “if” we find you, it’s a matter of “when.” You’ve gotten your warning. Get out of our City.

Chief Campanello.”

Libertarians are very fond of finding examples they like from demographically exceptional areas and then pretending they can be applied to a highly diverse country of 300 million people. Gloucester Mass is a town of 30,000 that is 92% white according to the census. All the kids on the high school basketball team are white so that 92% is an estimate. The only black guy I’ve ever seen there was with me visiting friends.

Gloucester is also boxed in by the very wealthy Manchester-by-the Sea and the modestly well off Rockport. The kinds of problems these towns have with drugs can certainly be addressed with creative solutions that cost a lot of money. You have strong families, high employment and the sort of population prepared to work together to solve community problems.

West Baltimore, in contrast, is full of fatherless children, universal unemployment and the sort of population that thinks it proper to shoot a guy because he’s wearing the wrong sneakers. Telling the dealers to go to another town works in SWPL-ville. In the ghetto, the dealers order the cops around. Gloucester’s problem is a community problem. West Baltimore’s problem is a containment problem.

I think the libertarians are probably mostly right about drug prohibition. Throwing people in jail for weed is stupid, but we don’t do anywhere near as much of it as claimed. Guys in the can for weed pleaded down from bigger charges. Still, it is a waste of resources to throw potheads in jail. When you move onto things like meth and heroine, the libertarian argument starts to sound naive.

Then there is the demographic problem. Compton California was a mess before crack cocaine. Take away the crack and those boys in the hood are not becoming stock brokers. They will find some other criminal activity. Down deep, libertarians, just like liberals, believe man is infinitely malleable. Just like liberals, no amount of contrary experience will change their minds.

The Crushing Reality of Mathematics

A fun book to read, if you have a thick skin, is called The Big Questions by a libertarian crackpot named Steve Landsburg. Somewhere in the book he makes the excellent point that mathematics is universal and immutable. At the dawn of time, two plus two equaled four for all values of two. It’s never changed and will never change, even if the universe collapses into an infinitely dense mass.

If you are looking for a nice shorthand definition of reality, mathematics is a good choice. Consequently, a good definition of “crisis” is when beliefs violently realign with mathematics. The Greek crisis is about the number of Euros they owe to creditors is bigger than the number of Euros they have in their accounts.

To paraphrase Philip K. Dick, math is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. Like reality, people can only take so much math so we spend a lot of time pretending it is negotiable. The most obvious example is the American pension system. Every week we see stories like this one about how cities and towns are being crushed by pension debts.

There are three bits of math to consider here. One is the fact that you can only tax people so much before they revolt. They may revolt by tax avoidance or they may hang their politicians, but there’s a point where they will not pay any more in taxes. That means every government has a cap on what it can collect from its subjects.

The second bit of math is that people expect certain minimum things from their rulers. Towns have to keep the streets clean, catch criminals, runs schools, etc. National governments have to defend the borders, run the courts, police the economy, attack the muzzies and so on. These things cost money and that amount is always more than the people think they should pay, but it is just below the maximum they will pay.

The final bit of math is the hardest and that has to do with debt. Pension systems are a type of debt. If I hire you and as a part of your compensation I promise to pay you a monthly stipend after you turn 65, that’s a debt. That debt must be backed by collateral. In a pension system that collateral is the cash contributed by members and the employer, plus whatever interest that cash earns.

Pols have been jacking up the benefits for decades as a way to buy support from unions. This is just another way of saying they have been borrowing massive amounts to buy votes. To hide this reality, these pension systems claim their investments will return 7.5% or more, which they promise will cover their liabilities.

The trouble is the math says otherwise. If your pension system has $100 million in liabilities and those liabilities are growing by 7.5% per year, your returns have to be 7.5% to keep pace, as long as your assets are $100 million.  In many cases, these pensions have assets between 60-70 percent of liabilities. That means 10-12% returns are required and most of these funds are seeing returns of 2-3%.

The only way to make up for this gap, which is getting worse every year, is to divert money for operating expense like street cleaning, to pay pension debts. That and raise taxes, but in most of America we are at the maximum people will pay. The result is the people pay more and more for less and less government. At some point, mathematical reality crushes these municipalities and the states.

Most estimates put the math problem at about $4 trillion, but we have to assume that is the best case scenario. Greece is an excellent example of how math avoidance leads to compounding mistakes, thus making the math worse. Ten years ago Greece could have unwound their debt with an orderly exit from the Euro. Now they just wait for the revolution.

There’s no reason to think the same thing will not happen in the state pension systems. Some states can cut benefits and others have quietly transferred the liabilities to cities and towns, which can use bankruptcy to cut their debts. California, on the other hand, is looking at a Greek-style economic meltdown in the next decade.

None of these things happen in a vacuum. California owes its former workers money it will not pay. Those employees owe money they cannot play. Of course, California bonds sit on the balance sheet of banks who pledge them as collateral. The math of the pension crisis says it is going to wipe out more than the savings of a few retired bus drivers. The math says we’re all doomed.

 

 

The Tax Man

Since the 80’s, it has been an article of faith, for anyone not in the Cult of Modern Liberalism, that all taxes are bad. Robert Novak used to say that “God put Republicans on earth to cut taxes.” That generation of conservatives were convinced tax cuts would lead to spending cuts and that thinking still infests the modern mind, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Tax cuts have become a get out of jail free card for “conservatives” and Republicans. They can prattle on about moving commas around the tax code and sound butch about small government, without actually doing anything about it. Worse yet, they get to do social engineering through the tax code on the sly with gimmicks like child tax credits.

That’s why this bit from Trump got my attention. Everyone has focused on his immigration statements, but this is radical stuff on taxes. I’m not talking about the details of his tax plan, which is not terrible, but not very detailed. The radical bit is challenging the idea that some forms of income are sacred.

You never hear pols from either side talk about this because their donors would never tolerate it. Both parties love the special treatment of capital gains, because it makes their donors happy. It’s good for the financial class. The same is true of the labyrinth of loopholes and subsidies on the business side. It lets both sides cater to the donor party, while mau-mauing their voters.

Sensible people know that taxes are merely how we pay for government. They should never be a tool for social engineering and they should never be a tool for looting the country. The former inverts the relationship between citizen and his government and the latter leads to social instability.

Both parties and their media arms work hard to keep such talk out of the public. The reason for that is it would reveal the truth of modern politics and that is both parties work in concert. It’s no longer an adversarial system. It is a game of good cop/bad cop and the American voter is the perp. Progressives get their social engineering and Conservatives get their looting.

That’s why Trump’s line about hedge fund managers is so radical. When was the last time anyone, even a lefty, said anything like that? Once in a while Elizabeth Warren will waddle out of the wetus and say bad things about rich people, but otherwise hedge fund managers  and their clients have become sacred people. Hell, we make movies glorifying the Wall Street tycoons.

What should really jump out is this line. “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” Trump is essentially correct. Hedge funds have about a three year run of wild success and then reversion toward the mean kicks in and they run out of juice. Usually their good run is based on inside knowledge.

What’s radical here is the notion that dumb luck plays a part in getting rich. This is obviously so, but a taboo topic. Mark Zuckerburglar hit the lottery. Mark Cuban hit the lottery. Say that in polite circles and people start thinking you’re a communist. But, it is correct. These men hit the lottery.

Acknowledging that reality is dangerous because it turns the tables on the social engineers. If we are going to use the tax code to alter behavior, shouldn’t we tax the hell out of lottery winners, while lightly taxing people who, I don’t know, build tall buildings in big cities? The building will become a part of the nation’s stock of capital. Facebook will become another Broadcast.com.

Worse yet such talk inevitably leads to talk about how the pols decide who to tax and who to subsidize. These are not conversations we have had for a very long time and that’s intentional. When one side shouts “tax the rich” and the other side yells “tax cuts for children!” there’s no room to talk about the daily auction of tax breaks to the connected held by the political class.

Myötähäpeä

Years ago, I was having problems with the cable and for the fourth or fifth time in a month I found myself on the phone with the cable company. The customer service woman had me push some buttons, reboot the box and report back the results. We did this a few times without success.

After the the fourth or fifth time I finally asked her why she thought another reboot would have a different result than the previous reboots. To her credit, she said she had no idea, but it was the only option she had to help me. I wondered at the time how long we would have gone on rebooting if I had not broken the loop.

I decided to cancel the cable at that point. She may not have had choices, but I had options. That event came to mind reading this story about the GOP in the Tidewater trying to run the same old scam on Trump that Fox tried during the debate.

Republican leaders in two states reportedly are plotting to make presidential candidate Donald Trump’s quest for the GOP nomination a lot harder.

Party leaders in Virginia and North Carolina told Politico.com that they are considering a push to require candidates entering their respective Republican primaries to pledge their support for the eventual nominee and not run a third-party candidacy — a pledge Trump, the current frontrunner, would not make when asked to during the Fox News debate earlier this month in Cleveland.

“Anybody who wants to seek the Republican nomination should have to commit to supporting the ultimate Republican nominee,” Virginia’s former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told Politico. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Republican party officials in North Carolina announced a similar proposal, and told Politico they already are in talks with lawyers to draft language for a provision that asks each candidate to support the GOP nominee.

“Everything is on the table,” an official told Politico.

Party leaders in North Carolina and Virginia say they hope their ballot proposals will help convince the billionaire businessman to fully commit to the Republican Party.

The primary requirements must be submitted to the Republican National Committee by Oct. 1, Politico reports.

“Ballot access usually is regarded as a party function,” former RNC Chief Counsel Tom Josefiak told the website. “It definitely would be left up to the state party to decide how it’s going to operate.”

This is just the party pushing the same button and hoping this time they get a better result. Fox News and the GOP schemed for a month about how to box in Trump on this issue and they came up with the very lame hand raising business to start the debate. That was a flop with the voters and failed to accomplish anything. I guess we can expect state party dimwits to push the same button over and over now, thinking this time is the charm.

What we are seeing here is something you hear in sports all the time. Pressure reveals character. It’s easy to be a principled man when there is nothing at risk. Sticking to your guns when you are at great personal risk is a different matter altogether. More than a few “honorable” men have been revealed as something less when faced with real risk.

The Republican Party and its media wing are being squeezed by their donors on the one side and their voters on the other. This is not unusual as rich people try hard to buy politicians from all parties. A fundamentally sound party can rely on its organizing principles to strike a balance. Right now the party and its media arm are lurching about from one crackpot scheme to the next, unmoored from anything resembling principles.

Similarly, the media wing of the party is struggling to mount an affirmative argument in favor of their team. Instead we have been treated to childish rants that resemble a baby banging his rattle on the high chair. I used to enjoy reading some of them. Now, I’m embarrassed for them. I get the sense, reading the comments in these rants about Trump, that I’m not alone. A lot of people are learning the meaning of myötähäpeä.

After America

This post on Marginal Stasis got a ton of comments and so did the Sailer commentary on it at his site. What makes this interesting is not what is said in the comments or even what’s in the source article. The comments are mostly people reworking their favorite cheers with regards to immigration.

The libertarians chant about riding unicorns to their castles in the clouds. The patriots chant about the cultural collapse that would be an inevitable consequence of transporting the world’s peasants to your neighborhood. Then a fight breaks out and before long someone is calling the patriots racist.

That’s all fine, but why does everyone assume America would remain a country as currently constructed? More important, why is it assumed that immigration will play out the same everywhere? California has had a vastly different experience with immigration than Texas. Virginia has had a much different result than Maryland or Delaware.

A great book to read, if you like reading this blog, is called American Nations. It covers the history of the people who settled the Americas, breaking them into unique “nations” that have ties back to the old country. New England, for example, was founded by Roundheads mostly from a handful of towns in England. They imposed their culture and new arrivals were forced to assimilate. Later, Yankees migrated west settling in what is now the Midwest.

The neat thing about the book is he ties this together with the country’s history so we get to see how those old regional differences played out in the Civil War, for example. I like the book primarily because it jives with my view of history, but it is a great read and very good introduction to understanding the HBD view of history. For the record, I doubt the author would agree with it being HBD history, but that’s my take.

Anyway, wholesale immigration to America is not going to play out the same everywhere. It has not played out that way so far. New England has been far more welcoming to Irish immigrants than Hispanic immigrants. The town system allows them to pack people they don’t really want into ghettos away from everyone else. This puts a natural cap on immigration from places that are too ethnically different from the natives.

California, which has always been split between a mild and tolerant south and a Yankee influenced north has largely been overrun by Hispanics, but mostly in the South. Northern California is getting whiter while the state gets browner. Similarly, Virginia has absorbed a lot of Hispanics, while West Virginia has absorbed very few. Those Appalachian mountain people are not friendly to outsiders of any type.

I think if we ever go for open borders, we’ll see three things happen. One is the native populations will begin to move around with a sense of urgency. Yankee transplants living in North Carolina will find a way to move back. We’re already seeing Midlanders who migrated to California heading to states like Colorado fleeing the Hispanics. I think the American nations will consolidate back into their natural zones again.

Another thing is each region will adjust to make sure the native population maintains control of the local power structure. This is something you see in California. The state looks like Mexico, but the state’s political leaders look like Vermont. In New England, this means a compulsory assimilation which will serve to scare off immigrants. In the Old South a return of the highly stratified cast system will make its return. The South will look a lot like South America or the Caribbean.

Finally, I think we would probably see the country break up. New England, most of New York and New Jersey, big chunks of the upper Midwest will either leave for Canada or become a separate country. The South and the Tidewater would most likely welcome it, breaking off as their own country. The Northwest would probably join Canada, but I could argue they would follow New England and the upper Midwest. The middle part of the country and states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia are hard to figure, but they could band together with Texas and Oklahoma or join the South.

The reason for thinking the country would break up is it has come close over much less. In the 19th century New England was close to leaving the Union, but the end of the War of 1812 put a halt to that. The Civil War is the best example. If the South had not attacked Fort Sumter, the North would never had attacked. Instead the South would have been permitted to leave.

We are currently unified as a country only because Yankee culture dominates the political, cultural and financial high ground. One reading of American history is that it is the fight for control by Yankeedom. If the Yankee north can no longer dominate the rest due to massive immigration, they would look to leave and that would cause the rest to break apart too. The result would be four or five countries, maybe in some sort of federation to modulate trade, borders and defense.

The Specter of Immigration

A specter is haunting the West — the specter of immigration. All the powers of the old establishment have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Liberal and Conservative, democrat and aristocrat, college radicals and billionaires.

Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as fascistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of racism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Obviously, I’m having some fun here by reworking the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto to fit our current age. I’m fond of pointing out that Marx was not wrong about everything and he made some useful observations. In the 19th century, he noticed that the real fight was between the rising new ideology against the old ideologies tied to the previous economic era. The Industrial Revolution was reshuffling the deck.

It’s also important to note that he got most everything wrong about how the world would look after the revolution. He was also stunningly wrong about human nature and the human condition. The followers of Marx murdered 100 million people trying to prove Marx right with regards to the nature of man and the making of the egalitarian society. I’m throwing that out there so my new readers don’t think I’m a Marxist.

Anyway, the thing about the rise of international communism in the 19th century is it scrambled the normal feedback loop between the public and the rulers. All of a sudden there were conversations about how to best organize society that did not include the people currently in charge. What was most frightening to the people in charge was that in the ranks of the ruling classes were people secretly enamored with communism and sympathetic to the arguments.

That whole vibe keeps coming to mind reading the increasingly unhinged rants from “conservative” writers with regards to Trump and immigration. A couple of days ago Brit Hume was humping this article on Twitter. Hume is sort of the neo-con emeritus these days so he has a lot of stroke with the rank and file chattering skulls. Today National Review’s Kevin Williamson has a rewrite of that article up under his own name.

In both cases you have allegedly conservative writers calling immigration reformers racists and fascists. Not long ago, these writers were excoriating Progressives for using such language against George Bush and the neo-cons. That’s quite a transformation and a revelatory one. The question presented by the issue of immigration to the people in charge is “which side are you one?” We are seeing the answer in the response to the rise of immigration parties.

That’s what has me thinking about old Uncle Karl. Communism in Europe was an existential challenge to the ruling elites because it challenged the spiritual framework holding the old guard in place. That’s what made it so dangerous and why the people in charge reacted so violently to anything that smacked of communism. The Reds were a virus that had to be wiped out completely.

It’s a similar problem with immigration today. The people in charge have drawn long and hard from the well of egalitarianism. They believe it with the intensity of the fanatic. Therefore they lack the intellectual toolkit to address the concerns of the people seeing their towns and neighborhoods overrun by foreigners. The people of Dresden, for example, are demanding answers to a question the rulers of Dresden cannot answer.

I think most people understand why Progressives demand open borders. It’s not just the practical matter of cheap votes. There’s a spiritual element. The Left is always looking for grace on the cheap. Inviting the world and putting them on welfare lets Progressives pretend they are doing the Lord’s work without actually having to sacrifice anything. The peasants are packed into your neighborhood, not theirs.

Professional conservatives have a similar thing going on with immigration. Conservatives have always struggled to answer the charge of racism from the Left. They have always struggled to square the founding myths of America with the founding realities. Immigration is how they could square that circle. By championing the little brown guys, they think they are washing off the stink of racism.

It’s why the reality of Hispanic voting patterns have never left a mark on the thinking of modern conservatives. It’s also why they keep yapping about how they must win over these “natural conservatives,” even though all the data says otherwise. They are sure they are on the side of angels. They have the right answer to the Great Question. Facts will come around soon enough.

Now all of a sudden, the bad thinkers are drawing massive crowds and mocking the complaints of the anointed. If you were a good thinker, sure you were just about to crest the last hill before the promised land, the horror of coming upon Trump hosting 30,000 people at an anti-immigration rally is something like Moses descending Sinai to see the Golden Calf. There can be no intellectual response, only an emotional one.

Mass Stupidity

Way back in the olden thymes, I kept getting invitations from friends to join Facebook. I had no interest in joining Facebook, which made me a weirdo. Friends would ask me why I was holding out and I’d tell them “I’m just not that interesting.” I did not realize it, but I was subtly insulting my friends by breaking the unwritten rule of social media. That is, none of us are so interesting that we should be on social media. No one I know, except me apparently, can face up to the fact that their life is not all that interesting.

I finally relented for a while, but then I quit and no one noticed. The same is true with Twitter. I have two accounts. One for sports and one for this blog. I rarely tweet anything. When I do read the twitter (I love calling it “the twitter” for some reason), I mostly see strangers posting what they hear on TV or say on the Interwebs. It’s an echo chamber of snark and stupid.

A good example of the latter is Razib Khan, who is a super smart doctoral candidate in genomics and genetics. This is mighty tough material tackled by the very brightest people. On the twitter he comes off like a teenage girl with a bad attitude. The reason is he spends most of his time commenting about what twit-wits are tweeting. Dogs and flees.

I think there is merit to the wisdom of the crowds. I’m a human and humans are social animals. We take cues from those around us about what is and what is not acceptable and preferable. Restaurant reviews are the most obvious example. Bad reviews count for way more than good reviews, because we are wired to look for taboos and dangers. “I had a great burger” tells me nothing. “I found a rat in my soup” tells me everything.

Unlike many on my side of the fence, I’m not in favor of shuttering the TV stations and closing down the Interwebs. The young and the stupid need entertainments and it keeps them busy. We live in an age with lots of idle young men and idle young men get into trouble. Having them play video games and watch car chase movies is probably a good idea. It keeps them off the streets, at least for a little while. I’d rather have them on Facebook than on my street corner.

This is something the people in charge have long understood. The first thing the Reds did in the 19th and 20th century was take control of the media organs. The Cult of Modern Liberalism controls mass media in America because if you control the media you control the country. The CIA works hard to control social media because they understand that it is the key step in controlling the people. Having the title “Director of Internet Sock Puppetry” must make for some laughs in the Langley locker room.

The trouble is we are awash in mass media, meaning we are floating in a sea of bad information. Republican voters often carp about the low-information voter, but most of the people voting GOP believe all sorts of nonsense, mostly because they see it on Facebook. They think they are holding the correct opinions because people they see on TV or on-line hold those views and those people seem nice or smart or cool or whatever.

Men of the Right have been complaining about the stupidity of the people for a long time, which is why the Right has always opposed democracy. It’s indisputable that half the people in any society are below average in IQ. Giving them the franchise is inviting trouble, but as long as the smart fraction controlled the mass media, society buggered along without too much trouble. The dimwitted got their cues from the local paper or TV about which way to vote, thus mitigating any damage they could cause by backing a nut or a deviant.

That’s not really the case with social media. Twitter and Facebook are platforms run by the masses, mostly by the portion of the masses with free time. It is the nature of man to trust what is said to him and that makes all of us susceptible to the mass stupidification of mass media. If you spend all day listening to blockheads on Facebook or Twitter, you’re likely to get caught up in whatever the other blockheads are doing.

The so-called Arab Spring is a good example. The claim at the time is it was driven by social media. How did that turn out? Egypt had a nice blood bath with a brief period of control by Muslim lunatics. The same thing played out across the Maghreb. One could argue that the unrest in the Maghreb is in some small part responsible for the mass invasion of Europe from the Near East. It turns out that a million nitwits can be wrong.

That’s the Arab world and easy to dismiss, but the evidence says the West is getting dumber and the Internet is probably a part of it. All of my Progressive friends get their “facts” from Wiki and Facebook. They think their ability to Google something makes them brilliant. This make them dumber than nature intended because instead of being ignorant, they are ignorant and certain. Smart people are always uncertain. It’s when the stupid become confident that things can get out of hand.